Thicker Than Water?

Every week, I enjoy reading people’s responses to Melanie’s Share Your World prompts, though I usually don’t have time to respond myself.

I thought she asked an excellent question yesterday, though, and especially in the context of the answers I read so far (everyone thinks the opposite to me), I thought the question was irresistable.

Melanie asked:

What’s more important to you – family or friends?

I broadly see good people and bad people. Broadly. A good person is somebody whose outlook on life coincides with my own. The same kinds of values. Again, broadly, because I never met anyone whose values coincide exactly with mine. That “good person” might well go on to become a friend. A bad person, I will walk away from, because life is too short to be mixed up with them.

Whether those good and bad people happen to be related to me or not, doesn’t really come into it.

So, for me, friends win out, every time. No contest.

Now, note that I’m not saying here that family are necessarily unimportant. I’m saying that the important members of my family (which is a small subset of the entire family), I also consider to be friends, first and foremost. I don’t see somebody as either one or the other. My wife, for example, I see as also a friend (sometimes 🤣).

Conversely, an asshole is an asshole is an asshole, and I will drop them, family or not.

Share Your World (week beginning 20 July 2020)

I’ve been trying to keep myself busy (man’s work) and I didn’t think I was going to have time to answer Melanie’s Share Your World questions this week.

But you guys have really upset me. I’ve seen some really disappointing answers this week, so I thought I’d have to make the effort to redress the balance, even if I just answered one of the questions.

Your penalty for upsetting me? I want you to go outside, take all your clothes off, and then you need to stand there until a squirrel comes along and nibbles on your acorns.

Why am I upset? Well, I saw this question and you all got the answer so, so wrong:

Would You Rather Be Trapped In An Elevator Full Of Men With BO Or Three Soaked Dogs? 

Look, Ladies[1], it is high time you realised – BO is the Essence de la vie (literally – if you set fire to it, it will explode). That mix of stale sweat and testosterone[2] – what could be better than being in an elevator with ten, nay, fifty[3] , other men? You might think that we smell, but we do it all for you. You might think that our jobs keep us out unreasonable hours – but it is all for you. Our breath might smell of booze when we finally get home, but it is all for you, to make ourselves more interesting for you.

We go hunting, trap bears in nets, we shoot fish, all for you. We boldly go, where no man has gone before, all for you.

Give me some men, any day of the week. The sweatier, the drippier, the better.

Let’s throw those mutts down the shaft!

[1] I assume you’re ladies, even though your name might be Harold

[2] most definitely not bottled and sold here as Links Deodorant

[3] subject to elevator safe loading limits

Share Your World (13 July 2020)

Monday. Just knocked off. Getting back into work mode is going quite successfully, am looking at the job boards but seen nothing yet..

Anyway, what should be there to greet me as I knocked off but Melanie’s latest batch of Share Your World questions. A quick scan through has revealed that I’m probably going to be quite dull this week, but I’ll have a bash nevertheless.

What song always gets you out on the dance floor?

Nothing, these days, I’d be afraid of losing my balance.

What’s your favorite sleeping position?

On my side. I can manage either side these days. I could theoretically sleep on my back, but that’s not comfortable. I can hardly even get onto my front, let alone sleep in that position.

If you could snap your fingers and instantly make the world better, what would you do?

Easy. A flat earth. By that, I mean that everybody has an equal opportunity in life. I’m careful to say opportunity, because some people will make more of their opportunities than others. But nobody should be penalised for what they are.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why did you do it?

It’s got to be either marriage or children. Because when we make those decisions, who knows what the future will hold?

If it was marriage, I did it because I was happy that I was with my life partner. Sounds corny but it has turned out to be true.

If it was children, fuck knows.


One of my Age UK clients fell down the stairs and ended up in hospital. I still wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a hospital, if I could help it. I’m grateful that she was discharged, seemingly did not pick anything up while she was in there, and that I was able to speak on the phone to her last week.

Share Your World (6 July 2020)

Monday. Just knocked off. Getting back into work mode is going quite successfully, but have not bothered looking at any job boards yet.

Anyway, what should be there to greet me as I knocked off but Melanie’s latest batch of Share Your World questions. A quick scan through has revealed that I’m probably going to be quite dull this week, but I’ll have a bash nevertheless.

In your opinion, what’s the closest thing to real magic?

When I thought of magic, my first thought was of the wizards I have seen with a soccer ball, whose skill is beyond belief. David Beckham, for example, was able to repeatedly kick a ball into a trashcan from thirty yards away.

Opening that our a bit, I suppose it is anybody who has mastered their craft so well that they defy belief.

That might include what we think of as a magician.

Did you ever watch a game of snooker, for example. Potting every ball, after each red ball, taking the black ball, then clearing up one colour ball at a time. That’s 147 points in total. Imposswible, right? Yet several people have done it.

My own favourite sport was cycling. Have a look at the trick in this video, from a professional cyclist called Peter Sagan:

Don’t you wish you could park like that?

Where is the worst smelling place you’ve been?

One of the things my wife and I agree on is that my sense of small is rubbish, so “worst smelling” is a relative term!

When my wife comes home from work at the local doctor’s surgery, she smells “clinical”. Of disinfectant. It’s pretty horrible.

I remember one of the cats (not the current cats) had an infected wound once, that was pretty awful.

At university, my department (Physics) was right next to the Chemistry Department. I swear they did it on purpose!

Lastly, I hate the rotten egg/sulphur smell that I burp if I have an upset tummy. Apparently, caused by some specific bacteria. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.

What are some things that you’ve heard in your own life, which sounded like compliments but were actually insults?

There are always one or two keywords, polite ways of saying “that’s shit”.

“Interesting” is one such word. But you’ve got to second-guess it though. “Interesting” might just mean…interesting 🤣🤣🤣 So, if you say my post is interesting, I’ll know what you mean!

What incredibly common thing have you never done?

Gosh, what have I never done? I’m trying to rack my brain.

I’ve never done any sports like scuba diving or skydiving. Never had any desire to. Lots of people do one or other of those nowadays.

I’m not a big traveller, I haven’t been out of Europe for many years, although I did once spend a year in the USA.

I suppose I’ve never been arrested! But hardly “incredibly common”.

I flew in a helicopter once. The idea of flying in a helicopter was a much bigger deal than flying in one! I only mention it, because a few people seem to want to do that.

Please feel free to share some gratitude that you experienced during the past week!  🙂

Hmmmm, gratitude. Understand that these are marginal calls, I’m still not going out so both gratitude and ingratitude are close-run thing.

I had arranged to meet a friend for an al-fresco coffee. I was nervous about going, but he handily settled the issue by pulling out.

My belief is that the virus is more effective at spreading indoors than out, but I’m glad I didn’t have to put that to the test. I think my region (which is still a pretty big area (about 1/8 of the UK as a whole) registered about 10 deaths during the last week.

I was also glad we got a delivery from the supermarket Saturday night. They brought me a curry (last night’s supper) and a fresh supply of chocolate biscuits. I’m allowed one per day – I had today’s at about 8AM!

These days it is all about food.

Have a good week, everyone.

Share Your World (22 June 2020)

Monday. Just knocked off. Getting back into work mode is going quite successfully, but have not bothered looking at any job boards yet.

Anyway, what should be there to greet me as I knocked off but Melanie’s latest batch of Share Your World questions. A quick scan through has revealed that I’m probably going to be quite dull this week, but I’ll have a bash nevertheless.

Have you ever ‘dined and dashed” (i.e. eaten the meal and then run out the restaurant door without paying)?

No. Well, yes, maybe, but not knowingly. Back when I was at university, and wasn’t used to going to restaurants. A bunch of us went out to a local restaurant, enjoyed the meal, got the bill. We split it such that everybody paid their own way, and we ended up with piles of loose change on the table. There must have been a half-dozen of us.

I later found out that the trick was to put in just a bit less than your share. By the time the restaurant counted all those coins, you’d be long gone.

I almost did as a grown-up, but very different circumstances. I was with my family, we finished the meal and I asked for the bill. This guy was the rudest waiter, ages later had still not brought it over, even after I asked again. He finally brought the bill as we were walking through the door. Strasbourg. EU Parliament. Fat cats, used to treating people like shit. Little fucker. No tip.

Have you ever been in a car accident and either left the scene of the accident (providing it was a fender bender and not serious) or denied culpability for causing it when you did, (if it were minor or serious)?

No. On the one time I was at fault in an accident, I admitted it there and then. It was pretty hard to do otherwise as I’d just driven up their ass at a traffic junction. She reversed into me?

Other times, when the accident was 50:50, and when the other person claimed it was my fault, I discovered that it was easy just to come up with a form of words to shoot the other person down. Truth or lies never really came into it – I’d just say exactly what they’d said, but the opposite. In the end, it was my word against theirs, so the insurance companies called it a draw.

In accidents that weren’t my fault, I learned that the more I pushed the insurance company, the more time I had to devote to the event. As somebody who ran their own business, this itself would cost me money. So I learned to settle quickly, as long as it did not involve too much cost to me.

My wife was once taken to court by an aggrieved driver. I was surprised it went that far, but it did. My wife’s lawyer was crap, and we basically had to do all the legwork ourselves. It was easy. Whilst there had been an accident, this guy got the location wrong. Really elementary stuff. He claimed that the accident had taken place outside someone’s house. By the slimmest of chances, we knew the person who lived in the house, who was willing to testify that no accident had taken place on that day.

Having been shown to be wrong even in the location of the accident, this guy had zero credibility, and everything he said thereafter was laughed out of court. My wife (or rather, her insurance company) even got costs. We never even got as far as what actually happened.

There’s a valuable life lesson there. Your credibility is everything. Even if you come out with the most profound utterance ever, if people already think you’re an asshole, you’re going nowhere.

(Oldie which has been asked many times before)   Have you ever found a wallet or purse or some money (over $20) in the street and just taken it, thinking ‘finders keepers, losers weepers?   Or would you be ‘good’ and hand it in?  

No. I mean, the basic thing is that if you lose your wallet these days, it is a major inconvenience cancelling cards/ids and the like. I only ever lost my own wallet once but I still remember what a pita it was.

If I did find something, I’d probably try to contact the owner directly. I doubt I’d use the police. If there was nothing to identify the owner, if it was just a pile of money, then I don’t know.

What was the last thing you stole or shoplifted?   If you never ever considered doing that, tell us your secret!   🙂

Candy, as a young teen. The time I stopped was one time when a school “mate” shoplifted something – into my bag. So if we’d have been caught, I’d have been the one in the shit.

For the longest time, my dad used to scare me by saying that if I was found guilty of any crime, then he would lose his job with the government. He was only a taxman. But it was only as I got to mid-teens myself, got to know the law a bit, that I learned it was bullshit.

Share Your World (15 June 2020)

It has been one of those days. I had an idea for a post yesterday, and started writing it this morning. Then, one interruption after another.

I had a few months of mail to wade through – in it were a couple of bills which, three months overdue, I figure I ought finally to pay.

The upshot is that I managed to find a few minutes to finish my post earlier this afternoon – it is getting on for 7PM now and I am just able to start to relax – I still need to log on to my internet banking later and pay those bills. But that can wait a few hours. I saw Melanie’s latest batch of Share Your World questions, so hopefully they’ll help me wind down. Heaven knows if I will have time for FOWC before I peg out.

This week, Melanie asks:

What do you think of professional motivational speakers?  Do you think they motivate?

Fundamentally, I see motivational speaking just as public speaking, where the aim is to motivate. And when we talked about public speaking last week, there was quite a large spectrum of reactions, so presumably we’d also be a pretty mixed bunch as regards motivational speaking.

A couple of people who were good motivational speakers were, say, Martin Luther King and Billy Graham, obviously both for very different reasons. But both of them left their audience feeling empowered.

Do you have a favorite flavor?

No, I have a favourite flavour of things, but not really a favourite flavour, period. And taken over all things, the flavours can be quite different.

For example, the best flavoured crisps/chips I ever tasted was vinegar and shalot, while one of my favourite sweet flavours is turkish delight. Two very different flavours.

While out walking, you hear a rustling in some bushes.  What do you think of?

Around here? I’d probably assume that I’d spooked some animal.

It’s funny, though, when I was still up in Liverpool, one of my drinking buddies was a guy who had formerly been a soldier, including serving tours in Northern Ireland. One time, we were walking along, a car backfired and he was over the hedge before I knew what had happened. So maybe that rustle could have been him?

What’s your ideal temperature (nature-wise)?   Hot, cold, temperate and mild, humid or bone dry?

Low 20s C, probably. That’s about 70F. It’s roughly that here this week. I don’t mind if it is warmer, as I usually feel the cold these days. I don’t really like humidity – it can get a bit like that here in a couple months. I remember the first time I went to the US I was in Tampa, Fl, and that wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t sunny either, just constant cloud cover.

Share Your World (8 June 2020)

Monday. Melanie over at Sparks From A Combustible Mind has released a fresh batch of Share Your World questions. This week, she asks:

How comfortable are you speaking in front of large groups of people?

Actually, I did this a few times. By large, I mean a few hundred. People said how well I did afterwards, and if truth be told, I enjoyed myself.

My first job in computing, the company wrote its programs, and had a few hundred international distributors. The company used to organise conferences for them every year or so…

I think the thing is to remember that in that room, you are the expert. So, preparation is everything – you have to become that expert, and that happens way before you utter a word. I was lucky in my scenarios – I’d led the development of these particular products, so knew what I was talking about inside out. It actually felt empowering, felt like maybe a cat toying with a mouse, even.

In that job, I also manned stands at computer fairs. I presume these things still happen. Not large audiences, but a constant stream of visitors, so you’d end up speaking to maybe a thousand people in the course of a day.

In later years, I spoke in smaller, more intimate settings, but the audience was often director-level. Again, they would maybe not know the answers, but would (the switched-on ones, at least) ask sensible questions, so you needed to know your stuff as much as possible. Having said that, “I don’t know” was always better-received than bullshit. Often, nobody knew, could know.

What would be the best thing you could reasonably expect to find in a cave?


What did you think was going to be amazing but turned out to be horrible?


What’s the silliest thing you’ve observed someone get upset about?

That time I slept with my wife’s sister.

I’m only joking, if she ever reads this.

I only ever dreamed about it. D’oh 🤣🤣🤣 *


Please feel free to share something that gave you an uplifted spirit during this past week.  (Optional)

My wife went out into the garden yesterday with a saw. She cut a branch off our magnolia tree which must’ve been four inches in diameter! Thank fuck she’s gone to work today!

* For the record, I will be forever grateful that the sister I married was the sane one, she’s just not a gardener!

Share Your World (1 June 2020)

Monday. Melanie over at Sparks From A Combustible Mind has released a fresh batch of Share Your World questions. This week, she asks:

Is it ever okay to commit a crime?  Please explain.

Okay, define “crime”.

I think we all have a sense of right and wrong. Within that, we should try to do right. I think that society as a whole has sense of right and wrong. It lists the wrongs, it calls them laws.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that by far the majority of society’s laws make sense. In other words, our moral compasses coincide with each other.

In those areas where our compasses do not coincide, mine take precedence. So, in that sense, I have no guilt in committing a “crime” (as defined by society) if it goes against my compass. I can imagine that society might have a problem with that.

I suspect most people are like me, willing to go along with most of the rules because they make sense. I guess the bigger problem comes when somebody is not. For example, when somebody thinks that murder is acceptable.

Do you deal with change well?  (not money, because I know some wit out there is thinking how bulky coins are. Well I did any how.    ) 

Actually the other version of the question is more informative. I used to sift out my change, and only put coins of GBP1 and GBP2 back into my purse. The reason? I can’t really tell the difference between the smaller coins. Well, I can, but I need time and light. So I used to put smaller coins into a jar, periodically bag them up and take them to the bank. I can’t do that any more because they closed the bank branch. So now, I mostly just throw the smaller coins away. Another example where living a disabled life is more expensive…

On to the real point of the question, I’m actually very good with change. Working in technology demands it. A new approach to do this or that. Initially, for the first few weeks, there was this feeling of oh, shit, what have I got myself into? That gradually got replaced by a smugness as I realised that I was a lot more familiar with something than most everybody else. In fact, that’s how I earned my living. The next technology, the loop would start over.

Sometimes I could blag the oh, shit moment, but mostly it paid to be honest. Clients understood that it was new territory all round, although they were looking to me to learn and to take the lead.

On political change, I think it is necessary, so I think there has to be change, evolution. But we have a responsibility to properly think through changes, to get them right. Did the guy who decided to close the bank branch realise it would fuck customers up, for example? Actually, that’s probably a bad example – I’m sure they knew full well and that it didn’t matter one bit.

I’m using the Block Editor to write this post, by the way.

Do you like birds?   The sound of bird song in the morning, taking pictures of them, as food?   

I used to be a keen photographer and enjoyed photographing birds, among other things. It wouldn’t be unusual for me to drive fifty-odd miles if the fancy took me. This was on a visit to a town called Blandford Forum in Dorset, where the draw was kingfishers and otters. I was lucky enough to see both.

In addition I could sit for hours at the big window in my house, with long lens, waiting for winter birds to visit our feeders.

I tend not to eat birds. It has been known, but mostly I am vegetarian now. I got squeamish about eating chicken ever since we kept our own hens. Hens are wonderful creatures, but given half a chance will shit on the kitchen floor.

I do quite like birdsong, but boy, it is loud at the moment.

What’s the least used item of clothing you own?

To be honest, lots of my old clothing is unused now. It’s a shame, because it is nice stuff, too.

For one, the stroke engendered a feeling of can’t be bothered in many things, including what I wear. For another, I was a size S at the time of the stroke, and am easily an XL now. I can’t do laces any more, so most of my old shoes are out. I have some workarounds.

These days I have a circuit of maybe a half-dozen tops, two pairs of trousers. Undies and socks I still just use as before. I just cycle through these clothes, washing them every ten days or so. I have two coats, one for summer and one for winter. I’m not really interested in anything more. Mostly I live in loungewear anyway.

If you care to share, what are you grateful for?  

I had a row with my wife and we haven’t spoken to each other since Saturday afternoon. I am grateful for the peace and quiet.