One of my photos

Stormy Weather

September 10th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life


A long way from home!

Well we are back from our second honeymoon. Our first one was a few days in Paris. This one was a bit more exotic: two weeks in the Dominican Republic.

A nice place, but to be honest we were looking forward to the flight almost as much as the holiday. After suffering the bum-numbing experience of EasyJet A320s to Egypt for the last couple of holidays we were going for the comfort of a 787 Dreamliner this time, and even paid extra for the premium thing, since it was supposed to be a holiday of a lifetime. [Read more →]

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Just Married

August 21st, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Jayne and I renewed our wedding vows yesterday. It seemed to go well and everyone said they enjoyed it, although it did end quite badly and could have been worse. Our son had taken all the children home to our house and we were just winding up in the venue, picking up discarded ties and gathering up all the cards when he phoned to say his tonsils had burst, so we had to rush home. I stayed to look after the kids and Jayne went off to the hospital.

It must have looked quite dramatic when she turned up at East Surrey in a wedding dress, with Frankie covered in blood. After an emergency operation and transfusions, everything was OK and by the time Jayne got back home I had finished mopping blood off the bathroom walls and was dozing in front of the Olympics.

Apart from that, everything was great.

We knew that some people might bring presents, because they never had the opportunity before, and we really didn’t want that because we have everything we need and don’t have space for anything else, so we asked guests not to, but if they really felt the urge they could just give us supplies like tea, sugar, canned food, etc. that we could give to the Crawley Open House hostel. We had not really thought about how that might go when one of us works in a supermarket and has work colleagues coming along, so we ended up with enough food to fill a car boot as well as some cash donations. As it worked out, we could have given a homeless person our hotel room for the night because we never ended up using it, what with all the nhs involvement, and house full of gore.

After weeks of sunshine and clear skies, the weather turned this weekend, and yesterday morning we had really heavy rain and the forecast was for more, with 50mph gusts of wind. But it all stopped just when we were ready to go out and do photographs. I’m sure that made a big difference in how well the day went.

In fifteen years of marriage Jayne and I have never had a real proper argument, even though we don’t always agree on absolutely everything but there are two things we agree on 100% – firstly that we had a brilliant day, and secondly that we never want to go through all that hassle, stress, organising and expense again!

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Wedding Bells

August 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I’m getting married tomorrow. Sort of. It is out 15th anniversary and we are renewing our vows. Really we are doing it for our family because fifteen years ago we just went out and got married at the Town Hall with just our neighbour as a witness. No fuss, no reception, no wedding photos and not even a real honeymoon – I was back at work the next day.

One of the key things is to have wedding photos, so we are dressing a bit more formally that you might normally do for vow renewals. It is a bit like the film Green Card where Gerard Depardieu and Andie McDowell were taking all those pictures to make it look like they were a couple, except we are a couple. And we don’t need a green card. I do have a big nose though.

All of which makes it a bit of a shame that, after weeks of clear, hot weather it is all set to piss down tomorrow, inbetween 50mph gusts of wind.

After the months of planning, booking a venue, deciding on the menu, choosing decorations, and all the other 1001 things you need to do, there is just one tiny thing left to do. The vows. We are writing our own and I haven’t done mine yet. It is a bit harder because there is no formal ceremony as such. As complete heathens it was obviously not going to be a religious blessing, and we decided against having a Humanist celebrant – even Humanism is a bit too religious for me. It is like vegetarians having meat substitutes.

I suppose I should crack on with it…

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August 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

It is a shame that Ted Heath already used the phrase ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ to describe Tiny Rowland, or rather the activities of his company, because it looks like it should have been saved up for Philip Green, whose new £100m superyacht, Lionheart,  was all over the news today.

It is probably just as well that I do not have, and never will have that sort of money because I literally would not know what to do with it. I just can’t see the appeal of having a boat worthy of a Bond villain and don’t think I would even enjoy it, which makes it very hard to understand the mentality of the sort of person who does.

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Bloody Windows

August 18th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I have a laptop. I know. Everybody has one these days, but I can remember when that was something to brag about. It is 6 or 7 years old but should still be OK for basic tasks. The trouble is that it doesn’t get used very often. I fired it up yesterday for probably the first time in six months. [Read more →]

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Olympics do it again

August 17th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Right up to the eve of the opening ceremony Rio 2016 was shaping up to be the disaster that we thought London would be 4 years ago but, like in 2012, it all seems to be working out fine. In truth, it probably isn’t going as smoothly as London, and even the weather isn’t as good as we had, but the sport has eclipsed any logistical problems or little things like forest fires next to the hockey pitch or the diving pool turning green.

I don’t see how it can get any more exciting than tonight’s events in the velodrome, but who knows.

Yet again I have been enjoying sports that aren’t really sports, to the extent of forgetting that they shouldn’t belong in the Olympics. Let’s remember that the Olympic motto is “Faster, higher, stronger” and not “Faster, higher, stronger or better executed according to the subjective opinions of a panel of fallible judges” (And judges don’t much more fallible than the boxing judges today!)

Basically, if it can’t be measured then it shouldn’t count. I am not saying that gymnastics or diving is easy, because they are not. It is just that you might as well have trapeze, breakdancing, skateboarding or painting in the games, which are also not easy. And don’t get me started on dressage and synchromised swimming!

I’m also not sure about the inclusion of team games like football, though I have been enjoying the hockey and rugby sevens, and can’t see why there are quite so many different swimming events.

Mind you, didn’t the various original Greek games include poetry and philosophy?

But who cares really? I have been enjoying the kayak races, hockey, tennis and track cycling and this week I will probably enjoy the Taekwondo, badminton and mountain biking – anything to take my mind off West Ham’s disastrous start to the season.

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Favourite films

August 16th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The current trend on Twitter is for people to list their seven favourite films using the hashtag #fav7films. I wonder if anybody has yet posted this:

  • Police Academy
  • Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment
  • Police Academy 3: Back in Training
  • Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
  • Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach
  • Police Academy 6: City Under Seige
  • Police Academy: Mission to Moscow

I haven’t joined in because I really couldn’t single out seven films. On any given day I would probably give a different answer though Fight Club, Apocalypse Now and the Blues Brothers would be in there nearly every time.

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August 16th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I came across a track by a band called Truckfighters on Spotify this evening. I was quite taken with the the sound of it, which was sort of ragged psychedelia, so I looked them up on Wikipedia and was a little surprised to find that they are Swedish.

I was quite amused to see the list of band personnel though. Current members are Ozo, Dango and Enzo. Past members are Fredo, Paco, Franco, Frongo, Pedro, Pezo and Poncho. It can only be a matter of time before they end up with Bilbo, Frodo and Groucho. As if in homage to Spinal Tap, most of the ex-members seem to be drummers, though there is no mention of freak gardening accidents.

All good stuff though. Spotify has a half-dozen of their albums available to stream which I recommend doing.

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The Monty Hall spreadheet

August 12th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Somebody at work recently discovered the Monty Hall problem and got into an argument with a colleague about it, which led to him writing a VB program to demonstrate the solution. I suggested that you could probably knock up a decent simulation of the solution in Excel, using only in-cell formulas and not resorting to VBA macros at all.

It turns out that not only can it be done, but it can be done really quickly and easily, thanks to the brilliant RANDBETWEEN function and some multiple nested IF statements.

I can thoroughly recommend that Wikipedia page about the Monty Hall problem, even if you are not normally interested in maths, statistics and probabilities. By the end of it you might even find that you are a bit interested in statistics after all.

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Some more useful prejudices

August 11th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

A little while ago I wrote about some of my favourite prejudices, but it was far from an exhaustive list, and I have a few more things to add to it.

Obviously these are just pedantic pet peeves, and I am not going to stop paying attention completely to somebody who, for example, writes”shouldn’t of”, but they are going to have to work a lot harder to get me to take them seriously.

Today’s additions to the list are:

Starting a sentence with “So”, or to be more specific starting every answer to a question with “so”. I know I have written about this before, but it has become even more prevalent since then and has spread from its origins in American economists and now just about every graduate does it. Just say “um” or “er” like a normal person.

Another thing that winds me up is in this quote from Henry Smith, but it not confined to Tories or even to politicians. It is tediously common in business and I would be astonished if I have not banged on about this before.

While myself and MPs from all parties continue to raise this issue in Parliament and with the Government, rail operator and trade unions, I believe it’s important that GTR management hear directly from the people their service is inconveniencing.

It is, of course, the use of “myself” when “me” is perfectly adequate and grammatically better. Gowers wrote in The Complete Plain Words that “myself should only be used for emphasis or as the reflexive form of the personal pronoun” and Partridge and Fowler both agree, although later editions of Fowler’s Modern English Usage (not edited by Fowler) seem to be relaxing a bit, but even then it doesn’t more or less says it is only just OK as long as the ‘myself’ comes at the end of a list rather than the beginning.

And yes, I do realise how fortunate I am that my life is so good I can afford to get wound up by such trivia.

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