Thursday, 15 September 2022

 Today's Project

After a few welcome days away in the campervan it was home again to the next job on my never ending list of 'stuff to do', the dratted tap in the toilet. I only renovated the toilet as my Covid project but the tap gave up after under 2 years.

Why on earth would a tap manufacturer make a nice solid chromed brass sink tap and equip it with a cheap nasty plastic support ring where it attaches through the sink? There are no children or anyone here who has strained it or misused it, it's simply rubbish! Without the ring the tap can't be fixed to the sink so just wobbles around and can't be turned on or off.

So Amazon to the rescue and a nice shiny new tap. 

The only problem being that I attached the original tap with the tails to the sink before fixing the sink in place, this time I had to remove it and refit the replacement with the sink in place or face having to dismantle the waste which runs through a boxing wedged in behind the toilet. 

Fortunately after an epic struggle and a lot of naughty words it's done. But a note to self: If you ever fit another handbasin position it slightly further from the wall so your hand can reach behind it!

Thursday, 1 September 2022

 Today's project

The outdoor log rack.

I shall convert it into a 4 foot unit with a shelf rather than a long 8 foot rack, some drilling required!

So that's the main frame. I'm done for the afternoon.

Update - almost done.

It's wierd how the brain works. Nagging me that the roof needed supports underneath. But of course it doesn't, it's simply a 'hanging'shelf rather than one supported from below. Some mesh on the shelves and it needs some angle to protect the lath ends then I think I have some cheap stick-on flashing to seal it to the wall (when the rain stops and the wall is dry).

So that's part 1, the easy to grab quickly ready to use log store near the house door. Now I need a larger store elsewhere in the garden for the longer term storage.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Another week, Another Music Festival 

I was intending to write last week about the music festival we went to early in August but I'm afraid I have been practising my procrastination skills. It's very easy to practice procrastination, it takes very little effort and is a low cost activity. True it's a bit disheartening that nobody can be bothered to provide a certificate or reward for all the time spent but it's sometimes our fate in life to have our unique and special skills unrecognised.

My other excuse is that real life got a bit annoying. The ageing camper van needing tax and reinsuring for another year. Pre Covid we always took out EU driving cover then EU breakdown insurance combined with travel insurance as a separate policy so we could enjoy 2 or 3 trips to France. But the van is now too old to use that breakdown company, so hours waiting in telephone queues to get details of what's available and finding proof of regular maintenance, then discovering the costs to decide on a sensible alternative - if indeed there is any point to finding an alternative in today's world. I suspect we'll be lucky to pay for food and fuel and stay comfortable at home by next spring so it became more a case of the cheapest way to keep options open.

Anyhow our second festival of the summer: Still folk based music but more electric folk rock and with a twist of nostalgia acts this time, the Fairport Convention Annual Reunion which is held every August at Cropredy in Oxfordshire.

It's a very special and unique festival as it encompasses the entire village. The local WI serve meals in the village hall, the local Scouts act as marshals and litter wardens, there is a village charity car boot sale. The local pubs put on events, the cricket club rents its showers and opens its bar for drinks and snacks, there is a street market, while farmers clear their livestock to make camping space and the whole lot becomes a festival site for 3 days of music in a field at the edge of the village.

You might wonder why the villagers tolerate such an event? The festival has its roots in the village fete when the first reunion of the then disbanded band took place for charity back in the 1980s. So village events are fully coordinated with the festival, the shop and local pubs make money to stay in business, the village cricket club has some of the best amateur facilities in the country, the WI, scouts and other clubs are well financed for the year, the local economy, and local charities thrive on the income from the event and hopefully everyone has a good time.

There is still the puzzle of how to define folk music. Some is obviously traditional, Scottish airs, Irish jigs, Morris tunes, very old songs of unknown origin. Singer songwriters are generally accepted as folk music if the material is designed to tell a story, fits the style of traditional songs, and hasn't come from commercial 'Tin Pan Alley' writers. Other material is more borderline. For example the tune of Matty Groves is found with different words in the USA as Shady Grove, and as a song called Lady Margaret,. Origins lost in time, transmitted by sailors and settlers it's very obviously a folk song. But whether it counts as folk music or folk-rock when played by Tom Petty, or the 60s psychedelic band Quicksilver Messenger Service is an open question?

I'll finish by recommending some videos that to me explain a little about wht folk rock is. The first is a US singer songwriter Emmit Rhodes, who back in the 1960s wrote a song called Time Will Show the Wiser and recorded it with his band for the US market.

 Fairport Convention heard it and recorded a cover version for their first album.

Then in 2017, at the Fairport Annual Reunion, to celebrate 50 years since the band was formed, all the same original members of Fairport - excepting the drummer Martin Lamble who was sadly killed in a tragic road accident and was replaced here by Dave Mattacks - got together and played it live onstage.

So now back to procrastinating, This weekend is the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, I'm not there but they stream excellent quality live video from both their main stages. It's watchable via their festival website or via Youtube. Just google, there is some great music going on there this weekend.

Monday, 25 July 2022


A couple of weekends ago we took ourselves off to a music festival. Many people probably associate the idea of an open air music festival with events like Glastobury. But apart from being on a farm in a beautiful part of southern England this was as far from the crowds, mayhem and myriad horrors of Glastonbury as it's possible to get. A few thousand sensible, considerate people gatherered to listen to what was predominently english folk music. The photo showing the half empty post festival camping field as people left, devoid of any rubbish or abandoned tents and chairs with not even an errant piece of paper left behind shows the difference.

The other thing many people may not realise is that, although taking influences from all around the UK and elsewhere, there is such a thing as english folk music.Maybe it is that wider mix of influences that separates it from Scottish reels and airs or Irish jigs?

While the Beatles were revitalising pop music in Liverpool down in some London clubs there was increasing interest in folk music. American artists like Paul Simon and Dylan encouraged english singers and guitarists like Ralph McTell, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch. Then bands like Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Steeleye Span added modern electric instrumentation and began to investigate old english songs and musical traditions. Morris dance tunes, field ballads, industrial work songs, nautical songs were reinvented for a new audience. 

Some of those artists and bands are still performing. Fairport Convention still play regularly, Steeleye Span occasionally get together, Ralph McTell played this year, great songs and he is still the best ragtime blues guitarist I have ever heard. Younger bands like Merry Hell from Wigan with energetic electric social commentary, Trad arrr, with a mix of electric morris tunes, traditional ballads and self-penned songs in a traditional mould are carrying on the traditions.

The other pleasures of these festivals is checking out the specialist food sellers, craft ales in the beer tent and small specialist traders and artisans around the site. I usually end up with a few CDs, a tee shirt or a bit of local artisan work. This year however was unexpected, a charity who collected refurbished then supplied tools to establish workshops and small businesses in developing countries, any unsuitable for shipping being sold to pay their costs, so I ended up with a lovely old, but excellent quality, refurbished electric mitre saw. Not something I expected to find at a music festival!

Sunday, 3 July 2022

 How Woke Is Your Cat?

A few days ago our grocery delivery arrived (Yes, I know I'm lazy, if the shop will deliver why bother to drive into town to the shop?). In the delivery was the usual bag of treats for the cat, called Dreamies, made by Mars Petcare, and well known to most cat owners.

And on the pack was a rainbow and the declaration of how proud Dreamies were to be sponsoring an LGBT charity. 

I can well understand how a company division making pet products could sensibly sponsor a pet related charity. There are various such charities who I am sure would love some commercial sponsorship and many pet owners would be happy to choose the product, approving of the charity.

However, to the best of my understanding our cats have never once asked about or required LGBT counselling services. LGBT issues have absolutely nothing to do with cats or any other pets and are unlikely to tempt the product purchaser. Especially if, like me, they are sick and tired of being bombarded with LBGT propaganda and news coverage.

Yet another blatant case of a company ignoring their primary job of producing products as efficiently and cheaply as possible for the customer and making money for their shareholders by wasting their time climbing on the woke virtue signalling bandwagon. Fortunately there are other cat treats avaiable.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

 After 10 years....

I gave up on this blog in 2013, there comes a point where being grumpy about stuff gets old! Plus the stuff I am grumpy about is now international and merely whingeing about the WEF, UN, EU, Boris, the influence of American leftists and wokeism is pointless when others have better information than me.

I'm quite surprised that the blog is still here.

So just for old time's sake here is a picture of the door trim I have just renovated for my car project. Doing trim can take as long as welding bits of floor back, it can't be hidden. More importantly for now it's not political and something I can control and a classic car is immune from ULEZ zones - opps political....

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Politicians – solving yesterday’s problems today

So we will get a plastic bag tax? Wow, big deal!

The sheer quantity of rubbish strewn around our countryside is something that has long annoyed me. Plastic bags being a particular bugbear, some roadways being strewn with them on the verges, some in the hedgerows and often bags flapping around in the trees. Yet in recent years, although the level of litter has not improved, there are fewer plastic bags in evidence. The biggest plastic bag problem has now become dog mess bags, which some dog owners use to collect the poo then for some strange reason use to decorate trees along footpaths.

I tend to avoid using plastic bags in most circumstances but occasionally they are useful, an unplanned purchase or to buy something that could spill like some DIY materials. I then reuse them for a while before finally relegating them to rubbish sacks, especially for ‘dirty’ rubbish in the garage. Yesterday was one occasion, when I went to get a Sunday paper only to have the heavens open with a torrential rainstorm – so I had a plastic bag rather than get home with a block of papier mâché.

Reading the bag was quite instructive. It says that “Over 20% of the material in this biodegradable bag is from a renewable source” It also says it’s recyclable and biodegradable to ISO14855 standard. Well, perhaps that’s not environmentally perfect, but it’s better than most of the packaging around the shop products themselves. If I were to simply throw it away it wouldn’t hang around on my garden hedge for 1000 years.

On getting home I pulled out a few more bags from my garage rubbish stash. Yes, recyclable, yes biodegradable. Next one, yes recyclable and biodegradable. The next one was a French one – Catena, a DIY/houseware shop in Normandy. Recyclable, indeed it is, and biodegradable, with a nice cheerful message explaining how the bag is 100% ‘fragmentable’ by light and heat.

So why do we suddenly now require a plastic bag tax? It’s not as though it will only apply to non-degradable bags and encourage degradable ones – which would make at least some sense. It will of course cause increased use of paper bags – which require more energy to make and are less useful because they are not rainproof. It will increase the sales of manufactured bags for waste bin liners which are thicker, more material and energy intensive and only get used once.

As is all too frequently the case our politicians see a problem late then come up with a solution which we have to pay for and which will make things worse, in this case by failing to promote biodegradability and causing people to adopt more environmentally costly and damaging solutions.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Using the Right Words

Words have power. We all know this but often we assume this refers to words when used as communication to transmit information when it’s actually the information that has power. Or maybe the words convey authority, that too means power.

That’s not the sort of word power I mean, it’s the power of the words themselves that is often important. Poets, songwriters, novelists and journalists use this word power all the time, but we rarely stop and think why it works, often we don’t even notice it at all. One reason for their power is because of the unconscious emotional association we make to different words.

As a simple example think about this sentence; “The bright red car accelerated quickly up the road”. Nothing special about that, it’s a simple description. We think of bright red as a nice attractive colour. There is nothing wrong with accelerating quickly and roads are designed to accelerate on when driving off. The sentence is emotional positive or neutral, maybe the family going off on holiday.

Change a few words. “The lurid red coupe accelerated fast up the carriageway”. Same event and the words mean the same but we get a totally different message. Now it’s a bad colour, the car is a fast one, the driver is violent, probably socially irresponsible, and carriageways are somehow faster than roads, the sentence now describes a bad situation.

The use of emotionally positive words in place of words with negative connotations is a staple method of the political correctness movement. “Intellectually challenged” is far more positive than “stupid” and the classic “Gay”, with connotations of carefree innocent enjoyment, was chosen to be the emotional opposite of “homosexual” which carries the stigma of political scandals and sordid toilet encounters of the 60s.

Such wordplay is far more subtle and more dangerous than ordinary spin. Spin simply exaggerates the good points and downplays the bad ones, at the extreme it is to lie by omission. It’s not hard to spot it. Choosing the right words to skew the emotive content however can be so subtle as to be almost subliminal.

The global warming movement have always been good at extreme spin. Their data lies by omission, their models lie by omission, and their power generation ideas are close to fantasy without any regard to the problems. Most of us have long realised it has to do with tax and control, the environment was simply a useful (probably manufactured) artificial problem. But in any case the whole global warming scenario had the great political disadvantage that it was all based around negative concepts, alarms and difficulties.

Recently the movement has moved beyond talking about AGW or climate change or even mentioning CO2 levels. The latest references leave all that behind and increasingly talk glibly of “carbon commitments” or “hitting our carbon targets”.  

This has the useful political effect of deflecting any criticism of the real environmental reality by removing the entire tax and control system and the practical problems beyond it. But more dangerously it uses an emotionally positive phrase to make it sound good. After all commitments are a good thing, targets are fun to hit. They have converted the language of the situation from a negative scenario into a positive aspiration making a celebratory event of their stupidity.

To get the truth we need to remember that the only reliable forms of energy we currently have for many purposes are carbon based. We also need to understand that “commitment” doesn’t mean agreement, it means “ration”. What they are talking about is our conforming to our energy ration.

That of course would be why they seem so lackadaisical about building new power stations and why they are trying to convince us that smart meters are for our benefit. We are heading for energy rationing, so don’t let phrases like “carbon commitment” fool you.

Reading any political commentary it is littered with emotive content. It’s quite interesting to try finding the emotional positives, words like simplicity, fairness, openness, accountability, democracy, safe, ones that nave nice cozy overtones then try substituting alternative words and phrases that mean the same but have negative connotations.

Friday, 22 April 2011

I Hate Batteries!

So my old car has sat most of the winter because the little remote thing, of which I only have one, had a faulty button. Sometimes it unlocked, sometimes it didn’t. If the cat sat on the car’s roof the alarm went off and sometimes the button silenced it, sometimes it didn’t. As some steaming  pillock of a designer had decided to provide only one button, which sets/unsets both the immobiliser and the alarm it was totally impossible with an erratic malfunctioning button to know what state the car was in! The fact that there is no visible dashboard light to even warn when the (auto setting) immobiliser was set just made it more of a gamble, having got into it without waking the street then sometimes it would start, sometimes it would churn round uselessly. I despair of designers!

As Saab are one of the most expensive main dealers I found a spare remote, then spent hours trying to find someone who could code it. Nope! It might be the same system as a Vauxhall but the Saab software is locked to Saab’s electronic analysis machines. Dear Saab. I don’t want to steal it just want to drive the damn thing without being held to ransom for a trivial bit of programming.

Eventually I found a helpful lock specialist, they couldn’t re-programme it, but could repair the faulty button (thank you Longton Lock Centre) and collecting the rejuvenated remote I dashed off home to test it. Nope. It seems to click at the right times but the car battery is flat and doesn’t want to take a charge. Presumably months of very cold weather and little use have damaged the battery, so the car is back on ‘hold’ until I get a new battery.

No matter, there is plenty of work to be done around the house, so out comes the cordless electric drill and the new door lock to be fitted. I drill half a hole then the drill stops, battery flat! Into charger with it, while I flatten the spare battery on the second half of the hole. Looks like age or winter killed the drill batteries too. About half a hole or three woodscrews seems to be their limit. Of course all cordless drills use different battery packs which are often more expensive than the drill complete. So that can wait.

Never mind. The trees and garden looks beautiful so I’ll take some pictures, or I would if the camera worked, but the batteries are flat. No matter I have more ready charged, but they won’t work for more than 5 minutes either, then the camera dies with a picture half saved and the memory card and existing pictures can only be rescued on the computer. Two or three years use and rechargables lose most of their capacity.

This is the technology that is meant to replace petrol and diesel in our cars and allow us to travel to work and visit friends or go on holiday.

Dream on greenies!

Thank goodness the bottle opener is manually operated!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Referendum nobody cares about

We are now approaching the date for the referendum on AV. The politicians are full of it but even they seem completely unable to find a positive aspect to either outcome. All the prattling is negative and sniping at the opposition. We are told it will let in nasty fringe parties like the BNP or make for ‘weaker’ government (how I wish, so weak they didn’t exist would suit me!)   If this referendum is so good and meant to be so good for our democracy why is all the canvassing so negative?

So what if it does allow an occasional 'nasty' fringe candidate or a totally loony environmentalist into Parliament, they would have to work hard to be loonier and nastier than some of the present or recent incumbents? We may abhor some people’s views, whichever political extreme they come from, but since when does a once-free democracy like ours choose a voting method on the basis of deliberately censoring and excluding fringe parties? That is what is being argued for!

The papers and TV news are similarly full of AV. If there was any way such a voting change could make any real difference or have any real impact it just might matter, but it won’t. Our political classes are now so self-obsessed, so out of touch with real people, and so hard driven by a heady mix of self aggrandisement and love for EU and world integration that it makes not a jot of difference how we vote for them. Whatever the system we will only get a slightly different mix of the same we-know-best-and-will-ignore-you politicians.

There may be minor differences between parties. If one lot end up with more lobby fodder they will throw slightly more of our money at new schools and benefit claimants while the other lot will pretend to be more responsible and shuffle taxes around and prattle on about immigration. But even if they wanted to they can’t do anything significant because the EU won’t let them. It makes no real difference to ordinary people like me, how we vote for the political elite when all three main parties are cut from slightly different shades of the same cloth

The mainstream media have long since colluded with this farce. Pages full of AV voting rubbish. It's no great loss because otherwise they are full of X Factor, the royal wedding, and similar trivia. Or pushing the latest wheeze of the health and control agenda, the familiar tobacco control, booze drinking, food freshness, and all the similar nannying  and nudging that has become part of our daily lives. They don’t bother to even report about the political issues that matter. 

Changing the voting system won’t make a bit of difference, the AV referendum is only being held to keep Clegg happy and more importantly pretend voters have power. It's main purpose being to distract us from the referendum we do all want, the in/out of the EU one. That’s the one they dare not permit to happen.