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Monday, 30 November 2009


Martin approached the convenience store counter with dread, He put the newspaper on the counter.
"Good Morning Sir!"
 Janet - for that was the name on her badge - swept up the paper and waved it at the barcode reader.
"That’s 50p"
Martin held out a coin.
"Any mobile top ups Sir?"
"No, I have a contract phone."
"Any stamps Sir?"
"No, I use email these days."
"Convenience Loyalty Plus card at all Sir?"
Martin shook his head and Janet took his 50p.
Fear crossed her face. Didn't he realise that the transaction was over?
"Why do you always ask me if I want a mobile top up and all the other rubbish?"
"Just doing my job, Sir"
" I wouldn't tell anyone"
Janet pointed silently to the CCTV camera.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Surviving in a Multi-Tasking World

I don't do multi-tasking. Well, I do - just incredibly badly. So if I'm trying to drive through Swindon's "Magic Roundabout" at the same time as a passenger wants me to discuss the 30 Years War, just be somewhere else Ok?

Yes, I know that I should calmly explain to the passenger that I "don't do multi-tasking and although their conversation about the 30 Year War is fascinating, I would prefer to defer the subject until Wootton Basset"

Of course, to be able to accomplish that, I'd have to be able to multi-task in the first place. Finally, I have an answer. I just say "Thursday". Works fairly well.

  • Some people just talk for the mouth exercise and don't even notice that my reply doesn't make sense
  •  Others actually listen and are confused by my irrelevant answer. Most of them work out that I am not listening even if they don't know why and give up
  •  A few friends know about the "Thursday" system and understand.
Actually, it surprises me that people who talk at drivers trying to drive through the "Magic Roundabout" aren't dead yet. Charlie Darwin needs to make fewer films and get on with the day job

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Went dancing in London and thereabouts (Ran Tan Band and Boka Halat) last weekend with Martin from Vienna, Angela and Ian from Norfolk which was good but here are some other highlights:

  • Seeing a sign "Strawberry Hill Train Care Depot". How cuddly can you get? Does the fat controller have a soft side?
  • The Komodo Dragons at London Zoo. Not as awesome as expected. More sad and intelligent.

  • They also had Asiatic Otters. Rather gregarious, noisy and love posing
  • Postcard Teas  are at the geeky/quality end of the tea market. The system is that you go in and select a tea from the list and get to sample it for £1.50 a cup (more for really rare stuff). You can buy bags of leaves too. I enjoyed "Dark Mountain Oolong"
  • Went to the  Cabinet War Rooms which is the bunker from which the Second World War was fought in Britain. It's well known that Hitler had a bunker but so did Churchill. Lots of old telephones and scramblers the size of a 1990s PC. A good detail was the audio guide system - you held this stick to your ear and it said stuff like "to your left you will see X" and you did see X. It's actually quite hard to get stuff like that right.
  • Went to Trafalgar Square to see the "Ghost Forest". Didn't work for me so a I wandered over to St Martins in the Fields (which lacks fields in a big way and may face prosecution under the Trade Descriptions Act) and sat at the back while a choir and small orchestra practised some Purcell.
  • Smashing Lebanese snack place near Baker Street tube.
  • Breakfast with Tink featuring Tesco's "Value" smoked bacon. Forget the "delicately smoked over  organic applewood chips" stuff you see at a premium, This is not delicate. You know it's bacon and you are in little doubt that it was smoked. Smashing as was the company.
  • Solving the mystery of how to find the train you want at Waterloo (Wait until 4 minutes before scheduled departure, stare at the electronic boards as they briefly indicate which of 19 platforms to go to. Do not blink or the information will be gone and the train shortly afterwards)
  • Breakfast with Martin at a Garden Centre that seemed to sell almost everything except plants, seeds, spades, etc. Martin swears that sort of stuff is there, you just have to look hard.