Saturday 25 February 2023

Compassion Int'l

Welcome to a cool and mild South Manchester with light clouds but sadly no sunshine. We just had a few days in Tenerife where the temperature was about 20 degrees Celsius during the day but a little chilly at night. It was like a lovely sunny British day, even with a little rain at times. I managed to practice my limited Spanish and it was fun.
Shall we answer some daft questions from Sunday Stealing
1. Do you ever have funny dreams at night? 

I don’t have funny dreams, as in amusing but I do have strange dreams that make me wake up thinking “What on earth is going on in my mind?”. I wouldn’t mind if they were troubling dreams – they’re not – they are just strange. Perhaps I should write them down and send them off to a dream analyser or a psychiatrist/therapist and see what they make of them. On second thoughts, perhaps not because I may end up spending the rest of my life in a lunatic asylum.
2. If you could make a law for your country, what would it be?
I would force us to rejoin the EU (if they would have us back) and exile all the ├╝ber-Brexiters like Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson etc. to a remote island in North Scotland.
3. What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
I would probably spend the whole day getting free entrance into huge events like a football match or a rock concert and go behind the scenes to witness the action close up. I’m not a malicious person so I wouldn’t do any harm or do anything naughtier than that. 
4. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
I would be Rishi Sunak and my first activity would be to resign and call a General Election.
5. What would you like to change about yourself?
I wouldn’t mind changing my body to be the one I had at 21.
6. What is your daily routine.
It depends on the day. 
On a school day, I get up and immediately go for a four mile walk. I return, have a shower and then start work (usually between 7am and 7:30). I stop and have lunch with Mrs at about 12:30 (we both work at home – except Tuesday when I tend to pop into the office). I watch the news headlines at 1pm and then return to work until about 4pm. I then practice piano, do a little Spanish, a little writing and tend to spend the evening mooching and watching TV.
On a Friday or weekend, I don’t set the alarm but I go for a four to five mile walk. And then it depends on what I have planned for the day. I usually go to bed later (around midnight). 
7. What would your perfect day be like? What would you be doing?
I would be abroad and I would like to delve into the local culture walking around visiting things for most of the day with a little relaxation before enjoying an evening with Mrs PM. But it depends on where we are. For  example in Tenerife, we tended to go for big walks along the coast, stopping off for coffees and perhaps a cheeky beer before relaxing by the pool with a good book and some music. In a foreign city we usually walk a lot further and spend most of the day exploring rather than relaxing.
8. How old were you when you learned to read?
I was probably about four or five years old I think. 
9. What is the most interesting thing you know?
Interesting to me or interesting to you? 
If you are not a mathematician I can prove:
(a) 1=0
(b) In a race between a hare and a tortoise where the hare can run twice as fast as the tortoise, the hare will never win.
Obviously, if you are a degree educated mathematician you will easily disprove both, but if you are not, I can convince you of both.
Also, the world’s first stored-program electronic digital computer was designed and built in Manchester, my adopted home.
10 What makes you nervous?
Lots of things. I usually get over them though.
11. What is your favourite flower?
I don’t really have a favourite flower – maybe a rose? I can tell you a flower that I hate – sunflowers. They’re like triffids with heads.
12. Have you ever ridden on a horse or any other animal?
I haven’t ridden on a proper full sized horse, but I have been on a couple of small horses and donkeys.
13. What time do you go to bed?
Sunday to Wednesday I am usually in bed between 9:30pm and 10pm. 
On Thursday I usually go to bed at about 11pm.
On Friday and Saturday bedtime is usually after midnight but usually before 1am.
14. What time do you get up?
Monday to Thursday I am up at 6am.
Friday I usually get up at about 7:30 am.
On Saturday and Sunday, I am usually up by 9am.
15. What is something that is always in your refrigerator?
Cheese – of course.

Saturday 11 February 2023

7 Layers

Greetings from South Manchester. We have just booked a trip to Tenerife and we are off on Wednesday for five days to escape the dull and dreary February weather in Manchester. I’m looking forward to it so that I can take walks along the coast, relax and practice my Spanish, even though English is fairly widely spoken there. It’s more fun trying to communicate in the local language and I am lucky because I can make myself understood (though understanding Spanish spoken back at me at 100 mph is not easy – I am sure there will be some humorous misunderstandings).
Shall we answer some silly Sunday Stealing questions? 
LAYER 1: Tell us your...
* Eye colour: 
I have blue eyes I’ve been told they are quite nice. 
* Hair colour: 
My hair used to be very blond but now it is a kind of light brown that is slowly being invaded by grey.
* Height: 
I am 5ft 11 inches (or 1 metre 80 centimetres).
* Righty or lefty: 
I am right handed. 
LAYER 2: What's...
* Your heritage: 
I answered this last week as a class thing. I didn’t mention that I am almost certainly an Anglo-Saxon with some elements of Viking (the blond hair and blue eyes). I need to take a DNA test to find out for sure. However, when I go to Europe I am almost always mistaken for a German. Mrs PM and I once flew from Manchester on Lufthansa to Munich and as we boarded the aircraft, Mrs PM was greeted in English and I was greeted in German. It happens all the time (though less so now because the grey invasion is perhaps removing the impression that I might have German heritage). 
* The shoes you wore today: 
I went for a walk in my sturdy walking boots this morning. 
* Your weakness: 
I am possibly too nice and too helpful. I find that sometimes people try to take advantage of this. 
* Your fears: 
Spiders and heights.
* Your perfect pizza: 
I love anything that is described as a “meat feast” with as many different slices of meat of any kind on it, all trapped in lots of cheese. It’s not particularly healthy but then again I don’t eat pizza very often at all. 
* Goals you’d like to achieve:
I would like to retire, write a book, travel the world and live until I am 200 years old.
* Your first waking thoughts: 
Am I working today?
* Your best physical feature: 
I don’t regard myself as attractive at all. I don’t care – I am 60 years old. However, several ladies have told me in the past that I have a very nice arse. I don’t actually know why this is a plus point if I’m honest. 
* Your most missed memory: 
Not quite sure what this means. If it is a memory the implication is that you still remember it. Therefore how can it be missed?
LAYER 3: Do you...
* Smoke: 
No. I tried it once as a stupid nineteen year old. I was drunk and promptly threw up everywhere. I have never tried it since.
* Cuss: 
Oh yes. I try not to swear in front of relatives or anyone who might be offended but sometimes (quite often actually) things get the better of me. My cats have learned several new words in their two years on this planet. 
* Sing: 
Yes – I have just been singing to this:
although obviously nowhere near as brilliantly as Sharon den Adel.
* Do you think you’ve been in love: 
That’s where I am now. So yes.
* Did you go to college:
I went to university in Liverpool. I have a Batchelor of Science degree with Honours. I loved it.
* Liked high school: 
I went to a Grammar School and I had a love/hate relationship with it. There were times when I despised it but a lot of the time it was “okay” I suppose. I look back with gratitude for what they helped me to achieve though.
* Believe in yourself:
Largely yes. I know what I like and I know what I am good at. I also, largely know what I want. 
* Think you’re attractive: 
As I said above, I don’t think I am attractive at all. However, I am not a woman and so I don’t see myself from the female perspective. I guess history will record that women find me okay given that I have two serious relationships. It could be personality though I guess but even that surprised me because I think I am just a weirdo. 
* Think you’re a health freak: 
Not really. I have always been relatively fit, running, swimming and playing football in the past. These days I try to walk four miles a day. As for food, I tend to eat a balanced diet with little chocolate and sweets, not much junk food and generally healthy options such as fruit, vegetables, fish. I am a carnivore though. I rarely eat desserts. I do like beer though.
* Like thunderstorms:
I absolutely love thunderstorms. A couple of years ago we were in Croatia and, in the middle of the night, I was woken up by the distant rumble of thunder. It was about 2am. I looked out of the window and could see distant lightning in the sea – and it was getting closer. I sat on the balcony for an hour watching it make landfall. Thankfully the balcony was sheltered and I didn’t get wet when the rain came. There was so much lightning and the thunder was really loud I thought the sky was going to crack. Mrs PM opened the door and said “Come inside you weirdo!” I stayed out for another ten minutes until the wind blew the rain straight onto the balcony like a shower. It was fantastic.
* Play an instrument:
Yes. I can play a trombone – well at least I could when I was 16. I am teaching myself to play the piano at the moment. Baby steps. 
LAYER 4: In the past month have you…
* Drunk alcohol:
Yes I have. I had a couple of beers last night (since it was Friday). 
* Smoked: 
* Done a drug: 
* Made out: 
I’ve always wondered what “made out” actually means. We don’t use that phrase in the UK. So I will say “I don’t know but probably yes”.
* Gone on a date:
Only with Mrs PM. 
* Gone to the mall: 
No. I hate shopping and I avoid shopping centres.
* Eaten an entire box of Oreos: 
I’ve only ever eaten Oreos once or twice in my entire life. And then I only had one or two. 
* Eaten sushi: 
No. But I love sushi. There is a Pan-Asian restaurant fairly close to us and this makes me consider going there sometime soon.
* Been on stage:
* Been dumped: 
I hope not. 
* Gone skating: 
I haven’t been skating for years (ice skating that is). 
* Gone skinny dipping:
No. I have never been skinny dipping, the reason being that I wouldn’t want to subject the human race or even the animal kingdom to such a revolting sight. 
LAYER 5: Have you ever…
* Played a game that required removal of clothing: 
No. For the same reason I gave in the answer to the last question.
* Been trashed or extremely intoxicated:
Absolutely – but not for many years.
* Been caught “doing something”: 
It depends what you mean by “something”. The answer is probably but I don’t know for sure. 
* Been called a tease:
Yes – I quite enjoy winding gullible people up and teasing them. It’s a bad character trait that I am trying to overcome. 
* Gotten beaten up:
I have lost a couple of fights but only when I was a kid. I have never had a fight as an adult. 
* Age you did get/hope to be married:
I got married at the age of 25 and then got divorced ten years later. I have been in a relationship ever since but at the time of writing neither of us have really thought about marriage.
* How do you want to die: 
As quickly and painlessly as possible.
* What did you want to be when you grew up:
I honestly didn’t know; I just fell into my career because I was very good at maths and telling computers what to do. If you asked me now, I would probably say a travel writer.
* What country would you most like to visit: 
Any Scandinavian country, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and other south Asian countries. But given the chance I would go on a round the world trip taking in all of those countries, Europe and the Americas.
LAYER 7: Now tell...
* Name a person you could trust with your life:
Mrs PM.
* Name a favourite CD that you own: 
Hand. Cannot. Erase. By Steven Wilson.
* Number of piercings:
* Number of tattoos:
* Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper: 
Zero (hopefully). 
* Name a past experience that you regret: 
I try to look forward not to the past. So I shall end this post on a positive note and say the future is unwritten and ready to be conquered. I intend to do that.

Saturday 4 February 2023

Three Things


Welcome to a dull but mild South Manchester. The weather is slowly improving as we enter February (although I fear there might be a sting in the tail – there usually is). 
Shall we dive into some silly question from Sunday Stealing? 
1. Three names you go by, other than your given name:
My given name is Dave and most people call me that. 
(a) In Blogland I go by the name Plastic Mancunian because I don’t come from Manchester originally but I have lived here for 60% of my life. I like to consider myself a Mancunian.
(b) There is a lad at work who calls me Dilbert because apparently I resemble this weird cartoon character. I guess I am an engineer and I work in technology but I also wear glasses and am a bit of a geek – so it does kind of fit. 
(c) Others add the letter Y to my surname – which I used to hate as a kid but I have got used to it over the years. I even sign cards using that name sometimes.
2. Three things you like about yourself:
(a) I like the fact that I am vaguely intelligent. It has helped me through school university and my career.
(b) I like that fact that I look younger than I am. At Christmas on a work pub crawl I met a former work colleague (he actually used to be my boss’s boss) and when I told him I had turned 60 he was stunned. “Can I have whatever you are taking?” he asked me. He is in his mid-40’s and I actually look younger than him (in my opinion).
(c) I like the improvements I have made to my life in the past few years and that I am continuing to do so. You are never too old to learn something new. 
3. Three things you don't like about yourself:
(a) My hair is awful. Women and bald men like it because it is thick and when it grows long it is quite wavy. The problem is that it is uncontrollable, which is why I keep it short these days. It was quite long when I was younger and how I suffered that I will never know.
(b) My eyes are useless. I hate the fact that I have been short-sighted all my life. It seems cool to wear glasses now but, believe me, when you are a kid it can be terrible. I used to be called “four eyes”, “specky” and all manner of other insults. And I tried to get contact lenses but my eyes let me down again, making me almost throw up when the optician tried to put them in. They aren’t suited to them. I am Mr Magoo.
(c) I have a tendency to procrastinate. I have to say that I am better than I used to be – these days I just tell myself to do just do things whereas in the past I would do something inane like watching some crap on the TV rather than do something useful. Habits have helped. I recommend them.
4. Three parts of your heritage:
(a) I come from a working class background and that has tuck with me even though I wouldn’t class myself as that now. In the UK there are three classes – working, middle and upper (before you get to silly things like royalty). Hopefully this illustrates what I mean:
As such I hold certain values and views that I think are sound such as working hard.
(b) I’ve done quite well; I was the first person in my family to go to university (closely followed by my two younger sisters) and having come from a lower class that some of my contemporaries, I have a different outlook on life. 
(c) I have often had to deal with and even work with upper class people; one of my best friends from university went to public school – the kind of school where you pay exorbitant amounts of money to send you kids away. He rubbed shoulders with sons of rich politicians. Yet somehow we were and are still good friends. I think possibly because I am quite direct and he loved it.
5. Three things you are wearing right now:
(a) I am wearing a pair of dark blue chinos. They are quite comfortable for knocking around the house. 
(b) I am also wearing a blue jumper because we are still in the latter stages of winter, despite the mild temperatures.
(c) I am wearing my glasses because without them I can’t see a thing.
6. Three favourite bands/musical artists:
These are my current favourites – that will probably change.
(a) Riverside – a Polish progressive rock band.
(b) Devin Townsend – a Canadian progressive rock/metal maestro.
(c) Steven Wilson – a British progressive rock genius.
7. Three favourite songs:
There are so many to choose from. These are not necessarily favourites but they are brilliant nonetheless:
(a) Let There Be Rock – AC/DC
(b) Wish – Nine Inch Nails
(c) Tom Sawyer – Rush
8. Three things you want in a relationship:
(a) Intelligent conversation.
(b) Laughter.
(c) Fun.
9. Three of your favourite hobbies:
(a) Writing – well I try to anyway.
(b) Football – as a spectator sadly (I was never any good as a player and now I am too old).
(c) Music – I love music (as you have guessed from the previous two answers). I will be able to play a piano (very badly) soon. I am calling myself a pianist even though I am not really. Look out and beware – there may be an album when in ten years – I will be 70 but it didn’t stop Christopher Lee releasing a heavy metal album at the age of 90.
10. Three things that scare you:
(a) Heights – and I have been to the tallest building in the world. I am a bloody idiot. I will never do that again – nor will I ever skydive.
(b) Spiders – I can tolerate the small ones we get in the UK but if I saw a Huntsman Spider I would probably scream like the loudest banshee who has ever lived. I honestly debated going to Australia for that reason (but having been there I would definitely go again). I have watched Arachnophobia once – I will not watch it ever again.
(c) Public speaking – believe me, I have done this numerous times but I still panic when I do it. I have given courses in China, Russia and other countries – I don’t have to do it now, thank goodness.
11. Three of your everyday essentials:
(a) An early morning walk. I usually go for a three to four mile walk every morning (at about 6:30 am on school days but slightly later at weekends). It is a habit now and I feel weird when I miss out. When I caught Covid-19 last year, I was over it in three days but I had to self-isolate for ten days – that was dreadful.
(b) A cup of tea. Tea gets me through the day, especially when I am working. I really miss it when I go abroad because you can’t beat a cup of strong British tea. Coffee helps but it’s not the same.
(c) Music – there is always music in the house, even if I have to walk around with earphones. It keeps me calm and composed
12. Three places you want to go on vacation:
(a) Japan – I have been once and I absolutely loved it. I hope I get the chance to go back.
(b) Sweden – my trip to Denmark last year made me think about going to Sweden. Mrs PM has been before and she loved it.
(c) New Zealand – I’ve heard it is beautiful and I fancy a long haul trip via Australia – probably after I retire. If I can persuade Mrs PM that is.
13. Three careers you have considered/are considering:
My career is drawing to a close now but I guess if I could have my time again I would reconsider my options.
(a) A writer – I would love to write a book and I would have pushed my studies in that direction had I had the opportunity. 
(b) A traveller – I would probably combine this with (a) above and I would also have pushed my school curricula activities into languages rather than science to assist. I can speak a little French, less German and my Spanish is coming on but it isn’t enough. I know a person who works at my company who can speak about four languages fluently and is currently learning more. I envy her. 
(c) A postman – While I try to get my writing career started and think about studying languages to travel, my day job would be a postman. I have done it before as a holiday job while I was at university and it was peaceful and rewarding. I love a morning walk as I said above and actually combining that with something I can get paid for appeals. It might even be an option if I get bored after I retire.
14. Three things you want to do before you die:
(a) Travel to as many countries as  possible.
(b) Play the piano well enough to create some music.
(c) Publish a book.
15. Three things you want to do really badly right now:
(a) Retire – I’ve had enough of the rat race. A year or two to go but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
(b) Go on holiday. I have to wait until April to go to Morocco but there may be an outside chance of a quick break to Tenerife soon – depending on certain things.
(c) Have some lunch. I am hungry.