Old ain’t ‘growing up’

Apparently there are many signs of getting old, although, as the saying goes, it’s far better than the alternative. One is that policemen start looking younger, another is that surgeons and doctors do. I found that people asking if I was old enough to do a nightshft and whether I had a note from my mother to be there, were a giveaway that something was off.

Another is that time speeds up and flies by without being noticed. Or as Stephen Fry reported, he had an Aunt who was 90 who’d comment, “Breakfast? Again? Already?”

Last Friday I saw a trailer for a film of Stephen Hawking’s film biography. Said, “Oh, that’s quick, they only made one last year or two years ago, starred Benedict Cumberbatch…”

2004. It was actually made ten years ago. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0395571/

There are other little things but they all add up. Either way, I’m glad I can say that I haven’t really noticed the time itself flying as it’s so full of things I’ve been doing.

Speaking of which I was let loose in the kitchen again and made ‘fish surprise’. It’s like ‘Toad in the hole’ but containing mystery fish and a sauce that doesn’t set and with an overwhelming taste of lime juice as there’s no sprinkler on the bottle. It’s not unpleasant, just a little odd, though I note that so far I’m the only one eating it.

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Disbelievable excitement

November is crowded. Round here we have leftovers of Hallowe’en, then Guy Fawkes, then Remembrance Day, but on occasion there can be Eid and Divali too, depending on the calendar. One year at university all five events were celebrated within 10 days and it appeared that every dodgy firework in the world was seen hurtling about the city, which at the time held the national record for childhood presentation at A+E. In my last year there an explosion took out the main depot, thankfully at night so no one was around. It caused colour 400m in all directions and the 150 year old stone walls to bow outwards.

Now though it’s the winddown to Christmas and the shops are already packed full.

In other ‘news’ I have let Dragon out unsupervised for the first time. There was an ominous silence which I was supposed to take as proof that nothing bad had happened and not that the driver and Dragon had been incapacitated. Dragon is now parked safe and frosty lurking in a corner, looking unimpressed at all the young whipersnapers around it.

Last night I took Dragon out to see ‘The Imitation Game’ which I heartily recommend, and which I had to whisper to the disbeliever throughout, “Yes, that really did happen.” It wasn’t disbelief that it had happened, it was shock that it ever could happen.

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Oak trees

Wait long enough and the slow-growing oak will outlast the younger trees that initially overtook it.

Little Dragon is back from the vet’s. Sadly visits are more frequent these days but at least Dragon is still leaving in one piece. Re-did the maths and Dragon is still cheaper to keep running than buying new, although this is becoming a closer thing. Money Advice Service is running adverts in the Metro discussing the perils of a ‘new’ used car, which apparently when bought will cost on average £700 more to sort out the reason it was sold in the first place, and that’s before any other sudden surprises.

Then it was Frankie’s turn at the vet’s. And Frankie is still there. Which means that of the two cars right now the ancient one with the decorative, photosynthetic rust is now the more reliable and is currently used for all journeys.

Well, it had to happen eventually!

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Priced out

Yesterday I went into London. Always good to do once in a while as a reminder of why it is that going into London is to be avoided. This time round I was going on-peak and discovered that the fare is £49.50 a day. A season ticket is less per journey, but £49.50?! I knew that the ticket price was ridiculous, but as it ‘creeps up’ and I last traveled in 2012 it’s difficult to keep track of a figure that’s not widely publicised and is rarely broadcast.

It puts into context how the newly refurbished one-bed flats in Reading are able to start at £400k and how the houses of last year at £170k are now £250k, a pattern repeated along the two Reading-London mainlines. People get stuck and will pay that as there’s no alternative as the costs of living in London make commuting the only option for anyone working there.

But it’s not sustainable. The main free commuter newspaper has articles on a Friday explaining that £300k is actually affordable for a one-bed flat, but have recently started reporting how “buyers are beginning to baulk at the prices”. No, buyers have been baulking a while, but now it’s at the point that with income, family gifts, loans, lodgers, or any other income it’s still not possible to afford anywhere. The latest edition had how on a “decent salary” and aged 30+ renting a room is now ‘in’ and the trendy thing to do, with a causal mention that it’s now the norm and with no hope of ever moving on.

A question is what jobs are outside London and the need to commute in at all. I can see that certain things will always be London based, but it inspires to look elsewhere even if the knock-on effect of prices creeping outwards and upwards means putting it into practice is expensive.

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Events, dear boy, events!

Lots been happening and one of these days I’ll tell you all about it.

It includes the rude awakening last weekend when the carbon monoxide detector went off. “Oh!” we said, achieveing personal bests to the windows and frontdoor. Nice man came round and shut the gas off, followed by another nice man who said, “Yeah, been here before, your neighbour has a dodgy boiler, I’ll just go and tell them again in a more emphatic manner.” And lo! It did come to pass that our highest reading was in the living room just where you can smell their cigarette smoke and cooking smells coming through and our own boiler is absolutely fine. Looking for a new house though. Urgently.

In other news, here’s what scientists and engineers really look like:
But then we already knew that…

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Dragon keepers

The unthinkable has happened: Dragon has been driven by someone else.

This is bigger news than it sounds for a lot of subtler reasons that I won’t be writing on a live blog.

So now Dragon has a new keeper to share the responsibility of tending such a character-filled charming beastie and keep it properly fed, attended and appreciated.

Recently I was discussing this with a friend who had seen the adverts for the Eden Project for this summer. Apparently ‘Dinosaur Keeper’ was publically advertised in her professional magazine. Today I saw ‘Lego constructor’. There are times when I know that this whole ‘growing up’ thing isn’t compulsory. Another friend said, “Huh, you’ll never grow up”, but then given the usual definitions of ill health, crippling responsibility and debt, I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing.

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Haunting atmosphere

When we returned there was something different. After accusing the carpet, the curtains, the bedding, the luggage, each other, and pondering if it was something at the neighbours… we discovered that just before we left for Cornwall the freezer had been unplugged. As part of efficiency someone had decided to put all the meat in it before we went too. So now the whole place stank of rotting meat through a vacuum sealed freezer that had been left somewhere warm and now every meal has a heavy emphasis on frozen vegetables.

An improvement on the neighbour who discovered that a rodent had gnawed the cable of theirs though, “Bet it’s hair stood on end when it hit the live bit.”

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