Friday 29 December 2023

Goodbye 2023 - Part 2

Welcome to a dull grey old South Manchester. Winter is here, the days are short and the weather is poor. But at least it isn’t raining.

Christmas is over for another year and New Year is just around the corner. Before the big day, here is Part Two of a summary of 2023, questions as usual from Sunday Stealing.

1. What did you do this year that you had not done before? 

I was called up for jury service. I thought that I would get away with it but in early December, a letter appeared through my letterbox telling me that I would have to turn up at court for the last two weeks of December. I had no choice unless my company objected to it or I had a valid reason for not attending (for example being on holiday – that kind of thing). 

In the end, because it was so close to Christmas I ended up only doing a week and I was on a small trial. It was all very interesting and formal and I actually quite enjoyed the experience. I think I am now safe from ever doing it again but I think I would approach it positively in the unlikely event that I ever get called again. 

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?

I did keep my resolutions and I am in the process of deciding what to do next year. 

I’ve carried on with learning Spanish and playing the piano and although progress is slow on both I am improving. I have also started writing a novel which is also progressing very slowly but I have a story and an ending. I also have a better plan for a memoir of sorts based on my experiences of travelling. I may start that next year but it is still at  the planning stage. 

I am still writing a daily “journal” of sorts, which is more like “freewriting” where you basically write any old crap daily. It doesn’t have to be good or grammatically correct; you just have to write. 

Next year I plan to take some of the stuff out of that (the nuggets in the pile of rubbish if you like) and turn them into blog posts. I have been doing Sunday Stealing for a while now with little else but I want to return to the type of blog posts I used to write up until a couple of years ago. Expect to see more blog posts in 2024. I shall almost certainly continue with Sunday Stealing because it’s fun.

My other goals won’t change that much – just more of the same. 

We also plan to travel again this year although we have pushed Malaysia back to the start of 2025. We will probably go to Spain, France and Morocco in 2024. It would be nice to add another new country to the list – that may happen. 

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or get pregnant? 

No, I don’t think so.

4. Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness? 

Not this year, thank goodness.

5. What places did you visit? 

We travelled to Spain (Tenerife), Morocco, Italy (Sicily), Croatia and I went to the Netherlands for a university reunion. 

I had never been to Morocco before; it was a great experience and we are thinking of going again next year. We spent a long weekend exploring Marrakesh. We had a lot of fun. 

Bahia Palace Marrakesh

Marrakesh Sunset

In Croatia we went to Dubrovnik for a week and I would thoroughly recommend it. It is a beautiful city. We also visited a couple of other places that aren’t too far away. 

Dubrovnik Old Town from above

Dubrovnik Old Town 

Sicily was wonderful. We spent a week in Taormina, which is a beautiful little town in vicinity of Mount Etna, a still active volcano. Thankfully it didn’t erupt while we were there. 

Mount Etna (from a distance)

Taormina from above

In the Netherlands, I met three of my old university friends in Amsterdam, a city I know very well. In our weekend there I acted a tour guide because I have worked there so many times I know the place almost as well as I know the back of my hand. 

Four Reprobates in Front of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (I'm the one in front)

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing)? 

Nothing really. I’m not a fan of having our house disrupted and that happened this year with the redecoration of the back room, stairs and landing as well as the loft. So I would like less disruption at home – and I know that I am going to get it because we have no plans for anything like that in 2024.

7. What date from this year will remain etched in your memory and why? 

No dates stand out this year. I guess Mrs PMs birthday stands out a little because we went down to London to see the Abba Voyage show, which was surprisingly good. 

Talking of gigs, I saw three of my favourite bands/artists this year: Devin Townsend, Riverside and Porcupine Tree. They stand out because they were amazing. 

8. What was your biggest achievement this year? 

No one thing stands out but I have managed to maintain my daily habits so that counts. I have probably walked further this year than I have walked in previous years (the total mileage will be around 1565 miles if I stick to my step plan for the remaining couple of days of the year).

9. Did you get sick or injured? Anyone you know? 

Apart from a couple of minor colds, I was fine this year. A couple of friends and work colleagues came down with Covid-19 but were fine now it seems to be far less nasty than it has been in the past. 

10. What was the best thing you bought? 

It’s sad to say this but the furniture for our back room is probably the best thing; two new teal sofas, a new desk for me to work on, a new light, new flooring and a new mirror. Also the basic loft conversion we had to allow us to store more stuff up there. 

11. Where did most of your disposable income go (money left over after you pay for food, transportation and shelter)? 

Holidays and home improvements. I love holidays so they were well worth it. Home improvements? I hate them but it does look good so it was worth it. 

12. What song will always remind you of this year? 

On Spotify, this is my most played song of 2023. As you can imagine I love it. I present “Friend or Foe” by Riverside.

13. What do you wish you would have done more of? 

We were planning to go to Sweden (another new country) this year but home improvements proved to be more important (sadly). So I would like to perhaps do a couple more city breaks (starting with Stockholm) in 2024 – whether it happens or not I don’t know but I hope so.

14. What do you wish you would have done less of? 

Working. That may change in 2024.

15. What was your favourite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to?

Favourite New TV Programme: The Last Kingdom:

Favourite Movie: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One:

Favourite Album: “ID.Entity” by Riverside – here’s “I’m Done With You”:

Another Favourite Song: “Impossible Tightrope” by Steven Wilson:

Happy New Year everybody. I hope 2024 is an amazing year for you all.

Friday 22 December 2023

Goodbye 2023

Welcome to South Manchester on a dull, grey, windy day with light rain that somehow manages to get into every nook and cranny during a daily walk. It’s quite mild for the time of year though.

I’ve finished work for the year now (yesterday was my last day) and I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks off before returning. Pity the weather isn’t better.

We’re off to Blackpool for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day to visit Mrs PM’s folks before returning and relaxing until New Year. It should be fun.

The questions from Sunday Stealing this week seem to relate to New Year and I usually provide a summary anyway, so this is likely to be the first of a two or three parter. Shall we dive in?

1. Who did you spend time with this year?

The same people I spent time with in 2022 largely. We are now expected to go into the office twice a week now so I probably spent more time with work friends and colleagues over the year. It’s a bit of a pain going into the office because Covid is still around and there have been a couple of scares. For example we had a huge meeting with about thirty people crammed into an office and two days later discovering that one person actually had Covid. I didn’t catch it this year thankfully. It does seem to be doing the rounds again though, thankfully, it is a much milder illness now. 

2. Anything change with the pets in your life?

Not at all. The still rule us with a rod of iron. Star in particular is fascinated by the cursor on my screen and sits in front of the monitor watching it as I move it around. To anybody watching this, it would appear that she is supervising me and making sure that my work reaches her highest standards. It’s funny too; when I move the cursor off the edge of the screen she looks behind to try to find it. 

3. What was your job like this year? What do you do? Did any roles or assignments change? If you aren’t employed, base this question on your work at home or volunteering.

As I said above, we are now expected to go into the office for two days a week. I am actually much more productive at home. The management use words like “collaboration” and similar bullshit terms to justify this but the truth is that companies are spending money on offices and want them used. They never say this though – they think we are stupid. 

Work wise my job was the same – frustrating, sometimes tedious, occasionally interesting. To be honest, now I don’t let it get to me at all, and while I have had a reputation for comedy ranting, I don’t even do that anymore. I do like the majority of my workmates, I have to say.

I don’t have that long left before I retire so there’s no point ranting anymore.

4. What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read?

I’ve read quite a few books this year, mostly science fiction but a trilogy of horror stories set in 19th century England which were a minor diversion from the norm. I think the one I enjoyed most was a time travel novel by A.G.Riddle called Lost in Time.

5. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently? 

I am now 61 years old and I went to one of my favourite local restaurants on my birthday with Mrs PM. I haven’t felt different for the past twenty years to be honest. I have calmed down a little bit and I am more sensible but if I met my 40 year old self I think we would have a fun time together. 

6. What political or social issue stirred you the most? 

Where do I start? The Conservative government this year has been as ludicrous and incompetent as ever. Rishi Sunak is the latest in a list of useless Prime Ministers, though he is nowhere near as bad as Boris Johnson who wins two awards – the most incompetent Prime Minister we have ever had and the biggest liar in the office of Prime Minister. He’s also nowhere near as bad as Liz Truss who was Prime Minister for just 49 days and in that time crashed the economy. Nevertheless he is a weak useless fool who has made five pledges/promises and failed to achieve any of them.

There is an election next year thank goodness and I hope for the sake of my sanity that we turf these buggers out!

I might seriously consider leaving the UK if they win again.

7. Who was the most interesting new person you met?

I’ve met a couple of new people this year and they are all very interesting. I can’t single one of them out.

8. What changed in your home? 

We have had the back room of my house redecorated along with the hall stairs and landing. We have replaced almost all of the furniture and the stairs and landing carpet. We have also replaced the carpet in the back room with LVT because it looks better and is easier to clean (especially with cats). I have a new desk too and a set of new pictures scattered around as well as two lovely teal sofas that the cats love to sprawl on.

My man cave looks bright, clean and new.

We also had the filthy old loft converted into a proper store room with a membrane to keep it clean. There is lots of room up there now and it is full of my old knick-knacks and memorabilia that Mrs PM says that I “hoard”. I don’t – and there is tons of room up there for much more. 

9. What have you learned throughout the year? (Other than crafts)  Can be a new skill or a life lesson.

My piano playing has improved a lot and so has my Spanish. I haven’t taken on anything new apart from trying Italian after a trip to Sicily. I think I might give that up though because it is affecting my Spanish (the two languages are similar but different enough to make me use Italian words in Spanish by mistake).

10. What was your favourite outfit for warm weather? Cooler weather?  what do you wear when you dress up? Any new clothes or accessories you really love?

When the weather is warm you will find me in a T-shirt or polo shirt and shorts.

When the weather is cooler you will also find me in a T-shirt or polo shirt but it depends on the temperature. I may wear a jumper or a shirt. Today for example I am wearing a sweat shirt with a T-shirt underneath as I bum around the house. I also wear jeans.

When I dress up, it depends where I am going. For a meal, I will wear a shirt with jeans or chinos. For a wedding or something like that I will wear a shirt and tie and a suit (at least until the party starts when I will lose the tie and jacket).

11. Did you make or give up on any efforts to be healthier? Diet, water, exercise etc?

I have increased my step count from last year. Hot off the press – my average step count so far is this year is 8704 per day (4.29 miles per day). This is compared to 8218 per day in 2023 (4.12 miles per day). If I keep this up for the last few days of the year I will have walked 1566 miles this year.

My diet hasn’t changed that much. I eat lots of fruit, drink lots of water and eat a fairly balanced diet. I tend to let myself go a little at the weekend but overall I think I am okay.

I will also try to be healthier in January as usual. I don’t believe in abstinence so although my consumption of alcohol will go down, I will never attempt “Dry January”. 

12. Fave meals, snacks, desserts, restaurants etc? Eat out or eat in?

I love almost every cuisine in the world – I can’t single out a favourite.

My favourite snack is cheese on toast (which I haven’t actually had for a while). 

I like eating in and eating out.

A bit of a boring answer that one – sorry.

13. Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favourite thing you made? 

Nope. When it comes to crafts I am terrible.

14. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?  (Some suggestions-family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance)

I hope to improve on the piano and perhaps go to a proper class to improve my Spanish communication.

I will possibly look for a new hobby, perhaps related to music. 

It goes without saying that I will travel. We were going to go to Malaysia next year but I think this will be in January 2025 now because of the weather. It’s fair to say that we will be in Europe somewhere though.

15. What was the best new/new-to-you thing you a) bought b) made c) acquired in some other way?

Best thing I bought? I would say it was everything I mentioned in Question 8 to improve the house, which involved actually “making” stuff also (well – building a cupboard from IKEA).

Saturday 16 December 2023

Christmas 2023

Welcome to a pleasant winter’s day in South Manchester. The weather is mild and the clouds are light and fluffy, with a blue sky and a low sun that is beaming into our lounge through the Christmas tree which is positioned at the front window with lights flashing to a rhythm dictated by a switch that we can tweak. Personally I would tweak it every day but Mrs PM likes the current pattern; I am happy to let her have her way. 

Of course, the cats are fascinated by the tree and surprisingly they are well behaved around it. I do catch them tapping the odd globe occasionally but they don’t try to climb it (it is about seven feet tall I think). 
Yes, Christmas 2023 is almost upon us so it seems like a good idea to squeeze in a couple of silly answers to some silly questions from Sunday Stealing with Christmas in mind. 
1. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
That’s a difficult one. As a kid, I usually received Christmas presents that I wanted or that excited me but as I became an adult, presents became kind of token presents and, as a man, it started to consist of socks, handkerchiefs, book tokens, beer, chocolate and other gifts that people don’t really know what to buy for the man in their life. The answer is, therefore, I don’t really know. Sorry – that is so boring.
2. What is the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
Have you heard of Derek Acorah? 
He was a “psychic medium” who claimed to be able to converse with ghosts and in my view was a complete charlatan. He also claimed to be “possessed”. The person who bought me this gift had heard me mention his name and knows that I am into weird, spooky stuff. What I was actually doing was ranting about how gullible people are to have believed this idiot.
Here he is being exposed by a parapsychologist. And it’s well worth a look if you have six minutes to spare.

A total and utter charlatan and fraud – and I think most of those similar to him are the same. 
But back to the question. 
This person thought that a book written by Derek Acorah would be the perfect gift for me. How wrong they were.
To be kind, I read the first chapter and I have never read such a load of bullshit in my entire life. I felt bad that somebody has actually paid money for this vapid, turgid, amateurish waste of part of a tree and that some of the money spent had gone into Derek Acorah’s pocket to help prolong his abuse of gullible people.
I recycled it at the earliest opportunity.
Derek Acorah passed away in 2020 and if he really were able to talk to and be possessed by ghosts then surely he would have found his way back. Even if there were a part of me that believed in ghosts, this man is one reason why the sceptic in me will always dismiss such things as fraud.
Who knows? After this I may be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future for being a cynical old git about people who claim to be able to talk to spirits. 
3. Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
It is fitting that my favourite Christmas song it Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Shaun MacGowan passed away earlier at the end of last month. Rest in peace Shane.

4. Does your family have any favourite holiday traditions?
Not really. We usually go to at least on Christmas Party, have a pub crawl from my place of employment, visit family and get together with friends. We take it in turns hosting on Christmas Day and we start eating lots of fattening food, eating lots of chocolate and drinking more than usual. That’s why we all diet and abstain in January. 
We have a few things planned over the next week or two.
It is also traditional to have Christmas decorations and they are already up. 
5. What is your favourite Christmas snack?
Is a mince pie a snack? If it is then that is it. I love mince pies and we eat loads of them over the Christmas period. 
6. Did you believe in Santa growing up?
Yes – until I worked out that he doesn’t exist by applying logic. My dad came up with ridiculous answers to try to explain to me why he existed. I was asking about time zones, speed of travel, how this fat man could squeeze his bulk down a chimney, how he got in the house for people who didn’t have chimneys, how he managed to avoid the fire for those who had one, how he managed to get round the entire world in one day etc. etc.
In the end I told him that Father Christmas doesn’t exist – and he just laughed. 
7. How early do you start decorating?
That’s up to Mrs PM. She decides. We are decorated now and this year she wanted to do it on December 1st but we couldn’t for some reason. It was soon afterwards. I just allow Mrs PM to reign fully on all things Christmas.
8. Are you an early or last-minute shopper?
I am an early shopper. I like to get it all over and done with by the start of December.
9. Would you rather give or receive gifts?
I would rather receive them, but not because I am a tight-fisted git. I find it really difficult to decide what to buy for people and I invariably get a lot of them wrong (though people don’t necessarily tell me). Plus you have to actually spend time deciding and then buying. It is so easier to receive gifts and I like 99.9% of them. But please – no books, DVDs or anything by people like Derek Acorah.
10. What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
I don’t really like them if I’m honest and I try not to watch them. I do quite like “It’s a Wonderful Life” though, so I will say that one.
11. What is one of your Christmas memories?
The routine we had when I was a child. 
My dad was not a religious person and he was Church of England by baptism. My mum was Roman Catholic and so my two sisters and I were too. On Christmas Day we used to get up really early and my mum would take us to Mass, while my dad would stay in bed for a short while. By the time we got home, my dad had surfaced and spent the time cooking an elaborate and very tasty breakfast, while making a start on Christmas dinner. We would eat breakfast and then after tidying away the dishes, we would open our presents. 
My mum and dad would then spend a while in the kitchen preparing the dinner while we enjoyed our gifts and watched TV to soak up the atmosphere. 
We would be visited by grandparents later and enjoy Christmas dinner while lazing about, stuffing our faces with chocolate and all manner of food. 
The adults would all fall asleep in the afternoon, usually brought on by the Queen’s Speech (which was tedium personified and has been ever since) before playing games for the rest of the day.
It was simple but I can still picture it.
12. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
Not at all. Presents are meant to be opened on Christmas Day. 

I imagine I will probably produce another post before Christmas but just in case I don't, have a Wonderful Christmas, each and every one of you.

Friday 1 December 2023

Plastic Identity

Welcome to a bright and sunny South Manchester. The problem is that when the sun shines in winter, the temperature plummets and now it is just above zero degrees Celsius, with frost and ice still being visible from last night’s low of -3 degrees. I don’t mind days like this; they are cold, sure, but the crispness of the air is invigorating. 

We are now in December and Christmas is approaching faster than Superman. Mrs PM is threatening to put up the tree today and also we are going to my company’s Christmas party tonight. I have even had my first mince pie of the winter.

Since it is December I have to decide what I am going to do in 2024 – and that starts right now. Do I carry on with Spanish? Do I crank it up a notch? What other activities shall I plan into my daily habits?

We shall see and all will be revealed in due course.

In the meantime, here are some silly answers to some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. If someone wanted to really understand you, what would they read, watch, and listen to?

I don’t think that even Mrs PM understands me if I’m honest. She constantly says to me “Don’t be weird!” and the truth is that of all the billions of people on this planet, she understands me most of all. 

This is therefore a difficult question because I am a complex person and I don’t think anything that you could read, watch or listen to would even come close. 

Nevertheless, I shall try.

I would probably get you to read James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” to try to understand how and why I am trying to plan my life in the future. I would also get you to read an IT book to try to get you understand how my logical mind works in terms of my day job. And then finally, a great science fiction novel like “The War of the Worlds” or “The Time Machine” to try to understand the geek within me.

What would they watch? Probably a documentary series by Professor Brian Cox about the universe, as I am fascinated by space travel and phenomena. Also, any science fiction TV programme or movie, like Dr Who or Star Trek or something like that.

As for listening, regular readers will know that my taste is quite diverse from progressive rock to ambient electronica. Perhaps these two:

2. Have you ever found a writer who thinks just like you? If so, who?

Not really. Perhaps the closest is Brian Lumley who is responsible for the Necroscope series, which involves the most terrifying vampires I have ever had the pleasure to read. I say “closest” because although I love his ideas, I would have ended the stories in a different way. 

Also Dean Koontz has some amazing ideas in his thrillers and supernatural novels. 

3. Do you care about your ethnicity?

Not particularly. I just try to regard all people as the same, whatever, their colour, nationality, background, heritage, ancestry or traditions. I guess I am a white British male but, thanks to travelling, I like to feel that I could fit in anywhere.

4. What musical artists have you most felt connected to over your lifetime?

I would say the artist that has connected to me most is Rush. I have considered writing a post called My Life According to Rush, simply because since the age of about 14 they have been a constant throughout my life. I’ve grown up with them and there are certain songs that send me back in time to a precise moment. Sadly, since drummer Neil Peart sadly passed away in 2020, Rush are no more. I still have most of their CDs and I listen to their music regularly on Spotify from their first album simply called “Rush” in 1974 to their last offering called “Clockwork Angels” in 2012. 

These days, I connect most with Riverside, a Polish progressive rock band who are still producing amazing music.

5. Are you an artist?

Not at all. I did produce this silly piece of “art” for a blog post about how rubbish contemporary art is. 

I called it “Naughty Cat”. And it is absolute rubbish.

Still, there may be somebody who likes it. You never know.

6. Dog person or cat person?

Both. I have two cats so you might say that I am a cat person but the truth is I love both.

7. Inside or outdoors?

Both. The extrovert within me loves the outdoors but the introvert within loves the indoors.

8. Five most influential books over your lifetime.

I am going to say “Atomic Habits” by James Clear as one of them again because, although I was already using habits when I read it, it does cover the way my mind works now and I learned a few things. 

“The War of the Worlds” by H.G.Wells was a starting point for science fiction for me, being the first one I ever read. 

“The Dark” by James Herbert for me is the quintessential horror novel, one that genuinely scared me and ignited my love of horror stories. 

“1984” by George Orwell shocked me because when I was at school we had to read it as part of our English Literature class. Most of the books we had forced upon us were dreadful – and I include Shakespeare in this list of turgid dross – though the worst one was The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy – which was so bad I almost refused to finish it. Back to 1984 – I was pleasantly surprised that this masterpiece was so good. It is also very scary.

“The Throwback” by Tom Sharpe is a brilliant example of how to write a comic novel and it still makes me laugh today. When I read it, I was flying back from Hong Kong and I was struggling not to laugh in an embarrassing fashion but I failed. I was crying and howling in gales of laughter while people were trying to snooze and I had to stop in case I was lynched. I was this guy who was annoying Mr Bean.

9. Would you rather be in Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, or somewhere else?

Most of those places are dangerous in their own way but if I had to choose a place to be it would be Dr Who’s TARDIS because using that I could travel anywhere in both time and space. 

10. List the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.

I presume you mean when not working …

Listening to music – I listen to music most of the time when writing, working or just relaxing.

Doing my “daily duties”, i.e. habits that I have acquired. This involves writing, learning Spanish, trying to play the piano or reading a book that is outside my comfort zone.

Watching TV with Mrs PM and the cats.

Going for a walk. I try to walk for about an hour a day (give or take five minutes).

Playing FIFA – a football game on the PS4.

11. Have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone?

Not really. The closest person that would apply to is Mrs PM.

12. Could you live as a hermit?

I think I could for a short while. During the pandemic, I realised that this would have to be for a short time because after a couple of days I would start to crave company again. Thank goodness I don’t live alone; it would have been a struggle to deal with being isolated during those terrible lockdowns. But a few days – definitely yes.

13. Do you feel like your outside appearance is a fair representation of the “real you”?

Yes – it probably is. I am a little geeky and I look a little geeky too with stereotypically unmanageable hair and glasses. I would fit right in as a character on The Big Bang Theory or the IT Crowd by appearance alone. 

14. Three songs that you connect with right now.

15. Pick one of your favourite quotes.

“Well, you’ll be glad to know that scientists have finally explained why we’ve been enduring this rather long spell of disappointing weather. Apparently…we live in Britain.” — Hugh Dennis


Friday 24 November 2023

A Plastic Survey

Welcome to a sunny but cold South Manchester. The sky is blue, the sun is beaming out but the temperature is dropping, something I would expect as we head towards December. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. How long was your last phone conversation?

I don’t really use the phone a lot these days but I do recall that I spoke to two guys last Tuesday about a service they were providing that I require. Both conversations lasted about three minutes. 

2. Have you ever dyed your hair?

I am a men and generally men do not dye their hair. So the answer is a definite no. 

My hair is slowly turning grey and it will remain that way. I will never be these men:

In fact, even my beard has grey hair. So what? Grow old gracefully, I say.

3. What do you have on your feet?

I have a scruffy pair of slippers on my feet.

4. Do people ever mispronounce your name?

No, my name is very simple. All three of my names have just one syllable (actually that's not quite true because my first name is David. However I use Dave). I’ve travelled to many different countries and even in places like China, Russia and Japan, they get it right (accents aside).

5. Where did you get the shirt you are wearing?

I bought it from a clothes store in the UK called Next. It caters for both men and women.I bought it from the Men's section of course.

6. Does any part of your body hurt right now?

No. I am pain free.

7. Do you drink hard liquor?

Only very occasionally at Christmas and only then as a night cap. I can’t recall the last time I had any to be honest with you so it was probably about three or four years ago know. 

The reason I don’t drink hard liquor dates from university. Back in those days, we used to go to night clubs, usually starting off in a pub with beer and then switching to shorts in the club because beer can be quite filling. I used to be very shy and relied on alcohol as a means to persuade myself to talk to women. 

On one occasion, I didn’t think I was tipsy enough so I went for the hard stuff. 

I overdid it.

The next thing I recall is waking up in the morning with a colossal hangover and no memory and feeling in a way that can be summed up perfectly by the lyrics in this song:

I didn’t remember anything about what had happened and that scared me. These days my tipple of choice, it beer and, less often, wine. I also have the odd glass of port (again at Christmas).

8. Have you ever read a book in one sitting?

Only once. 

I woke up one morning feeling absolutely terrible. I think I had a mild dose of flu. Mrs PM went to work and left me feeling sorry for myself in bed. I woke up later and finished off the book I was reading but realised that I had run out of material. 

Mrs PM was reading the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, so I decided to give it a go. By the time she had returned home from work, I had started the second book.

That hasn’t happened since.

9. Do you like cats?  Why or why not?

I love cats. 

In my life I have had nine of the little beasts, culminating in the two I have at the moment. They are two three year old black cats, brother and sister, called Ziggy and Star(dust). 

Why do I like cats? Probably because they are a challenge. And they are cute. I love dogs too and they are fiercely loyal and loving but cats have very little loyalty in their cute little minds. 

They do what they want, when they want, how they want and they have nothing but utter contempt for human beings. However, they recognise that humans supply warmth, comfort and, most important of all, food and they offer themselves as little items to cuddle to satisfy our love of adorable little animals. They are totally manipulative and suckers like me fall for it every second of every day. 

That said, Ziggy and Star(dust) do spend a lot of time sitting next to us so they really do appear to like us. In fact Star(dust) is sitting on my desk, next to the keyboard, supervising me as I am typing right now.

I still think that cats may still be plotting to kill us. 

Who knows?

10. Do you like the ocean?

I love the ocean and whenever and I try to get to it as often as I can. In the UK we live about 35 miles away from the nearest beach I think and I tend not to go there. We usually see the sea abroad (mainly because it is much warmer and we are in a foreign land). 

At some point during such a holiday, I love to just sit next to the sea and listen to it as the waves crash ashore. It is even better if you are isolated. You can just close your eyes and drift into an almost mindful state. It is so relaxing. 

Also, the smell of the ocean is wonderful. It fulfils most of the senses – not taste though – it’s too salty.

11. Ever think you might have seen a UFO?

I would love to see a UFO. I haven’t seen one sadly, and I don’t think I have ever seen a strange light that could be a UFO. I have met people who fully believe in them and go out hunting them with the hope of being abducted. I wouldn’t go that far but I would love to see one race across the sky.

We do apparently get UFO sightings in Manchester; maybe there’s hope that I will see one.

12. Do you type fast?

I can’t type using all fingers but I have been working with computers for over forty years so my “two-finger typing” skills are the best. You would be surprised how quickly I can type. 

The good thing is that my typing is absolutely accurate and yew wil neva find enny mistooks in the werds I tipe.

13. How long are you usually in the shower for?

Usually about five to ten minutes. To be honest, I’ve never timed myself. 

14. Chinese food or Mexican food?

Both. Obviously not on the same plate though.

15. Do you read and believe your horoscope?

I used to read it for a laugh but then I realised that these words of nonsense apply to one twelfth of the world’s population. They are also very vague and general and can be interpreted in a number of ways, having been skilfully written by somebody with a great imagination but nothing else. Some planet is rising in the east therefore I am going to have a bad day? Nonsense. 

I have never believed a word of them and I never will. I will read my horoscope for today though just out of interest. 

I am Libra by the way.

You're sensitive to the world around you. It's like you're thinking with your heart. It's possible you'll be more impressionable and less objective when your emotions get the better of you in your relationships. If you'd hoped to hide something from someone, it won't work. Even if you say nothing, it's written on your face.

What a load of old codswallop!

Saturday 18 November 2023

Cheers, Mate

Welcome to South Manchester on a dull day when there is drizzle in the air. Winter is approaching and the weather is getting colder. It’s not my favourite time of the year, although I like Christmas of course. 

Next week sees America celebrate Thanksgiving, which is something that is only a thing across the pond. Let’s hope you guys in America have a fun time.

Let’s be silly with questions from Sunday Stealing

1. People I'd like to thank and why

I guess I’d like to thank my mates for still being my mates and, of course, Mrs PM for putting up with me for 25 years.

2. Something I rebelled against as a kid

I was rebellious as a child but verbally rather than actually going out and doing things. I spent a lot of time in detention at school for pointing out to teachers that I disagreed with their opinions on my behaviour. We had prefects at my school and these guys were Sixth Formers who had the power to reprimand us and also punish us in a limited way if we misbehaved, by giving us lines, similar to those written by Bart Simpson during the opening credits of The Simpsons. Things like:

I must not call a prefect a useless tosser; I should respect his authority.

We had to write these over and over again on paper and then deliver them to the prefect, who promptly threw them in the bin.

I refused all the time (usually telling  the prefect that the reason I called him a useless tosser is because he WAS a useless tosser). Of course by refusing to do the lines I would end up being hauled up in front of a teacher and given a detention.

I grew out of this behaviour when I became a Sixth Former myself. Thankfully I was never made a prefect myself – probably because I was such an obnoxious little brat in my earlier years and also it would have been hypocritical.

3. What I need to accomplish before the end of the year

I have a couple of things I need to sort out in the house, mainly the final bits and pieces to finish off the back room in the house. It is 95% complete but we still have to get a few things in the loft and free up some space in our outhouse, which is a weather proof storage space that has effectively been acting a  junk room. 

We have disposed of a lot of stuff but we still need to decide what to do with some bits of it. We have an old empty cupboard upstairs and a chest of draws that we are going to move into their and fill up with stuff to make the room look tidy. It would be nice to get that done before I finish for Christmas.

4. Guilty pleasures right now

I don’t believe in the phrase “guilty pleasure”. If it is a pleasure, why do you have to feel guilty about it? I think the phrase is used for things that you like but feel either guilty or embarrassed about liking. I don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about liking anything at all. 

In terms of music, this may be classed as embarrassing because, as a lover of progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, this goes against the grain:

In terms of films, I love the Fast and Furious films, even though they are utterly ridiculous. I have to switch off my brain when watching them but they are a fantastic romp:

5. Local landmarks

There are lots of landmarks in Manchester but I will give you just one: The Town Hall. 

At the moment it is having a lot of work done to it, which will last for another year or two, so it is currently behind a lot of scaffolding and covers and the square in front of it, Albert Square, is behind a huge temporary barrier. 

But here is a photo of it from a couple of years ago:

6. Cause or purpose I deeply believe in

Getting rid of the current lying, incompetent UK government that has turned the UK into a laughing stock. Hopefully this will happen in 2024 when we are due a general election. 

7. Things I never learned to do

I never learned to play the guitar, which is something I kind of regret. It’s too late now but I think learning the piano will be enough because I think there is more scope for creating my own music, perhaps with a synthesiser. It’s not too late to try that.

8. Seasonal traditions I’m always excited for

I like Christmas despite the fact that it is embedded in winter, my least favourite season. Here in the UK, we usually spend the festive period with parties, getting together with family and friends as well as the traditional exchange of gifts. And of course New Year is a massive party too.

It’s a good time of year.

9. Something I’d like to be mentored on

Probably learning Spanish. It would be good to have a Spanish friend who can talk to me in Spanish and correct me when I inevitably screw it up. In Manchester we have a Spanish institute where I could go on a proper course and get involved in cultural activities and also use their library to immerse myself more. I may well go there when I retire to see what I can do.

10. Exotic animals I wish I could keep as pets

I don’t really want to keep an exotic animal as a pet. A big cat cub would be good until the beast grows to the point where it decides to have me for lunch instead of its usual fare. Such creatures are better off in the wild though. I will stick to black cats (not a panther).

11. Something normal to me, that might be odd to others

I talk to my cats as if they are real people. Also, I read that if you make the pitch of your voice higher, they are more likely to respond. I am sure that the neighbours have heard me talking to them and think that I am a crazed lunatic. They haven’t told me but you never know. 

12. The last book I quit reading and why

I tend to stick with books even if they are bad. The only one I can remember giving up was a so-called “psychological thriller” that was not a thriller and bored me to tears. I ploughed on with it until I was about half way through and then just gave it away. It was dreadful. I can’t recall the title or the author. 

13. Right now, I appreciate...

Mrs PM for putting up with me and my weird ways.

14. When “the holiday season” starts for me

Probably about a week into December. Mrs PM will decide when to put up the Christmas decorations and at that point she will start buying mince pies. In Manchester the Christmas Markets are up already and Christmas TV commercials have started in earnest, so you could be forgiven for thinking the holiday season was upon us right now. I can’t bring myself to get into the “festive” spirit in November to be honest. It does seem to get earlier every year,

15. Holiday foods and treats I love the most

I love mince pies and my chocolate consumption goes up in the Christmas period. I don’t know why but we always as a nation decide that trying to double our body weight is a good thing and we end up buying sweets, crisps, chocolate, cakes and all manner of fattening foods. This year, I opened a cupboard in January and found a load of such items that we had left over from Christmas so we had to continue scoffing them in January. Also, I got a lot of chocolate as a gift. Now you know why I abstain from mid-January to mid-December.

16. “Terrible” movies that I actually like

There are a few that have poor ratings on IMDB but I don’t care. As I mentioned above, some of the Fast and Furious movies are classed as “terrible” but I love them. If I like a movie, I like it whether other people think they are terrible or not. 

17. Cooking all day for holiday dinner vs. ordering carry-out

If we are hosting at Christmas, we cook. Usually we start the day before so that on Christmas Day there is less to do. This year we aren’t hosting so that will be good.

18. If I were trapped in a holiday movie, I’d pick...

I don’t really like Christmas movies if I’m honest. I quite like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” but I wouldn’t want to be part of it. Same goes for “Scrooged”. I would probably reluctantly go for “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

19. Which holiday tradition I wish lasted all year long

People get together and tend to have a good time. It would be nice if that occurred all year round.

20. Favourite books, music, tv, movies and music this month

I’m still reading my sci-fi series about space assassins (it’s a five book series). I’ve read better but I am sticking with it. 

Music? I’m currently into Steven Wilson’s latest album, which contains this excellent song with an equally excellent video:

TV? I’m ploughing through The Wire and The Last Kingdom as well as Ahsoka.

Movies? I’ve not been to the cinema this month but I may venture out to watch Napoleon next weekend. I did revisit Gladiator earlier in the month and also Blade. Both excellent movies.

Saturday 4 November 2023


Welcome to a mixed South Manchester in terms of weather. It is currently sunny with a few scattered showers and, here in the north of England, we managed to avoid Storm Ciarán which struck this week and battered the south coast and northern France, with winds up to 100mph that caused a lot of damage. We were in the eye of the storm and consequently suffered nothing more than a little rain.

This post is called ABC and I am not going to talk about the 1980’s pop band of the same name. However, I will mention them briefly. Thanks to Spotify I found an absolute banger from the band that I had never heard of before, dating from the mid-80s. In typical ABC fashion the lyrics make no sense. 

It is called “15 Story Halo” and he sings “10 20 30 40 – 15 Story Halo”. Surely the song should be called “50 Story Halo”. 

Okay – I am quibbling but here it is – a great tune you can listen to while reading my silly answers to silly questions from Sunday Stealing

A - Ambition: 

My ambitions aren’t really ambitions; they are goals that I may or may not achieve. First is to write a novel – or maybe a non-fiction book. Second, I am going to learn to play the piano well enough to justify buying a synthesiser and actually creating some music. Finally, I aim to become fluent in Spanish.

If I get some way to achieving those I will be quite surprised but very happy.

B - Birthday: 

My birthday is October 8th and I was born in 1962. I share that birth date with Bruno Thiry, a Belgian rally driver and an American composer called Michael Abels. 

C - Computer: 

I have a Dell Inspiron laptop with an Intel processor (2.9 GHz) and 16G RAM, running Windows 10.

My work laptop is a lot more powerful.

I also have a powerful Samsung smartphone, a Samsung 10 inch tablet and a free Chromebook that came with my phone.

D - Dream: 

I have some weird dreams but I don’t remember them all. I have thought about writing them down and then trying to look up what they mean but they will probably just tell me what I already know: I am a weirdo.

E - Exercise:

My main form of exercise is walking. In the past I used to run, play 5-a-side football and go to the gym but now I walk between 4 and 5 miles per day. Last year I walked just over 1500 miles and this year I am almost certainly going to improve on that. In terms of steps it, currently my average is about 8800 per day.

F - Favourite Food:

There are too many to mention but I love food from India, China, Italy and generally Mediterranean food from Spain, France and Greece. I also love Mexican food and a lot of Asian food, like Vietnamese. I’m not a fan of Thai food though.

G - Garden: 

My garden is quite small and is paved with various plots for shrubs, bushes and flowers and a lovely cherry tree. We love to sit there during the summer and chat with each other or the neighbours. The cats own it of course (the truth is they also own our house – and us too).

H - Hobby:

I have several. I try to write on this blog and various other bits and bobs, I am learning Spanish and Italian, I am learning to play the piano, I love to walk, I love sports (as a spectator) including football, cricket and rugby union. And I sometimes play PS4 games, watch TV and read weird science fiction novels. I listen to music a lot and go to gig as often as I can. There are more but that’s about it. 

I - Idol:

I don’t really have an idol as such. There are certain rock stars who I think are immensely talented and also a lot of football players but I don’t really idolise them.

J - Job:

I am a software engineer, that is a person who spends most of his time trying to get computers to behave themselves by filling them with detailed and complex programs. I swear at them a lot, if I am honest. 

You could sum my career up as a mad geeky looking weirdo who interfaces with computer hardware via a keyboard and then shouts when they don’t behave themselves.

K - Kids:

I have two grown up boys aged 30 and 27. I actually feel really old writing that. They are my sons but they are both good mates too.

L - Location:

I live in South Manchester, about 5 miles from the city centre. Manchester is in the north of England and if England were to be split in two it would really be the capital of the north. It is about 35 miles east of Liverpool, about 38 miles west of Sheffield, 86 miles north of Birmingham and 200 miles north of London. We are about 35 miles away from the nearest coast. 

M - Military:

I have never been in the army, navy or air force and I am delighted about that.

N - Name or Nickname:

I have had a few over the years. My main nickname is my one syllable surname with “y” added to it. One or two people have their own special name, for example “Dilbert” (because apparently I look like him). 

My actual name is Dave.

O - Optimist or Pessimist:

I am a realist with a tendency to be an optimist. But it does depend on what we are talking about because I can definitely be a pessimist. 

P - Pets:

I have two three year old black cats called Ziggy and Star(dust). Mrs PM liked the name Ziggy generally and I immediately leapt on the Bowie theme. Mrs PM doesn’t like the name Stardust but she agreed to Star (I just add the “dust”).

Here they are doing what they do best.

Q - Quote:

“I believe I can see the future 'Cause I repeat the same routine

I think I used to have a purpose Then again, that might have been a dream

I think I used to have a voice. Now I never make a sound

I just do what I've been told I really don't want them to come around, oh no

Every day is exactly the same”

R - Reads:

I am currently reading a history book and a strange science fiction space opera series about space assassins. See what I mean? I am a weirdo.

S - School:

I went to a Grammar School where there was a massive emphasis on success. The school had an entrance exam but I didn’t need to take it because I got a really good grade in a compulsory exam called “The 11+” which no longer exists. 

I had a mixed time there and I really have to thank them for guiding me through my academic qualifications, ultimately leading to university.

T - Travel:

I could write a whole book on this. This year I have been to Spain, Morocco, the Netherlands, Croatia and Italy (Sicily). Next year we plan to go to Spain and/or France and Malaysia with a few days in Hong Kong. I can’t wait.

U - Unfulfilled ambition:

When I was a kind I wanted to be both a footballer and rock star. I was a terrible footballer because I was hindered by my dreadful eyesight and my almost laughable coordination. I learned the wrong instrument (a trombone) when really I should have learned the piano or guitar. Hence the reason why I am not Dave Grohl!

V - Vacation spot:

It depends on what type of holiday you are talking about. I don’t like sitting by the beach all day (though we do spend time relaxing in such places) so I am more likely to go and explore a country. I can’t really narrow it down any more than that. I’ve been to 30 to 40 countries and they were all amazing in their own way.

W - Wardrobe:

I have one, yes. 

X - X-tra facts about me:

I have spilled a few beans on this blog since 2008. Here are some you may not know.

I am 5ft 11 inches tall. My once-blonde hair is now a light brown with grey appearing at the sides and in my beard. 

I know the word for beer in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. I also know the word for “Hello” in those languages but it seems less important.

Y - Years online:

I have been online since the 1990s, when I bought my first PC. I work in IT so I probably went online for the first time with work earlier than that. I have only been a blogger since 2008, though. 

Z - Zodiac sign:

I am an indecisive Libran (as Mrs PM describes me). 

Saturday 28 October 2023

Fall Pals

Welcome to a bright but slightly grey South Manchester. Autumn has really kicked in now and there are leaves everywhere. It was chilly on my walk today but some of the trees look lovely. The photo above is from earlier this morning. 

Shall we dive in with some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Do you decorate for Autumn?

Not at all. We only decorate for Christmas usually. I did notice a couple of houses nearby that are trying to embrace the American Hallowe’en culture by adding spooks, black cats, pumpkins, etc. to the outside of their houses. We don’t need to do that as we have two black cats roaming around our house all the time.

2. How often do you clean out your closets?

Before the summer of this year, not a lot. Since then we have been planning the back room redecoration and have decided to have a massive sort out of every nook and cranny in the house. Our house is an Edwardian terrace with high ceilings that was built in 1903 and has three double bedrooms. 

The problem is that I have a lot of junk and stuff that I have kept for years and Mrs PM has been moaning about the lack of space for that junk. If I had a pound for every time she has called me a hoarder, I would be quite well off. 

We took a decision to convert the loft – not as a living space but as a storage space instead. Previously it was just a dusty black mess with no flooring and lots of spiders. Now, it is a great storage space with a membrane to protect everything up there from crap that falls down from the roof. It is weather proof and easily accessible now. 

And I have spent the last few months sorting stuff out and storing it in the loft, and, yes, even throwing some stuff out. There’s still a lot to do but hopefully by Christmas it will all be over.

3. When is the last time you planned a surprise for someone?

Probably Mrs PM’s last birthday.

4. Are there foods you really don’t like?

Yes. I am not a fan of figs, dates, damsons, pears, artichokes, lemon grass, prunes, apricots, liver and parsnips. 

There are more but the king of foods that disgust me is rhubarb. I hate rhubarb. The taste of it makes me feel physically sick and the last time I had it I actually threw up. It should not be consumed by human beings.

5. What is something you recently learned?

I have been trying out Italian on Duolingo so I have learned some very basic Italian phrases like:

Io ho due gatti negri.

6. Items you’re most likely to buy at a convenience store

Usually things that we have run out of like basic groceries, such as milk, bread, butter, cheese etc.

7. Do you believe in the paranormal?

No – but I really hope that ghosts do exist. I thought I saw one once but I could have been mistaken. The problem is that anything paranormal has been exploited by charlatans whose sole aim it to make money out of people’s gullibility.

Like this guy:

8. How would you describe your spirituality?

I find the whole concept of “spirituality” a little bit bogus and whenever people have told me they are “spiritual”, I have asked them what they mean. Nobody has ever given me a satisfactory answer. 

I looked up a quick definition of “spirituality”. Here it is:

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

The implication from that is that we are all spiritual in our own way, and maybe when I start looking into the vastness of the universe, from a scientific perspective, that is me being spiritual. Personally, I don’t think so; I think I am just trying my satisfy my curiosity about things I don’t understand. The universe is certainly bigger than I am and in that universe of trillions of galaxies, each with billions of stars and planets, there must be one planet similar to ours, statistically speaking. 

So – am I spiritual? I don’t think so. I am sceptical about a lot of things and my scientific mind demands truth for me to believe it. 

I’ve said on this blog before that I would like to have a chat with God but only to ask him why he doesn’t come down to people to prove his existence. It would be fun, I imagine. 

Actually, having just written that down, as a Roman Catholic, there is a voice inside saying “now you are in trouble, Dave!”

Maybe I am – but he could dispel my scepticism by having a chat. I don’t think that is disrespectful because apparently he is supposed to have done it many times over the centuries. And I am a nice guy.

That said, many Christians have faith and I am delighted for them if it makes them happy and content. That’s all I want for people. If a person claims to be spiritual, I will be delighted for them if it also makes them happy.

Why would I not be?

9. Do you make plans far in advance

We usually plan for holidays up to a year in advance and I have been planning my retirement for a few years. So, I guess the answer is yes. 

10. Do you like being scared for fun?

Not particularly. I hate rollercoasters now and, as a follow up to question to 7 about paranormal activity, I would be too scared to go to a haunted house. That wouldn’t be fun. 

11. What has been difficult for you lately?

Having the house turned upside down. It’s largely finished now and I am happy once more. 

12. Have you ever written or read fanfiction?

This is really sad. I started a novel based on Star Trek that included the cast of The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager. It got into about ten chapters before I gave up. 

13. What type of wall art do you have in your home?

We have just brought some pictures for the back room. There are two of Hong Kong and two black cats, one made up as David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane and the other with the Kiss makeup that Mrs PM used on me for her photography project that effectively turned me into the Plastic Mancunian. 

Here they are. 

Here I am as Gene Simmons (from 2008):

14. Are you more likely to be private or overshare?

I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve but I am very private about certain things. 

15. What have you recently learned to live without?

Listening to CDs.

I joined Spotify while on holiday because my IPod died on me, leaving me without music. Mrs PM was already a member so we now have a family membership. 

Sadly I now have getting on for 600 CDs that are gathering dust and in my efforts to sort my stuff out, I have had to find a place for them. I still use them occasionally and I want to keep them (even though Mrs PM wants me to rid myself of them). 

In fact this morning I have just bought a bunch of CD boxes to store them all in and they will take pride of place, organised of course, in a new cupboard from Ikea that I spent yesterday building. 

I will never get rid of them even though I will rarely use them.

But I have to say, Spotify has been amazing. I’ll leave you with a new song I discovered by a French band called Klone. The song is called “Yonder” and it is amazing.

Sunday 22 October 2023

Storms and Extraordinary Pals


Welcome to a South Manchester on a sunny autumn day, the day after a storm hit the UK. Over here, we get named storms and this one was called Babet. Why? I don’t know. But apparently it used to be a hurricane and by the time it had reached our shores it just brought wind and rain, causing major floods in Scotland. 

I had to drive down to Walsall yesterday and it wasa  most unpleasant. The worst motorway in the world (the M6) combined with a torrential downpour all the way caused a delay and made the journey there and back take twice as long.

It wasn’t fun.

Silly questions anyone? Here are some from Sunday Stealing

1. October reading & writing goals and plans

Reading? I'm currently reading a space adventure about assassins. At the same time I'm reading a book about the history of Britain. It's slightly out of my comfirt zone but you don't grow unless you do things like that. I'm actually enjoying it.

Writing? The same as ever. I try to write some form of garbage every day under the guise of freewriting. 

I also try to write the odd blog post but I really need to rekindle the more prolific nature I had when I started. I might combine freewriting with bloggery and start to post my rubbish more often. 

I have two back projects – a novel that is slowly evolving and a memoir of sorts. They are both very embryonic and may develop more when I retire. 

2. Something I did that totally paid off

Going part time. I only reduced by one day but it has given me a new lease of life. I take work far less seriously now and any work related stress has all but disappeared. I have actually been very busy on the Friday’s I have off sorting out personal stuff and reorganising things. And also just having a bit of fun. It is a good practice for retirement. 

3. I want to see this make a comeback

There are lots of things I want to see make a comeback. When I was younger I heard a lot of older people say “it was so much better when I was younger” and to be honest, I think I am becoming like those old people. 

The one thing that I have embraced is technology but that is a double edged sword. I want the art of conversation to return. I often see people who are more preoccupied with their phones that their friends and family. In the old days, people would go and sit in a café or pub with their friends and actually talk to each other. These days people just sit playing with their phones and not chatting. 

When Mrs PM and I go to the pub, my phone stays in my pocket and Mrs PM’s in her handbag unless we have to get another drink or go to the loo. And as soon as the person returns they are put away again. 

When I’m out with mates it’s the same story. 

4. Generational traits I really value

I am a baby boomer – but only just. I was born in 1962 and the range is 1946 to 1964. I share a lot of traits of my fellow boomers but I also share some traits with Generation X, the next one. Mrs PM is Generation X. 

I looked up the traits of my generation and of the ones listed, I value the following:

Independence – I like to think I am self-reliant and over the years have had to be in some ways. 

Resourcefulness – I have had to dig deep into my own psyche to overcome problems that I have encountered over the years.

Goal-oriented – I really think it helps to have goals. You can change them and adapt but if you don’t have goals you are slightly directionless. 

5. Changes I’d like to see in my daily environment

There are a lot of potential changes coming over the next couple of years with my daily environment as I near retirement. What I don’t want is for me to become a couch potato. I want to be able to wake up in the morning with a plan that involves doing something constructive every day. 

6. Favourite soup dishes

I love most soups. I think my favourites are probably:

Chicken and mushroom

Leek and potato

Broccoli and Stilton

7. Start with the best part, or save the best for last

Save the best for last – every time. That way whatever experience you have just gets better and better.

8. The most chaotic part of my daily life

Work – without a doubt. It’s been fine working from home but now the management of the company are insisting that we have to go into the office at least two days a week. Whenever I go into the office I get less work done because of constant interruptions, interruptions that I can ignore when beavering away at home. They keep coming up with terms like “collaboration” but I am a person who likes to get things done in good time. If I am constantly disturbed for whatever reason it jeopardises my goals. 

Going to the office also nukes my normal daily work routine. SInce I am so close to retirement anyway, I may just say to hell with it and disobey their stupid rule. They can't hurt me so why not? The naarchist in me is starting to venture out again.

Mini-rant there but I am at odds with the management view of things. Good job I haven’t got long left, eh?

9. If I could only eat 10 things, I’d pick




Granny Smith apples

British sausages




A variety of vegetables

Bread and butter

10. What Autumn feels like where I live

At the moment it is sunny, chilly, slightly windy and there are leaves everywhere, the trees currently relinquishing them at a rate of knots, mostly over my garden. There is usually rain (we have just had storm Babet as I said above) but at least there isn’t snow – yet!

11. The teacher who would be most proud of me

I had a massive crush on the junior school teacher who taught me in my final year there. She was young and had long dark hair. I was one of the most intelligent kids in her class and as such I spent a lot of time talking to her (because I really liked her). She did nothing but encourage me to be the best I could be – and I think she would be proud. I would imagine she is still alive; I was about 10 years old and I estimated that she was probably about 25, making her mid-70’s now. 

12. My go to Halloween snacks & treats 

Nothing. I hate Hallowe’en (see moans and rants in previous posts). 

13. 10 ways my life is great right now

I am back travelling. The next one will sadly be in 2024 but we have plans for heading over to the Far East again as well as Europe.

The back room is almost finished so I have my man cave/office/second lounge back again. And Mrs PM has promised me that there will be no home improvements for at least three years. Result!

In my head I feel like I am a teenager. Embrace that inner child.

Football is back and I am enjoying the new season.

My piano playing is improving. 

I am close to retirement.

I am actually quite content despite the things that life is currently hurling in my direction.

I don’t have a mortgage. That is a big thing.

I live in a wonderful suburb of an amazing city so it is virtually impossible to get bored. Even when I feel bored, I can find stuff to relieve the boredom that satisfies the introvert within – learning Spanish, writing, listening to music, playing stupid video games, reading, watching TV, etc. 

Mrs PM.

14. A perfect day indoors looks like…

Today has been a day indoors but to be honest it wasn’t perfect because I have been battling with a cupboard from IKEA and losing. 

Normally, it would involve a lovely breakfast, do the necessary chores as soon as possible, write something, listen to music, read, play with the cats, watch a bit of TV, watch a bit of sport, chat to Mrs PM. 

15. Pumpkin spice…

Never tried it. Probably never will.