When I woke at 3am there were no cattens in the bedroom, which made me feel deeply suspicious.

An hour later and one is sitting on my chest, holding me here.

I’m now suspicious of what the other three are up to while I’m being constrained by Dandy.

I want to write, but my laptop is in the car.

Besides, Dandy feels like he’s taken up residence for the duration.

How my life has changed, that cats now play such a large part.


Title: Undecided

Preface: First Words/Last Words

Muffled noise.

The seatbelt had done its job.

I was securely strapped to the driver’s seat, upside down.

I shook my head to try to shake the impact memory, the thuds, the bangs, and my head being jarred around.

The windscreen was crazed, but held itself in place.

Blood dripped from my face on to the car roof below.

I was still holding on to the steering wheel.

There was a thud outside.

‘Are you OK in there?’ asked a muffled voice.

I didn’t answer.

‘Hello?’ A little clearer.

The blood continued to drip upwards from my nose, and I realised my chest hurt.

She put her head through the open window on the driver’s side.

‘Are you… Jesus Christ!’

I tried to tell her that I wasn’t the Son of God, but my tongue wouldn’t work and I realised that the blood dripping from my nose was originating in my mouth.

There was a bang on the other side of the car, and someone said something I couldn’t hear.

The passenger window was kicked in.

She was still learning in through the driver’s window when a gloved hand reached in through the passenger’s window.

The hand held a gun.

The gun spat once, and her face disintegrated.

The gun spat again and I died quicker than I was already dying.

Blogathon 28/17: Candles

I’m going to a gig tomorrow night.

Actually, that’s not correct.

We are going to a gig tomorrow night.

We are going all the way down south to that Birmingham.

To see Elbow.

How are you going all the way down south to that Birmingham to see Elbow (I hear you cry)?

Well, I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car, one day in November, when the driver took a hand off the wheel and thrust a numbered envelope at me.

I opened it (as I had opened at least half a dozen numbered envelopes over the last 90 minutes).

And inside were two tickets to see Elbow.

What was in the other numbered envelopes (I hear you ask)?

So very many things.

The first envelope contained a different sort of ticket.

A ticket to ride.

As we pulled in through some anonymous-looking gates in the middle of the Leicestershire countryside, I clutched my ticket for a half-hour private ride around the sky with East Midlands Helicopters.

East Midlands Helicopters

East Midlands Helicopters

Forty minutes later, and less than an hour after I’d been given the first envelope, I was airborne.

1,000 feet above the Nottinghamshire countryside.

We crossed over the village where we live, banked to starboard over the house, then straightened up before turning to port and heading across the countryside before reaching the centre of Nottingham.

We had a good look at Nottingham Castle, Trent Bridge cricket ground, and the two Nottingham football venues.

Despite being early November, the sunny, spring-like, cloud-free day gave us a fantastic view of the countryside for miles around.

It was a stunning birthday gift.

But it didn’t end there.

Back on terra firma other envelopes were thrust at me.

There was the lottery scratchcard (which bore me a fiver).

There were other lottery scratchcards (that steadfastly refused to bear anything).

There was an invitation to lunch at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant.

Lunch at Jamie Oliver's

Lunch at Jamie Oliver’s

And the tickets to see the Iron Maidens (later this year).

There were the tickets to see It’s A Wonderful Life in full Cinemascope on the very big screen.

I could go on with the list.

And on and on, with the list.

I felt very proud, honoured, and a little embarrassed, at the end of that early November day.

I still do.

Last year was an emotional time.

And I had the best (and most emotional) birthday, to cap a heck of an emotional year.

Thank you, Sam.

Blogathon 27/17: Self-driving car

I like my new car.

I Bluetooth my phone to the in-car entertainment system and amazing things happen.

I can read incoming SMS messages on a display.

I can view and autodial my contacts by voice-activated command.

I have full hands-free/speakerphone capability as I trundle around the countryside.

I can plug my iPod Classic in to the in-car entertainment system, and access any of my many playlists/podcasts.

The external lights are fully automatic; in normal daylight the front lights are permanently on.

But when it gets gloomier or darker front and rear lights come on.

And if there’s nothing in front of me travelling in the same direction, and nothing coming in the opposite direction, the lights automatically go to full-beam.

And back to dip again, when something is in front.

The wipers are fully automatic.

The sensors on the rear bumper activate a visual display and audio warning if my reverse parking is too tight.

If I’m closing too quickly on the car in front, an audio and visual warning pops up.

If I ignore these warnings, the car brakes itself!

If I run low on fuel, the SatNav automatically offers to route me to the nearest open filling station.

But for all these safety features – and more, that the car has – I have found one significant gap.

The radio allows me to accidentally listen to Steve Wright in the Afternoon.

I mean, with all that technology on board, you’d have thought the designers would have sorted that out, wouldn’t you?

Good grief

Good grief

Blogathon 26/17: Security, security, security



Not just because the current President of the USA is a Russian asset, but because security lives with me every day of my professional life

In Costco yesterday I found myself looking at two types of home security system.

There was the all-in, multi-camera, stream to any device and record 30-days on to a dedicated DVD solution.

Home CCTV system

Home CCTV system

I quite liked that, especially as all cameras have day/night capability, and can be panned, tilted, and zoomed remotely.

Then there was the single camera, continual-stream to your tablet/phone solution.

Single Camera CCTV Stream

Single Camera CCTV Stream

I quite liked that too.

But frankly, if I bought the latter, I would probably point the camera in to the house, just so that I could keep track of what the cattens get up to while we’re all out.

And the former?

Well, it’s a good-looking product, but it comes with a hefty price-tag.

While I’m mulling over the differences between the two products, and while considering whether or not I really need one, and if I do need one, why am I not utilising the NAS as the storage device…

Let’s look at another security thought.

I put a new layer of security on my nice new mobile phone last week.

It’s a fingerprint reader.

No more do I need a PIN of four random digits.

Now all I need to do is press my finger (not telling you which one) to the magic pad on my phone, and hey presto!

Robert’s your Mother’s Brother.

And nine times out of ten my phone unlocks.


And it unlocks itself very rapidly.

For the tenth time, I just apply my finger again, and for half of those times it lets me in.


I suppose there’s a problem with the other 50% of the tenth time.

When it refuses, repeatedly refuses to let me in, at the point where I exceed the number of attempts, the phone locks me out.

For 30 seconds.

Yes, it’s only 30 seconds, so who cares?

Well, I do.

Because then, to let me back in to my phone, I have to revert to a PIN.

So this morning, for instance, after we’d been swimming, the phone just didn’t want to know my fingerprints.

I found a couple of online articles in the academic world that confirmed that fingerprints change after water immersion.

And I do a lot of washing up, so my fingertip cells are continually expanded.

This is not good for fingertip recognition software.

It is also not good for playing guitar!

Or, rather, having soft fingertips on the left hand isn’t good for toughening up for fretwork.

But anyway, back to the CCTV options.


Blogathon 25/17: Saturday stuff!

Four loads of washing up/putting away.

A spell at the ironing board (shirts and t-shirts).

A trip to Costco, following by a lovely long shopping expedition.

But today hasn’t all been one long run of fun and games.

We took a break from the hectic, hundred-miles-an-hour, white knuckle ride that is life in these parts.

We watched, once again, Pitch Perfect 2.

Along with the predecessor in the series, this is fast becoming a favourite film.

I’m not sure how I feel about the forthcoming Pitch Perfect 3.

Kind of excited that it could be as good as the previous two films, and sortov nervous that it might be a big fat turkey.

But one thing that Pitch Perfect 2 did give me, is another song to put forward for next week’s scratch band practice.

The thoroughly unlikeable character ‘Fat Amy’ (shudder) duets to a piece of early 1980s music gold:

Blogathon 24/17: It’s the weekend!

There was a day this week when I woke up and was hit by an overwhelming feeling that it was a Ferris Bueller kind of bunking off sort of day.

But I didn’t.

Even though the feeling had an almost irresistible force, I stayed away from the dark side.

There was a time though…

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

Yesterday evening four of my colleagues and I had a scratch band practice after work.

Two acoustic guitars, two vocalists, and me, trailing along, hashing things about with my G&L plugged in to a small amp.

My own acoustic is out on loan.

In a mildly disorganised way we ran through some familiar numbers, and later on they worked through two songs I am unfamiliar with.

I got a round of applause for my lead vocals on Lindisfarne’s Meet Me On The Corner, but that was probably a sign for me to shut up.

For a couple of hours we had a good time, but it made me realise how out of practice I am.

We’ll see how many turn up next week (how many I’ve scared away).



Blogathon 23/17: Doris

Storm Doris

    Storm Doris

Storm Doris has been hanging around in these parts.

There have been the usual social media gags

Southerners have been advised by the BBC to stay indoors and travel only if absolutely necessary

Northerners have been advised to take a coat

And the usual crazy storm photos:

Storm Doris

Storm Doris

Storm Doris

Storm Doris

And there have been real incidents, which are less mirthsome.

Speaking personally, I’d follow this advice:

Keep Calm and tray what?

Keep calm and try what?

Blogathon 22/17: Tidy house, tidy mind

There is an old saying that somehow ties together the tidy house/tidy mind as a joined up package of thought.

I can’t quite remember what it is, but I’m sure it’ll come to me at 3am and, inevitably, lead to my next bout of near night-long insomnia.

Anyway, there are other quotes.

I suppose I could have gone with A place for everything and everything in its place, but that lacks the punch of the forthcoming photograph.

But before we get there.

I do like, it must be said, a certain degree of order.

I do approve of neatness and tidyness, but on my terms.

But sometimes, it is possible to take these things a little too far.

Looking at the back of the servers in this rack, is this that ‘too far’ point?

Neat server cabling

Neat server cabling!

Blogathon 21/17: Raining cats (not dogs)

No, not this:



I mean these:


Stop pooing and feeeeeed me

The house is occupied by two girl cats, two boy cattens, three human girls, and me.

You can feel my pain now, right?


Introducing two kittens was, in hindsight, a risky move.

But after the first handful of months, things seem to have settled down.

Settled down means it’s still like living in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but overall there is less kitten wee to mop up.

Oddly, the two older cats have become more kittenish.

And at the same time the two kittens have shown remarkable maturity wait, no, strike that from the record.

The two kittens have shown no maturity at all.

They hoon around every room in the house, at all hours of the day and night, chasing/being chased by things both real and things not real.

They scamper up things (furniture, curtains) and people (me, anyone else who happens to be not in motion at that moment), then scamper down the other side.

Claws out.

It is sometimes a painful experience.

They crash in and out of the cat flap as if they are being pursued by…


Then, after much hooning around, they fall asleep for hours on end.

Surprisingly there has been an affect on the human occupants.

Living with the four felines has changed the dynamics slightly.

The house just feels more ‘homely’.

I have no idea how it does, but it just does.

I’m convinced that all of the cats have collective names for the humans.

‘Food opener’, ‘bathrobe wearer’, ‘small noisy one’, ‘even smaller noisier one’, etc.

Ripley thinks her name is Hello Rippers.

Dandy thinks his name is Hello little boy.

I have no idea what Raven thinks her name is, but she just doesn’t care anyway, she just wants some food and wants it now.

And Beano thinks his name is Get Down!

Getting in to the house after a day in the office can sometimes be a challenge.

Small fury quadrupeds all over the hall floor as you come in through the front door.

All demanding food.

And all demanding it right now!

Even though one must negotiate the swirling forest of (four) felines in order to get to the kitchen.

But they are lovely to have around.

And yes, they have made the house in to more of a home.

But I still wish I had a…