Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Living Life on the Hedge

Last week some bloke knocks on my door while I'm at work and offers to trim my unruly hedge. Tells wife it will cost £70. Obviously she turns him away.

Sunday is spent scouring the internet, countless google searches and visits to price comparison sites and I finally arrive at the Argos website. After an hour comparing prices and specifications I reserve:

Bosch AHS 41 ACCU Cordless Hedgecutter.


  • Save £11.00
  • £43.99 See the Additional Information panel for the pricing footnote.
  • was £54.99

£26.01 less than the seventy quoted, I'm on a winner here, methinks. Saving already and an investment for the future.

Monday morning I drop kids off at school and head straight to retail park and collect. I've three days off from the day job, the sun is shining. Great. Before I can start I have an appointment with the chiropractic student at the University of Glamorgan for my regular torture session. Can't beat a bit of manipulation of the cervical, thoracic and lumber spine (that's upper, mid and lower back if you're not medically au fait - Oh dear I'm sounding a bit pretentious here!). So I put the 14.4 volt battery on charge and off down the A470.

I would just like to point out that if you have any spinal problem, or joint pain, or any other kind of physical problem, you could do a lot worse (and spend a lot more money) than go to the Uni for treatment. Phone 01443 348 555 if your interested.

On returning home I carry ladder down two flights of stairs, I insert battery into new gadget, apply SPF 6 (might as well turn my utterly pale complexion a little brown) and head into the garden in a pair of Trespass sports sandals (no socks of course) topless and wearing black shorts. I meander to the bottom of the garden and peak over the fence at next doors perfect hedge, which is at least four feet lower than mine.

I start at the boundary, taking the height of next doors' as a guide and merrily start trimming away, cutting  the sides first, as instructed in the manual, which I had surprisingly decided to consult before commencing. I did about a third of the hedge (about 8 yards), and realised that next doors perfection was way out of reach for a novice like me. I then went back to the start, climbed the ladder and started trimming the top. The hedge is far to broad to reach all the way across the top, and I realise that I will have to tackle the top outer part from outside when I'm trimming the side outer part. If I'm getting too technical here, then please accept my sincerest apologies.

Well I haven't gone more than three or four feet when something catches my eye. I stop trimming and take a closer look. Nestling just a couple of inches from where I had trimmed the side, and about a foot higher than I had started trimming the top; inside the hedge was a very small birds nest. I climb a little higher and pull back some of the branches to inspect my discovery. This nest would have been too deep inside the thick hedge to be inhabited I thought. It must have long since been abandoned by any previous tenant. Surely! Wrong! I was greeted by the open mouths of four tiny little chicks. Please don't ask me what species, I'm not David bloody Attenborough, am I? But at a wild guess, and as far as wild guesses go this is completely untamed, I'd say sparrows. Maybe you can tell me?

How can I continue to cut on the same line now? There would be four little birdies homeless and easy prey for any would be predator, or wild shots at goal from 4 year old son. So feeling proud of myself in the fact that I'm doing my bit for wildlife preservation, I leave about a foot of hedge above the nest and continue on this line. Bill Oddie would think I'm a goody, for sure!

About half way down the hedge the trimmer stops trimming, getting stuck on even the thinnest twigs. So I stop work and put battery on charge. Manual says 3-4 hours should do it. So 3 hours of pottering about, collecting cuttings and putting into garden refuse bags. What's this? Printed on bag 'small amounts of cuttings only.' Now I pay my council tax, well I didn't for a while, but I do now. Part of that is for collecting refuse and recycling isn't it? Why can't I put as much garden refuse for recycling out as I like? Should I put some out and the rest into the rubbish bin? Would that just go to land fill and exacerbate global warming? Why am I asking so many questions? So I fill eight bags and pile the rest up in the corner, or shove it underneath some parts of the hedge.

After three hours charging, I can't wait any longer and get back to work, after picking kids up from school. I manage to cut most of the other half when the battery goes flat again. So I stop trimming for the day. I try to organise the kids into an (unpaid) work gang and get them collecting all the cuttings, well they are closer to the ground than me. And they don't have bad backs. But I end up doing most of the work as usual.

This morning I again take the kids to school, and then straight back to work. I finish the inside of the hedge and then move to the outside. The battery lasts a bit longer after a full charge and I get halfway down the outside. Gather up the cuttings and use the leaf blower to pick up the smaller bits. I have to clean out the blower every three minutes due to the amount of rubbish it picks up. Bloody litter bugs!

So now I'm sitting here, telling you all about it. Well I think there may be two of you reading this - thanks Rob for following my blog, and Sian, if she hasn't got bored by now. If anyone else is still with me at this point, please become a follower so I know that it's all worthwhile.

I'm mentally preparing for the final phase of the job. Physically I'm knackered. My back, neck and shoulders are very sore and my right wrist aches so much that you'd think I'd been going solo for two days solid. Another half an hour and the battery should be charged, and an hour after that, finito! Except when the chicks have flown the nest, I'm going to have to try to level the whole thing off as there is not even a hint of a straight line anywhere along the whole length of the hedge.

What the........!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Do You Love Sport?

Do you love sport? Are you totally fed up with Britain's pathetic performances in recent Olympic games? Do you despair at the thought of yet another useless showing in 2012? Well I can exclusively reveal that Team GB has a more than cunning plan to ensure that the Union Jack is regularly run up the pole in London.

I have today seen a top secret document from the Ministry For Sport, that Whitehall top brass wanted to keep under wraps until the last possible moment. My ministerial mole has provided me with a copy of an email to David Cameron from the Minister For Sport, Hugh Robertson, outlining how Britain can win a plethera of gold medals and ensure our place at the top of the medal table.

Hugh Robertson sets out his priorities.

The email reveals how the International Olympic Committee allow the nation hosting the Olympic Games to include some additional events and my mole tells me that Robertson has played a master stroke in proposing the following list of athletic disciplines:
1. The Egg and Spoon Race
2. The Sack Race
3. The Three Legged Race
4. The Climbing Through Hoops and Getting Dressed Race
5. The Morris Dancing Race
6. The Pancake Race.

All these events will be over 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres, 1,500 metres, 3,000 metre steeplechase, 5,000 and 10,000 metres, as well as various relays, and will be for both the men and women.

Team GB has years of experience in all of the above events, as school children for generations have strove for excellence each July, and it is likely that we will have a clean sweep of all the medals.

Other strange events. Cheese rolling, Toe Wrestling and Bog Snorkelling are also firm favourites

Another likely event is the Council Estate 4 by 400 metre relay where teams of four have to carry a 22 inch TV as the baton.

In addition, Robertson is also advocating the inclusion of some additional boat races. Namely the Nine Man Alcoholic Boat Race. I can reveal that this event will consist of eight teams of nine men sitting facing the back of their nearest team mate. On the opening bell the first man has to drink a yard of ale, which is rumoured to be the real ale favourite Old Peculiar. On emptying his glass, each competitor has to place the upturned vessel on his head before the next team member can drink his yard. The winning team is the first to complete the whole nine yards. The team who finish last in each leg has to buy the next round. In the event of a dead heat, the team with the driest heads will be deemed the winner. Should any member vomit before all nine yards have been drunk, his team shall lose that leg.

The event will be in a knock-out format, the first two rounds consisting of a best of three races, the quarter-final and semi-final will be the best of five and the final the best of seven. Each country can enter a squad consisting of no more than eleven drinkers, with any nine competing in each round. The event will be completed in its entirety in one day. Rounds one and two will take part in the morning session, the quarter and semi-final in the afternoon session and the bronze medal play-off and final in the evening session.

I can reveal that one event that won't be appearing in 2012 is the broom race, as it has been deemed to dangerous. This is a race where a competitor has to drink a yard of ale before putting his head on the top of a broom handle and run around it ten times before running 50 metres to the finishing line.

So don't despair, put your mortgage on Team GB to top the medal table. Let the good times roll.

What the.......!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Road Traffic Signal Rage

This morning, I came around the bend heading south on the A470 on the daily commute. I arrived at Abercynon roundabout at 6.58 and pulled straight up to the roundabout, there were no other vehicles queueing. Great. The part time traffic signals (traffic lights to normal people) weren't on yet. 7am was still 2 minutes away.

I had to wait for about ten seconds as several cars came around and then I continued on my way merrily, with a happy feeling bordering on euphoria. I arrived at work feeling calm and relaxed and set up nicely for the day.

Now rewind 23 hours and 57 minutes to 7.03 yesterday morning as I approached the same roundabout. On coming out of the final bend in the outside lane, my heart sank as I was greeted by a long queue snaking back towards me and I resigned myself to a long wait before I could get on with my journey.

But then I saw that the still distant traffic lights were green and that the queue was moving steadily, and quite quickly, all things considered. But could I cover the remaining several hundred yards before they changed. I felt a tightness across my chest and breathing didn't seem quite as easy as before. I felt beads of sweat spring from my forehead and my hands began to perspire as they held the steering wheel in a vice-like grip. If I didn't know better I might have mistaken the adrenaline rush for the early symptoms of a myocardial infarction.

I willed the traffic ahead to keep moving, no, to accelerate even. The closer the lights got, the slower everything seemed to move. And then the infernal thing turned amber. There were still about 10 cars between me and the lights.

"Go, go, GOOO!" I shouted so loudly that I'm sure that the driver of the lead car heard me. He put his foot down and rounded the roundabout on two wheels. The car behind did likewise and the third sped through the now red light as if he were in a Meatloaf video. "Gooo. GO!"I screamed, but nobody else went.

So now I'm sitting eight cars back, swearing under my breath at the drivers of what are now the first two cars in the new queue. Why didn't they go through the red light. There's no cameras or police around. They could probably have made it. Perhaps the traffic rounding the roundabout might have had to brake, but so what?

It's now 7.04 as I watch the equivalent of the Amazon river of traffic circumnavigate the roundabout. Hundreds, possibly thousands of vehicles passing before my eyes. 7.05, 7.06, 7.0 bloody 7 and still red as my blood begins to boil. "Change, Effing CHANGE." I bellowed insanely.

At that moment I could have quite happily lynched the person responsible, but I didn't know who she was or where to find her. (Of course it's a woman. Don't tell wife I said that, PLEASE.)

Then the lights changed and relief flooded in. But at least five more cars continued through when their lights were obviously red. "BARSTOOLS, EFFING BARSTOOLS!" I screamed. (Or something similar.)

Then my queue started to move, not exactly slowly, but not exactly quickly either. The first four cars go through and then I'm horrified to see the amber light join its green partner. Car 5 goes through and car 6 tailgates him. The lights go red and I get ready to floor it, sure that car 7 is going through.

"NO!" I croak, unable to scream through my now aching throat as the drongo in front slams on his brakes. I just manage to screech to a halt half an inch from his bumper. To make matters worse, four cars go through in the inside lane after we've stopped.

I can't tell you what I then said, but I think that I constructed the longest ever sentence that contained no nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, adjectives or any word that might be found in the unabridged version of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The next two interminable minutes seemed like a lifetime, but at last I'm on the roundabout. I know that you are not going to believe this, but the light at the first exit was RED. Now I'm stuck in the middle of the roundabout with steam coming out of my ears, inventing new expletives.

When at last I cleared the roundabout I knew that today was not going to be a good day.

Traffic lights on roundabouts! What the....*@*+.........?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

What's happened to our TV?

Help! I can't take it any more. My head is going to explode soon if it doesn't stop.

What's he banging on about now, you may enquire? Well I'm going to tell you straight, so don't blame me if you're offended because you asked for it. 

Big Brother - what an utter waste of time. Even though I've seen less than an accumulative 46.29 seconds when I've inadvertently hit the wrong channel, I feel overly qualified to express an expert opinion. It's absolute drivel - mindless morons watching mindless morons desperately behaving like vacuous morons,
hoping for fame and fortune.

Okay, maybe I've over used the word moron, but it's a little word which describes perfectly these moronic little people.

I can manage to avoid: the X-Factor, BGT (that's Britain's Got Tw*ts), Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing On Ice, I am not/was years ago/never have been/would like to be/know someone who is/once slept with someone who met a celebrity. And don't forget all those Andrew Lloyd Webber offerings of unadulterated crap. The list is almost endless. You can also add the unending daily menu of Soaps too.

Given the choice of watching 30 seconds of any of the above, or standing upside down with my head submerged in the blocked Gents WC of the Vulcan pub, with everyone urinating on my face on a Saturday night for 30 minutes, I'd chose the latter every time, in the blink of an eye.
No contest.

In fact I've bought a Crap Detector off eBay which plugs into my TVs HDMI socket. It's a great gadget which detects the inane drivel and automatically changes the channel to Sky Sports. This also really irritates wife. Result!
A bargain at £199.99!

So why is my head going to explode, you may ask, when I don't actually watch any of this drivel?

Well I have to suffer something much worse, something more excruciating and unavoidable than sitting in front of the TV, watching this rubbish. 

I have to sit on a minibus the next working day and listen to the rehashing of last nights drivel highlights for up to 2 hours. Up to ten cackling would-be TV critics fighting to have an opinion in a cacophony of caterwauling. Complete torture that not even the SS at their worst would have had the stomach to inflict. No Crap Detector, no off switch and no way out. HELP!!!

What the......!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

This time next year I'll be a millionaire

Well folks, you may not believe it, but I will be rich within 12 months.  I have finally decided to use my writing skills (don't laugh) and sense of humour to share my unique outlook on life, and thus make loadsamoney.

Ok, Maybe a million within a year is a little optimistic even for me, but aim high, heh! What's the worst that can happen? I suppose I could put in a dodgy link to some illegal site and incriminate myself in the process. Perhaps I may absent-mindedly forget to pay my dues to HMR and Customs, that would be silly wouldn't it. Tax Avoidance, A practical guide for UK residents Or maybe I might inadvertently write something libellous about someone famous such as the Prime Minister and get the arse sued off me.

But avoiding all of the above may lead to a lucrative new sideline. Added to that, I am going to start writing Sci Fi or Fantasy novels when I can work out which is which. So the sky is clearly the limit.

Now the next bit is definitely not libellous (I hope).

It has been alleged (by someone, definitely not me, but I don't know who; could have been Neil B'stard), that David Cameron has finally had a good idea on how to save money on public spending. He has decided to shelve the policy of drastic job cuts throughout the public sector. Any fool could see that this would have put thousands more on the already swollen dole queue, and severly cut services in Health, Education and Law Enforcement amongst others.

You can call me stupid if you like, but the government lose the tax and National Insurance revenue from these employees and then have to fork out a fortune in unemployment benefits, tax credits, housing benefits, etc, etc. What the hell does that achieve?

Added to that, the newly unemployed now have no money for essentials like mortgage repayments, and for luxury purchases.

Resulting in increased repossessions and a collapse in the construction industry, which is only just recovering from the recession. Local retailers and multi-nationals will feel the pinch and many more jobs will be lost due to everyone's lack of spending power.

And so the cycle perpetuates (I know, it is a big word for me) itself. This will send us hurtling back into an even deeper recession.

So what is his alternative I hear you ask?

Well he has decided to lay off 90% of all MPs with immediate effect. This would leave 65 MPs to run the country, which is more than enough if you ask me. It is a well known fact that most MPs spend very little time in Parliament and even less working in their own constituencies

So how does he chose the 90% to lay off? It is believed that Cameron will get rid of those with the smallest winning margins, taking into account percentage swings and defections, and then seasonally adjusting the figures. I can now exclusively reveal that that means that there will be 64 Tory MPs and Nick Clegg.

What's that I hear you ask? "What the.....!"

Friday, 11 June 2010

Things I'd rather do than watch the world cup

Well, it's nearly upon us. One month of absolute drivel. Overgrown kids watching kids who've never grown up, throwing their toys out of the pram because the throw in went against them. Eleven 'men' trying to get the other eleven 'men' sent off for tripping them up with their shadow. Circling the poor referee like the whole of the Apache tribe besieging Custer at his last stand, when he's not given them a penalty/given the other team a penalty. Or waving an imaginary yellow or red card begging and badgering the stressed official to let them referee the match themselves.

If the TV companies had any sense, they would only televise matches involving Brazil. The director should instruct the 500 or so cameramen to turn the cameras away from the pitch and treat us to 90 minutes of gorgeous South American talent, with their golden shirts tied into knots exposing their golden delicious navels. Here's a few links to wet your appetite, but don't miss Miss England 2010 -scroll all the way down!

japan v sweden, mmm..close match

I think she's brazillian, but hey, who cares where she from

beautiful brazillian talent #3

how did this one get in here?

beautiful brazillian talent #4

naked argy fan

oh no! the shower's not working

I guess football isn't all bad after all!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Automatic for the people

My automatic washing machine finally died last week. For some time the door was only hanging on by one hinge and it had to be wedged shut. It had worked quite happily like this for about two years since the boy had tried to use it as a step (whilst open) in order to climb onto the kitchen worktop. This would in turn give him access to the higher units where all the goodies were once kept out of reach.

The boy was barely 2 years old at the time. He had first exhibited his aptitude for climbing when I heard a loud thud, which took my attention away from the Saturday evening Celtic League match I was trying to enjoy. To facillitate the enjoyment of the said match I had placed the boy in his all singing, all dancing travel cot/playpen/nappy changing station. He had an assortment of his favourite cuddly playthings to keep him company. He was about seven or eight months old and was a late developer in the walking department, having reached the stage where he could just about manage to shuffle a few feet, usually whilst clinging to the table cloth. Result: much broken crockery.

Anyway the thud was the sound of boy's head meeting wilton carpet (I won't go into that today). The little blighter had managed to create a ramp out of all his toys which had enabled him to scale the side of the travel thingy and clamber over the side. His plan was only half baked as he had not prepared a suitable landing area.

I watched the remainder of the match comforting him, with the volume at full blast to drown his little sobs. This wasn't the first time that he had managed to spoil my enjoyment of the breautiful game. That was a 6 Nations match between Wales and Scotland and the little bugger hadn't even been born yet. Wife said that she thought that she was in labour, and she should know cos this was the third time. I said, "you can't be, it's still the first half." She was quite insistent and so I agreed to wait until half time and review the situation.

At half time wife was adamant and so insisted that I take her to hospital. I argued that on number 1 and 2 she had done everything within her power to extend the pregnancy to world record lengths. She still insisted. Then she played her trump card, as women always do. "If anything goes wrong, I hope you can live with the guilt." Five minutes later I was breaking the speed limit on the way to PCH, desperately trying to get there, get her booked in and settled, and then trying to watch the remnants on some poxy little portable tv that had more than its share of interference. My efforts were in vain, I didn't see any more of the action as Wales won their only match of that particular 6 Nations. Boy was born 12 hours later!!!

Back to the washing machine. Well apart from the dodgy door, for about six months, only one setting worked - 30 degree wash. We could manage with this, but unfortunaley it didn't automatically go to rinse. We had to actually wait for the end of the wash and turn the dial to rinse to get the damned thing to rinse. And then do the same for the spin. Not exactly an automatic washing machine really.

We put up with that until last week when despite doing all of the above, the washing came out actually smelling worse than before it went in. Anyone who's ever caught a whiff of my three day old boxers may find that hard to believe, but believe me it's true. Wife slapped me very hard for no reason at all, when I politely enquired if she had forgotten to put in the washing powder. So that was it, it had to go.

So check the internet, find good looking model (not Naomi Campbell or Cindy Crawford unfortunately), £50 off plus free delivery, connection and disposal of old model. Tell wife all of above. She's very happy. GREAT.

Delivery people phone on Monday and talk to wife. Arrange delivery for today (Wednesday) between 11 and 12 am. GREAT.

Last night I disconnect old machine in readiness as requested. Today I leave for work at 10 past 7 am. Work until 20 past 8 pm. Drive to swimming pool on way home to collect oldest girl from swimming club which finishes at 9pm. Leave there at 20 past 9 pm after she has a shower and changes. Arive home at 25 to 10 pm. fourteen and a half hours after leaving home this morning. F***ING GREAT. The new maching is outside utility room still in all its packaging. Ask wife what it's doing there. She says delivery man Del asked her where to put it, and she said by there, and that's where Del left it. I asked wife why he hadn't installed as per free connection. Blank look. I ask where delivery note is. No delivery note, Del only asked for electronic signature. Wife says she didn't know, even though we discussed how good the deal was. I get the balme and end up installing the bloddy thing anyway.

Tomorrow wife is going to complain - I'll let you know if anything develops.

What the....