2024

CURRICULUM VITAE (MEMENTO VIVERE)

Having been so bitterly rejected both in love and at work, I started to look around for new opportunities. I don’t remember how I found it, but a nursing home nearer to where I lived at the time (Cleethorpes) was advertising for a Therapeutic Activities Co-ordinator to develop a range of meaningful activities with frail elderly people who also had -iirc - impaired memory, or dementia. Right up my street (well, just around the corner).

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2023

Wife has returned home after being abducted by aliens (scroll down past the football).

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CURRICULUM VITAE (REPETITUM)

Following on from my success delivering the news to my local community, I took a break from the world of (very part-time) work to focus on… playing in my first bands. And learning to play the guitar. Much of which came at the expense of any interest in or motivation to study, or revise for ‘O’ Levels, and later ‘A’ Levels. Living in a small rural market town, some of my friends, and my own younger brother, in fact, had Saturday jobs bush beating - literally (as far as I know) beating bushes to encourage game birds to fly to their sporting deaths.

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DISHING IT OUT

Following on from the pots and pans incident, my wife has decreed that the bamboo plates and bowls I bought as child-safe alternatives to our regular crockery are in fact likely coated with melamine and, therefore, toxic. She’s probably right, although only for hot food. I had noticed that my hot food tasted a bit funny using these, but I think they’re fine for sandwiches and such. She claims her eggs taste better (“like childhood”) cooked in our new stainless steel frying pan.

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Bit of a damp squib today, but eleven years ago these were the scenes the morning after Diwali.

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BEER NIGHTS IN

I didn’t drink all of these beers in one sitting, or, in fact, any of them on Friday afternoon, prior to the school run. Friday night I had a couple of the light beers. Steeplechase Pale Ale: far too citrusy for my taste. Deco WCIPA: another one far too citrusy for my taste. Accompanying snacks made them drinkable. Saturday night I had a couple of the dark beers. I had a feeling I would like these even less, but…

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HEY DAVID

Our contract with Plusnet for telephone landline and (not full) fibre broadband ends on 25 November. I started looking around for cheaper and/or better alternatives back in August. Not that there was anything wrong with Plusnet’s service. In fact, compared to Sky and TalkTalk, they’re bloody brilliant. But end of contract time usually means either a hike in price to stay loyal, or finding a new provider that offers new customers a better deal than its existing customers.

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BREAK IN TRANSMISSION

Last week’s swimming lesson was cancelled, and the week before that, we went away for half-term. To a very wet and wild north-east Lincolnshire right by the sea (or the Humber Estuary). With no wifi, and very poor data connectivity. In a tin can caravan. But we all had fun, and the kids got to spend time with their grandparents who live nearby. And use their wifi. On the night before we left I met up with a couple of my oldest and best friends, Murray and Aaron, who I hadn’t seen for ten (Aaron) and thirty (!

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ANY OLD POTS AND PANS?

Following on from the successful installation of our new front door (which my wife is now quite happy with), we now have new stainless steel pots and pans to replace the old and “dangerous” non-stick pans we had before. My wife “read something on the internet” which said that the non-stick coatings are toxic, and so that that was the end of the matter. Still, they are very nice new pans, even if a little more care is needed when using them to cook and clean.

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FRANK

Frank was my great grandfather on my dad’s side. I only met him a couple of times. One time, me and my brother were made to wear the most ridiculous and embarrassing outfits, and we just felt very uncomfortable and ill-at-ease meeting this very old man from another time. He was born in the early 1901. So he must have been 80 or so when we met him. Not so old these days, but back then he really was like a dinosaur, or a fossil.

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GETTING DRESSED

My three and a half year old is going through that stage where he doesn’t want to get dressed in the morning to go to nursery. I remember with my oldest lad some mornings I used to be in tears trying to get him ready. Fortunately, their mum is now working from home and has taken on this task with the little one. My main job now is to remind my nine year old to “sit at the table and eat your breakfast” every two minutes.

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TOO MUCH PRESSURE

Inevitably, as I sit here in the cafe next to my son’s swimming lesson, unable to drink coffee because the cafe is permanently closed, my mind wanders and starts thinking about coffee. For most of my adult life, I’ve started the day with a cup of tea. Regular English breakfast tea. PG Tips, Tetley. Milk and sugar. Tea was always my preferred drink, but I did like a cup of instant coffee or two later in the morning, but only if it was one I liked.

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PLAY STREET

We used to play in the street outside our home as kids growing up in the 70s. In rural Lincolnshire. Of course, it wasn’t a main road, it was the road on our council estate. Pretty much everyone had a car, and many of the houses had their own garage. In London, or Greater London, it’s generally not safe for kids to play in the street, although we’re lucky where we are that our little cul-de-sac can double-up as a relatively safe enough play area most of the time.

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DISTRACTION

It’s easy to get distracted. My nine year old told his mum last night that he was so distracted by thoughts in his head at school that the teacher gave him a blank piece of paper and a pen to “download” everything in his mind. All he could think about was Super Mario and Nintendo. Well, it was Maths. I always liked Maths at school. Mainly because there was no homework, or writing, or revision to do.

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THE SWIMMER

My nine year old is on week three of his school swimming lessons. Prior to the first lesson, he was very anxious about getting his hair wet, and getting his nose under the water. This, despite the fact that he absolutely loved the sea and the pool on our holiday last month (and last year, and the year before that). We bought him a swimming cap, which everyone has to wear in any case.

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BOLOGNESE!

Last week, we had a new front door fitted. That morning, I took it upon myself to prepare a bolognese before the doormen arrived so that we didn’t need to get in each other’s way, and so that we had something to eat for lunch for the next few days. I make my bolognese in a 12" frying pan and cover it with a grease splatter fine mesh to let it cook slowly for a few hours.

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THE DOOR

The door was old, but it still functioned as a door. It opened and closed, and kept us safe and warm. As it got older, it got a bit cranky and quirky. The spring-loaded closing mechanism no longer worked as it should. If you were a small person, a cat or a delivery driver, you had to beware this big old heavy door slamming shut whether you were in, out, or somewhere in between.

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Signs of the times…

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UNDER POISONED SKIES

Watched Under Poisoned Skies on BBC iPlayer last night. It’s the sad and shocking story of children in Iraq dying from leukaemia as a result of toxic air pollution from mega rich oil companies burning off excess natural gas in the open air near their homes. Benzene (found in the air) and naphthalene (found in the children’s urine samples) are the main carcinogens. Levels of benzene are between 3 and 9.

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SOUTHALL RESIDENTS TO GIVE BLOOD SAMPLES

After six years of campaigning for justice: “The fact that gas used to be manufactured from coal has been lost to the public consciousness, but the chemical legacy remains.” “These communities already have multiple disadvantages with air pollution, overcrowding and poor housing. This is another burden being placed on them.” Via: Scientists to examine health fears at west London luxury development

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Finally got around to watching Our Friends In The North. ‘None of the issues the show mines so brilliantly – from inequality, deindustrialisation and the parlous state of Britain’s housing to homelessness and the corruption of our public officials – have gone away.’

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The two wood-burning incinerators around the corner from our home appear to be no longer in use. One is is covered by corrugated sheets and scaffolding (prior to dismantling?), the other area is clean and relatively tidy.

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Solidarity with all teachers today, especially those striking for better pay. Eight year old is at home, and refusing to practice for his spelling test tomorrow because he doesn’t want to be a scab.

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1,001 days since my little one made his debut.

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2022

THE PROPERTY LOBBY: THE HIDDEN REALITY BEHIND THE HOUSING CRISIS IN EALING

There will be 14,800 new homes in 23 new developments in Southall over the next few years. 14 units over 10 stories high, and 7 over 20 stories high. Up to 40,000 new residents (and their cars)! One third of the total new developments in the whole of Ealing borough (only Acton is getting it worse). So not happening so much in the ‘white’ or richer areas of the borough, for some reason.

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We’re lucky that our modern little first floor flat has good insulation and retains heat. We started putting the heating on in the morning for no more than half an hour last week, and it’s soon toasty, and stays warm all day.

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Christmas tree and lights up. Boys did most of the tree decorating. Much quicker and less stressful than previous years.

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KIDS' STUFF

I have successfully replicated this study at home, and can attest to its reliability and validity. An ethnographic study in Madrid charted the gradual “take over” by the child (accoutrements like toys, furniture, and special foods, and the removal of “dangerous” or breakable items) of the domicile, leaving less and less “adult” territory (Poveda et al. 2012).' The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings by David F. Lancy 📚

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Both boys are staying at home today. Big kid bounced into school yesterday after recovering from two days of fever, cough and sore throat, but didn’t eat his lunch. Think he’s just tired. Little kid has a raging temperature, but eating ok.

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Both boys are staying at home today. Big kid bounced into school yesterday after recovering from two days of fever, cough and sore throat, but didn’t eat his lunch. Think he’s just tired. Little kid has a raging temperature, but eating ok.

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Public concerns over remediating the toxicity of the land… have not been addressed in the revised plans…. “no details have been provided” on the proposed remediation strategy. Brighton Gasworks developer changes plans to include affordable homes

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WASHED UP

✅ Made breakfast and packed lunch for Kid A. ✅ Dropped Kid B at nursery 😭. ✅ Dropped Kid B at school. ✅ Collected kids' clothes from store. ✅ Listened to the end of The AbsoluteLee podcast and the start of The Prince of Aberystwyth while sitting in traffic. ✅ ☕ and breakfast. ✅ Prepared chilli con carne. ✅ Work call. ✅ Unblocked bath drain. ✅ Received grocery delivery. ✅ ☕.

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Making pizza today, so defrosting some fresh yeast. Meantime, it’s breakfast. Egg and home fries for me. Weetabix for the little one, and bagel for the big one. Big one is in the bathroom feeling nauseous because of the smell of smoked paprika.

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ABANDON ALL HOPE

I reported an abandoned car to my housing association. It’s been left in our little communal car park since the middle of last month, taking up a neighbour’s parking space. It’s got no tax or MOT. I previously reported it to the police, who got back to me to say “it’s not of interest” to them, and to my local council, who have apparently done nothing. Presumably because it’s not classed as being on a public road.

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2021

STRAWBERRIES FOR PIGS?

Little did we know at the time, but these little strawberries were usually engulfed in a toxic plume of benzene, naphthalene, and god only knows what else. Sensibly, the wife refused to eat them. We later discovered that official planning documents for the nearby old gasworks, which was being dug up in the open air for new homes to be built on the contaminated land, stated that no vegetables should be grown on the land.

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HOW I CAUGHT COVID

I tested positive for coronavirus yesterday. I started to feel unwell – like I had flu – on Sunday afternoon. After a night felling too hot and too cold, Monday morning I had a temperature of 38.3°C. I went to my local walk-through testing clinic later that afternoon. It was a self-test. If I’d known, I would have ordered a test-at-home kit, although I wouldn’t have got my result as quick.

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2020

A SUCCESSFUL HOME DELIVERY AND THE LOCKDOWN/LOCK-IN.

My second son was born late Saturday night (what would normally have been my beer night) two weeks ago, after a short, but intense, labour. He was delivered at home by two brilliant midwives, who were fully protected courtesy of customised #tinap bin bag aprons, unused clean air protest dust masks, and disposable gloves my wife stocked up on back in February when – without any scientific advice whatsoever – she somehow accurately foresaw the current coronavirus global pandemic somehow reaching the UK’s shores (and airports).

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2019

SOUTHALL UNDER SIEGE: THE NEIGHBOURS FROM HELL

‘A lack of scrutiny,’ says John Freeman, Regulatory Services Officer at Ealing Council. He’s talking about lessons to be learned from the council’s response to the new asphalt plant built in neighbouring Hillingdon borough in 2014. ‘We didn’t expect there to be so much odour from a new building, or so many complaints.’ Moving swiftly on. Oppressive odour The highly contaminated old gasworks site in Southall has been kicking up a stink, too.

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2009

UNITED, BORN AND BRED: SUPER GLUE MACARI

The only United match I’ve been to in recent years was last season’s FA Cup tie at home to Spurs, courtesy of E.on’s sponsorship and their Family Football initiative. I went with a couple of my ‘clients’ from work, had a great road trip and fantastic all-round experience. One’s a Spurs fan, and I know he felt a mixture of joy and anxiety sat in amongst all the United fans (even in the Family stand) when Spurs went 1-0 up.

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2006

RED MISSED: HOW STEWART HOUSTON AND GORDON HILL MADE ME ANGRY AND DEPRESSED

United’s FA Cup tie with Wolves last weekend and Auntie’s ‘flashback’ (Rio Ferdinand?), reminded me to finally get around to posting a few of my own memories, originally prompted by George Best’s sad demise in November. George had quit United long before I can first remember watching them. But Best remained an important part of my United life - the school chant was “Georgie Best, Superstar, He walks like a woman and he wears a bra!

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