The will to live

have discovered that my ISP does indeed have a third and fourth level technical service. I discovered this after realising that their level two technician could not help and would have to "escalate" the level of technical expertise I required. I am still waiting for my ISP, illcast, (anagram naturally I dont want them sueing me) to ring me back. I suspect that by the time they do I will have lost the will to live.

And on…

Yes I am still waiting for my ISP to connect me to the world at large. They seem to think its a huge wheeze, a jape if you like to ensure my connection comes on only sporadically and then for extremely short periods. You may well think the answer is to change ISP, however due to my location from an exchange that most ISp’s can actually use and a contract that ties me up for 12 months, it really is not so simple. I am tired of ringing up their help lines and talking to some Vivisectioned Baboon who reads from a script on a screen and generally speaks in an accent and dialect I cannot understand anyway. So for now my dear chums the wait goes on and on….

the wait goes on

Sorry folks but those lovely people, collectively known as my, internet "service" providors, have once again seen to it that I do not have any internet service. Normal posting will commence as soon as the "level 2 technicians" have been in touch and hopefully corrected all the faults that were beyond the means of the "level 1 technicians". I pray there are no level 3 and level 4 technicians, in the meantime the wait goes on.

Reclaiming the flag

 The last week saw a flurry of activity with friends old and new contacting me. I had an email from the Travellor who is somewhere on the Baltic sea, the Driver who was on a road somewhere between Aberdeen and Edingburgh rang to say he would be calling in to visit me in a few short weeks. The Tiler rang me on Saturday afternoon to let me know how well things are going in Oz, the Beast rang to tell me he was still in the land of the living and Little Miss Sunshine called in to see me a couple of evenings during the week. This included one afternoon when she took my mum out for a meal to the place where my dad used to work. They have an annual bash for all the pensioners and spouses of people who worked in the company and were there up until retirement. Things were going well if not a little slowly until Mum and Miss Sunshine had sat down at the venue and mum declared she had left her teeth at home! When LMS and mum arrived back home LMS decided that mums legs were in a particularly poor state and warrented the attention of the doctor. Friday arrived and so did the doctor who has changed mums medication and we now wait to see if there are any results or favourable changes in her condition.

Saturday arrived and with it a constant change of events and circumstances. After much faffing around and many phone calls; me, the beancounter, LMS, her daughter and new boyfriend ended up in the garden at Ted Magnums house. It was the first dry day we have had since the end of April and as soon as the sun poked through the clouds Ted decided it was time for a few beers and a fire. Not knowing when we would have the chance to do this again due to the inclement weather, I jumped at the chance and pressed ganged said people into turning up at Teds. A quiet evening with some friends, a bottle or two of Kentuckys finest and a roaring fire, what could be better? In fact it was good to have some of the Tedstock Massive in attendance, The Drummer, the Teacher, the Revellors, even Riker and miss Decolatage arrived. This was an honour indeed even if the massive was actually small enough to be a Missive! As the beer was flowing and spirits soared, we sparked up a bonfire and sat around it. Those who could, left when their legs and brain cells would let them and for those like me who could not move, stayed all night staring firstly into the flames and then into the ashes. I woke in the morning to the sound of a whistling kettle and Ted cooking bacon and eggs over the heat of the dying embers. The pair of us could have been part of the scout movement. After cleaning up the previous evenings leftovers and a general tidy up I parted company with Ted and was driven home by the bean counter.

Its always awkward trying to fit so many things into such a small time frame. Months ago the Bean Counter or BC had bought tickets for us to go and see the “Last night of the proms” at the Liverpool Philarmonic hall. A few days previously we had been told we had to attend a christening, also on the same day. It was now mid day, I was covered in grime and smoke from the fire at Teds and I had to get ready to go to a christening and then make my way to Liverpool. I had made the decison some time ago that I was going to the proms in my best evening attire and I was going to wave a union jack at every opportunity. This meant wing collared shirt with a bow tie, black trousers and the lightest jacket I had for the event. It also meant going to a christening at a pub looking  a total twat. In the end the christening was a great afternoon spent speaking to lots of people and drinking Tequila shots. No one seemed to mind what I was wearing although I did explain on a couple of occasions to those who asked, why I looked like a fish out of water. By 6pm BC and myself decided to leave and make our way to Liverpool, we should have left at 5pm so we were only an hour late and 5 drinks over what we had decided would be suitable for the afternoon. A lift was arranged for us by some of our new found friends to the nearest station and we waited for a train. I am not suggetsting that the station we were delivered to is in the sticks but it did have a station cat who had decied to curl up and go to sleep on the ticket counter. It seemed completely nonplussed as we tried to get our tickets without disturbing it. It looked so cute and from such a bygone age that I took a photo of it. (see gallery)

The journey into Liverpool was pretty unremarkable but made amusing by the company of one of the guests from the christening who obviously had far more to drink than we had. I dont remember his name but he came from the Isle of Man. Fortunately for us he got off several stops before we did and I doubt he will remember being on the train with us depite asking me and BC our names and where we worked every two minutes. The concert itself was spectacular and the orchestra were conducted by Carl Davies, a rather flamboyant individual of some considerate skill and reputation. The first section of music before the interval saw Carl in a full length purple satin frock coat complete with a pair of training shoes and a shock of hair that made Don Kings look tame. The most memorable piece being Prokofievs “Capulets and Montagues” from the Romeo and Juliet suite. The section after the interval saw Carl change into an even more flamboyant Gold colour frock coat and we were given just a taster of what we had all really come to hear, Fantasia on British Sea Songs. This brought a lump to my throat as Blue Peter resonated off the walls of the concert hall. By the time they were into Rule Brittania I was positively choked and my glasses had steamed up. I was waving my Union Jack and singing along for all I was worth. Another change of garb for the increasingly individualistic composer saw him slip into a union Jack Swallow Tail coat and I was feeling as patriotic as it was possible to be when the strains of Jerusalem hit me. By now my hands were sore from applauding and I was hoarse. I wanted to shout out “Carl Davies rocks” but I couldn’t.  An evening of unbridled and completely unashamed patriotism was duly brought to a close with Elgars Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 in D major. By the end of the concert tears of emotion were streaming down my face. To see so many Union Jacks and St Georges Cross being flown and waved was awe inspiring and just for a moment I felt as though my national flag was no longer an object of hatred and there might be a chance of us as a nation reclaiming the flag from the BNP and other extremists who have hijacked it and caused councils to ban flag flying for fear of offence and litigation.

The whole weekend had been a complete success save for a snotty taxi driver who brought us home from Liverpool. However the best part of the weekend was the discovery that a few rays of sunshine, a few beers, a fire and some tunes can uplift the human soul to such a degree.

Consumerism, clutter and sentimentality

Hmmm…. Yes July is turning out to be as wet as the preceding June and May. In short summer is a complete washout! I have not had chance to get into the garden with the result that I could hide a tribe of pygmies in both front and back lawns. The unusually high winds have turned yet another gazebo into a kite and the shelter over my Barbie area is in pieces. As if this is not enough to piss me off, my hay fever has returned with a vengeance. Sunshine, Wimbledon, strawberries and cream, Pimms no 1 cocktail’s and cucumber sandwiches are but a distant memory from years gone by.

Reminisce? I might indeed. In fact not so long ago I had my loft insulated with the ultra thick ten inch insulation. Everything in the loft had to come out for the job to be done and it was a shock to see just how much stuff I had accumulated over the years. As I mentioned the insulation is very thick, so thick that nothing can go back into the loft and it’s a struggle to get the loft ladders back in. Faced with boxes of stuff that I had obviously placed in the loft for sentimental reasons, I was left with only one option and that was to find new homes for various bits and pieces really quick or go to the tip. I discovered old bits of carpet, large pictures and frames, hundreds of old and now obsolete video tapes, sports equipment and I could go on and on but I won’t.

I managed to find homes for most of my old, but in good condition, motor bike equipment, the carpets, most of the ornaments, my sports racquets and other sundries. I even contacted my ex girlfriend who I am on speaking terms with and asked her if she wanted a pile of stuff that belonged to her that I had discovered. Fortunately she did and it was despatched to a relative’s house for her to pick up at her leisure. The rest ended up at the tip. In many ways it was quite upsetting because although I hate clutter I don’t like to just throw things away especially if they can be of use to some one else and some things are of sentimental value. However if there is no space for things then they have to go. When I think of the money I have wasted over the years that I had spent on videos only to see them become obsolete it made me realise just how much consumerism has griped me. Faced with the latest piece of technology or new “in thing”, I like many others rush off to buy it making perfectly good but old equipment or fashions redundant. Years of music on cassette tape has been scrapped because I no longer have a cassette player, it has been replaced by the CD. Old radios and stereo equipment that is no longer up to the mark or will not receive digital broadcasts have been tossed aside. The pride and joy of yesteryear has become this year’s clutter and dust gatherer.

Up until I got into the loft I had decided I wanted the PSP3 merely for its ability to play Blue Ray and for its superior sound qualities. I am now thinking do i need it and how long it will be before the said item becomes obsolete and I won’t be able to give it away because the next new thing has hit the market? For this reason I have not updated any of my computers for the last few years. They do what I want them to do in roughly the time I ask them to do it in. There will come a time when I have to update them or replace them due to the obsoleteness of the operating systems and the inability of the hard ware to cope with the replacement software.  I have unwittingly become caught up in the manufacturer’s grand plan to make consumerism the next religion.  As I have no space for clutter and sentimentality demands both, space and the creation of clutter, trips to the tip and land fill sites are going to become an unfortunate way of life.

Dark clouds and the black dog

 Mum has now become so frail that she can no longer climb the stairs to bed even with aid from myself or other people. I took the decision this week to place her bed downstairs so she no longer had to make the exhausting journey, for her at least, to the top of the stairs and into the bedroom. I had suggested this move many months ago but it was resisted by my mum until last week when she finally succumbed to the limits of her body. She is mentally sharp and has her wits but her legs will no longer take her where she wants to go. It may sound strange but it’s a relief to me as I now know she won’t be attempting to climb the stairs with out me knowing about it. However I can’t help but have reservations about the general state of her health and the slow but steady decline in her abilities.

Added to this worry is the fact that the smoking ban has affected me in ways that I had not anticipated. For example I have just been told that as I use my car for work and I am paid for mileage, the car is in effect the property of my employer for the duration of work usage. This means I can’t smoke in my own car while I am using it for work. This has irked me beyond comprehension. I own the damn car, I pay for the insurance, taxes and maintenance and it is registered to me. In short it is my car. According to the logic applied I would not be able to scratch my own bollocks if my employers said I could not while I was in it on work business. My morals and principles say to me that I should tell my employer to shove his job up his arse as he is directly telling me what I can do with my own property and yet; financial logic tells me I have no option but to acquiesce to the demands of my employer.  Between the worries about my home life IE my mother and what I see as the unreasonable demands of my employer, I feel as though unreasonable demand are being made upon me.  I know the short answer is to stop smoking but what if my employer demands that I don’t eat garlic before getting into a vehicle that I own or states what after shave I can or cannot use or what colour socks I can wear? It’s the start of a long slippery slope of the erosion of personal freedom by the state or employer and the slide back to fiefdom and doffing of caps to the lord of the land or memsahib.

The wettest May I can ever remember gave way to the wettest June on record in the UK. It’s only the third day of July and it looks as though things are only going to get worse. A number of towns in the UK are under water and an ever increasing number of rivers look set to burst through their banks and add to the misery as flood defences buckle under the weight of the elements. I could understand all of this if it was the middle of a typical English winter but it’s supposed to be the height of summer. This has meant that quiet summer evenings spent watching the sun go down with a gin and tonic and a small camp fire have been replaced by pulling the curtains early and switching the lights on and praying the water does not reach the back door.

As most of my friends and family know, I suffer from SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder). This means that Serotonin which is produced in the body via sunlight entering the iris is replaced by Melatonin. Melatonin is the stuff that makes creatures hibernate or in the case of humans want to go to sleep when society dictates that they cannot either through work commitments or practicality. Normally in winter I have enough remedies to combat this such as a light box and laboratory produced Serotonin tablets which are enough to keep the black dog of depression at bay. I, like may others often reach a state of uncontrollable depression during the winter months which I have learnt to control and keep at bay through holistic remedies as there are no medically approved controls or prescriptions to cure.

Coupled with the increasing demands at home, problems with work, black clouds on the horizon and the ever growing spectre of the black dog of depression bounding over the horizon at a rapid rate of knots it’s no wonder that I need to leave this country and expand my horizons now and not tomorrow.

Crystal Tips and my worst fears

Saturday evening June 30 2007, as the smoking ban approached I decided to go out and take advantage of the last occasion I would be able to smoke in an enclosed public place in the UK. I headed out to New Brighton which in a straight line is about 7 miles from Higher Dew but a tad more by car. I headed for the latest place to have opened up within a few weeks and walked in. There was a duo on with the volume set so high I could not hear myself think, unfortunately neither could the barmaid and after 10 minutes of trying to attract her attention I left. I did manage to obtain a swift half in the next establishment but exited swiftly when I espied the karaoke machine being warmed up and headed for the next drinking house of hospitality. This one was quiet but extremely grim, my how times have changed. I don’t suppose it helped that the weather was atrocious. The pub opposite was packed to the rafters and I could not get in, there was only one more to try before I hit the sea front and the clubs. This big old establishment has gone through some name changes since I first ventured through it doors. I first knew it as the Neptune but like I said that was some years ago now, anyway I digress; I did get served in there and after a couple of drinks left for pastures new.

On the sea front some of the clubs were open and I headed to the “Irish” bar to see some friends. I spent some time talking to the landlady who told me she would expect the takings to go down at some point in the near future as the smoking ban bit. She also explained that some places would go out of business and it would be those who did not have a car park or outside meeting point for smokers. I looked along the sea front and figured out which ones she meant. Those with steps up to the front door and no car park or frontage were obvious candidates. I had a good evening up until it was time to come home. A taxi could not be found for love or money. It’s the one thing that has put me off from drinking on this peninsular. In either Chester or Liverpool city centre a taxi can be found in minutes and usually at any time day or night. Yes it’s expensive but it’s better than walking 3.5 miles to the bean counters house to ring a taxi to pick us both up from there. The bean counter was not impressed with her Crystal Tips hair do either, which is what the rain did to it by the time we arrived at her gaffe.

The following day I was driven back to the sea front to fetch my car which I had left the night before. On the way there we went past the kite festival on the sea front. It was quite a colourful experience with kites of all sizes, shapes, and colours literally filled a section of the skies. The only downside was the weather as it teemed down yet again but almost everyone I saw seemed to be having a good time. The event is one of many that the local council sponsor and encourage. The international guitar festival is just one other of a whole range of things that the local council have organised to give this peninsula some press coverage and attention to a wider audience. Of course there are many things I don’t applaud the council for but on just a few items they seem to have got it right. This place is a whole lot greener and has a vast array of wildlife that did not appear here until a couple of years ago. Walkways, a coastal path and cycle paths have emerged. In short it’s a pleasant place to live if you like that sort of thing and it’s not the council’s fault that all the industries have gone. Famous names like Camel Laird’s, Metal Box, Austin Packaging, Van Den Burghs, and Gandy Belt not to mention the docks etc. I could go on but suffice to say that upwards of 30,000 jobs have been lost in 30 years or so. The area was set in terminal decline but has been regenerated to a fashion in that there not so many old crumbling buildings and empty factories standing idle. Green belt and lush pastures may not be much compensation for when your factory has shut down and your livelihood has gone but it is better than none.

This brings me neatly back to the fact that even the landlords of the entertainment and hospitality business recognise that the new anti smoking measures will create even more unemployment. I genuinely have a great affection for the area I live in and I don’t want to see it run down any more but I suspect this is the start of another slow downward spiral. Only time and the friendly landlords and landladies will tell if my worst fears are founded.