Saturday, 10 April 2021


Welcome to a weird day in South Manchester. 

First of all, you may have heard that the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip has passed away at the ripe old age of 99, just two months away from his 100th birthday. I feel really sorry for the Queen and her family but, in typical fashion, and as you can imagine, the whole of the UK has gone crazy over this. The schedule on the main terrestrial channels has been removed and we are now subject to documentary after documentary about his life and what an absolutely wonderful guy he was. Some radio channels have replaced their normal playlists with mournful dirges. The newspapers are urging us to stand up at 12pm today and contemplate his death as gun salutes occur in certain cities across the nation.

There was no other news yesterday and there will be no other news for the next couple of days at least. 

That is all I am going to say on the subject because to be too negative about the over-the-top reaction will invite equally negative responses from those royalists who would have me mourning alongside them for weeks on end as if he were a member of my own family. 

The second weird thing about today is the weather. Mrs PM and I got up for a walk this morning and I had to wear my big winter coat because it was snowing. Yes, in spring in the UK we have had snow and hail for the first few hours of Saturday. This is timed perfectly for the next phase of lockdown relaxation. From Monday, pubs are open again and can serve groups of up to six people outside. You are not allowed to go inside at all apart from a trip to the toilet. 

In true British fashion, rumour has it that some pubs will open their beer gardens at midnight on Sunday night so that people who are brave or stupid or maybe just alcoholics can sit outside at 1am drinking their favourite tipple with up to five friends.

I love the strangeness of my country.

Anyway, enough of all that nonsense. Let’s dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing.

1. You have just been hired to clean your own home, what is your first complaint?

The mess that cats make with cat litter. At the moment we are trying to persuade the cats to make use of natural outside facilities and contribute to fertilizing local gardens in their own way. The problem is that they are so well trained to use the litter tray that they actually come in to use the tray and then go outside again. We have been popping the trays out in the garden and it is working; they are using them. It is only a matter of time I think. 

The problem is, with weird weather like the snow we had this morning and the rain that usually comes in April, we are having to be careful about leaving the trays outside. So we bring them in. 

And Ziggy, our male cat, and the bigger of the two, is so OCD about covering up his contributions that he hurls the litter out of the tray and into every nook and cranny of the surrounding area – usually in our kitchen. 

We will get there sooner or later – hopefully sooner. 

2. Are you able to ignore a ringing telephone?

Absolutely. I ignore the phone if I am in the middle of something or even if I am watching a particularly good TV programme. We have an answering machine on the landline (yes – incredibly we still have a landline) and of course on our own personal smartphones. If it is urgent they can ring back. To be fair though, if I am not doing anything I will answer it – and I will get extremely annoyed if it is a nuisance call. One time, we were getting loads of marketing calls from the provider of the phone line and in the end I lost my temper. The conversation went like this.

PEST ON THE PHONE: Hello, this is your telephone line provider. How are you today?

PM: What do you want?

PEST ON THE PHONE: A quick survey if you have five minutes. First question: do you get loads of nuisance calls?

PM: Yes – and all of them are from you. 

PM slams down the phone.

3. How often do you allow a ringing phone to go to voice mail?

I answered that above. Quite a lot actually.

4. Do you answer your cell phone, out in public, every time it rings? Or do you silence it and get back to it when you’re in a more private area?

It depends who the caller is. If it is a friend or member of my family then I will answer it. If I don’t recognise the number then I ignore it. If they are desperate to get in touch they can leave a message.

5. How often would you say you’re on your home phone? Your cell phone?

Rarely to be honest. 

6. Do you like talking on the phone or do you view it as a necessary communication tool?

It is a necessary evil. I don’t like using the phone to be honest. 

7. When did you last go for a bike ride?

A couple of years ago, it was Cycle to Work Day in the UK so I decided to dust down my bike and cycle to work. It’s not that far actually – about a ten mile round trip. 

8. Do you own a bike?

As you can tell from the last question, yes I do but I rarely ride it these days.

9. Given the most popular New Year’s resolution of losing weight, would you consider putting bicycle riding as one of your exercise options? Why or why not?

I think I might but I am always a bit nervous riding a bike because you have to share the road with inconsiderate drivers, lorries and double decker buses. There are places I could go that are safer but I would have to take my bike in the car and then cycle in the countryside. 

A former work colleague is a keen bike rider and a few years ago he was knocked off his bike by a car and almost killed. He spent weeks in hospital but has made a full recovery. He still rides but it has made me think twice about cycling. 

Really what we need are more cycle lanes and routes in the city. We have then but I think they could do more, particularly as the government are trying to urge us towards a more environmentally friendly existence.

10. If you had to name a smell that always makes you nostalgic, what would it be? What sorts of memories does the smell evoke?

The smell of a Chinese restaurant. When I first went to Hong Kong with work, I was taken to a Chinese restaurant in Wan Chai and the first thing that struck me was the aroma of all the delicious Chinese food from the restaurants of the area. I have such fond memories of my many trips to that amazing city that are conjured up by the smell of Chinese food.

11. What did you do over the weekend? No detail is too small. This is your journal, so tell us about the mundane tasks in your life.

I am bang in the middle of my weekend. Since we are in lockdown, we are limited in what we can do, so it is largely very boring. Okay – the weekend starts on Friday, so here goes.

Friday: After work, I took part in the “after work quiz” that we have every Friday afternoon. I have won it a few times but this time I only managed to finish fourth. I then listened to a bit of music and played a couple of games of football on the PS4. Mrs PM then appeared after an afternoon nap and we opened “The Black Cat” pub in our lounge and had a couple of beers and wines while adding the the playlist (see here) and chatting. We then had a lovely Chinese meal for dinner and watched a little TV before retiring for the night.

Saturday (so far): We got up early today, about 8am, and fed the cats before going for a walk in the snow. After that we had breakfast. I put on the washing and fulfilled my daily habits (a little Spanish, some freewriting, a TED Talk and writing this blog post). 

Saturday (planned): I am going to watch Walsall’s football match later after lunch and then we will probably open “The Black Cat” again for an hour and chat, listening to the playlist before dinner and a little TV. I will watch Match of the Day before retiring.

Sunday (planned): Get up at a reasonable time and go for a walk. I will then have breakfast and get on with a few chores before looking at my finances and have lunch before watching a Premiership football match on Sky. After that we will have dinner and watch a movie, because Sunday night is movie night. 

12. If it weren’t for my blog, I’d ....

Probably be wasting my time on social media. I don’t dabble in social media that much and to be honest I am thinking that I might reduce it even further and try to take up something more constructive. I think I would probably be writing more. 

I did have a blog wobble a couple of years ago where I almost decided to quit the Plastic Mancunian. I am happy to say that I have found new energy and enthusiasm for the blog, possibly down to the pandemic and lockdown I guess, so I am continuing with it for quite a while yet. I am quite happy to continue.

13. When was the last time you replied “because I said so”? Do you find yourself saying that a lot? Or do you prefer to tell people WHY you want them to do something for you.

I rarely say that now but I think I used to say it to the kids a lot, usually when I couldn’t directly think of a reason why they couldn’t do something. 

It is a ridiculous thing to say.

14. What is the worst gift you’ve ever received?

A book by Derek Acorah.

Derek Acorah was a spiritual medium who, in my opinion, was a total charlatan. He used to claim to be possessed by spirits of dead people in haunted houses and did so in the most ridiculous ways possible and was about as convincing as mouse masquerading as a cat. Whenever I saw him on TV I used to laugh at how he tried to convince gullible people that his powers were genuine. 

To me it is praying on the grief of people and exploiting their vulnerability when they have lost somebody close.

Here is Harry Hill taking the mickey on his show TV Burp:

Why did I get the book? I told Mrs PM’s mum that I love anything supernatural. What I meant by that was I love ghost stores and weird stuff like that. Sadly I didn’t tell her that I hate any so-called paranormal experts because they have about as much ability in contacting people who have passed to the other side as I have – that is, none at all. 

She took that as a green light to buy me this:

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I thought the man was a cheating, lying charalatan. I didn’t read it.

15.  Tell us the worst gift you’ve ever given. What was the reaction of the recipient?  

I bought my youngest son a Furby (a joint present with his mother). 

On Christmas morning he opened it enthusiastically and stared at it open-mouthed. “Result!” I said and winked at my ex-wife who smiled back. 

“A FURBY?” he said with a look of total disgust and hurled it over his shoulder. He was five years old.

It wasn't intended to be a bad gift.


Elephant's Child said...

I am with you on phones. A necessary evil that I often ignore.
I hear you on the kitty litter front too. Jazz delights in throwing it far and wide - which takes work because the kitty litter tray is covered. He succeeds though.

Bev Sykes said...

I'm glad you decided to continue your blog.

Funny how we give our kids things we think they'll love and they don't. I guess we don't know them as well as we think we do.

River said...

1: I would LOVE to allow Lola outside to "fertilise" the garden, but that's against the law here now, so she continues to make a mess with the litter all over the closed-in back porch.
8: yes, I have a bicycle, in the shed, gathering dust and sadly in need of new tyres since the rubber on the old ones perished.
9: no, unless I move somewhere that has much less traffic and flat roads, I won't be riding again.
12: if I didn't have my blog my house would be cleaner, more books would get read and more walks would be taken.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

I suggested to Mrs PM that we get a covered one but she thinks it's a bad idea. At least the mess is outside now (as long as it doesn't rain).




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bev,

It was touch and go a few years ago but as I have said, I have new found enthusiasm.

My youngest is now 25 - and I still don't know what to buy him.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Is it really against the law? It is for dogs - you have to follow them with a poop bag.

I've somehow managed to find time to do all of those things and write crap blog posts too.




songbird's crazy world said...

My kids would have asked for the Furby, but probably would have hated it

Lori said...

I am not a fan of being on the phone either. I ignore it most of the time.
That is a funny story about the Furby. I got Josh a record player for Christmas one year because he said he loved listening to records. He never plays it. I thought he would love it. Oh well. Loved your answers! Have a nice day. That is good your city is starting to open up.

Kwizgiver said...

#14 is really quite funny that your mil thought that was supernatural.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

About Philip: As an American I do not understand the concept of royalty at all. I'e read that all the BBC is doing is analysis. Analysis? An 99 year old died. Why? He was 99. End of analysis.

Me, Myself, and I said...

Outdoor cats don't last long here--there's an huge arroyo (dry river) running through out neighborhood that we call the Coyote Highway. Outdoor cats become coyote snacks. The circle of life and all that, I guess. I wish we had a screened porch or a sunroom though--they love being outside...just not OUTSIDE.

CountryDew said...

I love the Furby story. I have never had a cat as I am highly allergic, but neither my husband nor I believe animals belong in houses, at any rate. Barns are for animals, houses are for people. That is not a popular point of view, but we have no animals except for cows and they certainly belong in the barn. I had a dog for 17 years who stayed outside except in extreme cold, when I brought her into the garage. She lived a very long time so I must have done something right.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Songbird,

I didn't know what a Furby was. I still don't.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lori,

I think kids are difficult to buy for - or perhaps expensive. I seem to recall the Furby was overpriced.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kwizgiver,

I know! I tried not to laugh to be fair. I asked Mrs PM not to tell her - I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I think I would if she ever bought me another one.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bud,

It is a crazy thing to be fair. Royal stories are always popped to the top of the pile no matter how trivial they are.

I don't hate the royals but I hate the coverage they get. There are a lot of people in the UK who feel the same way (some feel worse) but at the moment we seem live in a society where royalists rule.

There are times when I don't get it.




Plastic Mancunian said...

HI Me, Myself and I,

I've heard that cats are prey in the US. We would keep them in if that were the case here. I guess we only have to worry about wild foxes but cats can outrun and outclimb them.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi CD,

A neighbour once asked if we wanted to share his chickens and I refused because they weren't meant to be pets. I couldn't keep a chicken and then kill it for food - hypocritical I know.