Saturday, February 27, 2010

On the pain of being a moderator

Far be it from me to mock those for whom the struggle with the complexities of our mother tongue is, for whatever reason, a never ending battle but there comes a time when the accidental use of the delete button is a necessary adjunct to the art of moderating a public site.

The dilemma for the submissions moderator here is "Do I write back to Julie and tactfully and politely ask exactly what she's after?" Or perhaps I guess, correct her spelling and grammar to what I think she's after and allow her to a) be affronted at my arrogance and upset by my public pillorying of her lack of compositional skills or b)to be pestered with emails offering her entirely the wrong thing or do I just publish for the LOLs.

Any clues? Demijohns? Used in home closed.

[CreweandNantwichFreecycle] wanted dhemejhones winsford
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thanks for coming in...

Wouldn't you have loved a boss like RBS top banana Stephen Hester.

What I would have heard if I was his employee:

"We could have made loads more money but the really greedy integrity lacking bastards, the "talent", who used to work for us have buggered off to Barclays so we're left with you lot, the dregs; the United Counties League (Div 1 South Combination) of investment banking. Thanks for nothing, you miserable shower."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All in day's work

Dave's industry often puts me to shame. I'm not really lazy but I am a bit of a procrastinator. I've been meaning to catch up with all those little odd jobs that have accumulated since I moved into this little place for ages. I had to get up early this morning to take a friend for a hospital appointment and as it was such a lovely fresh day and I had a couple of extra hours to kill, I nipped into B & Q and the garden centre and picked up a few things. It's amazing what you can knock up when you set your mind to it.

Firstly, I thought I'd weed round the cracks and tidy up the edges a bit. I had a few sheets of neoprene pond liner I'd picked up at a boot market last summer so I scratched out a water feature down near the back fence. I'm hoping some newts will move in.

Nice that, isn't. Like the wall I knocked up on the left? My pointing's getting really good now! Still only 10.30 so I thought I'd put up a few shelves for the Private Eyes.

Just in case I have some friends round I also put in some occasional seating. The pine shop in town's closing down so I got them cheap. Had to make a couple of trips with the roof rack on so that took up a bit longer than I'd bargained for. Cheese on toast for lunch - yummy!

Now then. What does every man collect, always saying that one day it'll come in handy? Wood of course! I had a couple of bundles laying in the corner that were just crying out to be used. And what were they crying? You guessed it! SHED!!!!

Cor, look at that sunset! I can feel a cup of tea calling. Toodle pip.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Not waving...

Mr Danny Baker's most recent Saturday morning show on the BBC wireless featured a very serious item: he asked whether anyone had ever been told off as an adult. This reminded me of an encounter with Her Majesty's filth some 30-odd years ago that was in stark contrast to the utter professionalism I encountered from the Cheshire Police on Thursday just gone. I would hasten to add that unlike the majority of my readership, I've led a sheltered existence and have never been run-in and most of my meetings with the law have been as a customer requiring a service. The only squeaky-bum time I can really remember was while living in a student house in 1980 when I'd somehow managed to allow my housemate's moped to get stolen after he'd charged me with picking it up from the garage the previous evening after college while he was off hitchhiking to Penzance for a bet, the investigating constables failing to notice my absent comrade's small collection of rather exotic flora flourishing in full view on the kitchen windowsill (which were later eaten (yes, eaten) by my future ex-wife in a deliberate, and successful, attempt to piss him off after he'd annoyed her). Those were the days.

No, this one happened a bit earlier the previous year, during the summer before I went up (to Rochester). Myself and a few friends, Jim, Polly, Dave (now the Very Rev Dean of Dover) and Dave's sister, Maria used attend all the Mighty Super Kent's home matches that were within reach of Ashford. This was our final summer together before we all went our separate ways (is this too Swallows and Amazons?) and we were now all young adults. Some of us had even just voted in our first general election. How exiting - we had a woman prime minister! This game was at Folkestone. If anyone is familiar with the Folkestone cricket ground at Cheriton, they'll remember it's overlooked by a couple of very large hills, one of which is called "Caesar's Camp". Now the channel tunnel railway terminal is the dominant feature between the hills and the town but back in 1979 it was a bit easier to drive about through the villages of Newington and Peene to get to the top of the hills for a cracking view and then back down into town for the game.

The previous day we'd been sitting in the stands (for the benefit of my colonial readership, the "bleachers") watching walkers on the top of the hill. I bet my friends that I would be able to stand up there and see them waving at me the next morning, without the benefit of binoculars. Yes, OK, if you insist, they enthused wildly. So, next morning I coaxed my aging and protesting Honda SS50 sports moped along the nearest thing Kent has to an alpine pass and found a reasonable point to gain access to the top of the hill. There was nowhere to park the bike and anyway, the prop stand was a bit dodgy so I leant it against a fence and hopped over the stile. It was a fine sunny morning, the view was magnificent and there was the cricket ground down there next to the football ground, behind Tesco's (now a Morrisons, I think). I started waving. I waved a bit more, a trifle more animatedly. I gave it a couple more minutes of waving. I couldn't really see anything in the ground so maybe it hadn't been all that wise. But anyway, it had been a nice little excursion and the view had been wonderful. I turned round to head back down the hill and immediately noticed a blue Escort van parked behind my steed.

As I got closer I saw the side panel bore some badly applied and peeling white plastic lettering spelling out "Police". There was someone in the driver's seat. Oh bugger. I hope he doesn't look too closely at the bike. There are bad bits on it, poorly repaired bad bits that don't work properly, like the brakes and stuff. I saw he was wearing aviator sunglasses, just like the still recently departed Elvis. And he was chewing. He was also looking resolutely straight ahead. Chewing. I stifled a laugh. The big new hit on the telly was Dukes of Hazzard and was that a Confederate flag I just caught a glimpse of? Cleatus muttered something, still without turning towards me: "Are you Richard S of X Farm, Y Road?" "Yes, I am. How did you know?" I replied, stupidly ignoring the proliferation of aerials sticking out from the roof. "I ask the questions." he slurred. And with that, he slowly turned, motioning his head towards the small blue nylon bumbag I was wearing around my waist containing my wallet and stuff, the sun glinting off the frames of his beetle eyes and asked the singular most ridiculous sounding question I think I've ever been asked by an adult. With hindsight, I could see where he was coming from, but even so.

"You got a ferret in there, boi?"

Friday, February 05, 2010

On being taken for a ride

About 6.15 yesterday evening I saw Sharon post an update on Facebook to the effect that Paul, her son, had taken the dog out at 4 and not come back. Shortly after, a text arrived saying the same thing. Paul going missing is not a huge problem for no reason other than he's got a few learning difficulties. He's 31 going on 5 and probably with a splash of autism thrown in. Despite that, he can understand almost any language spoken to him - specifically English and Norwegian; I've tested him on French and German and he seems to get those too - and has a genuinely caring nature, although he's wont to couple this with a certain ungainliness and clumsiness. He can't rationalise the consequences of his actions and has a feeble grasp of mortality (in his younger years he cleaned a few pets rather too thoroughly and also tried to take his toddler sister back to the hospital after he'd decided he didn't want her. It was Norway, the middle of winter and the poor girl was stark naked. She survived). But he does usually do as he's told (unless he's developed a singular notion about something and then nature, or an aware adult, takes its course. More than once he's been removed from power tools, screwdrivers and hammers only just in time and he hasn't tried to burn the house down for at least ten years).

Sharon had already had a quick flit around the area (scaring a couple of doggers in the park car park in the process) to no avail and then Linn Marie, her youngest and myself shot off in various directions trying to cover every local road. No joy. After another hour or so, she called in the police. An officer was sent and took control. After the obligatory search of the house and garden (Sharon, good naturedly: "You need to make sure I haven't murdered him, of course") he set off himself. I went for another drive around and caught up with him as he was about to enter the park which the council had just opened (the entrance to which is opposite Sharon's house). I said I'd go with him just in case Paul, should he have got himself locked in the park by mistake, was spooked by the sight of the cars and the dog handler. We drove round, me calling him through the speakers but to no joy.

Then the fun started. I was walking round the locked pavilion when the officer called me back to say there'd been a possible sighting - right across town. There was actually a serious fire in town that evening and this bloke had been seen hanging round the scene. As we cruised out of the park, the officer calmly said "I think we'll make this category 1 if we're to catch him at the scene". Something told me, as he pressed a button and the blues and twos started, that he wasn't referring to the category of incident. We were going to attend the scene, well over a mile away across the town centre, and we were going to be there very quickly. I stole a glance at the speedo as we shot off east along Victoria Avenue (blessedly straight for half a mile): 90 and accelerating. And there's a bend. With lights and a crossroads coming up. And he's still accelerating. Odd though, I felt really safe. This guy was totally in control and although I knew we were going very very fast, it didn't actually feel like it. I could have drunk a cup of coffee without spilling it. We got there, it wasn't Paul.

We drove around a bit more and had just heard the helicopter say that it was 17 minutes away (the area we thought he'd gone missing in comprises a 38 acre park, a 9 hole golf course, a large open space called the George V Playing Fields and some farmland. And a small river) when we received a call to say a distressed man with learning difficulties and a dog had been found - two miles away in a Co-Op Leighton. Oh, joy. The button was depressed, the noise started and off we shot. I'm supposedly taking driving lessons for a bus licence soon - I learned more about hazard perception in 2 minutes than any instruction DVD could ever teach me. All ended happily ever after. And there were tears. Not from me, I was laughing like fool. I'd had two rides you'd spend a couple of hundred quid do round Oulton Park (although there all the other traffic goes in the same direction and just as fast) and the adrenaline was pumping.

You can watch those shitty rubbernecky Police, Camera, Action things on telly till the cows come home but I can tell you now, it ain't nothing like the real thing, baby. And the copper said it had been pretty straightforward, no idiots pulling out or anything like that. Our perceptions of this were slightly different, and I suppose he does that several times a day - I saw at least two cars pull out right in front and half a dozen tits must have thought the flashing blue lights approaching at speed in their mirrors were forgotten Christmas lights. An education.

Seriously - It's so easy to pick on the police, especially when they cock-up on the high profile stuff. But when it's day to day policing for the man in the street and they do it without fuss or bother then we can rightly be proud of them. This stuff doesn't make the papers because only bad news is newsworthy. Treat them with respect and that's what you'll get back. So big up to Cheshire Police who played a blinder. Not once were we made to feel we were wasting their time despite there being another major incident in town and they were 100% professional, caring, skilful and understanding at all times. Happy customer.