Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dr. Commuter advises ... Tesco

This plaintive cry for help was part of an advertisement for Tesco's home delivery service. Why come home to an empty fridge indeed? A top level team at Ramblings has been tasked with finding out the answers and here they are.

  1. Shop once a week or so, fill up your fridge with the food that you need and, amazingly, you won't come home to an empty fridge. But see 2.
  2. Is your problem that, the moment you fill up your fridge, the lodgers raid it and leave it empty? Dr. Commuter suggests that you evict them forthwith
  3. Don't go out to work then you won't need to come home.
  4. Don't come home.
  5. Throw away your fridge and store food in a larder, a meat-safe, a cellar and an ice-house built into your grounds. It was good enough for the Victorian aristocracy so it should be good enough for you.

If you have any questions for Dr. Commuter then do please get in touch at the usual address. Terms and conditions do not apply, unless we can think of some in the meantime.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

All Fished Out

Fate has played a cruel trick on us. The day before we were due to travel up north to tour the Isle of Man it became apparent there was a leak in the little pond in the garden and that our resident population of eight fish were at risk. Working at top speed Mrs C and myself bailed it out and retrieved them, using a variety of containers to hold the pond-water and plants. We were amazed to find about a dozen baby fish (not to mention two little newts); there had been very little sign of any breeding activity earlier this year and it has been several years since the last lot of youngsters.

All seemed well with the fish in their emergency accommodation on our return home but, on examination of the pond, everything went horribly wrong. There was a nasty cracking sound under my feet and water began gushing up through a split in the bottom as if we had struck oil. Clearly the water that had been leaking out had not filtered out into the garden but somehow been held under pressure below the plastic pond base. All thought of trying to fix the original leak was gone; the stark choice was to try to rebuild the pond or abandon it and having considered the increasing amount of work needed to keep it going (especially in these dreadful times of heatwave and drought), we plumped for the easy way out.

A brief message on Facebook about the plight of the fish was enough to bring round Kevin (and son), who were happy to add my motley lot to their existing brood, and at a stroke the aquatic population of our garden was reduced to zero (I should add that the newts were nowhere to be found and are regarded as escapees. Good luck to them).

So all the work of cleaning it all out last year and restocking with new plants in the hope of encouraging the fish to breed was simultaneously successful and utterly in vain. Damn and blast! The only good that has come out of it is that I no longer have to worry about endlessly pulling out strings of disgusting slimy algae from the black depths. We shall fill in the pond and plant some suitable damp-loving plants instead.

Stepping back in time on Man

Mrs C. and I escaped the heatwave in the south-east for a few delightful days spent roaming around the Isle of Man. This was our first visit so we did all the usual touristy things but with a special emphasis on the island's heritage transport systems. Horse-drawn trams run along the promenade at Douglas (right outside our hotel bedroom), there is an electric light railway going north from Douglas to Ramsey with a spur that takes you right to the top of Snaefell (and we were lucky to be there on a glorious day of magnificent views and brilliant blue skies) and the steam railway (on a three-foot gauge) runs to the south via the old capital at Castletown to Port Erin.

I haven't put many tram or railway photos up for a while so I'm going to make up for it now. Enjoy!
Summit of Snaefell at 2036'

Electric tram

Steam loco ready to leave Douglas

Horse tram along Douglas promenade

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Yes Minister. Yes, Yes YES, oh yes!

I had not heard of the Minister for Small Business before today and the only reason his name has been brought to my attention is because he has resigned. Ministers are toppling rather fast these days, thanks to the split in the Conservative Party over Brexit that is reminiscent of the old Tory party tearing itself to bits over the repeal of the Corn Laws. However our man has handed back his despatch box and the keys to the Ministerial Rover for a different reason. During the past two weeks he has apparently sent over 2000 text messages of a sexual nature to two ladies, one of whom leaked the story to the Sunday Mirror.

I read the story without giving it much of a second thought because politicians and sexual scandal go together like a long ball forward and a hefty defender intercepting it (if I may shoehorn my final comment on England at the World Cup into this unrelated piece, thanks for bearing with me). I then had a second thought, which was this: How much work is it to send 2000 texts (on several platforms, I may add) in such a short space of time? Presumably our man sleeps and does other things, such as turning up at his office to approve whatever his Permanent Secretary says before enjoying a long lunch at his club and then sitting on the green benches in the Commons nodding vigorously at each twist and turn of Mrs May's vain attempts to hold her fractious party together. So let us assume his messaging is confined to a mere six hours a day.  That means over 23 messages an hour. One every three minutes or so. Almost non-stop pecking away with his thumb whilst. I assume, giving the impression of being really hard at work on important Government business and dealing with the problems of his constituents.This shows real dedication to his craft. Imagine if he had spent all that energy and creativity on assisting small businesses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

There's a match on tonight ...

and my neighbours in nearby Westholme Gardens have been rather clever.

Whatever the result may be against Croatia, the England team have given a fine account of themselves and made many of us, despairing after so many years of under-performing, proud to support them once more.

Monday, July 09, 2018

At This Grave Hour, Here Is My Pledge To The British People

The resignations of David Davis, as Brexit Minister, and Boris Johnson, as Foreign Secretary, that took place earlier today have naturally led to a significant Government reshuffle. As the number of suitable candidates is not great and the desire of many of them not to undertake a thankless task probably outweighs their interest in holding high office, it is perhaps time for me to make own position clear.

Firstly (and I assume nobody else has gone in the past few minutes whilst I have been marshalling my thoughts and penning these few words typing into my web browser) let me make it clear, no I've already done that bit, umm, at this important time in our great nation's history .... island race ... mother of parliaments ... football's coming home ... Royal family, God bless 'em ... yes, my point is (has anyone else gone yet?) that should Mrs May (assuming she is still Prime Minister when she casts her cool, quizzical and frankly quite sexy look over this column1) seek a candidate for the Cabinet whose grasp of current events surely exceeds those of most of her crew by a pretty considerable margin then she should look no further than the author of these jottings.

I pledge to implement the Brexit that the British people voted for (if somebody could kindly remind me exactly what it was it would be helpful, because nothing any of the Brexiteers says makes the least sense and these guys have had years and years to think it over, discuss ideas with their European counterparts and actually do some real work towards it instead of just posturing) and I will not compromise or fudge on the core issues (whatever they may be and however contradictory); I am convinced of the wonderful opportunities that await us that are evidenced by the huge number of foreign businesses simply queueing up to move to these shores [Researcher: find out if any one at all has actually promised to move here, buggered if I've heard of any] and that the nations of the world are desperate to do business with us, join us in military alliances and find out the secret of our astonishing success at football 2

Here's hoping I can get a seat at the World Cup Final before the next crisis.

[Nobody else has gone in the past ten minutes so it's safe to post up this despatch: Ed]

1. That must be worth a CBE at the very least. If she is still PM.
2. I am no longer on any serious medication

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Those World Cup Predictions - Further Clarification

Once again, it is sadly necessary to revisit the somewhat rash and pessimistic assumptions that underpinned the otherwise entirely factual and accurate suggestions made a few weeks ago, that, by this stage of the World Cup, the England football team would be back home with their duty frees and Mr G. Southgate would be dusting off his CV. This afternoon the team managed to see off Sweden in the quarter-finals and and will play Croatia in the semi-finals this Wednesday.

It is a long time since an England team have been in such a position and there is indeed a fair chance that further progression is possible. This column has no hesitation in saying that, should we manage to do this and then in the final score more goals than the opposition, then surely we will be the winners; if this should not be the case then it will be another team that is. This much is crystal clear and indisputable. We shall rest upon this position and shall not be moved.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Those World Cup Predictions - an Explanation

It has come to the attention of this column that certain prognostications concerning the progress of the England football team during the early stages of the World Cup may have been somewhat inaccurate, not to say downright wrong. This evening the team managed to do things that, frankly, we had begun to believe were beyond them, viz:
  1. Win a quarter final
  2. Win a penalty shootout
That they did so against one of the dirtiest teams (Colombia, who left with six yellow cards and were very lucky there were no reds) I have ever seen (and I recall the Italy of the 1980s) made it all the sweeter. That they had just two shots on target out of sixteen (according to the BBC, but the more generous Guardian made it five out of fifteen) makes it somewhat less sweet; indeed your correspondent had abandoned watching the match during the second half and relied on the noise from the neighbours for updates right through extra time and the penalty process.

It was possible to keep tabs from the feedback outside because so many were watching this outdoors on one of the hottest nights of the year. For the record, June and now early July have been amazingly warm and consistently dry, with temperatures in the high 20s most afternoons.  It has been the most prolonged period of glorious summer for many a long year, spoilt only by the sheer lack of at least some rain to keep the gardens growing and the grass green. There are hosepipe bans under discussion in Northern Ireland - nothing threatened here yet but a decent drenching would ease things.