Saturday, May 26

the shower screen

The new screen is in place. The main difference from the old screen is you now get a clearer view of whoever's sitting on the toilet. But the design nazi in me sees I made a few mistakes. For one thing, I should have asked them not to fit a handle. These glass doors pivot in or out with fingertip pressure, and are self-centering. Without a clunky handle, it would have a cleaner look.

The shower guy was an absolute sweetie - capable, informative, fast. The acceptable face of proletarianism. He even agreed to take away the heavy old screen and dispose of it, even though that wasn't part of the contract. When I offered him money, he wouldn't take it. But when I put a box of Becks beer into his van, honour was satisfied. I always have proper beer in the garage for giving away. It would be cruel to offer people the 0.5% home brew, which I prefer to keep for myself anyway. I need to keep a clear head for being antisocial.

The home brewed weissbier tasted horrible about a week after bottling, but now it has morphed into a good approximation of the real thing.

Friday, May 25

shanghai tip

I've received an email from Albert's brother in China. I'm sharing it here for the benefit of readership traveling there.

"I just ate TEPPANYAKI here in Changzhou... all you can eat & drink.. take as long as you like and they keep telling you it should be interpreted as " endless". Sushi / all sorts of tuna / octopus / grilled fish and excellent fillet & other steaks.. cooked right in front of your at your table. Beer / hot saki.. you name it. 17 quid....... I ate about 200quids worth at london restaurant prices & the staff were great.

Restaurant name is TAIRYO & they have one in shanghai"

If you're vegetarian, I suppose you could still achieve a bargain on the all-you-can-drink part. Sadly, or perhaps happily, my own days of gorging are over.

Thursday, May 24

having to do stuff

It's just constant, one thing after another, at the moment.

Project management with tradespersons! The tree man was great, but I had to make him coffee. The stump grinder man was good too, but he liked to chat, so I had to do small talk. I once me someone who bought a cement mixer and kept it in his garden, so that if he ever needed a cementing job done, he could do it himself instead of having to deal with a tradesman.

I'm acting as travel agent for Albert's world tour of the motherland, fatherland, new world and middle kingdom. Complicated by having to allow at each step for the possible addition of Albert's other half, if/when she commits.

I used to clean the house every fortnight. Now that we have a husband and wife cleaner coming in to do the cellmate's cell and the common areas, I was looking forward to (ahem) washing my hands of the cleaning. But no! On the nights before the cleaners come, I have to clear up the whole house, because they can't clean when there's a mess in their way. They're not interested in actual cleaning, only in keeping somewhere clean that's already clean.

The woman's a devil who hates her job, and takes it out on the fixtures. Already she has shredded one of the venetian blinds and scored the fridge door. So now, before she starts I have to remember to raise the blinds and clean the fridge door to save her scraping it. Long-term readers will remember this is the very reason I didn't want to get the new kitchen in the first place. Once you've got something nice, you want it to stay nice.

Because the cleaner used soap on the floor the first time, I slipped and fell over. Could have busted a pelvis if I'd been as old as some of the folk what come to this blog. So now I also have to remember to put out a bottle of vinegar for her to use instead.

Tomorrow the shower screen's being replaced, but only after about a month of research and tendering by yours truly. Dismantling the old screen has been a real puzzle, it was well constructed with concealed screws and rivets.

If I could leave tomorrow on Albert's holiday, I would. As Dazzle used to say, it doesn't really matter where you're going, the best part of any holiday is the start, when you're getting drunk on a plane.

For now, the high point of the day is falling happily into bed with an electric blanket that's been on half the day. Bliss!

Saturday, May 19

angry alien and cod taichi using kinotopic

I've been commissioned by Albert to test a possibly useful iPhone app called Kinotopic, which lets you freeze some parts of a photo, and animate others. This is a proof-of-concept trial, not a creative use. Story of my life, really. When I had a saxophone, I only played it long enough to know how to work all the keys, and ended up selling it back to the shop. And these days, when I practice the uke, I only do just enough to get it in tune and run through all the 10 chords I know.

Thank goodness it's walkies day today, and I get to go outdoors and do something, even if I have to wear a pantaclava to do it.

Monday, May 14

international incident

I emailed a mildly rude, jokey photie to Hotters and Rodders. Rodders, over in Chiners at the moment, replied saying the content had been stripped out at the border. Dearie me!

I replied:

'Hi Rodders, looks like the email content has been "Shanghaied" en route. You'll see it back in Embra, unless you get marooned there by something else I'd better not mention. I trust the tour's going well and you're amassing pics of food/toilets. Robbers.'

I was mindful not to refer to the saber-rattling going on there in the last couple of days.

Topical as ever, this is Robbers signing out.

Saturday, May 12

tales of the river bank

On the 4-hour walk yesterday, I found a couple of strong, perfectly straight tree branches, and requisitioned them as what they called walking staffs a long time ago. I tried using them like nordic walking sticks. The technique, which I had always thought was for posers, actually works wonderfully. Talk about propulsion! And a great workout for the arms and back.

Since the mother outlaw died, there's less motivation to take photos. These Easter ones are similar to the terrain we were on yesterday.

Wednesday, May 9

aging (spelt without an E)

Nouveau-oldie Albert shares these highlights of two recent articles in the paper.

First, there's the economic angle:

Only an economist could turn the prospect of living longer into a looming crisis.

This week, the IMF was fretting about the ''longevity risk'' facing economies with ageing populations. Like a slow-moving, grey blob spreading out across the economy ''as populations age in the decades ahead, the elderly will consume a growing share of resources''.

An ageing population hurts the budget bottom line in two ways, by increasing demands for spending and reducing potential revenue.

And then there's the health angle:

The ''new'' old age is where 80-year-olds go hang gliding, 90-year-olds win chess tournaments and centenarians play competitive table tennis.

Accentuating the negative - old age poverty, elder abuse - is so yesterday.

The boomers will defy history and age ''successfully''.

There is another part to the message about successful ageing which is a big worry. The new old age won't be for everyone. A happy, mentally and physically active old age will be a reward for those who put the effort in, starting now. We'll get the old age we deserve. Those who end up suffering the old-fashioned old age with its indignities, frailties and mental decline will be seen as losers who didn't try hard enough.

I've advised Albert to get on the treadmill now, and be one step ahead of economic euthanasians, who will want to cull 'undeserving' oldies.