The Dance of the Garage Door

Currently I have no internet apart from using my phone as a link and that could turn out expensive if I do it too much. If you send email and I don’t answer, it might not be back to full activity for a few days. I should be back to full internet access by Tuesday or Wednesday, and here’s why (wrote this offline and pasted it in, it’s quicker that way)

Saturday was a crappy day.

On Friday I cut the big lawn. I did this late because the air has been stuffy here. It has topped 20°C (I know, perfectly normal for the end of June and some of you are weird enough to think that’s cold) and humidity levels have been appalling. The slightest exertion left me soaked in sweat and getting out of the shower meant an hour or so of trying to get dry.

Last time I cut that lawn I decided to let the clippings dry and rake them up the next day. It’s standard procedure – the grass box is no use, there’s far too much grass so I let the mower leave the clippings on the lawn. It has a flap on the back that leaves the clippings in a neat line on the left side.

Naturally, after I had cut it and left the clippings for the next day… it rained for a week. So by the time I got back to it, the grass was six inches long again and peppered with lines of rotten grass. That was the situation on Friday, when I just ran the mower over it again. Just to make it that bit more dreadful, that was when the back flap fell off the mower just so that it could coat me from head to foot in minced grass. There was a delay while I fixed it back on.

I tried to pick up the clippings straight away but as I didn’t start until 8 pm and had to fix that back flap, I ran out of light around 10:30. Still, I had the lines pulled together to make it easy to do on Saturday.

Well, it was another stuffy day so I left it until just after 6 pm to start. It was clouding over, great, that makes it cooler.

Then the rumbling started. Those clouds weren’t just overcast. They were big dark buggers and they were coming in fast. Lots of rumbling and flashes of light. I got about halfway through raking the grass when the first drops fell and I realised I was standing in a big open space, in the path of a really mad thunderstorm while holding the long metal handle of a lawn rake.

Considering the way my luck had been going the last couple of days I thought it best to beat a hasty retreat and deal with the rest of the clippings another, less potentially lethal time. In the end I finished clearing them up on Sunday. But more about Saturday…

The storm lasted over four hours. We lost count of the power outages, which were fortunately all short-lived. At one point I went out to check on the garage and found its main door wide open. I closed it and went back inside.

It took a few moments to register.

Soon after we moved in, the landlord finished his refurbishment of the garage by fitting an electric garage door. I have a key fob I can use to open it remotely, which is fun. I don’t keep the car in the garage though, partly because the garage is full of stuff but also because if the power went out long term and we had to go somewhere else for a while, the garage door wouldn’t open. There’s no manual way to do it. Anyway, I finally figured out what was happening.

What was happening was that every time the power came back on, the garage door mechanism interpreted it as a pulse and opened the door. I guess it was opening and closing at every pulse. Anyway, I had to do something about it so I decided to close it and turn off the circuit breaker so it wouldn’t randomly open again. Otherwise everything in there would get soaked.

It was getting dark by this time. Normally it doesn’t get dark here in June but the enormous thunderclouds took care of any residual sunlight. I went to the garage, sure enough the door was open but the door and lights weren’t working. Okay. I went back for a torch. The circuit breakers had flipped to ‘off’.

I turned them on. At this point, the storm decided to have a bit of fun with me and it went for peak intensity. Flashes and rumblings were seconds apart.

I pressed the button to close the door. It got halfway down – flash – the circuit breakers tripped. I turned them back on. Nothing. The power was off. The power came back on and the circuit breakers tripped.

I turned them back on and pressed the button. The door, now convinced it was in the opposite phase, opened fully. I let it. Then I pressed the button again and it started to close. Flash. The power went off but the circuit breakers didn’t trip. I waited. The power came back on and the circuit breakers tripped.

Okay. I turned them on and pressed the button. The door went back to fully open. Pressed it again. Flash The circuit breakers tripped. Switched them on. The power was off.

By this time I was considering disconnecting the door from the mechanism and nailing the damn thing closed.

One more try when the power came back. I finally got the door to almost-properly closed and – flash – the power went off.

Good enough. I made sure all the circuit breakers for the garage were off and left it.

Naturally, the rain came down like stair rods (you have to be a certain age to remember that one) and I was soaked on the short walk back into the house. Just one last insult from the storm gods.

Also we now have no internet. A quick check of the ISP’s site using the phone (we can get 4G if we’re in the right part of the house) shows that a big chunk of the UK has no internet tonight. Looks like the storms managed to hit something important.

The Dance of the Garage Door was just the storm playing around after it had completed its mission to screw up as much internet as it possibly could.

On Sunday, still with no internet, I called the ISP who ran a line check and decided the router was fried. I have to agree – the cordless landline phone is also dead but the plain old powered-from-the-phone-line one is fine. Switching things around told me the line itself is working but the router and cordless phone are destined for scrap.

I will have only intermittent internet, using the mobile phone as a link, until the new router arrives on Tuesday or Wednesday. And we have to go shopping for a phone too.

On the plus side, the storm really has cleared the air of stuffiness.

Delusions

Well I’m knackered. Grass is getting its first cut and it’s full of pine cones. Not just one or two. There are branches loaded with cones that have fallen over winter and they have sunk into the grass. If I don’t spot them in time they are anti-lawnmower mines.

I can’t use the ride-on mower yet. I need to be on the ground so I can spot the branches. It has to be the old petrol mower – that thing doesn’t stop for much but if it hits a branch full of cones, I get peppered with them. The grass box is no use, it fills too fast. So I leave the cut grass to dry for a day or two then rake it up, pulling out the deeply-embedded branches with the rake.

I’ve completed two lawns and cut the big one. There’s only one small one left to do and then the raking. The goal is to get it to where I can use the push mower because that gives the best cut, but one pine cone will stop that thing dead. I’ll get there. I did it last year, took months, and over winter the giggling trees refill the grass with cones and branches. Apple tree branches are seriously hard – they don’t mince like pine branches, they shatter into little flying stakes.

Still, what I lack in gardening skills I make up for with sheer bloody-mindedness. I just will not give in.

A little like Tessie Maybe, I suppose, although my decision to engage in an eternal and ultimately unwinnable battle with the forces of nature doesn’t affect the rest of the population. Her delusion that someone out there actually likes her stupid plan is in danger of killing the country, and has very likely ended the Conservative party as a major political force. Even if they replace her now, a lot of the damage is likely to be irrevocable.

There are deluded people who think that stopping Brexit will neutralise parties like UKIP and the Brexit party. This is a serious mind-twist. Stopping Brexit is what the government have been doing all along, and that is what has re-energised UKIP and brought Nige Farrago back with a new Brexit party. Combined, they could make a serious dent in a general election.

Unfortunately, they hate each other, are likely to field candidates against each other, split the Brexit vote and lose massively. No doubt each will blame the other but if they could just get along, they’d be a new political force.

I’d vote for UKIP or the Brexit party but if both are standing on the same ballot, there’s no point. They’ll split the vote and both will lose. I won’t vote Tory, Labour, Lib Dem or SNP so it could just be a ballot paper with a drawing of something primitively obscene on it and the words ‘What’s the point?’

Vote Green? The most delusional party of all? Never. They still push ‘man made global warming’ even as we enter a Grand Solar Minimum in which all those massively anti-conservation windmills are going to be even more useless than they are now. At least if they switch the damn things off, bird and bat populations will have a chance to recover. If they gave up on those things and the solar farms, China’s lakes of toxic waste might finally stop growing and the concrete and steel industries can go back to making houses and cars. You know, actually useful things.

Man made ice age, man made global warming, man made climate change, it’s all bollocks. We have been ten years from human extinction since at least the 1950s and delusional people still believe this shit. Worse, the building of massive numbers of houses with no chimneys – and therefore no means of independently heating them when the power fails – is going to kill an awful lot of people. As will the proposed ban on wood burning stoves. I will never buy a house with no chimney.

We experienced the Green world last Thursday. There had been a problem with the local electricity substation over the winter. A storm knocked it out and they couldn’t fix it during the storm because, well, high voltage, driving rain, very bad mix. If I worked for them I’d have refused to go out too. Last Thursday they did some fixing to make sure it won’t happen again this winter but it meant the power was off from 9 am to 3 pm.

We have oil fired central heating but the pumps and timer are electric. No electricity, no heating. Apart from our wood burning stove and the (bottled gas run) cooker hob. Also, our water comes from a well (which as Dan Holdsworth pointed out, is actually a holy well or at least a borehole into the same water – and that’s the next Halloween theme). It’s gravity fed downhill into a holding tank in the utility room and then pumped through UV treatment and filters. The pump is electric. So we filled lots of things with water before the power went off.

Yeah, we drink holy water here. I put a dash of it in malt whisky since it has no chlorine or fluorine to mess with the flavour. It’s better than bottled water – no plasticisers from the bottles.

It also means that if we ever get visited by vampires or those possessed by demons, a glass of tap water will do the job. That’s if the flying apple tree stakes from mowing don’t get them first.

I just need to cut a hatch in the tank cover and we can access the well water direct in a power outage without having to lift the whoile cover off. We have a Brita filter and we can boil the water on the gas hob so we can have pretty safe water for drinking even with no power. Heck we can boil it on the wood burning stove at a pinch.

Did you see the mess left behind by the climate loonies in London? Plastic bottles, plastic bags, litter everywhere. And not one of the bastards walked there. They posted footage of the event with their iPhones and claimed they were saving the planet. The delusion is strong with these people.

Pollution is something I can get worked up about. We do not need to have rafts of plastic floating about in the oceans but that has nothing at all to do with climate change. Plastic can be melted down and made into something else. I once tried making bricks out of it for garden use – I’ll have to revive that idea.

Most of it comes into the sea from rivers in Africa and Asia but that is because we send them all this crap for recycling. They don’t produce it, we do. If we weren’t so goddamn lazy we could melt it into blocks ourselves. If you are going to build a low garden wall, five or so bricks high, multicoloured plastic bricks could be just the thing. You can give them a cement coat if you want or just let the light catch them. They could be quite a feature. They might not be strong enough to build a house but then again, maybe they are. I’m not a plastics expert. Maybe they would be a fire risk.

I should say something about Diane Abbott…

…but I have to be careful in case she calls me ‘racist’.

As if I care. We are all racists now. Not judging people on skin colour is racist. Dogs are racist. Saying Hi to someone is racist. Not saying Hi to someone is racist. Whether you know them or not. You are racist whether you are or not. Just shrug and move on.

Anyway, the last post was about Diane Abbott having a quiet sip from a booze can on a train while not bothering anyone at all. I was on her side and still am, for the first and possibly last time ever. It is a stupid law.

However, as many have pointed out, she is part of the lawmaking mechanism. It is a stupid law but she apologised for breaking it instead of saying ‘This is a stupid law’. So yes, she should pay the fine and suffer the public humiliation of being a convicted criminal MP. As if that has made any difference to any of the rest of htem.

I was recently called for jury service (fortunately not chosen). If I had had a criminal conviction, I could not have been called. If I had a criminal conviction while being an MP, no problem. This seems wrong. Very wrong.

Any criminal conviction of any kind should disbar the criminal from forever being in a lawmaker position. Lawmakers who defy the law are clearly dangerous. Any arrest for anything, ever, and you cannot enter government. That makes sense to me.

Hm. There wouldn’t be many MPs…

Not even one

There is an American tobacco brand called American Spirit. Rolling baccy and readymades. They are available in the UK although you might need to get them by mail order because (certainly round here) nobody has heard of them.

They are apparently very good, but are the UK ones the same as the US ones? Well, someone offered to send both myself and Roobedoo a pack of the US American Spirit cigarettes to try out. We could compare them to the UK ones, although at £10 a pack, the UK ones wouldn’t be a regular smoke. Not for me at least.

So, one pack of cigarettes in a package. Will they be allowed through? One pack cannot be considered smuggling. Keep in mind that these cigarettes are legal in both the country they are coming from and the one they are going to. That they will not explode, leak or spontaneously combust on the way. That they pose no risk of harm whatsoever. Will they get delivered?

No.

They didn’t even make it out of the state. Why?

They are prohibited. They are perfectly legal to buy in both countries but you cannot send even one pack between countries. Not even one.

Now, I could understand if we were talking a crate of cigarettes, but we are talking one pack. Actually, smugglers wouldn’t even send a crate of them by post. The cost of postage would wipe out any profit from the price differential. Sending one pack at a time would leave you with a street price way higher than even the UK shop price. So ‘smuggling’ is not an excuse.

Nobody is going to smuggle tobacco all the way from the US to the UK. Not when you can load up a small boat in Amsterdam and land it at night on a Dover beach. Hell, you could do it with sail, you don’t even need fuel.

Still, at least the US post returned them to the sender. The UK post would probably burn them, and I wouldn’t be even slightly shocked if I heard they burned them one at a time.

The UK’s Royal Mail have such heavy restrictions on what can be posted, even within the country, that it’s really no surprise we have so many private courier companies now. The private couriers are always your best bet for anything large or heavy – they are cheaper and many of them will collect from your house. Very useful way out here because the little sub-post office in Local Shop can’t handle parcels unless they fit wilthin the general post. Posting anything big means a 25-mile round trip or call a courier.

But I digress.

This is how deep the antismokers go. How petty they can be. How spiteful they have become – all with the full support of those governments who demand taxes on earniings, taxes on spending, in the case of booze, baccy and fuel, taxes on taxes. They rip money off us at every turn and yet are petty enough to enforce prohibition on the transport of a single pack of cigarettes.

‘Oh but one pack could become ten, then a hundred…’

Yeah right. At international postage prices that is really going to happen, isn’t it?

It has been true for a long time that you can visit a EU country from the UK, have a nice weekend away, load up on baccy for your return and save enough on baccy prices that your trip was essentially free. That won’t be true after a real Brexit of course. It probably won’t be true after the fake Brexit that is about to be instituted by Tory and Labour MPs with the backing of Mad Merkel, the Queen of Chaos. So we won’t even have that.

It’s been true for years that in many EU countries you’ll get a far better deal on baccy in the corner shops than in duty free. Most of the duty free only applies if you are leaving the EU.

Same for booze. Duty free whisky prices are beaten by a local Tesco or Aldi if you travel within the EU. There’s really no point even visiting duty free shops. Unless you are leaving the EU – then you get proper duty free prices.

Well, we’re leaving the EU, aren’t we? So at least we can pick up a litre of cheapo giggle water on the way home from our agonising sunburn holiday.

I’m betting that’ll be a ‘no’. I’m betting there’ll be a strict limit on what you can bring back, as if we weren’t in the EU, but the prices will be fixed as if we were. It will apply to cigarettes too.

I haven’t grown my own tobacco for a few years. I’m going to have to start doing it again.

Fortunately I have already stocked up on homebrew equipment. And I’m betting the farmer will let me have a kilo or two of barley cheap – probably free if I fix something or paint something that saves him a job.

I have also, during the course of reclaiming the garden from the weeds, found (so far) three blackberry bushes, some huge elder trees, brambles, raspberries, strawberries, so far five apple trees and seven cherry trees. Oh and let’s not forget the three well-established grapevines in the greenhouse. There’s no shortage of stuff to make booze from here.

There won’t even be a financial paper trail.

All this, you say, because you couldn’t get one pack of cigarettes? Yes. Not because of that one pack.

Because of the spite that stopped it.

Fragmentation

It has been a strange week. I have three books in process, the anthology (waiting for one author’s response on whether the story needs any changes then it’s good to go), Lee Bidgood’s long-awaited novel, another from Mark Ellott that has already been so thoroughly vetted it won’t take long to do. I want to get them all done before April 30th.

So, obviously, now is the time to get calls and visits about a blue cheese mould project and another call asking for help with a student project on lactobacilli. Sigh. I’m determined to get those three books done though. I can sleep in May.

Stranger still is the overnight switch in the weather from winter to summer. This called for a bit of gardening today before it gets completely out of control. My son questioned my buying of a machete since I don’t live in a jungle. My response was ‘ignore that lot for a week and a jungle you shall have’.

The grass, which had been cut twice by this time last year, had lain dormant until today when it shot into life. The petrol for the mower ran out, it’s too long for the push mower and not long enough for the scythe. Besides, the grass is still plagued with fallen pine cones and branches and only the petrol mower can cope with those.

So instead I delved into one of the flower bed/shrubberies I hadn’t dealt with last year beyond scything down its nettle infestation. I trimmed the bushes and started the long job of digging out nettles by the roots. It’s the only way, and even that can take a few years to finally get rid of the bastards.

In there, I found a topiary piglet. Well, having found a deer skull in the holly tree last year I was, shall we say, not too surprised. The bush is hugely overgrown and probably not recoverable but the frame is intact. I can remake this piglet. Probably in a less inaccessible and more visible part of the garden. There are other areas I have not yet touched beyond hacking them into some semblance of order so there may yet be more surprises lurking.

And, at last, I have planted my favourite tulip, ‘Queen of Night’. Hoping for a good display this year. The bulbs overwintered in the kitchen and are sprouting. Yes, the kitchen gets cold enough to do that.

The IQOS microfag smoky thing is still getting used. I haven’t switched entirely but it has outlasted any Electrofag I’ve ever tried. I know, some born-again nonsmoker vapers at the radical end of the spectrum think this thing is evil. I know, some say it’s giving money to the sell-outs at Philip Morris. I don’t care at all about either of those stances. It’s cutting down the number of real fags I smoke and that is good for my wallet, and probably my health. Although I am still not convinced that smoking is anywhere near as deadly as it’s made out to be.

Using it while typing this, I have noticed that setting it down while typing a sentence (10 seconds or so) and then taking a puff, it gives a much more satisfying plume of almost-smoke. If they could make the device and especially the microfags cheaper they’d be on a serious winner here. As it is, the cost differential is minimal. If it was a big difference I’d be far more tempted to switch altogether but… meh.

They do send emails about surveys and those do build up some reserve cash. That’s good. It needs to be cleaned regularly or it starts to taste like smoking dried horseshit, so I plan to use the accrued survey cash to stock up on the cleaning sticks. They work far better than the funny brush thing that also comes with it.

Anyway, I suppose I should get to the actual blog post.

The Labour party has been hit with antisemitism, while the Conservatives have just tried to deport a lot of British citizens, many of whom have been British longer than I have. The Lords of Lib Dem Land and those Lords who have sworn an oath of fealty to a foreign power yet still have a place in the UK government have voted to ignore the electorate and keep the UK in a customs union with the EU even though the majority don’t want that. If you are looking for the Party of Morons in UK politics, well, it’s all of them.

The abolition of the House of Lords must surely be imminent. Or just convert it into a home for mad old duffers. It pretty much is that anyway. These oafs, when they can manage to stay awake at work, have now set the UK with the option to either become a vassal state of the EU or to leave with no deal at all. There are no other options.

This is what a fictional starship captain and his Dark Emperor, the Thin White Adonis, can’t grasp. We are leaving the EU. Blocking the final deal does not keep us in the EU. It just means we leave with no deal. I’m fine with that.

Tessie Maybe, the idiot supreme of our current government, has tried everything possible to distract from the total fuck-up she is making of negotiations with the EU. She has tried to start wars with anyone she can find and now she is concentrating on banning earbuds, plastic straws and coffee stirrers. All of which go into recycling bins, not rivers. I live next to a river and have never once felt the urge to drop anything plastic into it unless it’s a lure on a fishing line. We have been provided with bins for plastic and some nice, sweaty, grubby, sweary chaps come around every two weeks to empty it.

Then it all gets shipped to China or Africa in containers on huge ships that burn thousands of tons of diesel and and when it gets there they dump it in rivers. That is recycling.

Didn’t cotton buds used to be on wooden sticks? Can’t we go back to that? I could chuck them in the fire and get a few extra microjoules of heating here. Can’t do that with the plastic ones, they give off nasty stuff when they burn.

As for straws, we used to have paper ones that were fine for one use. Plastic was never necessary unless you wanted to use it over and over.

And I never liked coffee stirrers. We used to just have spoons.

Why then would I object to this ban? Because it’s a ban and this knee jerk reaction of ‘ban it’ has been pissing me off for a long time. Why not, instead, explore alternatives? Nothing is ever offered. It’s always carrot-and-stick without the carrot.

The farmer here has cut down a lot of trees. There is a massive amount of beech, birch, oak and pine in dead piles. My son has claimed some for his woodworking, I have claimed some for a garden arch and most of the rest will just end up getting burned. There is enough on this one farm to keep a cotton bud company supplied with little dowels for months at least. Why not incentivise that use rather than moan about plastic? Heck, they could come and take this wood for free. The farmer doesn’t want it, it’s just in the way.

Why not incentivise paper straws over plastic ones for single use occasions? Paper and wood can be burned or left to rot and the CO2 they put out is the same CO2 those plants absorbed so net effect = zero. Especially as the crops on the farm will reabsorb most of it, if not all.

As for coffee stirrers, use a fucking spoon like an actual adult. Then wash it and you can use it again.

But no, we have to have a ban. Another damn ban. Another bit of evidence that our government are a bunch of wasters who we pay to do nothing sensible.

And then we have the opposition. Labour. Or, more accurately, the Corbyn Cult of Nazism. Oh yes, you read that right. When I was in school in the 1970s they actually taught real history, not some fantasy past where left was right and all racists were honoured with statues. The real deal. You won’t get that now. Now we have a Government funded organisation called Historic England who will not hire white British employees and who want to tear down historic statues. Common Purpose to the core, and way beyond the absurdity horizon.

Nazis shut down debate with violence and abuse. They ignore dissenting views. They want to control what you say and, ultimately, what you think while they never think at all but act in blind obedience and awe of their chosen cult hero. Remind you of anyone, Jeremy?

Jezza walked out of the parliamentary debate on antisemitism even while his own MPs described the death and rape threats his supporters had sent them. Well, he doesn’t need to hear the results of his instructions, does he?

Then we have the thugs of Antifa and make no mistake, thugs is all they are. They are just looking for a reason to be arses and no matter how tenuous the reason, arses they will be. They are the new football hooligans, their team is whichever they want to fight with today. They fight against homophobia but then recently broke up a gay pride march because it offends Muslims. Really, they have no focus at all. It’s just a fight to them, the reasons are no more than an excuse and they can change by the hour. At least football hooligans stuck to one team.

There is a huge amount of coverage given to the new ‘trans’ movement which consists of about five people, four of whom are better described as drag queens than genuine trans. Chicks with dicks want to have access to little girls in changing rooms and toilets all over the country. A genuine trans woman has told me she wouldn’t like to share a train carriage with some of the loonies she has met, never mind a changing room. But the genuine ones are not part of this movement. This is men in tights looking for an easy target. It’s going to turn out nasty.

Should girls give up their right to privacy so that middle aged men in skirts can ogle them in the swimming pool changing rooms? A bikini with a flat-top and a stiffie below with a couple of pink Kiwi fruit hanging out the sides is not an appealing sight. It’s even more of a mind wreck than fishnet tights with tufts of hair coming out of every hole. I hear little to nothing about women who identify as men causing problems in male changing rooms and toilets. That’s probably because most of us men won’t mind at all if a woman wants to get naked nearby. The threat level is not even comparable, is it?

There has been far less outrage than expected over the paedo grooming gangs who have been left to their own evil devices for a very long time. I didn’t say Muslim gangs for a reason. Those are just the scapegoats. Oh they are guilty as hell but it goes far deeper and if the police were allowed to actually investigate in a proper police way, some very big names will be mentioned. That’s why they aren’t. It’s not really Muslim gangs they were protecting, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They are being sacrificed now as a distraction to keep us happy that ‘something is being done’. It is not being done, it is being hidden.

The two major parties in this country are falling apart,. The third has already fallen apart and is now determined to bring about a no-deal Brexit and the abolition of the House of Sleeping Lards.

Feminism is in at least a dozen factions. Trans people, a tiny minority, are a prime concern for the Mayor of London who is a Muslim and therefore instructed by his religion to kill them in nasty ways. Gay people hold up rainbow flags with ‘Allah loves diversity’ written on them. No, he really doesn’t. Read the book. He couldn’t be more clear on this.

Knife crime will lead to the banning of knives which are already banned in public anyway (you can have a folding knife with a blade of less than 3 inches (7.5 cm) as long as it doesn’t lock open and that is all you can have). Machete attacks are common so.. ban machetes? See above. They already are banned. Doesn’t seem to make a difference when it’s not enforced, does it?

Acid attacks mean we should ban the possession of acid which is going to get awkward for car battery sales and for anyone who drives a car. Also for anyone who likes vinegar on their chips because you know our elected representatives are not going to think this through at all.

Shootings are increasing so let’s ban guns. Oh wait, we already did. We banned hard drugs too, that must have worked… didn’t it?

Sweden has regular grenade attacks and bombings now. Won’t be too long before London has them too.

My stance on immigration is simple. Anyone can come, anyone at all – but I wouldn’t pay them to come. No free stuff and no preferential treatment. You want to come and live here, fine, but you make your own way.

As for the Windrush generation, as I said, most of them were here before I was born and they were invited. The Home Office trying to deport them now is beyond shameful.

The same Home Office that welcomes back Jihadists who fought against our soldiers.

It’s a strange world when you have to look at your own government and wonder…

‘Whose side are you on?’

 

The Grimy Reaper

First of all, here’s a review of Margo Jackson’s ‘The Mark’ on the US Amazon site. It’s a good first review!

I think I have Dirk Vleugel’s next book ‘Tales from Under the Drinking Tree’ about ready to go. Just trying to catch every possible glitch before CreateSpace start playing the ‘no, do it again’ game.

Today though, today was gardening day. Gardening means getting grimy and if you don’t need a hose-down or at least a wash when you come back in, you’re not doing it right. Today was perfect – a day when it actually didn’t rain! The scythe arrived and after a bit of setting up and adjusting, I set about reaping many nettle souls and a lot of other weeds that the strimmer can’t deal with. The blade is almost glowing with all those souls now!

If you’re thinking of trying one, don’t just buy the scythe. You need a whetstone and water sheath (to keep it wet) and a peening kit to periodically bring the blade back to evil razor sharpness. The cutting edge is very fine and wears in use, so you have to give it a quick sharpen with the whetstone every five minutes or so – basically, when it starts bending things rather than cutting them. The scythe is the biggest expense so the accessories are not that much extra. Leaving them out is a real false economy because you’ll soon have a blunt scythe with no means to sharpen it.

I was surprised at how easy it is to use. I expected hard work but just a casual swing and the nettles fall. I have the ditch blade with the stone point – a nail-like end rather than sharp all the way to the end. That’s important for me because I’m cutting in the woods where I might encounter all kinds of hidden hazards. The pointy end hits the hazard first so the sharpened blade is protected.

I found two rusted frames for school desks in the undergrowth. I doubt they can be re-used so I’ll let the farmer add them to his scrap metal pile. They are, technically, his since they are on his property, but I suspect he doesn’t know they exist. They’ve been in there a very long time.

There is an extensive rabbit warren under the nettles. When they emerge they are going to survey the devastation around them and wonder if the local fox has deployed nukes.

The scythe isn’t the simple primitive tool it appears to be. You need to set the handles so the swing is easy and consistent, set the lay (blade angle on the ground) and the haft (angle between blade and shaft) and when you have all that just right, using it is so easy you’ll wonder why these things ever went out of fashion.

There is still a place for the strimmer. There are places the scythe can’t get into, especially near fences and around what I euphemistically call a ‘rockery’ although it’s actually just a pile of rocks. It can’t get between trees and fences and it doesn’t work well among densely planted flower beds. Well it would work there just fine as long as you don’t mind turning the flower bed into a monument to Tunguska.

One big win for the scythe is chopping the nettles around things like pampas grass. If a strimmer hits pampas grass it won’t cut it, it’ll wrap the leaf around itself until it’s tied up tighter than a tart in a bondage brothel. Pampas grass yields to the scythe.

I can’t mow lawns with it yet but then it has only been in my possession for less than twelve hours so far. Maybe I should get a second blade for lawns. You only need one snath (shaft), you can change blades easily.  I actually prefer the lawn cut I get with the hand-pushed cylinder mower that I got for £30 from Aldi. It cuts really close and has a roller so it leaves those attractive lines. Now the lawns are pretty much clear of pine cones it’s working well. A pine cone, and especially a fallen twig with ten cones on it, will stop that mower dead.

The petrol mower cleared the cones. It cares nothing for pine cones nor even fallen branches, it mashes them and throws them into the grass basket. As I don’t fancy picking cones off a razor sharp scythe blade I’ll still need that mower. Especially at the start of the year when the cones have been dropping all winter.

Also, a summer like this one with daily rain leaves the grass long and wet when you finally get a chance to cut it. The push mower can’t cope with that. Maybe the scythe can, we’ll see. It got so bad at one point that I had to use the petrol mower without the grass box because the grass was so long and wet it was choking the mower. This meant a lot of raking up afterwards which was a pain.

There’ll be raking up afterwards with the scythe too but when the grass is long and wet, raking will happen anyway.

It’s resting now, with the other tools. Munching on nettle souls and waiting for me to set up a proper wall mounting for it. Hanging it like that will mean resetting the blade because it’ll shift relative to the shaft.

I hope it’s a fine day tomorrow, There are many more nettle souls to reap.

 

No time for Internet today

Deadlines approach. Getting the guest room ready for my parents’ visit and getting the book out at the end of March. Ideally before next Wednesday, when they visit. Or at least, have it primed and ready to send by then. I can do the last few stages while they sleep, I’ve had plenty of practice now.

There is a very real danger that I will meet two deadlines in the same month. This is not something you should expect to see very often. Halley’s Comet is more frequent an event than this.

There is also gardening. There is a lot of garden and it’s all starting to grow. Since the weather is currently fine, and since the garden was neglected for at least a year or possibly more, I have to keep it under control.

If a small garden goes wild it can take a few days to put it right. If this one goes wild, well, might as well get used to living in a jungle because I’d have no chance!

The landlord took pity on me and sent in professional gardeners for two days of brutal slash-and-burn gardening to get me started. They did a grand job of weed clearance and hacking back trees, but they hacked back some a lot further than I would have.

They absolutely butchered an old holly tree. While out tidying up that part of the garden I noticed something they had uncovered. Embedded in the tree is a large deer antler – it’s been there so long the tree has grown around it and it’s not going to move now. On the antler is a skull.

Now I know nobody is going to believe me but I honestly didn’t do that. It was already here. One of the points of the large antler has been hacked off, I assume the gardeners thought they were pruning a branch because it’s coated with green algae. The horns of the skull have suffered similar chainsaw damage but it’s otherwise intact.

They left it in place. I plan to leave it alone too. Apart from taking a few photos. This is a ready-made anthology cover for a later one, and a garden ornament I would have put up anyway if it wasn’t already there.

It might go some way to explaining the mystery of the room that had gouges in the walls and three locks on the outside of the door but I would probably be best not to delve too deeply into that.

There are other, um, Interesting Things to be seen in the garden. More on those later.

I just hope the holly tree recovers. It was a particularly impressive one.

Anyway. I have to put out author contracts and ‘about the author’ pages (if you haven’t sent me one and you have something specific you want in it, let me know). There is still time for one more story, if you have an Easter idea, but the whole thing must be assembled and finalised by next Wednesday so don’t hang around! I’ll have to be sociable for a week, no matter the toll it takes.

I will soon be looking for an illustrator. I can’t pay much yet, but I think some illustrations would be a Good Thing To Have in some books. There’s no time to do it for this anthology but it would be fun, in a future one, to have the stories all set up in time for an illustrator to put a picture to each story.

Maybe Halloween. The Tree Skull Anthology could be a working title.

 

Lawnmower man

Today I mowed one of the gardens. Yeah, you read that right 😉

It took several hours for two reasons. One, it was covered with twigs and pine cones, including a lot of twigs with several pine cones attached. The best way to stop a cylinder mower dead in its tracks is to drop a pine cone in front of it. I took a wheelbarrow full of pine cones off that lawn and there were still traps lying in wait.

Two, all I have at the moment is a £30 push mower from Aldi. It’s a good mower, it cuts very well and it will be very useful in the more remote parts of the garden but still… I was exhausted by the time I finished.

I have to get an electric or petrol one for the bulk of the grass and use the push mower for the more remote areas. It avoids the problem of multiple extension cables, it’s light in use and easy to maintain. It’s just very hard to push through even medium-length grass. There is, I think, still an electric mower in the lab. It’s cheap but easy to use and is still in its box.

So I missed out on the Internet today. I heard about the Westminster attack, and read the articles. Nobody wants to admit who was responsible. Well, ISIS are happy to shout about who was responsible but even an attack on Parliament in the heart of London is silenced in the media by political correctness.

I bet the IRA wish we’d had this political correctness in the seventies. Airey Neave and Lord Mountbatten would have been killed by men without accents. They would have thrived, as do our current terrorists, knowing they can do what they like and nobody dares name them. If that doesn’t change, and very soon, we won’t have to worry about smoking related diseases at all. We’ll all be dead before they have a chance to get us. Even now, even with a direct attack on Parliament, the arseholes in government can’t see it.

Speaking of the IRA, it seems Martin McGuinness died a hero in the media’s eyes. He was a violent twat and the world is a better place without him. That’s my standard eulogy for any mass murderer. I see no need to say any more.

Like Lawnmower Man, I have moved from cutting grass to the Internet. I’ve started on the back cover for the Easter anthology.. Longrider’s recommendation was a good one, I’ll use the photo of the trees at the bottom of Garden 3 for the cover. It will look something like this –

I’ll use a text box for the back cover blurb. As I did with ‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’. It’s the easiest way to make text clear on a multicoloured background.

I just have to work out what to say…