Dispatch RiderBritish Dispatches
Friday, May 30, 2003
      ( 1:21 PM ) Spengy  


A posting on Rise "Bad Credit" has dragged up the unpleasant experiences we went through to open bank accounts when we first arrived in the UK. Drawing blood from a stone would have been easier.

You can't open a bank account until you can prove your residential address. A signed lease or letter from an employer is not sufficient. Only a utility bill (electricity, gas or council rates) with your name and address will suffice. You can only get a utility bill if you have a UK bank account and they usually issue these bills on a quarterly basis. Catch-22.

It is amazing what a colour scanner, good software and printer can produce.

Thursday, May 29, 2003
      ( 4:18 PM ) Spengy  


A while ago (just after we arrived in the UK earlier this year) the BBC screened the Mad Max trilogy;

It has since become a cult movie trilogy spawning multiple fan sites. For those of you who have been living in a box these movies starred a very young Mel Gibson.

My personal favourite is of course the very first one so when I saw it advertised in the TV guide late one night I settled down to watch it. I think it was on about midnight but of course I was wide awake with jet-lag. You could imagine my dismay and disgust when I discovered the whole movie had been dubbed over with American voices. It was reminiscent of some Italian spagehetti western or an old Honk Kong kung fu movie where their lips move out of sync to the words. Imagine Goose (Steve Bissley) with a slow Texan drawl, the Nightrider screaming his famous lines in a west coast whine and Mel has never had an American accent quite this bad (not even now). Why, why, why, why, why? I can't believe that we talk with such a bad accent that it required voice overs. Of course sub-titles would have retained the original soundtrack but they must have assumed that the average punter watching this would have had trouble stringing more than three syllables together. I grant you the fact that our accent can sound harsh at times but it is not unintelligible.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
      ( 1:44 PM ) Spengy  
A Little Computer Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

I know didley-squat about computers really but there are others who know less. Because I know a little more than they do it is assumed that I'm a computer genius. As a result I'm often asked to sort out a problem that they are having with their computer. The latest request is to install, set-up and tutor someone in the use of an accounting software package for their business. I know nothing about accounting software or accounting for that matter so this has been fun.

The first two sessions have been okay but then I hit a button and managed to crash the program and corrupt the "opening balance" data. Apparently "opening balance" data is critical for accounting software. It has taken me a couple days to work out what I did and sort it out. We are about to have another go. Never assume something is fool-proof because fools are very inventive.

      ( 1:32 PM ) Spengy  

ET Never Phoned Home

It's official there is now a proven link between the devil and alien abductions.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
      ( 11:33 AM ) Spengy  


The old man came to stay with us on our return from Ireland. He was over from Oz on business in Italy and tacked on a few days to visit us. It was a real whistle-stop tour so we only had Sunday to mess about. Being a big kid at heart he wanted to go to the Science Museum so off we went. We arrived at the entrance to see hordes of kids streaming through the doors and we had a feeling that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. After a short discussion we retired for lunch at a nearby cafe to see if the hordes would disperse. Over lunch we discussed our options and agreed that we were at least twice as tall and probably three times the weight of most of the kids so it wouldn't be much of a problem pushing our way through the masses at the door. We also assumed that the majority of the exhibits would be of little interest to the pre-pubescent tykes and they would be concentrated around the "interactive" sections where they could press buttons, wind handles and just try and destroy it. We were right but the "interactive" sections they were also all the fun bits. It was just like being a kid again but better. We were bigger now and could push to the front and not feel intimidated when someone wanted to push the button we were pressing. We spent five hours wandering around until sore feet and hunger drove us towards the tube and the train home.

To pass the time on the train we played that old favourite I-Spy. Things were going swimmingly until my better half stumped us with "I spy with my little eye something beginning with K". It wasn't until we got back home that we gave in and she informed us it was "necklace with a silent K". You can't win against such deviousness.

Monday, May 26, 2003
      ( 12:09 PM ) Spengy  


Wow, had a great time in Ireland as per usual and as per usual it was all too quick.

Went fly fishing on the local river down from where we stay with the better halfs relations. I have just taken up this hobby 12 months ago and I'm not very good at it. Flogged the water stupid with my floating line catching myself, the rod and lots of grass, bushes and trees behind me. I seem to spend more time sitting on the bank untangling knots than actually fishing. I have been several times in England previously with no success. Apparently I have been using the wrong flies. Mine are Australian flies and are not suitable for European fishing. Now this I don't get;

1. My little brown fluffy fly looked just the same as the person showing me his "European" brown fluffy fly
2. Trout are not overly intelligent, they are fish so how would they know the difference?

I think the bloke believed that because the flies were from Australia that the hook was the wrong way up. The more reasonable explanation for my lack of success is that I am totally crap at fly fishing. Anyway back to Ireland, there I was thrashing the water and getting nothing when I bloody well caught a fish. Well, the fish managed to do it on his own as I didn't have a clue what I was doing (ha I was right - see point 2 above). I landed it on the bank and was all excited wishing that there was someone there to witness my first ever trout and a wild river one at that. Unfortunately the fish was all of 6 inches long so I returned it to the river. I now knew that this fly fishing wasn't so hard after all. My next castout was my last as I had to spend the next 45 minutes untangling the knot I'd managed to put in the line with the cast. I'm still crap at fly-fishing but at least I've caught my first fish.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
      ( 7:36 PM ) Spengy  


Yes, yes, yes. The high moral ground has been levelled. My better half weakened and bought a packet tonight. The clock has been reset as we both had that 'after dinner' fag. Only 8 left in the packet until it is back to the cold turkey sweats again.

We are away off to Ireland until Saturday so no postings for a few days unless I'm inspired later tonight.

Monday, May 19, 2003
      ( 2:24 PM ) Spengy  


What it is with drink containers and these additional cap seals? You unscrew the lid from a new bottle of milk and go to pour it into your coffee and nothing comes out. You then discover that the opening has been sealed with a plastic/aluminium disc. Why? It seems to occur on non-carbonated drinks as well. This really got me when I purcahsed a sport drink with one of those fancy sport pop tops for 'quick access' without having to unscrew the top. I dropped it into the drink holder on my pushbike and set off for my circuits around Richmond Park. After cranking up the second big hill I sit back in the saddle to catch my breath. Reach for the drink, pop the top and squeeze. Nothing. Bollocky bollocks. Break the rhythm, get off the bike, unscrew convenient quick access pop top, remove plastic/aluminium disc (try this with cycling gloves on), replace convenient quick access pop top and drink.

While I'm at it I'll ask some of the other big questions that puzzle me;
1. Why is the fluff in your tummy button always blue-grey?
2. Does the water in the sink drain out clockwise/anti clockwise depending on whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere or is it just an urban myth?
3. Who decided the order for the letters in the alphabet and why?
4. Chicken or the egg?
5. Why is the probability of toast falling butterside down directly proportional to the expense of the floor/furniture material upon which it lands?

Saturday, May 17, 2003
      ( 11:18 PM ) Spengy  
I Have Stumbled

I have succumbed to my cravings. "It is just one" I kept saying to myself to justify the lapse. I needn't have bothered with that illusion as it was shattered by the wife upon my return indoors. So now not only does she have the even higher moral ground of seven days over me but I was sent to the dog house for the rest of the day. Hopefully I will be forgiven by the morrow. For those who were wandering, yes I really enjoyed it. I haven't had a head-spin like that since I first took up smoking, well not since the last time I tried to drink 9 pints.

      ( 10:49 AM ) Spengy  

Just finished Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I give it a 7.5 out of 10. It unfortunately suffered from a 3 month hiatus half-way through as it was boxed and shipped from Oz to the UK. Some great characters, Ignatious himself, Dorian Greene (his party is a highlight) and Jones to name a few. I laughed out loud in places but found the novel flat and slow elsewhere. However I'd still recommend it but not one of my classics. It did apparently win the Pulitzer (posthumously) in 1981 if you are a list ticker.

Friday, May 16, 2003
      ( 11:48 PM ) Spengy  

It is 12.45am on Saturday morning and I'm up pacing the house. We didn't go out to the pub for our Friday night drink for fear of being being within 10 yards of a cigarette dispensing machine should our resolve weaken (what is it about beer and cigarettes - non smokers won't get it so don't even bother). Instead a quiet romantic evening in but of course no alcohol as the shops are also only around the corner. My better half has managed to go to sleep. The difference might be that she gave up after last Friday night while I managed to nurse/horde my packet through to Monday. She now has taken the high moral ground as she can claim to have given up before me.

I have looked everywhere tonight for that last stale tube of pleasure in the bedside drawer, behind the sofa, underneath the cushions, under the bookcases, in that 4th draw in the kitchen that accumulates stuff you can't think where else to put. I found a couple of lighters that got me excited for a while but no matching cigarette.

Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh hhhhhmmmmpppphhhhh why did I even bother taking up smoking in the first place? "It seemed like a good idea at the time" is cold comfort when it's cold turkey. No wonder the Nicorette family can afford to sail around the world entering their billion dollar yaht in international yacht races all year.

      ( 12:32 PM ) Spengy  

With step by step advice I managed to copy and paste some HTML into the template to allow for "Comments" to be added. However it appears as "Shout Out" and I can't find in the script where to modify it to actually appear as "Comments". I also managed to add a site stats counter but not sure what that actually really does because it doesn't seem to have appeared on the blog. I'm so proud of my copy and paste ability. I might even try a bit of code myself in the next few days if feeling brave enough. Thanks to those who assisted even if they did leave comments making me feel like a social experiment or performing child.

What should I try and add next? Off to search the net.

Thursday, May 15, 2003
      ( 9:35 PM ) Spengy  

These rules have been learned from my experiences of riding my pushbike since arriving in London in mid January 2003
01. If you think it is cold, it is
02. If you think it might be warm. it isn't
03. It is always colder than you think
04. All cold weather riding gear purchased in Australia to keep you warm doesn't work
05. Windchill will always make it 10 degrees colder
06. If it isn't raining now it soon will be
07. Even if it is overcast wear sunglasses unless you want tears to stream vertically across your face, from your eyes, into your ears where they freeze
08. Watch out for black ice
09. No, seriously, watch out for black ice
10. see rule 08
11. Shallow rain puddles are not necessarily shallow
12. Wearing enough clothing to stay warm makes you look like Michelin Man and the extra padding makes it hard to steer, change gears and apply brakes effectively
13. Warm winter weather clothing when wet does not work effectively
14. Combine 12 with 11 then 13 then 05
15. Cute deer in Richmond Park are to be avoided especially the ones with horns. Do not under any circumstance ride through a grazing herd unless you can ride faster than them or there is a cattle grid near by
16. Push bike riding should be considered a summer-time only activity in the UK

Please feel free to add others.

      ( 4:04 PM ) Spengy  

I have spent the morning and most of the afternoon fighting with the blog concept. As can be seen from my entries below. I have given up trying to find all the other ones that I put in as they appear to have disappeared. Oh well shit happens.

Anyway the rest of the day was spent admiring other blogs recommended by a cousin who has a great blog. How do you you get all that stuff up on your site. I'm still struggling to post and retain entries. I suppose it is not a good time to be fighting with modern technology when you are trying to give up cigarettes. At least I managed to get a cycle in, 3 times around Richmond Park. I still want a cigarette though.

      ( 12:15 PM ) Spengy  
Aaaaahhhhh. The penny drops ........ I hope. Now I'm going for a bike ride (don't ask I explained that in a previous entry that has just disappeared).

      ( 12:12 PM ) Spengy  
I have had a revelation. These blogs have been created to waste time and keep you at your terminal so that your ISP can make obscene amounts of money because you are logged on far longer than you need to be.

      ( 12:03 PM ) Spengy  
What happened to the long newsy posting I put up earlier today. This wonderful web never ceases to invent ways to infuriate me. It is all perfectly logical but I don't have a logical mind (obviously). Bugger it.

      ( 11:54 AM ) Spengy  
What is going on this is the second blog i have created today and for the life of me I can't get back into the 1st one!!! aaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh

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