A year or two ago I banged on about coffee machines. They still feature in the daily routine, but there are a few side effects.
Starting with the positives, hell this is the New Year and we need to talk things up; the coffee machine is doing its job and the end product is a cup of coffee. The much clanging, grinding squeezing and throbbing noises that emit during the process are all part of the dream. We are talking of bean to cup thingys here, none of your aluminium capsules costing lots of pennies and filing landfills. Nope, the beans to cup (BTC) boys reduce the choice from the bewildering arrays of coloured capsules with exotic names in Italian to what ever you can find in a bag on the supermarket shelves. OK here’s the first drawback of a BTC. The selection is pretty limited but the advantage is you don’t have to ponder long. Do you want this one or that one, job done and it’s in the basket.
Like all modern pieces of equipment the average BTC machine is equipped with an array of options and twiddly bits you never need or understand. Once you have mastered the basic commands the machine is left everyone stuck on the same programme. To use the correct vernacular as it is computer driven that should read “program”, but this spelling derivative always irks so we won’t bother.
Now the downside. The average BTC thingy is a tad lumpy and requires at l least four reposioning trials beofre a location is reached that is primarily not in the bleeding way yet somethow accessible for all the little maintenance. The final destination in our abode lies adjacent to the TV in the kitchen. This meets all the domestic criteria for a blissful realtionship with fellow residents but with a sting. One of the little electric motors that goes whirr at apparently random moments to suit itself is unsupressed. Actually to be honest this motor drives the bean squeezing process that achieves the ideal compression of the grinds beofre the hot liquor is pumped through, according to the book of words. This process operates with surprising frequency and sends the TV into spasm. The picture freezes, pixelates or the sound distorts. Drawing attention to its presence in this manner creates unnessary domestic friction. Glowering looks, as headlines or critical parts of a drama are missed in a cocophony of whirs and buzzs.
There is always tea and instant coffee I hear you say, but every since I descaled the bleeding kettle it boils like the Royal Marine band drums brigade. Thus for 2019 I am rath taken with exploring the delights of orange juice.
Originating from an ancient Chinese curse; the term ‘May you live in interesting times’ has currently become a mixture of evolution and sod-you attitude all wrapped up in a nice Christmas Brexit package.
Of course we are talking about Brexit, we do nothing else. A mixture of anticipation, fear, dread and elation makes for a weird recipe. The biggest issue for the government is half of the country doesn’t want to jump, half want to change their minds, and half want a best of three. And the remaining half are totally confused, bemused, or scared stiff.
Of course this totals up to more than the whole of the population. We are dealing with statistics here, when have they made any sense. If we knew then what we know now how many would we have voted differently. There’s the rub, we are already mid air in a jump which nobody knows if we are en route to land on a trampoline and bounce back higher into something wonderful or slam into some hard and solid which will hurt like hell.
Just as the EU stick a couple of fingers up to our proposals our two party leaders goad each. A gladiatorial battle that could see them both mortally wounded. And then what? We are still heading in the direction of down, gravity overcoming all other logic. The best outcome from the government would be to issue each of us with a cushion and some velcro. We can attach said cushion to our rear ends in readiness in case there is a bloody great thump.
There are times when dejuvu just doesn’t cut it. If it did it would have prevented the latest adventure when a small project turned into bleeding nightmare. It’s happened before, many times. Why the memory bank failed to flag up a warning in time needs research.
The splash back behind the kitchen hob had been touched up a few years back. The easy way. Grab tin of what they call tile paint whack it onto the tiles and hey presto instant update, almost. Regretfully the subsequent use of hob cleaners, aerosol for the use of, entices a liberal application over any disaster area. This cleans off the clart, grease and bacteria in a trice. It does what it says on the tin. OK the small print T’and C’s says treat in an inconspicuous area first. Who has the time to do that? And if you are the culprit behind mild cooking over exuberance you need to destroy the evidence pronto.
The tile paint versus death to grease cleaner was an easy away win to the cleaner. I watched the damn paint blister like the whimp it was. Fear not, with five minutes to spare I can quickly scrape the affected area and repaint. The strategy appeared stuffed fun of logic. A quick rub down with sand paper, and the flaw in the plan started to emerge.
Despite the cleaning from death of grease there was still a residue of the nasty. This clogged the sandpaper. Plan B was needed. Out came the steam cleaner, this beauty has the power to run the Flying Scott at 20 mph. And this was where the tile paint versus steam was an away win to the steam. The damn paint stared to peel off big time way beyond the intended small patches. In matter of two hours the small touch up project has developed into a mass exodus of tile paint taking the project back to its original form.
The question proffered from the background inspection; “Just what the hell are you doing, there is paint scrapping all over the damn floor” ( rough translation ). The cleanup took forever. The paint under the steam blast, I love that machine, had let go of the wall tiles, floated down in tiny pieces, cooled and regained it adhesive properties then glued itself to the worktop and floor. Will this bloody exercise never finish. We flash froward another couple of hours. The worktop is spotless, the floor gleaming, the wall tiles look good as new although of a dated design, which may come back into fashion, we just need to wait. There is a moral. Read the T’s and C’s on the tin. But a silver lining. I have been banned from using the hob to prevent a repeat incident. This is a result albeit in a excruciating scenario and takes some commitment; best avoided. Which means reading the cooking instructions properly. Will this never end!
The focus on recycling has allowed we Scrooge’s to take the moral high ground in recycling.
In addition to the need to reduce the use of plastics, glitter is a distinct no-no for the recycling guys. So are ribbons, foil coverd wrapping paper, fancy self adhesive bows and battery driven musical Christmas cards. These all cost lots and appear on the shopping list just at the wrong time of the financial year. Wheras it is judicious to buy Aunty Mabel a pressy and maintain your potential position in her will there is something quite wrong in forking out for fancy wrapping.
Firstly only three percent of the population have any realistic chance to make a half decent job of wrapping the parcel without bumps, lumps and giving the appearance of pre used scrunched paper. The damn bows always manage to be stuck in a less than ideal location, and now you forgot to stick the bow on top of the gift card so need an additional stretch of sellotape.
Then you can relax safe in the knowledge that Aunty Mabel, whom we love dearly (see will issue) will rip the wrapping off in under two seconds, scrunching it up and chucking it aside in a heap whilst the gift is rapidly analysed for shape, colour, smell, being age appropriate and befitting her status.
These are the more important elements of the assessment of your worthiness to be in the will rather than the wrapping.
Thus all the effort spent buying wrapping paper and wrapping presents vapourises in a flash. Your job is to wander about collecting the residue and sorting it into its recycling potential, having first checked and rechecked there was no key components, small gift or voucher left in the paper. Then you can relax having stuffed the waste in the appropriate bin before sitting in wonderment that the functional lifespan of the wrapping is measured in nano seconds.
But salavation appears to be imminent. The recycling guys are making their mark. Unprinted cardboard and brown paper are the be easiest to be recycled. Apart from the energy consumed during the process presents wrapped in second hand brown paper and tied up with edible string is the route ahead, hang on there is song about this! And we would save a fortune, bah humbug.
Sometimes something happens out of anyone’s control that has magical effect. The picture shows the inadvertent sculpture created by the River Calder flotsam outsider the Hepworth Museum and Art Gallery in Wakefield.
The recent rain has shifted quite a load of floating rubbish downriver. Just outside the Hepworth Art Gallery this lump of tree is stuck on the weir adopting a stately pose for visitors that maybe Al Wei Wei would be proud of.
Coca Cola has woken up and smelt the coffee.
Another British institution goes West. Costa joins a growing list of British companies that have sold their souls to American companies. Apart from the influx of cash into the sellers and share holders coffers there is a downside. If your income were to be swollen by £3.6bn was this an altruistic move or are we to hear of a CEO falling over with the weight of the bonus in their back packet? And as the saying goes, ‘ you can only sell the family silver once……’
I can’t recall a huge benefit ever emerging to the consumer from such a sale. Is Costa suddenly going to change, if so how? Coca Cola will want to see their purchase generate a reasonably quick return on the investment. A concern is the deal could emulate another Cadbury’s from a sale to a company in the USA. Chocolate bars shrink in size along with the percentage of chocolate per bar. Will Costa Cola be tempted to now keep a few coffee beans back from the grind.
Seems after we are being led a merry dance by the Brexit team, Teresa May wants to dance the night away at every opportunity during her trip to Africa.
The following is the inscription on the Statue of Liberty that stands proud and welcoming on Staten Island at the entrance to New York harbour and the United States of America.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
In the spirit of making the USA great again a certain someone has changed the inscription to read:-
“Mexico is trying, they are trying but we’re different, we have our military on the border,” he said. “And I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire, used properly, can be a beautiful sight.”
One of the many factors that drove the majority of UK voters to chuck the EU into the skip was the amazingly arrogant and insular behaviour of the european bureaucrats. Followed closely by our London centric parliament.
It all seems to be getting nasty, with the opposing sides staring at each other in the menacing way of boxers at the weigh in. The recent Salzburg summit gathering of the 27 great and good, are by their behaviour gooding us into a retaliatory move, a severe case of sod you Europe. A least now we can have the whole of parliament joining the common goal of a no deal Brexit, with all the okpoutuities that this could present.
The “staged’ photo shots of the 27 suits with their backs to the camera, leaving only Teressa facing the front, couldn’t be more prosaic. The second biggest contributor to the EU coffers is thanked for all the cash in the past but now sod off, again.
If ever a single leader chose the moment to poke us in the eye, and thereby spurred us on to the next move it is wee Emaculate Macron. Who, just before leaving for his next lesson in diplomacy, and currently speaking for himself said our parliament told us all lies about Brexit. This we have know for centuries, it goes with the job, but it is a poor show the Emaculate one could not think of solution to the debate, and opted to whinge from the sidelines with his back to the audience.
Currently I have been involved in a number of incidents involving the application of gravity. Why should Newton have all the glory.
My first experiment required me to fall from the vertical onto my hands, clench a glass of wine in my teeth and drink from the prone position. It formed part of a challenge laid down by some mad arsed Greek dancer whilst I was slightly merry at a hotel in Crete. British honour was at stake, I will say no more – except British honour was maintained.
The second encounter with earths magical powers involved blackberries. It’s that time of year, and armed with a suitable punnet I was led to an accessible crop down a lane. This year, understandably the fruit was scarce. The dry summer meant the berries were much smaller. To fill my half of the collection bargain was quickly assessssed as being quite a mission. Unless of course I reached across this gulley and thrust forward further deeper into the undergrowth. Never mind the scratches honour was at stake again and Clearly I needed to Befirst to fill the wretched punnet.
Things were progressing to plan when I felt the need to relocate to seek further pickings. This was when the foot got trapped by a blackberry sucker unseen at ground level which wrapped itself round my ankle. Forward motion was abruptly cancelled and I found myself progressing in the direction of down at some speed. I appreciated the power of gravity once more as we grew closer to Mother Earth, back first. This allowed me to marvel at the blue sky above, glimpsing the sun and tops of trees as we journied down. I also noticed Newton’s second law in action. That’s the blighter which states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The sudden onset of my downward excursion caused, admittedly a half baked attempt to or reacitfy things. The arms flew upwards as the body went downwards. This caused the crop of blackberries to depart upwards from the punnet, and as their trajectory decayed they too joined my progress downwards.
I landed in the ditch, thankful the thing was dry, to be followed by a shower of blackberries which bounced off me en-route to the deeper undergrowth. The crop was lost. The air was blue, the sky was blue my demeanour was blue, not helped by the timely advice of “do watch out” you could hurt yourself”. My arse.
Today I cam across two conflicting stories of human nature and achievement. The first concerned an Indian chap who came from a lowly caste and lived originally in a slum in Delhi. He was uneducated and started life as a shoe shine boy. He became quite famous for this activity, acting also as a knight in shining armour protecting the other shoe shine boys on his patch from the occasional interference from the authorities.
During the interface with his customers, many of whom were tourists he discovered an innate ability to learn languages and proved a further hit with tourists and local shops who benefited from the increase in customers to their shops. With the cash saved from this meagre employment he bought a tuk tuk and started to ferry tourists around Delhi.
Ultimately he met and married a tourist. Moving to Switzerland, the home country of his new wife he started a rickshaw business ferrying tourists around Geneva. As time progressed he started to think about the poorer people he “left behind” in Delhi. Temporarily leaving his wife and two daughters in Switzerland he peddled his rickshaw on a mammoth excursion overland from Geneva to Delhi raising funds en route. The sum raised was donated to a charity to help young drug users on the streets of Delhi.
The other story involved a divorced city worker management consultant in London with three young children who was looking for rich lover and successfully sued a dating website who promised, but failed, to connect her to “high net worth individuals”.
I leave you to ponder as to which of the two individuals has the higher net worth to society.
Like most people I read the newspaper headlines with a mixture of fear and dread. Not all issues are associated with the latest firing from the hip of the Donald. A lot concern health issues.
Inevitably there will be a scare about eating white bread, processed food or even haggis. Social media has also infiltrated our souls with the urgent need for any intelligent being to become vegan. But the scary bit that really hits the panic button is drink. At one end of the scale are sugar based drinks that are now the work of the devil and at the other are drinks of the brewed and distilled variety.
We have long endured the persuasive recriminations of the NHS who implore us to moderate alcohol intake (for men)initially to a weekly maximum of 28 units. Later the limit was reduced to 21 units and currently it scrapes in at just 14 units. This dictat was further compounded by the need to have two days free of alcoholic tots a week, preferably consecutive days. There is no end to their evil. Will this never end. Critical to these restrictions is the need to preserve the liver.
But wait what news ‘from yonder window breaks’. Some great guys in the ministry of things have now discovered a little daily intake of alcohol actually prolongs life. But just as we’ve digested this status to confuse matters further they announce the other poison we all thoroughly enjoy and obviously must now avoid is caffeine.
But wait, we now we learn that a few cups of coffee a day has a wonderfully beneficial effect on the liver. It helps the liver repair itself.
What to do. It would seem best that we take these health warning with a pinch of salt. But obviously not too much salt as this would jack up the blood pressure, ruining the liver and require more coffee and a few beers to correct. And life’s too short to accommodate all this – but then our lives are being extended as we drink- see opening remarks and do keep up!
Just got back from a great holiday. Weather excellent, scenery brilliant etc. But the real treat was to be able to sit back and analyse fellow travellers in our escorted group.
We were all of a similar age, e.g the white haired wise. Initially I divided the group into physical injuries and age related wear and tear; locked ankles, limpers, creaking knees and hip wobblers and those waving a stick.
The second categorisation involved networking skills. Those who liked to form cliques, those who adopted obvious aires and graces. The stand alone team, the “I used to be” brigade and the sod off and leave me alone group. This was the group I was in. In fact to be honest I was the only member of this team.
As time went on the teams became more entrenched with their own groups, but did allow limited migration from one group to another. My elite group never had more than one member. This was ideal.
Not being a psychologist I wondered if my observations were akin to early group formations in the school playground. Now a gathering of kindred spirit linked by common interests and infirmities. This all provided a bond that could extend to Christmas card lists and association. It also gave me the guy in the corner enless amusement, and probably provided the rest of the group with an endless stream of furtive glances.
As we bound inexorably towards Brexit the one missing voice from the soothsayers is that of the optimist. We have heard from the disaster crew on a daily basis. The politicians who wax abundantly on the perils ahead, the battle royal with the EU desperate to deter others from having similar outrageous thoughts.
Instead of a compromise, a settlement that will refrain from inciting angst post Brexit all parties are condemning, disagreeing and demanding a say in the final outcome. Many are of the remain camp which democratically have lost their franchise, but believe there is the possibility of a reversal.
The biggest concern from the quality of the negotiations. It is a novel experience thus will test the thoughts and aspirations of the key players in the U.K. It is also testing the opposing team. The appointment of an arch rival to lead the negotiations by the EU president sets the scene. ‘The answer is no, what was the question?’ The State of the polit bureau within Europe was one of the key reasons for U.K. vote to depart. Yet the EU president continues to present as an embarrassment post midday after he has consumed several glasses of wobble.
A significant number of company CEO’s have cited concern we will be ruined and must abandon the U.K. Their forward plans focusing on relocation to mainland Europe and attempt to continue as is. Very few seem to have explored the Chinese meaning of the word ‘chaos’; ‘Danger and opportunity’. We have yet to hear of a positive plan by the average board that takes Brexit to mean a huge opportunity to explore markets previously closed to members of the EU. There are many tales of the success of a company group that has broken up that suddenly sees the small subsidiary flourishing – unfettered by bureaucrats and restraints that aimed to serve the greater good but have become outmoded, outdated and constraining. We need a breed of pioneers to forge ahead not doom mongerers.
There are some right mean people in this world. No I don’t mean them us who have money, or are a little skinny with their time. The real culprits in my sights are the beggars that give you far too much information for free.
There is obviously the guys who float about in social media generously giving us way too much information on themselves or believe we need to hear their heartfelt opinion on any matter that takes their fancy. There is some self policing on this as can be seen by the ever growing number of dignitaries, politicians and celebrities who managed to shoot themselves in the foot with Twitter to end relationships or jobs. But even they are not the culprits I have in mind. The real beggars are those who tell you the calories in foodstuffs.
I would really like to meet the guy who revealed the number of calories in just one Hobnob chocolate biscuit. Yes that many. Apparently this means there are enough calories in one Hobnob to let you survive for at lest two weeks. Apart from ensuring Hobnobs are therefore a constant travel companion when flying, just in case the arrival involves a desert island, this piece of information can now never be forgotten!
It seems the food suppliers insist they spill the beans on everything. The beggars who make Pringles manage to ram over 2000 calories into each tube of the things. This we really didn’t need to know. It represents the recommended full days intake for a man. Assuming you survived the day eating normally you could blitz the intake and double your quota in one, decent sitting of the munchies. Go on admit you could easily neck a whole tube if nobody else was watching.
The moral here is simple. Never read the contents analysis data on a pack of grub. Always pack a packet of Hobnobs and a tube of Pringles before boarding any flight – just in case. Do not rely on the flight attendants to sell you any. If they did they would be those silly little packs of four hobnobs, or 10 Pringles possible for £20.
Having lived in Yorkshire for a while there are certain traits that must be adopted. It’s the rules. Waste and chucking stuff out requires considerable pre-scrutiny, no such decision is taken lightly. This essentially includes stuff lurking in cupboards, maybe even, as it happens, for the odd decade.
A surprise recent find involved hair treatment. Having avoided the stuff since the days of original Brylcream – maybe that should read “classic” to follow marketing speak. It arrived in glass jars with a screw on black top. The goo was a white creamy substance containing all manner of ingredients vital to hair performance. Slapping it on produced a luxurious shine that allowed a variety of arrangements of one’s Barnet. It also left greasy marks on collars, pillow cases and on the back of your Mum’s best couch.
Since that discovery, and the subsequent retribution I have not been near the stuff. But behold a tin of aerosol hair treatment lay in the depths of a cupboard which displayed no outward sign of deterioration. A cursory shake revealed it was still full. A dilemma. Was it too good to waste – certainly not without scrutiny
“Spray Wax” was hardly the most enticing name, but being an apprentice Yorkshire man honour was at stake. You could hardly ditch the tin without further investigation. The wife claimed no knowledge of it‘s legacy. It was essential to delve further and with the spirit of the trail blazer I read the instructions; granted not my normal approach but needs must.
Spray lightly from 10 inches then shuggle your fingers through your hair to give that tussled look. A further dilemma, I had no knowledge of the verb to “shuggle” or what “tussled hair” was meant to look like. With British grit summoned I gave it go. A strange sensation and about as remote from the days of Bryclream as you can get. The finished effect, as far as I was concerned, was a strangely disheveled but somehow alluring look if I may say so. The wax element presumably being the dull slightly glued look that keeps the Barnet firmly in place.
Anyway I have quite taken with the stuff and not just because it was free. Still not sure of the intended gender of the stuff but we are in the days of unisex so what the heck. The bright pink colour of the tin might give a clue but what the heck again. It’s been quite a success such that in an off guarded moment I spotted the stuff in Boots. “It’s on special and – 3 for 2” the assistant advised whilst I hovered from a distance still nervous over the gender issue. So now, being in Yorkshire I have three and a half tins of the stuff, roughly eight years of use and still none the wiser as to how it was in that cupboard.