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The Existential Compost

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16th March 2017

Brum @ 19:53

New year, new wheels. The trusty VW Golf TDi, Binwids, cost me just one £80 fill up too many and together with the diesel emissions thing, the VW software fiddle and the fact that I no longer need to drive over 100 miles a day to do my job, it was time to retire it. Fortunately Mr Big Man, the boss, bought it off me for his brother. Which was nice; and he thought so too.

So now I drive this little zippy thing



It's a Smart ForFour with Nightsky and it's slicker than the hair on a 1950's binman and fewer miles on the clock than the coast of Wales. It even has heated seats, so Zoe is happy and the number plate is handily blurred so that I don't get caught by speed cameras and ANPRs.

Of course today was my first proper outing in it and I quickly remembered how it was when I used to drive the AX.

My first car, the Citreon AX Jive, with Mrs Gnomepants Mk1
That was a nice car too, but you often found that van and truck drivers and wankers in BMWs thought that they could drive as close as they liked. In the Vectra, the Golf and the Hyundai Coupe, I noticed they held well back. Though I did notice that BMW drivers remained wankers. Of course back then I didn't know that BMW drivers only drive BMWs because they can't actually drive and that driving a BMW is the motoring equivalent of cycling with stabilisers. Trufacs.

Although it is built by Mercedes Benz, as you can see, the Smart actually comes with indicators and, unlike Jaguars, it actually has a decent accelerator. Indeed, you might also notice that it has mirrors too, something sadly lacking on Audis. Not only that, you wont see any rust on the vehicle which proves that Ford have nothing to do with it.
 

13th March 2017

Darn pit @ 21:22

I have low Vitamin D.

Possibly because I'm a northerner and have lived a short spell in Gods own county, Yorkshire (technically the south bit; that's where all the culture is) and lived near a former coal mine for a few years. Indeed, it is quite possible that it is because I slather myself in zinc sunblock when I go outside for fear of getting sunburn. Moreover, it is also highly likely that it is due to my love of Islamic fashions and my continuous wearing of a full-length burqua.

So last month I subjected myself to a "supplement" of 2 ampoules of Vitamin D a week for six weeks. Horrid stuff. Tasted like oily chocolate orange. Oh how the guys down the pit laughed when I told them about it all especially Old Jimmy "Bandy legs" Brown. He laughed so much his last tooth fell out.

Next week I'm hoping that my GP will diagnose me with scurvy, that way I'll hopefully get to have bags of oranges on the NHS. After that, no doubt the doctor will scold me for my Marmite aversion causing my bad dose of beriberi. I only have myself to blame. Woe is me.

In other news though. New car on Wednesday. It will look like this:



Only in black and with a floppy roof.

In other other news. Left alone to my own devices at the weekend I foolishly watched Sinister II before watching hours of Youtube videos about Number Stations. Silly thing to do really. Fortunately the man who hides in the attic and the creepy dwarf guy who lives in the cupboard under the stairs kept the odd menacing scarecrow figure in the allotments at bay. That and the occasional knocking on the wall from the empty house next door.
 

3rd March 2017

22nd February 2017

Pavement etiquette @ 20:13

Poll #2063527 Pavement etiquette

You are walking side by side with a friend along a narrow pavement on the side closest to the road. You espy two people walking towards you, as they get close nobody seems to be budging. Do you

Step into the road to walk round
1(7.1%)
Hold your ground and be damned
1(7.1%)
If they get any closer punch them in the face
0(0.0%)
Become vaporous and let them pass through you
0(0.0%)
Call the police
0(0.0%)
Do a barrel roll and try and score a strike
0(0.0%)
Dive into the bushes/Over the wall to the other side of your walking companion
0(0.0%)
Form a single file behind the person you are walking with
9(64.3%)
Form a single file in front of the person you are walking with
2(14.3%)
Jump onto the shoulders of the person you are walking with
0(0.0%)
Shove the person you are walking with into the two people walking towards you
1(7.1%)


Why do I ask?Collapse )

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21st February 2017

I wandered lonely as a cloud.... @ 18:37


Wordsworth eh? Never did like that dog. Had a stupid hat and rarely helped Jamie out. [Wasted on most readers that bit of derivative humour]

An anniversary weekend was had this year with a splendid trip to the Lake District. The last time I went to the Lake District I was 30, the time before that I was about 17. How the world and times have changed. Or is it, perchance, my aging memory has smudged some of my own memories following a brain defrag or that bang on my head I had when I was 18? Or the one I had last decade (can't remember the year, it was when I went gorge walking and fell off the waterfall, was that 2005 or later? I can't remember)?

Anyway, I took Zoe on a journey to pastures familiar and unfamiliar with a trip to the Tan Hill Inn, which is the highest pub in the country. That's not to say it has been smoking draw for years on end but that it is wayyyy up above most streets and houses on the North Yorkshire Moors on top of the Pennines (your geography may vary). My last visit there was in 2003 or thereabouts when I inadvertently re-enacted the Everest commercial a la Ted Moult by opening my car door and watching several bits of paper blow out of the passenger footwell together with the most relevantly important page of my AA Road Atlas. This visit was slightly less tempestuous, probably because of zoefruitcakes calming influence.

Zoe was thrilled to visit a pub in the middle of nowhere


After a light lunch and half a pale ale, we continued to Keswick. My last visit to Keswick was probably about 1991 or 1992 when I was a member of a local church choir. I wasn't a member for holy redemption and blessings but as a way to meet girls. Mostly Sarah Bamber. She's now a dentist. Still, during those two holidays we stayed at the Youth Hostel in Keswick for a period of two days while Andrew Sharples, my former music teacher and, to some extent, role model, went to all the pubs in the area to smoke pipes, cigars and roll ups and drink plenty of beer and whiskey while the rest of us went on walks. However, apart from a memory of listening to Roxy Music's Flesh & Blood album sat on the veranda of the hostel overlooking the nearby passing river, I don't actually remember much else of the area. After much racking of brains and thought, I actually think I didn't leave the hostel for the two days.


The Youth Hostel where I lost two days


After a wander around the area and a text message that the £3 an hour parking was about to run out we checked into our hotel. Beautiful scenery and peace and quiet aplenty with lots of comfort made for a pleasant stay. Only slightly marred by the meagre "pay more get less" cooked breakfast (see picture) and the antwacky shower which was probably state of the art in about 1978. The hotel seemed to follow the "overcharge it, they'll pay" philosophy where something is seen as posh if you pay a little extra. I've had posher hankies.But, like I said, it was pleasant and I wasn't there for the hotel or breakfast, I was there to celebrate 2 years of happy marriage to my bride.


£105 worth of breakfast


To show her just how much I love her, I thought I'd take her to somewhere I'd never been to before. Through the magic of the Tourist Information Office, I got wind of a far off wondrous place, full of adventure, Georgian architecture, boutique shops, folk festivals and fine foods. A place with a mysterious sounding name....

MARYPORT.

Originally called Alauna by the Romans and then Ellenfoot, a local 18th century dignitary had the town renamed after his wife Mary. I can only imagine that he wasn't fond of her. Either that or 18th century Maryport was a lot nicer than 21st century Maryport. Nothing much to see in Maryport, unless you like mud, closed shops and shopping at Heron Foods (which unless you're from the north of England you might not have heard of; just be grateful if you haven't). Not wishing to overstay our welcome in the free all day car park, we high-tailed it out of Dodge and made our way south along the coast, just to see what Workington and Whitehaven were like. Indeed, it wasn't difficult to see that Maryport was the better of the three towns, by no stretch of the imagination.

No matter though, because we did get to see some interesting buildings and reluctance being our middle names, we continued further along the coast than planned and ended up in the contrasting St Bees which seemed a nice place even in bleak, cold and wet February. It was here that I convinced my darling wife to try some chocolate coated toothpaste known locally as Kendal Mint Cake. She seemed to enjoy it.


Mmmm...chocolate toothpaste

Not wanting to loiter longer than necessary for fear of attracting the attention of locals, we made our way back to the Lakes, this time to Grasmere for a visit to the Gingerbread shop. I love gingerbread. I love Grasmere gingerbread more than any other type of gingerbread there is. You can keep your Pepparkakken and your Jamaican gingerbread, I'll have Grasmere gingerbread any day. Of course, the shop is minuscule and the queues are long, more so with Japanese and American tourists so while the good wife queued in the rain, I took shelter under my hood and watched a RED SQUIRREL gambolling in the trees, squeaking cutely as he jumped.

Sufficiently warmed by the red squirrel gingerbread experience, we then headed to Ambleside for our evening meal at LUCY ON A PLATE. If you ever plan to go to the Lake District for whatever reason and you are looking for a place to eat, then LUCY's always LUCY's. I've been twice in my life and I've been bowled over by the service and food quality ever since. Saturday night further fuelled my love for the place. The tiny little flourishes (the menu is unique every night and to show this they provide news about your fellow diners), the attentive staff and, of course, the delicious food all add together to create a charming little popular restaurant. Go there. Go there and dine.

Next morning a visit to Wray Castle on the banks of Lake Windermere. Victorian rich bloke retired and he and his fancy heiress wife bought a sweet little cottage with lots of land. The cottage wasn't sweet enough so he had a MASSIVE CASTLE built in the back garden to entertain his guests. Of course, it wasn't long after the castle was completed they died with no heirs so by some chain of events the National Trust bought it. Of course, they didn't know what to do with it so they rented it out until eventually, nobody wanted to rent it anymore so they ended up opening it to the public. You pays your £10 and you too can wander round bare rooms looking at photos of what it once looked like. Ace.


Not to scale.

Homeward bound I fulfilled a lifetime ambition of getting my sat-nav to tell me to "TAKE THE FERRY" by catching the Windermere car ferry from Far Sawrey to Ferry Nab. I've always wanted to take my car on a cross-river ferry. I've taken it on the Isle of Man ferry but that's across the sea so there's nothing remarkable about that. But crossing a lake....or a river....now that's something special.


Take the ferry

Windermere is unremarkable, more so on a Sunday. It seems most people head to Windermere to catch the train or to visit the mega-Lakeland. We were there for the latter. An entire store filled with teabag spatulas, clothes peg cases, onion cosies and other stuff you never knew you needed until you saw it. Zoe loves it. Unfortunately, I have a sensible voice in my head that tells me that I don't actually need a sausage rake or a dishwasher pencil sharpener and that I can actually use my own hands to fashion a melon into an edible form without the use of an electronic melon scraper. Still, it was fun.

The 4-hour journey home wasn't much fun though. Traffic, roadworks and rain. Never a good combination and worsened by an approaching work filled Monday. It was a lovey break though.
 

13th February 2017

Youths vs Adults @ 21:07

It struck me this evening, while walking through the car park at Daventry Tescos, that the youth of today are weird. Well, I say this evening, I've known the youth of today are weird for some time now.

If you've never been, and you should, Daventry is as dull and as boring as a room full of EU Directives. So it's no surprise that the youth gather in dull, uninteresting places to socialise. In my day we would go to the pub or lurk around the park or school playing fields like dog turds. These days, it seems, the best place to be is in a car (usually mummy's or daddy's or the one you've managed to save up to buy/steal) in the car park of the local supermarket.

Like I said, I was struck, while walking through the carpark, by the thought that the youth of today are weird. Mainly because if say me and say stainsteelrat were to hang out in the car park with our lights off, stereos blaring and occasionally intimidating passers by revving our engines, people would think we were up to no good. Or dogging. Or something.

So, with that thought in emergence, I extrapolate that the youth of today are weird (and are probably into dogging or something).
 

12th February 2017

Noodles @ 19:41

It has been nearly 14 days since I logged out of Facebook and already the incessant pestering has begun. But the pestering comes not from associates, from Facebook itself. Every day I receive a reminder that I have a Facebook account together with some titbit of information about how someone close to me has updated, posted a picture or liked something. It even reminded me that I had 19 unread notifications (fuck knows what they are), 2 friend requests and 1 event invite. The 2 friend requests were there before I logged out so they're nobody new and the event invite is one I have not responded to since it was posted last year.

So really I'm not missing much.

Instead I have allowed myself a social media diet of 2 Twitter visits and 1 Livejournal scroll per day. A visit to Twitter usually doesn't take me long. I dont experience much interactivity on Twitter, probably because I have less real life people there than on Facebook. Twitter has never been all that engaging for me and has recently been a receptical for sharing non-information like Pocket saves, Swarm check-ins, Pinterest pins and Feedly shares. In fact, nearly everything you can find on stegzyblogspot which is pretty much all I was doing on Facebook in the first place. I had been mooting with the idea of using something like IFTTT or Workflow to auto post to Facebook, but really I couldn't care less.

I mentioned to Zoe today how, by me not being on FB or wherever these days, she could use what she knows about common associates as conversation topics which reminded me of how quickly conversation with other people I know is now becoming harder. Indeed, outside shared Facebook updates and shite telly, day-to-day people seem to have little to say about much. LittleK asked me if I saw her pictures of a celebratory 8 course dinner she'd been treated to, I said I hadn't. E asked me if I had read her monologue about some vaccuous nonsense I can't remember, I said I hadn't and other office conversations involving social media quickly become background noise.

In other news, I have had a fairly uninteresting week featuring drives to work, sitting in work, drives home from work, watching TV and going to bed. Although, I did come home from work one evening to Zoe in a fabulous dress. After she told me to take it off, she put it on herself and went out for the evening.
 

7th February 2017

Of Meat, Feet and Shredded Wheat @ 06:57

The weekend brought with it my parents and between Friday night's fish and chip dinner and Saturday nights meat fest at The Smoke Pit, we had a wander around Stowe which is, in some bizarre juxtaposition, both a National Trust property and a school for toffs. It's also clearly been a front for some Masonic hows-ya-father goings on over the years with such charming yet hauntological Hammer film inspiring buildings such as Gothic Temple and the The Temple of Ancient Virtue, which conjors up thoughts of deflowered virgins from the nearby village.



There was also time for my father to nail some pictures to the wall. I'm not the best at DIY and I have the levelling skills of the builders of the Leaning Tower of Piza so it was only right that I get a handy octogenarian to do the job for me. They are prints of paintings of areas around Aberdaron in North Wales by a local Aberdaronian artist. I tried to take some pictures of the pictures in an effort to create some never ending causality loop but because the lights were on they haven't come out very well.

 

31st January 2017

Spuds and pop @ 19:37

Which is better value

2 litres for 30p
5(83.3%)
600ml for £1.25
1(16.7%)

You are thirsty and in a shop. There are 600ml bottles of pop for £1.25 or 2litre bottles of the same pop for 30p. Which do you go for?

The 2 litre bottle
2(33.3%)
The 600ml bottle.
4(66.7%)

Have you noticed the lack of large "jacket" sized potatoes in standard bags and supermarket "weigh and go" sections?

Yes
5(83.3%)
No
1(16.7%)

How much are you willling to pay for a solitary spud?

10p
0(0.0%)
20p
2(33.3%)
50p
4(66.7%)
£1
0(0.0%)
£10
0(0.0%)
 

30th January 2017

Willies @ 22:09

I logged out of Facebook tonight.

As a media graduate, I am hyper-aware of how easy it is to buy more stuff influence people through carefully placed stories and manipulate situations through moral panic and misinformation. It strikes me that there is a sinister cabal at work in the world these days. Part of me is screaming that by cutting myself out of my "echo chamber" I am foolishly blithering into a situation where I become ignorant to the "facts" and "truths" exactly what our overlords are trying to engineer. While another part of me is screeching about not being brainwashed by clearly simulated untruths, half truths and carefully structured mythologies generating an air of uncertainty and mistrust in institutions, ideals and governments.

Meanwhile another part of me is concerned that I might actually miss out on that all important item of "acquaintance" news like what Jim had for dinner or how much Bob likes to lick his own elbow or how Sandra has managed to damage a toenail while picking her nose or something that is utterly and totally groundbreaking like someone has mutated into three people or something. And then I think about the happy times that were Livejournal. How much simpler it was, how echoey it became when it was clear I was writing to myself 90% of the time and how disenfranchised people became and bailed out to the likes of Facebonk or Twitnob or whatnot. Was it just that LJ had run its course for the majority? Could it be that the meaningless memes and vacuous knobshitery of later LJ eventually found grace on Facetwit?

Then I realised. Perhaps Facebook and Twitter have finally run their course too. But unlike the refugees from the cold vacant lot of LJscape who made the jump to Twitbook, there is no where for people to jump ship to from Twitbook simply because nothing exists. Perhaps people have now grown tired of self publicity. Maybe they've recognised the dangers of over share. Or maybe it's just now most of us have had our "15 minutes of fame" we no longer crave the attention and want to crawl back into our sleeves of anonymity. I know I do.

As the expectations and demands of a media hungry populace grow and the kindling of political unrest starts to smoulder. My thoughts turn to how resistance movements had long laid the infrastructure to their successes by this time in the historical fights against oppression. I feel cold from the breeze of realisation that someone left the door to fascism open; Wet from the fine mist and drizzle of those who wept at the ease in which tyranny swept to power and mourned the many they could do little to save; Nauseous from the noxious fumes of treachery, deceit and misinformation.

Tonight I logged out of Facebook.
 

The Existential Compost

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