Sunday, 25 June 2017

June 2017 3/4

tv headline funny failGreetings! I am Mungleton, a  man of 11 years standing, 3 years sitting and 6 months crouching over a small bucket.
Gosh. It really is a time of confusion, and not just hormonally. Met Bud at 0700 but then he left the county to go and be taught how to do his job in a place called 'Braintree' which sounds fake to me.
So Monday, being a day off, was an opportunity to do not-very-much, one of my talents. I did have an appointment with Sham, so Jof walked me round there and we both cooked merrily in the blazing sunshine. Did I mention it hit 28 degrees again? Or was it 30.
facebook fake news article funnySham and I played our various games for 2 hours and then Jof and I boiled our merry way home again. Once upon a decade, I had an eye test having failed to read a 'No Smoking' sign from across the room. I passed but promised to return in a few years and today was it, if I was going to need glasses, best to arrive at senior school already wearing them. I passed again: I'm a little short-sighted but it doesn't stop me. I promised to return again in a couple of years.
5th portsmouth scout group Then my Scoutmaster asked us if we have any wood for outside firelighting of the Scout variety. As we are in charge of wood, we had half a garage full, all chopped up and packed into big boxes for easy loading. But because Jof has the spinal column of an 80 year-old (and won't give it back) and Scoutman is on crutches, it was up to us kids to move it and, well, they should have been better prepared.
parenting fail self-painting childIn Scouts we learned tent-raising the old-fashioned way, burnt some marshmallows and had a water fight, definitely the best thing to do in this weather. Then we wasted 20 minutes trying to find Flynn who had already gone home on his own.
Tuesday started and finished without Bud who was miles away. And it was even hotter, I tried telling the headmaster that the reason I turned up naked to school was that our washing line caught on fire and all my uniform was lost, but he didn't believe me. He asked if the dog had eaten my homework as well. We don't even have a dog.
But the big change was Year 6 Bikeability. All week we're out there in the real world learning how to avoid being run over. But there's a 2 strikes and you're out policy and a couple of us have had the first warning.
We have all been told to bring in a bottle and drink lots of water, as the playground is slightly warmer than the surface of the sun. But I didn't heed the warnings and got sunstroke-related vomiting disorder and had to have supper twice.
year 6 bikeability week meon junior school
On Wednesday we cycled again, and learned all about pulling out and looking past car wing mirrors and cycling far away from parked cars so you don't get clonked if they open their doors without looking. And we had a rehearsal for the school play and I finished my African artwork which is a giant lions' head. In D&T (design and technology, not delirium tremens, although one can lead to the other), we did cuboids and had to build tall towers. Child B and C on my team used our tower as a punchbag so of course we came last. And Bud came home and all of a sudden it was go-to-bed-on-time and stuff all over again.
kid splashed by bus puddleThursday was overcast. This did not stop it being hot, and even the 12 minutes of thunderstorm we were promised boiled off into space before it could strike, and all we got was 5 minutes of hail that made all our bike brakes squeak.
In cycling, Child C dabbed while riding ie hands-free operation so he got shouted at lots. It's always the usual suspects, just that none of them are called Keyser Soze. In Design and Tech, I did a fact-file on the Empire State building and can tell you that it gets struck by lightning twice a month. And in a rare streak of luck, I got a credit point for being quiet, putting me back on 20 and in the running for swimming. After all that cycling, it was practically a triathlon. No wonder I needed to sit down and have chocolate ice cream.
angry bird kills warning sign funnyOn Friday we had our last CycleMania lesson, or at least those of us who weren't banned did. Child A was barred for calling the teachers stupid idiots and he had to write a letter of apology, even if he didn't mean it.
We cycled off in a long conga line all in our Hi-Vis jackets and went up and down roads with signalling and looking-behind aplenty. And in Rounders I spilled the ball when doing a diving catch and everyone was mean, apart from the nice girl who's never mean. She has 31 Goody Points, whereas Child A is down to 11. And thus the differences begin. Later I was barely on my third hour Skyping with the Minecrew and Bud said get off the computer, it's my turn. So I said "I'm Hungweeeeeeee" in a whiny voice which meant he had to cook supper so I got right back on the SkypeCraft with Sydney and the rest of the gang. And they say kids are stupid.
d-day world war 2 commemmorations
Anyway, Saturday started well with more Minecraftery and scrambled eggs, think that's why the keyboard's sticky. Sydney turned up for acting, and the metal pin has been removed from her broken arm, so at least she doesn't set off the detectors at the airport any more.
We all went through the script of 'One man, 2 Guv'nors' a load more times and we have another new starter, a 13 year-old called Mary. Her boyfriend's name is Joseph. Jesus, if she has a sister too, it'll be the return of the Auntychrist.
And one flew over the cuckoos' nest, or more accurately, a Chinook double-ended helicopter flew over Southsea Castle to honour veterans gathered there on Castle Field on Armed Forces Appreciation Day.
Incidentally, Jof has been made Little-manager at her work and is coming home tired every day after all that shouting at people. But the Big Manager and the Even Bigger Manager bought her a bottle to say well done. The label mentions fruit, will it count towards my 5-a-day?
bottle of booze for mummy from managerSaturday-night-is-film-night was 'Lethal Weapon' with two guys out of Predator 2 and the guy from Expendables 3 and some very 1980s screaming girls with 1980s hair and clothes and attitudes to simple Class A drugs.
The Invention of Pambled Eggs
Now, Jof wanted a poached egg for breakfast and it's already a pain in the bum using the poacher, let alone for only 1 egg. So she said why don't you whip up the scrambled egg mix for the boy as usual and use 2 of the unused cup thingies to cook it in.
And it worked really well! It rises like a soufflé and is scrambled really but in a bowl shape. OK, so lots of you are saying nonono that's just Scroached eggs like Granny used to make in the bungalow in Barnstaple, but as far as we're concerned, Jof invented Pambled eggs.
And then I nearly had a fatal swatch error. Jof wanted to go fabric shopping (it's serious - she's bought a second sewing machine) and said it's either that or go supermarket shopping with Bud.
scrambled egg cooked in a poached egg cupNow, what I wanted was Option C which is to remain naked at home in the real world, while actually being in the blocky make-believe world of Online Minecraft where I can have swordfights with other 11 year-olds and Zombie Electric Pigs and Reticulated Charge-creepers, and invade Sydney's Nether Portal, but it was not to be.
So I escaped torture of a most cruel and unusual nature, and even managed to sneak 17 chocolate items and a Minecraft toy into the trolley. Also, as we've invested so much in the bottle bank, haven't we got enough to afford a Gin Palace, or at least a house of ill repute? Later, I Skype-Minecrafted for ages but kept getting told off for shouting and screaming and babbling and hooting and yapping and jabbering at the screen. I just can't do it quietly. Are houses up and down the country parent no-go zones because of jabbering kids, or are others actually quiet or locked in their distant attic rooms? Answers in the comments section, please ....

Sunday, 18 June 2017

June 2017 2/4

knotty wood plank with dogs faceMufasa Monday started with creative writing. I am quicker than most so got a chance to do further additions to my story (based on the Lion King).
And us lead characters (with actual lines) in the Year 6 school play (The Lion King) had a full rehearsal. It's a low-budget production so when I am cast to my death by the treacherous Ska, I just fall over lethargically, rather than plummet flailing off a crumbling cliff into a herd of stampeding Wildebeeste. We couldn't afford the Wildebeeste, and our health and safety man said no cliffs for the under-12s.
Incidentally, in a previous school production, I also had to fall to my doom when cast off my own bridge by treacherous Billy Goat #3. Perhaps I will end up always being the bad guy in my movie career, no bad thing.
falcon badge scout patrolManaged another Minecraft Skype call with Screen Wife Sydney, and we had our first married quarrel, didn't think it was possible. But at least we both got lots of exercise in the cyber-sunshine playing hide'n'seek. This was made possible by Ben being at the basketball tournament, cancelling Beach Monday.
In Scouts, I had an arrangement with Luke that we would both bring in our duplicate Lego cards, to do some swapping. I brought a brick of cards, a veritable shelf of them, over 100. He brought about 12, only 4 of which were new to me, what a con. We played a game where the older Scouts whizzed a bola at knee height and we had to jump over it without getting it wrapped around our legs. Adam Cricket and I were the last men standing but the rest of the group were so roister-doisterous that we couldn't finish the game, and Scout-Fuhrer had to get quite shouty. I got my Patrol Badge which as you can see is Merlin, not Petulant Corncrake.
Hand-Me-Up Tuesday started badly. Normally I have a domestic administrator who will deal with any school letters or forms or demands for money or permission slips instantly, and place the completed article in my school bag by close of business on the same working day.
wandering tom cat getting female cats pregnantBut seeing the explanatory pamphlet and associated permission slip for the "Year 6 Bikeability Week", he assumed I didn't need one as I can already ride a bike, and binned it forthwith. As it was the last day for handing in signed forms, Poor Old Jof had to do it.
She is currently suffering from Gravedigger's Gout, Screaming Heebie-Jeebies and Adverse Camber of the Leg so she walks like a cross between a Mexican Grandmother and a damaged Terminator with only 2% battery life left. In fact, we have been most cruel in laughing at her.
wok granite topped kitchen island cotswold furnitureBut I certainly wasn't laughing as she kindly and bravely battled the mean pavements to come into school and sign it personally, saving me from a week of literacy revision and Disney movies.
And it was school photo day. This is not the entire-school-on-scaffolding one, but the individual portrait and the class photo. As it was very hot for the whole of the week, I was wearing shorts and no jumper. But apparently school rules dictate that you have to have your image permanently etched in silver compounds (or pixels) while sweltering pinkly to death in a jumper. So, like most others in the entire school, I had to find a knackered old Year-3 sized jumper that smelt of cheese from the lost property box, which also smells of cheese and those special 'mouse raisins'.
However, I helped to pay her back for her efforts in running my entire life for the last 12 years, by making supper. Jointly, I suppose, but I chopped and sliced and stir-fried my way to chickeny noodly heaven, nothing to do with the flying spaghetti monster. I got a Scout badge for cooking, you know.
knotty wood plank looks like dog faceHump Day had a whole hour of PE in which I chose football over tennis and actually touched the ball! I got an assist when I passed to James and he scored. Of course, most of the match was marred by arguments which is why I normally don't bother.
Some time ago, the headmaster instituted a system of red and yellow cards to try and instil some discipline. Of course, without the more traditional discipline of canes and shouting, no progress will be made so now it's a points system. You start with 20, and anyone who still has 20 or more at the end of the term gets to have a fun day at the Pyramids waterslide funpark.
You can gain points for being wonderful and a wonderful girl has already upped her total to 23, whereas Child B has so far dropped to 16: Day 2.
After school I wandered around the park a bit because I promised Jof I'd go for a bracing walk. And then after a couple of hours playing Minecraft with Sydney, I grabbed myself a comedy snack of 3 yogurts, a custard, a jelly, 11 grapes and a packet of Wotsits. Meant I didn't finish supper, of course, but who's counting.
Record temperatures hit Britain for a third day
Even though I now wear school shorts, it's still a tad warm so I'll be having a haircut soon, especially now the school photos have been done.
boy with bags under eyesHardly anybody lost brownie points today, perhaps because the teachers have said that if there are enough goody-two-shoes, we could book out the whole Pyramids Watery Funpark for a manic smash-session. Because there is a member of the school basketball team in my Scout group, I knew on Monday just how Puddlers Ben and Erin and Tall James and 'Fridge' Fraser got on at the basketball competition. We spanked the opposition totally and the winners' medals will be handed out at a special assembly soon.
Although I promised I'd 'walked round the park' on the way home, he still made me go out again and we met Brandon the Footballer and Owen the Destroyer and GreenGuy, and a million other happy youngsters in the sun. I should probably do it more.
Pulex irritans (the Flea)
3 cats and toddler drinking spilt milkToday was just one of those days when everybody was irritated. OK, so the school-wide malaise (much like sick building disorder or irritable bowel syndrome) could have been something to do with heat-related sleep loss ailment versus sloshing hormone malady with a touch of Minecraft-related reality confusion, possibly all in my own head, but possibly not.
animal oral sex funnyIn Literacy, we had to expand upon our Lion King-related stories. Clearly, I had chosen the Lion Mufasa as my main character, as I have played him in at least 3 stage productions. But, as Monty Burns hath told us, the true winner makes an effort above and beyond the rest of the pack and I mentioned that the voice of Mufasa (James Earl Jones) also played Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian, and King Jaffe Joffe in 'Coming to America', and Darth Vader, and in each case, declared himself to be the Father of the Main Character in a big booming voice. Now, that's the kind of Thesp that'll live forever in any galaxy near or far.
So there was a lot of pushing on the stairs and in the playground, a lot of poking with pencils and insults, and some barbs, slings and arrows, not to mention sticks and stones. Amazingly, I survived the day still on 19 Pyramid Points and enjoyed after-school gardening club, even if it was just weeding again.
milton st james 5th scout group church fayreSaturday Sneeze-a-thon was really noisy and drippy, for those of us in the family with Saturday Night Hay Fever. I was up last, and got my Youtube time before being re-fortified with scrambled eggs as usual.
It may be a day off, but we don't get to sit around. Jof was Branch Manager for the second day running, achieving her childhood aim of shouting at everybody without them getting to answer back. Bud sorted my coin collection and I had to show my Official Scout face and press the flesh at the Church Fayre.
It has been quite warm recently so I had a haircut first, a Grade 3 on top and Grade 2 on the sides, one Grade longer than usual because in 2 weeks it's the school prom and I need to look my best, not a shaven-headed thugbert. At the fayre I won breakfast (choose a full egg from the sand-tray of empty/full eggs and win a rasher of bacon as well) and had 2 goes on the coconut shy but failed with all 6 balls! This is most unlike me.
seaside pub in evening sunshineScoutmaster Skip offered me a place on the Leaders' camp but I turned it down because of a prior acting lesson, even though I wanted to do both. I guess you get double-booked when you're a megastar.
After yet more Sydney-Skype-Minecrafting, we went to acting and rehearsed our play while the rest of the world sat on the beach with or without clothes or saw the live band at King Henery the 8ths' I am I am's bandstand in the blazing sunshine. At one point, Bud deliberately grabbed me and let his hay fever-ridden nose drip right into my face. This is where the psychiatrists of the future get paid: you just don't need it. I was most punchy.
Later, Flame-haired Sydney and I were just settling down to a 7-hour Mine-Skype-love-in when Jof insisted on going out for supper, so it wouldn't just be Film Night again, even though she's just bought me the 'Lethal Weapon' DVD series. Now that she is Area Uber-Fuhrer, we have to listen to her views whether we want to or not and so we cycled down to the Thatched House in the glorious sunshine and had hot food.
I chose the table by the live band and after a quick tour of the place where the Cub Scouts did some shoreline naturism, our food arrived. I got pasta, like I'd commanded. Bud got steak, but without the chillies that keep him alive. Jof got steak, unlike the gammon she'd asked for.
milton lake eastney portsmouth lovely
After servants of all nations and languages had clustered around us in consternation, we got replacement food including extra chocolate cake with hot ice cream and I even had a go in the soft-play area with the ballpit and hanging punchbags, once all the sweaty kiddies had gone home. The band made a brief appearance that was considerably shorter than their tune-up session and we went home a different way (Jof leading).
swimming in sea southsea juneKung-Fu Wave Fighting
Now, I had a plan for today. In fact, it was the same plan I had yesterday until Jof ruined it by making me go out, and O Yea it was to play Minecraft with Red Sydney and our band of merry Crafters. And I did that, even when they went shopping and left me there to fend for myself.
But again, she made me go out, to the beach this time. Just because the sea is but a short bike ride away, and the temperatures hit 28 degrees or so, and Ben has a beach hut, doesn't mean I want to leave the sanctuary of my cyber-domain.
But we met Ben and Gene and we went in the sea which was really cold but you get used to it and and gosh it was worth it. Bud joined us and we all went in and a short while after the massive cruise ship "Enormosity of the Seas" drove past, we got a series of huge waves and we battled them and jumped up and down going raaargh and threw seaweed at each other and swallowed too much seawater and got sand in our clefts and gravel in our pockets. The tide tried to take us sideways.
I didn't get out of the sea until 630 and it was still busy and hot, especially where we'd warmed it up by weeing. So Fathers' Day passed off without a mention apart from at Grandads' place where he won a bottle of French fizzy pop for correctly guessing the weight of the chef, 'cos you know, insanity.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

June 2017 1/4

phono to scart adaptorteneighth st road sign failI was most miffed to have to go to bed on time last night following a week of late nights.
But et hoc transibit, doncherknow, and school restarted. Afterwards, Ben and I came home via 2 sweet shops for sugary refuelling (that's dedication to our medication) because it was raining so Beach Day was off.
Last Saturday, I bought a Retro 8-Bit games console in the Science Museum in London.
science museum shop 8-bit games playerBut having tried to connect it to the TV in my room, I was unable to do so because of the retro (obsolete) co-ax connectors. So my minion had to go to Maplin's (Tandy and Radio Shack being unavailable) and get a co-ax to SCART connector at £13, a mere £2 less than the original cost of the console, no consolation there, hoho.
So Ben and I tried out some of the games and they were weird and fast and I crashed my B52 bomber and you were a mermaid blowing bubbles to hit floating shells and you had to avoid getting eaten by the sharks or any one of a million combinations of badly-drawn-item-you-can-move avoiding craps dropped by badly-drawn-items-that-hover-overhead while trying to eat lettuces or broccoli or any number of seemingly irrelevant badly-drawn-unidentifiable-objects.
And all this to a constant background tweetling of 8-bit synth music of dubious quality which all adds to the 80s feel. Then Bud got a new job, just when I was getting used to being picked up from school.
ugly shaved pussySo we wet ourselves laughing and then he went home. In Scouts we played games and did a quiz on Lord Baden-Powell who invented Scouts in the first place. Originally he didn't hand out badges, but beads, and they had to carve them themselves. I won a packet of Lego cards and then had to walk home in the rain even though I was promised a Limo. I was angry.
Tuesdays are boring and start with PE. Well, they do with my spelling.
We all had to (in teams) find a Mediterranean holiday for Miss B and her partner and kid on a budget of £4000. Sham and I booked her on a £950 flight to Majorca with private transfer to a 4-star hotel with day-club for the brat. We have not yet discovered which team's efforts will be chosen by Miss B, nice to win but it's tough asking a pair of 11 year-olds to lash out 4 grand on the teacher's holiday.
And I was able to write a story based on our trip to Marwell Zoo in which a dust-devil possessed of evil spirits and intent haunted the Go-Kart track, and rose up whenever a driver passed. I solved the malevolent anthropomorphic dust storm entity with a leaf blower.
Today the wind tried to blow our garden away, probably in revenge for the leaf blower. It mostly failed but a lot of leaves and twigs are on the ground in the park. At home I solved 3 equations for Y for Grandad, why he still needs to know what Y is at his age I'll never know. I also showed Jof the 8-Bit lettuce game and I think she'll secretly play all night.
poster advert on london undergroundWednesday was our school trip day. I have performed the Lion King at my theatre and the Year 6 play is again, the Lion King. So our Head-teacher organized a trip to London to see the aforementioned at the Lyceum in the West End, and I know it's real because I saw a poster for it in an underground station last Saturday.
And speaking of last Saturday, some of the parents and some of the kids had second thoughts about the going on the trip at all, because of the angry men killing people in London. But I know that the chance of actually meeting one of these terror events is minimal, we're in far more danger every day walking to school because we still don't look properly when we cross the road, even if we tell our parents that we do.
And they'd all spent the £40 on the tickets, too.
kid vomiting in car funnyBut as a compromise they said we won't let the kids out, just bus-show-bus. I had a packed lunch on the coach but because they said you have to pick up your own crumbs if you drop them, I ignored the lunch and just had the sack of crisps and chocolate instead.
The show itself was brilliant in a venue 3 times bigger that anything I've seen before. We were stage right on the first shelf of seats and the boxes were full of drummers and other performers and the costumes were enormous with 3 guys making the elephant and guys in giraffe costumes with huge necks and 3 were played by kids, and sometimes they walked through the audience on the bottom shelf.
tv news headline failThe songs were loud and the ghost head of Mufasa was made by several players with bits of face on poles and I swear that at the end they made him wink.
It was a million times better than anything I've been in but that's because I work for a small local theatre that relies heavily on volunteers. I wish I could play at the West End. We didn't see any terrorists but Waitrose had cops and fire engines outside, suspicious vehicle at the US Embassy.
I got home at 8pm which meant I could only have 1 hour on Youtube, totally unfair.
schoolboys on bicyclesGeneral Election Day is apparently Thursday. Our School library was a polling station as was the junior school round the corner. Difference was, we couldn't go into our library but their entire school got a day off.
Now, I know what voting is, I've done it myself in school and have been voted in or out of a position depending. But a general election to see which lot runs the country is definitely someone else's problem.
wimborne junior school southsea polling stationSo once the boring school day was over I arranged to meet some mates in the park for a bike ride. This counts towards my independence, I don't have as many independence points or street smarts as some others my age so it was nice to go out on my own and burn around the park for a while.
And I'd just settled down for a deserved 7 hour Minecraft stint when he said let's all go and vote then, and it just so happened to be at exactly the time it started raining.
Friday on my Mind
All week I've been asking is it Friday yet, getting myself in practise for 45 years of wage slavery perhaps.
But it finally arrived and we did some more of our African art project and some more story-writing based on the Lion King (I wrote a treatise on Mufasa and his growing pains, very topical) all rather pedestrian, yada yada.
meon junior school gardening clubBut one of the letters we all brought home this week was notification of the Year 6 end-of-year Prom, which Jof is helping to organise. Cue lots of pre-teen angst as everybody realises they'll have to ask someone to the Prom, should be fun to watch.
In gardening we weeded every section of the many gardens outside our school, here's one of them. It has potatoes in it. While we were clearing it, we found a pair of headphones in the hedge.
Saturday Night's alright for Farting but I started at 10am with black pudding and scrambled egg. Everybody polished their plates, for it was good.
entrance to portsmouth historic dockyard
I have a tough daily schedule because I am currently playing Klash of Klans and have to do daily votes on Minecraft Server #1 and watch all the new Youtube videos and connect with my American friend on Skype and connect with Sydney on Skype and then randomly add to a few other Minecraft worlds I own. In fact, it's amazing I get any time to myself, I'm in such demand.
So I pretty well managed all of the above before a perfunctory luncheon and then we waited for Sydney to take her to acting. As she hove into view along our street, Small Iwan from the acting group waved from across the road. His Dad is one of the shop refurbishment guys that gave us some wood for the Scout campfire, we discovered. Incidentally, following the London Bridge terror attack, a new anti-truck obstacle (in this case, a giant ship's mooring bollard, so very much in keeping with the area's naval tradition) has appeared in the historic entrance (with its 2 large golden balls) to Her Majesty's Historic Dockyard. Not sure if the message to would-be terrorists is 'Balls' or 'Bollards', just saying. And there were armed cops in Gunwharf.
ricinus communis seedlings ricin poisonIn acting we rehearsed our scene from "One man, 2 Guvnors" in which I have the lead role. And I know pretty well all my lines, even though there are a lot of them. The actual performance is 2 days before the Year 6 play 'Lion King', so plenty of opportunities for stage schizophrenia as I announce to Simba that his soup is getting cold, and open a hotel room door and say "Gareth, you are my son".
Finally, I have found that the tall thin girl I've been acting with for the last 6 weeks is called Laura, not Gareth, sometimes it's easier to remember people by the roles they play, rather than their actual names. So in this way, the Judge and Fox from Wind in the Willows told me my voice is breaking. In my opinion this is not something to be cried over and fixed with glue, rather a momentous milestone on the rocky road to adulthood.
And those suspicious seedlings have been planted out, which has given us lots more space in the back yard. Jof got home with some special stuff for the Year 6 Prom and had one of those terrible back spasms which meant she could only sit in a big chair an issue orders involving painkillers. Chocolate is a painkiller, right? Film night was 'Hot Fuzz' with rudeness and guns and underage drinking and satanic rituals.
Sunday was another pyjama day. I got a 2-hour Skype call with Sydney and Jof spent all day in pain. Later, Sydney and I made a new jointly-owned Minecraft world and took logical advantage of a new thing you can do on this server, which is to get married and kiss a lot. Maybe one day Minecraft will have the haptic teledildonics plugin app.
crap disaster movieAnd so although it was a lovely day, I didn't go out at all and missed the live music at the bandstand and the vintage bus rally on the seafront and all that sunshine. But there was 'Stonehenge Apocalypse' in which a plucky archaeologist-turned-radio DJ tried to convince 5 guys in a primary school (representing the scientific establishment) that the computer generated henge which was moving around and making lightning signified the end of the world. And while 3 guys in a jeep (representing the entire armies of the free world) hastily drove up and down a field in Canada (representing Salisbury Plain) and threatened to nuke the naughty henge, the Establishment Archaeologist revealed he was a cult leader and believed the computer-generated Egyptian pyramid that had appeared in Maine would protect his followers from the volcanic eruptions currently ringing the planet, coming out of other pyramids on the map made by the guy with the tinfoil helmet.
It is a credit to the acting profession that the entire cast of 19 people could play so many parts in borrowed uniforms, that all outside filming was done at 530 in the morning so that nobody else was around to witness the end of the world, and that nobody burst out laughing at their own lines. Furthermore, it is a credit to the film-making industry that the petty-cash budget can be stretched by not employing scriptwriters, having the film crew's family members play bystanders, and by shaking the camera to indicate earthquakes. It's worth watching for the wandering accents alone, the historical inaccuracies and dodgy special effects are just a bonus. Well worth seeing. Next up: Ice-tastrophe and Fart-nado.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

May to June 2017

bransbury park climbing frameBank Holiday Monday, so it rained. Forced to go out as part of my new unreasonable fitness regime of having to walk somewhere every day, so I fed the birds (absent), sent even more bottles to their recycling doom (3) and climbed up a climbing frame in the park (1). It might be exactly where Sydney broke her arm so I erred on the cautious side and didn't go up too high. This was deemed sufficient, and I hastened back to Skype-Crafting with my new-found Skype-Craft mates.
Bonus Film night was 'Cast Away' in which the man with a snake in his boot crashed a plane and spent 4 years on an island arguing with a football called Wilson. I liked the cave art and crabs. I think it was also Bank Holiday Monday for 4 years in the south Pacific because it was always raining there too.
Meter Made
smart meter installation lowri beckAnyway, with its monotonous regularity, Grandad's birthday came around again. He is now 88 but still pretends not to be.
What we normally do is plan a registered activity, usually involving a walk to a set place, and have a pub lunch, do some maths and have a swim. This formula has worked for us so far.
But today was slightly different in that the gas and electric parasite company had arranged a Smart Meter to be fitted. This is not the well-dressed person that greets you at the door of Walmart, it is a meter that can send in the readings by itself. So we cleared out the cupboard under the stairs, which is now the only place you can get into the underfloor Hades now that the rest of the house has been tiled or carpeted.
pumping iron in retirement village gymThe Meter Man arrived and we coped with the event by leaving Jof in charge, and played a Gary Moore CD all the way to Grandad. He was pleased to see us and has a special ritual. Prior to this occasion, he stood on a stool made by G-G-Dad to hug Bud, and I stood on the same stool to hug him. This is to even up our relative heights a bit, for a better quality hug. But recently I have been growing and the Equalizer Stool has been replaced by a small leather briefcase. Is it strong enough, we asked. He opened it to reveal a massive chunk of wood which fits perfectly, and can easily support my expanding frame.
So as usual, I had a swim and then tried out the gym. They have a rack of dumb-bells from 1kg to 10kg. I struggled to lift the 10kg one so we selected smaller ones and pumped iron for a bit, as you do on your 88th birthday.
winchester itchen valley st catherines hill
Not content with the pumpage and some cross-training, we drove to Winchester where you can find St Catherine's Hill. This mellifluous carbuncle on the face of the world is also a nature reserve and has a free car park, what more do you need. So we split up and ascended the natural tumulus and met at the top in a copse of beech trees, with many bugs and dogs. From there you can clearly see Winchester cathedral, where the three of us scored the records for oldest and youngest tower-climber simultaneously, a couple of years ago.
winchester college playing fields river pathI had carefully checked out a footpath that runs around the hill well below the summit and confidently led the way. When M Senior and M Even-More-Senior chose their own route I was righteously huffed and scythed every passing plant with a stick I'd found that closely resembles a Minecraft axe. This is why I'm lower down the hill in my mustard-coloured shirt.
At the bottom he promised me a short walk to the Bell Inn public house and eatery in St Cross which is a village a mile south of Winchester. We walked along the side of a river and saw fish and swans and ducks and cows and sluices and bulrushes and weirs and streams and playing fields and weeping willows, and most of it belongs to Winchester College which is very posh and probably inherited all the land from the church, which is a big landowner in these parts, for the last thousand years or so.
But slowly it dawned on me that I had been conned yet again and my feet were getting tired and it was not the 200 yards I swore he'd said. While everything was joyous and pretty (with its many rivulets and streams of the River Itchen) and verdant and peaceful and historic O yea, there was far too much of it and my stick-scything became more demonstrative, as did my loud complaining.
medieval priory tudor buildingsBut just as I was about to expire from exhaustion and starvation, we arrived at the Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty (established 1132) and the Bell Inn. I had scampi which came on a wooden board with chips in a bucket, as is the modern way, Bud had his first Caesar salad and Grandad had birthday sausages with birthday mash and birthday gravy. In the Priory (with its Hundred Men Hall Tea Room) you can clearly see medieval and Tudor buildings, and G-Dad sings there every now and then.
Fortunately the return journey was much shorter even though Grandad definitely trolled me about only 5 miles to go etc, and we drove back to his for maths and geography studies, and the suitcase ritual again. He has been given some sponge-cake by a grateful neighbour so we took some off his hands. I have some equations to solve for G-Dad homework and we listened to Jimi Hendrix on the way home, in my opinion he is mad.
Disc Jockeying
Up at 1030 because of holidays. Recently, when Bud's last job died, he took a load of old kit (such as the workbench in the garage) out on a proper signed property pass which now makes me the legal owner. The factory itself was the old Disc Drive manufacturing plant for IBM once upon a decade and as such, had all these old display cabinets with engineering marvels of bygone years.
ibm product family storage capacities
Problem is, you know it's all going to go in the skip apart from anything like pencils spirited out of the building by concerned employees, or anything of actual value which will get sent to new factories.
But the historical artefacts would be lost forever, and that is a crime against humanity. So he asked the Super-Big-Boss man if he could save these dusty remnants for the Science Museum in London, where I visited 2 years ago and got some great stuff from the shop.
And the collection was made and the museum contacted and they said yes, we'd like this one item please, so we get to keep the rest. The item in question is a 14 inch metallic data storage disc from some long-forgotten product which shows how much space 1 Megabyte or similar took up on a disc, and how that space got smaller as their clever engineers improved the technology over time. Today you'd have to carry about 400 of these to match the storage in your phone. All those little squares are labelled with the IBM product families, from the good old 350 series of the 1960s right up to the byte-busting 3380 we all loved so much back in the 80s.
14 inch data storage discSo we said O Yea, we shall deliver it unto you when the trains have that special cheap offer on again, and it is this week during my holiday. And the nice lady in the museum said sorry, we don't work weekends, I would have come in to meet you but I'll be in Spain at a wedding so nobody will be here. So we said we'll just leave it with a security guard, look at the museum again and go off to that groov-acious cable car near the Millennium Dome.
And she said no, they're not allowed to take it, (shame we'd already bought the train tickets) but can I offer you 2 free tickets to the Robot Exhibition to make up for it. So, for my daily walk, we went to the post office and posted it to London, where it will arrive at the same time as we do. Gosh Diddly-Poodle-Poo, thus the cookie crumbles. But we have given it to the nation, so we did the right thing. And Bud went to another interview so I got to play Minecraft for hours with nobody telling me off for hooting like the Monkey Cage at Marwell Zoo.
The Never-Ending Sandy
eastney nudist beach at low tideYears and years (6) ago we invented the 12-mile bike ride where you cycle down to the Hayling ferry, cross the water to Hayling Island, ride up the old defunct Hayling Billy railway line to Havant, and catch a train home.
This one has done us proud many times and there's always time to stop off at the very-bumpy-bike paths and the sand that never ends at low tide, and the funfair, pub and crab-catching areas.
And as it was a nice hot day we rode to the ferry and got there 10 minutes late because we'd stopped off at the park on the way. Last time we used the ferry, it was every 10 minutes but now it's back to the bad old days with only 1 an hour, and we hadn't looked it up in advance.
We waited for 50 minutes and I learned to skim stones and we could see that it was low tide. At the last minute, Laughing Boy Thomas (in my Scout Group) and his family got on the ferry with us, and we had to give him 50p because he didn't have enough money for the ticket. At least someone was prepared.
hayling island funfair sea front
And we walked out along the endless dunes of the 'West Winner' which is a vast expanse of sand that is exposed at low tide and you can walk out so far into the sea we've never really actually reached the end. You get a good view of Eastney Nudist Beach and Fort Cumberland with the sewage works with the massive chimney. I'd already elected not to bother with the funfair so we got our ice creams in early.
At the harbour mouth were many kids going mummy mummy look at me and then kicking a football or standing on a rock or dabbing or doing something else pointless but still expecting mummy to say O what a clever boy you are, I expect you'll have loads of girlfriends. Kids.
hayling billy line coastal pathOf course I had to cycle directly into a massive headwind at all times and directions but eventually we reached the old railway line where we stopped off to ride up and down the bumpy cycle tracks, and met Laughing Boy Thomas coming back the other way, a good trick if you can do it.
It isn't really a long way up the coastal path to Langstone but sometimes it feels that way. The Ship Inn supplies our deserved lunch and the food was very nice but actually a little small, serves me wrong for choosing from the kids menu. The Chocolate muffin with cream and ice cream was good, though.
The train took us home and I cycled straight out into a main road because kids have right of way, correct?
Covfefe. No, I just wanted to talk crap, because hithertoyeauntohereafterforsoothverilygadzooks, FML.
Indifferential Equations
Up first, even though I don't have to go to work! We woke Jof up and left the house before the rush hour was over. This week is getting somewhat formulaic, in that the daily structure has definitely been seen before. When we see Grandad, we do 1 registered activity with a walk, pub lunch and maths lesson. When we do London, we do 3 activities, go by train and drink beer on the way back. When we do Chichester, we swim, buy coins and investigate medieval architecture.
So today we had an hour and 3/4 in the Westgate Leisure Centre swimming pool. Having taken the same wrong turning we took last time, we were better able to correct ourselves and swam and dived and went on the waterslide and splashed each other and fought, directly against Jof's orders, because meh.
westgate leisure complex chichesterAnd I bought some more goggles on the way out for only £17, hope they last. I didn't get the new full-face mask based on Edvard Munch's Scream. From there, it is but a short hop to our favourite antique shop by Westgate where we bought several coins and tokens, especially the squashed 1p coins from the Statue of Liberty, Epcot Centre and Empire State Building. Couldn't help but notice he had an advertising flyer on his counter for 'The Boy King' at the Groundlings Theatre, where I act.
It had been 3 days since I had eaten by then (or so I made out) so we had food at the Wetherspoons again (who says you can't have scampi 3 times in the same week?) and continued our tour of the Roman city walls. Chichester is rather good for this kind of thing, Dear Follower Fiona told us about it and we're still doing it now. We did the North-East quadrant and found a splendid swingpark with sandpark and tyre-swings right inside the walls at 'Priory Park'.
The boundary rope of the cricket pitch has to divert slightly due to the presence of the mound of a Norman castle (previously much larger): the Guildhall is all that remains of the medieval priory (closed by order of Henry the 8th I am I am), and in the grounds of that priory they recently discovered a Roman villa of millionaire proportions because nobody has built on the site in 1600 years. You can now get married in the Guildhall, but you don't have to. In the background is the Cathedral (also built by that chap Norman), and the place was upgraded a bit by Alfred the Great, you know the way it is.
chichester cricket pitch city walls
I climbed the castle mound, swung on the tyres, and carried on round the walls. On the way home we stopped off at the post office to wait in a queue that stretched into the car park for a packet of undelivered coins, so I read 'The world's worst children 2' by David Walliams. At home I Skyped Sydney and Jof brought home some more coins for us to sort through. Not that we like coins in any way.
Another planned trip, with the same structure as most of our many previous visits. OK, so we'd had to post the historical artefact of data storage technology we were donating to the Science Museum, but that was no reason not to go to London as we'd bought the train tickets anyway.
religious animatronic moving modelsJof went to work and we left the house dead on schedule and arrived at the station with enough time to get a coffee and mess about on the lifts for a while. Train journeys are necessarily dull so I spent my copious free time looking at horses lying down, prostrate cows and apparently unconscious sheep, and babbling.
terminator movie poster science museum
We secured and successfully defended a 4-seat bay for the entire journey, and by the time we pulled into Waterloo, I'd eaten a Scotch egg, half a pack of cocktail sausages, 3 chocolate bars, crisps and 2 juices.
Trips to London are characterized by frantic periods of activity broken up by lots of sitting down, as well as lengthy stints of thrift punctuated by brief bouts of profligacy. The minute we hit Waterloo we sprang into action. I am now an underground map-reading expert and got us to South Kensington for the Science Museum in no time.
The mostly-lady at the front desk was confused by our request for our pre-booked tickets and sent us downstairs to the toilets who also failed to give us tickets. 2 floors up from there was the actual Robot Exhibition and the free tickets from our new insider friend saved us a good £20.
museum facade columnsSome of the early robots (automatons) were freaky as were the religious beliefs of their first viewing customers, seeing moving models of monks as magic. There was a cabinet of prosthetic arms that definitely looks cyborg-ish. The early film robots were epic in a clunky way and there was a T-800 that appeared in Terminator Salvation and some more modern AI bots moving inexorably towards the uncanny valley of human likeness.
We reckon Sexbots will fund the next industry great leap forward, as the military has done in other areas. Sadly there were no Terminator T-shirts in the shop, maybe they couldn't get a licence. I was wearing a Minecraft T-shirt so wanted to revisit the Hall of Archaic Computer Games, to show off. It took us a while to find the right staircase to the basement but once I'd squashed a couple of pennies we hit the shop.
british museum london egyptian collectionIt's great in there and you always want to buy 27 things but I restricted myself to a Minecraft book. He got 2 rocks (one of pure silicon, one of translucent titanium glass) but I found myself playing a game which was offered unto me.
Back in the day when even the parents were young, all you could get were simple 8-bit games with shooting or planes or similar, and you were grateful because that was cutting-edge tech. But with the computing power, storage and processing speed of today, the simplicity of the coding of the retro-games of yester-decade means you can fit 200 8-bit games into a gizmo the size of a matchbox, plug it directly into your flat-screen TV and off you go!
british museum chinese ceramics exhibitionBut there is no rest for the wicked and we left with our booty to go back underground, via a man with a huge bubble-making kit in a precinct by the Geological Society. A busker maimed Stairway to Heaven to speed us on our way.
Tottenham Court Road was just 2 underground changes away and along New Oxford Street and up Bloomsbury and Great Russell and hey presto, the British Museum. It has columns to die for and a big queue for the bag check. I led the way and we saw Korean and Chinese ceramics, Somalian carvings, Victorian watercolours, African chairs made out of recycled guns, Solomon Island head-dresses, Moorish textiles, Minoan pottery, Greek urns, Egyptian mummies, Japanese incense burners, a Michelangelo cartoon, Mesopotamian statues, Korean coins, a rock crystal skull, Amerindian totem poles, the world's oldest flip-flops and lots of gold.
british museum mesopotamian exhibitsIn the shop I got a Pyramid pencil sharpener and an Egyptian cat fridge magnet for Jof, because she is always asking if she can have a cat.
We also found a Pizzeria which proved highly acceptable for both taste and price, not the usual situation in London tourist traps. The pizzas were hand-made to order, cheesier than an 80s compilation and mine was only £6 with added drink and side order of broccoli.
Avoiding the numerous flyer-dealers outside, we found 'Coincraft' a Piccadilly-based coin dealer but the cheapest coin was £65 so we ran away, past the gaudy tourist tat shops with their beefeater teddies and Union Jack mugs and telephone boxes of all nations.
I have heard of the Docklands Light Railway and wanted to experience it having heard that some of it is above ground. The transfer was a bit complicated at 'Bank' but we got onto the DLR and it was epic soon enough as we went uphill and over canals and roads and other trains and looked into peoples' bathroom windows, unusual for an underground train. In the underground station was a poster advert for the Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre - which I'll be visiting next week.
emirates cable car greenwichCanary wharf (not a singing Klingon) is a vast engineering marvel both above and below ground but they could do with improved signage, in my opinion. After fighting with Julie B (the Jubilee line), we finally got to Greenwich North and the Emirates 'Air-Line' cable car over the Thames.
I collect (amongst other things) novel forms of transport and this was to be my first cable car. I got my own ticket and we waited for the pods to do their slow circuit around the disembarkation/embarkation zone. You can see the procedure while waiting and it is all very slow until the car re-engages with the immense steel hawser whish is powered by the giant red horizontal turning-wheels.
Once you've been engaged, it shoots you up to the maximum velocity of 6 M/S and you climb up and up over the pylons until you are 90 metres over the Thames, even at low tide, and you bob along swinging gently in the breeze.
crossing thames cable car ride
OK so it doesn't have the raw acceleration of the Solent RIB ride or the brutal altitude of a long-haul Jumbo jet but it was excellent with views of building sites and barges and cable cars coming in the other direction and the runway of London City Airport and the Millennium Dome and Canary Wharf and overground railways and the Thames Barrier and planes and cranes and ships and water taxis and the giant pylons holding it up and skyscrapers and wakeboarders and a restaurant on a ship and I said the cable car would be better with a glass floor and a fellow passenger turned decidedly green. It was all over too soon as we landed at the Emirates Royal Docks.
houses of parliament security cordonBut we'd purchased return tickets so we did it all again! I got the 2 available souvenir medallion coins from the machine (automaton-robots taking your money, just saying) but we didn't get the pointless souvenir interactive photo because I'd got quite sufficient imagery of the ride already, thank you.
Bud always wants to go the extra mile but it felt like 5 as we sailed past Waterloo and got off at Westminster to see the armed cops.
I found 6 outside the Houses of Parliament and laughed at Black Rod's Garden Entrance which sounds dreadfully rude. It has a heavy wrought iron gate with a little wooden shed for the least popular and perhaps flatulent Policeman. I also found a 7 mile trek past Horseferry kid's park (with actual wooden horses) to Lambeth Bridge and a further 164-mile yomp across unfamiliar terrain to the Archbishop's Park next to Lambeth Palace. This green space has a top-notch swingpark that you can see from the train and I absolutely agree that I need to go there.
view from lambeth bridge westminster
But inserting it at the end of a 11-hour, 3-activity day was gross malfeasance, wilful incompetence and cruel and unusual punishment, as both of my legs had fallen off with exhaustion. I bleated and moaned my way down the never-ending pavement back to Waterloo and agreed that the Archbishop's Personal Swingpark will be done first on our next trip.
boy asleep on train seatsIn Waterloo Station we bought the same 4-pack of Belgian beer as the last 8 times and gigantic chocolate buttons and the Bucket'o'Chocolate and then we met Football 'Arry from my school class. He had been to the Imperial War Museum.
train tickets cable car experienceOn the train home we secured and successfully defended a 6-seat bay and Charlie (from my acting class) visited us and ate some chocolate and we battled a bit because I was tired and just wanted to read my Minecraft book.
At the beginning of the day Jof had told us to text her regularly as she was worried about terrorists. So we laughed at her and made sure to update her facetiously about our locations and activities about 8 times during the expedition: but for the last 2 she was asleep at home.
We missed the latest London terror attack by 4 hours and 1/2 a mile.
Sunday started at 1220, which means a 13-hour sleep. If you're going to break the all-time sleep record, do it properly. It was a quiet day: I couldn't even play my Retro Mini TV 8-bit games console because my LCD screen doesn't have A/V ports. So we have to go to Tandy or Radio Shack to get a RF converter.