Monthly Archives: December 2013

The offside rule; in German.

A mate of mine’s wife left him. A couple of days later gales struck town and his Sky dish got blown well out of alignment. He now only got two channels, both in German. One was porn and one was football. When he told this story he’d pause at this point and then comment, “Now I can explain the offside rule in German.”
When I remembered his joke my first thought was ‘what would he say if he knew I was nicking it for my blog?’
My second thought was; ‘Beggar, we buried him in 2012.’
This is something that’s getting more common. Not capricious atmospheric disturbances leaving you with nothing but German porn or football (although I confess I haven’t checked the literature to back up my claim) but me thinking about mates and realising they’re dead.
This last week has been a bit of a time to stop and think. Mainly because on Friday I had an attack of pancreatitis and ended up driving myself to A&E because the next doctor’s appointment I could get was on Monday. With impeccable timing I looked reasonably OK when I saw the triage nurse, then half an hour later I was so ill the receptionist took one look at me when I handed over the urine sample, told me to sit in a wheel chair and two minutes later she wheeled me into one of the bays and a doctor was waiting for me.
Anyway, thanks to the good people at Furness General Hospital, by Sunday I was ready for discharge, they waved me a fond goodbye, leaving me clutching a goodie bag filled with three different pain killers and instructions to hurry back if I started to feel ill again.
Let’s get this right. They’re not angels. They are ordinary decent people. It’s just that we forget how amazing ordinary decent people actually are. I’m suitably grateful, and yes, I quite liked the hospital food.
And thoughts; well be careful with morphine. Each bay in each ward in FGH has six beds, three down the two side walls, facing each other. I got into my bed, and as I sat there it struck me that my bay was obviously a bit different. On the side facing me there were four beds. They looked a bit tightly packed but perhaps it was just something they were trying, perhaps trying to get the numbers up. Three hours later I was just sitting quietly minding my own business when I realised that, actually, there were only three beds on the other side of the ward. The morphine was wearing off.

Creeping calmly towards Christmas.


You know it’s a bad sign when normally sensible young women go shopping wearing Santa Hats. If they’ve got some poor bloke in tow as well then things are doubtless about to get stressful.

I walked into town today, not really to buy anything but just to shunt money about and make sure various other jobs had been done. So I didn’t really call in any shops or spend any money, but it was interesting just to watch everybody else. A lot of people were cheerful, some looked a bit stressed. I did call in to one shop to pick up some pickled onions. (Living the dream here, we know how to do Christmas, and you need something to go with the cold meat.)

Talking to one of the lads stacking shelves and he commented that people had already started ‘panic buying’. Given that the shops will be open this weekend, open the 24th, and open again on the 27th, it’s not as if we were laying in provisions for a re-run of the siege of Troy.

What gets me about Christmas is the stress some people seem to inflict upon themselves. I’m afraid I’m past that now.

On two consecutive Christmas Days we had power cuts (but fortunately we cook using an oil fuelled Rayburn.) On the next Christmas the Rayburn ran out of oil on Christmas day at about 10am, but fortunately we had electricity that year.

The most ‘exciting’ Christmas for me was where we had a power cut on Christmas Day, we had a dairy cow who needed a caesarean on Boxing Day, and the day after that, as I was putting silage into the troughs for the milk cows, the tractor put a front wheel through the slats on the top of the slurry bit, breaking a concrete sleeper and toppled over slowly, stopping at an angle of 45 degrees, stuck. I had to phone someone with a telescopic handler who dropped round and lifted the front end up so I could back out. By this stage I’d had enough of the entire Christmas experience, especially as I was doing two men’s work, but was paying someone to sit at home because I couldn’t afford to pay double time for them to come in and help.

It was at that stage that we started redesigning the business to eliminate the need for paid staff.

I think Christmas needs to be put in its place. My mother was a teacher, she had Christmas ‘up to here’ at school in December, so Christmas started at home on the day after she broke up. So decorations went up on December 23rd and came down promptly on 12th night.

Christmas is a different festival to New Year. There are five working days between them. We always worked on the principle that if we couldn’t contact a supplier between Christmas and New Year, we didn’t need them during the rest of the year either.

And Christmas Day? A decent start, get stock fed,  if things go well might even make 9:30am service. Then after dinner, read and/or snooze, Queen’s Speech, back outside to feed round again and check everything is OK before finishing in time for tea. Finish up with a relaxing evening with family.

So relax. Sit down; pour yourself a glass of something restorative. Dip into a nice ebook to take you out of it all.


Numerous reviewers recommend


“This is the first book by Jim Webster that I’ve read, but it will certainly not be the last!

The world that is opened up around the main character, Benor Dorfinngil, is an interesting combination of historical fiction, legend and non-magical fantasy (although some of the creatures described are certainly, in some cases thankfully, not existing in our world).

Gripping tales, interesting situations and characters, clever plots and thoroughly entertaining.”


River of gold


Get yourself some easy money, come on, fill your boots, there’s plenty for everybody. Roll up, roll up and get rich quick.

Too good to be true? Nonsense, get your nose in the trough before the other beggars hog it all.


I came across one of the best money making schemes I’ve ever seen entirely by accident. I was just chatting to a bloke. He drives a low-loader; he delivers tracked diggers onto site for the company he works for and he wasn’t entirely happy.

The previous week he’d driven the low-loader plus digger all the way from darkest south Lancashire up to Whitehaven, which is pretty much at the other edge of the world for him. He’d arrived on site and had been met by his boss with the words.

“Don’t need it yet, they’re not ready.”

“When did you know this?”

“Oh three or four hours ago.” “

“Then why the hell didn’t you phone me, I needn’t have come up here.”

“Oh, I thought you’d enjoy the ride out.”

The end result was that he was told to take the digger back and fetch it back up tomorrow. When asked what he was supposed to do when he got back he was told, “Oh just tidy the yard up a bit.”
Now he reckons that with one thing and another, it cost £240 to do the round trip. If the boss had told him to spend the night in a Whitehaven B&B he could have sampled the wild nightlife of this hidden northern metropolis, and he’d still have had change out of £60.

So I asked why his company was so inefficient. He just shrugged. “It’s the same since they started building these wind turbines all over the place.” I talked to another guy who works for a different company. His comment was “There’s so much money being poured into them now our finance people don’t know how much to charge any more.”

His language got colourful, and I’ll try and give a bowdlerised version. People are setting up companies to get contracts with landowners to build turbines. They’re selling the contracts on to other companies before the ink is even dry, and these other companies consist of little more than one person, a telephone and a copy of the yellow pages. Split the job up into portions, put the portions out to tender. Oh yes, and you need a sack to catch the money as it rolls in and a shovel to spread it around amongst the subcontractors.


Now you’ve got all that money, you’ll need somewhere to spend it all, might I suggest you start with this obvious investment?

As a reviewer commented, “50 year old Benor is back in his home city of Toelar, enjoying a quiet life of roof running, paramouring, etc, when one day his routine gets disturbed, making a fast getaway necessary.
However, his escape route is blocked by an Urlan Knight.
Fortunately, the said Knight saves Benor’s life, without even unsheathing his sword, by just being there.
Unfortunately, the said Knight has been looking for Benor and has a little proposition to make.
And so it begins…”

Free Nelson Mandela

Image Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

Listening to some of the comments on the radio about Nelson Mandela those that interested me most were those from the people he knew him, lived next door to him, met him in ‘real life’. The word that they most often used was ‘Humility’.

It’s not something we expect in political leaders. Looking at his near contemporary, Robert Mugabe, it seems to be a trait entirely missing in his make-up. Indeed it seems to be something that Nelson Mandela’s successors are lacking as well. As for the gilded youths who lead our three political parties, there are times when you suspect they regard the concept as one that should only apply to the little people.

Yet when you look at his life, Nelson Mandela was as gilded a youth as any. A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, he went to university and studied law. Before the Second World War, you had to have a pretty affluent background to manage that in this country, never mind in South Africa.

So what was the making of him? How did he overcome the sense of entitlement that creates a Mugabe, an Elliot Morley, a David Chaytor, a Jim Devine, or an Eric Illsley? (Four British MPs jailed for corruption)

I think he gave us the answer himself. “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.” In Robben Island he had time to think, time out of the hurly burly of politics; time to discover what really matters, time to know himself. As he said, “Before I went to jail, I was active in politics as a member of South Africa’s leading organization – and I was generally busy from 7 A.M. until midnight. I never had time to sit and think.”

Jailing more politicians is always appealing, but perhaps they ought to have things a bit tougher, perhaps they ought to live a real life and do a proper job prior to going into politics. Then they might have the humility to say “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”

Oh yes, and I always loved his taste in shirts as well.

Rest in Peace



Whilst you’re here, there’s always the chance of a good book for Christmas