Tuesday, February 27, 2007

TV Advertising

I was watching TV last night and finally snapped.

The cause was a series of ads that kept repeating the same information. This is the sort of thing I am talking about...

"I've been looking for cheaper car insurance."

"I got cheaper car insurance at flybynight.com and saved 40%!"

"Wow, I think I will try flybynight.com and see if I can save 40% too!"

See what I mean? Do they think we are that stupid?

The one that really made me snap, though, was one for a music store:

Starts with a blast of music that rapidly fades to an annoyingly low level.

"At Rip-Off-Records we have got the latest ground-breaking album from the One Hit Wonders: Gone by Christmas. Featuring the latest smash hit single, I Stole This Song From David Bowie And Hope Nobody Notices."

At this point the music blasts back, just as the singer sings the title of the song. AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!! I heard you the first time! And how can an album be "ground-breaking" when it sounds just like something I listened to when I was a teenager?

Oh, and I saw the album in a supermarket last week for £3 less than the "rock-bottom" price given in the ad.

Does marketing really consist of lying to a public that you think of as morons? Probably!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Playing Mum

This week has been a bit of a trial for us. On Sunday my mother-in-law, who lives in Devon and has severe cancer, was taken into hospital with stomach problems. My wife set off to be with her, leaving me to hold the fort. There were a range of problems at the hospital which I will not go into, and these were not sorted out until Thursday, when my wife felt it safe to return.

Note: - try not to get ill while in the UK!

Meanwhile, on Monday my youngest was sent home from school feeling ill. I took him to the Doctors on Tuesday and was told he had a virus - no school until next week. Bang goes work, then! That afternoon, when the others came home from school, I found that they had the virus too! Argh! On the up side, they did not actually feel that ill, so we watched TV (finally watched our DVD of "Over The Hedge" - what a great film!), played computer games, made cards for nanny, etc.

I must say that I was quite pleased with my performance as stay at home mum - cooking, cleaning, washing, etc all went well, so my wife did not return to a terrible mess. Having said that, I don' t think I would volunteer to swap duties permanantly...

Life is going to be rather unpredictable for a while now, so if I go quiet for a few days fear not - I shall return!

You don't get rid of me that easily!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mysterious Chocolate

A colleague of mine has just received her latest purchase from eBay - a rather nice dress. What she was not expecting were the 2 bars of chocolate that were also inside the parcel!

Her instant reaction was "What a nice lady!."

But is she right?

My mind wanders.

OK, so maybe she is just a nice person who wanted to give her customer a little something extra for her money...

Or perhaps she is a chocoholic and is now trashing her house looking for the 2 bars that she was saving for later? Could be! Maybe my colleague will soon be receiving emails: "Give me back my chocolate..."

Or she could be rather confused - one customer gets some chocolate that was laying around, another gets a kitten...

Or, I wonder, is she vindictive? "So, you think you are a size 8 do you? We'll see about that! Have some free chocolate! Hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa..."

Could be! OK, so she is probably just a nice person. But watch out, you never know...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Valentine's Day card

I got home last night to find that my wife had made me a Valentine's Day card. It was great! Standing about 12 inches high, it had the message "To my Jelly Baby Valentine" written on the front in huge, coloured letters and attached to the front was a large clear plastic box which was filled with Jelly Babies and bars of chocolate! Wow! How perfect can something be?

Then followed the discussion about what to eat - no of course we hadn't planned ahead! In the end we settled on good old Southern Fried Chicken, ribs and fries, probably our main food during the early courting days, so I popped into town and grabbed far more than was decent. We all then ate far more than was decent and spent the evening like a family of Buddahs in front of the TV. Sometimes it just has to be done...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How we met

2 posts in 1 day again. Must stop this, but after reading Logziella's blog I wanted to tell my story. I will start by pointing out that I did everything in the wrong order - hope you do not think less of me because of this!

The first time I met my future wife, she was dating one of my friends. I instantly fell for her. Over the next few months I made half-hearted attempts to chat her up. We got on well, but she was already with someone, wasn't she?

Next thing I knew, they were getting married. I even went to the wedding! Next time we met was at a Christmas party, 6 months later. Rumour was that things were not going well in their marriage. I did another one of my half-assed chatting up attempts again, but as far as I was concerned she was still married, so I was just playing really.

Over the next few months we bumped into each other a few times and chatted about stuff, getting on well until finally, the following summer, I found out that she had left her husband and was interested in dating me. From the first date we both seemed to know that this was the real deal. As her husband refused to discuss divorce at first, we decided to just move in together. They eventually got divorced, but by then marriage had become something of a non-issue. Children arrived, life was wonderful, and we eventually decided to get married on our 16th anniversary, complete with a ready made entourage of 2 bridesmaids and 2 page boys! The wedding was intended as a simple affair (we announced the date and told people they could come if they wanted to, no presents needed as we already had it all) that had a life of its own. Friends and relatives swamped us - my mum, the pony owner, even took off her wellies for the occasion - it was a grand day.

This summer we will have been together for 22 years, and married for 6. Together we have survived everything that the world has thrown at us, and have become even stronger.
Water, water everywhere...

I guess it was tempting fate. Some time ago I blogged about cycling and stated that it was never raining when I set out on a trip. This is now totally untrue! It seems that everytime I want to get out the bike it is pouring with rain.

The field where we tend to walk Custard, our dog, has become a marsh with water that threatens to come over the top of your boots, and the ditches are almost full to the top, with 4-5 feet of water in them! Custard loves it like this and happily hurls himself into the water and mud before running back to share his wetness with us and show us how great life is.

This morning I cycled to work as usual, with the rain hammering down. Going along the narrow country lanes, water was gushing off the fields and along the lanes, looking for a way out, eventually forming mini waterfalls as it flowed into a small stream or found its way into a lower laying field. At times I wondered if I might have been better off with a canoe!

Of course, being the south east of Britain, there is a strange irony here. Despite the huge rainfall, there is almost certainly going to be a water shortage this summer. None of this water is captured in reservoirs. Nor is it deliberately trapped to allow it to soak into the ground to replenish our depleted underground reserves. Instead, most of it is channelled through ditches, streams and drains straight into the sea. Come August it will be illegal to wash your car or water your garden with a hose pipe!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I think it was Dave Gilmore, guitarist in Pink Floyd, who said that the secret of great guitar playing was not the notes that you played, but the notes that you DID NOT play.

Sometimes, silence can convey far more than any amount of talking, shouting, jumping up and down, etc...

The silence of 2 old friends, just enjoying each others company...

The silence of 2 lovers, relaxing in each others arms...

The silence after someone has just made themselves look really stupid...

The silence after hearing the latest news - more troops being sent overseas, plans to bring them back home again, the latest bombings in Iraq, the latest earthquake, flood or mudslide...

The silence before a storm, as the world takes a big breath...

The silence when we are offered a few moments for silent prayer - surely the time our Gods hear our loudest cries for help...

Listen to the silence.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cycling Thoughts

Feeling good...

Well it is pouring with rain outside, so I am going to get soaked on the way home, but I don't care! Today is one of those days where nothing can dampen the spirits!

It started on Friday when 2 parcels arrived at work - a new scanner and the latest version of our GIS mapping software - the nerdy side of me just wants to party!

Then we had a really good weekend, where everything seemed to go right, including time to catch up on some rest - I have been running on empty for the last couple of weeks and really enjoyed having some plain 'vegging out' time. Also had a bit of time on the guitar, trying to crack some Gary Moore stuff. Getting there... But he is such a great guitarist that I keep hearing new things that he is doing!

The new laptop is getting ridiculous amounts of use and The Sims has had a major revival. I have taken to setting it up in the kitchen while cooking, if I can get hold of it, and running my new family while cooking. The Rock Chef has had to step down for a while.

Finally, back to work this week and things have eased up a lot - no dashing around for ME this week! Hah! Hah!

Mind you, that rain looks very wet...

Friday, February 09, 2007


Well it is Friday - how can a week seem so short and so long at the same time? Time is relative, it is said. Relative to what? A psychopathic junkie?

Anyway, I am hoping for a nice, peaceful weekend, where maybe we can catch a family movie and generally just chill, because I really need it. Yesterday was manic. We had snow in the morning, which meant that I called in and said I was taking the day off. I won't cycle in ice and the buses are dreadfully unreliable - last time it snowed heavily (2 inches) they stopped running entirely, leaving adults and school kids alike stranded miles from home. Johnny don't play that! So I set about a day of helping out my wife and my mum - collecting food for the pony, going up to the field and feeding him, getting shopping, collecting the dog from the vets (had his hips x-rayed looking for deformed joints - more on this later), collecting kids from school, going to parents evening and finally staggering in and collapsing. What a day. Not even enough snow left to make a snowman by the time I could think about it. Oh well.

Back to the dog, Custard the golden labrador. The vet was looking to see if there were problems with the development of his hip joints. To cut a story short, basically he does not have any joints, just a slight dip that his leg tries to connect with. He is OK at the moment but we now know that, sooner or later, he will need an operation to do something about it. Poor Custard. Poor bank balance. Oh well, we have come to expect things like this. To tell the truth, this diagnosis was a bit of a relief as the x-ray was also to look at a small lump that is on the side of his leg. Our initial fear was that this was some sort of cancer, but it seems to be scar tissue from bug bites that he got last summer, so it is not all bad news.

Right, I am off now - the Rock Chef is making pizza tonight, as is usual on a Friday. Hope the cheese grater is in a good mood!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Neighbours I have known: Part1

Hey, 2nd post in a single day, how about that!

As I cycled to work this morning, admiring the effects of the frost on fields, trees and hedgerows, dodging patches of ice and avoiding the wheels of speeding 4x4s, I remembered an old neighbour of mine. He was a source of constant entertainment (for all the wrong reasons).

He lived near us, having moved in with a single mother and her 5 children. He was a compulsive petty thief, tending to break into houses within about a quarter of a mile from where he lived. The Police got to know him very well but never seem to have been able to get the courts to impose sensible punishment (There I go again!). Seeing this, the kids started to try their hands too, and this is where things started to get more entertaining.

Arguments would break out, involving screaming matches that could be heard streets away. Eventually he would storm off to his mothers house - next door! Then, once he had calmed down, he would try to patch things up, usually by kneeling down on the door step calling through the door, saying thinks like "I really f&%$£& love you". What a charmer :-)

On hot summer evenings he would try to stir up mini-riots when a Police car came round on patrol. Always the first to shout abuse and thump on the car roof, he was also the first to disappear when reinforcements arrived. My wife and her friends used to sit on a fence and watch events, gladly giving the Police names and addresses of any 'rioters' that got away.

One evening I was heading out of my house to walk the dog and saw him walking in the same direction. He had failed to win her back, and declared that he was heading for the nearby train track to end it all. As we got close to the track it started to rain. I was OK, having a sensible coat on, but he was only wearing the t-shirt that he had been wearing when he was thrown out of the house.

"Oh, that's all I need", he said in disgust, turned around and went back to his mum's house!

What a guy...
The National Sense of Humour

According to a study carried out by a British University, the British sense of humour can be summed up by the following joke:

Patient: Doctor, I have got a strawberry stuck up my bottom!
Doctor: Don't worry, I have got some cream for it.

OK, it is not a very good joke, but sadly, it IS the sort of joke that will get a good reaction from the majority of Brits! Hm.

Now, it is a commonly held belief in Britain that the Germans have no sense of humour. This probably dates back to the world wars, when all sorts of things were said in the name of propaganda. The joke that sums up the German sense of humour is this one:

Astronomers have decided that the Moon is gradually moving away from the Earth and have calculated that 50 million years ago it was orbiting at a height of around 30 feet. This could explain the extinction of the dinosaurs - well the tall ones anyway...

No for me, this is much better! What do you think?

Is there such a thing as a National Sense of Humour? These were the only 2 countries that I have heard comments about. Is there a type of humour that characterizes the USA, Canada, etc?

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Series of Unexpected Events

What an exhausting weekend! All of the usual stuff to deal with - going out for a bit of shopping, cooking, sleepovers, walking the dog, etc, plus an unexpected bit of shopping. This is the story.

At Christmas my two nieces who live over the road got laptops. This upset my eldest, who wanted one even though he has a got really good desktop PC.

Time passed, as it tends to.

My dad (a heavy smoker) gave up smoking, resulting in a growing pile of surplus cash.

Last week, he brought round a 'briefcase' that he had acquired, which turned out to be a case for a laptop. Comments like "all we need now is the laptop" followed.

Next thing I know my dad has popped round and given my wife some money to buy a laptop. A half followed conversation had lead him to think that they were much cheaper than they really are (the price he heard actually referred to HAIR EXTENSIONS!), so I had to put him straight, offering to give him the money back as I could not expect him to pay the real price. Oh, no, he says digging into his wallet, have some more! Just how much had he been spending on cigarettes, I wonder?

So I then had to go to PC World and get the thing. Found a rather good bargain, fought off the sales people trying to sell me extended warrantees, anti-virus software, MS Office, wireless mice, printers, carry cases, blank DVDs, Windows Vista... NOT I JUST WANT THE COMPUTER! THAT IS ALL! AND I WILL NOT BE TOUCHING VISTA FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER YEAR OR SO, UNTIL THEY HAVE SORTED IT OUT SO THAT IT ACTUALLY WORKS, OK? I ALREADY HAVE A COMPUTER THAT DOES ALL THAT STUFF AND IT IS CALLED AN iMAC!

So, back home, I installed a bunch of software, the kids had a go on some games and then, shock, horror, my wife is really impressed with the new toy and says that she wants to learn how to use it! This is pretty much a first, apart from playing The SIMS on my desktop PC. She wants to write s story for a competition that she has seen. OK, so I sit her down and show her the basics. Soon she is typing away like a professional while I do the ironing. A couple of hours later she asks me to read the short story that she has written and it is great. I never knew she could write like that. Just need to remember to send it off to the competition now. Failing that I will start stocking up on paper for the manuscripts that we might end up sending round. Watch out J K Rowling...

Isn't it amazing how one thing can seem to lead to another?