Tuesday, 28 March 2017

...I reach for my gun...

Has anyone else been bombarded by someone calling themselves 'Joan at Essay Blast'? I have reported this boring windbag for spamming, because I think they are trying to sell their services as a writing teacher. If you want to do the same, their URL is www.essayblast.org. I knew I shouldn't have mentioned my preference for essay writing all those years ago...

What is it about Writing which makes people think that they can cast their unwanted pearls before people who have not signed up on a creative writing course and have no intention of doing so unless they find themself in prison for a period of years?

Also, what is it about people who think that their job or chosen career is so special and so under-valued that they feel they must tell the world every detail about how you become a specialist plaster finish expert, film critic, painter, sculptor or WRITER? Could it be that they have low self-esteem?

We all need reassurance occasionally (which is why I sometimes put up stuff about what I do, then experience a wave of self-loathing for the solicited compliments I receive), but most of us don't ask for it every time we put our fingers to the keyboard.

Actors cannot stop acting and teachers cannot stop teaching it seems, whether or not they are paid for it.

Franco had a point.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Get in the water


Here's H.I.'s painting of her daughter again, just because today needs a splash of colour and warmth.

She is standing in the crystal clear water of the massive lake which is a reservois at a place on the West coast of France, the name of which I have completely forgotten. It is very near the biggest sand dune in Europe - appropriately called La Pila - and is also near Cap Feret of oyster renown.

I know that this painting was made 24 years ago, because this was where her son - then around one year old - said his first sentence, and I am honoured to say that it was addressed to me.

The water stays shallow for about half a mile out, so it is the perfect spot to let children safely paddle whilst keeping an eye out on the sandy, pine-fringed beach.

The boy was standing next to me near the water's edge and we were enjoying a moment of peaceful silence.

On a whim, I said to him, "Get in the water Mars."

He responded with, "No, YOU get in the water," and started to push me from behind.

We both laughed - mainly because of the surprise at the sentence. I think he surprised himself.

Green Eyes is in that painting somewhere too. Roughly in the middle.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Oh to be in Holland when the daffodils are out


My friend has been playing with a new app on his phone. First of all I thought how much like Hitler he looks with a few minor additions, but then I realised he looks more like Bruno Ganz playing Hitler.

Arundhati Roy was on Desert Island Discs this morning. She is spectacularly beautiful, but I have always been a sucker for dark eyes and black hair. She is a beauty even by Indian standards.

I sent the above picture to my freind Thomas, who is currently on a little break at Köln with his in-house dental technician (the one who lives for Star Wars conventions). I would not normally send pictures of a Hitler nature to Germans, but since he himself has sent me quite a few - cats and other animals which look like Hitler, etc. - I knew he would not react badly. The best one he sent was a house which looked like Hitler, with a dark, sloping roof and windows all in the right places. Everyone usually remembers Herr H. having black hair, but when you watch the colour footage of the Nuremburg rallies, he does, in fact, have dark red hair, or at least that is the way it looks.

I'm off on a Mother's Day roast lunch this afternoon. I am looking forward to it because I missed dinner last night by staying out drinking with one of the grandchildren. Everyone else is going so they thought it would be a bit mean to leave me out, even though I don't currently have a mother.

I was surprised to find it was an hour later when I got up this morning, but at least I won't have to wait until the real 4.30 to have lunch. You know the worst thing about this time of year? All those bloody daffodils.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

God is still having a laugh at my expense


I really don't know why this sort of thing always seems to happen to me.

I am not going to claim for loss of earnings by spending three days in Bristol Crown Court, mainly because my work does not run seamlessly from one day to the other (you can say that again) but also because I charge about as much for one hour as they are willing to pay me for one day.

I wasn't even going to submit a claim for the train fares, because it only amounts to £32.30 having been sent home early, but H.I. said I should, so I had a look at the claims form.

They want proof of payment of course, so I collated all the receipts. The first (one-way) ticket was bought online was £7.60 and collected from the machine at the station. I bought the return ticket the day of my return and it was £7.50. Not only is it almost twice as expensive to by two tickets and not a return, but it is also 10p more if you buy it online. Why?

When I bought my return ticket, I bought a set of return tickets for the following day at £8.60. Wednesday's tickets were bought that morning and were £8.60.

I shuffled the receipts into calendar order starting on the 20th. The 21st was ok so I looked for the receipts for the 22nd, making a full set. Because the barrier at Bath gobbles your ticket as it lets you out, the only thing I had with the date 22nd on it was the coupon. I looked at the bit which should have said '£8.60' and it read, 'Value: £51.35'.

Oh hell, I thought, they have charged £51.35p to my card for an £8.60 ticket. So I went online to my acount to see what they had charged, and there were no transactions for the 22nd save for a restaurant bill in the 'pending' section.

So I could - theoretically - claim for £51.35 using the coupon for evidence or - more believably - claim for the £8.60 it should have cost me, but didn't. Either action could end up with me back in the Crown Court, but this time in the dock on a fraud charge.

Do you know, I think I will just count my blessings and forget about claiming any travel expenses at all.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Christmas 2017

Trump keeps shooting himself in the foot - or feet.

Election pledge after election pledge will be unfulfilled. There will be no stupid wall against the Mexican border. Obama Care will remain in place.

That man is so stupid that he really does not know what he is doing. He is even more stupid than Regan, and that is really saying something.

He is so fucking stupid that he pissed off the CIA before even getting sworn-in. Now I am pretty stupid, but even in college I understood that you never, ever, upset the permanent caretakers.

He has pissed-off the British Secret Service too, and for that he will not be forgiven in a hurry. He is so fucking stupid that he does not understand that GCHQ are massively influenced by the Special Relationship and all that that entails. We granted a licence for the U.S. to listen in to our trans-Atlantic calls years ago.

Everyone - including half of his own party - think he is an idiot, and pretty much everyone does not quite understand how he got elected.

I predicted he was going to succeed in the presidential election, and now I am predicting he is not going to last the full term.

There is a lot to look forward to in the coming six months.

Next Christmas is going to be much better than the last.

Cat


Isn't it amazing how much is going on constantly elsewhere? Now that may sound like an idiotic thing to say, but sometimes I lie in bed imagining all that activity until I begin to overload myself.

Right now I am thinking of all those people stupified by boredom, waiting to be called in Bristol Crown Court. When my routine is interrupted is when I imagine other people's lives the most.

For instance, I am always amazed when - on the rare occasions I have to be on the streets before dawn - how many people are scurrying about in the dark out there, on their way to a distant job or something. I always expect to be the only person in the world who is not in bed, and I am slightly put out when I understand that I am not that special after all.

It doesn't stop there. There are whole tribes of people living in remote South American jungles who have never even seen anyone from the rest of the world, who are - at this moment - chatting to each other, unaware even of the existence of towns and cities, let alone me. Some of them have not even seen an aircraft fly overhead at 40,000 feet.

It doesn't stop there either. Somewhere in Egypt, there is an undiscovered tomb containing a long-dead person. At some point - possibly right now - a particle of dessicated material will drop from one part of the mummy and fall to the floor of the inner casket.

The world did not revolve around Schrodinger. Try telling the cat that it does not exist after you have closed the door.

This post fell apart a bit at the end, because I got a call regarding an insurance quote for my car and had to talk about all the details whilst trying to write this stuff.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

My last three days


Being a little confused at the time, I turned up to court and sleepily signed a bit of paper saying that I was able to sit in on a trial which was due to last for about a month. When I woke up I wondered how I was going to be able to do the work which is deadlined for the end of this month.

The consequences of making myself available for a long trial was that I was not selected for the shorter ones, but then the longer one was postponed for some reason, so I was back on the short ones again. My name was called out along with 16 others, but I was not selected so went back into the boredom of the waiting room with the other 4.

Yesterday morning we were dismissed until after lunch, then an hour later a perecntage of jurors were given the opportunity to be discharged completely, and as soon as these words came through the speakers, I virtually ran to the office to sign up for early release and was first in the queue which formed behind me.

That was it. About an hour later I was free to go. Many stayed behind but were told to have the rest of the week off and return the following. I didn't have to try hard to fight off feelings of guilt about not having perfomed a civic duty. To do so would have put a huge strain on my working life, because the nature of it means I am asked to lie dormant for weeks, then suddenly come up with the goods in a very short time period, and this period would have corresponded to any lengthy case I might have been on, never mind the money. If I had not signed up for a long trial I would probably still be there for the next two weeks - who knows.

Last year when I was called up for jury service, I had a phone call at the last minute offering me the chance of being dismissed immediately and I took it. My friend called me a 'jammy bastard', and when I recounted this here on the blog, a couple of readers snootily accused me of having no sense of civic duty.

This year - on hearing the latest outcome - my friend called me a 'jammy c***', and I daresay I might get the same opinions from last year's commentators, despite that I turned up willing and able. Nobody called me a jammy anything for getting two summons' in one year.

The most rewarding aspect of the last three days for me were exploring a part of old Bristol which I was not familiar with. There are architectural gems all around, including an intact 18th century coffee house which is still serving coffee, and a massive market which is thriving with stalls which spill out into the streets on all four sides, selling all manner of eatables, wearables and usables.

I bought an Irish jumper of the kind which I love, but is rarely seen outside Ireland or Celtic areas like Cornwall. £45. Bargain.

It is strange how I am now missing the long, uphill walk from the station to the court - in the pouring rain. I suppose I had better get on with that work now.