Wednesday, June 30


In the course of my hut management work I was recently challenged to set up a webcam.

The dogcam is currently showing a live picture of the dog's living room. Until I have fully tested it, I will have to switch it off while I'm at work.

If you can't get to the live version, here's a recent snapshot of the scene.

Tuesday, June 29

good vibrations

In recent days I've been arthritic in every limb. Either someone spiked my drink with superglue, or it's the midwinter weather. But of course dealing with it by just resting is a slippery slope, so today I went on the home gym, and set all the weights to half the usual (already modest) weight. It feels much too easy, but you need to resist the temptation to load up.

I've also been using the laser on the shoulder joints, as well as the vibrator that the boy gave to the cellmate for Christmas one year.

In about nineteen umpty-eight, the 99p shop had a shelf full of battery vibrators. So that year I gave one to every woman I knew, including the old dear. What could they say? They were too embarrassed to complain or ask how much it cost. It's a variation on a trick I learned from Hotters - you can take as many sickies as you like from work, as long as you always tell the boss the next day you had terrible diarrhoea.

International scrabble

I'm in the middle of 7 different games of scrabble with random opponents. I'm ahead in every game. No help at all as I haven't a competitive gene in my body. Sometimes I deliberately play a dud move to encourage an opponent.

Watched the whole England Germany game. It really took off after that first goal from the long kick by the German goalie. To be fair, I wonder if the disallowed English goal broke their momentum.

Sunday, June 27

friday and saturday

The night club Friday night out was quite a success. We got a table. At first I imagined the others hated the music, so I couldn't settle in. Once I realised they were enjoying it, even the cellmate, I relaxed.

The compositions and arrangements were imaginative and full of light and shade, not what you might expect of jazz fusion. The performers were far too good to be playing for peanuts in a small venue.

Some of the soloing, on guitar, keyboard, and various saxes, fair took the breath away. It would have taken away the hearing too, if I hadn't had earplugs.

I bought the only round, but they only wanted water so I shouted myself a whole bottle of lite beer.

Saturday. Dog walk to supermarket. Scrabble - I won, not that it matters at all, except that the prize was bonkoid. Afternoon nap. I cooked a brilliant lamb casserole with leeks, parsnip, carrot, rosemary and wine.

We watched the first episode of the new Mad Men DVD - series 3. Twelve more episodes to go, so maybe we'll watch another one on Sunday. The upside of living in a country where it's not broadcast on TV - you can get the DVD and schedule it as you like. It all balances up.

Thursday, June 24

good day

The cellmate is back from the world tour, so it's no longer just me, the prowlers and a half-dead dog.

I'm very fortunate having her share my space. Not like poor Albert - his partner's an absolute menace in the kitchen.

This morning I walked the dog, parked her outside the supermarket, went in and filled the rucksack with provisions, mostly dog food.

After dumping the dog and the food back home, I set off for the pool. I only went so as to use up the season pass that expires in a few days. But it was a great swim. It was quiet, so I didn't have to share a lane with blockheids. Last weekend the changing room was jam-packed, if you were Superman it would have been good practice for changing in the space of a phone box.

I swam half a K with pauses for stretches, then half a K without stopping. Lying on my back later in the sauna, I got talking to a Sri Lankan woman. Strange experience, conversing with a stranger you can't actually see because she's sitting behind your head. At the end, I looked at her as I said goodbye. She didn't look how I had imagined her. I wonder if it was the same for her.

Tomorrow night I've invited four folk to join me at a jazz club. The only good times I've had there, I've been alone. Going with other people, one feels responsible.

On the plus side, if you're in a group, it's acceptable to grab a table, so you don't have to stand at the back all night. Try sitting at a table on your own, and you get pestered by a couple taking the other chairs. If you dare to go for a pee, someone takes your seat and your drink is cleared away. Or a couple pressurises you to take part in a threesome. Thank goodness that one hasn't happened to me yet.

Tuesday, June 22


Just woke up from a dream. The cellmate's father was Kerry Packer, who I can reveal was quite a kind old dude but shrewd, so one was always on guard, especially since, in the dream, the cellmate had a sweet wee sister.

Before I could fully exploit the situation I was woken by a throbbing arthritic hip. Dearie me!

Saturday, June 19

sporting news

  1. The turf at the hallowed home of the Melbourne Cup has been tragically damaged by a cockchafer beetle.

  2. Here in New South Caledonia, we're excited about the sporting event of the year. Will Federer manage to hold off Nadal at Wimbledon?

Monday, June 14

burglars part 3

He/they were back in the garden at 1am on Saturday night. This is getting ridiculous. On the plus side, it gets less unnerving each time. Eventually I'll probably start putting out tea and biscuits for them, like for Santa.

My guess is this time they were just using the garden as a through route to a burglary elsewhere. They'll have realised by now that this place is impregnable without breaking glass. I was so lucky that when they did the garage the first time, they didn't realise there was a COMPLETE SPARE SET OF HOUSE KEYS in there, not even hidden.

Still, I decided it's my public duty to notify the cops, rather than sit back smug and snug while they rob somebody else. The cops who came were very friendly, maybe partly because I'm a poor old codger to them. They said - next time call the emergency number while it's happening and we'll bring a dog.

Sunday night I put on the noise cancelling headphones, and watched Bavaria against Australia. Naturally I took sides, though I tried not to cheer too loud in case the burglars were around again. They might be Aussies.

According to Albert, the Australian papers are scapegoating the Aussie coach, a Dutchman. And even he himself is saying it's all his own fault, for leaving his strikers out of the side, and bringing forward Cahill, a midfielder. Apparently the quality of the Bavarian team (many of whom have been playing together for years) had nothing to do with it.

Saturday, June 12

time zones

The pension fund phoned last night just before the World Cup started. I don't think she understands how time zones work (New South Caledonia is about 10 hours ahead of Bavaria). She said: "the opening ceremony is about to start on TV, but you'll have seen it last night."

So I said "that's right, and I had this conversation with you last night".

learning badness

I'm reading an online book, The Story Of A Bad Boy. I thought it might help me develop the bad side of myself, to balance out all the selfless thoughts and good works that make my life so unsatisfying.

The Wattpad web site is a community where you can upload any books or short stories that you've written. Then people download them to read as ebooks.

Anyway, despite the title "The Story Of A Bad Boy", this book appears to have been written by somebody of Mingers' ilk.

Whenever a new scholar came to our school, I used to confront him at recess with the following words: My name's Tom Bailey; what's your name? If the name struck me favorably, I shook hands with the new pupil cordially; but if it didn't, I would turn on my heel, for I was particular on this point. Such names as Higgins, Wiggins, and Spriggins were deadly affronts to my ear; while Langdon, Wallace, Blake, and the like, were passwords to my confidence and esteem.

My parents removed to New Orleans, where my father invested his money so securely in the banking business that he was never able to get any of it out again. But of this hereafter.

oettinger 2

I should have posted this before the "more burglars" post.

I bought another six pack of Oettinger yesterday. There's a building site across the road from here, and the builders saw me stash the beer in the garage under the house.

This morning the dog was acting strange. Then I noticed that the garage door was hanging open. Somebody had broken in last night. I had no time to check what might be missing. Obviously nobody would take the home brew, but there's a bit of wine and all my tools.

I just slapped a spare padlock on the doors and headed off to work, where I am now.

I've just had a thought - supposing whoever broke in drank the booze and fell asleep? Now I've locked them in.

Friday, June 11

more burglars

As far as I can tell they didn't take anything so presumably were only interested in finding a way to get into the house.

Then there was somebody round the back of the house the next night, trying the back door etc.

It was all quiet last night. I wonder if the burglar activity is connected to the World Cup, and they are looking for flat screen TVs. Anyway, the matches start tonight, so I'll be switching on the living room light and TV sound all night, as if I'm watching it live.

I said to a neighbour - If you ever have trouble, call me even in the middle of the night. I'm no good at fisticuffs, but I can put on the front lights here or drive over with the headlights on.

The cellmate was at a conference and has now made it as far as Hawaii. Nice work if you can get it! She gets back here in another week, then she can scare off the burglars with feminism.

Wednesday, June 9


In the bottle shop the other day, I found a Bavarian beer called Oettinger. On special offer, so I had to buy a pack.

It's not weissbier of course, but it's good enough to make me consider giving up home brew.

Tomorrow I'm going to visit the boy and his GF at their house. Apparently they've dug up their garden and planted vegetables, herbs, and hops for the home brew. As a present I was going to take them a bottle of home brew but I think Oettinger will go down better.

Sunday, June 6

racket gone and not doggone

The racketeer renters next door have moved out, and taken their power boat with them. Amazing - no sooner have they chopped down the vegetation that was screening my nudism, than they move out.

There's a new, nicer family of renters, whose only noise source seems to be a motor bike. Pathetic! So far I've heard no noise at all. I think I spotted the wife walking up the hill. A world class wobble bottom. Probably that's what's damping their noise before it can get over the fence.

Took the blog dog to the vet yesterday to get various things checked. Nothing critical, but she possibly won't live to a very ripe old age. This info is here so I don't forget it:

(1) Bare skin at base of tail. Flea allergy dermatitis. Caused by the unusually warm autumn this year stretching into May; and the camping trips she went on while I was in the old countries. Easily treated.

(2) Puffing with abdominal breathing. Probably a sign of heart enlargement or other problem, and/or gradual lung fibrosis. Apparently dogs don't get heart attacks, they just slow down on over-exertion and may even faint then wake up and carry on.

(3) Hacking cough, like smoker's cough. Vet checked her throat/airway isn't obstructed. So probably lung damage of some kind.

(4) Standing and staring. Walking to and fro. Common in senility, other symptoms can include inappropriate vocalizing at night; getting stuck in a corner. But we all do that, don't we?

Dog's human age is 6 times her real age, ie 69.

(5) Picky about food. But at least she's back up to 20kg, from 18kg after last year's pneumonia.

(6) Gradual increase in thirst may be the start of diabetes or other metabolic disease. Kidneys. But she's doing the best thing by drinking.

In all, Vet reckons she probably does have some heart, lung, or metabolic abnormality, even perhaps a tumour somewhere, even brain tumours are common.

I'm finding it a bit depressing to be with her, knowing what I know and she doesn't know. I feel like I'm hiding the truth from her. Human families do that a lot, when someone's got the black spot but they don't know it.

But with a dog, there's the additional deceit, where you know the time's going to come when you take her up to the vet for the last time.

saturday morning

I'm having tea in bed to try and jump start myself. It's not working. The house is cold and it's been raining for weeks. I'd like to stay in bed all day.

Last night I watched the exquisite (some might say excruciating) Remains Of The Day on DVD, while I finished off a box of chocolates (confiscated from the cellmate at Xmas). I've always disdained folk who eat in cinemas, but now I see why they do it. The sensations reinforce each other. Talk about sumptuous!

This is making me so hungry I'll have to get out of bed and find breakfast.

Saturday, June 5

first time in a long time

On Thursday I went swimming, the first time in many months, not counting piddling hotel pools. I managed 600 metres. Pathetic! In the sauna afterwards, I was using the time to practice some internal exercises of the yogic kind. Then an oriental babe came in and sat down. Thank goodness I was taught self control as a kid. Imagine jail at my age!

In the evening, I was standing about in the living room, when I noticed the Tai Chi was trying to do itself. So I let it, and it was like meeting an old friend. I had had a year or two off, and you'd think I would have forgotten half the moves. But no. The trick is to relax the mind and let it unfold by itself.

True, there was one point where I got stuck. I knew the bits afterwards would be fantastic Fair Lady, but what was before that?

Well the more you wrack your brains the less clear things become, so I didn't. Instead, I went back a few moves and started again, but at about three times the speed. Try and get over the hump without thinking. First the legs remember their part, and because you're moving fast, the lower body naturally throws the upper body into the right position. After the second or third attempt, eureka!

I got stuck again just after Fair Lady, but I used the same approach to unlock the next step.

Friday at work I was knackered of course, but in a good way.

Thursday, June 3

good news and bad

The good news:

1 - The dog is out in the garden sunbathing.

2 - Meanwhile, I have rented an industrial machine and shampooed all the carpets in the house.

The bad news:

I had to do the carpets because the dog exploded in the house, from all three orifices at once.

Tuesday, June 1

buzzing between the ears

On the bus home on Friday, I had a mobile phoney sitting behind me. At first I was annoyed to be subjected to his prattle. Then I noticed he was using all the managerial buzzwords and phrases. GOING FORWARD and ISSUES and ON THE GROUND. I realised I could either fume or find a way to enjoy it. So I took out the iPod and started noting down each bit of meaningless bullshit. I was compiling quite a list, and I was almost disappointed when he hung up before I had the full set.

I'm reading a couple of Irvine Welsh collections of short stories. Funny, shocking and true. I sometimes read whole pages out loud, to get the full benefit of the dialogue.