Getting To Grips With……

…well, everything really! It’s a new year, and I’m trying to sort out all the things I want to do and achieve this year. And, I’d better start by learning how to use some of the things I’ve found on the wonderful world web. Things like Google+, very different from Facebook….I don’t really want to mess about appointing circles to every post, I tend to have the people I want to talk to on my friends list. So on FB I just post something and it gets as far as the people on my list, what happens on Google+? When you post something, does it automatically appear on the timeline of people who added you to their circle, whether you want to be there or not? and yes, you probably can specify who it goes to, but on FB, the only people it goes to are my friends’ list, I don’t have to sod about playing drop-down-menu-confusion…..

Pinterest…I cannot see for the life of me how to pin anything, thinking hammer and nails might work! If I click on anything there’s a whole lot of questions….like ‘what do you want to pin?’…I don’t know, by the time I got here I’d forgotten what I’d come to do..

Getglue..how utterly bloody pointless, log in and check in, yup, now a load of crap underneath asking me what I’m checking in to, choices of books and music and films and a whole lot more, most of which I’ve never heard of, I can’t see any practical use for Getglue whatsoever except to advertise their site for them when you connect your social network sites to it.

Klout….oh….dear…God! who the hell thought this up? I’m infuential in Orange County? I influence people I’ve never heard of (that just need me to invite them to Klout)..my Klout score seems to stay stable at around 46, I keep trying to disconnect everything from it, desperate to see if I can make it all the way down to a minus score. And who would care? Klout, I hate to tell you this, but no one gives a damn about your score.

Goodreads…now this is something I got to grips with immediately, easy to use, and full of good books to look out for, some of the recommendations I’ve had from people on there have introduced me to books I would never have heard of otherwise…pay attention Getglue etc. this is what a website should offer!

I’ll keep working on the rest and hope to make some kind of sense of it all as the year goes on.

Is it just me that gets confused by all the changes and new sites?, have you got the new Timeline on Facebook yet? How do you cope?

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Looking Back….

Working nights, I get to listen to some very good music, first on Keith Warmington’s show from 7 until 10pm, then Trevor Fry from 10pm until 1am, and Alex (The Dark Lord) Lester from 2pm until 5pm. Between them they turn out a wonderfully eclectic mix of music from the 1950’s to now.

As I’m one of those people who can map their life by music, some of the tunes on offer bring back memories, some good, some bad. In the past I’ve had a tendency to gloss over and ignore some of the bad ones, but as I get older, and look back at my life, and relate then to now…I find it hard to ignore the feelings and memories some of the tunes invoke. Now, I want to explore those memories, put all of it together in my mind ready to put it all down and get rid of it.

The particular tune the other night was The Rolling Stones, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. Whenever I hear that one, it brings back a flood of memories, first strangely enough is the smell of freshly cooked fish and chips, and warm salt and vinegar. As a child (11 years old) my mother worked in a place called the Beacon Cafe in Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain, an army camp and town, grown to a fantasticly large place now. The cafe was owned by a woman called Brenda, she lived there with her teenage son, an overweight bully called Andrew. Brenda had a thyroid condition and had bulging eyes, bad teeth and peroxide blonde hair. The cafe had a jukebox, and it was almost always blasting out something.  My father at the time was working in a garage in Amesbury, serving petrol and in the shop. My sister was nearly 16, my younger brother nearly 8. We lived on a caravan site…Beacon View in Porton Road about 2 miles out of Amesbury…it was our first settling point after my father came out of the army after 22 years service.

Shortly before I was due to go school one morning, the police arrived looking for my father, they wouldn’t tell us why, but he was missing for the next 4 days. When he returned, the police came and picked him up, he had robbed the garage safe where he worked, and gone off to Ireland to see my grandparents, he claimed to have no memory of what had happened, or where he’d been…I found out years later talking to my grandmother. He got sentenced to 6 months in prison. It wasn’t the first time…..nor would it be the last!

So, there we were, Chrismas looming large, no father, no money, and a mother who still had a life to lead…and lead it she did. We started having visits from “Uncle David” a member of the RURs (Royal Ulster Rifles) who were stationed in Bulford at the time….we lived in a caravan…we could hear…and feel what was going on.  My mother at that time was herself suffering from an overactive thyroid, added to that she had always been psychotic, prone to violent outbursts, and drank wayyyy too much. She decided one night that a local woman, Mrs Bryant, should have her tongue cut out for spreading rumours about my sister….if it hadn’t have been for Paul Privett being there that evening…I don’t know what would have happened. Paul ended up with a gashed thumb from the scissors my mother was weilding, I ended up with a black eye.

We had our usual array of “presents” from social services for Christmas that year, my father did his time in Winchester prison, and returned to carry on from where he left off, “Uncle David” was never heard of again, and life went on….

At some point in my life I vowed my children would never know a life like that, and I’ve stuck to it. Every time I hear tunes like that, it reinforces my determination to do the right thing. It reinforces my belief that people don’t HAVE to be a product of their upbringing, we all have the ability to change the future handed to us, no child needs a life like that.

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The Kind Of Weekend I can Enjoy……

I went to my eldest daughter’s place this weekend. To do their plastering…. I bonded, I fitted angle beads, I plastered, I worked my butt off! Next weekend I’ll go there again, and I’ll finish it off and sort out the leak on the bath and fit it properly…and I’ll work my butt off again….and for the second weekend on the trot….I’ll get to sit and talk to my lovely daughter, and we”ll drink wine and try and make sense of the past and the 28 year seperation her mother forced on us, and I’ll talk with her hubby about football and how their business is going, and spend time with my two fantastic grandsons.

My normal weekend tends to be spending time talking with my wife about almost everything, playing Trivial Pursuit…or Scrabble with the children…or sitting reading and listening to music, sometimes it’s just gathering as a family in the hub of the house -the dining room- where we tend to congregate and chat and exchange views about what’s going on  in our lives and the great wide world and how we feel about it all…..

Compare my weekend to that of people worldwide, living in hardship and starving….or even the people of this western world who go through life never appreciating what they have or the good life they enjoy……..

I’ll work my butt off any day to spend time with the people I love….but of course I don’t have to do that….they’re there, at home I have my wife and two grown up children, and I can now go and see my grown up, and very capable eldest daughter, with her hubby and children whenever I want…..a big daughter shaped hole in my life has been filled, no thanks can repay her spiteful and egocentric mother for putting us back in contact with each other now, whatever her motives, I just wish it had happened  a very long time ago, we both missed out on a lot of life, but we’re making up for it….

Yes…this was the kind of weekend I can enjoy, and may there be many more like this!

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Sack the designers!

I think this very often…why are things designed by people who obviously don’t use them and most definitely will never have to clean them?

I had to unblock the bathroom sink, just a simple matter of unscrewing the trap, clean it out and put it back on in theory….. Actually, because of the way the pedestal was designed you have to take that out of the way first. The sink has a recess underneath which fits on to the pedestal, the pedestal is sealed to the wall, and the sink…oh, and the shelf along the bottom of the wall that hides the pipes. The sink is also screwed to the damn wall and fastened to the plumbing….

So, what should have been a five minute job turned into a marathon rip-out and re-fit, and I still have to go out tomorrow and get some sealant to go round all the joins on the floor again…design fail!

The other job I had to do in the bathroom (preparing for imminent MIL visit!) was retighten the loo seat. This is the type made with two cute little hinges, one each side, which – no matter HOW hard you tighten them – constantly untighten themselves and swivel every which way, allowing the damn seat to dump you on the floor….design fail!

The kitchen is the other area that really drives me nuts. Appliances that are impossible to clean without dismantling them down to their component parts first, gas hobs with dangerously curved bits that mean balancing pots and pans extremely carefully unless you want the lot on the floor, and dainty little insert sinks that make washing meatdishes and big pots a juggling act…design fail!

If they just tried using the stupid things they design before they mass-produce them, and took a look at the crap their competitors are making, we might just start getting user friendly things in shops.

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The Never Ending Hobby

I’m fascinated by genealogy…family research. It’s immensely satisfying to spend all the time required to dig out and find the information you need to go back further, especially when you manage to over-come obstacles like people being given (and using) different names to that they were given at birth. It’s very easy to trace the name changes associated with a woman marrying and taking her husbands, or even hyphenating their maiden name with that of her husband.

So, I had a great deal of trouble with my maternal grandfather, everyone knew him as Henry…in fact “Henry” was his older brother who died in infancy and had been named for his father, when he died, the name was just “passed” to the second eldest, my grandfather, who had been named and christened “Earnest”. Now that’s fine, but no one ever made that change official, or recorded it. The fact was only discovered on his death by reference to national insurance numbers and medical records, or my search backwards would have died right there, so thank heavens for my step-gran giving me some help. I should also say here that he lied about his age when he remarried, he knocked 10 years off his real age of 45 because he was getting wed to my mother’s then best friend, aged 18 at the time!

To date, going backwards with the research into my family, I haven’t found any evidence at all of any kind of “normal family” background….no wonder I had so many problems when I was growing up! The strange thing is, so many people feel that way…..which begs the question…What exactly does constitute a “normal” family?

When you look at today’s society, the early breakdown of marriages, single mums, single dads…families where “dad” can be a different person to each child..are they any further, or closer, to the “normal” families of my childhood? In those days, they stuck at it, through abuse and violence, bullying and financial difficulties caused by booze, gambling and selfishness, and there was a great tendency for people to grow up damaged and enter into relationships similar to those of their parents, and I have to be honest…..I ain’t seen the kind of changes I thought would happen as people became better educated and communication improved.

I don’t agree with any woman putting up with violent abusive partners, I don’t think that any man has the right they confer upon themselves to “own” a woman in their own minds, I don’t think people give enough time and thought to getting married in the first place…I didn’t the first time round, my only regret from that is that I didn’t wait for her to grow up, and me to mature. There was never any abuse or violence though, I can still honestly say that, apart from trying to defend myself, I’ve never raised my hand to a woman.  Anyway, she changed my son’s surname (with my consent) to that of her next husband, then the daughter from that marriage was given the name of the following husband….

And this is where things get very difficult for people trying to do the family tree, it’s relatively easy for me, but how will the child two or three generations down the line cope with studying the family when there have been surname changes imposed on their relatives of the past, it’ll be okay as long as they’re starting off with a good collection of family birth and marriage certificates, otherwise they are really going to struggle to find out anything about their heritage…..good luck to them, I hope they have plenty of money available to keep following trails until they find the right one.

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Sense of Humour?

I thought about this, this evening, most (not all!) people have one, mine is rather odd…as far as my wife is concerned! I often read out, or show her things I’m reading off the web, sometimes she finds them as amusing as me, other times, it’s like we live on different planets. Same applies for TV sitcoms, books and cartoons. She finds Scrubs hilarious, I find it rather silly and repetitive, I like blogs, she thinks the people that write them are as odd as me..but we both agree on Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson books!

I’ve had my sense of humour stretched to the limit this year, I can laugh off most of the things I have had to endure, like flexible cystoscopy….and believe me…if you can laugh THAT one off…you have a sense of humour!…but where mine fails is when the husband of my ex-wife…(from three odd decades ago) gets up-tight enough to send me a facebook message (from my ex-wife’s account) to ask me to “back off” after I had the temerity to say hello to her face to face for the first time since….about 1982! actually, I was with my younger daughter at a do in their village, and ex-wife was blocking the entrance to the beer tent..no time to think, should I have gone without the beer, and daughter without a cold drink? Just walk past like I’d never seen her before? or, as I did, stop and say hello, get a quick hug, let her chat to my daughter briefly and carry on?

So I got the message from him, now, how do you respond to such a ridiculous request…bearing in mind that I’d suffered plenty of abuse and insults from her in the past to always try and give her a wide berth and avoid confrontations? I decided to just ignore it, and not reply…I can, admittedly, on occasion…get a tad sarcastic, so sometimes it’s better to just shut.the.fuck.up. so I did, but I’m still seething about it really, and still trying to find the funny side!

I’m sure there’s one there somewhere!

On the subject of flexible cystoscopy, I had to have one several years ago, and that was DAMN uncomfortable, so having a consultant sit there and try and tell you now it won’t be “all that bad” is poor form. My GP convinced me that I “must” have it done and sent a letter of referral, and then the fun started….I made the appointment..they changed it..they changed it again, then I went along, and afterwards they made another two appointments, and changed them again..this time for the ultra sound and xray, went along for them to Bristol, got drenched in gel of some icky persuasion, that ended up soaked into my tee shirt, pants and pubes, along with a commentary of what was going on by a French(?) consultant with little English, although I did come away with the impression that the hulking giant of a consultant who will perform the next phase of terrify Steve will answer my questions (like WTF? and why me lord?), that’s assuming the appointment stands of course 🙂

And meanwhile…all my illusions about fairies have been shattered by two of the best bloggers I’ve encountered for a while on Twitter. Handflapper and Jillsmo Read them, they’re good 🙂

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Finding Something To Smile About

If you’re anything like me, in this age of economic misery, terrorism and feeling like technology is rather taking the mickey out of you some days, you might struggle to find something worth a smile.

Thankfully, I don’t have that problem anymore. Some time ago one of my friends sent me an email with an attachment, a letter to the makers of a well known brand of sanitary pads. Once I’d managed to stop laughing, I did a google search and found out who wrote it, and linked to the site…if you’ve never read that gem, you’ll find it here…The Always Letter..by Wendi Aarons, and she’s been making me smile and laugh ever since.

Having been the type of dad who spent as much time as I could with my children as they were growing up, I can relate to some of the hilarious and sometimes touching blogs written by a lot of very funny, and very talented , bloggers that I’ve discovered since first finding Wendi’s blog. People like Mama KatThe Bitchin Wives ClubMommy Is In Timeout , The Bloggess  and one of the very best Desperate Housemommy. If you ever have a problem you want help with, look no further than the Mouthy Housewives or if you use facebook, you can follow it here, you’ll also find most of the others on facebook, and you’ll find links to many more on their pages.

So between facebook, twitter and email notifications, I’ve always got something to read that will make me smile. Writing a blog is one thing, producing the witty and often informative blogs these talented writers do displays a remarkable talent. Finding Wendi Aarons’ blog has taken me on a quite a journey, and I’m still enjoying the ride.

So thanks Wendi….keep ’em coming!

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