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 CiarĂ¡n 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).