Archive for January, 2010

Stuck in Wales…

…with only the barest of creature comforts; a radio, a Hellish beefy tower, a small radiator, a few litres of spirits including gin, whisky, brandy & liquers (sounds like a French exercise, doesn’t it?*)

And all because Miriam’s broken herself. Bah. I’m very fond of Miriam; she’s got me through two sets of absolutely crazy floods, one the first day I had her, where we alternated between aquaplaning and smothering the exhaust in water in a frankly Flight-To-The-Ford-ish bid to get out of Stafford, and then again in poxy Newtown, when Matt & I were trying to make it back from Gregynog in the middle of the biggest flash flood this side of Dot and the Kangaroo, with water sloshing right over the bonnet.

The thing about Miriam is that I like her partly because she’s a lot more responsive than Mike’s little 1.2 litre Corsa what I learnt in – on at least one occasion that I’ve been in Mir, I’m pretty sure I’d have been quite badly killed if I’d not been in a machine with a decent lump of power in third gear: half way over a level crossing is a really bad time to discover that the lights and barriers have failed, especially with a Sprinter belting along the up line towards you, and it’s nice to know you can floor it without having to hang around to shift down to second – and partly because she’s a bloody good workhorse, in true VW fashion.

Last time she broke she got a hole in the exhaust which, as far as I can tell, reduced engine efficiency such that a couple of the elderly spark plugs gave up the ghost, and we nursed her the sixty miles from Porthmadog back to Aberystwyth on about two cylinders. I think the highest gear we could take was fourth, on the three miles that were all downhill. And then she managed to make it to the mechanic as well, so it could’ve been worse.

Pretty much the same thing happened this time round, although I’m not sure what’s causing the misfire, and instead of being in Porthmadog, she began to play up when Ruth was around 40 miles out of Aber, which I guess is preferable. The thing you have to remember here is the Miriam is a 1999 Skoda, so whilst she was built by VW who knew what they were doing, she is getting on a bit. As near as I can tell, she spent the first eight years of her life pottering around Wolverhampton to get to the shops and things: when we got her in September ’08, she’d done 44,000 miles. By January ’09 that was up to 51, and she’s now on 62,600. I think this is the equivilant of getting a pensioner who never left the village to run from London to Edinburgh with no training, so it’s not entirely surprising that she breaks a bone every now and then.

It was, however, particularly bad timing since it meant we couldn’t get out of town. Really sorry about that, guys; we’ll hack our way to Cardiff once she’s up and running again and take you for a meal or something. Hope it was a good ‘un!

…In the meantime, I’m also trying to get down to London, for fun and library-related games with people on my course. I’m also hoping to run a few errands whilst I’m down there – I need a job lot of leaflets from Friends House, for a start. This should still be possible, although thanks to the miracle of public transport, I shalln’t be leaving Aber until Monday morning. Happily I’m getting better and running on four or five hours sleep, thanks to inexplicably developing an inconvenient habit of handing essays in on time which rather requires me to write them beforehand.

So it’s all in a bit of a muddle, at the minute. I’m still hoping I’ll get a minute to visit the spectacular-looking Steampunk exhibition whilst I’m in the South, and then it’s back to Aber by train once more (bugger) in order to pull yet another shift at the hospital (who have nearly finished training me, thank goodness; I appreciate that it’s important everything in a hospital environment gets thoroughly cleaned, even if they refuse to make it smell clean with healthy things like carbolic [O man I want all of these things. Witchazel! I’ve not seen than in years!] but even so I have worked as a professional cleaner since 2002, I’m pretty sure I grasp at least the basics. Plus I seem to be unusual in finding burnishing awesome fun.) and then there’s another Murder Mystery, with almost everyone at it, which should be interesting.

In the meantime, everything is almost under control. I might even have a minute to reply to some email come February…

*Cite me! For bonus points!

r-jta exists! Huzzah!

Aye, as Ruth said we have a website. It is over here, and there is a helpful blog, which will presumably get less sparse over time.

I feel silly having a one-sentence post. Here is a meme, which you may now all skip.

  1. What is your name?
  2. Mister JTA.

  3. What colour pants are you wearing?
  4. Black jeans, blue thermals.

  5. What are you listening to right now?
  6. Depends what the RNG is doing, but the playlist is a mix of Barenaked Ladies, Slade and Warren Zevon, which combine nicely for some reason, presumably magic.

  7. What are the last four digits of your phone number?
  8. You realise that’s over half the main number, right? By the time you’re establishing my number based on what the exchange might be, you could just as easily look it up in the phone directory…

  9. What was the last thing you ate?
  10. Chilli con carne, with significantly more rice than chilly. For the cheap.

  11. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
  12. Er…. Blue?

  13. Where do you plan to go on your honeymoon?
  14. Huh. Topical. Rather going with the traditional “random short break, proper honeymoon later” plan, is my understanding.

  15. How is the weather right now?
  16. Sodding miserable.There’s ice and snow and everything. It sucks.

  17. Last person you talked to on the phone?
  18. No idea what their name is. Sry.

  19. What’s the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
  20. What clothes they have on. Actually Probably Possibly a lot less pervy than it sounds.

  21. How are you today?
  22. Not entirely frozen.

  23. Your favourite drink?
  24. Er. One of tea, coffee, pepsi or Mountain Dew.

  25. Your favourite alcoholic drink/s?
  26. Ale, gin, whisky, rum, port, stout, cider…

  27. Have you ever lost someone?
  28. Doy.

  29. Favourite sport to play?
  30. Hahaha.

  31. Name three people you can tell anything to?
  32. Jeez, three? Er. Ruth. Dan. Er. Yeah, that’s your lot. Move along, folks.

  33. Hair colour?
  34. Brown? Probably, although it might be black.

  35. Eye Colour?
  36. Brown.

  37. What do you find annoying in a person?
  38. Hm. I’m assuming you mean ‘most annoying’ there. Lack of empathy. It’s not like it’s hard.

  39. Siblings and their ages?
  40. One, 19.

  41. Favourite month?
  42. Er. Maaay?.

  43. Favourite food?
  44. The sort that someone else is paying for.

  45. Last movie you’ve watched?
  46. Wanted, probably.

  47. Favourite day of the year?
  48. And the point of having one of those would be what?

  49. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
  50. All signs point to possibly. Or not, if’n I can actually tell whether they like me. So, er, yes.

  51. Summer or Winter?
  52. At the moment, I’d say summer. Come the next heatwave, I’ll say winter. Bloody weather.

  53. Where do you see urself next year?
  54. Down Oxford way, is the plan.

  55. Hugs or Kisses?
  56. Well… hugs are more transferable.

  57. Relationship or one night stands?
  58. This was written by someone in High School, wasn’t it? Still, they tell me even teenagers find relationships are in vogue these days.

  59. Favourite Computer Game?
  60. Errr. Probably S201 for all-time favourite. Otherwise I’m quite liking Saints Row 2, at the minute. It’s like a GTA game, but written sensibly.

  61. Living Arrangements?
  62. An attic flat, with no loft insulation and no heating. Wheeeeee.

  63. What books are you reading?
  64. Intersting times; Flashman; Cartoon history of the modern world, v. 2.

  65. What’s on your mouse pad?
  66. Mouse what?

  67. Favourite board game?
  68. Really quite liking BSG at the minute, but also Power Grid & Illuminati & Hacker…

  69. Favourite magazine?
  70. Private Eye kinda wins by default, there…

  71. Favourite smells?
  72. Nice whisky is awesome, innit?

  73. Least favourite smell?
  74. Cigarette smoke, probably. Pipes I mind less.

  75. Favourite sound?
  76. People giving me money, in a loud “shuffling of banknotes” sort of way!

  77. Worst feeling in the world?
  78. Probably that one where everything sucks and you cannae do anything about it.

  79. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
  80. At the minute? ‘Bollocks bollocks bollocks, my joints are hurting already, fucking winter.’

  81. Favourite colour(s)?
  82. Blue.

  83. How many rings before you answer the phone?
  84. Depends where I am. Anyway, you can’t tell how many times a mobile rings.

  85. Do you think the glass is half empty or half full?
  86. In my experience, glasses rarely fill themselves. It’s therefore safe to assume that 1) it is getting emptier, and 2) in a just world, someone else would have already volunteered to buy you another…

  87. Favourite movies?
  88. Flashback; South Park: BLU; big fan of Wargames when I’m in the right mood.

  89. What’s under your bed?
  90. The floor, an office that used to be heated for around eleven hours a day, and hasn’t had anyone using it for the past seven months.

  91. What cd do you have in your stereo?
  92. Sterewhat? My Optical drives are currently sporting L4D2 and Civilization II, if that helps.

  93. Favourite TV show:
  94. Er. I generally fire up iplayer to watch Top Gear…

  95. What’s ur favourite Song?
  96. I’ll stick with Protect & Survive, by Runrig, cheers.

— it’s all gone wrong, hasn’t it?’

Not to generalise, of course, but 2009 sucked. I mean, I’ve clocked up worse years, but for unrelenting grind that was a bad ‘un.

Essentially, it’s the year where my sleeping patterns went to bits, I actually started working because I’m no longer a university student wanting education but a university student wanting a qualification (which is far harder to get, since it’s pretty much a quest on rails), I clocked up further debt whilst getting a handle on fiscal responsibility, and Everything Went Wrong for everyone. (Except for the people it didn’t go so wrong for, but I know fewer of them.)

Mind, there were some decent enough bits, but I suspect it’s going into my overview under “everything went wrong for everyone” (Vs. “1992 – Really wet summer,” “1995 – First absurdly hot summer with melty tar” and “2007/8 – I have no idea what happened between Oxford and starting in IS”.)

Still, it’s over now, and we get a whole new year. How, uh, arbitrary. Nevertheless: Happy New Year, people.

O, and kudos to the Goverment for not restoring our 11 days they owe us during 2k9. Bloody thing was long enough as it was. (I’m still waiting for my helicopter that means I won’t need to use railway branch lines, but I’ll trade my claim to that for someone at the ministry exhuming Beeching and sticking his skull on a pike.)

As I say, best of luck for 2010, and lets hope things pick up for everyone, shall we?