2018 Awards

With it being New Years’ Eve, I thought that I would announce my return to WordPress with a 2018 Awards post.

I thought that a post would be a better idea than organising a formal ceremony as I suspect few people would want to attend. Also, I am too tight to hire a venue and lay on catering.

Most disappointing social media presence award

Well, I need to present this award to myself.

At one time I was blog posting weekly and throwing in extra Tweets for good measure. This year has been quite pathetic.

I don’t intend to defend this award during 2019 so I will invite certain others to do their utmost to win this award next year. I give every encouragement to Donald Trump and Piers Morgan to lead the chase for this accolade in the New Year. (Please guys, please!)

Worst country to be a girl award

Unfortunately, many countries continue to clamour for this award.

There continues to be a depressingly high number of countries where the lot of being born a girl is a likely life of neglect and abuse unless you are born into a rich family or your parents believe in fighting for your rights. Sometimes, even this is not enough.

The unfortunate irony of war within countries such as Yemen is that the lot of boys is more equal to the lot of girls in that both have an equal chance of a short and suffering life.

This is all a little depressing, so let’s listen to some music…

Movie action hero award

Chloë Grace Moretz’s turn as Mindy MacReady aka Hit-Girl in the 2010 movie Kick-Ass is a great nomination for this award should it be awarded only once every decade.

However, there are plenty of deserving cases for 2018 that aren’t in the movies.

I am plumping for Trash Girl this year. That is, Trash Girl aka Nadia Sparkes.

The ‘how on Earth do I live in the same country as these people’ award

I realised a long time ago that there are a number of my fellow country people in Britain who are not quite the full packet in the common sense stakes, so to speak.

However, this year demonstrated how even I had underestimated how inept a number of my country folk are.

KFC decided to ditch Bidvest and use DHL to distribute their chicken to their outlets. They didn’t check how many depots DHL had and this led to most of their branches running out of chicken in February during the first week of DHL’s contract.

Well, that was funny until it was headline news how people seemed to be struggling with KFC not selling chicken. Going to another fast food outlet or even heating some chicken up at home seemed to be beyond some people.

Best glass of whisky of the year award

About a month ago, I really enjoyed an evening out with an old friend fuelled by some Jameson Irish Whiskey.

My Christmas Eve tradition of a shot of whisky whilst listening to Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto led to my first glass of Glen Keith Scotch. Interesting drop of stuff.

Both of these share the 2018 award.

Best cultural misappropriation award

Whenever I enjoy a cup of tea in the afternoon I think of Catherine of Braganza who, as the wife of Charles II, brought the practice to England from Portugal.

In further irony, my wife’s parents hail from St Helena, an island originally discovered by Portugal and now a British dependency.

…and now for 2019

These awards hopefully get us all in the mood for 2019 and more noise from me.

Anyway, a great new year to you all.

The Return of the half-Jamaican blogger

This past year has been a disappointment for many.

You may be tempted to muse on what are the tragic circumstances to which I allude.

Is that Harry Scriven chap acknowledging one of the various referendum or election results that have occurred around the world over the last twelve or so months? Are these the source of tragic disappointment that this blogger is referring to?

Or maybe, you might think to yourself, Harry is completely mad and is crying over the sporting failures of some sporting hero of his?

What if Harry’s favourite television show stopped transmitting and he has trouble coming to terms with this loss?

The first thing for me to write here is that I should stop speaking about myself in the third person. It’s annoying to read if I do it too much, I suspect.

And anyway, the answer is no to all three of these possibilities. Sport and television don’t bother me too much, and referendum or election results need to be accepted whether you agree with the results or not.

So what is the cause of this disappointment to the masses?

Well, of course, few people have been able to cope with the absence of my once regular weekly blog posts.

Okay, I am joking about the importance of my own blog posts.

me again

My return is complete – let’s all drink to that!

I was a little nervous about the quality of my first posting on my return to regular blogging.

Although I have kept myself connected with social media through sporadic Tweets or the odd Google+ output, I especially worried about the quality of my first longer weekly social media posting for several months.

Will I be able to post something remarkable enough to announce my return to the regular blogging world?

I am confident that this post will result in one of the following three scenarios:

  • This post will become an essential text to the British English Literature school curriculum
  • This will be one of the written outputs leading to my being short listed for the Nobel Prize for Literature
    or
  • This post will get a few likes and maybe a comment or two

In a number of ways, life for me is the same as it was last year when my posts started to become less frequent. My family situation is the same as it was then and I’m still driving the same beaten up third-hand car. A few of my life priorities have been amended over this time but you will find me much as I was before.

I write that little has changed, but I also think that I am more reliable now than then.

And how do I quantify that my reliability has increased? Well, now I am starting to feel that I can rely on myself which is something that I have ever felt previously in my life.

So, I might even spend the second half of my life actually liking myself.

Maybe that will be reflected within the contents of my future blog posts.

Apparently, you can pin your most important Tweet

Recently, I keep being hit with one particular television advertisement promoting life skills to young adults.  The advice from the advertisement is that you can pin a Tweet to the top of your Twitter account page.  This is so that pre-job interview your prospective employers browsing your social media output are greeted with your most respectful Tweet rather than the tale of last night’s drinking extravaganza.

Twitter

I think that pinning posts and pinning Tweets to the top of your profile can be dangerous as sometimes people tend to pin a post that maybe…well…they shouldn’t.

However, when a good choice is made regarding the post that is pinned your social media presence can be dramatically enhanced.  First impressions Tweet1count for so much sometimes.

So, maybe I should pin a Tweet to help attract the kind of Twitter friends that I crave.

Tweet2I looked through my own account and wondered if there is one Tweet that I would like to be known by.

Well, my Tweets are a mixture of the frivolous and the serious and there is no one Tweet which captures both of these themes.

After careful examination of my four years of Twitter output, I came to the conclusion that there isn’t one Tweet that I would like toTweet3 be known by nor is there one Tweet that I’m ashamed of.

I’ve littered this post with a few screenshots of my Tweets.  Maybe, you can see a Tweet that I should be ashamed of or maybe you see one that you think should be my pinned Tweet.

We’ve got a gas leak…part two

Only my most devoted internet stalkers will be aware of part one of me having a gas leak.  And even then, my previous reference was a fleeting posting limited by the 140 character restraint of Twitter microblogging – https://twitter.com/Harry_Scriven/status/588087165126586369.

What happened in part one was this.  Gloria received a telephone call first thing one morning that there had been a cancellation at the dentist.  After I drove her to the dentist, I came home and someone was knocking at our door.  He had come to do a gas check and I suspected he didn’t believe me when I said that we had not received a notification. But it was no issue as I let him in anyway.

It was all going so, so well and even the gas check guy remarked on how smoothly the checks were going.  It did get a little awkward when he found that both smoke alarms had ceased to function.  I sort of mumbled about what had happened.  Admittedly, my mumbles found me being quite economical with the truth. While I mumbled the truth that that both meters had started going off for no reason I was a little sketchy about the next part.  In both cases, the smoke alarms had left the ceiling and had flown rapidly towards the wall.  Okay, I gave the smoke alarms some help in their leaving the ceiling and also aided their rushing quickly towards the wall…Anyway, the gas check guy arranged for their replacements.

As an aside, the new smoke alarms seem to work as intended.  One of the workmen who has been in my house over the last two days set one off yesterday with his flame gun but it stopped as soon as the shut off button was pressed.  The shut off button had no effect with either of the smoke alarms that we had at the start of 2015.

Back to gas leak, part one.  The check went wrong when the meter outside the front of the house was found to be leaking gas.  The gas check guy shut off my gas, arranged a date for a new gas check as the leak meant that the house had failed and he called Transco to advise what had happened.  And so, I was delayed for work as I waited for the engineer.  When the Transco engineer came he replaced a pipe on the meter and all was well.

Or was it?  Well, today it was part two of “we’ve got a gas leak”.

The new boiler

A young and slender model that can be described as…hot! (I’m referring to my boiler, naughty.)

Yesterday and today, two workmen proceeded to replace the ageing boiler and four even older radiators with sleeker and younger models.  Yesterday and today also have become my first two days of annual leave from work in 2015.  What a way to spend my annual leave, huh!  I’ve such a busy social life!

Anyway, all was going well today with their final checks until…they checked the gas meter at the front of the house.  Yep, there was a gas leak coming from the meter, although the gas was coming out of a different part of the meter this time.  I knew the drill – gas shut off and wait for the Transco engineer.

A Transco guy came and this time decided to replace the meter.  Hmm, a little problem.  The spare meter that he had in the van had a part missing.

He drove off and over an hour later came back with a shiny new meter.

The gas meter spiders seemed a little bemused when their home, the grubby old meter that still measured gas consumption in cubic feet, was lifted onto the grass.  I suspect that they’ve found their way back inside the gas meter box by now.  I see them each time I read the meter.  Years ago when we first met, they were clearly startled by me but now they just watch me read the meter and wait for me to shut the door back again.  Yes, I do talk to them but I haven’t given them names like my mother would.  I might not have much of a social life but I’m not that desperate for friends that I’ll befriend absolutely anything.

That brings me to ask one thing.  I keep seeing these adverts on television where people are speaking to their Cortana assistant on their mobile ‘phones.  Who is it that wants to own one of these things?  Who wants a mobile phone that you then empower to tell you what to do?

I can’t think of anything worse.  “Cortana, remind me to pick up some milk.”  “Cortana, remind me to buy the wife an anniversary gift.”  Na-ha!  I’m not giving verbal requests to a ‘phone so that later on that day it can tell me what to do.  I’d be arguing with it.

I know what I’d be saying – “Cortana, remind me to throw you against the wall when I cannot mute your patronising jibba jabba with your shut off button!”

A year mostly absent of social media

Hmmm…I’ve been a naughty boy, haven’t I?  All of my internet stalkers must have hated me over the last year as I haven’t left much of an internet trail.

Yes, I’ve logged into my bank account and paid my bills (well, most of the time) but I’ve not done too much on WordPress, Google+ or Twitter.  In the last month I’ve done a little bit on Twitter and in the last couple of weeks a little dash on Google+ because the posts on these two places are only a few words (usually).

So do you want an explanation?  I won’t give too much in that regard; only that there was a big issue that I needed to deal with in the family and I didn’t feel much up to social media.  All of my posts would have been quite depressive – and that’s not the way I wanted to go.  I’m no Robert Smith or David Byrne – The Cure are quite good at songs of depression and Talking Heads are phenomenal with music describing about nervous breakdowns (“The Overload” from the album “Remain In Light” springs to mind).  Anyway, the good news is that I didn’t feel that I needed to listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon” that often.

My life now is…oh, I don’t know.  Remarkable?  Boring?  Insignificant?  Yes, all of those and a few other adjectives.

Financially, I don’t feel like I’m living hand to mouth so much any more.  What I mean by that is that it takes me the whole month to spend my monthly wages at the moment.  This is wonderful progress for me and for that I am thankful to God.

Chicken and Chorizo Bulger with Flat Peas

Chicken and Chorizo Bulger with Flat Peas

So, what has changed?  I bought a cookery book that specialises in simple recipes.  I cannot cook at all (remember my MyOpera confession that I set the smoke alarm off while making a salad?) but this book has enabled me to turn out things that are reasonably tasty.  All you do is slice ingredients up and through them into the pot in the right order and – like WOW! – out comes something really nice.  I suppose a quick plug for “One Pot Wonders” by Lindsey Bareham is in order.

My car, oh yes, my car famed throughout the MyOpera years.  My old Honda Civic became quite a feature of my posts for a time.  Unfortunately, it is no longer in my possession.  When I had my MOT in 2013, I was given a list of advisories that filled the page.  I knew from reading them that these repairs all needed to be done within three years at most if I was to continue driving the Honda Civic – and they all looked quite pricey.  Also, the last Labour government had increased the age that a car needed to attain before being exempt from road tax.  No longer would a car get that treat at the twenty five year old mark but now needed to be forty.  The last Labour government had, in effect, billed me over £100 in August 2014.

So, I bought a new car – sorry, I mean a newer car.  I trawled the basement priced used car adverts and telephoned after a cheap looking thing from a nearby dealer.  That car had gone but he said that I might be interested in something else that he had.  Where was he?  Well, down this side alley near the train station where a taxi firm traded from years before.  Their battered old sign was still hanging off the side of the building.  I turned up and was greeted by a locked gate that held back a ferocious barking dog.  A tough guy walked up and asked who I was.  He wasn’t the dealer but he called through to the guy who was.  The dealer was another tough looking dude.  He put on a tee shirt and showed me two well used motors.  I grabbed one of them that had a sunroof (yay! A sun roof!) and he then agreed to take my car the next day as part exchange.  I gave him £50 deposit and then went home and ran a check on the car.  If I was to pay for the car, I wanted to be certain I was not taking on something with outstanding finance or was written off in an accident years ago.  The car was legitimate and so the next day I was driving a green Vauxhall Astra.

Well, that’s enough excitement for today.  I know for sure that this bedtime story will help me sleep well tonight.