Sunday, 27 March 2011

We, the Lidless

Among the many other mysteries of life there is the one about the Missing Dustbin Lids.  It amazes me that I now have five dustbins - four plastic and one galvanised metal - and only two serviceable lids. The metal lid was kidnapped  (lidnapped?) some years ago by someone who shall remain nameless who used it first as a gladiator's shield, then as a giant frying pan and finally as a boomerang - only it failed to return.  It's probably in some nettlebed somewhere, hopefully serving some useful purpose as a rainshield and suntrap for a colony of slow worms.

I don't use dustbins for my rubbish any more, but as storage receptacles for Hoss's rugs/feed/grooming kit. Maybe it amounts to the same thing.

Still, it doesn't explain why there so many dustbins in the world that are lidless.  Can the wind blow all of them off?  Is there a 'lost lid' centre somewhere?  I've bungeed the two lids I do have onto their respective bins but am tired of using large sheets of wood to cover the three Lidless Ones.

So while I was down at the local recycling place the other day I asked about lids, having noted the number of open-to-the-elements bins that were lined up at the Centre, marked 'batteries' 'books' 'shoes' and so on.
"Odd," said the helpful chap there. "I've noticed it, too, this dearth of lids."
"Do you ever have any brought in?"
"Usually trashed ones - pardon the pun - that got blown off in the gales and run over by cars."
"Could you have a look, please, and see if you've got any Untrashed ones?"

Reader, he found me two.  Perfectly serviceable if grubby.  They'd been brought in as strays with no bins attached and they were due to be destroyed.  I couldn't allow that, I'd never put down a healthy lid, so I asked if I could rehome them.
"Shouldn't really."
"But they can do another twenty years! You can't send them to Lid Heaven/Hell when a loving home awaits."
He let me have them both.

Did you know that not all lids fit all bins? It took me twenty minutes of re-organisation to get my collection into some kind of order. Even so I now need some more hooked bungees to train the incoming lids to graft onto their new partners.  But it's looking good and I'm just on the look out for one more lid to complete my set.

If you notice you've a lid missing in the next few days, with nary a storm or gale in sight, you might consider that I've visited and liberated it.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Booting up and polishing off

In a fit of economic forward-thinking last year, I bought three pairs of leather boots from the local farm instead of just one. The first pair is looking very tired now, having been worn every day since last May and the second has just been brought into play. These guys were a bit dusty and unloved-looking so I decided to polish them before letting them start their career underfoot.

Out came the Kiwi Black polish, the application sponge and the buffing brush.  A good old-fashioned boot polishing session followed and though I say it myself, it was a job well done. Lovely shine.  I thought "Perhaps I'll make the first pair go a bit longer after all. Don't want to see these covered in Hoss Deposits, mud and dust, not yet."

It occurred to me to polish the original set, which I did. Seemed a bit of a waste not to do the third pair, so I set to work yet again.  Looked at the time and realised I was late for a meeting with a friend, so I set out my footwear in a row on the washing machine (where else? It was the only free surface) and dashed off.

I just got in from the visit and looked smugly at my handiwork: six boots, all lined up and ready for action.
Two black pairs and one ...

Well, the two boots at the end of the line-up are a sort of black. Trouble is, the boot-leather is actually brown.  That'll teach me to do the job in a decent light.  The effect is quite attractive, however, so I'm not going to try to correct the error.

This could start a new fashion.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Prima Luce

What is it with days off?  Three o'clock in the morning and I'm wide awake and mentally making a list of things that need doing when I get back to work on Thursday.
Go away, I told the List.
It went and was replaced by the thought that maybe I should arrange to see Mrs M next week and bring forward Mr S to this week.
Go away, I told the thought, and turned over in bed with a grumpy thump of the pillows.
It did and its place was filled by a weird scenario in which several types of inhalers presented themselves in my mind, each one telling me what it could do.
Go a-bloody-WAY I said, out loud this time and then told them all what they could do.
It's three in the morning, I'm on a day off and I want to sleep.
By now, of course, the List and the Thought and a group of inhalers were all mixing and mingling and having a ruddy party behind my back so with a HUGE sigh I gave in and got up.
Downstairs I read my e-mails from New Zealand (really funny, needed that laugh) gave the HKCs an early breakfast to shut them up and had the ubiquitous cup of tea.
An hour or so later and my eyelids are getting fond of one another again (the upper and lower ones of each other, not left and right, don't be ridiculous) and my thoughts are beginning to drift.
This is a Good Sign.
It means I can now go back to bed and get some sleep.
Hope I left my electric blanket on
Hope the party that was going on behind my back has now ended and List, Thought and Group have all disappeared.
Hope I miss seeing First Light.
But I'll be up and about later, I've got a very busy Day Off ahead.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Red Spot

The Japanese flag represents a sun; to me it's just a red spot.
Last Friday has been marked in my diary with a black spot. Like the one that marked the Tuesday of the New Zealand earthquake.
Pity Japan. So many thousands dead or missing.  Millions grieve and there is still the Damoclean sword of the damaged nuclear power stations hanging by its thread over the country.
Are prayers any use? Are thoughts and well-wishing? Is sending a cheque really going to help?
No idea.
But I'll try all three.  It might make me feel better, even if it does nothing for anyone Out There.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Uncle Bulgaria

Behind the Times, that's me, just like good old Uncle Bulgaria.

I thought I'd finally caught up with them, back in the late nineties - I had a (borrowed) television, my own (donated) computer and had paid BT nearly a hundred pounds to get a landline pulled in to the flat at Wychanger. I was part of the Real World at last.  Someone had even lent me a television ... pity there was no reception.

Then the clock struck midnight and it all went wrong.  For one thing it was a wind-up alarm clock (my dear little Baby Ben) and it was bloody well slow so I missed the bongs of the incoming Millenium and that seems to have imprinted the waxen seal on the scroll of my life ever since.

The World shot forward into the 21st Century, but somehow I got left behind. In some ways I hadn't even hit the 20th.  I still used a paraffin lamp to light me to the fields at night to check on the horses after a Late Shift in Casualty (at the old Hospital, see below). I still put on More Clothes to keep warm in winter - no central heating - and I still checked the sky for a rough idea of the time of day when Out And About.
Someone told me kindly that my Walkman was an antique. 
Someone else told me that if I wore a watch I might just know what time it was to within two hours of reality.
Someone else again wondered if I'd like a radio in my car. No, it wasn't a Morris Traveller it was a perfectly respectable if ancient Metro.

Well I've moved on since then, so there.  It's 2011 now and I've got a watch.  I never wear it, but I've got one. 

I've had - and now have not, (since I moved house yet again) central heating so I know about that, too. And I wish I didn't cos it's cold here and I now know what I'm missing. Log fires are all very well but they take hours to warm the place.

I've got a mobile phone but it doesn't play ball and keeps telling me I've run out of funds.  (It's lying, I put £10 on the card last year and haven't used it since: when I needed it last Saturday to summon MrVetMan to poor Hoss who had colic again, it bloody wouldn't work and I'll never forgive it).

I've got an Internet Connected computer - back to an old one though, cos the new one is once more at the PutaDoktaMan's shop cos it kept telling me its Input Wasn't Supported.

But all these things are not up to date because as I've stepped forward, so has the World and it's still a long way in front.  I can't keep pace and wonder how everyone else does. I fear it comes of being middle-aged, especially between the ears and below the Empire Line, but some folk a lot older are more technosavvy than I ...

The answer must simply be: I'm just naturally Behind the Times and Out of Step. My drummer beats a different tattoo from the one who marks time for the rest of the world. I blame him. I  reckon he's called Great Uncle Bulgaria.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Caught On Camera

I'm sitting here enjoying the open fire and watching (on-line as I have no working television) the Antiques Roadshow. Quite unexpectedly an ex-neighbour of mine just appeared on the screen being told about a pretty 1770's chiming watch that's been in her family for generations.  I haven't seen Hen for ages but years ago we shared a wall when our farm cottages backed on to one another. We've both moved on since then - from the looks of things she's headed further West (I think TAR is coming from Dartmouth)  whereas I just skipped down the road a couple of miles.

Good to know you're still alive, Hen, and looking so well. I wonder how many others who knew you from round here saw you quite by accident this evening?

I can feel a short story coming on ...

Friday, 4 March 2011

My Pong has Pinged

The short story that has been pingponging back and forth for ages has finally landed on the 'Ping' spot and was sold yesterday. No idea when it'll come out but if I remember to keep you informed, I will.
I have, however, a somewhat civic mind: things just seem to dribble through the sieve of my memory into the Great Mixing Bowl of life which is itself cracked. So don't expect me to pay you back the tenner you lent me last week.
To counteract this civic memory, I have several cunning plans.  One is to e-mail myself with things I might forget. Another is to write little post-it notes all over the kitchen. "Bin Day" "Cans" "Turn the Bloody Fridge Back On" "Hoss to Joanna's" "Ring Ben".  I'm absolutely sure that other people do this too, but I bet they can actually read back their notes or understand their cryptic ones.  I found one recently that said "Superlash Bindy" and by the time I'd interpreted it, Sheelagh's birthday had come and gone.  I nearly missed "Charge tar discover" altogether but was fortunate that it was pinned over "John's Birthday" - the end of the month was the giveaway and as I was writing out the card for the Birthday Boy I realised that I needed to put the car's tax disc into the vehicle before Tuesday 1st March.
I think there might be some cash mileage woven into the vagaries of this civic mind and my coping strategies ... in the short story world. Look out My Weekly and Peeps Amigo (my affectionate title for the People's Friend) - another Pong cometh.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


The first primrose of spring opened up its umbrella and showed itself at the weekend. Just one little yellow flower growing halfway up a laneside bank gave me a real boost - surely we will see GreenFire soon.
GreenFire, to the uninitiated, is what I call the flushing of green that marks the springing of Spring along the banks and hedges running along our Exmoor lanes.
At first there are just the winter-bare washed-out hedgerows, no definite colours, no leaves or sproutings. A week later a passer-by notices there is grass growing in the lane and a week later again he notices that the greenness has crept upwards through the bank and is suddenly flushing and flourishing into the bare hedge, lighting the edges of its buds and setting 'GreenFire'.
By late April the green has taken over and the hedgerows are in full bud, there are primroses and other spring flowers peeping out all up the banks and hedges and all is right with the world.
That poor first primrose, however, isn't even bravely heralding GreenFire now: Hoss saw it at the same time I did and promptly ate it.
But it'll be back and it will be millions.