Wednesday 9am - Musings from a Summer Patio
At 7.20 this morning, my smallest dog, Ness, became a stole and wrapped herself round my neck and head – it was a little like a cat curling up somewhere inappropriate. The problem was I was still asleep; I’m on holiday, I deserve something of a lay in. What set off this vicious bag of nerves was the removal of a skip from the building site behind our back garden, where a bunch of new ‘affordable homes’ have been built. Now, I‘m not quite sure if I’m right on this, but I believe you can’t make too much noise before 8am, especially the kind of racket being made about 200 feet from my bedroom window.
The noise rattled Ness so much, it set off two of the other dogs – Marley is pretty much immune to everything that freaks the other 3 out – and after prising Ness from my head, I told them all to calm down, wrapped a pillow around my head turned over and tried to fall asleep despite the cacophony. So imagine my surprise when a Jumbo jet landed at the industrial metal concert I was being subjected to…
Possibly the greatest drawback in this enforced six week holiday is the fact that Fishwife and co are also on holiday for this first two weeks (their boys, like me, also for 6 weeks) and as I don’t believe they have beds, they were up as soon as the building site mayhem started, jabbering away at a decibel level that drowned out the skip scraping along the tarmac. Jesus Harry Christ these people are the noisiest individuals ever. I said to the wife at 8am this morning, on the phone, that I am being punished, by some evil god, for belonging to the noisiest family of the 1970s. Everyone in my house, during my youth, seemed to be in competition for sound (except Steve, who always sat quietly) and we never once considered what our poor neighbours must have thought; what with my dad booming away and us all chiming in as backing boomers.
So, I was up at 7.22am; with a slight hangover from 3 pints of mildly strong ale last night (it was the Vic, I expect a muzzy head) wanting to inflict torture, violence and unspeakable acts upon several people. I grabbed the paper and went about my morning ablutions; but wait, what was that, not content with having the builders over the back and the Fishwife Collective wibbling away like some retarded Polyphonic Spree; but some cunt decides to start mowing his lawn and cutting his trees down at the same time. It sounds like the end of the fucking world out here at the moment. I might have the radio on, but I can’t hear the bloody thing, because I have re-enactments of Michael Bay’s greatest noisy films to the left, right and ahead of me.
This distraction, of course, allows me to participate in my favourite hobby – no, not whinging, but procrastinating. I spent more time farting about trying to write a mildly humorous blog entry yesterday and no time at all working on Old Man, which, I fear, is another good idea without an actual plot; but as is the way, just by persevering another idea has surfaced; or rather an old idea with a slightly new approach. That’s not to say I’ve finished with my 300 year old man story; I just think it’s likely to end up being a short story. The idea that has resurfaced is one I had about ten years ago, made an attempt at writing, shelved it when I realised that I didn’t have the necessary tools to do it justice, but now I seem to have developed those tools.
The problem is, this time last year, I was just finishing the editing of My Monthly Curse and thoroughly enjoying it and part of me is looking at the completed novel I did in 1999 and thinking I could do that. The only drawback to that plan is if I was to finish this manuscript, I‘d never, in a million years, ‘publish’ or submit it to any publisher under my name. More importantly, it would have to be set in the 1990s, because a lot of the things that are in the story would no longer be possible due to the way the internet has developed. Ironically, with the success of Facebook, much of the set up in the story is totally feasible, so should I decide to spend some time on it, it might actually be easier to update it rather than plain edit it.
But, it’s all procrastination. I’m like the bloke over the road that can always get you what you need until you actually ask him to get something. I’m, as my dear old dad used to say, all mouth and no trousers. It’s always been easier to sit here and give a commentary on my life than it is to actually sit down and work hard on getting one of my ideas, however badly executed, knocked into shape to the point where I might be happy with it. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you finish something like a story (when I say ‘finish’ I just mean the story in its entirety before you go about the tedious task of editing) and I need to convince myself that if I at least get something completed by the end of August, I will be able to look back and say that I achieved something other than household chores and a raspberry klafoutis.
Oddly enough, one of the reasons I have this netbook which has no net is because I wanted a portable word processor rather than something that will most likely distract me from my intentions. Neil, the brother-in-law, told me that writers recommend this because the net is too much of a distraction and the bottom line is if you are serious enough about something, you can do the piddly bits of research later. The great thing about things like Word is you can isolate text with a different colour or with other useful highlights, then come back to it when you know for sure or have to make changes. Back in the days of typewriters, I shouldn’t think people were quite as quick to get stuff on paper.
Anyhow, I’ve just finished mowing my own lawn, at a respectable 10am. It was still slightly boggy.
Have I told you this before? Maybe I haven’t. Is this the latest urban legend or something a little weirder? Judge for yourself.
I was told this story a few weeks ago and being a fan of mystery it appealed to me. It was the summer of 1979 and a young couple were snatching some private moments by a tree at the top end of Eastfield Park in Pubtown (when it was Shoesville) when they saw and heard a man coming their way. He had seemingly just emerged from the mist and was heading straight towards them. What was unusual about the man was he was talking into something held to the side of his head; like a mobile phone, but they were 20 years away from being like Star Trek tricorders. The man, continuing what appeared to be one side of a conversation, walked straight past the couple, completely oblivious to their presence and then disappeared amongst the trees by the side of Booth Lane.
32 years later, telling his son from a marriage to another woman, the man decided to contact through Facebook his old girlfriend and she remembered the event clearly; reminding her ex-boyfriend that the reason they were both so taken by it was the way the man was talking. There’s probably a totally logical explanation for it; an escaped loony or perhaps someone who thinks he’s Captain James Kirk, oh, another loony then… To be fair, it has all the pointlessness of being an urban legend.
I’ve been privy to an interesting conversation for the last 10 minutes or so, but it wasn’t until about three minutes into it that I noticed what it was about. Sadly, I lost the conversation when someone decided to make more noise; but the upshot is Fuckwit, who has been on InCap for the last half century has been told he has to get a job, so he’s got a DSS assessor visiting and she will determine whether he is fit to work. I have never heard such bullshit in my life; complete and utter bare-faced lies. He’s been telling this woman that he can barely walk to the shops any longer and that everyday tasks, such as putting clothes on have become really difficult. Intrigued by this and needing the loo, I had a gander out of the window and sure enough, there he was, sitting on his patio complete with walking stick, looking feeble. Jesus, I wanted to stick my head out of the window and tell the woman that he’s a lying sack of shit and that I‘ve seen him doing all manner of things; because I have. He’s less fucking disabled than me.
She’s gone now and I reckon he’s going to get away with it. I’d shop the bastard if that was in my nature. Anyhow, my patio is like a conveyor belt of human wastage. Fuckwit has disappeared, probably to eat his lunch out of a trough while having his back shaved by his fat slave; but fishwife has re-emerged with wife, wearing a little too little for my liking, and two unbelievably noisy children. Plus they will insist on talking to me when I’m trying to get on with procrastinating…
The ambient temperature on the patio is 33 degrees; it’s not 11am yet. At 8.30 it was really pleasant out here; now it’s getting pretty sticky. It’s the kind of weather where fat birds can lose a stone just by having sex for an hour.
Thursday 10.45am - Musings from a Summer Patio
Last night, I did something orgasmically heavenly. I took nearly a pound of raspberries and put them in a saucepan with two tablespoons of sugar and simmered them for about an hour until the juice had reduced to a thick syrup. I then sieved this gooey red mess into a bowl and had a reasonable amount of homemade raspberry something.
Then I took 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream and half a pint of milk; put them both in a mixer and added half of the raspberry mixture. I did this twice and produced two pints of the most gorgeous raspberry milkshake you will ever have in your life! The wife reckons my banana milkshakes, made using a whole overripe banana is also worth a mention in dispatches.
Yesterday afternoon, I shelved one project and got on with another and spent best part of the evening working on it; 3500 words so far and it’s shaping up really nicely. I’m really concentrating on it (but I’ve done that before and failed) and even though it’s an old idea of mine that failed once, I’ve put an entirely new twist on it, which has, fortunately, given me an interesting story and a way to tell it and the one that runs parallel with it. Imagine It’s A Wonderful Life crossed with elements of The Sopranos with a smattering of Peggy Sue Got Married, it’s a kind of what would you do in this situation story. The exciting thing for me is I know where it’s going; it’s just going to be really interesting filling in the blanks.
So, the Olympics haven’t even started yet and we’ve already upset the North Koreans (well, the jocks have). Augurs well for the next couple of weeks.
Well, that was a triumph for the common man. I was sitting here thinking about what else I was going to write about when the phone rang. I thought it was t’wife, but instead it turned out to be a scam. Alarm bells should have rang louder, because on hindsight he didn’t know what my name was, just asked if I was the main user of the Windows computer in my house. He had a thick Indian accent and I had to get him to repeat himself a number of times, all the while keeping slightly sceptical. Anyhow to cut a long story shorter, I went to my computer and did the things he asked me and sure enough I was awash with error and warning messages, but even this wasn’t convincing me I was talking to someone from Microsoft Support – who he claimed he was from.
At one point, I had to tell him that I had had a computer 20 years and knew my way around it, but when all these error message were displayed, he had the temerity to suggest that perhaps I didn’t know that much about PCs after all. This got my back up, but I remained courteous if a little distant. Then, of course, he said they could fix it and I asked what that was likely to cost me. He assured me that it would not cost me anything, so I carried on humouring him. Then he asked me to go to a specific website www.ammyy.com and instead of typing that into my browser, I typed it into Google and discovered all kinds of negative things about them and nothing, nada, zero positive. They are being investigated by the FBI and that bell what was ringing in the back of my head about the ‘event viewer’ he wanted me to pay special attention to was confirmed when he was asking me to look at a .log file; something that registers everything you do on your PC all and every day you use it. Error messages relate to things like trying to play a song through Media player that has been moved to another directory. It is a harmless event log and bares no relation to how your computer runs.
He then began to tell me that I needed to click on something to allow him remote access to my computer so they could do a scan and tell me exactly what needs fixing. He had been talking to me for a number of seconds but I was reading about how evil his company was. He also said that if they had to fix it there would be a £50 administration charge. Surprise, surprise.
“Tell me, before we click on this button, is your company still being investigated by the FBI?”
“The FBI – the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the United States.”
“That is Microsoft’s US division, sir,” and then said something I couldn’t understand.
“But you don’t work for Microsoft. It says here on one of Microsoft’s pages that the company has no association with ammyy at all. This other website says that the event viewer you hold so much trust in is just a log file and records everything a person does on his computer; it does not show errors in the hardware or software. Oh and one other thing, what’s my name?”
The sad thing is I’m naturally suspicious of anyone, but I’m probably the exception to the rule, especially when the person on the other end of the phone sounds so sure of himself and can make you think something completely harmless is something to be terrified of. Humans, we’re great, eh?
I’ve given up on Radio6 and have gone back to Radio 2.