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.

March For March

Not my own tag line. This was the fundraising call from Prostate Cancer UK. To do 11,000 steps every day in March to raise money for them. It is a cause dear to my heart, as those who know me well will know, and the company I work for is in the third year of a charity partnership with them.

One of the guys in the larger team I work for arranged for a March for March challenge in the team. Twelve of the team were going to try and do 11,000 steps every day, and as a combined team we would try to get enough steps to walk a virtual tour of all of our power stations around the UK, just shy of 2,000 miles.

And I signed up. My last fundraising effort was doing the Thames Path Challenge for Marie Curie back in 2012 – which also involved walking. A lot.

I usually average about 7-8,000 steps per day, but that is usually made of up five not very active days dragged up by a couple of quite active days. So, there was a bit of work to drag the not very active days up to a level where I was doing 11,000 every day, and still more on the more active days.

As I started out, I found there were a lot of little incremental gains that would help. Very much in the Dave Brailsford mantra. A trick I missed on the first day of the month, but picked up after that, was where to park the car when arriving at work. I tended to park in the parking space as close to the entrance of my building as possible. Twenty steps tops to the door. But, if I parked in the spaces out the front of the main building, and towards the end of them, then it was 4-500 each way, nearly a thousand steps a day extra straight away.

And there were lots of those little wins in the building at work as well. I had a tendency to dump my coat on the floor in the corner near my desk. Change that to putting it in the coat cupboard at the other end of the floor. Don’t do everything on one trip from my desk. Putting rubbish in bins, getting drinks from the canteen, going to the toilet. Do them all separately. And when doing any of them, make it a lap of the floor. Get up from the desk more than three times a day. When the fatbit on the wrist buzzes to say I haven’t moved this hour, get up and do so.

Lunch breaks. I’ve never been one for leaving my desk at lunchtime. I had been doing a single shopping trip on a Monday lunchtime to get supplies for the week and then not leaving the building on any other day. Yet, in March I’ve been out for half an hour every day. I’ve been up and down every side street and footpath around the locality of the building. After all, I like looking around when I go anywhere else, so why not where I’m working. There are plenty of little hidden gems near the office.

Evenings. Go for a walk, even if it is only around the block. I was aggrieved on day one when my little fatbit didn’t have a wrist party for me reaching 10,000 steps for the day. Only to remember that I’d reset it to have the wrist party at 11,000 steps instead.

And the 11,000 steps a day was my aim for the month. When I started. Until I saw the figures for the first six days of the challenge. I’d done over 100k in those first six days, which made me think, that’s just under a fifth of the month, so if I kept that pace up, I’d hit 500k for the month. And with that my daily target changed from 11,000 to 16,130.

Plus, I’m competitive. I saw that that many steps was putting me near the top of the leader board. Why not try to eke some more out and top the leader board?

And so, I found myself doing other little wins. Not going the most direct route anywhere. Not using public transport or driving when it was possible to walk. Use public transport instead of taxis, so it isn’t door to door. Whilst waiting for anything, walk little laps. Just keep moving whenever possible.

I was helped a lot by the fact we went to Budapest for five nights. Exploring anywhere new means we walk lots. There were other days out as well, which helped. Helen was enormously supportive, both in going for walks with me, and with finding detours to extend those walks.

By the time I’d returned to work after twelve days off, I’d already broken the 500k for the month figure, and found I had quite a lead in the competition. It would have been easy at that point to coast the rest of the way. So, I did the opposite. I gave myself some new goals. First, break 600k steps for the month. On the second last day of the month I’d done this, thanks to a mammoth trek around Crawley taking pictures of churches. Then to break 300 miles for the month. I went through this on a little lunchtime stroll yesterday. Finally, make it to 620k steps for the month. To take that daily average for the month to 20,000 a day. I needed over 16k for the final day. And so, I walked across town to the WordFest comedy night, and I walked back after it and in doing so I hit that final target.

The team hit their target on the 30th as well, a great effort by all involved. And I managed to top the leader board and do the most steps in the month. Yes me. The fat, old bloke with two dodgy knees. I’ve been lucky in a couple of ways. The weather has been good walking weather for most of the month, there has been hardly any rain through the month. And I’ve avoided catching any lurgy, whereas other members of the team have seen their activity affected by Covid.

Though they seem to be less dodgy than they used to be. I’m not as fat as I used to be which probably helps, and I only resorted to biofreeze and ibuprofen three times during the month, whereas there was a time in the not too distant past where there were daily ice packs, and ibuprofen as of course.

At the end of a busy 31 days my final fatbit stats for the month were.

622,083 Steps

304.91 Miles

4,423 Zone Minutes

811 Floors Climbed

30 Badges Earned (some multiple times).

And despite the ridiculous amounts of food consumed when in Budapest I managed to lose 4 pounds in weight as well.

Now that March for March is done, what does it mean for my walking (besides wanting to lay in a darkened room for a couple of weeks)? Amble for April? Meander for May? Jump for June? Jog for July? (OK, those last two may be stretching the capabilities of my knees regardless of how much better they are compared to a couple of years ago.) I’m not going to go for anything as excessive as I did for March, there is no competition there to keep me going anyway. I will reset the target back to 10,000 steps a day on my fatbit. But there are a number of the habits taken up in March that I should be keeping. Move more often, and move further.

A few people have given me money for sponsorship, but I don’t have a specific donation link for myself. The organiser for our team – Mike Birmingham – has a Just Giving page we have been using for the team, it is linked to him as he is also doing the London Landmarks half marathon this weekend for Prostate Cancer UK. If anyone does want to sponsor me for walking around aimlessly a lot this month, on a retrospective basis then please use the link below and donate (perhaps put a note on to say it’s for Kev for March for March).

Mike Birmingham is fundraising for PROSTATE CANCER UK (

The Slowest Cooker In The World

As a wedding present, Ciaran and Marta had sent a link to Helen to a slow cooker on so, Helen had ordered it and it had arrived. However, the link was for the seven in one version, whereas they had wanted the ten in one version, and so, a reorder was done and the extra special, walking, talking, singing, dancing affair turned up.

Ciaran had messaged to say thanks and that they were going to make chilli in it on Tuesday. But when Helen messaged later in the week to ask how it had gone with making the chilli, the message came back that they hadn’t made a chilli yet. They needed to wait until they had more time so they could work out the instruction on how to use the multi-functional slow cooker.

Let that sink in.

They need to work out how to use a slow cooker. One of the simplest things in the world to use. Chuck all of the ingredients in, turn it on, and leave it for five hours.

But apparently the ten in one is complicated. There’s a lot of things it can do (including making yoghurt apparently) and it takes some working out.

It needs pointing out that both of them have PhD’s. Ciaran in maths, so I’m sure he could explain the logarithmic scale increase in complexity that having ten function poses, even if he can’t cut through that difficulty. And Marta’s one in Psychology means she could explain why building up to working out the instructions is so necessary for a happy and successful use of the slow cooker.

It does however look like the slow cooker will be living up to its name, and it will be many months before something is cooked in it.

Finally, how many doctors does it take to make a slow cooker work? More than two apparently.

Non Compos Mentis

As it turned out in the early hours of Monday morning, miracles did happen, and the 49ers completed a comeback victory, that with little over a minute left in normal time the probability computer of the NFL saying we had 0.4% chance of doing. And so, the watching through the fingers will continue for at least another week, and after knocking off our longest time rivals, we’re onto debatably our fiercest with an away trip to the Cowboys. Same time next Sunday.

Needless to say, Monday mornings do get a bit hazy, and it’s probably a good thing I work from home on a Monday. As on Tuesday evening, I once again showed that where driving is concerned, I’m still a danger to myself and a whole host of others.

I wasn’t doing the usual commute home. Due to a cock up on the shopping front, Helen and her mum had taken the wrong bags with them after shopping on Saturday, and they each had the other’s shoes and boots. So, I had agreed to take a detour via Storrington to do the swap.

It wasn’t the most pleasant of evenings, dark, rainy and patches of rolling mist, plus it involved a route that I have only driven once in daylight. The first issue I had was coming off the A27 at the long winding circular ramp for the A283. It has its own filter lane, so lining up was OK, but its totally unlit, and so the last sharp turn off the A27 appeared out of the gloom without warning and I narrowly avoided driving straight into the barriers.

Slowly down the loop and on to the roundabout, where I missed the turning, as once again the sign is after the turning, not before it, so onto lap two of the roundabout, and I missed it again, being cut up from people coming onto the roundabout when they should have waited and then another moron driving in my boot forcing me past. I did make the turning on the third time of asking.

Only to take the wrong exit at Steyning, where instead of carrying on along the A283 I went through the village instead. And then when coming out the other end I totally didn’t see the motorbike, not their light or the dayglo yellow top they were wearing until I was too far out to stop, and I saw the headline reflecting on the wing of the car. Fortunately, the motorcyclist’s eyesight was better than mine, and it’s a wide stretch of road and they drove around me.

I don’t speed normally, but shaken up I was slower than usual and trundled along the single lane at about forty, and all the way there was an idiot driving in my boot. I did the exchange and headed towards home. I usually cross over to the A23 at the A272 to avoid the multitude of roundabouts around Horsham. But I couldn’t face another stretch of single road with imbeciles driving in my boot, and so took the dual carriageway all the way back to Crawley. (Not that that stopped the twats. If I’m going too slowly for you, stop driving in my last coat of paint and overtake in the empty outside lane.)

When the alarm went off Wednesday morning and the news and weather came on, I groaned as it said the whole of the south east was in deep fog. Only to leave the house and find that Crawley (or anywhere on the route to Hove) obviously can’t be in the south east, and that I needed to scrape the frost off under the cloudless slowly colouring sky.

These early mornings mean I get my clothes out the night before and sling them on in low light before going to work. Well, Wednesday morning, I’m sat at my desk and have adjusted my lanyard a couple of times to get it under my collar, but the polo shirt still isn’t sitting right, and the collar is digging in. Just before half ten I’m trying to fix my collar again when I realise that I can see all the seams on my polo shirt and that the logo patch is on the wrong side.

Yes, I’d been wearing the thing for nearly four hours before I noticed it was inside out. Being too lazy to leave my desk and with no one around I whip it off, turn it the right way around and put it back on. Finishing doing so 30 seconds before one of the HR directors comes into the office because their home broadband has stopped working. Now, I often ask the question of how the fuck some people manage to get dressed in the morning. It would seem that no matter how dense those people may be, the answer would be “a shed load better than I can manage”. I’m not sure how I managed to fold it up and put it in the drawer inside out either.

It was probably a good job I didn’t put it on back to front, as then I really wouldn’t have known if I was coming or going. I’d have looked like a real idiot as well. Either that or a very old and very out of place looking member of Kriss Kross, and with my knees there’s no way I’d be able to Jump Jump anyway.

This morning I did manage to turn everything the right way around before putting the clothes on for the first time.