Friday, June 29, 2007

there is such a thing as a free loo-roll

Sometimes when I go shopping it falls to me to purchase items for the shared house in which I live. You know, things like bin bags, washing up liquid, and - as was the case yesterday - loo-roll.

The member of staff in Sainsbury's who handed me a free pack of loo-rolls as part of a promotion couldn't have timed things much better therefore. Unfortunately her ability to pyschically read my shopping list stopped there, before she was able to also find me free pasta sauce, cereal and other more interesting items. Still, free loo-roll is better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.

I also disproved another famous saying this week, after a BBQ at work proved that there is after all such thing as a free lunch.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

another rant at the jobsworths in the council (a post which does exactly what it says on the tin)

Nim - if you want to skip this, feel free.

When I came back from a short break in West Wales, I found that my housemate had had a bit of a clear out; the wine-bottles which had decorated our shelves, the jars which had been rinsed out and the cardboard from a few packing boxes lay ready to be put out with a very full box for recycling.

Last night, helped by a friend, I duly put the recycling out on the street for collection this morning.

Upon my return from work this evening I found that the bottles had gone, as had some of the cardboard, but the recycling box remains full, and there is still some cardboard to be taken.

This is quite puzzling...

a) Is it that today was not recycling day after all, and there is an oddball thief in the area?

b) Was it just glass which was collected today, and some cardboard just happened to be taken for good measure?

c) Are those the council employs to collect the recycling jobsworths like the rest of them, such that they couldn't be bothered to collect it all?

I suspect c, but that still leaves me the problem of dealing with that which has been left behind.

Do I...

a) Leave it out in the rain, on the basis that today might not have been recycling day after all, and they may come tomorrow?

b) Take it back inside, wet and soggy that it now is, and watch as the recycling truck passes by moments after I do so?

c) Move it down the street, and blame the neighbours - who are a bit weird anyway - for the rubbish?

I could ring the council but

a) Unlike the man who recorded the answering machine, I don't have all the time in the world. I certainly don't have the time to listen to a list of departments, only to find that everyone is out to lunch until next Tuesday and won't speak to me anyway.

b) Even if my call did happen to coincide with their opening hours it would be irrelevant. Past experience tells me that whatever they suggested would not take effect for months.

Interestingly, when it comes to tax, these people suddenly demonstrate that they can be efficient. One of my housemates is due to move out shortly (sadly), just days after his status as a student at the University expires. Already he has been chased up by the council to ensure that he pays tax for this period, which amounts to a whopping £40. Criminal is the word.

Of course, the money fleeced from us won't be used to employ someone who will actually collect my recycling, neither will it be used to fund a replacement for the tortoise drawn cart I assume was used to deliver my recycling box. Oh no, it will go to cover call-me-Gordon's bottomless pit, just long enough for someone else to get the blame.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

'fighting fire with fire'

The good news is that soon-to-be-deaf girl is no longer such an irritant.

The bad news is this is because there are now some loud Welsh people on the train, who are drowning her out a bit.

On balance, this isn't so bad as I quite like the Welsh accent, and it's quite funny listening to what they have to say. One of them evidently auditioned for the X-Factor, and although "they didn't really tell her exactly why she was unsuccessful", the short rendition which silenced the rest of the carriage gave me plenty of ideas as to why that might have been. Worryingly though, they did apparently tell her that she "wasn't loud enough". To do what, exactly?!

Whilst I have been writing this the guard has just told the girl behind that she will need to change at Carmarthen. She won't be getting off soon then.

I'm now wondering how she's managed not to drive her travelling companion mad. When she answered her phone just now she even left her music blaring in one ear. Come to think of it, said travelling companion (who could be her boyfriend, poor bloke) may also be contributing to the noise, but he's sat directly behind me and I'm not about to contort myself to, ahem, eye him up.

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at risk of being a grumpy old man...

...I need to rant about the girl sat behind me on the train (where else?) and this corner of the Blogosphere (where else?) is a good outlet for my venom.

Her personal stereo* is very loud, and it's driving me to distraction. I gave her a glare but the net result is that she has now donned her sunglasses (despite the grey sky) and is doing the whole "I'm so much cooler than you" pose. Which she probably is, but that's not the point. Sorry, darling, I don't find it very attractive.


Annoying, isn't it.

*Yes, I think I probably should have said iPod/MP3 Player but 'personal stereo' is more 'grumpy old man' I feel.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

och, I'm back

Well, I've been back from Bonnie Scotland for a week now, actually, but I've been a bit busy since then.

As my mother discovered when she visited a while back, Scotland is not as wild or backward as one might think ("they have a Marks and Spencer's in Inverness!") and Sam and I had a wonderful few days.

We spent the first two days in Edinburgh staying with our great aunt, which was fantastic. I think I've paid tribute to her before in this corner of the blogosphere, and her legendary status was confirmed when it transpired that the random Edinburgh couple who sat next to us on the journey North actually knew her (I kid you not). On arrival she took one look at my Grade 2 'style' and exclaimed "what's with the hair?!", and it was nice to see that all was well.

Edinburgh, I have decided, has JP's seal of approval and I did enjoy seeing the sights. We packed quite a lot in, including an exhibition on tartan which turned out to be really interesting, and a trip to the Dynamic Earth, which is well worth a visit. Unfortunately we also had to endure passing by the Parliament Building, which was an assualt on the eyes. I still cannot understand how the expense could be in any way justified, but I'll save my rant for another time.

We also had the pleasure of meeting two second cousins - one from either side of the family - in the same city, which was great.

We then continued North to Inverness. For the first night we stayed with my mum's cousin, which was fantastic. As in Edinburgh we were completely spoiled, and very well looked after. Dinner ("an easy meal") turned out to be smoked salmon, followed by venison and washed down with plenty of wine. The conversation flowed ( though my mum would probably have killed me for pronouncing 'garage' as "garidge" at one point) and we had a lot of fun.

The next day took us to Loch Ness, and Urquhart Castle, which was very interesting. We had a very pleasant cruise on the loch, and although my implication that I saw the monster might have been a bit misleading, we did see the mobile library which is home to a full time 'monster hunter'. Weirdo. We also saw the staging being erected for 'Rock Ness' which sounds as though it would have been worth going for the name alone.

'The Kitchen' was an excellent place to stop for dinner, set back from the river in this rather attractive small city, and we then enjoyed (or endured, depending on your perspective) a historical tour. Finally we hit Hootenanny's for the best in live music, and very much enjoyed the entertainment provided by Houghmagandie.

All good things must come to an end, and so we returned home. I am now working on my dissertation, which I am finding very interesting. Unfortunately a commute of 1 1/2 hours takes its toll, so I must crash now. Plus, having just seen Hazel Blears claim to be an honest politician and Alan Johnson smugly champion a good record of "investment in public services" (*cough*) I think it's time I shut up before I enter 'grumpy old man' mode again.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Issues of censorship

It has come to my attention that there may be a glitch in the system because I was accused of censoring comments. I have not done this at all recently and would only very rarely see the need to do so. So if you have been trying to be pro-Guardian or whatever I can only apologise and hope that such glitches do not continue to impair your freedom of speech.

Meanwhile I have been out on Loch Ness today, but you'll have to wait until my return to see my photos of the monster.