I get a kick

I get a kick out of you, saxophone. Strains of saxophony coming through the wall from the next room. TV on without the sound. Lying back on the settee staring at my screen. It’s a different kind of stare as I have banished the “Book” from my everyday life and am also avoiding sources of political news. There’s too much bad stuff going on so I figured I’d shut my eyes, cover my ears and shake my head whilst saying lalalalalalala can’t hear you.

Now watching football on the TV with Anne. Looks cold out there. Quite picturesque mind you. The green baize pitch dappled with snow. I’d rather be in here in the warmth having a nice cuddle.

That’s going to be a Liverpool throw in says the commentator. It already feels a little strange not looking at Facebook every other minute. I switched off for a month last year but this time it’s going to be longer. Maybe permanent, aside from some page maintenance. Anne’s Vans et al. I want my life back.

Bloke called Wilfred Indeedy playing in the game on the TV. Yes indeedy. Something like that anyway. Sounds right.

I’ve also decided to revamp my bookcase organisation. I keep running out of space in the posh walnut bookcase. Some of the books in the TV room are going to be boxed up and stored in the attic. I rarely read any of them anymore. Fiction from decades ago plus a load of large format hardbacks that we seem to have picked up over the years. Christmas presents, book shop remainders, rear admirals, that sort of thing. Many never read. I don’t like throwing books out.

A few years ago I spent a day or three sorting my books out. All the fiction arranged alphabetically by author, for what it’s worth. Not that interested now. Going to selectively withdraw some from view. I think this is the beginning of me changing my approach to books. I’m going to up the ante on purchases. I got the idea from JP Rangaswami with who I went to the cricket last summer at the Oval. He said he had 30,000 books! Collected over a lifetime. I’m late starting but it isn’t too late. I don’t want 30,000 of them but a few more won’t go amiss.


Christmas Eve 2018

Musings on Christmas Eve

There’s a lot of crap around in this ole world right now so I’m going to concentrate on nice things.

Sue and Dad are in Lincoln for Christmas. Staying at the Lincoln Hotel. They will be around shortly. I’ve finished all the shopping and this morning will get cracking on some of the prep by making the parmesan parsnips. Not sure whether we will need some more parmesan but that can be sorted.

The fire is lit and I’m chillin (so to speak) on the sofa next to it. What’s the difference between a sofa and a settee?

The one present I need to wrap is ready, for Hannah to do it. This is Anne’s present obviously. She wraps all the others:)

There are new lights on the tree which is looking splendid and is surrounded by a number of packages that will tomorrow morning turn into a frenzy of flying wrapping paper.

Anne is shortly off out to the Bailgate. She will be off to church later and then we will need to decide whether to pop to the Morning Star for early doors after the service. This, whilst being somewhat of a tradition is not a done deal. There have been times in recent years where the pub has been full of people we don’t know with kids running rampant. Also dad is less mobile these days so access and access to seating will be a consideration.

All is calm. Tom is doing something on his laptop in the conservatory (Tom Davies in the conservatory with the laptop #cluedo). Hannah and Joe have popped out to the shops. John is still in bed.

I have already been out to buy the last few bits of supplies we need for Christmas. Bread, turkey crown, salad. This year we are having turkey for the first time in a long time. Most of us find it bland and it has been replaced by beef as our standard Christmas Day joint. However Anne likes it so this year we are having both turkey and a sirloin of beef.

Tonight Tom is cooking us a cheese fondue ably assisted by Sue on grater. That will do for now. I may post an update later. In the meantime have a great Christmas wherever you are and I hope that Santa suitably rewards you for your goodness during the year 🙂


Sunday 16th December 2018

My plan for today

Already broken the fast with a toasted bacon and mushroom sandwich and now sat in front of the newly lit fire which is crackling as the kindling is made up mostly of pine. No match required as it self lit from last night’s embers. I will shortly get dressed and start prep for lunch. A simple roast chicken with stuffing, roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots, broccoli (yuk) and peas. The gravy will be top notch (ahem) and there will be pigs in blankets because we have the materials. Classic FM on the Sonos. Anne is off to church heavily decked out in purple. Must be a warm colour. I have to go and pick up a train ticket for John and a couple of items from the Post Office collection depot at Firth Road. Later I am headed to the Strugglers. Hey Dude are on at 5pm. A relaxed ease into the evening, home and likely an early night.


Christmas is fast arriving

Christmas is arriving fast in our house. Tomorrow we decamp to London for trefbash, the ninth of its kind. The champagne has been ordered, the menu sorted and the band knows when to arrive. This year we also have a photographer lined up as it’s the only way I remember what happened and who came. Such is trefbash.

On Friday we catch the 10.30am train from London back to Lincoln where a taxi will whisk us through the thronging masses of Lincoln Christmas Market goers to drop our bags off at home and thence to the nearest point to the Wig and Mire whereupon we will be having lunch with Anne’s old university pal Gill Dowling (rod). Wine will be involved.

Saturday is our annual Christmas Market party. We have folk around, drink stuff and sing Christmas Carols. A tradition since the early 1990s. I can’t remember exactly when we had the first.

A busy long weekend ahead. But first I have 42 parcels to post!

chinks diary

It’s one of those hmm it’s early but I’m awake mornings and I might as well get up. The world is going crazy out there but I am focussed on my own little world and that of my friends and family. It’s a survival thing. In my capacity as an ant one day I will be stamped upon so I may as well focus on enjoying it while I am here.

Before the working day starts I am off for a morning swim and thence at some point out to get the shop in for the forthcoming weekend. I’ll be too busy to do it as we approach the weekend with the Lonap AGM and trefbash on Thursday and a boozy lunch with Anne’s friend Gill Dowling (rod) on Friday. Then on Saturday it’s the annual Christmas carol singson/party at ours which is what I need to get supplies in for. There’s also my birthday lunch on Sunday for which I am cooking so it’s a busy time ahead.

Meanwhile outside the dome Rome burns and the flames had spread across the whole planet. I’d call the fire brigade but don’t have their number. I suspect they disappeared in the cuts.


The December Party Prospectus

Sunday 2nd December Dogwood @ Strugglers
Thursday 6th December trefbash @ Phoenix Artist Club, London
Friday 7th December lunch with Gill Dowling (rod) @ Wig & Mitre
Sat 8th December Davies Family Christmas Market Party @ our house
Sunday 9th December Tref’s birthday lunch @ our house
Tuesday 11th December Wright Vigar Christmas drinks bash @ Cathedral Chapter House
Wednesday 12th December Stay @ Birmingham Airport (8am flight next day)
Thursday 13th December INEX meeting & Xmas bash, Dublin
Friday 14th December pub early doors with book posse
Saturday 15th December Brittains Christmas Party (always great nosh)
Sunday 16th December Hey Dude @ Strugglers
Wednesday 19th December Carols @ Morning Star
Thursday 20th December Capacity Yorkshire, York
Friday 21st December Lincoln Independent Traders Christmas bash @ Struggs & Chinese @ Newport Arch with drop in to the Sadler’s party en route
Sat 22nd December Davies Family Christmas get together Cardiff
Sunday 23rd December Dawkins drinks party (tbc)
Monday 24th December Christmas Eve etc Sue and Dad arrive
Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day etc
Wednesday 26th December Boxing Day etc
Thursday 27th Sue and Dad leave, Jaime and Natalia from Madrid come for a visit
Friday 28th fly to Hong Kong (and that’s another story)

Life is short. Do stuff.


The 4am drift.

I was reminded that the reason I lay awake in bed at 4am was probably because I fell asleep on the settee at 8.30pm. I eventually got up to make the tea at 7.15 having drifted in and out of consciousness since the initial awakening. It’s a single time zone equivalent of jet lag. Alcohol lag. The effects of the book club meeting in the Straight and Narrow at 5pm. Anne is very skeptical of the book club and thinks it is simply a cover for a drinking bout with the boys. If I tell you that we discussed the book I am currently re-reading – Churchill’s masterpiece and definitive History of WW2 and that I was happy to reveal the ending to the boys – we won – you will know that it is indeed a book club.

This morning I will be pottering around and mentally preparing myself for the afternoon and evening ahead. Two rugby matches and a pub quiz. You will sympathise with me when I tell you that not being a Sky Sports subscriber I have to go to the Peacock with the boys to watch England v Australia. Ordinarily I would be happy to watch Wales v South Africa at home on terrestrial TV but the chances of me being able to push through the dense crowd towards the pub exit are likely to be minimal. I will have to take pot luck.

Afterwards it’s the pub quiz at the Burton Club. I realise it will come as a shock when I tell you I’m rubbish at pub quizzes but it is so. Your brain has to be in tune with the person setting the questions and mine rarely is. There was a funny exception to this when we were doing the Coast to Coast walk. The 20 miler leading to Kirkby Stephen was a killer and instead of going to the B&B we headed straight to the pub. After several pints of lime and soda followed by a few lager shandies (yes) on the picnic bench outside we went in to the pub for some food only to find that there was a pub quiz on. Tucking in to our nightly steak and chips we joined in the quiz. During the first half there was a bonus question, the answer to which was the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Now I was the only person in the pub to know the answer and won the £30 bonus prize. The only problem was you had to stay until the end of the quiz to collect. There was no way I was doing that. It was already 8.30 and bedtime. We left the pub leaving the thirty quid behind and the next morning continued East towards Keld.

chinks diary

fire on board train cancelled day 24 travel extended

smooth bit of miles davis in my ears contrasts with the unbounded hassle of the journey. who said international travel is glamorous? fire on board train cancelled delay disgruntles, stood in line for ninety minutes. my head is clear though. a strange state of affairs as I’d normally have a few numbing beers under these circumstances. the train is comfortable enough and the staff remarkably cheerful. a contrast with the station staff who had to deal with hundreds of annoyed passengers and who themselves didn’t look to possess the natural ebullience of the girls on the train. blackness outside as we race through the presumably Belgian countryside. stop in a town. Lille. mademoiselle. my head nods rhythmically to beat of the double bass. trumpet dances. around me people eat the tasteless cardboard fare dished out on the eurostar. I’d need to be hank marvin to do the same. had a burger at Gare du Midi. we are stopped next to neon blue Carrefour sign. presumably the train staff have nipped across to get some shopping in. this delay is not encouraging. I have 27 minutes to swap trains in London. It’s just a walk along the platform, down the moving stairway, out through customs and across the road to kings cross station. simples, in theory. before me sits an empty plastic drinks container. I hesitate to call it a glass. diet coke. not my normal tipple but these are not normal times. a small bottle of vittel sits upended in the cupholder awaiting my thirsty pleasure. top on obvs. been going 50 minutes now fwiw. my right heel has been constantly bobbing up and down. just made a conscious effort to stop it. had a productive day in Ixelles. actuellement comme on dit 🙂 bloke sat opposite has just taken his shoe/boot off and found one of those paper tubes of sugar in it. how’d that get there? couldn’t make it up. he is reading “a gentleman in moscow” by amor towles. wonder what amor’s real name is. looks like a crappy novel. I don’t do crappy novels. he has two young sons in tow. they are engrossed playing child minding games on iPads or simlar. in front of me the vanity mirror is open. I am resting the phone on its cover. old geezer with a collar and tie walks back and has to wait in the aisle whilst the staff do their stuff. clearing up after the silver service plastic airline food. I await a second cup of coffee. we are apparentelement still on time for st p. innit. we may now be underwater, so to speak. the ambient noise beyond my bose phones just seemed to change although I hear very little outside the jazz. a very gentle conversational murmur. two aged gentlefolk opposite doing the times crossword. not sure whether it’s the cryptic one or not. can’t quite make it out. don’t think so. not that I doubt their capacity to do the times cryptic crossword. probably already done it. that or keeping it for last/best. john coltrane is on sax with paul chambers on base. red garland on piano and billy joejohn. not sure about that last one. the old bloke has walked past again. weak bladder or something up. the whole family opposite have earphones in. me too of course but it does feel a bit strange that they are all in their own zone and not communicating with each other. I suspect I’ll be wide awake when I get home and not able to sleep. drinking more coffee here. it would make sense for me to get some work done when hanging around for hours on these trips but you can’t really get the enthusiasm or energy to do it. that’s despite not imbibing. if there was beer involved it would be a no hoper. where there’s life there’s hope. there is life. moved on to bill evans

chinks diary

Sober October Day 11

Slightly tedious Day 11. Sorting out quotes. Need some more info to be able to finish off. Took car to superhand car wash (or whatever it’s called) on Outer Circle Road . Was covered in gunk off the trees in the front drive. Also took cheque to pay into bank. Business account.

This evening we have the (newly repaired) central heating on. Needed a new pump! Sokay now though which is good because otherwise it would be cold. Anne cooked a nice prawn curry using a Slimming World recipe. Brown rice.

Popped down to the West End Tap for a swift one early doors. Ended up having a swift three. Pints of lime and soda. Bit of banter with the lads at the bar. No nibbles. Now watching a documentary on the Chromecast. Sod all on the box.

chinks diary

Sober October Day 7

One week down. Met Steve Wildman and Rob Vashak in the Star for early doors for a coffee yesterday. Barman Dave wasn’t overjoyed as making three cappuccinos with an extra shot of espresso is far more complicated than pouring a pint. Had to assuage him with an in between rounds pint of lime and soda.

This afternoon I am off to Brussels, flying from EMA. Don’t usually fly but on a Sunday it seems easier to travel that way than using the almost non existent train services from Lincoln. I Get to Brussels quite late so will almost certainly be a quick hello to anyone who is in the bar and then off to bed.

So are there any lessons after week 1? I’ve found myself with more time on my hands and energy to do things. Lots of little jobs sorted out including going through my drawers and throwing out clothes that have hung around for years but never worn.

The time on my hands bit works both ways. There have been occasions where I’ve twiddled my thumbs wondering what to do next. I’m thinking specifically of Friday early doors where I would normally be down the pub. Don’t get me wrong. Pub time in Lincoln is usually just Friday and Saturday early doors though this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I don’t mind popping out and just consuming soda water but last Friday we were heading out to the Labour Club for the jazz night so early doors was slightly later at 6.30pm. I’m quite comfortable not drinking alcohol.

The biggest change in lifestyle has actually been the disappearance of all offspring from the house. We are back to what it was like before we had kids which is great although also a bit strange. Freedom ! 🙂

Today we might press some apples.

chinks diary

Sober October Day 4

An uneventful day. Why should it be otherwise? Working plus a visit to the health centre for the annual flu jab. It’s an age thing!

Bit of a swim first thing as I am wont to do. There were not many people in the pool and I recognised a bloke in the near side lane who I knew would not be in for much longer. I joined him and after two lengths he got out leaving the lane to just me for the rest of the session. Result. It’s a lot easier to get up and go to the pool if the previous night has been alcohol free.

Took the volvo estate back to Coops. He’d leant it to us to take Hannah’s gear to her new flat in London. Couldn’t have done it without it. She has a nice flat that will be perfect for her and her flatmate Ann. Top floor flat mind you. Nearly killed me carrying everything up three flights of stairs.

At coops’ picked up one of the campervan awnings – the bag needs washing and repairing. Coops also lent us his apple press. The weekend will see some cider making in progress.

Had carrot and coriander soup for lunch and lemon sole, chips peas and asparagus for tea.

Quiet evening in watching iPlayer. More anon.

chinks diary


Up early. Not quite light out. Summer is drawing to a close. I can hear the clock ticking – never noticed it before. Strange that.

chinks diary

tuesday 10th April 2018

It’s 5:20 am and I’m already up having been awake since maybe 5. Didn’t see the point in staying in bed trying to sleep. I’ve had enough kip although it wouldn’t have done me any harm to have another hour or hour and a half or so. Also took me a while to get to sleep. The previous night I was out like a light having been partying for two days in London for the Checkatrade Trophy final.

At one point, lying there awake, I put my specs on. It’s strange putting your specs on in the dark. Seems to bring the darkness into focus. At least the glow from the alarm clock on my side of the bed.

I’m currently reading the Traveller – Marco Polo. Only just started it so still only at the introduction. I realise that times were different in his time but for someone to disappear for 25 years without writing home seems a bit odd. Ok I know they didn’t have mail in those days. No service from China anyway.

Birds have started. 05:32. Historical data this. In 2118 when climate change is wreaking its havoc on our environment the dawn chorus will follow a completely different timetable. Although I might be wrong there – it’s likely more to do with the orbit of the earth around the sun. Good concept anyway.

I see a pair of green trainers on the floor in the same place I left them last night. Discarded whilst sat on the sofa upon my return from the gym with Anne. We were watching University Challenge. Didn’t get too many answers this time although I was only half listening to the questions. The team from Oxford (or was it Cambridge) were superhuman answering the most obscure questions. It’s amazing that the program is popular – I’d like to bet most people wouldn’t get many questions right.

Just to do something I started going through my email marking all as “read’ when I noticed one from the scouting association telling me (a local scout group committee member) what to do about GPDR (google it):

Step 1 – How to assess your data

a – Read ‘What is the GDPR’ (15 minutes)  

b – Watch video guides (30 minutes)

c – Complete the GDPR framework (2 hours)

Step 2 – How to manage your data risks

a – Read best practice guide (30 minutes)

b – Contact third party processors (1.5 hours)

c – Distribute local response plan (45 minutes)

Seriously?! What has society come to?

More cars driving by outside. More birdsong.

I’m off to Ireland on Sunday. After Buxton on Friday and Liverpeul on Saturday. Euro-IX meeting. Usually great get togethers of the IXP community. It is increasingly expanding outside of Europe. I notice a Saudi IXP just joined. Galway. Anne has started coming to these meetings but isn’t this time. John is now on the home straight for his A Level exams so the support team needs to be around.

Time to make the tea. Ciao amigos…

chinks diary

It’s all just waffle anyway

Sitting on the sofa in the TV room waiting for the taxi. It isn’t due for another 25 minutes. There is probably a lot I could achieve in that 25 minutes but I’ve chosen to sit down and write this.

We are packed and ready.

Ian is coming round to share the taxi with us. Everyone is headed the same way. Tomorrow there will be 28,000 fewer people in Lincoln and the same amount more in London as half the City descends on Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy Final. Checkatrade, a brand name that will be etched indelibly in our memories.

I had never heard of Checkatrade before this football season. I’ve not even looked them up to see what they do. I imagine the name tells us something. Not interested enough to find out tbh.

I’m not going to write any more. It’s just waffle anyway…

chinks diary

Waiting for someone from HMRC to answer the phone

Waiting for someone from HMRC to answer the phone. The music on hold was ok to start with but now it’s getting irritating. I’m six minutes into the call. No idea how long i’m going to have to wait. Would be quite handy if a message occasionally came up saying where I was in the queue and how long I was likely to have to wait. I’d be able to go off and make a cup of tea, or dig over the vegetable plot or something.

I’m not even sure whether I’m calling the right department. I was put through after being asked to state what I was calling about and the machine at the other end decided for me. There was reference to VAT but this has nothing to do with VAT. The problem is that despite the wait it is a lot easier to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about instead of trying to understand any online “help”.

As it happens whilst waiting (currently  14 mins+) I’ve looked at the online help stuff. It doesn’t help. Doesn’t answer the right questions. Same music on hold urgh.

What could I have done in 15 minutes. Certainly boiled the kettle and made that cuppa. If I was a tax advisor ringing HMRC on someone’s behalf that would have cost that someone over sixty quid plus VAT.

Easter holidays are upon us. I suppose half the HMRC staff are on leave with the other half going next week. Don’t blame em. 17 mins. Doesn’t help me though. I’m just hoping that they will be able to answer my question when they finally answer the phone. Don’t want to get xferred to another department to have to go through the whole thing again.

18 mins in  someone answered. “commercial department” – not relevant

Transferred to different dept. Answered straight away fair play. However wrong department again.

21  mins – being passed to someone else – a “technical expert”

The person xferring me is breathing heavily – obvs has the phone under his chin

23 mins – still waiting to be xferred

26 minutes get cut off

Soul destroying