Something To Pass The Time

People are strange sometimes. I was walking into town along Malthouse Road. On the other side of the road a man was walking in the same direction as me. He turned out of Brewer Road and all the way along until we got to East Park we were going at the same pace. But when I turned into East Park to then go over the railway, as I was on the side of Malthouse Road that was closer to the bridge, I was ahead of him. Cue him speeding up to almost a jog to get in front of me and then taking the stairs two at a time to keep ahead as if it was a race.

The level of service in Maccy D’s really does seem to depend on the staff in there. They pretty much force you to use the self-service kiosks. I have gotten used to that by now. But then when the order comes to be done, depending on who is working, they act as if they can’t read. I always eat in. A chance to watch the world go by, and possibly see little vignettes to write about. Therefore on the machine I select the eat in option, and I always go and collect it from the counter. When the usual Saturday crew is on, it comes on a tray, they give you some serviettes, and everyone is happy after I clear my own tray and rubbish away once I’ve finished eating. It was a replacement crew this week. When I did get my collection, it was in a takeaway paper bag, slung in my general direct and no serviettes. I checked the sticker on the bag which had the details on it, and at the top in large bold print were the words EAT IN. it’s not fucking rocket science now is it?

Speaking of which, some of the Deliveroo / Just Eat / Uber Eats delivery bods aren’t on this planet either. You do see the occasional one with the proper large bags with the different sections in for hot and cold items to keep them separate. Then you see the muppet collection two large orders this morning. He appeared to have a large, padded bag for life. Which wasn’t big enough for the larger of the two orders he was collecting, let alone both of them. And he was cramming hot food and cold drinks in next to each other and on top of each other, with bits sticking out the top of his bag. Which is exactly the reason why no one in their right mind should ever order via these shitty delivery companies. The drivers don’t give a fuck, and the food will be cold when it arrives. And no one wants to have to microwave low quality fast food. It is only just about okay when ‘fresh’ off the conveyor belt.

I Know Not What I Am

I know what I am, but know not what I may become. A paraphrase from Hamlet. But perhaps that is an exaggeration. I may claim I know what I am, but it would only be through a filter of respectability I like to see myself through. But it is a lie. Maybe that is what I am. A liar. A purveyor of untruths. A man who wishes to sell an image that is more palatable to the public. A photoshopped version of myself with the blemishes and inaccuracies tidied away.

But who believes the image anymore? Too many jaded and cynical people exist. Worn down by the constant barrage of misinformation. Nothing is real whilst everything is hyperreal at the same time. The false and the true are not the absolutes they once were. Every falseness contains at least a grain of truth. Every truth has some degree of falseness about it. There are no boundaries. Everything is blurred.

And if my image is blurred to everyone else then that will feed through to what I see of myself. Of what I know of myself. And so do I really know what I am anymore?

I say I know not of what I may be. Of whom I can become. But in this world of fake plastic trees and digital replication I can become anything I design my image to be. It doesn’t matter if I don’t believe it. once it is designed and out there, for all intents and purposes, that is what I will be. As long as I can live with what I have designed then it is all good.

Yet it seems an impossible task. How will I know what I will be happy with? If I don’t truly know what I am doing today, how can I possibly design a future self?

Can I try something new whenever I get bored, or the new persona is uncomfortable, or do I have to suffer the misfortune that my choices now make for my future self? Does it even matter what I think of myself nowadays? Is it only how others perceive me that counts in this everchanging topsy turvy world of instant gratification and Instagram?

Every choice is so exhausting. Every decision is so scrutinised. Every mistake is blown out of all proportion. Every triumph is belittled by those who don’t understand, or try, or are petty jealous joy suckers. So why should I even try to show my best self? Why bother to show myself at all? Wouldn’t it be best to not show anything at all? To stay confined. Confined within my own four walls. To delete the digital world I have created around me. To cut every single strand of every single connection until I float there. Free of all those ties. Truly alone with myself. Perhaps then I could see just what I am now. I would know what sits within me away from the interference and prejudice of others poisoning the well of my psyche.

And once I had my true self-knowledge then I would be able to see what I really want to be in the future. Although having written this all down now I think I know what that would be.

Alone.

An island.

An uninhabited shell.

It’s Been A Long Time

It has been a long time since I’d just scribbled some notes down of random observations. It used to be a regular thing when on my way to my Saturday morning writing group. It isn’t a Saturday, but a Wednesday, but I was on my way to a writing group.

On the way I was walking over the metal footbridge near Crawley railway station. I’m nearing the town side of the bridge, and I can see there is an older man starting to come up the stairs. On the metal frame of the bridge is a squirrel, which seeing the man coming up the steps has turned and scampered up the frame in my direction. Only to see me walking towards it and turn around and head back down. But the other man is still coming up so there is a split second of panic from the squirrel as there are humans approaching it from both directions. It decides to take the ‘fuck it’ option and jumps off the side of the bridge down onto the pile of rubbish and debris in the car park below. It would rather jump to a possible injury or death rather than pass a human. I saw it land without an issue and then rush across the open ground and up the nearest tree.

Despite having headphones in, I hadn’t got the music playing and so as I sat on the stools looking out the window of Maccy D’s I heard someone make a comment. “I’ve never seen so many bus stops all together, it’s mad innit?” The window looks out onto the bus station. I think it must be a child saying this, but I turn my head slightly and no, it’s a woman in her twenties talking to a similarly aged friend. How did they manage to get to that age and have never seen a working bus station before? Is it their first ever visit to a reasonably sized town? It beggars’ belief how sheltered some people must be in life.

Going into HMV is a regular occurrence for me, and it is up on the first floor. Getting up there on the escalator is fine, but the last two visits have seen issues with the down escalator, which isn’t currently working. It is a strange sensation having to walk down a non-moving escalator. It just feels awkward. The steps are deeper than the ones on a staircase usually are. There is also that little nagging voice in the back of my head saying that the escalator may start up again whilst I’m walking down it. and the exaggerated steps aren’t good for my knees. It seems a longer trek down than if the escalators had been working. (When I go past two days later neither escalator is working and it is causing some people problems, I saw two twenty something year old blokes trip and stumble up the first few steps as they tried to walk up the non-moving escalator.)

On Thursday it was another writing group, this one being the Horsham one. I do tend to hate the drive from the Hove office to Horsham for this. Mainly because the most direct route involves getting off the A27 at the long looping exit to the Shoreham roundabout and then up the A283 to cut the corner to the A24 at Washington. It’s a wide enough road, but it is twisty and busy. Most of it is national speed limit, but I don’t feel comfortable trying to do sixty around some of the twists and usually tootle along doing just over fifty. A bit slower also helps with the pothole avoidance. But others never seem satisfied with doing fifty, and a queue can build up behind me and there always seems to be a work van (of any colour, not just white) inches from my rear bumper. But I won’t be pressured into going faster, but something so close behind me does stress me out even more than driving usually does. And the last few journeys have been done at night, which have meant that there is the additional hazard of approaching cars with new LED headlights searing the inside of my corneas out. I hadn’t made the trip for a couple of months. I missed the March meeting, and in February I was on automatic pilot, and I was passing Hickstead on the A23 on my usual route to home when I remembered I was supposed to be at writing and then cut across at the A272 through Cowfold (how does one fold a cow again?) But last night’s trip was better than usual. It was daylight (so no bright headlights, but I still hate the route in the light), and there was someone at least half a dozen vehicles in front of me who was keeping to fifty and under all the way along, so it was a comfortable journey, and as I wasn’t at the front of the queue, none of the three different vans that were behind me on that stretch felt the need to drive along in my boot.

Peace Is An Illusion

I think Edwin Starr put it most succinctly.

“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

Which in the purest sense is correct. But humans are stupid. They don’t live anything close to a purest sense of anything. They always see there is something to fight for. Power, money, the land grabs, wanting to plunder the resources lying beneath the surface.

It is big business, both from having access to mineral resources, but also the actual business of war. Megalomaniac companies cashing in on selling guns and equipment, bombs, and bullets. Culture Club very poppily said

“War, war is stupid, and people are stupid.”

Which they are because they lap up all this bullshit.

If money isn’t the root of all evil, then it is certainly its main food source. Thousands of years ago someone decided that the shiny metal they found in the ground was valuable, and ever since, every little thing that has been found in, on, or under the ground has been given an arbitrary value. And so, humans now fight over what has been valued by other humans.

Everyone will tell you that gold is more valuable than flour, or milk. But that’s just stupid greed. You can’t feed yourself with gold, it isn’t edible. It can be argued that the gold buys the flour and milk. But that is only because rich greedy knobheads tell you that is the case. And so, they fight for it.

Yet even with the ridiculous amount of war for power and money it is not the biggest cause of war. No, that dubious title goes to religion. Which is even more ridiculous than fighting for money and power. It equates to two bald men fighting over a comb. The rhetoric of “my imaginary cloud friend is better than yours, and to prove it, despite our imaginary cloud friend being all about peace and love, we’re going to kill and main you, and when it’s done, that will show we are right.” is just lunacy.

And what is even worse is most of the religious wars are because they have a different name for the same imaginary cloud friend, or they’ve interpreted the same piece of ancient fiction writing is a different way and are therefore literally fighting over semantics. As with the money and power there is cabal of those at the top of religions. And what is worse than with the money and power is the atrocious sexism involved in so many major religions.

Religions bang on about compassion, but actively discriminate against women (who, on the whole are a hell of a lot more compassionate than men). But if the women had been in charge, then there is a strong likelihood that most of the wars would never have taken place.

On the whole I think we would be better off if REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’ was a suggestion followed by billions all over the planet.

End Of The Tether

The trend is expanding, and it is annoying as hell.

And what trend is this I hear you ask? (Well, I don’t, no one gives a shit really.)

Drinks. Soft drinks to be precise. Manufacturers now tethering their plastic lids to their plastic bottles. It started, as most terrible, terrible things do, with Coca-Cola putting them on their brands. So, you can’t take the lid of the bottle and hold it away from the bottle to use it. it stays attached to the bottle making it stupidly awkward to drink directly from the bottle, or to pour from the bottle.

Now, I do understand why they think they need to do this. There are so many pieces of artwork around the country made from discarded plastic bottle tops. Dropped on the ground by thoughtless morons. But in doing this they are now punishing the millions, if not billions of people who aren’t complete fucking morons and are perfectly capable of putting the lid back on the bottle when finished with it and putting the whole thing in the recycling.

As ever it is all about making life harder for the customer as companies don’t give a fuck about the consumer or customer. All they are interested in are being box ticking cunts.

If they really gave a fuck about the environment, they so claim to care about then they would go back to the seventies and put everything in glass bottles with metal lids and have a deposit on them. It worked amazingly well back then.

Yes, there would still be a whole host of utter morons who would just discard the bottles as they do with plastic. But with the prospect of getting money back for them, there would be plenty of others who would quite happily go around picking them up to cash in on them.

So, just fucking stop it with your ridiculous box ticking annoying as hell shit tethers and let those of us who aren’t complete cockwombles carry on drinking and pouring unencumbered by your shit.

Bits And Bobs And Odds And Sods

No real coherence to this, just lots of bits and pieces to have gone through my mind or to have attracted my attention in the last few weeks. Random streams of things that have happened. Which apparently is perfectly acceptable for book chapters if the book I’ve just finished reading is anything to go by.

I went into the canteen to get breakfast at work one morning only to be accosted by a chugger. Who authorises this kind of bollocks? What the fuck is a charity mugger doing in the building harassing staff going for breakfast.

And speaking of the canteen they are now locking it at 4.30, so there is no chance of nipping in for a quick destressing session of smacking the pool balls around the table as hard as possible.

Then I got shouted at for going in the wrong set of double doors. Screeched at that it is dangerous to go in the exit doors. Not half as dangerous as nearly snapping my wrist trying to go in the in doors only to find a different one of the double doors is locked each day.

We took the car in for a service on Manor Royal and therefore decided to go to Charlie’s deli for breakfast. Before leaving I went to use the facilities. Only to find the toilets were behind a door marked staff only. Then there were big signs in the cubicle ‘turn lights off when leaving.’ Which is fine but the lights weren’t on. No switch inside the cubicle, and not on the wall next to the cubicle on the outside. I did find it; it was on the opposite wall behind where the door opened. Came to wash my hands only for the pump and nozzle not to work on the soap, and had to unscrew it. It was like an alternative version of the Krypton Factor – The Shitpton Factor perhaps.

It was the second time we’d been to drop the car off as well. We had gone the previous Friday, only Helen was a week early. No, really.

From there we took the bus to the stadium to pick up away tickets for the last game of the season and then another bus to Horsham. May have been a bit of a magical mystery tour, but at only £2 each per ticket it’s a lot better value than getting the train. Plus, we see things we don’t normally notice when driving.

The thing is about the bus is it keeps saying to tap on and tap off. Now that may be fine for someone like Helen who has done tap dancing classes, but it’s a bit more difficult for someone like me who hasn’t.

We were in the Comodor in Horsham. A woman comes in and sits down and then tells her other half to get menus from the table behind him. He points to the menu on the table next to them that was in reach. But she moans there is only the one there and loads on the table behind them. He gets up to go and get one from the table behind him only for her to take the one off the table next to them anyway.

Helen went out straight for dinner after work on Thursday. I was going to do some writing, get myself something to eat and pick her up to go home. Writing went out the window as the never-ending shite of work kicked in. looked up and it was getting dark outside and nearly 9pm.

Four-day weekends are just not enough. Where is that lottery win?

Got an e-mail from the new DC pension providers so I logged in. I don’t know whose decision it was to go with Legal & General, but they need a slap. L&G and shite. In two years, with their fees, they’ve managed to shrink the investment pot by nearly a grand, an over 3% loss. I could have put it in an ISA and got 4% and would be 7% ahead of so-called investment experts.

They call themselves investment naturals. Yeah, natural fucking idiots.

We’re running out of wall space for all the pictures we have. Not sure how it came to this, but have three large pictures to go up and no obvious places to put them. Going to end up with them at knee level at this rate.

I’m also running out of space for books and all the copies of my writing. I sold a batch of records, and the space went almost straight away to books hidden in boxes under the coffee table, and there is still another box to go.

Ah, yes, selling records. I haven’t sold anything on eBay for a couple of years. So got a shock when I went to this time. I had to give loads of additional information. They don’t allow me to receive payments by PayPal anymore, only direct deposit. Had to provide bank details, inside leg measurements, and more. I had a winning bid, and the item was collection only. They paid. eBay held onto the money. On collection I had to download the app and put a code in from the buyer. Still said payment would be two weeks. I was fuming. They then sent me an e-mail to say they needed to make micro deposits to my account and for me to validate on eBay how much the payments were for. And that they would send the payments in 3-5 working days. Two days later they did pay me despite what all the additional messages and e-mails had said, and then I looked at the fees which were more than 13% (over £50). Once they paid, I closed my eBay account and I’m never using the robbing bastards again. Three days after this and the microdeposits came through. That’s five pence they won’t be getting back.

I’m used to shower gels, shampoos, etc. having fruit-based mixtures, or botanical, or flowers, or combinations. So, things like orange and bergamot, tea tree, peach and honeysuckle. But not so much herbs. The shower gel in the Holiday Inn at Swindon was parsley stem. And it really did smell of it. About thirty seconds into the shower, I smelt like someone had put too much garnish on their rice. I was walking around all day getting whiffs of parsley for fucks sake.

Then at breakfast the next day, on the table next to us was a big soft toy shark sat in a chair, and a smaller grey T-rex plush on the table. We assumed it was someone with children. No, a middle-aged woman wearing a mask came back with various plates of food and arranged them on the table with the soft toys and proceeded to take photos of them. Now I’ve heard of kids having dolls tea parties, but it is the first time I’ve ever heard of someone having a shark and dinosaur breakfast party. When the woman sat down to start eating, she was humming, or maybe singing, to herself, a low rumble that sounded suspiciously like she was attempted whale song to the shark. The staff were wide eyed and had disbelieving looks as she was feeding Danish pastries to the soft toys, and the look on their faces was making Helen laugh so much she couldn’t finish her breakfast for laughing. I was thankful I had my back to it all.

Christmas Observations

Sniffles looked most unimpressed on Christmas Day when both of his usual spots in the living room – in the corner of the sofa, and on the armchair – were filled with people. He sat malevolently glaring at me sat in the armchair for at least five minutes before stalking off to plan mass murder.

After lots of me mentioning that having a trebuchet to expel unwanted pests (pets, family, people at work etc.) would be a great idea; I now have one. As a Christmas present. Granted, it is only model size and flimsy balsa wood, but I now have plans for how to build one, and it is just a case of scaling up to industrial size usage. Plus I got a bright orange t-shirt adorned with the slogan ‘Don’t make me get the trebuchet’.

Came downstairs Boxing Day morning to find people watching Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, and my first thought was how much more interesting it would be if it was Jason Bourne’s Nutcracker. (I love Tchaikovsky’s music, it’s just the ballet bit that doesn’t interest me.)

It’s been agreed that Sniffles will be palmed off on Helen’s mum when we go away. And she is already on about getting him a harness to take him for a walk whilst he is with her. I dread to think how little of her arms would be left after an attempt to get a harness on him. Let alone trying to take him for a walk.

Sniffles has been out a lot more over the past few days. I’m sure that the correlation versus the words per minute being spoken in the house by Helen’s mum is only coincidental. As is the increase in cauliflower ears in the house.

After her saying that she likes listening to old things it did make me wonder if that is the reason she speaks so much. Even when eating. She said that the reason she eats so slowly is that she was told to chew each mouthful twenty times. But that isn’t the reason at all, it’s the twenty minutes of chatting between each mouthful that is the problem. It shouldn’t take anyone two hours to eat a plate of food. One such snippet was that she had suggested to some of the other single pensioners in her estate that they take turns in cooking meals and having them together, so they aren’t cooking for themselves, but no one else was interested in doing so, as they were too lazy. Again, I don’t think it is laziness that is the issue here, but who wants that many meals with cauliflower (ears)?

It was back to work this morning, it was only working from home, but it is nice to be back to the relative peace and quiet of a working day. I usually have music on in the background, but it is nice to sit in silence and throw v-signs at the cat as he paws at the window to be let back in now the talking woman has gone home. It is difficult to appreciate just how many random snacks and goodies there are around the house, but there are little bowls of such delights as chocolates, peanuts, pigs in blankets flavoured crisps, chocolate and cinnamon tortillas, etc, etc. I’ve only left the house to go to football on Boxing Day (don’t even ask about that one), and we are due to be going for a walk tomorrow, always assuming I can get out of the door.

A Eulogy To A T-Shirt

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of the recently passed away Adidas 2012 London Olympics stripy polo neck t-shirt.

Since its birth in 2012 and adoption into my wardrobe family in September of that year, it has been an almost constant life companion. It has accompanied me to the Caribbean, to both Cuba and St Lucia, and has been on many a European adventure; France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Cyprus.

It has been with me on messy nights out, often trying to soak up as much booze as I did. It’s been with me to the top of cathedrals, and into castle dungeons, serenely wandering through stately homes, and formal gardens. On work days, rest days, and play days. It has seen many a thing that it shouldn’t have, but has never said a mumbling word. And I’m sure anyone who knows me will have seen this on me.

But recently the years have been catching up. Some of the labels have faded away so they are now blank. The main crest and arm numbers have stayed intact and look nearly as good as they did at birth. But elsewhere the sure signs of age and wear and tear have caught up with the poor fellow. Its remarkable shape has started to let go, and it is not just my downsizing that has caused it to become baggier these last six months.  It is losing its cohesion. The coloured lines are now automatic creases, and as they become concertina like, little holes have started to appear as wisps of threads start to fall away.

None of this should be a surprise, it has been on the heaviest of heavy rotation for ten years now. Since becoming mine in the time between watching Richard Whitehead winning the T42 200 meters title in the morning in the Olympic stadium, and Ellie Simmons winning the S6 400 meters freestyle gold in the Aquatics centre in the evening, it has been worn at least once a fortnight ever since. Over 250 days and nights, and the associated washing machine cycles.

Yet, despite this, it is still a sad day where I must admit that the great servant of mine is no longer for this world. And so, with a heavy heart the time has come for me to let go. After deliberation, it is in no state for a second life with someone else via the charity shop route. Nor does unceremoniously dumping it in the bin for it to lie in land fill feel right for it. Therefore, next weekend, ten years on from its adoption, the beloved t-shirt will pass on to the other side in a private cremation service in front of a few friends, with its ashes to be scattered at a future date in an appropriate place. (Yes, in the Olympic stadium all over West Ham fans may be tempting and somewhat appropriate, but it will need a better untainted resting spot).

Thank you for covering (for) me for all these years, you will be sorely missed.

Random Rubbish From An Overheated Mind

Helen bought some sun cream / lotion thing the other day. She read out that it had five-star protection on it. It sounded quite specific to me. Why would sun cream be able to protect you from 5 Star? Does it protect you from other random eighties bands as well, r is it just 5 Star? Is it because it protects whether it’s “Rain or Shine”? Or does it go on like Silk and protect like Steel? Stay tuned for more stupid questions.

Such as, what is the best time of day to go to the dentist? 2:30 of course. (Tooth hurty for all those who can’t quite grasp the extremely poor level of humour happening here.)

This morning, Helen’s sister was complaining about here mobile coverage, saying she couldn’t get any signal. I suggested helpfully that perhaps she should try changing to Colgate. It is lost on some people.

You have probably all heard the vast array of “why did the chicken cross the road” jokes. Well, around here there is the one about why did the cat cross the road? In Sniffles case it was so he could flop down in the middle of the road and start washing himself whilst holding any traffic up. It won’t be like the hedgehog visiting his flat mate, it will be a flat cat one of these days. It is more of a surprise that he isn’t flat already.

Although, saying that, he is laid flat out on the dry yellow grass in the shade in the back garden. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that the shade is under the tree with the bird feeders in it. He’s not really trying to catch any bird with a lower IQ than Sniffles who happens to be stupid enough to try and peck at some of the fallen food.

Just in case I’ve never mentioned it before; I hate this weather. The only time it is acceptable to have a temperature in the thirties or forties is when it is being measured in Fahrenheit.

And I’ve got a train journey to deepest darkest Somerset to do in the morning. I had deliberately booked an earlier that necessary train to get there. Mainly because I’m an unsociable bastard and wanted to make sure that I was on a train that none of my work colleagues were going to be on so I could sit in stony silence enjoying my own company before having to spend the next twenty-four hours with hordes of them in an enclosed environment. My misanthropic behaviour may well pay off in unexpected ways. The journey will be early in the morning before temperatures and tempers have increased. Plus, I should get there before all the rails buckle due to the heat.

Yes, it is churlish to moan about warm weather. But as I’ve said thousands of times before; I’m not made for anything above about twenty degrees centigrade. I should have been born as an Eskimo.

It is boiling out. Just in case I haven’t mentioned the heat before, or how much I hate it. So, with Helen off in Greenwich with her sister and mother with tickets to a Canaletto exhibition, followed by a meal on the banks of the River Thames, it means that I’m left to my own devices to sort food out. Now in this heat, some people will be having an ice cream bath; possibly with chocolate sprinkles on (not the sprinkles in Eddie Murphy’s Delirious though). Or a salad, or a platter of cold meats and cheeses. But no one ever accused me of being sane. Not even slightly so. So, off I go, out in the sun, up the close and past the shops to the Downsman, where I order curry. Hot curry. To heat me up rom the inside.

I’m working on the assumption that people who live in hot countries all the time know what they are doing and the fat that all the hottest, spiciest, chilli laden dishes around the world come from countries firmly ensconced in the Tropics. And as I don’t want to beat them, I will join them. I may still be hot, but at least the food will be tasty, and I won’t have to have made it myself.

As I’ve been sat on the sofa in the heat of the afternoon, I have heard the faint tinkling of the chimes from an ice cream van. It can’t be that far away. And I put my trainers on so that I’m ready when it arrives. So, I can jump up, get out the door and hustle to the van and get my Mr Whippy fix. And I hear that tinkling, close, but not on the Close, from all around. One, two, three, four, five, six times, messing with my head with no reason or rhyme.

But it doesn’t appear. Two hours come and go, but the ice cream van doesn’t. Again. It never seems to come to the Close anymore. It used to be here every day, rain or shine, hail, gale, or snow. At night in the dark, or in the bright of the afternoon sun. But no longer it would seem.

On another purely coincidental note. The drug dealers moved out from the Close at a remarkably similar time to the cessation of the ice cream van services.

Little Things Entertain Little Minds

I’ve been driving down to Hove for work for fifteen months now, three or four days a week. The majority of that journey is on the A23. To keep myself entertained on the journey down I keep a lookout for the mileage signs by the side of the road. Mentally checking that I see them all each day. At first there were the ones I noticed at 20 miles, 15 miles, 11 miles, 8 miles, and 5 miles, and there was only one destination on them all – Brighton, as if that would be the only place anyone would be going once south of Crawley/Gatwick. And being numbers obsessed, the first four of them pleased my strange little brain, as the distance between them lowered by one mile each time (5, 4, 3). The only way I would have been happier would have been if there was a 6 miles one, so it would be 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reduction.

As it turned out there was another little mileage sign on the southbound journey, but it took me nine months before I noticed it at 13 miles. Which upset my little sequence.

So, each morning there are six mileage signs to look out for. And how often do you think I see all six of them on the same journey? Hardly ever. In the last six months since I’ve found out there are half a dozen signs, I’ve only mentally clocked all of them about half a dozen times. And that is when I’m trying to spot them. It’s not as if I’m speeding past them, I’m that happy idiot trundling along at sixty on the inside lane. I’m not sure how I’m missing them.

I’ve also been convinced that there are no mileage signs going north until after the Handcross turn off, then there are two lots a mile apart, each with five destinations on them – M23, Crawley, Gatwick, Redhill, and London. That was until last week when I thought I saw another. I missed it Monday, but I can confirm there is another after all.

I wondered how I had managed to miss it for fifteen months. But the position of it doesn’t help. After the A281 turn off, the road sweeps down and curves right as it passes the Tate’s garage. A stretch where everyone else seems to be doing over a hundred, and it’s nigh on impossible to get out if you’ve stopped to get fuel. You then go under a bridge and the road starts to curve back to the left. And there it is, almost part of the trees/bushes surrounding it. A third sign. Crawley (16), Gatwick (21) and London (46) on it.

It’s probably not ideal finding this. It’s only going to encourage me to search every tree on the rest of the journey to see if there are anymore hiding in the foliage now. When to be fair, nothing should really be distracting me when I’m driving. I should just be doing the standard rotation of “front, rear-view, front, right wing, front, speedo, front, left wing, front”. And not “tree, bush, tree, bush, front”.

Moving on, Monday night saw unexpected item in the freezer area. Helen thought there was a bag of sausages in the draw of the freezer, only for them to be a pack of frozen mice for Heather’s snake. This did take me back to my Manchester days, when The Chemist asked Hopalong what was in the silver foil on the top shelf of the freezer. A question that Hopalong tried to avoid answering before admitting they were mice for his girlfriend’s snake.

There was also a lot of talk about hunting for moose (Helen’s son had been up to the Canadian border to spot them – not take an AK-47 to them). How it would be cold, and was likely to be difficult. I managed to restrain myself from chipping in and telling them how easy it would be to find them, they’d be next to the yoghurts in the supermarket. (Yes, I do know they are spelt differently, homophones work better when spoken.)

Back in work on Tuesday and I continued my ongoing comparison of one of the managers to Paddington Bear, by pointing out it was surprising they had had tea with the Queen. It will be a matter of time before the NLP kicks in and someone calls the manager Paddington to their face. It won’t be me, but it will be my fault.

Additionally, another of the managers turned up wearing what appeared to have once been a pair of curtains. Probably got up and thought, ooh, these curtains look nice, I’ll quickly knock out making a dress of them. I had to resist the temptation to tell them to “pull themselves together” all day.

My really happy dance though came when I went to the toilets and finally, after more than six weeks without any, the cleaner had put some paper towels in the dispenser, and so I could dry my hands properly and quickly. It’s amazing what makes me happy. It means that I don’t have to use the Cannon knock off version of the Dyson hand drier. The useless one that you have to stick your hands into, that; first, takes and age, secondly can’t be speeded up by rubbing you hands together as there isn’t room, and finally, is incapable of drying all of your hands, as (failing to get into Stevie Wonder’s band) it can’t do fingertips.

And to finish up this waffle there was the indentation left by the cat that amused me no end when I got home last night. When I came in, he was sat, as he often is, on the pouffe in the living room. When I went to sit down on the sofa he had moved, but he had left an indentation in the blanket on top of the pouffe in the perfect shape of a cock and balls.

Little things and little minds indeed.