Sunday, December 28, 2008

A completely un-Americanised authentically religious Christmas greeting to you all....

...and I mean that most sincerely. I really really do. Even though its a bit late.

The run-in to Christmas provided a little bit of local entertainment with a visit to the Comedy on the Common.

This is located in the Greenwich Rugby Football Club clubhouse on the Common near Plumstead Manor School.

It is a pretty comic venue all round.

R and I had the surreal pleasure of walking past it just before kick-off for the last Rugby (Union) World Cup. It was dark and we risked the dog mess and cut across the Common and past what seemed like an abandoned outhouse only to hear vast roars of excited voices coming from within. There are no obvious windows and no external lighting and the effect was pretty odd. It also has something of a tardis about it - you can't imagine getting many people inside it but you can as we joined fifty odd others in there for the comedy night.

The night was good - they had bottles of real ale behind the bar which dealt with worry number one. Worry number one is that clubhouses are the natural home of nasty old lager and keg bitters of the worst quality. The bad news was that they ran out towards the end of the evening so I unwisely resorted to a bootle of Koppaberg Perry.

The bill was advertised as four acts though it was actually two and a half, the half being the athletic compere Aj James. Dave Thomson kicked off and stripped off and Tony Law and his fantastic bizarre and hilarious imagination finished us off for the evening. Very funny- seek him out.

You can check out the acts (apparently- I haven't checked this) at

It started as a monthly event but its more like twice a month now. The evening is organised by someone called Nick and you can email for details at It's a bit of hike up the hill from Plumstead station but you can't complain for a "£10 including one drink" entrance price. And you certainly can't complain if you live in Plumstead as it makes an encouraging change to the normal entertainments in these parts.

Now that booze is off the agenda I am a bit uncertain if I'll be rushing to go again - "alternative" comedy certainly needs a bit of lubrication to work properly and I'm not sure if mineral water will quite hack it.

Thanks to k2d2vaca for Corn Crib and jaquian for Fire.

Happy Holidays Everyone

Happy Holidays Everyone
Originally uploaded by MsBlueSky
Hi - sorry about the greeting but if I change it it might mess up the attribution for the image. This Christmas has been not only smoke free but alcohol free as we have decided to go dry. It wasn't too bad as it goes - its unlike giving up smoking where you run into temptation quite quickly. The ability to stay dry requires the passgae of time other wise it just becomes a holiday from drinking that is soon followed by business as usual. R is finding it quite a novelty. And I am finding R quite a novelty too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Death comes to visit our house

The kitchen to be more exact. Underneath the unique "dishwasher-on-wheels" to be even more exact.

Yes Death snapped his jaws down on the snoozle of one of the visitors. Not nice for the mouse - not nice for us. But at least the paranoia about people playing bizarre mouse-related tricks on us has eased a bit.

Apparently the second set of traps weren't working because the mice are babies and therefore too light to set them off - at least that is what the mousetrap salesman told R when she went back to complain. Obviously the free chocolate fattened one of them up sufficiently to trigger the trap. It reacted quickly but not quickly enough so spend an undisclosed amount of time with its snout crushed and unable to move.

R originally stated that the mouse was lying beside the trap unattached in any way as if it had had a heart attack beside it by pure coincidence. Or had ate a dodgy crumb elsewhere and succumbed to a dreaded disease and deliberately crawled to the trap in pursuit of a swifter death and not quite made it.

It couldn't have been too long suffering as we have been checking them frequently and it certainly seemed dead when I put it in the recycle bin.

I wonder what it will be recycled into?

Another method and its associated problems is discussed here. (For internet historians I don't think this is a blog, look at the dates, it's just a standard webspace provided by an ISP).

Thanks to aiaichristmas at flickr for the picture Funeral Wreath Arrangement

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A clean sweep

No wonder they're looking so pleased with themselves.

We got back and checked the traps tonight.

All of the Nutella was gratefully received by our local mouse community - it even looks like they've put the traps in the dishwasher after eating off them and then carefully put them back. No deado mice unfortunately

R thinks this means there are tens of thousands of mice in the house -"Think about it - three traps in three different places far apart in the house. It couldn't be a one man job. It must be a team effort."

She doesn't know mice like I do - their greed and cunning must never be underestimated.

I also suspect that the traps we bought aren't very good.

The only unmolested Nutella is in the humane trap - they're simply not daft enough to venture in there yet. But -look on the bright side-last night's binging might mean they've developed a taste for the brown stuff now and won't be able to resist.

Bring it on.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Guess who's back?

Yes the pesky bastards are getting a bit cocky - a pale looking R reported to me at turning-in time last night that she had just seen two mice in the kitchen. They had run and hid behind the sink. They had then proceeded to mock her with their squeaking.

So the Nutella's been out tonight - the traps have been unpacked and primed with a professionalism that would make Jason Bourne blush and we're ready for action.

An all night vigil would be in order but its much more difficult without a steady supply of smokes as I found out trying to watch the US Election the other night. The deep monotony of BO's voice would put our mice to sleep. Without the countervailing stimulus of nicotine I couldn't keep awake. Which is just as well - the body needs rest after all.

And what kind of squeaky little critter does John McCain remind me of? Don't ask...I'm having one of my turns.

Thanks to Hardcore Shutterbug for his picture "Mickey's Hooked"

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Communication Strategies

I was amused (some months ago) to see this little innovation at the Pelton Arms in Greenwich. It's a little leaflet that you place on your beer glass to stop the bar staff sweeping it up whilst you're outside having a cigarette.

I wish I had something similar myself the other day - not for a cigarette of course but to use the loo. Good bar staff don't snatch away seemingly unattended glasses the first time they see them - but this pub was the Market Porter and standards aren't the best. They have one concern which is to serve quickly and take your money - and they do serve quickly. When your change is back in your hand that's it - the deal's over and that's that. Don't trouble them with talk of short pints or anything else. They neither know about it nor care. Or rather it seems that way nowadays. Anyway - I didn't dare leave it at the bar without some little note. A smoker might have been better prepared these days. Having been amused by the hipster pda in the past perhaps it is time to carry around some more index cards. Write your note "Having a quick ciggie" then place it on top of the glass. No need to mention toilets at all. Another unintended plus to the smoking ban. (If you have a soft spot for low tech alternatives have a look at the DIYPlanner site - its a hymn of praise to pens and paper).

Which leads seamlessly to...I accompanied R into town to see her doctor the other day. She forgot her mobile so we when we decided to go to two different places and meet up at an unspecified time we had to dig out some old skills. "When will you be finished R?" I asked "I don't know Erik. Where will you be?" she asked "I haven't got a clue R". With two functioning mobiles such utter vagueness presents no problem. Without them you need to work out a PLAN. Plans are not too difficult if you both speak reasonable English. They are free and you are not tied into any contract. They are about the same length as a text message. "When I come out I will look in all the cafes in Lower Marsh""OK I will be in one of the cafes in Lower Marsh when you come out". It kind of worked but there must have been a bit of interference on the line as I saw R lurch past the cafe's window without looking in and I had to chase after her. Our second "plan" was "I'll do Starbucks you do Sainsbury's and we'll meet at the pie shop". It didn't take me long before I got to the pie shop with our coffees. R was immersed in a "Woman in Shop Situation". So this was how it was before mobiles I thought as I stood there waiting. It was all based on waiting: waiting in cafes, waiting in pubs, waiting beneath clocks,waiting...waiting..waiting. Except, one difference, I would be able to break up the wait with a cigarette in those far off days. It was the perfect consumable for some one who was waiting. It was quick, it was easy to handle, it was stimulating, it was relatively cheap. Luckily I had my latte to sip on but coffee has its limits. I could hardly distract myself with a steak and onion pie every time I had to wait for someone - the weighing scales are suffering enough as it is. Could the drive against smoking have been so dominant if the mobile phone hadn't become so available?

thanks to onkel_wart for the waiting picture linked to above

Monday, September 01, 2008

Door of Perception

The Devils Door
Originally uploaded by St0rmz
The work on the bathroom continued yesterday and I was set to clean the old glass door before R put it back in place.

It is a flowery glass panel door. The former owners, or at least one of them, smoked and the fine veins of the leaves were embedded with tar. I couldn't help think of the same material still hanging around in my lungs despite a gap of more than two years. A lot of heavy scrubbing was required and eventually most of it shifted.

Most of the tobacco was on the inside bathroom side of the door. It was very late in my smoking career before I started smoking in the bath. It is an extraordinarily tricky procedure - avoiding the water is easy enough it is avoiding wetness as a whole that is the difficult bit. But it diid have its rewards. Locked away in warm foamy tub puffing on a roll-up felt wonderfully relaxing.

Well the former owners know what I'm on about even if no one else does.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

When the going gets tufty....

If it's not one thing it's another.

About this time last year we were tackling swifts in the loft, feral mice hanging around in gangs in room corners and slugs dripping off the ceiling.

I was called off of our sofa by an anxious R the other night. There were footsteps in the loft – were the builders we are in dispute with planning a surprise attack on us or stealing our roof as a part payment? It was a possibility but only briefly – the sound and speed of the footsteps would have meant they had hired an impossibly manic dwarf assasin with clawed toes.

It was a creature of some sort however and neither R or I wanted to go up and have a look to find out what it was. “I'll go up there tomorrow” I promised.

By the time I got up R had already called out a pest control company. The man came quickly and just as quickly concluded it was a squirrel. This was a relief – at least it wasn't a rat or a Japanese loft dwelling demon.

Some rather large traps were laid.

“I kill 95% of reported squirrels” he said.

He said he will return in a week to remove the body.

So far it appears the squirrel belongs to the 5% Club. He was still re-arranging the furniture, or whatever they do, the other night. (R is worried that it's vandalising a watercolour of a parrot that she has up there - the philistines!!!).

I listen out for his scratchy little sprints across the roof wondering when a mad dash will be terminated with a nasty snapping sound.

UPDATE: Saturday has come again and guess what? No trace of squirrel activities...not a single monkey nut consumed. The man will come next week but this one is deinitely looking like a five-percenter. Or it is a ghost demon after all.

This scenario isn't unknown to this blog - remember this from a post a year back?

(The image link above is to an image from the film "the Grudge" if you care about such things).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Greenwich Beer and Jazz festival 2008

This was the first one in Greenwich - and it was somehow related to Catford's demise because of greedy landlords at their old venue. It was in the grounds of the Naval College.

Was it any good?

Well. I went on a Sunday. There was practically no beer. It was expensive and the charging seemed to take no account of the usual depletion of stocks that always happens at the last day of beer festivals.

It had one of those signs that really really really annoy me. It went something like this "Due to the immense popularity of this event the selection of beers is greatly reduced" and then something like "so don't complain - just count yourself lucky we let you in". Total rubbish - "the reason it's so bad is because it is so good". " We haven't let you down you have let yourself down by bothering to come here". "Don't blame us for your stupidity". Tossers.

You couldn't see the river despite being located right up close to it. Nuts.

The Jazz? Well I can take it or leave it. That's if the million and one jobsworth security guards would let me take or leave anything without first getting their permission.

Al fresco joy - they did get that right (on the Sunday at least). But open air is not my preferred way of doing beer.

A complete lack of pillocks in jangly hats and people wearing anti-EU T-shirts. Hardly any beards longer than mine. I consider these to be bad signs.

I know a big concern might be keeping out some of the baseball-hat wearing brigade but the net effect was far too twee and smart-arsed. Looking at this extended Dejeuner Sur L'herbe I felt a quick machine-gunning wouldn't have gone amiss. And didn't Catford always manage to deal with the anti-socials without using looney high prices and batallions of block head security guards? And without turning it into Brideshead Revisited?

The beer seemed more expensive but there have been tax changes so I'll let the government get the blame for that one. But you can't pin the over-priced hot-dogs on Mr Brown or the soft drinks.

The location and weather were lovely (despite the stage blocking out the river) and some of the people serving were amusing - some because they were drunk or incompetent but others because they were pleasant people. The company I was with was very nice too but they certainly weren't provided by TGBJF.

Up to now I had considered a visit to a Twickenham Festival years back to have been the worst I had attended. It was the last hour or so and there was a not very interesting bit of mild on offer and that was that. I still enjoyed my pint. It cost about 50p and there wasn't any charge for coming in to the event itself. And the people were a laugh and it wasn't a police state and I always remember it warmly when I recall it with friends who were there.

Did the Jangly hat people know it was one to avoid? Did they sense it in their bones?

It does seem hard to think I won't go to this in future - after all we were so excited there was going to be one so near. Maybe things will evolve -maybe it will get better or maybe it will change its name to a "Hoegaarden and Sol Festival" and we can all forget about it.

Verdict - completely misconceived , exploitative rubbish peopled with the worst kind of Greenwich poseurs, a dreary soundtrack but a nice location.

Catford whereforth art thou?

Co-op Funeral

Oh dear.

The Co-op in Lakedale Road is about to bite the dust. I was in there a few days ago in the vain hope of finding some black pudding and some clingfilm. Despite the Soviet-style empty shelves I did manage to get some clingfilm. Black pudding is tricky in Plum. I thought it was even worse than usual and then silly me I saw the "We are closing down" sign.

Me and R are partly responsible. I fully expected to be a regular user of the Co-op when I turned up here. Even got myself a membership form (that I still haven't filled in). I had no real impression of the Somerfield when I used to visit my friends - I never strayed that far up the High Street.

I guess I knew the Somerfield was here by the time we moved in but still had the Co-op to the front of my mind. It did have a good range of real Ale. But so did Somerfield - but Somerfield had one beer in particular which is part and parcel of our life here. Badger Original - fresh clean not too strong and only £1.19 a bottle.

We did give it some custom but it had little to offer apart from its co-operative principles. This was frequently not enough to justify the extra few hundred feet in distance.

It closing is not the worse thing. It is not a sign of new and better things to come. At the moment nothing seems lined up for the site and with the general gloom descending it may be a while - just an empty space or charity shop. I hope whatever comes deserves its place. Lakedale is a pretty important little corner of the town I think. Invest now.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Will you just quit!!!

I received this email.

"Dear future self,

I'm reminding you about your stated goal on 43 things,
to "Quit Smoking".
How's it going?

Your past self"

Well past self my answer is similar to last year's answer.
"I'm doing all right. Now can you please let me get on".

Who needs the police state with self-naggers like me around?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


This picture is taken from the Museum of London's exhibition "the Big Smoke".You'll find it here.

In my more snorty libertarian moments I think I have referred to a dystopian Musuem of Smoking without the Smokers.

Is this show the fulfilment of my dark vision?

I am not too sure but judging by a quick read of a free paper today it looks like there is something of interest going on there. I should drag myself over there sometime.

Meanwhile Duncan Ballantyne is taking on the tobacco companies, and a whole load of foreign johnnies whilst he's at. He feigns affectation for a coakroach and sneers.

Is the the term Health Fascist now finding actual physical form too?

OK - that's a bit hard on Dunky- but exporting our moral concerns to poor countries who would be a lot worse off without tobacco doesn't seem right to me. I'll have a little listen to the man right now. Here's something about the

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Make that Seven Things

If you're lucky you can participate in a rare Plumstead double this weekend.

Firstly there is the Mela - the celebration of Asian culture on the common. I visited this a few times with local friends before moving here. The main attraction for me is the food but there's various other stalls and music and dance going. Its not a mind-blowing affair but ,if the weather's ok, makes for a pleasant Sunday afternoon diversion.

I am not sure if it's a coincidence but the Annual Old Mill Beer Festival is taking place as well this weekend. I made a couple of visits yesterday. It's a laid back affair with a fair range of ales (no real ciders unfortunately). You buy half pint vouchers at the main bar but most of the beers are out in the back garden. Here are some pictures,1 and 2.

Though real ale and real curry is an excellent combination it is not perfect. Because of the event on the common all beer will have to be sold in plastic glasses irrespective of where you take your drink. The barman at the back said bringing your own pewter tankard would be ok. Where is it though? If I started looking now I might just find it before next year's festival.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Five Good Things About Plumstead

Camelot, Plumstead
Originally uploaded by veghead
I was going to get to three and then run out as some kind of joke - but actually five isn't enough. Five will have to do though:

1) Everywhere else --- you can get to some really pleasant greenery in Kent and the London borders quite easily. You're not too far away from Ebbsfleet and the Continent.

2) Commuting - a bit like point one but specific to working in town. I get a seat and have a half-hour journey into Waterloo East on a train service that runs reasonably well. If the trains are totally up the spout you can use the tube to North Greenwich then a bus. Not a quick but nice to have the option. There's a 24 hour bus service too. I got a late night bus from Elephant and Castle once and it whizzed home without any traffic.

3) Easy going multiculturalism. A nice mix of backgrounds and a nice feel on the street.(edit - neighbour was woken at 3am by a guy banging on the door whose face had been slashed by someone - so not always as easy going as it should be).

4) Curry - an important part of the mix in item 3 is the Indian community. We have a temple adjoining our back garden, our builders were Sikhs. There are some pretty authentic curry outlets - more cafes than restaurants. Its not Brick Lane by if you fancy a curry you'll be well catered for here. And if you want something healthier you can always get some fried chicken from one of the many many many outlets.

5) The Hill - it's both an enemy and a friend depending on which way you are going of course (up or down) but it offers some great views down to sides of the Thames and over to Essex. You won't get to see much of the river itself but I always get a little buzz when freewheeling down especially at night time. And you can always cop a look at Dave Courtney's Camelot on the way down for added stimulation.

Thanks to veghead from Flickr for the picture

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Absent Friends

Went up to Norfolk for some friends' house-warming. Or should that be Rectory-warming? It was a very open-air affair. As a smoker I would always feel a bit uneasy smoking in the open countryside - it seemed especially perverse to inhale smoke when having all that fresh air around. No perversity at this house-warming however - well not any I noticed.

I had a huge obstacle course of a journey home from Cantley to Plumstead on the following Sunday. Is the Lord's Day Observance society in charge of engineering works at National (sic) Rail? It was the kind of circumstance that a smoker hates - rushing to your next connection rather than lighting up, getting a seat in a coach only to find there was plenty of time to have a cigarette but you're stuck at the back now and if you nip out they are bound to shut the doors and you're stuffed.

No such nicotine-related stress on this journey luckily. It was one old friend I could live without.

Oh I actually met a reader at this party so a special hello to Miss B and woof-woof to young Ribbon too.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

'Mare of London

So what are the choices facing us electors next week in London's Mayoral elections?

On the one hand you have the media-savvy one with the unruly hair, a shopping list of uncosted policies and the funny accent. On the other hand you have the astute political performer with years of experience and friends in high places, basking in his subtle shift to the centre ground.

As for the gay one with the fetching smile and penchant for nicking the other candidates policies - well he hasn't got a hope in hell of winning so why even bother considering him? I think he kind of knows that anyway hence his newfound knockabout style.

Who, oh who, can save us from all this?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Dangers of Cake

Birthday Cake

What's it been like? Do I still miss it?

Relatively painless thanks to 1)pressure from R 2)inspiring efforts from AB and others 3)I forgot was three was.

I have managed to get through a new job (to be honest the new job helped me adjust - my routine was less set in its ways) and, amazingly, I have got through the stress of buying and moving into a new house. This only leaves divorce as a true testing ground of how successful my change-around has been. R take note ;-)

In a respiratory way I do feel better but my sedantry lifestyle and extensive self-pampering have puffed me up considerably. Its not only my habits that have been transformed.

My quitometer has gone a bit mad as I had been warned it would. It has now started deducting money saved - I have only saved £200 now instead of the £1,000 odd I had reached last year.

Perhaps it is more realistic than I thought. Maybe it will also start stating that my life expectancy is going down rather than up. Even if that is the case I think I still prefer the feeling that I am less chained down to my addictions.

R had an anniversary of a more normal kind - her anniversaire in fact. At one point we found ourselves in the garden (yard more accurately) of the Greenwich Union. It was a bit drizzly but it was a well covered. There had been a couple there but they moved back inside as soon as we turned up. I saw an ashtray and suddenly remembered that gardens are where smokers are supposed to go when visiting pubs. Where were they all? At home I guess or walking around the street swigging cans. Perhaps they've all given up.

Playing with my Asus Eeepc I have looked into the world of ebooks a bit. There is a good reader bundled that handles a few common Ebook formats the sort you can get at the Gutenberg Project and Memoware. I downloaded a copy of Vanishing England written way back ages ago and it was lamenting the passing of the traditional boozer too. The older you get the more lamenting you do. Smoking around the fire was the only tobacco reference he made. Most of the desriptions centred around food. Pubs packed to the seams with everyone caning cigarettes isn't the way it always was anyway.

I am about to walk from the Juice Bar to the Sussex in Baylis Road - it's trying to do food a bit more, "Proper Pie 'n Mash" in fact with tables decked out in the fashion of a pie and mash shop. I hope its successful because I like the landlord. I am surprised they're feeling the pinch as they have a lot of outside seating. So food marches back to it's central position in the life of our taverns and my waistline really doesn't stand a chance.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Plumstead High Street

I love this picture - its got a wild west feel to it. It's looking from the west to the east. The lamp post on the right is the entrance to what is now Mineral Street- or at least I think it is.

A made a tentative start to a mini-project : photographing the High Street. I am curious to see if I will ever be able to complete it. By the time I have photographed both the north and south sides something will have changed again - another estate agent opened, another pub closed.

When I went out for my first 'shoot' early on a Sunday a few weeks back my batteries ran out after half a dozen snaps and I couldn't be bothered to go back and start off again. Its got to be done in order or I will get too muddled at the editing end of the process. And the weather was horrible.

I have attempted to stick a couple up on Google-Earth. I am a total newb as far as adding content (kml/z files etc...) so I be interested to see if they have turned up yet.

Oh yes - the High Street has a central role in what seems like a new blog in Plum. It's called Planet Plumstead and wants to get a debate going about the High Street. I'm off to check it out right now in fact. ( Blogger is giving me an error so here's the link long-hand )

If you've got Google Earth my two pics are supposed to be at the Walmer Terrace and Griffin Road junctions with the High Street. Haven't got a clue if they're up there yet though.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Railing again

I have just been trialling the eeepc as an on the move blog-assister. You can check the results here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Specious Drivelly

I am in a bit of a rage about good old postie and his jolly ol' chums. (Such as Nick Clegg below).

I won't bother you with the details (just yet) but I was a bit surprised to see how little gets thrown up on the web when you type into Google "Royal Mai*^~~~*****!!!!! ****** bad *******improvement needed from the little ****s"

Maybe I am in a tiny little minority of one with my postal misfortunes.

The only thing that really cheered me up was coming across this site promisingly called Hellmail.

I immediately started looking for its forum so I could vent my rage, get help advice and all those forumy things. Turns out they don't have one. Not any more they don't.

The site has a general feel of "the Royal Mail do slip up from time to time but they're all human and they do a tremendous job given the circumstances".

Take this attitude and combine it with what they say on their site and their speling ...well draw your own conclusions (front front front). I love the begging letter at the end.

On 31st August 2007, we closed our busy and highly succesful forums after two years, to concentrate on news and editorial. It was not an easy decision to make and we still, to this day, mourn the loss of so many valued contributors but we felt that forum content often sat at odds with editorial, was enormously time consuming, and could in some cases be damaging to businesses and jobs(my italics-erik). Hellmail has since that time become an important source of information for news and informationand arguably m(o)re effective.We still believe in everyone having the opportunity to put forward their own viewpoint and many of those original forum members went on to become Hellmail writers (see 'Extended Writing Team' above..Editor: "We particularly welcome views from former-members including TMFTPO, Amber Leaf, Singing Postman wherever they may be. Their contribution was enormous."

Yes Comrade Editor we agree gratitude is due to such exemplars of the Postal IdeaL Nothing to do with this outfit I guess.

(EDIT: I have since got a couple of responses to emails that I sent to Hellmail and they were really nice and I feel totally rotten for mocking them)

I'm in general raging mood and will slip into politics briefly.

Nick Clegg is promising "an in-and-out Referendum on Europe. As in "in-and-out of my manifesto whenever it suits matey"?

In one sense Labours betrayal is far more disgraceful - after all the people who voted for them did it in the knowledge they might actually form a government.

But they are the Liberal Democrats...does that mean nothing? Perhaps it means "let the Liberals do the choosing for you (plebs)"?

The Cameron squeeze seems to mean the Libs have to break their manifesto promises just to get some attention.

And all the crap that has come out defending it all...."that's what we pay MPs for" "the issues are too complex" and "media's undue influence". They should all get jobs at the Royal Mail immediatement

(EDIT - I have subsequently heard a Radio 4 profile of Nick Clegg and I don't feel the least bit rotten. Its not him anyway - if it was "he" could easily be "solved". Unfortunately its a bit more widespread and deep-seated than that).

thanks to sarahmonster for the sentiment on flickr

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fast Food

A couple of Plumstead chums (ages various) have taken it into their heads to run for literally mile and mile to raise money for people needier than themselves.

The prospect of completing this gruelling course is highly likely given the intense training routines they have committed to.

If you have a few pennies to spare why not sponsor the Blah Blah Fishcakes as they join Sport Relief's big event?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fags passed

A comment on my last post prompted me to do a bit more nostaglia searching.

Yahoo answers (1 and 2) featured strongly for some reason. There must be some kind of search-engine-users profiling that might explain why that is -- Google images was unable to provide a single image of Player's Number 6 but that was probably because of my apostrophe.

It did provide an Embassy picture though with a link to a pertinent site.

Are Players still going? The short answer is a "Wikipedia Yes". The full story is here.

Our yeah I did find a Players No.6 picture somewhere. A beermat as it happens. When I smoked them I didn't have much legal reason to come across such a thing - I was too young for pubs.

I gravitated towards No.10 myself. I could fit one into a Swan Vesta match box - the idea being that this would be a clever disguise if a teacher chose to search my pockets.

" what do we find here Fuller?"

"A matchbox sir - like for non-expellable activities like aimless match-flicking and minor acts of arson all totally innocent sir"

" Right! You better not be lying to me Fuller....move along"

My preferred Half Coronas wouldn't fit obviously so extra care had to be taken on the suspicion-raising front.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

You're never alone with a Flickr

This attractive dummy appears on the pages of a little Flickr group I came across this morning. Nice isn't she?

The group is called Smooth Smoke Slogans and it specialises in good old fashioned cigarette adverts.

I used to love the look and feel of adverts as a young impressionable smoker. I can always recall to my mind an advert in Hampton Hill High Street for a packet of Carltons - a cool purple type of affair (as were the packets) and thought I would try and fit a packet into my extensive sampling programme. I didn't get round to it partly because I had half an idea that the lads at school might pick up on the fact that the packaging was a bit, hmmm, feminine. I also think that the unavailability of the brand in packets of ten was another off-putting factor. I didn't want to blow two weeks tobacco budget on an untested smoke despite that colour being so lush and enticing.

Who knows what impact buying some Carltons might have had on my future development? I might have been humiliated by my mates ("No thanks Fuller, I'd sooner wear high heels") and given up on the whole cool smoker act and gained an extra ten years of life. Alternatively it might have led to me discovering I did like wearing high heels as well. Though I confess I am wearing my partner's polka dot pyjama bottoms as I write this, that's about the limit of my cross-dressing. Honest.

More cigarettes presented similar problems for the adolescent male smoker. I always liked cigars and cheroots and More obviously looked cigar-like. You could just about get away with them for a few days before buckling down to some proper cigs again. But More Menthols? No way, no never no way.

Thanks to hier-houd-ik-van for his picture "Mary Long".

You can find a bit more cigarette nostaglia here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

But where's the Blog-o-matic?

If you're giving up smoking you could do worse than turn to the world of gadgets for a bit of therapy.

They've certainly been helpful to me in the past. Another ex-smoker I know rewarded himself with the money he had saved by buying an iPod – and in case that seems a bit commonplace it's worth pointing out it was a few years back and it was the purchasing equivalent of buying an iPhone with the full 99 year contract. Or drinking champagne for breakfast for six months on the trot and not the supermarket own brand.

Although the need to reward myself has now waned the need to renew oneself with gadgets remains and there have been a few in my life recently. And heh! This is a blog for chrissakes and what are blogs about? Technology for stevessakes. (I did have a dream about Steve Jobs the other night – the bit with him playing with the train set is fresh in my mind).

First up and slightly more modestly priced than the early iPods and present day iPhones is the Lidl stopwatch. This is a standalone device with a modal operating systems. The four modes are Timer, Stopwatch, Alarm clock and some other time thing - I can't remember. Its wireless so you can use it in the kitchen to time eggs/pasta as well as use it to wake up in the middle of the night if you forget to reset the hourly reminder tinkle. I don't know if the hourly tinkle is for the overly hyper (time is slipping through my fingers) or the “time weighs heavily” types (only another hour...I'm sooo depressed..tick...tock...). It's pretty useless and I'm surprised Nameless Plastic Items at Lidl Limited bundled it with the more useful features in this gizmo.

Another stopwatch enabled device I picked up was the Nokia 6233 which is a neat little 3g phone. You can't video-call with it due to the lack of a front-facing camera and its only a Series 40 type phone meaning you're stuck with some limited applications. I did install MobyExplorer on it from Bermin software but it hasn't run smoothly and despite stumping up for the licence have had zero support from them. Its a file manager with some encryption software and a FTP feature and a text editor thrown in. Its also supposed to be certificated. this is important because without it the 6233 keeps throwing up a dialogue asking if I give it permission. MobyExplorer's website gives precise instructions and I managed to get the trial version to function smoothly. What's really annoyed me is that the licencing process involves installing a new version rather than just inserting the reg code (unlike Tracker and Fileman for my A925).

I'm very happy with the phone itself - I have lugged around a big phone for a while and this does most of what I want.

More importantly it is my first “generic phone purchase”. That is – it is not linked to a phone network -neither is it a phone that was previously linked to a network and has subsequently been unlocked and or re-flashed.

This does create a few problems but the advantages are major. You don't have a device that has been geared to pointing you towards services you do not want. Certain options that would normally be blocked out are there.

However it's frustrating that I can't allow whatever software I want (such as Bermin's) to run. So, although I escape the clutches of the network I remain within the clutches of the manufacturer. They presumably want to avoid the hassle of support calls from people that have messed up their phones and then have the gall to complain about it. Surely PC manufacturers have to deal with the same thing (multiplied a hundredfold) and have introduced measures to head off those problems. I have heard that this is a Nokia problem rather than with generic phones in general.

My network is the 3 network and that is the main reason why I got a 3g phone. I don't have a contract and wouldn't want one at this stage. I guess I could have got a locked PAYG phone deal and transferred my SIM over but I do like the opportunity to stick any card in if I, or R. need to. And when you do the locked PAYG prices with the compulsory minute purchasing and compare with a generic phones prices it begins to look less prohibitive.

Obviously the higher-end phones have scary prices. But that is what they cost. If we could break our association with handset and network so that something akin to the computer world took place we could spend less time going insane trying to calculate the benefit of handset and bundle offer over another.

Now those scary priced phones only cost money because they are pretty much little computers. And so we move seamlessly to my third gadget – the ASUS Eeepc.

The first thing to say about it is that it doesn't have a scary price. It doesn't have a hard drive. It doesn't have a DVD drive. But it does have an awful lot of what you would expect in a laptop and it is great. The early ones are Linux (Xandros) but you can install XP. Later ones will come pre-installed with Windows and relunctantly I would say that may be what drives the Asus (and an entire industry based on affordable ultraportables) forward. It has Wifi but seeing as this is Britain that doesn't mean two much. More importantly for me it has an ethernet port (unlike the Macbook Air and the Nokia Internet tablets). With the help of some Homeplugs we now have a two PC household where I can be writing a blog whilst R checks her emails. (And no I haven't written a blog with it yet – the small screen and keyboard seem a bit daunting for such a mesy blog creator a s myself. I need all kinds of things cutting and pasting across each other to make the simplest post. I will use it but there's a lot more configuration to do first. For everything else – emails, browsing, playing music and watching BBC iPlayer streams its a star. And its principally as an internet device for around the house that I got it. I can time my eggs with my Lidl stop watch whilst listening to Delia explain the finer points of a successful boil.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Doing it in the Road

157 George Street.
Originally uploaded by mr walker

I was walking up our road last night and confused to see people standing outside of their houses smoking. Not everyone in the street of course because then I would have known I was dreaming.
Two sets of people. A bit strange.

There is a lot of rented accomodation down our road so perhaps they were incredibly scrupulous tenants observing the no-smoking clause in their agreements. I could also understand the smokers being in the minority in their households and stepping outside at the behest of their non-smoking co-habitants. It was the standing outside bit on the pavement that confused me- our street consists of small terraced houses each with reasonably sized backyards. If I was them I would much rather smoke in my private space around the back than stand in the street with bloggers brushing by me with their shopping and such like.

The second pair spoke to each other in a foreign language. Perhaps they were only recently arrived to this country and have seen the way the natives like to stand outside in the street smoking their cigarettes? Perhaps they haven't made the link with smoking and standing in the street at all and they think there are loads of spontaneous street happenings in the offing in the UK in general or Plumstead in particular and are coming outside full of expectation.

A more prosaic reason might be that my mystery smokers don't want to die young. Not from cancer but being burnt alive. There was a fire in the street a few months back (druggies we were reliably informed). It might explain why they don't stand around the back too. There are no back paths out onto the street as far a I know.

Nah - it's got to be my street party theory.

Thanks to mr.walker at flickr for his photo 157 George Street.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Smokin' the Shark

Smokin' the Shark
Originally uploaded by l_cheese.please_l
Ok.."Erik" is just a a label for this one but isn't that shark victim costume just brilliant?

Erik & Stefan

Erik & Stefan
Originally uploaded by Mögelfar
How's that for a party trick? Erik inhales and Stefan exhales (or vice versa).

2000.04.25: Erik smoking

2000.04.25: Erik smoking
Originally uploaded by Sixfoot6
Ok it's not me. But i have found there's a few Erik Smoking type photos on Flickr. I feel a series coming on.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Trusty Tar

I was playing with my new phone and came across this. What a cheeky lad I was when I smoked. How gay and care-free.

Sorry about the appalling quality but it is a cameraphone from a few years back. I understand technology has moved on since then but my 2mb camera at least seems as bad as my good old NEC 808. I understand there are more quality options with the video capture on the Nokia though.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year

So the Year of the Ban has come and gone and is any one much bothered?

A couple I know have given up having the occasional visit to the pub by themselves. Either they had to sit alone whilst the other half had a cigarette or they both went for one together - that is they went to stand on a pavement together on a freezing winter night. Not exactly a hot date. They just stay at home now and smoke to their hearts content.

Another wavering smoker is very happy with the ban - she's so glad she doesn't come home from the pub smelling of smoke. She has the occasional cigarette but not down the pub - she has to find other excuses. And she does (find other excuses).

For my part it is my second new year without a cigarette and I don't miss it at all.

A lot of people will have given up as a New Year Resolution. Good luck. I did it once using the Alan Carr method - it was the nuttiest January I have ever had wrestling the mini nicotine monsters he encourages you to visualize whilst undergoing cold-turkey. Never again.