Sunday, 27 February 2011

Police Camera Action

Well, what a night we've just had.

It all started rather well with a few friends over for dinner.  Mr WithaY made us all cocktails ...or aperitifs...I'm not certain what they actually were, other than hugely alcoholic.  It was a mixture of some odd French strawberry liqueur liberated from Father in law WithaY's house, 16 percent proof I think, mixed with Bison grass vodka.  And ice.


By the time the food was ready, the hilarity meter was registering HIGH.  We ate, we drank some more, we laughed a lot, and by the time our guests left we were stuffed, exhausted, pissed and ready for bed.  Mr WithaY announced that he was going to sleep the sleep of the dead.

No.  No he wasn't. 

At about half past 3, maybe quarter to four, we were woken by a dull rhythmic thumping sound. 

Not a loud car stereo heading past the house.

Not a very, very fat person walking home.

Not a dinosaur on a rampage* through West Wiltshire.


It was two thieving scroats, smashing their way through the front door of the petrol station with a sledgehammer. 

Well, what would you have done?

My first instinct was to get tooled up with shooters and go out to Stop Them In Their Tracks, in the manner of some vengeful American cop out for Justice.

However, what with me not being a cop, American or otherwise, I decided that was a bit of a crap idea, so Mr WithaY went to call the police instead.  He was able to give the police a running commentary on what was happening, looking out of the bedroom window, watching a crime in progress.

The vile little toads were in through the smashed door incredibly quickly. 

They used, as well as the sledgehammer, a large concrete block which was sat outside a neighbour's garage, usually deployed as a hefty doorstop.  We watched them pulling the broken glass out of the doorframe, then scramble through the door into the garage, smash open the locked cabinet full of cigarettes, and pretty much strip it bare.  All this took about 4 minutes. 

They ran out of the garage to a car parked in the dark by the recycling bins, and hared off along the main road towards town with no lights on.


Mr WithaY and I continued to peek out of the window as the garage owners arrived, then the police.  Mr WithaY got dressed and went out to tell them what we'd seen.  He was gone for over an hour. Apparently they were making cups of tea and everything.

While he was over there, drinking tea and discussing the state of the nation with the police, reports came through on the radio that the robbers had been apprehended.  Apparently the police had spotted them (no lights, speeding, probably driving like thieves in a getaway vehicle), given chase through several local villages, and finally collared them.

When searched, the sledgehammer, a huge sack of fags and a change of clothes for both perps were found in the car. Bang to rights, I'd say.

Turns out, our garage was the fourth one to be robbed that night.  I can only assume that the crime statistics for West Wiltshire will be looking a little better after this.  Assuming that the thieves in question aren't simply slapped on the wrist and released back into the loving arms of the local community, of course.

Mr WithaY enjoyed watching the robbery on the garage's CCTV recordings while he had his 5am tea. 

Other news:  There is, apparently, a "West Country Burlesque Artist" coming to perform in Frome.  We may have to get tickets, it sounds too weird to miss.

I hope her costumes involve baler twine and feed sacks. 


*It will happen one day, mark my words.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Lighting up time

It's almost 7am.  I've been up for just over an hour, and am currently sitting on the train heading for London.

So far, so ordinary.

What has made today a little bit different is light.  When I left the house at 6.30, I could not only see my car, but I could also see the hills over in the distance.  There was a pale band of sky which allowed me to see the shape of the hills, the few trees on the skyline, and the lowest clouds.

Spring is definitely springing.

Added to that, once I arrived at the station with a couple of minutes to spare, I could stand in Platform 1* and listen to the dawn chorus.

For the last few months, the only birdsong I have heard at that time of day has come from the owls who live in the woods around the station.

We have many purple crocuses in flower in the garden, snowdrops all over the back garden, and the pink heather in the tub under the rose arch is in flower.

I feel as though I ought to don a white robe and leaf garland, and skip round the village giving libations to everyone.  Perhaps living in Wiltshire has got to me.

*The only platform.  They could name it anything if they wanted to.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Lonely heart

Ooh, I've had a v dodgy email via Facebook from "Anderson Brookes" who is apparently a widower with two young sons. He wants us to be friends, at least to begin with. 

He doesn't sound at all like some random scammer, and I will be emailing him my credit card details later today.

He's from Ontario, according to his (almost blank) Facebook profile, but I have a feeling he's really in Nigeria, or possibly China. 


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Something fishy

I've had a very exciting offer arrive in my email.   It is from the "Saudi Embassy in Philippines", and it goes like this:

"Last Gift

I am Dr Michael Law, a diagnosed cancer woman on bed is willing to donate her funds to help you as her last gift from God.  reply to "

Before I compose my reply, let's examine this more closely.

From the Saudi Embassy...hints at there being some fabulously weathy Arab involved.  I like this already.  In the Philippines, though.  Hmm, possibly one of the less affluant Saudis, then.  Possibly disappointing.  Not to dismiss it too soon, though, let's read on. 

"Last Gift" is a nice title.  Almost like a short story, or possibly a daytime movie starring someone who used to be in Dynasty, or Little House on the Prairie.  Or Felicity Kendall.  It has promise.  Provokes a warm feeling in my heart. 

The sharp inquiring feeling between my ears remains, however.  Let us continue the analysis.

Dr Michael Law, a name to inspire confidence.  Trust.  It's reassuring.  And he's a doctor, even better.  Doesn't say what he is a doctor of, mind.  Medicine?  Political science?  Media studies?  Is it a made-up Internet doctorate that you can buy for £20 and a bit of form-filling?  Is he, in short, someone I would allow to perform any kind of medical procedure on me?

The seeds of doubt are growing.

Then it gets even stickier.  "A diagnosed cancer woman." 

Sooo...she has been diagnosed with cancer?  Or diagnosed as being a woman?  Or diagnosed as someone  who was born in late June/early July?  Or maybe she has crabs? 

Be more specific, Dr Law, my sympathy and interest are dwindling.

But wait..."on bed."  Ahahaha.  She is on bed.  That makes all the difference.  However, again we are left to wonder.  Is it a hospital bed?  A vegetable bed?  The sea bed?  Details, man, details.

Then comes the crux of the matter. 

This crab-infested woman lying out in the garden among the cabbages wants to "donate her funds" to me for no reason whatsoever.  How nice of her.  I assume that "donate her funds" isn't a euphamism. 

Well, Dr Law, here's what I suggest you do.  Get her to transfer all of "her funds" into a British bank account, and then email me with the details.  Have her sign over authority to access that bank account to me, notarised by a professionally qualified and legally certified lawyer with a current license to practice law in England, and I will pick up the funds when I have time.


Oh, and the email address - Chinese, I think?  Idiot.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Viva Las Sulis

You'll be delighted to know that Mr WithaY and I are both still full of cold.  We seem to be taking part in an unofficial sneezing contest - a sneezathon, if you will - with both of us taking turns to scare the shit out of the other one with several explosive sneezes, followed by weak half-hearted nose-blowing and gasping for air.  Sometimes there will also be an apology, but it never sounds very genuine. 

I have added a painful sore throat to my repertoire, Mr WithaY is suffering with what looks like the latter stages of scurvy. 

We are pasty and grumpy.  More so than usual, I mean.

In an attempt to Snap Out Of It, as we are certain our respective parents would have advised, we went to Bath on Saturday.  We had been planning the trip for a while.  Well, it's a big deal, going to the Big City.  Originally we had intended to go by train, but on the day we decided to drive; well, as we were heading off nice and early, parking would not be a problem.

Or so we thought.

There's a handy car park in Manvers Street, next to the police station, where, local urban myth has it, some naughty scamp planted cannabis in the dead of night in the big concrete flowerpots out the front of the cop shop, only to have it grow and flourish there for months.  I have no idea if it's true, but I do like the story. 

Anyhoo.  We got to the car park by 10.30.  The top level was full, so we headed down the ramp to the spacious and charming* lower level.   Gah!  Half of the lower level was fenced off, with no apparent reason.  There was a space, but it was a bit tight to cram Mr WithaY's huuuuuuge LandRover into it.  He managed, avoiding all the parked cars around him AND the concrete pillar. 

The agenda for the day was as follows:

1)  Scour all the charity shops in Bath for appropriate 1940s-style menswear that would fit Mr WithaY.  Don't ask. 

2)  Have lunch out somewhere nice, possibly after meeting our mate Ed, to whom Mr WithaY needed to pay some money**. 

3)  More charity shop scouring.  There are a lot of charity shops in Bath.

4)  Visit Long Tall Sally (the clothes shop, not the person) and see if there was anything nice in their sale.

5)  Take a peek in the guitar shop just out of interest, not to buy anything, no honestly, I'll only be in there a minute.

6)  Go to Habitat, to try and Get With The Trends. 

7)  Finally wend our weary way back to the car, laden with the fruits of our shopping expedition, exhausted and happy, and hopefully thoroughly snapped out of our colds.

The reality was somewhat different. 

Once the car was safely parked and the EXTORTIONATE parking ticket bought, we headed into town.  The very first charity shop, almost the very first shop, that we found, delivered everything we needed and more.  Mr WithaY acquired two pairs of sturdy woollen trousers, suitably voluminous and pleated, and a dark green corduroy jacket which he is seriously considering wearing to work "because it's really nice."   All for under £25. 

They go with his new patterned tank top that he had already bought (online without my knowledge, honestly that man's a constant fount of startlement) a treat. 

I found a copy of Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" which I have been meaning to buy for ages, and only had to pay £2.50 for it.  Result. 

So, we were two hours from meeting our mate, and had already completed the bulk of the day's mission.  What to do...what to do?

Aha!  There's a Patisserie Valerie in Bath.  Where they sell Eggs Benedict.  Nom nom nom.  We had a late breakfast, and admired our bargains. 

Suitably sustained, we headed back out to see what adventures Bath held.

In the covered market, I found this.  Elvis.  But in Lion form! 

I honestly thought my heart would stop - it is so perfect.  Look at the sneer on him!

And the attention to detail...well...

I had to be led away by Mr WithaY.

Remember the Bath Pigs, a while ago?  I was really hoping this would be the first of many leonine interpretations of rock legends, but he seemed to be a one-off. 

Also, this man wins the There Must Be Easier Ways To Make A Living Award:

It was raining!   So...on a tightrope, playing the fiddle, in the rain.  For (I looked*** in his hat) about 8 quid. 

Lunch.  Ah yes, lunch.  We went to the Hall and Woodhouse.  It's a strange place, almost a pub, almost a giant waiting room, almost a bistro, not quite anything entirely.  It was very busy, but we found somewhere to sit, and I ordered an egg mayonnaise sandwich. 

It arrived, presented disarmingly in what looks like a swabs dish from a Stalinist military hospital.

Mmmmm.  Appetising.

To be fair, it wasn't a bad sandwich, despite having lettuce in it when the menu had only mentioned cress, and arriving with a portion of chips on the side which, again, the menu failed to mention. 

I should write restaurant reviews.

Lunch completed, we scooted back out into the rain to complete the remaining missions on our list.  Long Tall Sally had moved, so we walked up and down a while till we found the new shop, where I bought a couple of tops in the sale.  It's great being slightly less obese.  You have so much more choice in clothes shops.

Then, as we were in the area, we called into the guitar shop.

What a sack of arse that was.

It is staffed - as most guitar shops in my experience seem to be - by aloof young men with complicated hair and achingly hip rock-god clothing styles.  In this place, though, there is no elder guitar statesman to manage them, and rein in their sneering when a middle-aged woman wanders in off the street.  I shan't be buying anything from them, even if I do decide to sell my Rickenbacker and invest in something else in the future.


I was tempted to steal a quote from Ab Fab's Patsy - "You can drop the attitude, you only work in a shop you know."

*Dank, piss-smelling dungeon.  With pay machines. 

**The money payment is related to the clothes purchasing at point (1) above.  It's all very bizarre complicated, but if things pan out, I promise to provide a full report later in the year. 

***Yes, yes, I gave him some money.  Well, it's traditional.

Friday, 4 February 2011


"sti makes bumble bee drone independent of engine"


Blog search criteria.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tired and emotional

I'm writing this from my sickbed, for a nice change. Mr WithaY has emigrated into the spare room so he can have his very own sickbed. In fact, in a bizarre one-upmanship stunt, he was actually sick a little while ago, while I am merely laid low with a blinding headache, intermittent chills and an increasing amount of snot. 

It's lovely at our house. I can feel your envy from here.  Or is that just another temperature spike? 

I was feeling a bit weird earlier in the week, but put it down to tiredness and intellectual burnout, as I had been dealing with huge terrifying spreadsheets for days.

As an aside, how did I end up doing scary finance, exactly? I have, more than once, mentioned my maths blind spot on this blog. If the whole country crashes deeper into the depths of depression, possibly exploding in a huge fireball of even more debt, I have a nagging fear it might be all my fault. Those pesky spreadsheets. 

Anyway.  Whining about ailments aside, it's been an action-packed  week so far.

Monday went like this.  I have abbreviated it for you, so as to spare you the unrelenting tedium that is my average working day.

Oh fuck no is that the time drive drive drive train train train train bus work work work spreadsheets work complicated formulae work work meetings work lunch from M&S work work TUBE gah! train lovely Middle Sis's house for dinner. 

They're doing something complicated to the escalators at Victoria station. Apparently we should "avoid the station between 4pm and 8pm" i.e. throughout the entire evening commute. Yeah right.  There's a one way system in place for the weary travellers.  You have to join the end of a massive snake of people, through the booking hall, across past the barriers, up the stairs, through the main overground part of the station, down some other stairs, back past the barriers but on the other side, then finally through the ticket barriers and down to the underground platforms. It took about 15 minutes, all told. 

I'm jolly glad I don't have to endure that every day.

I was going to brag about the pie I made for dinner, but since Mr WithaY was sick I've rather lost heart.

I hope we both feel better tomorrow.