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Topics - Gyppo

The Bar & Grill / A chip off the old block...
February 24, 2024, 06:45:57 PM
My youngest daughter has had a truly hectic week, but just keeps on keeping on.

The other night the hot tap in her new bungalow stuck in the full-on position.  She and her husband both tried to turn it off, but it simply wouldn't play.  The water was running away down the plughole, so there was no risk of a flood, but...  No way was she sending for a plumber at midnight.  Even if she'd managed to find one.  Apart from which she didn't want to waste whole tank of hot water.

By this time the tap itself was so hot you needed an oven glove to grip it.

(My personal theory is that sometimes a tap gets so hot the various turning bits expand and lock together.)

So she took a pragmatic approach.

She turned off the water heater.  Turned off the supply at the stopcock, and went to bed.

In the morning the tap still wouldn't turn so she hit it with a hammer until it reluctantly gave in.  Then arranged for a plumber to replace it, and fix a few other things as well whilst he was there.

She feels the pre-purchase survey 'wasn't carried out quite properly'.

She now has a much better tap which 'knows its place'.

That's my girl ;-)

The Bar & Grill / People Watching Mystery solved
February 24, 2024, 03:12:48 PM
   'People Watching' mystery solved after a few weeks of  sporadic sightings.

   My office window is my outlook on the world and the daily parade of people and events entertains me when I look away from the monitor.

   I've been puzzled recently by an indeterminate figure I see passing by, carrying a small backpack.  Sometimes walking right to left, sometimes left to right.

   I initially thought it was a mid-teenaged male, but a few times the figure has looked more female.  Short, skinny, and definitely unisex clothing in similar shades of black or dark green.  Loose comfortable fit.

   The walk is definitely the teenage bag-carrying semi-slouch, and neither distinctively male or female.

   Darkish skinned, with black hair and a definite angular nose..  Not in the ski-slope class, but noticeable.  I find myself wondering if there's some Greek in the bloodline.  He/she never seems to smile much and walks along at a fair clip.

   Walking right to left,  male.

   Walking left to right, possibly female.

   It was bugging me a bit, because I usually get a definite impression of gender even at a quick glance.  This one was just becoming more confused with each sighting.

   I was beginning to wonder if this was one of those cases of someone with two distinctively different profiles.  (There's a good reason why police identity three-shots show both profiles.)

   Yesterday the answer was revealed.  There were two of them,  walking in sync, chatting away to each other.  Very obviously brother and sister when seen together, very likely twins.

   That's that mystery solved ;-)

   I'm sure others will arise.

The Bar & Grill / Bloody Grandaughter ;-)
February 22, 2024, 11:16:24 AM
Bloody Grandaughter ;-)

I mentioned that my bluebells were starting to poke through the soil already,  Well, the green spiky bits.  Last year they did this but produced no flowers at all.

My Grandaughter said, "You need to encourage them Grandad.  First thing every morning, when you wake up and before you do anything else, go out into the garden and play your ukulele to them."

"If I do that my neighbours will think I'm crazy"

"Grandad!  If they don't know that already they've not been paying attention."

We then played silly beggars imaging how my neighbours  might react.  Especially if I woke up at 3 am , as I often do, and started serenading the flowers.

I imagined the lady on my left asking me, "Did you hear someone playing a guitar or whatever outside in the dark this morning?  Or am I going mad."

"Maybe it's mild tinnitus. Or some ghostly Hippy hitch-hiker, doomed to wander the bypass forever."

By the way, I'm lagging well behind in the ukulele stakes.  She's really taken to it.  If she's got a tendency to be a bit obsessive about things far better to channel it in a relatively safe direction.


Bin War:  She's almost incandescent with rage at a neighbour who she claims has stolen their 'green' wheelie bin.

My daughter says she doesn't care, "A bin's a bin.  She probably just took the wrong one back in after the bin men had been."

"No she didn't.  She came into our garden and deliberately swapped her bin for ours.  I saw her do it.  Ours has a bit of red sticky tape on it, and now it's in her garden.  Have a look if you don't believe me."

I suggested that next week she just goes out as soon as the bin men have been and bring the right bin back in.

"She'll probably only steal it again.  Some people are like that."

She's a kind and generous soul, but there's a fierce little old lady buried deep inside for when she reaches that age.


The Bar & Grill / Technically Accurate ;-)
February 20, 2024, 12:02:45 PM
Some words are ambiguous, and I have lot of fun with them.  Others are the exact opposite.  Like this example from a collection of airline humour.

It actually came from a flight attendant about 15 years ago. "We have a
woman pilot and a woman co-pilot on this flight. You are flying in an
unmanned plane."

I was writing this morning, which is nothing unusual in and of itself, but I was so thoroughly ensconced in my writer's reverie I totally lost a little over two hours in 'real world' time.  8 - 10 am vanished.

When I eased back out and went into the kitchen to make a drink, still pretty much pre-occupied, I discovered that the bin men had been.

This means that a massive and very noisy - and smelly - white and blue bin lorry,  with flashing orange lights had passed by within twelve feet of my office window without me even registering its presence.  I don't normally miss it.  At the very least it blocks the light from outside enough to impinge on my senses.

As a total contrast, the other night I was woken by the faint noise of a birthday card - sellotaped to the living room room door amongst several others, on display for the week - falling onto the carpeted floor.  It disturbed me enough that I got out of bed and padded around the bungalow in the small hours until I found what had caused it.

Awareness is a strange beast.


The Bar & Grill / Gently amusing little quote.
February 02, 2024, 05:44:08 PM
From a book I read recently, about a character who basically bumbles along through his life, choosing the path of least resistance.


   He selected shampoo on the basis of the ease with which he could read  the word 'shampoo' without his glasses.  He favoured big font shampoo.


The Bar & Grill / Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
February 02, 2024, 01:13:55 PM
Or just a hairy apparition?

Still half asleep I opened the front door to bring the milk in, and heard a thud from the bin lorry just a few houses away.

Damn, bin day.  I missed the last collection and my black bin was far  too full to stand another fortnight.

I shot back indoors, grabbed the garden gate key from its regular place, ran out through the back of the bungalow, unlocked and unbolted the gate.  Grabbed the bin and ran up the alleyway alongside, hearing the lorry closing in.  The bin rumbled like muted thunder in the narrow gap.

The bin man, wrapped up in his winter clothes, complete with gloves, and with a woolly hat pulled low over his ears, looked more than a little startled as a hairy apparition, barefoot and naked apart from a pair of Cammo shorts, burst out of the alleyway, bounded across the block paving, and spun the wheelie bin around putting the handle into his waiting grasp.

The lorry driver just shook his head and smiled.

I nipped back in through the front door, still open, waited until the bin was emptied and then popped back out to run it back into the garden.  Locked up the back, walked through, brought in the milk,  and told myself that a), it wasn't as cold as it looked, and b) that wasn't a bad aerobic workout for an old man.

As I made my first drink of the day I wondered how many of my neighbours had noticed.

In a book I'm reading the wife says to her Husband...

"Keith Calder, you're such a bastard I believe your father never even met your mother."

The Bar & Grill / I lit a candle for Melanie
January 25, 2024, 11:36:04 AM
Melanie Safka,  Songstress
Aged 76

"Fly free, Blithe Spirit."


Even Flower Children don't last forever.

And, sorry girl, I still loathe that bloody 'Brand New Key' song.

Let's have three tunes to mark your passing.

Ruby Tuesday

Tambourine Man

Psychotherapy  (Melanie being playful.)
      I've always said that no research opportunity should be missed by a properly inquisitive writer.  Well, another one has arrived unexpectedly.

   I spent the second half of today in the Eye Casualty Unit at my local hospital.  I saw several nurses, who made me look into various things whilst they photographed the insides of my eyes.


   The day started with a routine eye test,and the optician asked if I had any specific problems.

   "Yes.  A few days ago I noticed that some of the text on my computer screen was looking distorted, and then one morning there was a grey shadow on my wall which didn't make sense.  When I closed my right eye it vanished.  When I covered my left eye everything seen through my right was blurry.

   Parallel lines like doorframes, or my computer screen appeared to be pinched in on the sides.

   He took another photo of the insides, looked through a magnifying glass, and said, a)  you have a macular hole, and, b) asked "Can you get to the local eye unit today."
   So I went, spent 7 hours being shunted around from place to place and after seeing the difference between my good eye and my bad eye on his computer screen the eye doctor gave his verdict, he said it definitely needed an operation to close the hole in my retina, and possibly they'd do my cataracts at the same time.  So now I need to wait for my appointment.

   It was fascinating to see the difference between my 'good' and 'bad' eyes on his screen.

   Apparently a lot of people get this in their 50s and 60s, so I've done well.  The chances of success are good, and seeing as they've caught it early that helps..  The 'worst case' scenario is that the surgery will stop it getting worse. 

   They shoved a whole load of eye drops into both eyes to dilate my pupils and make the photography easier.  Nobody warned me that when I got home and typed up my impressions of the day, my pupils would still be jacked open to the extreme.  My screen, set on my normal gentle background shade of grey, hit me in the eyes like an interrogation lamp and I had to turn the brightness way down.  Fortunately this extra dilation went away overnight so I reset my screen this morning.

   My Eldest  collected me and took me home just after 9 PM. She also brought me a sandwich and a bottle of Pepsi, which was much appreciated because it seemed a long time since breakfast.  Even porridge can only fuel you for so long ;-)

   Hey Ho, I really could have done without this, but it explains why occasionally the Ukulele strings looked wrong.

   Damn.  It's my aiming eye.


The Bar & Grill / Are we speaking the same language?
January 19, 2024, 03:05:02 PM
I accept that language changes over the years.  Many people struggle with Shakespeare, and some can't even get started on reading Chaucer.  But I've always expected journalists to be reasonably fluent, and if appropriate slightly adjust eyewitness comments to make them comprehensible to readers.

Ryan Air, living proof of the old saying that 'there's no such thing as bad publicity if they spell your name correctly', recently had to divert a plane following a 'massed brawl onboard'.  So far so good.

There was a picture of the plane, clearly marked Ryan Air, on the ground with the following caption.

The alleged Ryanair plane from the incident at Faro airport today.

I realise that 'alleged' is one of those 'weasel words' sprinkled around with  pepper pot abandon in most news reports to try and ward off lawyers.  But surely it's the incident which is alleged, until more details emerge, rather than the plane.

Another quote from the same online article reads as follows.

Portuguese police sources said seven passengers had been involved in an altercation but there has not yet been any official comment from authorities in Portugal. One well-placed insider said "all, if not all" were British.

All, if not all.  What's that supposed to mean?

Things like this trip me up when I'm reading, and do nothing to help clarity of communication.

And yes, I'm a grumpy old git today.


The Bar & Grill / Is it just me...
January 18, 2024, 06:53:10 PM
    ...or has today gone really quickly?"

    We've probably all said this at times, but for the people of Tromso, Norway, yesterday it really did.

The polar night ends in Tromsø, Norway.

Yesterday the sun rose for almost 18 minutes for the first time since November 27 in this city surrounded by high mountain ranges. The days will lengthen quickly.

The Bar & Grill / Are you sure you mean that?
January 18, 2024, 01:59:14 PM
    The local bus company have a couple of electric and hybrid buses
on trial, and it has to be said that the electric, with a good driver,
is noticeably smoother for passengers.  But so are the ordinary ones
when driven properly.

    But...  There's one which is proudly emblazoned 'USB Powered
Bus'.    Nearly all the newer buses let you 'plug in' whilst travelling
now, but that's not what the proud boast says is it?

    Whenever I see it I imagine two things.

    a)  A long thin cable trailing behind it all the way back to the
depot.  (Almost harking back to electric 'trolley buses' which drew
their power from overhead lines along the streets, and sparked
gloriously when the 'trolley'  pick-up slipped off the wires.)

    b)  A part-filled bus refusing to leave the bus station, and the
driver calling out, "Sorry for the delay.  You'll need to plug in at
least three more laptops or five phones before I have enough power to

Word Play / Silly Little Regrets. A silly little game.
January 16, 2024, 12:10:39 PM
I'm sure we all have them.  Little things we could or should have done, but never did.  Often really inconsequential deeds or places to visit, and then one day it was no longer possible.  So the thought niggles, quite gently, in the background, but also never quite goes away.

So I'll kick off with one and see if anyone else wants to play.

There used to be a pub not far away, called The Highwayman, and the hanging sign showed a Highwayman on his horse, gazing up at an Inn window towards a shadowy figure.  Presumably his lady love.  A painted capture of the Highwayman poem.  Rather evocative.  An old school pub-art painting, not one of the 'modern' paint-by-numbers style.

It lay back from the road, a few trees nearby, and I imagined it in the old days, without street lighting, when what is now a busy 'A' road was just a well worn but potentially risky track between two towns.

Every time I went by on the bus, or my motorbike, I told myself I'd go and visit.   Even without dressing up I would have probably felt compelled to swagger in, like some visiting desperado ;-)

For one reason or another I never did, and the place shut down, was boarded up, and eventually demolished.

Even now, whenever I pass, I look at that gap in the treeline and picture the sign swinging in the breeze.

One day some developer will build a dozen houses on that site and it will blend in, but until that day it's a niggling reminder.
I have just sent the following to a firm named indigo, who claim they maintain the pipes through which I receive my gas supply.  I've never heard of them before.

Their letterhead uses indigo ink and all lowercase letters.  Not sure of the psychology behind this ;-)


Dear Sir/Madam

I have just received an invitation to register for your Priority Services Register.  Think I'll pass on it for now despite being in my seventies.

But your online application form  - inadvertently I'm sure - made me smile.  For this I thank you.

Pensionable age
Psychical impairment
Unable to communicate in English

I wonder about Psychical impairment ;-)

Does this mean that failed fortune tellers and clairvoyants can rely on you to predict their power supply problems?

Presumably this should have been physical.

Wishing you well with setting up your register.



Prompt Follow Up.

Had an email back this morning, from the office manager, saying thankyou for the note, and wondering how it happened.  She passed it on to the PRS team to correct it.  I got the feeling of a little morning amusement there in an otherwise probably very busy day.

I shall probably revisit their site in a week or so and see if its been rectified.  I may even change my mind and register after all.

The Bar & Grill / Upmarket name, same old job.
January 05, 2024, 01:35:05 PM
Left click to enlarge

You're not allowed mere sea-sickness on a P&O cruise ;-)
Are you fed up with YouTube moaning about your adblocker, or hassling you to sign up for Premium?

I've been playing for the last week or so with an alternative called FreeTube.  I get no commission or anything for this, but it's well worth a look.

The settings menu, available via FreeTube's three dot menu, lets you turn off all sorts of stuff for 'distraction free' viewing.

It will look a little 'sparse' at first, but that's the general idea.  It's not trying to sell you anything ;-)

Worth road-testing for a couple of days, then get rid of it if you're not happy.

Download at

This is a safe site, run by Computer Active magazine here in the UK.  I've never found anything bad riding piggy-back on their offerings over several years.

Here's the picture to prove it.

Left click to enlarge.

The Bar & Grill / Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
December 24, 2023, 10:31:42 PM
For anyone who is still here...

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

The Bar & Grill / Winter Solstice Greetings
December 21, 2023, 02:27:33 PM
    Solstice Greetings

    Tonight, 21st, is the longest night of the year.  When our little rotating rock ball we call home is the furthest it ever gets away from the Sun.

    After this the days will start getting longer again.

    It may not feel like it, but it will be happening.

    Rejoice!  Or just shrug it off as another date on the calendar if that's the way your mind works.  It will happen anyway, whatever you or I may think  ;-)

    "Blessed be."