Wednesday, September 28, 2011

But First a Word from Our Sponsor

On the 1st of October 1985, most parts of Britain experienced something really rather unusual. The temperature reached 30 degrees centigrade - it was the warmest day of what turned out to be a really shitty summer. The fact the warmest day of the year was after the autumnal equinox was pretty much a rare event. Yes, this country has 'Indian Summers', but true Indian Summers happen after the 21st September and they tend to be a period of not less than a week where the temperatures mimic those we expect in July and August. In that case, according to my book on Weather Lore (which Roger and his missus bought me a few years ago because of my love of meteorology) Britain doesn't get them very often at all and October 1st, 1985 was something of a one off; the 2nd was nice in the south east, but by the 3rd...

I spent 6 years in Canada before I hit double figures, age wise, and over there Indian Summers are pretty much expected, in fact if they don't get a couple of glorious weeks in October there tends to be a feeling of being let down, but Canada is part of a huge land mass and this isn't really that unusual. The last time the UK had a genuine Indian Summer was 1998. A blocking high pressure area sat over central Europe from the middle of September until the beginning of November; every so often it would drift north and drag in cooler air from the rapidly cooling continent, but temperatures stayed in the low 20s until the middle of October and high teens until November 7th when the country was finally hit by some Atlantic fronts. I remember 1998 pretty well; I spent more time in the autumn wearing shorts than I did for the entire summer.

We don't often get 'normal' weather now; there is always some new record broken. A little over 10 months ago we were all shivering for the entire month of December as the UK began to resemble Siberia and then we were all walking around in shorts and T shirts in April as temperatures his the mid 20s. I forecast back in May that the summer would fizzle out and September would be the redemption. I even suggested that companies pay me money for long range weather forecasting because I got it right and none of the Met offices or weather specialists could touch me. However, even I didn't expect what we're currently having. The weather men and women are suggesting temperatures will reach 28 degrees by Saturday, but I'm betting they touch the magic 30 in Gravesend or somewhere in Cambridgeshire - where they seem to think the country will be the hottest.

It is quite freaky out there. It probably isn't helped by the fact its very humid, because there's a lot of moisture in the air - you get that in the UK at this time of year, it's why morning mists are the more frequent than any other time of the year. The temperature on my patio is 26 degrees; probably a couple of degrees higher than out on the street, but it's just gone 11:00am, which suggests that by 2 or 3 this afternoon my patio will be like a sauna (until the sun goes behind the apple tree). It actually isn't that pleasant. I sat out there just prior to writing this; I had a cup of coffee - I should have had a cold drink - and the Guardian and after five minutes I was sweating like an overused clunge.

I was wondering what kind of sun tan you can get at this time of year? The sun isn't particularly strong, so I'm thinking instead of the roasting you get in May, June or July, perhaps you go a nice golden brown, a bit like a rotisserie chicken with a honey glaze? I might have to find out.


I remembered, during the short while I was out on the patio, something I've been meaning to say for ages. Have you ever noticed in films and TV when someone has to give some blood for a sacrifice or some such, that the person invariably cuts themselves across the palm of the hand and then squeezes the blood out like they're crushing a big grape?

Last weekend, after the death of our last rabbit, we decided to dismantle the rabbit runs so we could turn that area into some extra veg patches. They were built over 10 years ago by the wife and my late father and despite that not being a great endorsement, they were surprisingly tough to break down. While I was doing it, I cut the palm of my hand with some chicken wire. It stun like a bastard, didn't bleed that much and now, 10 days after doing it, it has just about healed up.

One of my dogs, Marley, has a habit of jumping up at us when we get in, sometimes she has sharp claws and often scratches the back of my hands. She did so on Sunday, slashing my right hand just below the thumb joint. It smarted, looked ugly and bled a lot. This morning it is just a thin scab and will probably wash off when I do the washing up.

Just why, other than for artistic merit, do people think cutting the palm of their hand is a sensible thing? The palm of your hand is the most prolific part of your body for sweating; you sweat more through your hands than you do your armpits or anywhere else that pongs. You also constantly use your hands, move them, twist them, stretch them and generally do everything with them. This is why the cut on the palm of my hand has taken 3 times longer to heal than the one on the back of my hand.

I am aware of just how pointless this is; but I have to do something to fill up my days...


Hurry Up, We're Dreaming by M83 is quite brilliant.


Of course, for hot blooded heterosexual males, hot weather means nubile women wandering around with considerably less clothes than usual. However, it also means you get a large proportion of fat, sweaty munters, who seem to think they look fabulous in their skimpy skirts and open necked blouses or halter neck T shirts.

My young friend Harriet, who has just started university as a maturer student (good luck with that, H), who has the kind of figure that women would kill for (and probably a few blokes) was telling me a few weeks ago that these ugly fat women don't think they sexy, they just dress that way because they're inherently stupid and just don't know any better.

The reason I'm being so blatantly sexist is because a woman just walked past my office window and all she needed was big ears and a trunk and she could have doubled up as Dumbo. Sadly, dumbo was quite cute, this woman had a face like a pug licking piss off of stinging nettles...


It's Dole Day today. I'm meeting with my personal advisor for the first time. That should be nice.


My bad back hasn't gone away. I'm heading towards two weeks of teeth gnashing pain and have come top the conclusion that it's probably been a good time to have it; because if I'd been working I wouldn't be.

I talked to my doctor a few months ago about the amount of disruption my condition has brought to my life and she was relatively dismissive about it, saying quite rightly that others are far worse off than me and that I'm a long way away from being classed as truly disabled. The thing is, this spondylosis is a chronic problem that affects joints; effectively from nothing more than wear and tear. So whenever a new joint flares up, I know what it is and I don't bother my doctor about it - why bother? It's not like she's going to suggest anything useful.

The problem is I've had lots of time off work in the last 3 years. 90 odd days in 2009, 90 odd days in 2010 - both joint related: shoulder op and prolapsed disc. This is a lot and doesn't look good on applications or at interviews. I've only worked for 5 months this year and during that time I had a week off because of a bad back; since the beginning of June I could quite easily have had a further 20 working days off because my back, elbow and shoulder - it prevents me driving, walking very far or doing any lifting at all. My condition seriously affects my ability to do anything for a sustained period of time without the risk of me incurring time off because of the pain or inability to function properly. This therefore makes me less than desirable as an employee and I can't even discuss this with my doctor because she doesn't seem to think it's a problem.

Bit like life in general, really...


I bumped into an old friend earlier this week; someone who I used to score my illegal drugs off of back in the day. He's a bit of a stoner and tends to do some silly things, mainly down to his bad memory. He stopped dealing a couple of years ago and now has a good job and a respectable way of life.

He was going off to a festival at the end of August and was going through his cupboard looking for his old rucksack. When he found it he couldn't understand why it was so heavy until he looked inside and found a kilo of hashish. It had been sitting, wrapped up, for over three years - £500 worth of illegal substances that he just misplaced and then, somehow, managed to forget about.

This is the kind of thing I'd like to happen to me, the problem is I've never had anything like that amount at any point during my smoking life, so it's a bit like hoping I win the lottery; I need to be in it to win it.

The thing is, this person has a habit of finding things. We were out once in the late 1990s, walking the dogs over in some secluded fields and woods and he found a bag with about two ounces of weed in it; just sitting there under a tree in the middle of an old sheep field.

Why didn't I find that? I mean, it's not like I'm going to take it into the police and say I found it under a tree. It would be highly unlikely that I could claim it as my own after 30 days.

That reminds me of a story about some guy i used to know in Wellingborough whose car went wrong and he couldn't afford to fix it. He and his neighbour decided the best thing to do was steal his own car and then burn it out in some back lane and then claim on the insurance.

The first problem he had was neither of them knew how to steal a car...

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