Friday 13th

It’s as well I think it’s unlucky to be superstitious.

More of a ying/yang day, I was looking at the ancient heating system in a well preserved Alexander Greek Thomson building, and then the road leading to the next job had been dug up for the M74 extension.
I was in the unusual situation of looking at the building across the railway tracks with a closed bridge between us and contemplating a slightly inconvenient and annoying detour to actually get there.
I did a 180° and went back into town, had a look in the North Face shop (if I’d had a poly bag full of someone elses cash in my hand, I would still have left with it unopened) while waiting for Craig to meet me for a cuppa.
After the cuppas I called it a score draw and pulled the shutters down and went home.

Maybe the significant date doesn’t mean extra disaster in our world already ravaged by misfortune and suffering, maybe Mr Nasty’s resources are just stretched too thin these days and all he can muster for most of us on his special day is reduced acheivement or mild inconveniece.


Bastards, Chapter 17

People are people. If you’re a person, you’ll know what people can be like, what they might do, how they’ll react and you’ll know something of their strengths and shortcomings. By the time you’re working and making decisions and plans in that job you should have a wide human experience to draw on to make your choices intuitive, informed and the results of those decisions should then be successfully integrated into peopleland.
But of course people are also a bit rubbish, will be deliberately awkward, selfish and make bad desicions simply because they can and they want to see what the reaction will be.

So what I’m saying is taking this into account, why is society and its infrastrucrture being increasingly moulded to cut across the grain of human nature? Causing confusion, aggressive behaviour and wasted time spent dealing with the fallout that might other wise be spent acheieving or improving one’s own or the general situation.
One item in particular defines this culture shift: new roundabouts.

Roundabouts are there to keep a steady flow of traffic at a multiple exit junction, but now what they’re doing is making them works of abstract art through which the public must interpret and make their passage as best they can. Okay, all the lines are easy enough to follow for most, but the ones who can’t drive between lines due to incompetence, stupidy or being oblivious to all things except ASDA down the road have the effect of a football being kicked through the window of an operating theatre just as the surgeon’s lifted out the poor bastards heart as he gets ready for his nice new one.
Then the tighter radius curve they’re using, that you have do 15 or 20mph around to stay within the lines, causes chaos as cars drift in and and out of lanes to the sound of braking and horns and shouting. Yes, if folk did as intended, slowed down, took care, gave consideration to their fellow creatures there wouldn’t be an issue. But folk won’t do it, it’s human nature to want to get there, and get there first, cars aren’t people until after the accident and you’re face to face with another driver. They’re obstacles.
We all feel this to some degree at some time or other, so why design things that work against human nature? Why not make it easy and natural? Wouldn’t that make for less stress and confrontation either with inanimate objects or other people?

It’s everything from manuals that aren’t logical, to Chip and Pin cards removing your eye contact with sales staff, television news that’s written to be understood by 12 year olds, excessive packaging, adverts that are too loud…
There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s stupid and wrong and we let it happen.

Grumpy old man? Maybe, let’s have the revolution before my knees go then.

PS That advert currently on the telly where the Halifax Bank sends all its employees running to hand their  customer a fiver at the top of a human tower makes me clench my jaw so hard I fear I may break my teeth.


He sat in front of the screen. It had grown dark around him, there was no light on in the room, but he didn’t notice, his nose just 18 inches from the harsh rectangle. Three half emptied and long cold mugs of coffee were a flimsy barricade between him and the realities of what he was reading.
He drummed his fingers, Hot for Teacher bass-drum fast, what had he missed? It couldn’t be right. He flicked his eyes to the bottom right, Christ, where does the time go.
He pushed himself away from the desk and turned round to look at the papers scattered around the floor. Then he noticed the darkness and stood up to switch the light on. Kneeling down, he skimmed through the array of depressing figures; looking for that elusive and long forgotten something. a key, a solution. A saviour.
No, no…ah…no. It was so long ago, it’s seems like it was someone else creating this mess. It’s so damned unreasonable to expect people to do this.
He rubbed his temples with one hand, also conveniently shielding his eyes from the now bright energy saver bulb. There’s another curse of the modern age, yes you’ll be able to see properly, in a minute. He usually switched the light on and came back later to do what it was he was wanting to do, surely defeating the purpose of the energy saver bulb?
Oh these damned tangents, tripped up every time.
Not on the paper, on a tangent. That’s where it was. He stood, sat and swivelled, puching keys with toes curled around the base of the chair..NextNext…that’s better.
He pressed Save and as he walked to the kitched to make an attempt on another cuppa, the pins and needles in his head and hands subsided.
He sat back down and flew through the rest and without hesitation pressed Submit and sat back.

Income tax doesn’t have to be taxing, but it doesn’t stop it being a bastard.

Ying & Yang

The old Vauxhall estate that’s carried both tools and ruckacks around the country for me these past few years, and ran itself twice around the clock, finally succumbed to the growing potholes of the A82 and put itself in a financially unvialble position regarding repairs.
As luck would have it, a neighbour asked if I knew anyone who was looking for a motor, he was selling his old, low mileage, great condition Ford estate. I reached for my wallet.

Picked up the freshly MOT’d motor today to much rejoicing and relief. Financing a new van was once again pushed to the horizon.

Me and Joycee sat in the motor with tasty stakeout from Pret a Munchie and I broke a filling on a Swedish meatball.


Happy New Year

Nine flew through the window in a shower of sparkling, jagged shards of glass which sprayed across the floor like psychotic confetti. He landed in a motionless crouch, arms tighly held into his chest, head bent down, nose touching his tightly clenched fists, long black coat touching the floor in a circle around him, disguising his compressed shape like a dark storm cloud holding back the lightning.
He raised himself up to his full height slowly, turning his gaze towards the far corner of the room. The worn chair creaked as the rooms occupant sat forward into the dim light, pale wasted skin stretched over sharp cheekbones and nose, dark eyes fixed on the visitor unwaveringly “I knew you’d be here”.
“It’s your time old man, you can’t fight me”
He sat back and smiled “I’ve done more in my time than you can even dream of…”
The tall figure moved forward into the light, he was strong, young, tensed like a longbow pulled back and held by a fingertip “It’s mine, you know it”.
They held the moment between them, solid like iron, fragile as life itself. Tick…tick…tick…tick…tick…

Silence. It was midnight.

The old man moved with unearthly speed, pulling the butt of a shotgun from the side of his chair, laughing out loud as the weapon moved through an arc towards the visitor, bringing it’s barrel to bear on his successor.
But the tall figure was already moving sideways and forwards, flowing through the air itself, he seemed like black water in that long coat. From within its folds the old man saw the light catch and run along something thin and silver as a hand deftly drew it into the air, and then it disappeared from sight.

He panicked, breathing fast, couldn’t explain it, he was on the floor, paralyzed, staring up at the visitor. He was the strongest there had ever been, this wasn’t possible. But the long silver blade that the vistor pulled from his heart said otherwise.

Eight heard the first chime but not the second.
The visitor stood up from the lifeless figure. He was now the keeper and he had work to do. Things would be different, they had to be. When he sat in that same chair in one years time, worn and burned from the madness and the thrill of it all. He wanted to extend a hand to his replacement and see the gesture returned.

There could be no more like the recently departed.


Last day of work yesterday except for unscheduled breakdowns.
Mine or customers.

Jimmy said something wise, “I don’t mind working for my money, but I sure as hell shouldn’t be fighting for it”.
My last action of the year was closing business with two customers. One visit found me sitting down for a cuppa and a bit of banter, and I left with a cheque and the knowledge that we were all happy with the outcome. Good people.
The other visit was bitching, tears and snotters. All the apparent friendliness from them, the careful compromise from both sides as we worked through the contract and the painstaking care we took to complete the installation was worth nothing when they realised that all the extra materials and labour used to get the job just how they wanted weren’t actually 20% Extra Free Inside!
I don’t often get caught out. In fact only once have I had a domestic customer find himself in a position of peril due to quibbling. Big companies I’ve always fought with, but you expect that as they’e all bastards and I price accordingly.

I’m particularly disappointed. I usually filter out trouble long before there’s a financial aspect to the situation, but these people turned out to be made of the same shit that usually just floats by me at a safe distance.

So, now I’m on holiday. This is exactly where I want and need to be. I’ll be hanging out with the girls and heading to the hills.
My batteries are flat. But not for long.

CORGI is dead

As part of my job involves working with gas, I have to be CORGI registered. I have been since before it was mandatory, spending thousands of pounds on training to keep myself up to date and legal.
You have to pay to be in CORGI which has always pissed me off, it’s extortion to charge for a mandatory membership (pass the cost onto the customer they said…), and once you’re in they watch you like a hawk. Your livelihood is in their hands.
My membership has been trouble free, and I’ve watched unregistered cowboys get away with horrendously dangerous work that would see me in court because I’m traceable. But over the years, it tightened up. the cowboys got squeezed, the regulations caught up with reality (to an extent) and loopholes were closed. The public came to use the CORGI name like they would use Hoover when looking for a vacuum cleaner, a generic term for a boiler man, it was what was expected and it was looked for. Finally CORGI was doing its job.

So the government has killed it. CORGI will mean nothing from April next year, you’ll now be looking for a “Capita Registered” gas engineer. CORGI will limp on as pointless voluntary organization, which means paying to be part of two bodies that do the same thing, one of which has no power or authority…yeah, we’ll all sign up for that.

It’ll be a fiasco, the cowboys will be free again, folk will still be asking for CORGI cards for years to come. What a nightmare.

Stupid, stupid bastards.

Communication Breakown

As some of you may know from my lack of comms, a couple of weeks ago I crushed my phone at work. It still sort of worked, but the screen was a psychaedelic vision of swirls and lines of every colour known and as yet undiscovered.
Sometimes I could get a hint of a text or a missed call through the fog, but I had to give up and I changed my answering machine message to direct callers to the office and slung the phone in a drawer at home.

I didn’t do anything about it for a few days, and found myself totally free of being “able to be got” for the first time since ’95 I think. Oh my god. The joy, the bliss, yes it was mighty. The inconvenience be damned.

Folk quickly adapted and just sent emails. I didn’t miss any important items, it just took a few hours longer to deal with it.
I don’t have a hands-free for using in the motor, I just let the phone ring out. I’m kinda holding onto the notion that the pace of life has been synthetically enhanced, stronger, faster, but without the red track suit. Well, I’m not holding on any more, I’m standing on top of it, hands on hips, hair blowing in the wind.
Who made the pace of our lives this frantic blur of unnecessary necessity? We’re all running. even if we’re sitting down, we need it now, tomorrow is too late. By the weekend? That means we’re writing threatening emails.
It’s rubbish. Rubbish. And I hadn’t really noticed it.

But, I got a new phone yesterday and I’ll no doubt slip back into the groove. The torture of trying to get all the numbers and photies out of a phone with a blank screen by simultaneously pressing menu buttons on my phone and Joyces’ similar model (successful, surprisingly) will help the feeling to linger on for a while I hope.

The gamble of the postal service.

Back in September, I had a competition where a man called Steve won a Montane Prism courtesy of fastandlight. I posted it out and went an did other stuff in blissful ignorance and with misplaced confidence in my actions.
Then Steve and I had some exchanges of emails, “Where was…did you…what happened…sent on…tracking number…”. The Royal Mail website just said on their tracking box that the item was not yet delivered for a couple of weeks and then changed it’s mind and said it was being returned to sender. Well, it came back to me last week and I re-sent it by Special Delivery the next day and Steve got it the day after that.
So where the hell was it for a month? Did it even leave the Post Office? There was no card through Steve’s letterbox asking him to pick it up. There’s no answers forthcoming.
The girl behind the glass at the P.O. where I sent the parcel for the second time actually said that First or Second Class Recorded Delivery were pretty pointless as there’s no difference in the way it’s treated in the uncaring Royal Mail machinery. Special Delivery is handled differently becasue there’s a financial comeback if they screw it up. I knew all this, but to hear it so honestly expressed by someone in the organisation itself brought me both dismay at the apparent acceptance of the shortcomings of the company and joy at someone giving it to me straight within earshot of their boss.