The Four Horsemen

It’s mayhem, it’s panic, it’s armageddon. It’s Christmas.
I dropped into the city centre in between despairing customers for a quick cuppa with a pal and the masses were in free flight, madness in their eyes, crashing from shop to shop, queuing at the cash machines while fidgeting and shuffling nervously. It’s like the population of Glasgow were fleeing as one from an unseen enemy, but in different directions all at the same time.
As far as I know we’ve been expecting Christmas for oh, a year or so, and yet it seems to have caught everyone by complete surprise. Again.
I like walking through it all at normal pace, like a mobile chicane, a bollard in the middle of the skating rink of chaos.
As for the food shortage that will hit us from Friday to er, Saturday, leading to great suffering in the land, well that memo seems to have missed me, but at least that important news is out and folk are wisely stockpiling….

Left hand down a bit

What we have above is an example of modern life’s inability to enforce natural selection.

It’s a street in Glasgow’s city centre, and it’s one-way as you’ll see from the approaching cars and the cars parked at the kerb on the far side. The parking on my side is the 45°, gravity assisted, reverse-in type that saves space and packs the cars in if the street isn’t a main thoroughfare.
But as you’ll also see, it’s open day for stupids who have turned around 300° across two lanes to park nose-in.
Getting in this way is difficult enough, but reversing out when you’ve been too stupid to reverse in is a mammoth task for which the fool seen above was woefully under-equipped. I had tears in my eyes as the cars swerved, honked their horns and waved their hands in terror as this muppet eased themselves backwards and forwards randomly across the lanes trying to get the car pointing the right way.
If this was the stone age, such people would be knocked unconscious by the coconut they were trying to dislodge from the tree by throwing rocks at it, and then be eaten by a passing and most likely arthritic, and consequently somewhat un-threatening sabre-toothed tiger.

I would have loved to have sat with an ice cream and watched the other wrongly parked numpties make their mark on passing innocent motorists fortunes, but time and parking charges were against me.
I carried on to my destination, past office doorways with their clouds of enthusiastic perfume and frantic cigarette smoke, chuckling away to myself as I went.

Own Goal

Behold! What we have here is Scottish Power’s new logo which replaces the old purple and green prism thing that they had.
Now I can see what they tried to do, some kind of mild environmental alignment. But what it actually said to me the first time I saw it was “Here’s the three steps to ultimate power”.
From left to right: take nature; treat it with chemicals; set fire to it.
That’s about right then?

The router of all evil

Joyce couldn’t get in her car. The clicky unlocker garnered no response from the motor, the wee key that pulls out didn’t open the door either. It looked like the battery was flat.

A hot chocolate and chips in the cafe later, the RAC arrived and the bloke in orange says “Aye, I know what it is”. He stuck the key in a wee box and the the car flashed it’s lights and unlocked itself.

It turns out that some wireless routers are interfering with such electronic devices as Renault car keys, as well as other types of motor. So, parking near a building may have this unforseen circumstance. A wee widget once fitted should prevent a re-occurence though.

I must remember not to put my head between the router and laptop again.

Willie and the eggs

I was reminded of this tonight, this was maybe 1987 or so…

We’d been working in this boilerhouse for weeks, burning the old plant out in small enough pieces to take out the ordinary door up a flight of stairs that led to the street outside. They put the 15 foot high boilers in, then built the roof. That’s planning ahead that is.

It was a manky difficult job, by morning tea time the only clean bit was the skin around your eyes under the tinted goggles. And come lunch time we all slumped on the big tiled area at the front of the boilers, had a cuppa and ate our pieces, or went to the shops for the local exotica of a roll on sausage and a danish pastry. Being the apprentice I was usually at the recieving end of “fun”, such as when my legs went on fire from hot slag falling on them and I didn’t notice because it was so bloody hot anyway. The flames were up to my waist and the first I knew about it was the hysterical laughter of the assembled squad around me. Bastards. I spend the rest of the day looking like Robinson Crusoe . Bastards.

Next day Willie went to the shop to get two buttered rolls to have his regular lunch. He sat down, laid out his tea cloth, unfolded his Daily Record, put his rolls down, opened them out, brought out his two boiled eggs out and put them down then took out the bone handled knife from his kitchen that his misses would be looking for all day. He held an egg in his hand over a roll and brought the knife down to break the shell. He did that, also raw yolk and white sprayed all over him and his immediate surroundings much to his surprise and the amusment of all. He held his position in astonishment and gradually cleaned himself down with a puzzled look. He shook his head and took out the other egg and the unsplattered roll. Down came the knife, Splutch! Same again. “Whit, my boiled egg?!” I joined in the general merriment which is always greater when it’s at someone elses expense.

Willie stood up dripping egg and said “I couldnae have lit the gas this morning when I boiled them”. A stunning insight which has remained with me.

Of course I gave him back his two boiled eggs that I’d switched for the raw ones in the morning.

Done and Dusted, Optimus and Dale.

My exams are done. Passed 100%. That’s not trying to be gallus, you have to get that mark or you don’t pass. And I did have to have two goes at a couple of questions over the last couple of days. You can tell the people who write the questions aren’t engineers, what with their fancy big city talking and modern ways of mangling the language and creating questions that read like a free online translation of an ancient Japanese text.

So, that’s me for another five years. But I’m looking at expanding into other areas: solar; mini domestic wind turbines. So there may be more reading and writing to be done.

Now my mind is free and turns back to the WHW and the lack of a definite kitlist. The good news is that the bulk of the Optimus test kit has arrived, and it’s really rather natty. I’m going to try it out over the weekend and decide what to take with me on the bigger walk next weekend. The folding spork makes me smile evey time I pick it up and show it to whoever is within earshot (eyeshot?). They don’t understand, that haven’t had to hunt for their normal spork in the dark at the bottom of their rucksack and failed, then had to eat their dinner with a flat rock and twig and cried themselves to sleep with the shame of it like we have.

Also a splendid outfit from Dale of Norway is going out for a spin. Merino leggings and zip neck long sleeve. The top is navy blue with ice blue sleeves, I nearly cried with joy when I took it out of the box. It’s either a Space 1999 jumper or a 70’s olympic track suit top. I love it.

But first, some sitting down is in order.

Return by route of ascent

I hate those words.

How many times have you read that in a guide book? It makes me suspiscious of the author. They’re either free of the inconvenience of imagination, or only interested in ticking the top and getting home as quickly as possible. As guide books are many people’s main point of reference (especially in unfamiliar areas, a visit to the Lakes without a book would cause me no end of upset), how many trips are missing out some of the good stuff?


I promised a customer that there would be hot water tomorrow. The final piece was due to arrive today. £1K worth of über fancy kit which would be manhandled gently into position by the three of us, a few connections made, a switch flicked and we would be heroes. No, not heroes. But we would have done what I said we were going to do and that is the most important thing. Especially when the customer is such a gem.

It arrived. The box looked a little dishevelled, I raised an eyebrow. We opened it up on the back of the truck, what was this second hand looking piece of rubbish? Well it was the wrong one for a start, a different model. The box of valve gear and controls was missing, the expansion vessel was from another manufacturer, the manual was also from another manufacturer and had someones scribbled dimensions on it. I went through a panoply of emotions, none of them involving visions of butterflies or daisies.

There is no recourse. The surly demeanor and indifferent tone, the slack jawed staring at the computer screen “There’s another one in Cambridge, you’d need to pay carriage”. I couldn’t face it, the outcome of such and exchange is too unpredictable so Jimmy took it back and we set off on a mission to find something however temporary that would make good on the promise of hot water. We tried, by phone, by iphone, by trade couter. Useless. Unless you want a brand you’ve never heard of, that there is no information available for and it costs the same amount and “Yeah man, they’re really good no? The boy in the office says so”.

What of tomorrow indeed.

Not to say what of the supply infrastructure to the trades in this country. For I wish that this had been an isolated incident.

Oh, so very nearly

We nearly PIT manoevered someone today. We would have been blameless and innocent, as our road position and speed was beyond reproach and above scrutiny. It was less than an inch away from happening.

I think if we had actually done it we couldn’t have cried any more tears of laughter than we did during and after the near miss. That and a foot long Subway sammidge were the high points of the day. The news of some new kit coming was also rather nice.

Golf course hoohah

That new golf world that Donald Trump was after near Aberdeen was in the news today. They turned him down. Oh.

I have no strong opinions on the golf thing. But Trump? Really, would you trust a large tract of landscape and the livelihood of many to a man whose first task every morning is try and convince himself and others that he isn’t bald through the medium of creative hair sculpting?


They’re an inconvenience, you’re in a hurry, oh the queues, why must they..etc etc etc.

Aye very good. So you speed through at 70+ regardless of the 40 or 50 speed limit, because that’s yet another inconvenience. And anyway, you can drive your car better than everybody else so you’ll be fine. Indeed. That’s what every other arsehole in the cars around you is thinking. This is the attitude that kills so many road workers in this country.

The speed limit’s not for you to feel like you’re sticking it to the man when you ignore it, it’s to protect the workers if some stoopid drops the ball and sends a ton of spinning wheeled metal and shrieking human into them while they’re digging a hole in the tarmac with ear defenders on.

I did a lot of miles today and there’s a lot of roadworks, time and time again I saw a Hi-Viz vest blown in the wind as some dick flies by the wearer at high speed without a care or a thought in their head, never mind a moment for the poor sods by the roadside.

It’s not right.

TV Licensing Bastards.

Bought the new TV license for the new place on Thursday online. Telewest Virgin Media came round on Friday to install the digital telly box.

The paper licence arrive this morning, it’s expiry to be 30th Sept next year. That’s eleven months exactly we paid for. On the phone immediately, licensing don’t care. OFCOM can’t do anything as it’s a governmnet department. Back to licensing.

They really are stupid. “It’s like your car tax” So, if I buy car on the first on November I pay road tax from the first of October? “No” That’s what you’re asking me to do. “You have to pay your taxes” I do, income tax, company tax, VAT…”You were watching TV…” When? “In the, er …” What, before I moved in? “…” Am I getting my money back? “Well, this time I’ll allow it, but don’t don’t do it again”.


In twenty years of voting I have yet to have someone represent me in Westminster, so I absolve myself of any responsibility of putting any of these arseholes in a job.

One’s as bad as the other.

You want to hate WL Gore. They came up with Gore Tex and changed all our lives, raised all our hopes then made us all sad with Paclite, raised the bar with XCR, then called it ProShell. Which is no different than changing your name from Windscale to Sellafield and repainting the gates. (That’s a test for older listeners)

You kind of get the impression they’re spinning their wheels until they actually really need to get off their arses and do something. Like when eVent take a spurt of growth from their market share of 6.66%*

I love eVent. I don’t care what they say in lab tests in Leeds Uni or whatever. In the field it’s always better than Gore on a human body, dryer, cooler, and until ProShell; lighter.

Luckily the limited amount of brands that use it mostly know their arse from their elbow, except maybe some of the bizarre creations of Integral Designs.

So that’s nice, we’re supporting the little guy, the maverick creators of a miracle fabric used ingeniously by pioneering manufacturers.

Or not. eVent as many will know is actually the chemical weapons division of the mighty GE Corp. These guys have an utterly horrendous history of environmental damage, subsequent denial and cover ups, and once found out they display a frankly admirable ability to talk their way out it with a completely straight face.

Does this kind of thing figure highly on your agenda when trying on kit in a shop? I tend to examine the hood, the arm lift, pockets and the company profile doesn’t really come to mind. If it did we would never buy anything, from food to a lightbulb, certainly not a telly or a car?

This all came about as a tangential thought process cul-de-sac™ as I was sifting through Haglofs Winter 07/08. Their new 3 layer ProShell jackets are outstanding, really clever cuts, brilliant hoods, lightweight, they even look nice in a “Sci-Fi crossed with colours only people from outside of the UK could think of” sort of way.

When you look at some of the baggy sacks of shite that Mountain Equipment are putting on the racks at the same time you just shake your head.

*Source: my imagination.