Saturday, 29 December 2012
I've finally got some days off work to enjoy the Christmas and New Year holiday.
A friend of mine bought me a cook book for Christmas so I'm following a recipe and boiling a big pan of turnips and spuds like some Romanian peasant.
I have just finished four night shifts in a row and after sleeping for nearly twelve hours I feel almost normal again. Normally when I write a post on my blog I stick to a theme but right now I just feel like rambling.
The weather in the UK is absolutely foul and has been for weeks. Constant rain has flooded many of the flatter areas. I am lucky to live in the Pennine Hills and don't have to worry too much about flood water but many people do and have had a miserable Christmas.
My cat has a swollen bottom lip for some reason. I got him from a brother in law who couldn't afford to look after him and had to give him away. He had bought it from a pet shop and when I took the cat to my vet to check him over he said he had a low immune system and was prone to mouth infections and would probably lose all his teeth eventually.
The vet said this was common in cats that had been born on a kitten farm where cats are force bred for profit. People can be such wankers at times.
Anyway, I'll get him to the vets if he shows any discomfort with it or it gets any bigger.
That's it for now, I'm going downtown for some drinks with my wife soon so I'll be back later.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
I am still getting over the hangover I received from going out around the city on Mad Friday with some of the lads from work. As our works Christmas drinking session coincided with the End of the World we started early, at noon. It was legendary but it is taking me two days to recover and the world did not end so that is a bonus.
I am currently sitting in my house which is devoid of Christmas decorations. I don't have kids but usually stick up a bit of holly and a tree but this year I haven't really been bitten by the festive bug.
I suppose it is because I am working night shifts from Christmas Eve right through the the 28th so will spend the whole Christmas holiday working or sleeping.
So today my wife and I are going to drink a bottle of champagne this afternoon and watch some cheesy Christmas TV then walk to the local pub for a meal. This will be our Christmas time together.
So while you are enjoying your holiday please spare a thought for the people who work for the emergency services and those people that keep the power and water running and those that are fighting to preserve our way of life.
Enough of my bleating, my friends. You enjoy your holiday and I will be back soon.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Christmas is on the way and we all know what that means. Yes, it's the season for incomprehensible TV adverts trying to sell us perfume.
Look, there's a black and white Brad Pitt still in his surfer dude phase and looking bit Jesusy. What is he talking about? Some sort of New Age blather about journeys and dreams that doesn't make any sense. Then we see a bottle of Chanel and we realise he is flogging perfume to us stinking proles.
Next here comes Alexander Skaarsgard driving his car (also in black and white) up a cliff in a rainstorm to visit a skinny lass who lives in what looks like a grain silo. Is he advertising tyres that give good grip in bad weather? No. this is for Calvin Klein's latest bottle of chemicals to mask your fetid odour.
Jean Paul Gaultier gives us a (black and white) dinner party being held by a load of fetishistic, gothy looking people who I can't quite tell which are male and female. They are shrieking like opera singers and laughing like lunatics and to be honest the whole party looks so uncomfortable and alarming that instead of wanting to buy his perfume I am having nightmares about Jean Paul Gaultier inviting me over for dinner.
So perfume ads are generally filmed in black and white and try to be enigmatic French mini-movies. No doubt this is because they are designed by people in the fashion industry and as everyone knows, people in the fashion industry are pillocks.
Perfume exists to hide body odour and I am lucky enough to have hot and cold running water therefore I shower everyday, stick a bit of deodorant around my sweaty bits and am good to go. I don't need to spend sixty quid on a bottle of obscure ingredients sold to me by a black and white Ryan Reynolds with his shirt unbuttoned.
So now you know what NOT to get me for Christmas.
Thursday, 6 December 2012
Back in the 80's I worked as a labourer in a sawmill. It was an old building filled with dust and rats and ancient machines with minimal safety guards that had somehow slipped under the radar of Health and Safety officers.
It was a small company owned by a Victorian style mill owner who looked like Baron Greenback from Dangermouse.
Underneath the mill there were a maze of dark dungeon like cellars filled with old rusting machinery and heaps of sawdust that fell from the band saws and industrial planers on the shop floor. Whenever I went down there rats would scurry off into the darkness.
What we laughingly called a canteen was also down in the cellar, a small room with an old fashioned, free standing, wood burning stove which was the only heat source in the building. During our breaks we would sit around this on boxes or a couple of old car seats that had been ripped out of an old Morris Marina, drinking strong loose leaf tea made by Tommy.
He was a Glaswegian who had come down to Yorkshire 20 years ago although instead of his accent mellowing it had become so Scottish that none of us knew what the hell he was saying half the time, it sounded like grunting in a Scottish accent.
In the middle of winter in 1985 we were gathered around the stove, chatting, smoking and occasionally spitting a mouthful of tea on the stove just to hear it sizzle when the metal sliding door clanged open and Mark came stomping back from the toilet with a copy of The Sun in his hand.
"Shut the door" everyone shouted at once as the icy air followed him in.
"Alright, simmer down", he said as he pulled the door closed behind him.
"Bloody hell, that's taken the edge off, you can't beat Linda Lusardi on page three".
One of the machine operators called Rob looked at him and shook his head.
"Every bloody morning breaktime you go to the bogs to draw one off, it's embarassing".
"Yeah", I added, "can't you wait to get home before you start dragging yourself around the room"?
Mark just laughed and tossed the newspaper towards us.
"Fuck off, I don't want to read it now, it's probably got spunk all over it" I said
"The sports pages should still be safe but better read it quick before it soaks through".
We finished our break and made our way back to the shop floor.
Rob turned to Mark and said:
"Boss wants that stack of 2 x 6 nearest the gates loading up and bringng down to The Pig".
Mark gave a thumbs up and walked out to the timber yard where he climbed up into the cab of the huge side loading fork lift truck he drove, starting the diesel engine.
Rob started to prepare The Pig. This was the oldest machine in the mill, a planer 15ft long, 5ft high and so old that it still ran on leather belts. Inside it were two large steel drums that rotated at high speed which Rob now fitted razor sharp cutting blades to and calibrated them to the desired length.
A large metal hood fitted over the drums with a fan inside that would draw the majority of the wood shavings up and out of the machine and along a steel pipe to a container outside. Often when someone was walking past they would throw a handful of loose wood chippings into the machine just to hear the sound of them rattle away up the pipe.
While Rob was prepping the machine I guided Mark's side loader down the concrete ramp that led from the timber yard into the saw mill until he was able to lift the stack of two hundred 20ft rough cut planks down next to The Pig.
Rob didn't hang around and started up the machine, beginning to feed the planks through the planer.
I waited on the other side to grab the newly planed planks, now as smooth as glass and heaved them onto wooden battens that I had placed on the floor, making sure they were placed neatly so the stack wouldn't become unstable as it grew.
Mark stood back and leaned against the side loader, rolling a cigarette. Conversation was impossible due to the noise of machinery and both Rob and I wore ear protectors.
Mark finished rolling his cig and stuck it unlit between his lips then pulled his gloves on.
We were all given yellow safety gloves to wear, yellow wool reinforced with plastic webbing but most of us didn't wear them, taking pride in how hard and calloused our hands became. They couldn't save your hands from splinters as these would pierce right through the gloves.
With Mark being outside in the yard in winter most of the time he needed them. Just as he was about to climb back on the loader he tossed a handful of sawdust that had collected near his loader pedals at The Pig. There was a loud THWACK and his right arm shot up into the air so he looked like a school kid trying to get the teachers attention.
He looked at me and I could see him mouth the words "Fucking Hell. That was close".
He looked over at Rob who had become very still and was looking up at Mark's hand.
I could see there was a line of red dots across Rob's face and realised it was blood.
I followed his gaze and could see that Marks glove was no longer yellow but bright red, the fabric shredded and hanging down his wrist. I tried to speak but nothing would come out.
Rob calmly hit the emergency stop button on the Pig and walked towads Mark, "Best keep your hand in the air and I wouldn't look at it if I were you" he said.
Mark immediately lowered his hand and looked at the mess. There were a series of deep slashes across all of his fingers except the middle one. This was gone from the second knuckle and blood pumped from the stump in little squirts.
Rob ran for the first aid box and yelled for someone to call an ambulance. I didn't know what to do so reached over to try and staunch the flow of blood by clamping my hand over it.
"Don't fucking squeeze it you stupid twat" he screamed then sat down hard on the ground, holding his wrist and staring mesmerised at the wreck of his hand as the colour drained from his face.
"What am I going to do" he began to whisper over and over as shock began to take hold.
Rob who had returned with the first aid box knelt down next to him and said gently:
"You're going to be wanking with your left hand for a while".