Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Cog Neat Oh

Monday 11th:
Just because I've suspended the blog doesn't mean I haven't got anything to write about; although recently I'm forgetting more than I'm actually remembering, or getting a flash of something I forgot, thinking 'I'll remember that this time' and instantly forgetting it again. The last six weeks have been a bit like that.

Now is a perfect example; perhaps my head is so fuddled by the shit that is going on around it, but in the time it took me to walk upstairs, sit at my desk and start writing this I have forgotten what I came here for. Now that's something everyone suffers from at some point. I once got all the way to London and then thought, 'Why did I come here again?'

So while I try and remember what it was that I was going to waste three minutes wibbling about, here's an interlude...

Hasn't 2013 been a shit year? Yeah and we're barely 6 weeks into it and not only have I lost my job, but one of my friends is suicidal, another has been diagnosed bi-polar, another is also having work problems, one has lost someone close to him, another is suffering from debilitating depression, another's mother in terminally ill, one is suffering financial problems, another, 33 year old woman, has been so ill she was hospitalised with what killed my mother and is still seriously ill and these are all people I have regular contact with - not casual acquaintances. The weather's been awful, the country's mind-numbingly slow crawl to oblivion continues like some horrific glacier from an evil alternative Earth - relentless, crushing and oozing despair and hopelessness with every inch. And to think we all thought 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 was the worst year ever...

We had Megan and Gifford between 1990 and 2007 and the wife believes that you could probably count on two hands the number of days we had which could be classed as 'snow days' - days where there's more than just a dusting - during that time. Snow was a very rare thing until the 21st Century came along. There were only four recorded white Christmases, and in reality there were only two real white Christmases, in the entire 20th century. It was mild Christmas 1962, until Boxing day at least. I remember some snow events during the 1980s, but the '90s seemed devoid of any real snow - but then again, the 90s were the most consistently hottest years I can remember - although I'm sure we had a few days where it lay deep and crisp and even.

Fishwife's kids are 21st Century brats and for the last five or six years have witnessed snow like the rest of us hadn't seen for yonks; in fact, snow is the norm to them and they must think adults a bit weird by our constant surprise that two inches has fallen overnight. The same for our motley crew of hounds; the first real snow I can remember of this snowy era was at the end of February 2007, just after we got Ness and still had Meg. We discovered then that Ness was a snow dog and she's been the black Arctic fox ever since (and, she probably expects and takes snow for granted).

Would it surprise you that the current government changed the law to make it very difficult - as in convoluted and time consuming - to pursue a constructive dismissal case. Hasn't put me off, though. They stopped legal aid, despite figures showing that 98% of all people claiming legal aid needed to do it for cases where they would have won. The government in its wisdom stopped everyone from getting it because of 2%. That's our government for you; why use a scalpel when a chainsaw will suffice.

Anyhow, a tiny addendum to that; the previously unpublished entry - H - may never ever be published and we might just move along, with nothing to see here, if everything goes well. And that is really all you need to know about that.

Wednesday 13th:
That was earlier this week and it has snowed again. I've since had my second lot of blood tests (last Friday), but the good news is that a lot of things have come back from the first blood tests as negative, so I'm not going to die just yet, unless I get run over by a bus or one of the dogs' trips me up and I break my neck (so if that happens this was written before just so you know).

Just in case anyone cares, the reason I suspended the blog was to leave that message up there in case anyone came along from my former employer's and saw it. Yes, it's inflammatory, but I feel like I've been provoked.

The musical journey has arrived at V. Back in the 1980s, when it was all the rage to use cassette tapes to keep your illegal copies of albums on, I invented the compilation tape. At least I thought I did, just like any other kid who suddenly realised that a recording device could be used in a variety of useful ways without doing anything other than recording things. Putting all my favourite songs on one tape made so much sense, especially when the Walkman came along. Obviously after the compilation tape, I then created the mix tape, which I still believe I created some of the most bizarre shit you will ever hear and I don't even know if any of them even exist any longer. Anyhow, I'm digressing during my digression; the wife, cos she was about in the 80s, used to moan at me because I would never keep track lists. I figured I knew the title of the record why did I need to waste my time writing it down?

I was still doing this 6 months ago despite actually hating it; but the reason I don't make a big deal out of it is because of the Internet. If I want to know what track 6 on so-and-so's album is called there are a hundred places I can find out in seconds. It's lazy and I kind of envy those people who made turning the inlay card of a cassette into an art-form while incorporating all the song titles (and even band members, producer and other pretty anal information). The wife insists I give her albums with information or she just leaves them lying around and won't play them.

Sunday 17th:
It is now Sunday and the sun is shining brightly and since writing all of the above I have discovered a few things: I might have diabetes, which would explain a lot of things. I have heard from the Citizen's Advice Bureau. It took them 6 days to do it and they wrote to me on a Sunday. They gave me no information that I haven't received elsewhere and had I been waiting round specifically for them I would have felt unbelievably underwhelmed by their 'effort'. Subsequent governments have devalued the CAB to the point where I wonder if they actually do anything but listen now...

Of course the big news thing this week has been horse flesh. Hah, I'm a vegetarian. This whole business proves one thing to me - it's a slow news year. This isn't even on the scale of CJD or Salmonella in eggs; yes this horse meat might have some drug in it, but what about the wide screen antibiotic that most farm animals are given as a precaution every spring and autumn? We wonder why we're becoming immune to antibiotics; there's one of the reasons. I'll have the beef lasagne with penicillin please, but I'll have the Horse D'Oeuvres first!

I came up with a really sensible idea of regenerating town centres even after saying I didn't have a solution for their plight. It's simple really; if councils want their town centres to thrive they need to reduce the business rates for small companies and make parking in towns free or very very cheap. This might happen in some places, but it won't happen in Northampton, not while you, me and him have holes in our arses.

As I said it's now Sunday and I'm on A in my AtoZ of music. Huh? I was on V just a few inches above. Well, days have passed since then and I've started again, this time removing all the un-pre-recorded CDs that the wife isn't going to play in the next 10 years and moving them back into the bosom of my office, where they can be played again after much inactivity - out of sight, out of mind! This has meant that Air have been aired and bonkers, plus there are only 140 of these (as opposed to 1400 the first time around), so I expect most of them will be things I'll keep.

Monday 18th:
So far today I've tidied up my office, cleared up loads of dog sick, applied for a job and drank loads of coffee. The sun is trying to shine and you'd never guess we're going to be shivering again by the end of the week.

My AtoZ has kind of halted. I got rid of 227 CDs in total. I started with the downstairs lot, as mentioned above, but after a very long and hard look at the new stack, I decided that they were downstairs because they were considered albums I'd already decided I'd keep and, to be honest, with the exception of a couple of live albums with questionable quality, the only reason I've pulled them is to give them another listen to - which isn't a bad thing. So that didn't take long, got rid of a lot of shit, made an English teacher (initially) happy, freed up valuable space and allowed me to rediscover some old classics. I must do it again in a few years.

We watched the remake of Total Recall at the weekend and while it was an okay action adventure that tried very hard to kind of put itself in the same world as Bladerunner, it fell to bits when you actually started to think about it. It was my main problem with the hammy Arnie original in that there seemed to be no logical reason why the big Austrian would need to go to a memory implant shop in the first place. Well, the remake is based on the film Total Recall and therefore you suddenly realise that it isn't really anything to do with Philip K Dick's We Can Dream it For You Wholesale and more about updating the then state-of-the-art special effects of the original film.

The thing that fails to allow this film to work is the same as the first film and that is the entire premise of both films. Both Arnie & Colin Farrell are having bad dreams, about a life that makes no sense to them. This is the future and instead of going to a psychiatrist, both men decide the best way to work out what their dreams mean is to have another bunch of fake memories implanted?!?! I'm sorry, but neither film addresses the flimsy logic at work here. Why would someone thinking they are having a mental breakdown go to a gimmick-laden false memory seller? Oh, to make a film, I forgot.

Plus, I never thought I'd say this, but Kate Beckinsale should have died, like Sharon Stone did, inside the opening half an hour, because by the end of it you so wanted her to die as horribly as possible. Her character was both annoying and actually, logically, made less sense than Quaid going to a memory implant specialist and her sudden change from actor to psycho was really unconvincing. It makes me wonder what the alternative story would have been had Quaid just continued to live his new life as a robot maker. Would his employed-by-the-State 'wife' continue to pretend to be wifey, having sex, babies and putting up with her 'husband's' ludicrous dreams or would she have manufactured a nice easy divorce once her boss was happy that psycho-Quaid was no longer a threat? The thing that amazes me about films like this are the actors' inability to see what a stinker they're in. Are they that whorish they don't have a quality or integrity threshold? Bill Nighy could have phoned his part in and I think he was smashed out of his skull for the 4 minutes he was on screen.

Actually, it isn't an okay action adventure, it's an over-long, convoluted, hodge-podge of half-baked, ill-thought out and slightly adolescent 'plots' set in a visually impressive world of which even that starts to annoy you after a while when you realise that in the future there is no wind. And if you've seen it and you don't understand what I mean then you didn't watch it closely enough. It's a crap film and I can see why it bombed at the box office.

I knew there was something I needed to talk about. My health! I mean, it's been so long... You will have noticed that the title of this blog now reflects the health conscious me. The tests all came back and with one small exception, that we will get to, I'm pretty much okay, probably just suffering from getting old and from what my doctor believed all along, which is a fracked immune system. The one wrinkle is the second lot of blood tests I had to have on Thursday. My initial reaction was the first ones obviously came back inconclusive therefore I was going to die horribly. But the nurse put me at ease by telling me that everything they were looking for came back negative - huzzah! - however - uh-oh - my blood sugar levels were way too high and they wanted me to have more bloods after fasting so they could do a proper hunt for diabetes. Now, if I haven't got it that's great, but some of these secondary symptoms I've been having - tingly and numb fingers and toes, blurred vision, irregular peeing also have links to diabetes, so if I did have this it would explain all of this other stuff. Also, I know because an old friend of mine called Doreen got Type 2 a few years back and it went undiagnosed for months and months and she got more and more ill without anyone being able to put their finger on why. I kind of sound like I want to have diabetes (I can then stand here and do a Spike Milligan), which I don't, but I also would like a definitive reason why I've felt so shit for the last 16 months.

The job I applied for is part time. Not ideal until you see that for just 18.5 hours a week I will be earning just £3,000 a year less than the last job, which did have 13 weeks holiday, but... I'm more than happy to look for another little part time job to boost my income up to probably more than I was earning and I have no fear of this - two part time jobs will stop me from getting bored.

I think I'll go and bake a cake.

Tuesday 19th:
The cake worked. It turned into a real 'wait and hope' but in the end it came out very nice, if not a little unchocolatey. It had 3 ounces of cocoa in it and yet despite being dark brown, doesn't really taste of anything but generic cake - which, I hasten to add, is fine.

One of those things I forgot popped back into my head just a few minutes ago. I'm sure everyone still gets spam, but I've noticed in the last few weeks that my spam now comes from 50 of Hollywood's 'sexiest' women. Beyonce, Selma Hayek, Anne Hathaway, Britney Spears, J Lo, Angelina Jolie, Ellen DeGener-whatsername and a host of others (although I'm not sure about the last one) all telling me that one of their famous friends lost 50lbs because of some fantastic new diet that if you just click on this link you will open a world of untold wonders and weight loss.

I mean, you get a vague generic bit of spam from some one whose name is vaguely familiar, you are, if you are an imbecile, more likely to click on that than click on something from Scarlet Johansson, aren't you? I mean, how often do you get emails from famous Hollywood actresses? Oh, that often? Okay, click away.

Because I have nothing much to do (I intend to go and do some garden tidying in a while) I have been investigating Long Buckby on Google maps. Now, I know this sounds sad, but whenever I ran my room when I was at work, I was appalled by the fact that most of the younger generation couldn't find their arses even if you gave therm a map and a torch because they wouldn't know what the map was. If I didn't have something for an individual to do I'd give them an atlas and tell them to find Long Buckby. 99% of them weren't even aware it's in the same county let alone country. The fact it's about 10 miles from Northampton and used to have history (and was in my lifetime something of a boom town), you would hope that people have heard of it. The wife works with someone who lives there (so she knows where it is) and yet for most kids you might as well be talking to them in some alien dialect.

I used to cycle to Buckby when I lived in Daventry. I used to think it was a slightly smaller, posher version of Dav (without the Brummy overspill) and this impression stayed with me for years, yet amazingly if you'd asked me how to get there from where I currently am, I would have struggled. It's an odd place and if you live on the east of the county the best way to describe it is it's like Irchester but not so close to anywhere.

I found myself there a couple of years ago; I can't even remember why; and I was blown away by it. I remember listening to this neurologist on the radio talking about memories and how, over time, our memories rewrite and rewrite events from the past so much that they eventually become distorted and blurred Xeroxes that sometimes bare no resemblance to what actually happened. This happened when I went to Dunchurch for the first time in 40 years - the site of my first ever massive deja vu incident - and it was nothing like how I remembered (and it hadn't been structurally altered). Long Buckby seemed to have no similarities to the place I visited before I was a teenager. Bits of it were standalone memories, but because I didn't recognise what was around them, it felt like I remembered these isolated things from a different place.

Ironically, most of the people outside of Buckby who have heard of it are train commuters because it has a railway station and just north of it is where the branch line meets the mainline. Also, back when the A5 was an important road, Long Buckby was on it, so geographically it was a good place to live - hence the boom times of the '50s, '60s and '70s. The success of this area was highlighted in Weedon, just down the road on the A5. There was once a small pub on the corner of the main junction called The Crossroads. In 1970, when my folks went there with friends on New Year's Eve it was probably the size of your average food pub - not huge, maybe bordering on a standard Wetherspoons. By the 1980s, The Crossroads was a huge sprawling hotel, restaurant and, if you were lucky enough to find it, bar. It had continued to grow and was now this huge and struggling beast. It was only saved by being bought by a major chain and Weedon has reinvented itself over the last 25 years as a bit of an antiques centre and place to find the GUC. But in 1975 Weedon was rock'n'roll central!

This is becoming a digression, but I remember my brother, back in the very early 1970s, coming to Northampton with his mates, not to go to town - no one went to town - but to go to some of the hip and trendy pubs all situated on the outskirts. In 1970, the busiest pubs in Northampton were: The Sunnyside, the Britannia, The Windmill, The Fantasia, The Old Five Bells and ... the Broadmead. There were others, many of which have slipped my mind, and a lot of that list no longer even exist. The Fantasia was a hot joint on the new estate of King's Heath in Northampton. It had bands, discos and lots of promiscuity - 20 years later it was the murder capital of Northampton; 20 years after that it's a block of housing association flats.

People didn't go into town; town was full of old people and a lot of Irish pubs. Even the nightclubs in Northampton were situated around the edge of the main town centre, never in it. I don't know if this was the same for other places?

I've spent too much time sitting up here, I need to get on with something.

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