A New Language or Two

 

I know people who would look at this photograph and think:

“Wet.”

“Cold.”

“Horrid”

Whereas I look at it and think:

“Excitement.”

“Fun.”

“Women in wet tee shirts!”

So what has this to do with a new language?

Well, I am going to learn to sail but before I do, I have to learn the language that sailors use. I will call this language “Nautical”. It’s English Jim but not as we know it.

For instance, the pointy bit at the front is called the “Bow” (as in what a gentleman does when he meets Her Queenliness)

 

The rear end of a boat is “the stern”.

Left is “port” and right is “starboard”. The floor is “the deck” while a wall is called “a bulkhead”. The driver is called “the helmsman”. “Abreast” is not what you see when a woman is wearing a wet tee shirt unfortunately, it means side by side or by the side of. The “beam” is the widest part of a ship or boat. Downstairs is “below” and upstairs is “atop”. A  room is called a “cabin”, the kitchen is “the galley” and the speed of the boat is given in “knots”! Why this should be is beyond me.

Then there’s “athwartship”! (Really? You have got to be kidding me). It means at right angles to the centre line of the boat/ship.

Then you have words where all the vowels have deliberately been removed:

F’r’c’stl’. What’s that then? How do you pronounce it?

M”ns”l. Not a clue.

See? It’s not as easy as you first think. I’m getting there though and once I’ve got it sorted and can speak like an old sea dog, I’ll get on with learning a new foreign language. Probably French.

We have all been to France several times and we murder the French language whenever we can. Recently, on a fairly regular basis, magazines dedicated to French property have started making an appearance.

Then, the other day, PIL asked if we still had the Peter Mayle books, A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence. I said I’d look in amongst the million or so books we have banging about but to no avail. So I went to Waterstones in Canterbury and bought A Year in Provence and, because they didn’t have Toujours, I also bought My Good Life in France by Janine Marsh. I’ll get Toujours some other time. I wrapped the books up, I wrote “Happy Wednesday” on a sticker and presented it to PIL when she got home. They remain unread! Except by me.

I am in no particular rush. By the time CJ finishes school and Uni’ I’ll be getting on a bit so there’s plenty of time.

Then, one day, I will be fluent in Nautical and in French and PIL will suddenly decided it’s time to up sticks, grab our zimmer frames and move to bloody Spain!

Have a brilliant day.

More Dick soon.

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Sailing

A little while ago I wrote some fiction regarding a conversation I had with Mr. Death. You can read it here.

It is a work of fiction but, as with many things, it had elements of true life in it – some of my real life experiences. One of the true items in that story is my desire to learn a new language – French (probably) and to learn how to sail.

Recently, we went on holiday. We went to Antigua. It was bloody brilliant. We flew out via Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (the posh class!) That was an eye opener. I’m not sure how PIL managed it. I think she got the geeks at work to hack into Virgin Atlantic and get us an up grade. Or it might have been her using the gazillion air miles we had accumulated over the years. We arrived at Gatwick, checked in and went to the Virgin lounge. We were offered champagne! It was 6am! Of course we accepted – it was free! We had all kinds of nibbles offered. More champagne was consumed. Our flight was announced and, slightly the worse for wear we staggered off and got on the plane. The leg room! Unfuckingbelievable!

We arrived in Antigua after a wonderful flight, being waited on hand and foot, totally refreshed and ready to go.

It was lovely. Smashing sandy beaches. Plentiful bars and restaurants. Pools dotted around. Absolute bliss. I noted a number of small sailing boats. Catamarans. I thought to myself, I can get started here. A problem arose though. We are a family that goes on holiday and we SLOB! We lie in the sun. We eat. We drink and that was the problem. Greg and I crept off to the gym at 6.30 each morning. We got back, we all showered and went for breakfast. By 9am we were sprawled out by the pool. At 10, when the bars opened we were getting a bit hot so we’d go get a drink. The intention was always to get a soft drink, 10am being a bit too early to hit the hard stuff but the bar man would point out;

“It’s midday somewhere man.”

So we had rum as well. And with no concept of portion control, they were heavy on the alcohol. After a hearty lunch I was probably too pissed to go sailing, let alone learn anything so I didn’t go.

As a great believer in not doing things by half, I decided my first experience of learning to sail would not be on board an eight foot dinghy but on a proper 50 foot sailing yacht! And that’s what we did. We chartered a yacht for the day. It was called Jabberwocky and it was owned by Nick and Kaye, who are two of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

We got a cab from the resort to where Jabberwocky was parked at a place called Jolly Harbour. Antigua is full of places with lovely names like that. We set sail. We had a choice. Snorkelling or beach. We’re slobs so we chose beach and we headed off to a place called Deep Bay. It was on our way here that I carried out my first ever sailing task:

I set the genoa!

I have no idea what that is or what I was doing except it involved some hard physical labour and I think I set the sail in front of the mast. I felt inordinately pleased with myself.

We arrived. The anchor was dropped and we took the little RIB to shore. It was just as you would imagine a desert island to be. Warm seas lapping on a soft sandy beach. There were a couple of other people there but it was heavenly. There was a small fort, Fort Barrington, on the hillside. Greg, CJ and I went off for a wander while PIL and Ed sat on the beach and swam in the sea.

The beach at Deep Bay with Jabberwocky in the background

Time for lunch back on Jabberwocky. PIL, Greg and CJ took the RIB back. Ed and I swam back. I decided on back stroke but because I’m useless, without noticing, I started to swim back to shore. The others found this immensely funny. I just got tired!

Jabberwocky at anchor in Deep Bay

Lunch was lovely. Afterwards, we set sail again heading back to Jolly Harbour.

Jabberwocky setting sail back to Jolly Harbour

Once we got out of Deep Bay, I set the genoa again and joy of joy, I took the helm and steered the yacht on it’s way back to its home port.

Me at the helm of Jabberwocky

I was in heaven. It’s a lot harder that it seems and I’m sure my course was more than a bit ziggy zaggy but I was having a great time. The rest of the family were up at the pointy bit at the front and then they started to sing!

Having an absolutely brilliant time.

 

Over the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails I couldn’t make out the words but the tune was just about audible. One of them them was singing “Sailing”, the Rod Stewart song. Despite my surprise at one of my children actually knowing this song, I felt a huge sense of well being and happiness well up inside me. We were having a great time. My family up at the front burst in to laughter and they all started singing. As they did, the wind carried the words to my position at the helm. This is what they sang:

All together now.

We are sinking

We are sinking

To the bottom

Of the sea

Dad was steering

Hit an island

Didn’t see it

Blind old git

 

Hit the island

Of Antigua

How did Daddy

Manage that?

We have sunk now

And we’re swimming

All because our

Dad’s a prat!

Charming!

Despite this, I will learn to sail and soon I will be visiting a local sailing club and begin lessons. I may just stick to smaller dinghies or catamarans but, who knows, I may go onto larger boats. We shall see and I will keep you informed about my progress.

Of course, let’s not forget that I also want to learn a new language but since trying my hand at sailing, that will now be TWO new languages to learn. The reasons why will follow soon.

Have a lovely day.

More Dick soon.

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Dexter on the Loose

As you are probably aware, our dog Dexter underwent an operation on his leg a while ago.

For the last 7 or 8 months he has only been for short walks and always with his lead on. Understandably for an active dog who just loves to run and run and run this has been driving him mad. We have been under strict instructions from the vet not to let him tear arse about. Last week that changed. He had recovered fully from his operation.

I took him out on his lead. This is sufficient to get him excited. This time though we took a different route and headed off to the fields and woods. Dexter just knew there was something afoot. He kept looking at me as if to say “Are we going to the woods? Am I going to be off this pesky lead?” We arrived at the path leading down through a small copse onto the fields and to the woods a bit further down. We stopped. Dexter started to quiver in anticipation. He made little snorting noises. He looked at me. He woofed. He quivered some more. He stared down the path. I let him off the lead. The next thing I saw was his arse end disappearing down the path in a cloud of dust. I grinned to myself. A couple of minutes later he returned. His tail was wagging so hard the whole of his rear end was swaying from side to side. The look of pure, unadulterated bliss on his face was a wonderful thing to see. He jumped up at me, gave me a big lick and tore off into the fields again. We weren’t out for long. Maybe 35 minutes but Dexter had a great time dashing about, sniffing stuff and dashing about again. We got home again and he had a drink, scoffed some food, sat down at my feet, wagged his tail some more, gave me a lick and went off and fell asleep on his bed. I think he had some good dreams that day.

I should add that the flattened crops in the background were not due to us. I follow the tractor trails and Dexter causes practically no damage when he runs through the crops.

Have a smashing day. Dexter did!

More Dick soon.

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Surprises.

The not so surprising thing about surprises is that by their very nature they take you by surprise. Some are bad like the letter I got recently informing me I had been caught on camera in Watford on the 30th April at 0657 travelling at 41mph in a 30 zone. A few days later I had another nasty surprise when the Essex Constabulary informed me that on the 12th May at 1243 I had been caught on camera travelling at 58mph on the QE2 bridge which has a 50mph limit. WTF! Are speeding tickets buses now? Nothing for ages then two come along together! I have no recollection of speeding on either occasion.

I have completed my speed awareness course where we covered the laws of physics, watched videos, had discussions on a variety of speed and driving related subjects. All jolly interesting stuff. I think I only nodded off once. For the offence on the QE2 bridge I have paid the fine and had 3 points put on my driving licence. I have informed my insurers who will happily use the excuse to increase my premiums for the next few years. Bummer!

At times like this I like to take refuge in my garden and have a good old poke around, dig some holes, plant some plants, do a bit of pruning and mow the lawn. Even this can have nasty surprises usually in the form of half buried cat shit where you least expect it and, more often than not, precisely where you are using your hands to make a planting hole slightly bigger! Nothing quite like a handful of cat poo to brighten your day or to discover new ways to curse the blasted creatures! Then there are the surprises where things you planned to happen in the garden don’t materialise. A couple of years ago I wrote about how the foxgloves in my garden were doing particularly well and were giving a good show. I said how easy they are to grow and that I just let them seed where they want. I was a bit smug about it. Imagine my surprise when to my surprise (and disappointment) my smugness bit me on the arse last year and hardly any grew at all, just a few straggly specimens managed to make an appearance.

In an effort to escape from the terrible thoughts I was having about the things I would like to do to the inventor of the speed camera and the fecal land mines laid in my front garden by an assortment of neighbourhood felines, I decided to cut the grass in the back garden. Mowing the lawn isn’t my favourite pastime but it’s the kind of mindless exercise I can live with and the end result always looks nice. So I grabbed my iPod, inserted the earpieces and started to mow. The music, the hum of the lawn mower engine, the sound of the mower blades cutting through the grass, clover and daisies allied with the buzz of a stray stone being picked up and spat out at great speed and smashing the kitchen window soon relaxed me and I started having more pleasant thoughts such as what PIL looks like naked. Probably not a good thing for a bloke to be thinking if he has a pair of secateurs in his hand but it’s fine when mowing the lawn. Then, out of the corner of my eye  I saw something that gave me a very pleasant surprise. Along the fence at the side of the garden there is a line of 25 or 30 beech trees. They may be hornbeam but I can’t tell the difference. I cut them back at the beginning of last year so that they are only about 8 feet high and they are turning into quite a pleasant-looking hedge. Birds nest in amongst the branches and lots of creepy crawlies live there and call it home. Well, in amongst the branches, arching beautifully with the weight of flowers was a lovely fox glove.

All on its own.

It looked just simply beautiful. It had white flowers flushed pink.

It reminded me that no matter how hard we try, Nature will always go two or three better and produce something in the most surprising and unusual places. I was chuffed to bits to see that.

There are three things that most people find surprising about our garden although two of those will be changing. First, there aren’t any roses in the garden. None at all. There was one by the front door when we first moved in but that went a few years ago. I understand why people like roses. They often have beautiful flowers, they come in a huge array of colours and some have a wonderful scent. To me though they are just a mega pain in the bum. They are “gross feeders” so they take all the nutrients and minerals out of the soil meaning copious quantities of compost has to be added once or twice a year or you end up with dust. They attract pests, especially aphids and diseases that spread to other plants in the garden and to top it all they rip you to shreds if you so much as touch them. Not for me. I prefer to be able to sit back and admire my garden.

I also get why people like bedding plants or annuals. Instant colour that lasts for months if you dead head regularly. I just think “aching back” and “sore knees” from planting them in the Spring and digging the blighters up again in the Autumn. Not to mention the increase in getting a handful of cat poo while digging them in. That’s changing though. PIL (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) wants hanging baskets and that means annuals although mixed up with things like strawberries and stuff. She tends to take care of the pots too and does a fine job with them. They’ll be annuals in the pots as well. I don’t mind. It’s our garden and my only objection to bedding plants is the effort involved. I look forward to seeing how that works out.

The other surprising thing about our garden is the absence of the colour orange. Or so I thought. I’m talking the fruit colour here. Goes with bugger all. Clashes with everything. In a gloomy corner of the front garden there is a big clump of what I think are Welsh Poppies. For work reasons, I tend to be away when they flower in May. They’re yellow. Or so I thought. This year they flowered a bit later and I saw them. They looked absolutely superb in that slightly gloomy corner and contrasted really well with the white flowers in the front. (I have no idea what the white flowers are. Planted ’em years ago and I can never remember plant names. Unlike my memory for the collective noun for wombats!!) Anyhow, they looked really good but they were orange! See. Nature did it again. Nothing to do with me. They are staying. Look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean. Smashing!

On that note I must go as it’s getting late. Have a nice day wherever you may be and whatever time it may be where you are.

More Dick soon.

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Memory.

I was at work the other day. It was quite early, probably about 7 am. I heard a bird start to sing. Without looking I thought to myself, “That’s a goldfinch.” I was right. I had remembered its song. My brain then went into overdrive as it scanned its memory banks and told me some associated information. The collective noun for Goldfinches is “a charm”. My brain then informed me that the collective noun for hedgehogs is “an array” and that if you remove all the fleas from a hedgehog it suffers from withdrawal symptoms. From there my brain informed me that the the collective noun for a group of wombats is “a wisdom”. Wombats!!
Then my brain thought:
“How do I know this stuff and yet some mornings I wake up and can’t remember who or where I am!”

More Dick soon

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Operation Dexter Dawg

A little while ago I wrote about our bonkers dog Dexter and how he needed to have an operation on his left rear leg as he had torn his cruciate ligament. If I’ve done this correctly, you can read that post here. The poor pooch has been confined to the house and garden since before Christmas 2016 and it’s been driving him nuts although he has been out for brief 15 minute walks on his lead every now and again.

Well, as planned, Dexter went for his operation on the 9th March and it was a complete success although it wasn’t without its dramas. We had taken Dexter for a number of x-rays and scans and because the vet was going to be manipulating his leg quite considerably, Dexter was given a general anesthetic so as to minimise any discomfort for him and as a safeguard for the vet in case Dexter decided to take a lump out of him.  Once he had come round whoever had taken him, either PIL or me, would lift him into the car, drive home and lift him out again. At 30 odd kilos, he ain’t exactly a lightweight. We thought it would be the same for his operation. So I went to work and PIL took Dexter to the vet. To PILs surprise not only was a general administered but Dexter was also given an epidural. After the operation the pooch eventually came round but he had no movement in his rear end because of the epidural. PIL and the vet lifted him into PILs car. Once home PIL, who is very definitely a girlie girl, couldn’t move him to the rear of the car to get him out. She knocked at the neighbours. No one in!  So PIL got his water bowl and food and sat in the car with him until Ed got home from work two hours later. Dexter didn’t mind.

The vet had put a cone on Dexter to stop him trying to get to his stitches. We only put it on him at night or if we popped out and he was on his own and I have to say he was very tolerant of it and never kicked up a stink when we put it on him. Even when he went out into the garden he had to have his lead on to stop him running around.

It was a different matter altogether when we gave him his tablets.We wrapped them up in goodies which he scoffed and then spat the tablets out. We held treats next to his nose to make him salivate and swallow but he just dribbled and made a  disgusting mess on the kitchen floor. We called him a bastard. A lot!

We called him all the names under the sun but none worked. After a lot of treats and stroking his throat he would eventually swallow his tablets. We then spent 20 minutes cleaning all the goo off the floor. Twice a day for weeks this went on but eventually his course of tablets ended, the stitches came out, more x-rays were taken and last week, he was given the all clear. He could go walkies again! Dexter had been quite happy to sit in the sunshine and soak up a few rays but there is no doubt all he wanted to do was go berserk in the woods.

My favourite photo of Dexter sunning himself

A big but went with this. Only for 15 minutes at a time and only on his lead. The time increasing by 5 minutes each week until it got to 30-35 minutes and then he could be let off the lead for 5 minutes again increasing by 5 minutes each week until it got to 30 minutes and thereafter, Dexter could be let off for how ever long we were out for. Brilliant. Recovery is a long-winded process but necessary to ensure he doesn’t wreck his leg again. The vet does expect him to do the same thing with his other leg though! We shall see.

Have a brilliant day.

More Dick soon.

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Cars

I like cars. I like driving them even more. The workings of the internal combustion engine are a complete mystery to me though. As with DIY, engines are beyond me. I know where to put the fuel, the oil, coolant and screen wash. I can change a wheel but that’s the limit of my expertise.

I think I may have mentioned before that my first ever car was a 1973 MGB GT.

This is identical to the MGB that I had. Same colour, same interior, same wheels.

It had a 1.8 litre engine with overhead valves. Nope. No idea what that means but it was a nice car and I travelled many miles and it was a blast driving it. Girls liked it too which was the best reason ever to own it.

The next car I owned was a Rover P5.

It was like driving around in a gentleman’s club with all the old leather in it. It had a bloody great 3.5 litre V8 engine. Ever since then I have loved the burble of a V8 car engine. A lovely sound. With the price of petrol at 55p per gallon it wasn’t particularly expensive to drive either despite a lousy M.P.G.. When fuel prices started to shoot up, I got rid of it. Shame really because they’re worth a fortune now.

There then followed quite a few years of dull and bland company cars. Some were ok but nothing more and some were just crap. There were exceptions. For a few months my company car was a Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth 4×4. Brilliant car that looked like a normal saloon car but went like stink.

Goes like stink

Unfortunately, I wrote it off when a tyre blew out at speed and it rolled over. I hasten to add that the speed I was travelling at was the national speed limit. Maybe just a little bit above it but not much. Really. Then it was back to boring and unexciting cars. It was the same for PIL. Our cars did the job they were supposed to do but nothing more. Then in 1994, we bought ourselves a car which started a love affair with the marque that has continued to this day. So much so that we have two now. We bought a Land Rover Discovery.

On the school run

What a brilliant car! Over the years we have had a couple of Range Rovers and a Land Rover Defender

but we keep coming back to Discoverys. We’ve probably had 8 or 9 in total and currently own a couple of Discovery 4s.

For us they are the perfect car. We live in the country and during winter the roads are rarely gritted, snow drifts form quickly that block the roads to all but 4x4s or  the roads flood and our village and others nearby get cut off unless you have a 4×4 that can wade through fairly deep water. One of the other advantages is that Discoverys come with 7 seats. Our kids are very sporty and are always playing matches in one sport or another and of course, PIL and I go to see as many matches as we can and this means that we often return to their school with half a football/hockey/rugby/netball or swimming team in the car plus all the kit that goes with the sport. So for us, it was ideal. Land Rovers are also tough as old boots. Google “land rover defender falls off cliff” and read the stories that appear. You can read about the blokes who survived when their Land Rover Defender rolled 600 feet down a slope or the Scottish bloke who survived after driving his Discovery off a 150 foot cliff. Or the woman who survived after driving her blue Discovery off another cliff. I’m not sure if the fact it was blue made any difference and I can’t really say why so many Land Rover owners seem to enjoy driving off cliffs but they survived the experience. I can confirm the toughness of these vehicles from personal experience. On one occasion, I was returning home after dropping the children at school. I was driving our Defender. I stopped as the car in front of me was turning right. Just as it turned, a van being taken for a test drive by a mechanic drove into the back of me. The Defender which is not the lightest of vehicles, was thrown 30 or 40 feet forward by the impact. I got out of the car completely uninjured. The van was a write off with the whole front end completely demolished. My Defender had a couple of broken rear lights, a bent tow bar, the rear windows were smashed and that was it. I drove it to the nearby Land Rover garage and arranged for the van to be picked up by the breakdown people.

On another occasion, PIL was going to a work function in central London. She took my Range Rover. She phoned me just after midnight to say she was stuck in a traffic jam on the M20 caused by road works. Ten minutes later she rang again to say she had been involved in an accident. She was fine but the car wasn’t. An articulated lorry had driven into the back of it. The lorrys brakes had failed. If PIL had been in a normal car, the lorry would have gone straight over the top of it and killed her! That was the opinion of the Traffic cop who attended the accident.

A few years ago, PIL and CJ were on their way to LegoLand and were travelling along the M25 in PILs Discovery 3 when a German articulated lorry decided to move out of the inside lane of the motorway without indicating and obviously without looking in his mirrors because he moved out onto a car travelling in the next lane and shoved it straight into the path of PIL in the outside lane and overtaking both these vehicles. PIL hit the central reservation at about 70 mph. The impact spun the car and it finally came to a halt on the hard shoulder, jammed up tight against the armco crash barrier facing the wrong way. All the air bags had deployed filling the car with smoke to the extent PIL was convinced the car was on fire. Thankfully, it wasn’t and she and CJ were completely unharmed. Shaken yes but unhurt.

On the way to Sainsburys to do the weekly shop

They really are brilliant cars and if money were no object I know exactly what car I would buy. This car really is the dogs bollocks.

 

I’d buy a 1969 Boss 429 Mustang.

The Dogs Bollocks

But I’d also have a Land Rover Discovery as my daily drive. Probably the only car you will ever need or want.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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Ghoulies

Things were getting grim. If this was an amicable divorce then God help those caught up in the confrontational type. To be fair, it wasn’t her fault, it was the bellend she was with now. Somehow or another he had got it into his head that I was concealing assets and he had managed to get an Order freezing all of them until such time as the Courts made a decision. As he was an idiot, he hadn’t realised that everything was in joint names and he had therefore frozen her assets as well. Enough was released each month to cover the utility bills and nothing else. Fortunately, I had PPI and the mortgage was being paid. Food and other necessities were not taken into consideration and the small amount of cash I had was running out fast. Pretty soon I would need to decide who got to eat. Me or the dog? I knew which way that decision would go. I had no idea how they were managing. He had as much chance of getting a job as a brick has of swimming the Atlantic.

The phone rang. Unknown number. Probably someone after payment of something or other. I answered it. A mans voice introduced itself as someone who knew someone I knew. He was aware I might be up for some legit cash in hand work. I confirmed I was. He ran a security company that was providing staff for an international poker game at a venue in London. He was after a night watchman who could keep an eye on the room where the chips and cards were kept. 12 hour shift. £150 a night. 6 nights. He would pay me each day at the end of  my shift. Interested? I would have snatched his hand off if he’d been there but I stayed cool. Yeah. Sounds ok to me. When do I start? Tonight? I have no plans that can’t be changed so I’ll see you at the venue at 7. Thanks. Appreciated.

6 nights at 150? 900 quid. Buys a heap of dog food that’s for sure. I called the mutual friend and thanked him. We chatted for a while. I had enough fuel in the car to drive up so I took the dog for a walk, got my head down for a few hours, showered, fed the dog, gathered some bits together and left.

I arrived in plenty of time. I met up with Bob and met his crew and got shown around. Big venue. Lots of black out curtains draped everywhere and poker was still being played but due to end soon.

By 7.30 the place was empty. Just me and the security blokes who were finishing up. They had a small kitchen and said to just help myself. They eventually left and the place grew quiet. Even the air became still. London traffic murmured in the background. That sound got quieter as the night moved on.

I made myself comfortable. I had something to eat and drink. I got my book out and started to read. I had a small dvd player with me. I thought I’d watch something later. Bob had said it was ok, just to stay awake. That would be easy enough as I hadn’t slept much recently. I walked around a few times just for something to do. As the night progressed towards morning it got quieter and the atmosphere became quite still, the only disturbance to the stillness was me as I strolled around. There were stairs leading up to a mezzanine. I knew that up there was a table, a chair and a computer. Not because I had already gone up but because Bob had told me. He had also said not to use the computer. It was for the players to check their emails. Professional poker players have a lot of games to play all over the World and this was a time of dial up internet and smart phones were still a dream in a geeks head. I decided to go up and have a look. As I walked across the floor towards the table my whole body suddenly became very, very cold like I had walked into a freezer and the chill went into every part of me. Every hair on me stood on end.

Whoa!

I reversed course and went back down the stairs. I sat in my chair. The cold had gone. My hair no longer stood on end.

Dammit. I thought. I am not going back up there. That was spooky. There had been no draught. No conditioned air I had walked through. I more or less stayed put for the rest of the night and certainly didn’t go anywhere near the mezzanine.

The days guys started to arrive. they were a nice bunch. They asked me how things had been during the night. I told them about the mezzanine. One of them began to laugh and told me he had done the graveyard shift the previous night. Despite being told not to, he had gone up stairs and used the computer. While he was doing so, he heard footsteps approaching across the floor. Thinking he had been busted by the boss, he quickly switched off and turned around to face the music. No one there! He was positive that the footsteps had got to within 10 feet of him but there was no one to be seen. Now he tells me!

Bob came in with my payment for the night and I thanked him, left and drove home.

I arrived for my next shift. Everyone went and I was on my own again. This time I sat at the Pit Boss’s table. It was raised so I looked across the playing tables and I could clearly see the door to the room containing the decks of cards and the playing chips. I looked around. My back was to the wall. To my left was a long bar. No drinks out, just an ice bucket sat on top about half way down it’s length. I could see the Thames. To my right were some black out curtains and the stairs up to the mezzanine. Beyond them were several stacks of chairs and beyond that a view out to the road. Once again, it became very still and very quiet. Car headlights occasionally lit up the front of the building but didn’t really intrude. I settled down, opened my book and began to read. I went to the little kitchen area and made a cup of tea. I put a curry into the microwave, nuked it and had my meal. I could still see the door I had to watch. I went back to my seat. I started to read again. Time passed. I glanced at my watch. After midnight. I continued reading. I walked about. I didn’t go anywhere near the mezzanine or the stairs.

I had another cup of tea. I read some more. It was nearly 3am. Not long to go.

CRASH!

I leapt out my chair. My heart was racing. I checked my trousers. What the bloody hell…..? The ice bucket had fallen off the bar. It had sat, quite happily, in the middle of the bar for hours. My heart slowed down and I climbed back into my skin. I went over to the bar. I looked down at the ice bucket lying on the floor. I didn’t pick it up. I looked at the bar. Nothing on it at all now. I returned to my seat. I picked up my book. Began to read. I glanced up from time to time. Nothing moved. It was still. As it grew lighter the security guys arrived. Once again they asked how the night had been. I told them about the ice bucket. They laughed but I could see just a hint of concern in their eyes. Bob arrived. He gave me my money, we thanked each other and I made my way home. When I got home, I took the dog out for a walk. One of the neighbours had taken him out in the evening and had volunteered to take him out each night while I was working. She was a nice old stick. She had made me a lasagne to take to work that night. I showered and got my head down for a few hours.

I arrived for my next shift. The security guys all went but cleaners were still in the building. Poker players must be pretty messy people. After an hour or so, the cleaners left. I locked the doors. I wandered around. I didn’t go up to the mezzanine but I checked the bar. Nothing on it. I sat at the Pit Boss’s chair and gazed out across the floor. The black out curtains were all drawn tonight and I couldn’t see beyond them to where the chairs had been stacked. The light inside was dim but good enough to see everything I wanted to. No light from the traffic outside flashed. It grew quiet and still again. I read. Another book now. Just before midnight I went to the kitchen and nuked the lasagne my neighbour had made for me. I had a cup of tea. I went back to my position looking out over the poker tables. I plugged in my dvd player and watched a movie. I took a walk around. I went to the front of the building and looked out onto the deserted street.  I started to walk back to my chair. I walked past the stacked chairs. I parted the curtains and walked through. I headed towards the playing tables. I felt the change in air pressure behind me rather than heard anything. I turned. The bottom edge of one of the curtains was about three feet off the ground and steadily rising. I was probably ten feet away. I couldn’t see anyone lifting the curtain. It continued rising until it was about head height and it stopped for a second or two and suddenly dropped down to ground level again. I didn’t move. Maybe thirty seconds later the bottom edge of a curtain further down began to rise. It got to about head height, paused briefly and dropped back down to the floor. Something else was taking a wander round. It didn’t take two to check the building so I decided to return to my seat, park, read my book and try not to think too hard about what had just happened. This was no set up by the security guys. I was close enough to see that there hadn’t been any cords lifting that curtain but someone or something had. It was difficult to continue reading. My head kept coming up and looking around. I made another cup of tea. I walked around again but the only disturbance to the stillness was me. It started to get light. The security detail began to drift in. I told them about the curtains. They smiled and cracked jokes again. Bob came in. We chatted for a couple of minutes. I got paid and I made my way home. I got home, showered again. glanced in the mirror. Was my hair greyer than before? Looked like it. I walked the dog. Got my stuff together. Margaret had made me a shepherds pie. She was such an angel. I slept.

I arrived in plenty of time again. I wondered what tonight would bring. Poker was still being played. I wandered about. I watched people playing cards. Not the most exciting of spectator sports that’s for damned sure. Finally, the card playing stopped. There had been a moment of drama when one of the players got knocked out. He went a bit dinky dau and started shouting and waving his arms around. Security stepped in and got him away from the table and quietened him down. I was impressed. They had moved him away with the minimum of fuss. They were almost ghost-like. They appeared, they moved, they were gone again.

Cool.

The players and audience departed. The cleaners moved in. Security were laid back and lax now. They said their goodbyes and left. I set up at the Pit Boss’s table again. I moved amongst the cleaners. We chatted. After a couple of hours they had finished and left. Moved onto the next job. Working through the night. Unnoticed. Earning an honest dollar. My kind of people.

I sat. New book. New dvd for later. I went and made a cup of tea. Sat. Chilled. Watched the room with the cards and the chips. Wondered what the night held. Nothing on the bar. No way was I going onto the mezzanine. The curtains hung down to the floor. The chairs were stacked beyond them. Outside, the City of London streets buzzed with late evening traffic. Headlights shone. Speed cameras flashed. A cop car sped past with blue lights spinning. I walked to the other end of the building and looked out over the Thames towards the South Bank. Just in sight to my left was Tower Bridge. I could see see the walls of the Tower of London. The lights out there made it all look unbelievably beautiful.

I spent some time there gazing out over the river and thinking about how I had ended up in this situation. I felt the depression starting to sweep in so I changed my train of thought. I moved. I walked around. I sat, opened my book and started to read. I glanced up from time to time. It became quieter and very still. Just like every other night I had been there. It got to midnight and I decided it was time to eat. I went to the kitchen and put the shepherds pie that Margaret had made me into the microwave oven. I filled the kettle with fresh water, switched the kettle on and waited for it to boil and then made myself a coffee. I put my meal and my coffee on the table, sat down, began to eat. For some reason I could smell toast. I could see the door to the room with the chips and cards. Behind me the kettle clicked on and started to boil. I froze with a fork full of food half way between the plate and my mouth. I put my fork down on the plate and slowly turned around. I looked at the kettle which had now started to boil.

Who the fuck had switched it on?

Then the toaster next to the kettle spat out two slices of toast.

Toast? I had not put any bread in the toaster and I sure as hell hadn’t started it. The kettle boiled and switched off as it should. I looked at both appliances. I walked over to them. I didn’t rush. I took the toast out of the toaster and binned it. The smell of toasted bread made me quite fancy a couple of slices with strawberry jam but I thought better of it. I returned to my meal. I moved my chair so that I could see out of the door towards the room with the cards and chips inside while at the same time, keep an eye on the kettle and toaster. I finished my meal and it was excellent. I sat with my cup of coffee held in both hands. Not because I was cold but because I liked the feel of the heat through the cup. The kettle clicked on again. I stared at it. I stared at the toaster but that didn’t spit out any more toast. The water in the kettle began to boil and the kettle switched off. I walked over to it. I turned both appliances off at the plug socket and pulled the plugs. I washed up my crockery and utensils, turned out the lights and left, closing the door behind me. I returned to my seat and opened my book. I had concluded that if there really was some kind of spirit in the building, it meant me no harm but I really could do without this.

It started to get lighter outside. Street lights turned off. Traffic increased. Boats moved up and down the Thames. Security arrived and I unlocked the doors and let them in. We chatted. Bob arrived and paid me. We spoke briefly about other work in the near future. Eventually I left and drove home. I walked the dog as soon as I got home. I saw Margaret. Stew and dumplings tonight. I decided to buy her a decent bottle of gin on my way to work tonight. I knew gin and tonic to be her favourite tipple. I showered, prepared my kit and went to catch some zeds.

I strolled into the venue to start my fifth night. I had stopped on my way in to buy Margaret a bottle of special edition Blue Sapphire gin. Not cheap but she had been so kind it was worth it.

They were down to the last twenty players. These were the guys that would actually win prize money. All the others walked away with nothing. So it was tense. They played for another hour. 16 players were left in the tournament. Things were cleared away. The chips and cards were escorted by security to the safe room. The cleaners arrived. Everyone else went. The cleaners cleaned. I walked around and set myself up at the Pit Boss’s table again. Finally, I was left alone. Once again I wondered what the night would bring. Would anything happen? Would I actually see anything? I walked all over the ground floor. I didn’t go up onto the mezzanine. I made sure the doors were locked. I sat down in my chair and started to read. I went and made a cup of coffee. I sat back down. I read more. I needed to take a leak so I wandered off to the mens toilets. I started to do what I was in there for. I looked at the stainless steel pipe that ran down from the cistern to the bowl. I saw my refelection. It was like looking at myself in the back of a spoon. I pulled faces at myself in the reflection. My heart stopped as a tremendous fart resonated around the toilet.

Then I smiled. No lumps.

As the echoes faded my heart stopped again. In the reflection from the pipe in front of me I saw the toilet paper in the empty cubicle behind me start to unravel. The cubicle door slammed shut. I heard the bolt locking the door. The toilet flushed. I finished doing what I was doing, zipped myself up and walked out. Jesus God. Not even midnight yet. What else tonight? I went and had my meal in the kitchen. I watched the kettle and the toaster while I filled my face. Nothing. They both stayed off until I switched the kettle on and made myself a coffee. Then I unplugged both of them from the wall socket. I took an nearly empty 2 litre bottle of 7Up from the fridge and took it with me back to the Pit Boss’s table. I had decide not to return to the toilet and needed something as a just in case.

As with every other night I had been there, it grew quieter and still as the night moved on towards daylight and the end of my shift. Around 5 o’clock the murmur of traffic started to increase in volume. it got lighter. People walked past outside. Security arrived and I let them in. Bob paid me. We all stood around chatting for a while and then I left. I gave Margaret her gift. She was pleased. She said it was unnecessary but it made me feel better as the help she had given me over not just the last few days but since my wife and children had left had seen me through some dark times. I walked the dog. I prepared for my last night and went to bed.

I showered, dressed, grabbed the stuffed peppers that Margaret had made for  me and left for work.

When I arrived the final six players were still at the table. At stake was a top prize of $750,000. All of the remaining players were going to walk away with a heap of money but they all played not just for the money but the kudos of winning the tournament. Eventually after a couple of hours, four players were left to play for the big prize tomorrow. People started to leave. Cleaners began to do what they do. By 10 the place was empty and I was on my own. I set myself up in my usual position. I placed my book and my dvd player on the table. I put my empty 7Up bottle on the floor. I had decided to avoid the mezzanine again and had included the toilets in my No Go areas. I began my last night by taking a walk around the venue. I looked out over the Thames and looked at the buildings across the river. I strolled over to the other end of the building and looked out over the road. There were only a few cars and vans driving past. No pedestrians to be seen. I walked back to my seat. The stacks of chairs were on my side of the curtains tonight. The curtains were hanging down to the floor. I sat and read. I went and had my meal in the small kitchen. I made a coffee and unplugged the kettle. I sat in the kitchen for a while and allowed my mind to drift. I sighed. A tear rolled down my cheek. I went back to my position. I used the 7Up bottle. I wondered why it was green. I watched a movie. My eyes kept flicking around but the place remained silent and still. The coffee I had been drinking worked its way through me and I used the 7Up bottle again. I stared off into the distance. I gazed at the door to the room containing all the decks of cards and chips. A panel with the switches for the lights was next to the door. I counted the switches. Ten. I turned my gaze away and then looked again. One by one the switches clicked down and the lights came on. Here we go I thought. There was no one there but I had definitely seen the switches go down and there was no mistaking the lights coming on. I sat completely upright. My head turned from side to side. Looking but seeing nothing that shouldn’t be there. Then I heard a screech to my right. I was looking left when it started and my head automatically swivelled and I saw a stack of chairs moving towards the curtains. The stack reached the curtains and went through them. The chairs disappeared behind the curtains. The noise stopped and the lights flicked off again a few seconds later. The building went quiet again. Stillness descended on the building. I remained motionless on my chair.Nothing moved except my eyes which flicked left and right. Nothing moved. After five minutes I reached for the 7Up bottle again. Nearly full. I hoped it would last me until the others arrived. I stayed in my chair. Not reading. Not watching movies. Just looking. Left and right.

It started to get light. Nothing moved. I heard vehicles driving by. Cars arrived outside and parked. The security guys were on site. I stood up, went to the door and let them in. We spoke. I told them what had happened. What I had seen. Or rather, what I hadn’t seen. It was a topic of discussion for a few minutes. Bob arrived. Gave me my payment for the night. He said there would be more work for me if I wanted it next week. Different venue. Same payment method. I said I could do it and he said he would phone me in the next couple of days with details. We thanked each other. I grabbed my stuff and left. As I walked past one of the big plate glass windows, I glanced back in and saw one of the security guys about to take a swig from a 2 litre bottle of 7Up. I knew I had forgotten something.

I went to my car, got in and drove home. Had a cup of tea with Margaret and then took the dog for a walk. Went to the bath room and looked in the mirror. Damn. My hair was definitely greyer now. I showered and undressed. Got into bed and slept.

Have a nice day. Sleep well tonight.

More Dick soon.

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Dexter Does Himself A Mischief.

Dexter is our dog and an integral part of the family.1an29xzod1zo7

He is a bonkers dog. Today is his 4th birthday although to be honest we’re not exactly sure of his birth day only that he was probably born in February 2013. There are a lot of unknowns with Dexter. We got him from Battersea Dogs Home when he was about 6 months old. He is a mix of breeds. Battersea think he has a large chunk of Staffordshire Bull Terrier in his genes along with a fairly big chunk of Labrador plus a little bit of Lurcher thrown in. He also had the bollocks from a Giraffe. Boy, he had big balls. They made him walk like John Wayne after a long day in the saddle. They’re gone now though. He also has more energy than a nuclear power plant and he takes his self imposed duties as a guard dog very seriously. He barks at everyone who comes to the door and he barks at people walking down the road. When the family are home and some are downstairs and others are upstairs, he sits half way up the staircase on guard. Before he was restricted to the kitchen at night, he would lie at the top of the stairs watching the front door or lie down between two bedrooms but positioned so he could see the top of the stairs. As he is primarily black, it was dangerous to get up in the middle of the night to pay a visit to the toilet as he was impossible to see and easily tripped over.

His favourite thing though is walkies. He loves it. I put on my walking trousers. “Yay, it’s walkies.” I put on my old coat. “Yay, it’s walkies”. I get his lead and he goes bananas. We get to the fields and I let him off his lead and he goes nuts. He tears about all over the place.ghasjwgf1g5s

“Yay, rabbits. Chase rabbits.”

“Yay, pheasants. Chase pheasants.”

“Yay, a leaf. Chase leaf.”

“Yay, fox poo. Roll in fox poo.”

He runs and runs and runs.13yyrvjmsvmi9-4

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Then he’ll spend some time sniffing about. He never goes too far away. Having been abandoned as a puppy, he has abandonment issues still and likes to keep me in sight.1an29xzod1zo7-1

Eventually, we get home again and he collapses on his bed and sleeps for hours.ghasjwgf1g5s-1

Unfortunately, before Christmas, he tore the cruciate ligament in his left rear leg. It made him limp but it didn’t slow him down. Not knowing what was wrong and because he would only limp about for a few hours, we continued taking him out where he would tear arse about as usual. Eventually, we took him to the vet and the damage was diagnosed. Complete rest for a month. It drove him nuts. He’s been back for x rays. He fought against the anaesthetic and looked like he’d downed 10 pints of Stella with all the staggering around he did before finally succumbing to the drugs.

10 pints of Stella later

10 pints of Stella later

The x rays confirmed the diagnosis. Of course once we got him home again, he milked all the sympathy possible.13yyrvjmsvmi9

The vets had warned that his thermal controls would be affected for a good few hours so we had to ensure he didn’t get cold.13yyrvjmsvmi9-2

So on the 9th March, Dexter goes back to the vets for an operation that will hopefully solve the problem. Another two months of complete rest and recuperation follow the op’ and it will do two things. First and foremost it will drive him mad. Secondly, he’ll become a fat bastard dog. The latter won’t be a problem as once he is ok to go walkies again, he’ll  burn it off in no time. In the meantime, Dexter occupies himself by chasing his tail. Mad bugger. I’ll let you know how he gets on.

Have a brilliant day.

More Dick soon.auto

House Guests

We have a mate staying as a house guest for Christmas. We have known Elmer for a good many years and while we always enjoy his company, he is a bit of a nutcase. He’s a huntin’, shootin’ type of guy which is something we totally disagree with but he’s a decent enough chap in many other ways. He sometimes gets a bee in his bonnet about something or other and he will rabbit on about it for absolutely ages.

Wabbit? Did someone say 'Wabbit'? Where's my twusty wifle?

Wabbit? Did someone say ‘Wabbit’? Where’s my twusty wifle?

See what I mean? Now all he wants to do is use my blog as a platform to spout on about something or other. I’ve decided not to let him and he now has the hump about it. Never mind, maybe another day. Now I’ve got to go and play Cluedo so I’ll pause it here and come back again shortly………

Be vewee, vewwee quiet. Dick had too much to dwink last night, so I'm going to take adwantage and wight a post on his bwog.

Be vewee, vewwee quiet. Dick had too much to dwink last night, so I’m going to take adwantage and wight a post on his bwog.

I have gwown incweasingwy concewned with all the tewwible things going on.

In Bwitain, we have had a wefewendum wegarding the Euwopean Union and we decided to weave. Or wather, the Engwish and the Welsh did. The Scots voted almost to a man to wemain and are using this is as an excuse to demand another wefewendum on Scottish independence. The Judiciawy were asked to decide on whether this decision to leave should go befowe Parwiament and because they said that it should, they were attacked by the pwess and others for making a deciswion on a law made and passed by powiticians. The countwy wemains divided and no one is weally sure what is going on, weast of all me.

In the United States, the ‘peepul’ voted a man who conswiders it as alwight to gwab a woman by the bottom as their new Pwesident. On his staff is a White Supwemacist. He intends making a man who considers Islam “a cancer” head of the CIA. A man with a Charwie Chapwin moustache thought the same thing about Jews in the 1930s and 40s. Pwesident elect Donald Duck Twump intends having a former US Marine General as Defense Secwetawee. This chap thinks “war is fun” and shooting people is “a hoot”. He turned up to a meeting with a number of Elders and Militia leaders in Fallujah and said, “I come in peace….. I have no artillery….. Fuck with me and I will kill you all.” Sounds wike a fun guy.

The whole World is appawently going to the dogs but then something else happened that convinced me otherwise.

 

 

I watched a Bwitish bwoke with ginger hair standing on a tower 74 metres above a wiver with a chocowate Hob Nob in his hand. He was attached to the tower with a gloweefied ewastic band. He waunched himself into the air and a second or so later, dunked his chocowate Hob Nob into a cup of tea and got himself into the Guinness Book of Wecords.

highest-bungee-dunk-gwr-attempt_tcm25-450770

It made me larf at the cwazyness of it and it also made me thwink of all the other cwazy stuff people do. The Wedbull Flugtag and the Wedbull Soapbox waces are just a couple of examples.

Competitors - Action

soapbox

Then there is the Cheese chase down a steep hill in Gloucestershire.

cheeserolling4

cheeserolling3

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cheese-rolling

Limbs are bwoken, heads are cwacked, hospitals are filled with casualties and yet hundweds of people turn up year after year to take part. The World is full of nutters intent on having a gwaet time.

It was then that I wealised that all was ok with the World and could weassure evewee one that it was so.

Well, until Pwesident Twump gets his hands on the nuclear codes that is.

 

Errrr. What’s going on here Elmer?

Oooops. Busted! Sowwy Dick. I couldn’t wesist it.

It’s ok Elmer. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been Daffy Duck who came to stay for Christmas.

Ta Dah

Ta Dah

Oh good grief. Daffy?

Yeth Dick?

Yeth Dick?

Do one mate.

Charming

Charming

Bloody hell. At this rate, Porkie Pig will make an appearance.

P..p..p..p..p..p..Pardon me. D..d..d..d..d Did someone c..c..c..c..c.. Did some one call?

P..p..p..p..p..p..Pardon me. D..d..d..d..d Did someone c..c..c..c..c.. Did some one call?

 

Dear Lord. Give me strength

Dear Lord. Give me strength

 

I hope you all had a bloody great Christmas and I wish you a fantastic, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Finally, a word of advise for all the perverts out there who bought handcuffs as Christmas gifts for their wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends and in certain parts of the United States, cousins:

bastard

 

More Dick soon.

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