Flying saucery

I have sometimes wondered about buying one of the little drone things with a camera in it. It could be fun to take some aerial photos around here and I’m far enough away from anyone else that even when I inevitably crash it, it won’t bother anyone. A couple of things put me off.

My son used to be really into radio controlled helicopters. You know you need insurance for those? Not for the model, but for the damage it can do, which can be spectacular and potentially fatal. Insurance doesn’t cover the model, it covers the costs of getting a shattered rotor blade out of someone’s car door or chest.

Crashes always ended up with a three-figure bill. He’s a homeowner and father now, such expenses are no longer a good thing to have on your home budget and he doesn’t have a lot of spare time anyway.

The cost of crashing a little cheap drone is probably a lot less, but how many crashes before I get the hang of it? It could soon add up…

I once had a go at a radio controlled plane at one of my son’s club’s open days. Fine when it’s going away from you but you have to reverse your hand movements when it’s coming towards you and that’s not easy at all. You have to watch the plane, not the controller. I did learn one important thing. If you crash in farmland, try to crash in a field of sheep, not cows. Sheep will run to the far side of the field from the crash. Cows will come over to investigate the new thing and when they’re done, there’s not likely to be much left to salvage.

The little drones I’ve looked at won’t do much damage if they crash into something. They probably won’t even break a window and if they hit someone, it’ll be a few scratches at worst. There is another problem though.

Unlike the model plane which only goes in one direction, these things don’t have a clearly defined ‘front’ when viewed from the ground. You can make it hover, great, but which way is it going to go when you next press ‘forward’? Unlike even a helicopter there’s no way to tell until you move that lever.

I have radio controlled trains. Much more sensible. Speed control forward and back and they are on rails so they aren’t going to surprise me by spontaneously deciding to go in an unexpected direction. It doesn’t matter if they are moving away from me or towards me, the lever only controls speed.

This does have relevance to the title, which is something mostly studied by people whose wardrobe looks like this –

I’m being a little unfair. I cannot be certain that no UFO sighting is of an alien craft. I could argue ‘well why have they never made contact?’ but a little thought tells me a likely reason. Imagine you arrived here after crossing interstellar distances, with all great intentions to make contact with the monkey people on this new world. Ten minutes of any major news channel and you’re going to engage reverse gear and floor it, right?

There was a time when ‘cigar shaped UFOs’ were all the rage. That was back when zeppelin test flights were floating over rural areas. No internet, few phones, limited news of any kind. Nobody knew what they were. They were ‘unidentified flying objects’ to ground observers, but the people in them knew exactly what they were.

In the UK, we had a spate of sightings of mysterious black triangle ships that never showed up on the nearby airport radar. Naturally, anyone reporting one was dismissed as a crank. Then the new military stealth planes were revealed – black, triangular planes that didn’t show up on radar. Just like that. There must have been test flights, right? As it was secret those test flights would have been at night.

How do you keep a new military advance secret? Well, you make it obvious and deny it exists. Let the Forteanists claim it as a UFO sighting. Few will take it seriously and those that do will be those who think it’s an alien craft. It’s wonderfully deflected into tinfoil hat territory even though the military know those people really saw something.

Towards the end of the second world war, the Nazis were working on some interesting flying designs. Let’s gloss over Dornier’s clearly drug-fuelled flying insanities. They had the rocket propelled Me 163, whose major drawback was its propensity to spontaneously explode. In jets, apart from the well known Me 262 there was the Horten 229, which didn’t get into service before the end of the war. Lucky for us, really. It had the same Junckers Jumo 004 engines as the Me 262 but it ran rings around the earlier plane.

The Nazis also worked on disc-shaped aircraft although there seems scant evidence to suggest they actually built one, much less flew it.

What would be the point of a flying disc? Aerodynamically it would be horribly unstable unless some serious gyros were installed. It would have no aerilons, no tail, no easy means to control its flight.

The alleged German designs were just disc shapes with a cockpit in the middle and a definite front and back, with jet engines at the back. The disc shape seems iirrelevant in this case.

However, a sharp military mind could have seen potential.

Remember that toy drone, with its equally spaced lifting propellors? Make it a disc and replace those propellors with louvred jet engines such as those on a Hawker Harrier. All of them under the disc, no engine at the ‘back’.

The Hawker Harrier is a plane. It has a very clearly defined front and back, When it’s hovering, you can hazard a good guess at which direction it’s going to go in when it fires up the main engine. A hovering disc, however, gives no such clue. Like the little toy drone, which way will it go if you press ‘forward’?

Imagine a fighter aircraft that can make turns the way a house fly does. Ninety degree turns in the air. A disc with a central cockpit able to rotate, and louvred jets that rotate with it. You don’t turn the thing, you just change its direction of travel. If you paint a dot on the ‘front’ as you see it now, when it makes a 90 degree turn to the left, that dot is now on the right side. There is no ‘front’ nor ‘back’, the ‘front’ is whichever way the cockpit is facing now.

The g forces could be horrifying, of course, but if it could be made to work, how can a modern jet fighter chase something that can turn like a fly? An observer seeing it hovering could have absolutely no clue as to which direction it’s going to move in next. Don’t you think the military would be interested in something like that?

Don’t you think they’d be experimenting?

Perhaps that’s what the Roswell crash was about. Not little green men but an early attempt to get one of these things going. Maybe that’s what really happens at Area 51. Sure, the air force have not so far unveiled any kind of flying disc but the aerodynamics must be horrible and controlling something using only jets must be difficult. It’s not an easy project but if it could be made to work it would be well worth the effort.

I think the rim of the saucer would have to spin, to give it a frisbee-like aerodynamic. That just makes it harder to control the jets and harder to change direction, since the whole damn thing is now a gyroscope. Are these problems insurmountable? I have no idea but I bet they’d take a hell of a lot of trials to figure out.

I won’t be at all surprised if, one day, the military reveal a new, saucer-shaped fighter plane.

I also won’t be too surprised when nobody asks how they managed to spend decades testing it without anyone finding out.

The Chance I Missed

I spent four years working as a janitor in Local Shop. I was there over a year before anyone other than Boss knew what was really on my CV and when they found out, they inevitably asked ‘What the hell are you doing here?’

My answers ranged from ‘Hiding from the Mafia’ to ‘It’s a secret Government experiment and I can’t talk about it’.

Really I was there because my consultancy business went down the tubes for a variety of reasons and I was skint. In the end it actually did me a power of good. I learned a lot about the inner workings of food shops, who worked there, how they thought and why food poisoning happened. I now have a few reasons for food poisoning events that I could just share here but well, this kind of information is worth a lot.

I’ll tell you what though. It’s not the staff. Well, in a very few cases it could be but the mainstay staff? No, they get the blame but they aren’t the problem.

Anyway, I digress. The point is that I had Devo’s song ‘Whip It’ on vinyl for many years before I worked in that shop and I missed an incredible opportunity in the four years I worked there. It only came to light in a conversation with CStM this very evening.

So here, much too late for me but perhaps of potential use to any current cleaning staff out there, is what might have happened if Devo had been cleaning staff:

Wipe It

Grab that wipe
Clean the surface right
Dust in the seam
Scrub it till it’s clean

When there’s dirt upon the floor
You must wipe it
Later on there will be more
You must wipe it
Every surface, every door
You must wipe it

Now wipe it
Get it clean
Wipe it up
Use the spray
Get the brush
And the mop
Get all that dirt out
There’ll soon be more
So wipe it
Wipe it good

If it’s spilled upon the ground
You must wipe it
It’ll stain and turn to brown
Unless you wipe it
Clean that mess away
Really wipe it

I say wipe it
Wipe it good
I say wipe it
Wipe it good

Grab that wipe
Someone’s spilled the milk
If it gets in the cracks
You cannot get it back

When a table’s soaking wet
You must wipe it
Oh you haven’t finished yet
Still you wipe it
When it’s done, there’s something else
Go and wipe it

Now wipe it
Shine it up
Make it gleam
See your face
Clean that toilet
Hold your breath
Oh it’s a bad one
It’s up the walls
So wipe it
Disinfect
Clean it up
Perhaps repaint
Go outside
Take a breath
Hold on to breakfast
Or you’ll be forced –

To wipe it
Wipe it good

Eradicate Whitey

Can’t happen.

Oh you could wipe us out and replace us with Africans but guess what? That’s where we came from.

Humanity, science is pretty sure, started in north-east Africa. Side note: real science is never more than ‘pretty sure’ about anything. All of science is open to question and open to new data. When you hear ‘the science is settled’ and the Word cannot be questioned, that’s religion. Especially if it has a repeatedly-predicted apocalypse that never actually happens. Climate ‘science’ has predicted far more Days of Judgement, and been wrong more times, than any religion on Earth.

Even so, science is pretty sure on this one. Humans first appeared in north-east Africa, pretty close to where the Bible says Eden was situated (yeah, couldn’t resist chucking that cat among the pigeons :D).

So, in the beginning, we were all black-skinned. Had to be or we’d have died of sunburn and skin cancer. White skinned at or close to the equator is not a good mix – okay these days we have sunscreen and clothes but back then, no.

It is therefore no surprise that the much-vaunted Cheddar Man, apparently the first human in the UK, was black. Of course he was. He would have migrated here from Africa. Just like everybody else, everywhere on the planet.

The thing is, having black skin when you’re getting close to the poles is a disadvantage. You cannot produce enough vitamin D in your skin to survive.

Note for the obvious retort – Vit D carries calcium and helps with bone growth. You can get rickets in Africa if you have all the vit D you need but not enough calcium in your diet. You need both. Oh, and no, you could not nip to the chemist for a pack of Vitamin D pills. In many places you still can’t.

So those who were born lighter skinned in the North did better that those who were born really dark skinned. Eventially we lost most of the melatonin and became the Honkies who are so despised, even though we are actually the same people.

It took thousands of years. It will take thousands to do it again but it will happen.

So sure, wipe out Whitey and fill the North with black Africans. Wait a few thousand years and you’ll have to do it all again.

They might come here hating us, but the very act of coming here, as we did thousands of years ago, means their descendants will become us.

We are not a separate species. White people did not come from different stock than black people or brown or any other shade of skin. We are one species. We all came from the same place, we just adapted to the place we lived in. All you white people who hate black people, your ancestors were black. All you black people in Europe who hate white people, your descendants will be white.

In the end, as with most things in life, your fevered rantings and violent purges will end up changing nothing at all.

Have a cup of tea. Smoke. Relax.

In the end, nothing matters enough to get a heart attack over.

What I did on someone else’s holiday

I am a little behind. Some prefer to call me a short arse, but really I’m just a little behind.

I have copies of Mark Ellott’s latest book to send him and a couple of other things to send out which I will get done before Monday. I’m now down to two books to deal with, one novella and a collection of wonderfully surreal short stories that Roobeedoo is editing. I have a week before the next visitor…

One big mistake I made was the overuse of ‘open in new tab’ for the Leg Iron Books site. There’s no need for internal pages to open in new tabs because they are all accessible from the top menu. It’s not a hard thing to fix, it’ll just take time. One of those ‘kick yourself’ realisations.

The last week, we have been visited by CStM’s father. He travelled all the way from Denmark, he saved for ages for the trip and he hasn’t been to Scotland before – and might not get another chance for years. So we went all-out on the sights. Mostly the weather was okay, sometimes rain and thunder, but we managed to time things just right for indoor and outdoor things. We did get caught in rain a couple of times, can’t be helped, it’s Scotland.

The visits all had some kind of liquid theme but again, it’s Scotland. Wet is normal here.

So we have been to…

Loch Ness – that’s Urquhart Castle on the north shore.
Fyvie Castle, which has a lake.
Haddo House, which has a pet cemetery. Also a lake.
Dufftown, which has the Dufftown/Keith private railway and is home to Glenfiddich and Balvenie and a host of other distilleries. If you visit the Glenfiddich distillery shop you can marvel at a bottle, on open display, with a price tag of £1600! I didn’t buy that one.
Aberdeen. Naturally.
We toured the distillery at Glen Garioch, a small one that produces some excellent and often rather expensive whiskies. My budget ran to a bottle of the 12 year old which, at 48%, has to be approached with caution.
Finally, the one every visitor wants to see and the one I’m terrified they’ll want to see – the most inaccessible castle in Scotland. Dunottar. There’s no bridge. You want to see it close up, you walk down the cliff path and then up the opposite cliff path. I did it once, 20 years or so ago. I’m not keen to do it again. This is where the Scots hid the Royal Treasure from Cromwell because at the time there was no way to attack this place without getting minced. Your army is in single file down the cliff path, in full view of the archers.

I have also discovered something about driving an automatic car. When you do it a lot, and the Loch Ness trip was 8.5 hours of driving, your left leg can swell up. Your right leg is busy with pedals but your left leg is doing nothing. It’s on a long haul flight. It’s going down now but it’s something I have to keep in mind for the next trip to Wales. Frequent stops and walking about.

Now I have a week until the next visitor – CStM’s aunt – who will also want to see lots. Then we visit Denmark for a week and then it’s Halloween anthology time. So this week is going to be some intense work to get the novella ready and thank whatever Gods there are, Roobeedoo is dealing with the short story book.

I’ll very probably have to take the laptop on holiday… won’t be the first time.

Unfortunately CStM’s aunt, unlike her father, isn’t interested in tasting whisky so I won’t have an excuse to buy a different one for every day.

But I probably will anyway.

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.

Spookiness

I love spookiness. I live with it. I am living in a house with a deer skull buried in a holly tree. No idea why, but I’m leaving it alone. There was an extension added in 1835 that used a broken-up gallows stone in the walls. Lately I have learned that the water supply comes from an ancient holy well. This place has been here since at least the early 1700s, probably much longer, and I love it. I find more weirdness every year.

There aren’t many ghosts here. There’s a shy woman and a dog. The flat I lived in before coming here had some really nasty bastards in it. CStM experienced them and would not have moved in with me if I had stayed there. I have been told that previous residents here heard a ghost piper but the only pipes we’ve heard making sounds are the plumbing.

About now there are eyes rolling. ‘Oh dear oh dear, the old daft bugger believes in ghosts’.

I believe nothing. I am old school scientist. I believe only what I see and experience for myself. I do not believe in God because while I have seen plenty of evidence for what is called ‘supernatural’ I have seen no evidence to suggest anyone is in charge of it all. No evidence that there are any rules.

When I was Romulus Crowe (a previous online incarnation) I once had a fight of sorts with an Australian who said (I paraphrase) ‘if you’re real, why don’t you get James Randi’s million dollars?’

Well, I don’t claim telekinesis or cutlery destruction or anything that can be tested. I cannot call up ghosts to order. However, I agree with Randi on one important point. Every stage psychic is a fake.

The Australian set me a challenge. ‘One of these three statements is true. Which one?’

Easy. He had told me the answer several days earlier and had forgotten. So I gave him a quick lesson in cold reading. It worked on him, an absolute sceptic. It works so very much more easily on those who want to beleive.

I know how to fake it. It’s depressingly easy to dupe people.

But I cannot prove it. Unlike the stage ‘psychics’ I cannot call up just enough ghosts for the show and never miss. I cannot guarantee that every ‘ghost’ links to someone in the audience, because I am not just making shit up. I am not going to claim your dead relative has a message for you. They don’t. Most are confused, they think they are dreaming. Some know what’s happened and are having a good time.

Some aren’t even really ghosts, they are a repeating recording of a past event. Those are the most interesting – somehow, an event gets recorded on the surroundings and replays either at set times or in response to some kind of trigger. You can’t interact with these, you’re just watching a movie. Imagine though, if you could figure out how it happened and replicate it to order. You want bluebirds to follow you every time you walk up to your house? How much would you pay for that?

Anyway, I can’t produce proof yet and really don’t care enough to try so I can never go for James Randi’s million dollars. I don’t need that much money anyway.

Okay, I know, you ‘rational people’ think I am nuts and I’m okay with that. Meeting me in person is unlikely to change that opinion. I have nothing to prove and nothing to gain (unless I do figure out how to produce ambient environment recordings, then I’ll be paying high rate tax for evermore). You want to live fully in one solid world. good luck. I wish you were right. It’s a little strange here sometimes.

But have another look at James Randi, the King of Debunking. I really think he genuinely wants to find that proof. He’s not setting out to debunk. He is offering a million dollars to someone who can prove what, I think, he really would love to see.

He is no fake, no charlatan. He does not ‘believe’ in things. Okay, sometimes he’s an arse and sometimes his methods are silly but on the whole he means well. He is right in his debunkings. So much can be faked, and faked easily. That does not prove the real thing doesn’t exist, it just proves that someone has learned how to fake it effectively.

As I said, cold reading is not a difficult skill to acquire. There are other ‘psychic’ tricks that are easy too. What makes them easy is that if you are a stage psychic, everyone who comes to your show already believes in you, and already wants to be chosen and duped. Even when Randi outed a fake psychic in one video, the dupe refused to accept that what he had been fed was fake.

You can have your assistants mingle with the mumblers before the show. Chat about what they hope to hear. Pass that info – along with the seat number – to the stage guy and it’s game on. How to get the seat number? ‘Oh, I’m right in the back row, where are you?’ ‘I’m in D13’. ‘Right near the front, lucky you.’ Gotcha. It is almost depressingly easy. Now of course you can have a nearly invisible earpiece in the performer and prompts while he’s onstage.

Faced with an audience who wants to believe you cannot fail. They will overlook the wrong guesses, they will not connect the chat they had before the show with the absence of that person from the audience. They will dismiss from memory all the hints of trickery because they really want to believe that Grandma has a message for them. If she does, and it’s not ‘What the blistering fuck are you doing?’ then it’s fake.

You know, if I was utterly unscrupulous, I could take up stage psychicry now. I won’t because I’d be too embarrassed to giive people that false hope. Their dead relatives are dead. Maybe they went to some Heaven or Hell but if those exist, nobody comes back from either of them. Hell, you can’t, and Heaven, why would you?

I don’t call myself psychic. I don’t often see ghosts of people, although I have seen a few ghost dogs including the one here. I hear them, I can touch them, but I see no more than a shadow if I see them at all. CStM and her mother have seen our ghost woman, CStM saw some of the ones at the flat I had before. That place had a lot of short-term tenants, and so did most of the other flats in the block. Wasn’t hard to work out why. Even if you refuse to believe in ghosts, a permanent uncomfortable feeling is not a good reason to stay.

One thing about that flat that initially baffled me… no spiders. None. Not even in the attic. I had an entirely spider-free attic. This house is riddled with spiders…. except for one room. Unlike the story, it’s not the room with the gallows stone in the wall. It’s much older than that part of the house. It’s the master bedroom which we don’t use because it’s upstairs and the heating system doesn’t go upstairs.

We used to be plagued with mice and regaled with exhibitions of rabbits from the kitchen window before the pine marten arrived. Also before the dog worked out that catching mice was like finding bacon money. Seems the combination of pine marten outside, bacon-loving dog inside, has pretty much eradicated the mice and also most of the rabbits. A digression…

I don’t know how old our female ghost is. I suspect she lived here when the master bedroom really was the master bedroom. Might be hundreds of years or tens of years. Now we live almost exclusively downstairs because we really don’t need the top half of the house other than for storing crap.

Basically, I am at the point where I can easily convince those who want to believe in an aftelife using outright fakery. I cannot convince those same people of the same thing with what I know to be true.

Irritating, huh?

There is an upside. I am way past caring whether anyone believes anything I say now. I am not a lecturer any more. You don’t need to pass an exam based on my ramblings. You can trust or not trust what I say and care about it no more than I do.

But when I die, well then I am really off the leash.

Chaos Abates

The stress of the book is long over, all authors are paid, all books are sent to those who elected to be paid in books (except one who I still have to persuade to accept any payment at all!). It is not yet up on Legironbooks.co.uk, and the new authors’ profiles are not on there yet.

That will happen after Monday. My office is also the guest room, we only use the upstairs rooms for storage since there’s no heating up there. My parents are here until Monday so I don’t have easy access to the desktop computer.

I am using the Laptop of Eternal Despair. It came loaded with Windows 10. Win 10 is designed for a touchscreen and this laptop doesn’t have one. So it’s not easy to use. It’s also of a spec that could run Win10 comfortably at first, but updates have swollen the program out of the laptop’s range. It is now agonisingly slow.

Once I have my desktop back I will upgrade this laptop to Windows 7.

Anyway. The big lifting of stress was jury service. If you haven’t been zapped with this one (this was my third time), what happens is this. You get a citation weeks in advance. From that point, if you are self employed, you cannot take on any work that would overlap that date and you cannot say when you will be available after that date. You might be on a one day trial or on a year-long one. This can kill your business but there is no opt-out from the court system.

Also, we live on a farm in a remote location. There is no public transport here. The nearest bus stop is an hour’s walk away for me, a lot longer for my parents, especially my father. He is 80 and has had several strokes.

Oh that doesn’t stop him. He has dismantled an old armchair we had in the greenhouse (it was there to be dismantled and burned but we hadn’t done it because we don’t go in the greenhouse in winter. It’s horrible in there). It is now completely dismantled and burned to ashes and he has cuts all over his hands. Yeah, it’s not just me, it’s in the family. My son had to have his finger sewn back together after a router incident, they X rayed him and asked when he had broken his thumb. He didn’t know he had.

Anyway. What was preying on my mind was, if I was called in to jury service I would have to take the car. That would leave my parents and CStM isolated here and if my father did some serious damage to himself, they had nobody to call on. Both my kids were at work and even if they could come out, they are both at least half an hour away. I would have known nothing because you can’t have your phone in a jury box.

If you’re wondering how much damage an 80 year old multiple stroke victim can do to himself…. last time they were here he was trying to realign patio slabs. Like son, like father…

Yes, we ended up visiting casualty that time. So you can imagine how concerned I was about being roped in to a case which might have been about something utterly tivial. As most prosecutions seem to be now. Calling someone by the wrong made-up pronoun gets you in more trouble than if you just kept quiet and stabbed them instead.

The next part of the jury process is a phone number. You call after 5 pm the night before you are due to attend and it tells you whether to attend or not. If you don’t have to go – I assume because there are cases still going on – you have to call again the following night. Three of these and if you are not called, you are free.

That’s what happened. I am free of jury service until they ‘randomly select’ me yet again five years from now. By then I might have a conviction for wrongthink which would exempt me. They are going to have trouble finding ‘clean’ jurors in five years.

By then we might even have left the EU. Scotland does not have local council elections this year but the ones in England are likely to send a very strong message to any Tories still capable of hearing it. I have seen Tory councillors on Twitter telling us that the council posts have nothing to do with Brexit and we shouldn’t punish them for what the Tory party is doing. Yeah… tough luck. You are going to get hammered.

It’s not about councils. It’s about sending a message. A message clear to every Tory MP except Tessie the Blind. She doesn’t care about the party anyway, she’s doing it all for herself. She will destroy the Tories as well as the country and they don’t seem to care. Well, it’s going to be fun to watch. Even John Major, the Monochrome Man, didn’t manage to do this much damage.

Will Corbyn win? The chaos he would inflict would be legendary. It’s the only Tory game now – ‘vote for us or Stalin’s apprentice gets in’ – but who will vote for Corbyn? How is he even still an MP? Labour supported Brexit too and Labour fucked it up too. He is really no more to be trusted than Tessie Maybe. We could see a whole new party system out of this if the Brexit supporters don’t fuck up this chance by fighting amongst themselves. Which is what they will do because they are politicians and therefore inherently stupid. Clever people get proper jobs.

The latest news is a Brexit delay until Halloween. Roobeedoo has wondered if Tessie is synchronising with Underdog Anthology release dates. It certainly looks like it, but it’s more likely that the Tin Tart just has no idea what she is doing.

The Tories are in crash and burn mode now, far more than even when Major John called ground control to say there was a problem. And they seem to think they can get votes by telling us the other side is bad.

Well, yes, they are. Our choice is to throw money into a Corbyn black hole or into a EU black hole. The Tories offer no other aletrnative, in fact they offer nothing at all. And they want us to vote for them.

No.