Back By Unpopular Demand

The first day of the new lockdown did see a dramatic drop in cars on the road. I’m not sure whether it was just down to the lockdown, or helped by the fact it was a bit foggy this morning. Despite the dense fog there was a large amount of similarly dense drivers out there who came drifting out of the fog background with no lights on at all. Regardless of the state of the nation or the state of the weather you can always rely on Crawley drivers to be complete morons.

At work there was the announcement they are closing the building I currently work in at the end of the year. The options will then be

  1. Work from home. (seriously, FTS)
  2. Travel to Interchange every day (easier by public transport, but a proper sh1tehole).
  3. Travel to the Hove office (next to Portslade station, at least one change of train, or lots of driving every day).
  4. Win the effing lottery. (No travelling again, well apart from holidays etc.)

Speaking of the lottery, they didn’t even send their customary “you’ve won a lucky dip” message this morning.

Helen bought me a beginner’s photography course for Christmas last year. It was a practical, in person course, to be held in London. I originally booked to do it the first Saturday in April, only for it to be postponed due to lockdown one. I rearranged for July, only to be postponed to September. That was cancelled due to lack of numbers, as was the October one I was rebooked onto, and so I was bumped to November. So, when the second lockdown was announced I was expecting another postponement. Therefore I was surprised when they said it was still going ahead.

It meant an early, nearly deserted train up to London and a wander to the south bank near the Royal Festival Hall. The stretch between the Hungerford and Waterloo bridges was emptier than I’ve ever seen it before, certainly at ten in the morning.

The course was worth the wait. I hadn’t got a proper manual with the camera, just a quick guide, and so didn’t know what most of the functions were for. I learnt a load about what the camera could do in different modes and settings, and there are a lot of them. Some seem quite useful, and expand what can be done, aside from the basic point, zoom, and click I’ve been doing for the last two years.

The three hours went quickly and once the course was over I took a wander across the river and walked from Trafalgar Square, along the length of the Strand and Fleet Street to Blackfriars, testing out what I had learnt. Then I made my way back towards Waterloo, as I’d seen a church close to it I’d never noticed before.

As I sat taking photos of it with different setting and exposures I was approached by a drunken Scottish tramp who shouted at me that he’d smash my effing camera over my effing head if I was taking photos of him. Also telling me it wasn’t the first time he’d seen me there taking photos. He wasn’t interested in listening to me or the truth, so I waved down a passing policeman and set him on the tramp. Such a shame as it put a real downer on what had been a good day until then. It was the first time I’d been to London since the initial lockdown started, and it was good to wander about the nearly empty streets admiring the buildings.

Spurs managed to win another dull insipid game and for a brief couple of hours were top of the league. But it brings no joy to me when we’ve still got that “see you next Tuesday” of a manager in charge. #MourinhoOut. No 49ers game as they’d already capitulated their way to another loss on prime time TV on Thursday night (well Friday morning here). But at least watching RedZone I could revel in seeing the Cowboys, Seahawks and Cardinals all losing as well.

I can’t say that my pre work weekly shopping trip on Monday morning was my most successful ever. I managed to buy myself a loaf of bread and a box of cereals, but nothing to use as filler for sandwiches, and no milk to put on the cereals. A bag of Twirl bites is hardly the breakfast of champions.

For a while there has been someone parking sideways across three bays in the car park at work. Not every day, but once or twice a week. This morning I saw who it was and it all clicked into place. It was Earl’s little sidekick, who isn’t just learning the IT trade, but also picking up parking tips from Earl, who mastered the art of parking like the car has been abandoned years ago.

Wednesday morning was a struggle as well. First up, I went out the door, closed it behind me, only to realise I hadn’t picked up the car keys, and not having the keys meant I’d locked myself out. Fortunately Helen is at home, as I couldn’t imagine Charlie being able to let me in. When I got in the car and turned the key I found that I’d left it in gear with the handbrake off when I’d parked last night. Fortunately all the other cars around me had already left.

Speaking of Charlie, I could probably do with him being in the office. Mainly so that as he wanders around he can keep the lights on instead of me having to slide across a desk and wave my arms every five minutes.

Time To Explore

Friday was better, the idiot laptop didn’t keep dropping out, and I was able to get some work done. Quite a lot of work in fact and was virtually caught up by the time the weekend started, but feeling annoyed at every little thing. Not even pizza helped that as the delivery driver ran off without leaving the dips that should have come with it.

Saturday morning, I had positioned myself in the usual seat at the kitchen table, staring morosely out the back window. Helen intervened and said perhaps it was time I went out for a walk that didn’t involve just getting fizzy drinks and crème eggs from the local shop.

So I went and did something really really exciting. I took photographs of street name signs. I had done this the weekend before full lockdown kicked in, taking those of the streets close to where I live where the streets are all names after occupations.

This time I was going a bit further afield and I was going after explorers. Fourteen of them in all. I had plans to move on to painters, and cathedral cities, and even people linked to London, but I hadn’t charged the camera and it called an end to my wandering by running out of power just after the last explorer had been found and photographed.

I still did some shopping, but being on a different parade of shops from normal I found that the Co-op still had a supply of crème eggs. I resisted the temptation to buy the whole box on the counter and kept it to just the ten.

In the evening we were out in the garden in the dark, with clear sky and stars above us, using the barbecue as an impromptu fire pit. Charlie was mithering for us to throw the ball, well single juggling sack I’d been given at the last SUG conference. His eyesight isn’t the best and so he can’t see where the ball is being thrown, he only reacts to the sound of it landing and then finds it by sense of smell. Most of the large bush down the side of the garden had been removed, so some of it was in the green bin, and more was on the ground. Instead of bringing the ball straight back he was going through a routine. He ran around the bin, through the bush remains before coming and dropping the ball under the rose bush at the edge of the patio. He then would do his version of Riverdance, emitting a strange squeaky growling noise whilst staring at where he dropped the ball. When we didn’t move he would pick the ball up from where he had “buried” it in the bush and then drop it in the large plant pot so we could see it and throw it again. Every single time. And he would stand there looking hurt as to why I was killing myself laughing at him.

Back inside the TV was turned on, and as usual it was on Dave. But unfortunately it was an ad break and therefore sponsored by some company where they have a bloke carrying a dog asking “is there room for Mr Snuggles”. There is no limit to the number of suggestions for where exactly he could stick Mr Snuggles. None of which would be printable.

Going to bed we found the cat with his nose pressed to the gap of where our bedroom door would open whining to be let in. As if he was desperately trying to find somewhere Charlie free for the night. This isn’t a surprise as every time the poor cat passes the dog, Charlie busily tries to stick his nose up the cat’s backside.

Anyway, Helen picked the cat up, and he looked most put out as he was placed in the spare room instead. It did sound like he was tapping away on the keyboard of Helen’s laptop after the door was closed. I had visions of the cat writing up his Trip Advisor review.

“I booked a comfortable double room with extra body heat, but couldn’t get in to it. The hotel owners placed me in a single room instead, with no coverings or facilities. The blind didn’t work, and it looked more like an office than a bedroom. I tried typing up this review on the computer in there, but despite my furious tap dancing across it, I found there was no power, and no warmth in the device when I settled down to lie on it.”

Sunday saw my turn to do the weekly shop, so it was off early to a not very full Sainsbury’s. (Full of people that is, the shelves were fine, got everything on the list.) They also had boxes of crème eggs so another top up happened; I’ve got enough for another week or so now. Even with less traffic on the roads it’s still amazing just how bad Crawley drivers are. I wonder if it’s got anything to do with the layer of sand that seems to have settled over all the cars in Crawley in the last week and that they can’t actually see where they are going.

I have mentioned that the bush in the garden was being removed. It was completed on Sunday, and so Monday morning there was a forlorn, confused looking cat. It had been a couple of weeks since the fencing had been set up in its current format, and the daily changes had stopped, and so the cat was nicely settled into a routine. So he wandered over to where the bush had been, turned all around to see if he’d walked in the wrong direction and then sat in the spot where he would usually be covered by the bush and scowled at Helen putting the washing out. I think the previously low Trip Advisor score may well become a minus score now.

I know the feeling, after what was quite an animated weekend for me, the general feeling of meh! had kicked in again by the time it got to midday on Monday. The poem written over the weekend might have had different lines (or even missing lines) towards the end if I’d written it on Monday.

What day is it please? Does anybody really know?

Not that it matters of course, I’ve nowhere to go.

Nothing to do except maybe gaze out of the window

And get fatter eating pizza and some hot cookie dough

The lockdown at the same time both sucks and blows

And when it will end is something nobody knows

The lack of motivation for me to do anything grows

And my stomach is so big now I can’t see my toes

I stare at a screen for countless hours every single day

Whether working or personal use all I feel is dismay

All the colour is gone and now all around me is grey

For someone to shoot me I might just fork out and pay

I wonder if the next time I move will it be sometime in May

Or will it be later in the year just in time for Santa’s sleigh

By which time God only knows how much I will weigh

And I’ll have forgotten how to speak, instead I’ll bray

The news is depressing it’s all about death and misery

Or people who are self-obsessed chanting me me me

I sit and wonder how on earth it is they can’t see

How their selfishness affects absolutely everybody

It’s not rocket science and they don’t need a degree

To see that there is more to life than taking a selfie

It isn’t as if everybody in the world always has to agree

But wouldn’t it be good to try and make others happy

Now I know I’m not known to have on my face a smile

And that every day in lockdown can be such a trial

It’s difficult to prevent my usual outpouring of bile

But perhaps a change of outlook would be worthwhile

I could go la la la, fingers in my ears in a state of denial

And keep everything the same on my personal file

But I am going to try and go that extra mile

So that I end up being at the top of the dial

I may have framed my jigsaw, but it still hasn’t made it up onto the map wall, and it sits next to me at the end of the kitchen table. We still haven’t started on the next physical jigsaw, but I’m keeping my hand in online. Reading has slowed, only three books this week. I did think about writing, but only got as far as writing a list of chapter titles. It all adds to the word count I suppose.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people online have been doing online diaries. I did think about doing this, but got distracted (and a little dyslexic), and so my only entry has been.

Dear Dairy,

Thank you for your supplies this week. It has been good to upgrade from semi-skimmed to full fat milk, it is just a shame that you no longer do gold top. With crumpets for breakfast, and additional baking in house, can I get an extra pack of butter delivered each week please? Yes, and keep the cheeses coming, double the halloumi order, keep the Cheddar, Feta, Mozzarella and Danish Blue at the same level, and some nice Applewood slices would appreciated this week to put on the burgers. Don’t forget the yoghurts and double cream; we have to keep the deserts going as well if I’m going to achieve the pudding look before lockdown ends.

Grrr. I mentioned meeting sociopaths last week. There are some more I need to add to this. Those that add meetings in over possible lunchtime hours. Now half an hour or an hour isn’t that bad by itself. It’s those who add them in when the rest of the lunchtime period is already booked that need a good slap. And as for those who book two hours meetings from noon to 2pm, they need Eddie Honda to come and do his signature hundred handslap move on them.

And now it’s raining most of the time. There are some positives to this. The sand has been washed off the car, and there are fewer morons out and about. Plus there’s less chance of having to go out and exercise if it’s raining. Onwards and upwards.