Saturday 17 June 2023

Swap Bot Part Four

Welcome to a cloudy but warm South Manchester. The sun is hiding today behind white clouds that are covering Manchester like a blanket. We may see a little later and there is the threat of rain but it is still very warm.

Last week, the Clown (aka Boris Johnson) was found guilty of misleading parliament about his antics during the Covid-19 pandemic and threw a proper hissy fit in the style of Donald Trump. He saw the report before it was publicised and promptly resigned as an MP using all manner of Trumpian rhetoric – referring to a “kangaroo court”. 

So he is no longer an MP and I dearly hope that the lying sack of potatoes never comes back into the public eye. I doubt it because his ego is as big as the planet. 

But I am glad that he has been exposed as a lying, cheating incompetent buffoon has been out of his depth for decades. 

Good riddance you useless excuse for a man.

Here is a guy called James O'Brien telling everybody what he thinks of him in a far more eloquent way that I can - and his anger is there for all to see. It's worth watching if you have ten minutes spare.

Glad to have got that off my chest. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1) What is your favourite way to spend a lazy day?

If it’s a sunny day then I will probably go for a pleasant walk somewhere and have lunch is a café or pub and then stroll home and potter about, watch some TV, sit in the garden with a book – that kind of thing.

It it’s a miserable day then I will probably just do the same but not go for the pleasant walk. 

2) What do you look forward to every week?

I look forward to Thursday at around 3:30pm when I finish work for the week. 

3) Name three pet peeves you currently have.

I’ve tried my best to avoid politics and not rant about all things political that piss me off and I am improving. I am aware that I was letting the grumpy old man inside get the better of me, allowing him to get more airtime than he should have. So I have been trying to lock him away. But occasionally certain things bring him out – like Boris Johnson. 

However, I will mention politics as a pet peeve because it has the ability to bring out the worst in me. I will take a deep breath and say that Boris Johnson in particular is a pet peeve – including his allies like Jacob Rees-Mogg – because he has now been exposed as a liar and an incompetent buffoon who should never have been Prime Minister of the UK. His antics brought about Brexit and have made the UK the laughing stock of the world as well as doing their best to damage the economy. I shall stop there because I could write an entire tome on the subject.

Pet Peeve number 2? A recent one is Shiny Happy People. Not the REM song but those that they probably wrote the song about. Those people who are all over our TV set who constantly seem to be enjoying themselves despite everything that is going on. They laugh at their own jokes (which aren’t funny) and gush over famous people as if they are from another planet. As you can guess, I don’t watch such programs.

Pet Peeve Number 3? Work. When I retire I am considering starting a new blog or at least writing a series of blog posts about the exact reasons that work pisses me off and has done for quite a few years now. All I can say is that now is not the time and a lot of people I work with are amazing and talented people who I think are incredible and who feel the same way. But there are reasons why I just want to jack it all in – and I may reveal all in the future. 

4) If you were to win an all-expense paid vacation for two weeks to anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go? What are some of the things you would like to experience while you were there?

That’s a tough question. I really want to travel around the world but you can’t fit that in in two weeks. I think I would head to the Far East and travel to places like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and of course Hong Kong. In Japan I want to go to Osaka and Hiroshma and I would like to experience Seoul and Taipei too. My last few days would be in Hong Kong and if you are going to pay for all expenses then I will stay in The Peninsular Hotel thank you very much.

5) What was one of your favourite toys as a kid? Did you save any special things from your childhood that you still have today?

I don’t have any toys that I used to have as a kid. I gave most of them away to my cousin who has since disposed of them all. I had a lot of toys but I loved anything that allowed me to create my own little story. I had quite a few action figures, toy soldiers, figures and vehicles from shows like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and I would create elaborate action stories using all manner of props. I simply got lost in the worlds I created. And I loved doing that. Part of me would like to do the same today – that imaginative child is still there. 

6) What is your favourite holiday? What is your least favourite holiday?

It is difficult to pick a favourite holiday but these are candidates:

Interrailing around Europe in 1985. 

Travelling around the United States for a month in 1989, taking in places like Washington DC, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Travelling around China in 1999 – the full trains, planes and automobiles experience in an incredible country, taking in Guanzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an, Beijing and Shanghai.

Working in Hong Kong for 3 months in 1999 (not really a holiday but I loved the place).

Travelling around Thailand in 2002 (ish). 

Travelling to Australia in 2005 taking in Cairns, Port Douglas, Brisbane and driving from there to Sydney over a week stopping off at various places like Byron Bay.

Traveling to Japan in 2013 taking in Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto.

Travelling to Vietnam in 2017, taking in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City.

I could go on and I have probably missed a few of them out. 

My least favourite holiday was a trip to Thailand (Koh Samui) when it rained almost every day – massive thunderstorms that flooded the streets. We spent a lot of time in the room and when we ventured out we had to avoid getting absolutely drenched. 

7) Have you ever met anyone famous? What concerts have you attended?

I have met one or two people who are in bands that are not that famous and I have seen quite a few famous people walking around places in the general public but not had the courage to talk to them. One day I will find that courage to talk to somebody famous – just to get a photo if nothing else. 

I have been to thousands of concerts. And seen most of my favourite bands. Here are some of the biggest artists I have seen:

A-ha, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Big Country, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Cher, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Devin Townsend (big to me anyway), Dio, Disturbed, Dream Theater, Europe, Extreme, Faith No More, Foo Fighters, Gary Moore, Gary Numan, Ian Gillan, Guns ’N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Joe Satriani, Judas Priest, Manic Street Preachers, Marilyn Manson, Meat Loaf, Megadeth, Metallica, Motörhead, Nightwish, Nine Inch Nails, The Offspring, Orchestral Manoevres in the Dark, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Queens of the Stone Age, Queensrÿche, Rammstein, Riverside (big to me anyway), Rush, Slash, Status Quo, Steven Wilson (big to me anyway), Whitesnake, Within Temptation

There are many more most of which you won’t have heard of.

I will add Porcupine Tree to that list in a couple of weeks and, believe it or not ABBA. Mrs PM and I are going to London on her birthday to see the new ABBA show in London with “Abbatars” of the real band:

8) Are there any expressions that people use that really annoy you? If so, what are they?

Where do I start? 




Okay. Here are a few examples of words and phrases that have been abused.

Journey: “We hope you join the company on our journey to excellence”.

Like: “I was, like, about to, like, tell him, like, that he was, like, out of order, like, but he wouldn’t, like, listen”.

System: “This soap is a complete cleaning system”.

Literally: “And it was, literally, a disaster”.

Distraction (used mainly by politicians): “This Boris Johnson business is just a distraction from the job that we were elected to do”.

I could go on  …

But I won’t. 

9) Do you like your name? Are you named after anyone? Is there a story how you got your name? Would you change it if you could? If so, what name would you give yourself?

I love my name. My name is not “Plastic”; it is Dave. 

I was almost called George after my father but thankfully my mother stepped in and objected. Gerge is my middle name, which is fine. 

I don’t think I would change it though but I might be tempted to invent a new Internet Persona called Max Power for a different blog. Don’t laugh – there is a footballer in England with that name.

10) It is said that it's the little things that make life worth living. Name five of those little things in your life.

The biggest things in my life are friends and family. They are a huge part of my life so given the nature of the question they don’t count.. As for little things …

My two cats, Ziggy and Star(dust). These little creatures keep me happy and both are quite happy to cuddle up next to me while I am sitting down. It feels nice. 

Music. I have access to a huge database of music thanks to Spotify and I can listen to music whenever and wherever I want to. It calms my mood and makes me feel positive. 

A pint of beer or a cup of tea. I love both. Tea keeps me sane during the day and in the evening (at weekends mostly) a pint singles the end of the working week. 

Comedy. I guess this means anything that can make me laugh. Laughter is the best medicine and I try to do it as often as I can. 

Sunrises and sunsets – I love a good sunrise and sunset and I have loads of photos of them, some of which are actually in Manchester believe it or not. 

Saturday 10 June 2023


Welcome to South Manchester on a scorching Saturday afternoon. The temperature is a very pleasant 28 degrees Celsius and the sun is shining in a cloudless blue sky. I shall be popping outside later to read in the garden and relax before popping around to the neighbours for dinner and then watching the European Champions League final which features Manchester City and Inter Milan. 

Should be a good day.

I’ll start off with some silly questions from Sunday Stealing.

1. Have you tried anything new this year?

I’ve made a serious attempt at starting a novel, although this is quite tricky as I don’t write as much as I should (because of work and other distractions). I have the plot in my head and I am constantly fine tuning it. I think it works. It won’t see the light of day for a while yet though because I am my own worst critic. I probably need to retire before attacking it with gusto. 

2. What would you do if you didn’t have Wifi for a week?

I would probably write the novel because I wouldn’t be able to do my day job. I have a virtual server on my work laptop so in theory I could actually do some work; it would mean that I wouldn’t be doing my job properly. 

As far as social media and the internet are concerned, I could easily live without that for a week. In fact, perhaps I should do just that sometimes. The amount of time people waste on social media is a lot – and that is sad – but I am as guilty as everybody else (before anybody calls me a hypocrite – which, of course, I am). 

3. Do you like summer, why or why not?

I adore the summer. It is my favourite season. We get rain but it is warm and sunny usually (like today). We don’t get snow, ice and darkness. We are approaching the longest day of the year and I love going to bed as the sun is setting – I wish it was like this all year round. Sadly, I do wake up early though (sometimes as early as 4am) because the sun rises at that time. 

4. What’s one restaurant that you like in your city? What food do they sell?

I like a lot of restaurants in Manchester. One of my favourites is the Yang Sing (and it’s sister restaurant The Little Yang Sing). They sell Chinese food and it is wonderful.

5. Do you prefer digital book or real paper book?

I prefer a digital book these days because it is much easier to take a Kindle on holiday loaded with numerous novels, rather than wasting luggage space with paperback books. I know that people prefer the look, feel and smell of a real book, but sadly their days are numbered. Being able to instantly download a novel is brilliant and that is the future. 

6. What’s one thing that you are interested to buy, but it’s a bit expensive, so you haven’t bought yet?

A smart watch. I have a cheap one but the good ones cost hundreds of pounds and at the moment I simply cannot justify its use. It would be a waste of money. The problem is I love gadgets and the urge to have a new one is clouding my judgement when it comes to smartwatches. Maybe I will get one – but not yet. 

7. What tea brands do you like?

I buy Yorkshire Tea which is what foreigners would call English Breakfast tea but quite strong. Sometimes I have Typhoo or PG Tips too. 

I have had “English Breakfast tea” in many countries but they just don’t do it correctly. The only place I have had it that is as good as the UK is Australia. 

I am not a fan of “fancy” teas like Earl Grey. Once you have tasted the delights of a good strong cuppa, all other teas simply cannot live up to the taste.

8. What’s one food that you can binge eat a lot?

Cheese. I love cheese so much that I try to limit my consumption of it. 

9. Write one random thing that happened to you this month.

I don’t know whether it is random or not but I have decided on the exact date that I will retire. I will spill the beans closer to the time as I don’t want the date in the public domain yet.

10. How many long-term penpals do you have right now? (people who pen pal with you for more than 3 years)

I don’t have any pen-pals. I had a couple when I was a kid but it’s not something I continued into adulthood.

11. If you were to own a small food trailer, what food would you want to sell?

It would have to be something I could cook easily. It would probably be an English breakfast, burgers or pasta – or possibly all three. 

12. What’s one handmade gift that you received and really liked ?

My youngest sister makes lanterns and she has sent a couple to me over the years. She is far more artistic than I am.

13. What’s your ideal Saturday like?

If I am home …

Wake up without  the alarm and go for a five mile walk. Come home, shower and have a full English breakfast. Potter around for the rest of the morning doing my daily duties and then keep an eye on the football scores. Go out in the evening with friends or just with Mrs PM and then return home to watch Match of the Day before going back to bed. 

A simple day but very pleasant.

If I am away – then basically be a tourist for the day. 

14. What things do you like to buy on Etsy?

I have never bought anything on Etsy and. Looking at the web site, I probably would never buy anything on Etsy.

15. What kind Asian food do you like?

The only Asian food that I dislike is Thai food. That said, I have found some Thai food that I can tolerate but generally I avoid it. All of the other Asian food I have tried is amazing. If I had to make a choice it would be Chinese or Indian.

Saturday 3 June 2023

Pencil Pals

Welcome to a beautiful sunny day in South Manchester. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me. Today is the F A Cup final which sees Manchester City and Manchester United play each other at Wembley in London – the first time the two Manchester teams have met in a final. And there is a train strike so who knows how the fans will get down to London. 
I support neither team but I shall be watching it on TV in just under three hours’ time with my next door neighbour before we have a barbecue with them after the game. 
In the meantime shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing
1. What are your plans for June
It’s my eldest son’s thirtieth birthday in a couple of days, which makes me feel really old. We will be having a big family birthday meal later in the month. Also, we are going across the country to visit the small Yorkshire seaside resort of Whitby for a weekend. Towards the end of the month I am going to see one of my favourite bands in an open air gig in the centre of Manchester. The band is Porcupine Tree:

And right at the end of the month (well on July 1st) we are going away to Croatia for a week. 
Not that busy a month really but busy enough. 
2. Your mid-year resolutions or goals
They are the same as they were at the start of 2023. So far I am maintaining my habits; learning Spanish, writing every day, learning the piano etc. Nothing new will be added until the end of the year when I decide what I am going to do in 2024.
3. Are you good at taking care of plants
I hate gardening. When I was a kid, my dad was a very keen gardener and he roped my sisters and I into helping him tend to all the plants and vegetables in the garden. It turned me against looking after plants. I leave that to Mrs PM and she is quite happy to do it. However, I do help her when something heavy needs to be done. 
4. What makes you feel nourished
Food generally. 
5. Which animals do you see most in your area
Apart from cats and dogs, there is a variety of wildlife in the area. In the early morning I sometimes see urban foxes trotting around the streets. There are thousands of squirrels in the local parks and we sometimes see things like hedgehogs. There are thousands of birds around, magpies, crows, sparrows, robins etc. And of course this time of year loads of insects.
6. Books on your summer reading list
I’ve just bought “Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Spanish) in an attempt to try to improve my Spanish that little bit more. I’ve read the English version of course so it will help knowing the story. 
I’ve just read a Stephen King book called “The Institute” and next on the list is a Dean Koontz novel called “The Big Dark Sky”. I also have a couple of space operas on the list but I haven’t bought them yet. 
7. Projects you want to tackle this summer
We are redecorating the back room downstairs (the room from which I am typing this). We have been gradually rearranging the house to accommodate this and make the room more modern. I was going to turn the back room upstairs into a man-cave but I have decided to use the back room downstairs for this purpose. We are also sorting out our weather-proof outhouse in order to make the most of  the space available and we are going to board up the loft to make it more usable (we hardly use it at the moment). 
So a lot of work on the house to do.
8. Do you have weddings, graduations, summer celebrations.
There are no weddings or graduations planned at all. For summer celebrations, I mentioned the stuff in June, we have a holiday to Dubrovnik, Croatia in July, as well as a couple of cricket matches. In August there is more cricket and we are going to London in August for Mrs PM’s birthday to see the Abba avatar concert and also spend a day as tourists. That’s about it – but we are travelling to Sicily in September too – I just hope that Mount Etna doesn’t erupt when we are there. 
9. Which summer snacks are you excited to enjoy again
We will have a couple of barbecues I reckon – I associate those with summer. Not sure what else there is, though I do like the odd ice cream and ice lolly. 
10. How much time do you like to take for vacations
I like to take as much as possible. If I could I would spend far more time travelling around and maybe I will when I retire. A couple of weeks away and a couple of weekends will suffice for now. This year I have been abroad three times already with another two definitely planned and hopefully a cheeky city break in the Autumn. 
11. How much has changed since last summer?
Not a lot really. I’m a year older. 
12. Something that would be out of character for you.
Doing anything crazily adventurous. I am quite a risk averse person. I have done some adventurous things like climbing Australian bridges and trying to conquer my fear of heights by going to the top of huge skyscrapers – but that is all over now. I have vowed never to do anything that stupid again. 
Please- if I ever consider it, just slap me and tell me not to be so idiotic!
13. What do you miss about winter?
Nothing. I hate winter. Actually, I quite like the build up to Christmas and New Year but the rest of it is bloody awful.
14. Your favourite free / cost effective ways to have fun
A good long walk is a great way to have a little fun and enjoy some scenery. 
15. Who do you trust most to house & pet sit
We have a cat/house sitter who is amazing. She is a Russian lady who has lived in the UK for over 20 years and adores cats. When we are away, she sends us videos of the cats and she plays with them, feeds them and keeps them company, as well as turning on lights, closing curtains etc. to make sure that people think there is somebody home. Occasionally she speaks to the cats in Russian which sounds hilarious.