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The Annexe

The Annexe

The Annexe
The complete (all fourteen chapters) story in the 'Lower Methil Annexe' series!
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A world in verse.
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Under the Double Sun

I thought that I had lost this photo, but no! I found it again by sheer luck. This was taken in September 2016. I have never seen this before, but if you look up ‘double sun’ on the internet, then you will see that it does happen – but very, very rarely.

The last thing that you ever expect to see on this planet, is TWO suns shining in the sky. Rainbows are common, but this is a ‘once in a lifetime’ (if ever!) experience. It is a result of some very unusual atmospheric conditions.

The First Book Choice of 2017

If you like a good Fantasy series, then the ‘Chronicles of Amber’ by Roger Zelazny, come highly recommended.

Somehow, the 6th in the series seems highly appropriate for the coming year. I’ll leave you to judge for yourself.

Welcome to 2017

Been a while since I posted anything. Hardly anyone noticed, because hardly anyone reads this blog. Nothing like looking reality in the face!

I have been very busy, doing lots of other things. Decorating (walls and ceilings – not cakes!), designing braking systems (somehow, people who need braking systems come to me. No idea why …?), and building furniture (my own design – not crap from Flat-Pack warehouses).

I intend to get back to my writing later. No rush. I write, and literary agents fail to reply. After all, according to that great SF writer, Theodore Sturgeon …
“90% of everything is crap!”
That must apply to my writing, and must surely apply to literary agents. Judging by the replies, 90% sounds about right.

All in all, it has been nice to take a break. I have a few thoughts in mind, but they can wait till I am ready.

The ‘festive’ season is nearly over, so, hopefully, all those shoppers who have been cluttering up the roads with their once-a-year driving trips, will put their cars away until it is time to join the summer-holiday traffic jams.

I do not believe in goodwill to all men (not those berks who are wandering around the countryside, shooting anything that flies, walks or crawls), but to the majority, I wish you joy.

Happy New Year!

Collective nouns – 1

One of the main features of my childhood education, was the determined effort by schools, to teach children ‘useful’ information – such as ‘collective nouns’. We were required to memorise whole pages of useful information pertaining to a group of animals or other things.
‘A gaggle of geese’ ‘A shoal of herring’ ‘A court of crows’ On and on and on. Still sticking in my brain after 60 years. All absolutely useful in day to day situations. Well … perhaps not!

There never seemed to be any that refer collections of people of a moronic disposition.
(I do not refer to people with learning difficulties. I refer to people who are just plain stupid!)

Drivers. Young, male, with a predilection for SEAT cars. Like the one that followed me home one day …

As I drove through the town where I work (occasionally), I noticed a black SEAT rapidly approaching from behind. Driver – young, male, impatient. Passenger – young, female, hair tied in ribbons. I always drive within the speed limits in built up areas. Mr SEAT obviously did not. Soon he was ‘biting at my bum’, as you could say.
When we passed the National Speed Limit sign, I steadily increased my speed to 60. I know the road well. Apart from the occasional village, you could set the cruise control to 60, and if it were not for other road users, you would never need to brake. It is a windy road, but 60 is easily maintained.
Not for Mr SEAT. He could not keep up. He fell behind.
Next village – slow to 40. Soon, Mr SEAT comes rocketing up behind. Obviously, his one driving skill is the tendency to drive too fast in a built up area. He clings to my back bumper until we pass the National Speed Limit sign. I increase my speed to 60. A few corners later, he is falling behind.
Repeat this nonsense for the next few villages.

In the last village before I turn off to the lane, heading for home, he has, yet again, caught up to my back bumper. I indicate right in plenty of time, then brake at a very moderate rate, for the turn-off. (One sharp tap on the brakes, and Mr SEAT would be sitting in my boot!)
The turn-off is on a difficult, blind corner, so I have to inch forward till I can see the way is clear. When it is, I turn off the main road. I look back, and Mr SEAT is screaming abuse at the top of his voice. It would seem that obeying the law, and still outpacing him on the windy bits, constitutes a malign slur on his manhood and an insult to his (poor) driving ability. Hopefully, his female passenger will take this opportunity to decline any opportunity to mate, and produce another generation of SEAT drivers.

What do you call a group of bad SEAT drivers? There doesn’t seem to be a collective noun for it! I would be interested in any suggestions.
“A gob of SEATs’ perhaps?

There will be more on this subject. I had the misfortune to visit Carphone Warehouse. More on this subject, soon …

Welcome to the Hotel Pandemonium

I recently re-visited my old home town of Methil (or Levenmouth, as the local minions of the bureaucratic State insist on calling it!). The wife and I were attending a family get-together. It was a chance to renew old ties and acquaintances.

We stayed in a local hotel. Boy, was that a mistake! The service was non-existent, the room was decrepit, the cleaning was sub-standard. The hotel was utterly unsuited to guests who have the unfortunate burden of mobility problems. All fairly typical of a third-rate hotel (you will note that I said ‘third-rate’ – I have stayed in better third-world hotels!).

The star act was undoubtedly The Receptionist! Being top of the bill, she only made an appearance in the final act. I have never been shouted at, by a hotel receptionist before. She was obnoxious, loud, and the merest thought of dealing with guest complaints, drove her to demented heights of rudeness and rage. Needless to say, we will never stay in this hotel again. Ever.

I composed a letter of complaint (I am getting quite practiced in these matters), and sent it off to the head office of the brewery chain that runs this hotel. I was polite, to the point, and omitted no detail that was relevant. I used a very sharp blade! I took no hostages.

To their credit, the people at the brewery chain responded promptly, investigated the matter, and offered a full apology and an immediate refund. I accepted this, on the condition that they ensured that no disabled person is, in the future, ever treated to such a course of contempt and disdain.

I have not named the hotel, nor the brewery chain. I consider this matter settled. But, if things had proceeded otherwise, then I would not have hesitated to publicize this whole, sorry affair.

To balance this event, and prove that not all hotels in Fife are terrible, let me mention the Royal Hotel in Dysart. We turned up one evening, unannounced, no booking. They served an excellent evening meal. The staff were unobtrusive, but their timing was immaculate. The food was excellent (in my Top 5 meals of all time, worldwide). It isn’t a big fancy place, but their standards were of the highest. Highly recommended.
Dysart is right in the centre of that part of Fife ignored by Olympic Torch runners, golfers, upper-class socialites, and inept politicians. It is not within commuting distance of anywhere. It is the ‘Beggar’s Mantle’ when the ‘Fringe of Gold’ ran out. Real people live there, and times are hard. They deserve a mention.

Women Drivers

At one time, women drivers were the butt of many a joke. The majority of drivers were men, and a woman driver was ‘obviously less capable’ than a man. Utter claptrap, of course, but a lot of inept male drivers needed some target to deflect criticism from their own inadequacies. Just how they coped with women like Pat Moss-Carlsson – I do not know! (You couldn’t get anyone with two more famous driving names.)

Women were not perfect, but neither were men. They just had their own, peculiar failings. Men tended to drive too fast, and ignored any instruction. Women tended to drive more slowly, and less aggressively. These are crude generalisations, and you should not read any more into such statements, than is strictly necessary.

That was then. This is now.
Now we have a few, new varieties of lady driver. (Men seem to be much the same, these days.)
You have the ‘Garry Girl’. Drives an Audi Cabriolet. Believes that racing across a junction at a blind corner is OK, presumably because she believes that if she can’t see another car, then speed will make all things possible. It doesn’t. Only the brakes on my car, and my more-modest speed prevented Garry Girl from testing the side-intrusion beam and the side airbags in my car. My navigation skills were also superior. We took the shorter route, and ended up in front of her. My wife made a point of ‘noticing’ her, and her Audi suddenly held back about 100 yards after that.

Another variant of Garry Girl is Gillie Girl. Drives too fast in car-parks, dashes to her destination, and when she realises the sheer impossibility of getting past the traffic she has carved up, reverts back to the blonde-bimbo ‘I’m only a woman’ toothy smile, designed to glean forgiveness from the poor deluded male. When you call her a stupid moron (I do this, or similar, when encountering stupidity of any gender), she replaces the smile with a snarl, and gesticulates in an obviously crude manner.
Not a lady, then. And not a competent driver.

It would appear that gender equality in motoring, is now with us.
Stupid, thoughtless, inconsiderate, rude and incompetent drivers now come in all varieties.
And you can swear at them if you wish. You will not offend anyone with any kind of good manners.
Save courtesy for courteous drivers.

I still hold a door open for other people. Male or female. Guess I’m just old-fashioned!

Dear Coca-Cola …

Dear Coca-Cola.

My wife happened to like the original Coke Zero.
Now you have gone and improved it.
Why?

Did you not learn from the last time that you improved Coca-Cola. New Coca-Cola turned out to be one of the all-time great corporation screw-ups. A ‘Classic’ disaster, self-inflicted and utterly stupid.

So, of course, you had to do it again – just to make sure.
“Those who do not learn from history are often forced to repeat it.”

Other companies that made massive efforts to blow off their own foot :

Whirlpool. The Tumble Dryer Fireball Kings.
Volkswagen. A little pollution never harmed anyone (until they were caught!)
Hoover. A holiday promotion that totally wrecked the company. Flights of fancy.
General Motors. Cheaper to settle lawsuits than to fix the fault. Unsafe at any speed.
Banks in general. I object to be charged for bailing them out.

I am sure that there are many more out there.

Still Hanging Out to Dry

I recently posted my experiences dealing with the Whirlpool corporation, and their inept handling of the ‘Dangerous Tumble Dryer Farce’.
When will they come and fix it?
In May, they said June.
In June, the said [blank]
On the phone, they insisted that it would be June. The manager confirmed it. Right up to the end of June, when they suddenly said July!
Half-way through July, they suddenly changed to Overdue (?) and claimed that they were ‘working tirelessly’ (that seems to mean ‘making no effort’, hence not getting tired) ‘to shorten the length of time it will take [them] to complete the modification programme’.

What a load of inept, lying, incompetent morons. Any excuse, any date, any words that come into their tiny little brains. Never a straight answer. Only Whirlpool and their defective and dangerous tumble dryers, and no solution in sight. If ever a company deserved to go bust, this is it.

If the rest of the world was run as well as the whirlpool corporation (they don’t deserve a Capital Letter in their name), then the world would be in a truly dreadful state.

Ooooooh …

Hey nonny no!

Went and visited Ely, once again. I like the place. You can keep Newmarket, and Cambridge is a dead-loss – full of buses, cyclists and hypodermic needles.

Ely has a very impressive Cathedral, a regular street market on a Saturday, and is popular with people from a lot of different places. It rivals Doncaster in its ability to accept all manner of people, from all kinds of persuasions, without ever looking askance at the bizarre and the contrary.

I am not a fan of Morris Dancers, but they were all up in Ely last Saturday, performing their routines all over the town. Quite enjoyable. No-one found cause to mutter about one group who were dressed up in Black-a-moor outfits. These days, ‘blacking-up’ is frowned upon by the raging forces of ‘equality and anti-racism’, but the Morris traditions pre-date all the modern trendy prejudices. If anyone was offended, I never noticed it.

The Street Café comes highly recommended. Plain food, lots of variety, swift service and clean tables. That suits me. We sat there, eating happily. Across the street, we could see a shop that was originally founded in 1787. That must surely amaze the visiting Americans, whose nation is only 11 years older.

Car parking can be a bit difficult (popular place!) but it is free. Well worth a visit.

It’s 2 in the morning … yet again!

There are lots of people working hard, trying to preserve garden wildlife: feed the birds, build a ‘bug hotel’, make a gateway for hedgehogs. All very commendable.
“If you see a hedgehog ,” they say “let us know all about it! Hedgehogs are becoming a rarity!”
Not in my garden.
With the warm, summer nights, we tend to leave the back door open. Keeps the house cool, and allows the dog to wander in and out as he pleases. Our dog considers himself to be the guardian of our garden. Throw out some old, stale bread for the birds, and he will lie there for hours, making sure that no thieving bird can come down and steal it.
If any creature invades his domain, then he will challenge it with growls and a threatening posture. Several times, we have been called out into the night, to remove snakes and spiny mammals – just the thing you want to do before you can retire to your bed. Last night, it was another hedgehog. Growl, growl, grab hedgehog in jaw, and try to carry it around.
We have it down to a fine art. Get the gardening gloves, pull dog away from hedgehog, then drop a basin over the offending spiny intruder. Tell dog to ‘Leave!’ Sometimes, that actually works …
Grab hedgehog (after putting on gloves) and remove it from scene in aforementioned basin. A five minute walk into the countryside, then release hedgehog. Go back home, and shamelessly lie to dog, telling him what a ‘good dog he is!’

If hedgehogs are becoming rarer, it is because they are turning up in our garden with relentless regularity. Same with snakes. I am beginning to worry about the decreasing numbers of tigers, rhinos and orang-outan. Who knows where they may decide to congregate?