Smoking, hard hats and the cane

I received an email a few weeks ago.

It was simple enough – would I be kind enough to do an interview?

I was in a good mood at the time so I agreed, despite the fact that I invariably decline such requests.  I am learning that a lot of my problems stem from agreeing to something while in a good mood, so from now on, good moods are out.

Naturally I asked what the interview was about and the answer was rather vague.  It was to be about my general attitude to life and stuff I write about, which is about as vague as anyone can get.

Now I hadn't used Skype on this laptop before.  On previous laptops I just slotted in my microphone and my earphones and away I went.  It transpires [and I never noticed this before] that there is only one little socket.  After a bit of exploring I realised that the socket combined microphone and earphones so how the fuck do I put two plugs into one socket?  In the end, I used the fiddley little  thing that came with my mobile phone.  It worked, but the little bean things I had to stick in my ears kept falling out.

Anyhows, I got Skype working and we started the interview.

He launched straight into a piece I had scribbled about being a discriminated smoker.

The feeling I got was that I had been invited to play a game.  Only when I got onto the pitch, was I told the game was soccer.  OK, that's fine, but a couple of minutes later I'm told that the game is actually cricket so I have to do a rapid adjustment.  Two minutes later I find myself playing rugby, followed buy American football followed by tiddlywinks.  To say it was confusing was putting it very mildly.

What made things even worse was that William [the interviewer] not only knew exactly what he was going to ask next but the little sleeveen had researched each one.  When I call him a sleeveen, I am being very polite; God knows why?

Things weren't helped by the hangover and the fact that the little beans kept falling out of my ear. 

I got another email when I got back on Monday.  I had hoped he had forgotten all about the interview and had moved on to better things, but the email informed me that he hadn't.  He had published it.

You can find the original here.

However, I have done a bit of editing [if he can do it then so can I] and have removed half an hour of politicians [oh that I could do that in real life] and here is the result –


Penny’s Hole

Our Penny is a strange dog.

There are times when I wish she could talk, though doubtless then I would wish that she would shut the fuck up.  She has this strange habit of developing a fascination for a particular spot and then spends hours just staring at it.  I would love to know what that's about.

Penny walking down the lanePenny walking down the lane to the cottage

Last year when we were on holidays, she picked a spot in the grass beside the lane.  The lane is long and grassy so why she picked this particular spot is beyond me.  Any spare time she had, she would lie staring at this same spot, presumably waiting for something to happen.

I called that spot Penny's Hole.

After we got home, one day she vanished.  I found her in the front garden lying on the grass staring at a spot in the hedge.  She had found Penny's Hole V2.0.  In the days since, whenever she disappears she is nearly always in the front garden staring at her hole.

Naturally I wondered what would happen when we returned to the same holiday spot this year.

Sure enough.

Second day.

There she was – exactly the same spot – staring at her hole again.

Panny's Hole

Maybe she saw a mouse or a grasshopper or something a year ago?  Maybe she has a vivid imagination?

If I ask anyone why my dog insists on staring at her hole all day, I just get funny looks.

Whatever the reason though, she has a fucking great memory.

Back pain

I was mucking around on my phone the other night and found I couldn't get into this site.

It didn't bother me that much because mobile phone reception in the area I was staying was, to put it mildly, fucking atrocious.  One minute, four bars, the next minute, no service provider.  The apparent loss of a site was easily explained by a shite reception.

But then I got a couple of mails.  Each of them politely pointed out that Rambles was dead, extinct and broken.


It wasn't the reception.

My problem was that my phone could view most websites [very badly] but I couldn't get into the engine room of Rambles for love nor money.

OK, I'm back.  And so is the site.  It was a fucking plugin that updated itself and fucked everything up.

Normal service will resume shortly.


Questions – a reprieve

Apparently I was having fun with cold callers back in 2007. 

They never give up, do they?


Could you answer a few questions please?

I used to be plagued by cold-callers on the phone.

They were all trying to sell me something I didn't want. The worst offender was Smart Telecom, trying to get me to switch my phone account to them.

"You won't regret it" says they. Ha ha! How wrong they would have been. [For the benefit of overseas readers, Smart failed to pay their bills and left thousands of their customers high and dry with no phones]

Lately I've come across a new breed of cold-callers. The Surveys.

I keep getting calls from people who hastily tell me that they don't want to sell me anything, but could I answer a few questions for a survey please.

The first couple. I let through and answered their questions.

Then it occurred to me – why not have some fun? I didn't ask them to ring after all.

So the next few that came on, I answered their questions with random answers.

How many bottles of water do you drink in a day? – 156.

How many children under the age of 18 reside with you? – 25.

What type of pet do you have? – A bottle-nose dolphin.

How far do you commute to work? – 15 feet.

You get the idea.

I think they began to get suspicious, because the calls started to tail off a bit. This annoyed me because I was having fun. So I decided to go for broke.

The phone rang the other night.

"Hello. Please-don't-hang-up-I-am-not-trying-to-sell-you-anything"

"Is this a survey?" says I.

"Yes" says he, sounding very relieved. "I won't take up much of your time. I just want to ask some quick questions"

"No problem" says I. "Can I see some identification?"

Long pause. "Pardon?" says he.

"I'll need to see some identification so that I know you are who you say you are"

"But I only want to ask you some general questions. No personal ones"

"Ah!" says I, "but if a stranger arrived at your door and didn't identify himself, would you invite him in even if he said he wasn't going to steal anything?"

He thought for a while. "No. Probably not"

"Damn sure, you wouldn't" says I. "Now show me some identification"

"I can't. This is a phone line. I take it you don't want to take the survey?"

"I don't mind answering any and all of your questions, if you show me some identification first"

There was a very long pause. He muttered something and hung up.

Now a lot of companies get their information this way. And then they throw it back at us in their advertising.

So the next time you see an ad on television proudly announcing that "99% of all known cats brush their teeth with Gro-more", don't mind it. It was just me having fun.

Inside the mind of an android

I have a wee game on my mobile phone.

No, it’s not Angry Birds or any of that crap. The first thing I did when I got the phone was to wipe all that stuff off to make a bit of space.

The game is quite simple – I start a sentence and after the first couple of words I just let predictive text take over.

Suppose I start with “Grandad is”?

All I do is type the first words and then complete the rest by selecting whatever words the phone suggests. …

“Grandad is a bit of a skit. The comments and complaints about this website and any other person is not a problem.”

Hmm. So it thinks I’m a skit? I’m not quite sure what to make of that, but I’ll let it pass.

It actually comes up with some pretty strange suggestions at times. I was adding a friend to my contacts, and it appeared to think I knew John Major which was a tad weird? Another time I was sending a message to the daughter and it thought I wanted to attach the UK.

I don’t know who programmes these yokes but they have an exceedingly strange mindset. They seem to have a strong bias towards the UK though.

I’m not sure quite why I’m writing this. Maybe it’s because I’m stuck with a mobile phone at the moment?

Things are somewhat more mundane on a laptop.