Saturday 18 September 2021

15 more out of 5000


Welcome to a sunny South Manchester on day 62 since Covid-19 restrictions were eased. Infection rates are actually starting to drop again over here in the UK but hospitalization and deaths are still slowly rising, even though they are nowhere near as bad as they were during the previous spikes. 

I expect them to start falling too soon.

This is all due to the vaccination program and now we are starting to give over 50’s and vulnerable people a third booster jab. I will be eligible but not until six months after my second jab, which will, in theory be in December, just before Christmas. 

I still have to do a lateral flow self-test this weekend for another day in the office on Monday. I have to say these tests are quite unpleasant because they trigger your gag reflex and make your eyes water as you poke a swab in places where swabs aren’t supposed to be. 

It’s worth it I guess, even though there are no signs of Covid; after all I could be one of those lucky people who don’t actually know they have Covid – you never know. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. If America is one nation under God then are atheists citizens?

One nation under God? There is something I don’t quite understand about America. I love the place but it is a little bit of a paradox, especially when it comes to religion. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people who choose to immerse themselves into religion of any kind because, ultimately, in most cases, it provides comfort. 

I am a Roman Catholic but I have not practiced the religion since the age of 16. I was indoctrinated until I actually realized that perhaps there was something else out there. I will never say anything bad about people for whom God is the single most important feature of their lives.

Yet in America, I think religion is taken to extreme and sometimes used to exploit people. The President who fails to say “God Bless America” is the person who will be ousted at the next election. Even the Orange Goblin, a man who I doubt believes in anything but himself, pretended to embrace religion when he somehow reached that pinnacle. 

It is obvious he has never read or studied it but people would have believed him. His favourite book? Not a bloody chance.

When I talk about people using religion to exploit the masses, I mean guys like this charlatan:

Don’t get me started on these arseholes!

Sorry for rambling but to answer the question – of course atheists are citizens. And America doesn’t have a monopoly on God. I think most nations in the world would agree with me.

2. Is there anything that you believe should be banned for any reason?

Absolutely. This is something I could write a book on many things I think should be banned. Let me just start with one so-called religion: Scientology. Now there’s a start.

3. How often do you eat too much?

Probably every weekend. I am slightly overweight but not so much that I couldn’t get back to a healthy weight in a month with some willpower. From Monday to Friday I eat really healthy diet, with fruit for breakfast, a fish or chicken salad for lunch and a healthy meal in the evening. I do not drink alcohol from Sunday to Thursday either. Yet on the weekend, starting with Friday evening, I usually drink a couple of beers and have a lovely fried breakfast on Saturday and Sunday with a large lunch, though the evening meal is reasonable usually. This year I have managed to reach my lowest weight for about two years, although I am above that now thanks to it being Saturday and having had bacon and egg for breakfast.

4. If you died tomorrow, what mark would you have left on the world?

I doubt that I will leave a mark whenever I die (although as I keep saying, I plan to live forever). I guess some people might still read this blog in the unlikely event of my demise; it’s been around for thirteen years and people still stumble across older posts, probably thinking “who is this weird nutcase?”

I am sure that I will be remembered by friends for a few years, and my name will crop up in family conversations for a few decades. And maybe, a future descendant will unearth me in a century or two and realise that he is descended from a weird nutcase. 

We’ll see. 

But, of course, if I come back as a ghost, I will see this all for myself, won’t I?

5. Are you a city person or a country person?

I am primarily a city person but I love the country too. 

The city is vibrant and I love being part of a huge community with everything you need at your doorstep. Manchester is an amazing place to live. I also love London, and I am off there next week for a university reunion and again in October for a four day trip being a tourist before visiting other friends. London is huge and a great place but a little too big and busy for me, I think. Manchester is more compact and perfect for what I need.

That said, I love to escape to the countryside too. When I need to escape, I can easily just drive for about half an hour and find peace and tranquility in more rural settings. In fact, that is another reason why Manchester is great – city life on your doorstep and countryside just a small drive away.

6. What annoys you the most about yourself?

I am actually very fond of myself but I know that I am, like every other human being on this planet, a flawed creature.

Despite boasting about conquering shyness, I am still shy. I am sometimes overly cautious when perhaps I should take more risks. 

Also, I am heading towards 60 years of age and although I am quite fit in terms of walking most days, I can feel the pull of old age – and that annoys me. 

But generally I am happy with who I am.

7. Who was your childhood hero?

I would probably say my dad. 

8. With nearly 100 channels why is NOTHING ever on?

There is always something on, but there is an awful lot of absolute garbage available to laugh at or mock. My TV viewing habits have changed dramatically over the past five years or so. Here in the UK I subscribe to Sky, which gives me access to movies, sport, the freeview channels and a lot of other weird and wonderful channels from all over the place, most of which I don’t watch.

I share this with my two sons. Who in return have shared their access to Netflix and Amazon Prime. So rather than watching things in real time, I tend to record stuff to watch later or simply tune into Netflix or Amazon to carry on with one of the hundreds of offerings they have.

I am also tempted by Disney+ - the only reason being that they have the Marvel series ( I am a huge geeky fan of Marvel) – but I am resisting the pull because I really don’t want to end up as a couch potato. One day I might but probably not until the only thing I can do is dribble in my soup.

9. Would you adopt a stray kitty wandering through your neighborhood?

Absolutely. In fact, the two wonderful black cats I own, Ziggy and Star(dust) were rescue cats when some heartless cruel bastard left them in an alleyway for a couple of days in a cage where nobody could find them. When an old lady eventually found them and took them to a cat charity, they were covered in shit and very ill. They were only about a month or two old.

How could somebody do that?

I was so angry and I would love to meet the perpetrator of that particular crime.

Anyway, they are now healthy cats, as cute as anything you could ever wish for, and amazing fun. Best of all, they are happy and have a loving home with us. 

When it comes to strays, in particular though, we did adopt a cat quite a few years ago. At that time we had two other black cats called Jasper and Poppy and one day we spotted a new black cat in our kitchen. He had come in for food. We gave him some, although he looked well-fed, and he gradually moved in. We called him Spike and he settled in nicely.

However, after about eight months, he came in with a collar on and a name tag. It turns out, he was owned by a woman who lived about four streets away and his name was really Hamish. I called the number on the collar and took him to his real home where she accepted him gratefully and said that he keeps going missing. Also, she didn’t have a cat flap so every morning when she went to work, she would just turf him outside and leave him out all day come rain or shine. No wonder he looked for a new owner. 

In the end, he just kept coming back to our house and we simply kept him. I gave the woman my phone number and address but she never came back to ask for him.

Sadly, he disappeared from our house too. He was older than Jasper and Poppy and Mrs PM thinks that he just went off somewhere to die. He was a lovely cat and we had him for about three years.

Sorry – another rambling answer.

10. Which Lord of the Rings movie has the best ending?

My favourite is The Return of the King.

This scene at the end always brings a tear to my eye.

11. What are you missing in your life?

At the moment I am missing travel. I am absolutely dying to get on a plane and go abroad – anywhere will do! 

12. What could you make a sculpture out of that's in the room with you right now?

Nothing. I couldn’t make a sculpture if I tried.

13. Do you believe in the lost city of Atlantis?

I love anything like this and I dearly hope that Atlantis really existed. Many people believe that it is in the Mediterranean Sea or nearby in the Atlantic Ocean and was a progressive and technologically advanced civilization on an island that was destroyed by a tsunami. I think that this is possible and I hope that somebody finds it.

14. Have you ever read The Little Prince?


15. What fantasy book would you like to see made into a movie?

I would love the Hyperion Cantos novels by Dan Simmons to be made into a movie or a series similar to Game of Thrones. I loved the books (there are four of them) and I particularly love the Shrike, a very powerful creature that is about nine feet tall, has four arms with an exterior skin that is metallic and covered with sharp spikes and blades, including its four hands with sharp blades as speakers.

It is a phenomenal creature and I would love to see it brought to life in a series:

Imagine meeting that on a dark night?

Saturday 11 September 2021

15 out of 5000

Welcome to an overcast South Manchester on day since the end of restrictions. It’s been a mixed week in terms of the Covid cloud hanging over us. On Monday and Tuesday I returned to the office where I had to endure an “induction” to tell me what to do in the office in terms of mask-wearing. I also took a lateral flow test the day before and it was an unpleasant experience that, thankfully, resulted in a negative test (as I knew it would). I am back in the office on Monday (only one day this time) and I have to test myself again (I’m not looking forward to that to be honest). 

I also went to my first gig since March 2020 – the Wildhearts – one of my favourite bands. And it was amazing. I think capacity was down but it was busy enough. We had to prove that we had had two Covid jabs or proof of a negative test before we were allowed past the threshold. The band and the crowd all needed the experience. I had a great time. Here they are:

On the flip side, I was supposed to be going to see the latest test match in the England versus India series in cricket on Sunday, but the whole match has been called off because the Indian cricket squad have several cases of Covid-19 in their ranks and cannot field a team.

I am disappointed with that because I was looing forward to a day of cricket.

Oh well – I guess I’ll have to answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

Let’s dive straight in, shall we?

1. Who do you take for granted?

I don’t take anyone for granted and I hope that nobody ever takes me for granted either. If they do, I usually deal with it, and I would expect the same if somebody thought I was doing it to them.

2. Short, knee, or ankle skirts? (if a man, have you ever worn kilts?)

Only Scotsmen wear kilts and they feel jolly proud of it when they do. As an Englishman I am referred to as “The Auld Enemy” as I support England in football matches when they play Scotland. This all goes back to centuries of old battles between the Scots and the English. There have been quite a few skirmishes in the past but nothing in recent centuries. We actually get along very well now, although some would probably like to be independent of the UK. 

If I were to wear a kilt in Scotland, I would probably be mocked. My Scottish accent isn’t good enough to pass myself off as a Scotsman. That said, I love Scotland and the people are fine upstanding citizens. Here is a photo I took of a Scotsman playing his bagpipes in Edinburgh. 

And very smart he looked too.

3. Do you wear a hat?

I only wear a hat when it is extremely sunny. I am blond (well with a bit of grey now) and I burn in the sun – even if the temperature is as low as 20 degrees Centigrade. I have a few hats that I will take on holiday, or if I watch a cricket match. My favourite is one I bought in Australia.

4. Who's your favorite cartoon character?

This guy:

5. Does break dancing impress you?

Not at all. I didn’t get it back in the da and I don’t get it now.

6. Are you a miracle?

We are all miracles. When you think about the chances of you and I being born and living out our lives in a rock floating in space, the odds are quite stupefying.

Enjoy it.

7. Have you ever eaten tofu?

Once or twice. It’s pretty bland if I remember rightly.

8. Does the moon have an effect on your mood?

Not knowingly. I don’t turn into a werewolf or any other creature when the moon is out. If I did, I am sure that Mrs PM would tell me.

9. Many people will say that the Harry Potter books are pure fluff with no literary value. Do you agree?

They are good stories (I have read them all) but they are really children’s books in my opinion and the writing reflects that. I think that they have literary value and will be remembered long after J K Rowling and I meet in the afterlife.

10. What are you doing next Wednesday?

Sadly, I am going to be working. I will be at home sitting exactly where I am now but performing specialist brainwashing on a variety of remote computers, some in the cloud and some not, and no doubt having a rant about the banality and stupidity of working life and office politics. I will no doubt have a couple of meetings and talk to the images of my team on my work laptop via Microsoft Teams where I will try not to rant. I guess my cats will make a guest appearance on these meeting, which they sometimes do. 

11. Why do so many people think Elvis is still alive?

Because they can’t deal with the fact that he died in 1977. Think about it; if he were alive, he would have just celebrated his 86th birthday. That in itself is believable but given that he declined rapidly in his forties, it is unlikely that he gave it all up for a life of anonymity. I think these people should just enjoy what he did and cherish his work.

12. Are your hands cold?

 Not at the moment. It is Autumn here and the weather is still relatively warm. I can put my hands in the freezer for a while if you want me to.             

13. Have you ever given blood?

Yes – once. And I almost fainted. I felt really ill and decided that the trauma wasn’t worth it. Also, I am squeamish when it comes to blood and seeing it flowing out of my body is too much.

14. What ScI-fi books do you read?

I am a huge fan of science fiction. I like anything weird and thoroughly enjoy a good space opera. I am currently reading one in fact:

15. Have you ever belonged to a sorority or a fraternity?

No – because I am not American.

Sunday 5 September 2021

10 From 100

Welcome to a sunny and warm South Manchester on day 49 following our resident clown’s declaration of freedom from Covid-19. Infection rates are steady but rising ever so slowly, hospitalisation due to Covid-19 is steady and the number of deaths a day is still rising slightly. But the powers that be, as incompetent as they are, seem happy to allow it to continue as is, as we head in Autumn here in the UK. This time last year, the rates all climbed as the temperatures fell and the nights became longer. Unlike last year though, 88% of the adult population have had at least one vaccine with about 78% being fully immunised.

The coming week is a strange one for me. I am going into the office tomorrow for the first time since Macrh 2020, just for a couple of days, and today I have to test myself with the government supplied test. I don’t know how accurate it is but if I have Covid-19 it should yield a positive result. 

It is the first test I have done and, as far as I know, I haven’t actually had Covid-19. I certainly don’t think I have it, as I feel absolutely fine, with no symptoms whatsoever. But my company has mandated that we have to test ourselves twice a week if we are to return to the office, ergo I have to, even though I will be working part time in the office and part time at home from now on.

That is life, living with Covid-19 folks. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1.What's your favourite TV channel to watch in the middle of the night?

I rarely watch TV in the middle of the night. If I do, I will channel surf until I find something interesting or, most likely, just watch the news or a late night comedy show.

2.Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?

The 1980’s. I love that decade and have many fond memories of it. I entered the decade aged 17, still living at home in Walsall and studying for A-levels, having never travelled abroad and barely even travelled outside Walsall (if I am honest). I left the decade aged 27, married, with a university degree, a job in an IT company, having moved to Manchester and travelled abroad often enough to get completely bitten by the travel bug.

My life changed so much in that decade. 

I loved the music, the fashion, the movies, the TV and the entire lunacy of the decade – perhaps summed up in the following songs:

3.What is your favourite oldie/classic rock song?

As you can imagine, I have hundreds of them. Here is one of my favourites:

4.What Disney villain are you the most like and why?

I love Shere Kahn from the Jungle Book. He is just so cool and has an amazing voice (provided by George Sanders). 

5.Have you ever been a girl scout/boy scout?

No – thank goodness!

6.If you were travelling to another continent would you rather fly or take a boat?

I would fly, of course. A boat to the USA or Africa would take ages and even longer if I had to go further afield, like Asia or Australia. I’ve been on a cruise before and to be honest I got a little stir-crazy. It is much better to fly.

7. What are three of your favourite dog names of all time?

I have to dig into my past for dog names. I would feel like a traitor if I chose any names other than dogs I have owned or that have been owned by my family. Here are my three:

Paddy, Rinty and Beric.

8. How do you feel when you see a rainbow?

I feel it is time to quickly get my camera out and capture it. Like this one, I captured in Liverpool:

9. If you were in the Land of Oz would you want to live there or go home?

I would want to go home. It looks like a mad place to me, with witches, wizards, talking lions, talking scarecrows (we have one as Prime Minister and he has no brains either), talking and moving tin men and flying monkeys. 

10. What is the first word that comes to mind when you see the word:

Air: Music

Meat: Pork

Different: Eccentric

Pink: Elephant

Deserve: Merit

White: Snake

Elvis: Burger

Magic: Moment

Heart: Beat

Clash: Colour

Pulp: Fiction

I hope nobody is going to psychoanalyse me based on those choices and send the men in white coats around.