I get knocked down, but I get up again

A few FB posts from a hectic day back in May 2015!

 

10 May 2015

 

What a lovely still morning. At times on my walk this morning, apart from the noise of my stick whizzing across the pavement, the only sound was birdsong, very relaxing and uplifting for the soul. Perhaps that explains why I managed to walk 100 yards without using my stick, relying on Alfie the amateur guide dog instead…. unlike last night when I twatted my forehead on a lamp post after only five yards trying the same trick!! Or perhaps it was just something to do with blood alcohol levels … As the sages from Chumbawumba say, I get knocked down, but I get up again … literally in this instance!

 

10 May 2015

 

An afternoon of washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking whilst listening to sport. Fact; I am a domestic goddess!!!

 

10 May 2015

 

Note to self – when looking (i.e. feeling around) for surface cleaner in the utility room, try to remember whether or not you’ve left a red hot iron on the work surface to cool down … Ouch!!

 

A calamitous end to the week

I wrote this blog post a couple of weeks before Christmas, whilst this blog was still in its gestation period (i.e. whilst I was waiting for a young person to help!).

 

Last week was one of those week’s where calamity simply followed calamity; I was beginning to wonder when it was going to end!

 

Strike 1!

 

On Thursday I took Alfie for his morning walk. As we were walking back up the snicket from the main road to our estate (AKA the lemony snicket), I stood in something substantial which resulted in me doing the splits.  I surmised that it was either a lump of mud or a dog egg; I resolved to check later.

 

On arriving home, I stood outside my door and started to remove my boots. Why I did the next unnecessary act i don’t really know, as I always keep my boots outside the front door in any event.  I decided to check what I had stood in, through the only way I know, by smelling the sole of my boot.  The problem was that i misjudged the distance between the sole of my boot and the lower half of my face.  Yes, that’s right, the lower half of my face, not just my nose.  The result was horrific; I had stood in what I thought I’d stood in, and now my lips, chin and nose were covered in it!  Ignoring the urge to vomit, with lips pursed outwards in an open mouthed trout-pout, I hurriedly climbed the stairs to wash my face and rinse with mouthwash, repeatedly!  The thought of it still leaves me feeling queasy.

 

Anybody for a Christmas kiss?! Thought not!

 

Strike 2!

 

On Friday, after taking the dog on his morning walk, I found myself stood at the front door once again. After taking Alfie off his lead, the previous days’ events fresh in my mind (and nostrils), I carefully removed my boots.  As usual, I opened the door, encouraged Alfie to “Get in”, switched the alarm off, put the lead down, took my coat, hat and gloves off, and put my stick behind the door.  I went into the kitchen and checked my work phone to make sure no-one had tried to call me as work was extremely busy, and went to switch the kettle on.  At this point, I sensed Alfie looking at me.  “Bloody hell, you need feeding don’t you” I said as I rushed into the utility room to put his food in his bowl.  “Go on then, get stuck in” I said, but he didn’t.  “What’s matter, not hungry?” I asked.  Such behaviour had become fairly regular, especially since he has become more ill with his heart problems.  “Oh well, be like that.  You’ll get poorly you daft sod, but I can’t make you eat” I explained.

 

As I strode out of the utility room a thought, spoken aloud, struck me; “I bet you want a drink don’t you, and I bet you haven’t got any water have you?” I checked; his bowl was empty.  “Bloody hell Alfie, those flaming kids, they’re rubbish aren’t they”.  I filled his water.  “Go on then, have a drink.  No?  Come on have a drink you’ll feel better.  Come on, there’s a good dog.  No, oh well, it’s your own fault if you get ill you daft little fecker.  You’ve no-one to blame but yourself”.  I left the utility room, telling him to get into his bed, and I continued to rant at him all the way back to my laptop on the kitchen table.  I intermittently tried to encourage him to eat, but all to no avail.

 

After working for about 20 minutes, there was a knock at the door. “Who the bloody hell is this Alf?  I bet it’s more Amazon for R.  You get back in your bed you little bugger, I’m not having you getting under my feet”.  I opened the door.

 

“Hiya mate, is this your dog? I’ve found him wondering around the streets”.

 

“Erm”, my mind was spinning. “I don’t think so, my dog’s in the kitchen” I said, my brow seriously ruffled.

 

“Oh, it says his name is Alfie and it’s got this address on his collar” said the man. I stood transfixed.  I was sure Alfie was in the kitchen.

 

But the man was right! Alfie gave an unmistakeable nervous shake of his head and snorted.  “Sorry mate, I’m blind and I’ve been talking to him and trying to get him to eat his food for ages, obviously without success!”.

 

“Right” he said slowly. “Bye” he said remarkably quickly, as he shot off, eager to escape the madness!!

 

I can only conclude that Alfie had wondered off amidst the standard mayhem which is my entry into the house!

 

Strike 3!

 

Later that evening, R and a few friends put up the Christmas decorations in the lounge. A few drinks and a Chinese take-away were enjoyed by the girls, and then R and one of the friends went “Up town”.  Meanwhile, J was putting-up the exterior illuminations and I was banished to the garage gym.

 

After doing half an hour on the cross-trainer, I bent down to pick up my pint of water and head butted the brick wall, right on a corner, cutting my forehead. I was greeted by J as I exited the garage.

 

“Dad, it looks really f***ing tacky” said J, describing the lights with genuine pride!! “That cut looks quite deep” he said as an after-thought.  I wasn’t bothered, it didn’t hurt, which made a nice change.

 

Strike 4!

 

Saturday morning began as many had before, and no doubt many will in the future; Frazier on C4 whilst laid in bed, then downstairs to put the Morning Line and the kettle on. After doing the latter, I entered the lounge to switch the telly on.  The TV controls were not on my armchair.  As I searched for them, I knocked over a half-full bottle of Lambrini.  Luckily, I caught it, but it still made me rant.  After emptying it and putting it in the recycling, I returned to the search.  I immediately knocked over an empty glass, and after adopting a much slower gentler search methodology, I found several more glasses with varying degrees of contents.  “F***ing kids, they treat this house like a b***ard hotel” I ranted.  “It’s just not good enough, things are going to change around here” and many similar sentiments were directed upstairs to the sleeping culprit.

 

Several cups of tea later, I was much calmer. As I sat in my armchair looking at my horse racing bets, I heard footsteps coming downstairs.  Confusingly, the front door opened, and then closed, and then opened and closed again, and then the footsteps came down the corridor to the lounge.

 

“Morning” I said in a monotone voice.

 

“Morning” came back a most croaky voice.

 

“Good night was it then” I said in a “You deserve all the pain that you get for leaving this room as you did” kind of way.

 

“Yeah” came a sheepish voice.

 

“Right! You left this room like an absolute sh*t hole.  You know the rules; all party stuff is to be put away before I get up so that I don’t knock it over” I said rather aggressively.

 

“Ok” said an even more sheepish voice, although she didn’t really seem that interested in stopping to listen to me and continued looking for whatever it was that she was looking for.

 

“It’s not a hotel you know. This carpet cost a sh*t load of money and I don’t want it ruined by you ungrateful little sods”.  My anger was starting to rise again; I was really getting into my stride now.

 

“What?” The sheepish voice was a little unsure now.

 

I wasn’t quite sure what I detected in her voice. “Don’t give me that.  I’m not asking much, just put the bloody bottles and glasses away before you go to bed.  It’s hardly f***ing rocket science!  How many times have I had this conversation with you?”

 

“Erm …. erm …. I …erm” was the response.

 

A thought suddenly hit me; “You’re not R are you?!”

 

“No, I’m not” was the response which slightly preceded a rapid reddening of my face.

 

“Bloody hell …. I thought you were R.” I put my head in my hands.  As the footsteps disappeared off down the corridor I mustered a half-hearted “Well you’d best get yourself upstairs and tell her what I’ve just told you””

 

I later found out that it was R’s friend simply coming round to pick up her bag which she had left the previous night.   The poor girl!  Still, it might have an effect the next time they have a party!

Bookies get fingers burned; I get knees burned!

A few FB posts from spring two years ago – I hope lightning strikes twice regarding my Grand National and US Masters bets, especially as I’ve backed Jordan Spieth again!

 

24 April 2015

 

After the busiest few weeks for ages, thank feck it’s Friday!! Didn’t even have time to brag about backing the Grand National winner at 40/1 or backing Jordan Spieth to win the Masters, or to own up to having burnt knees from working outside in shorts on Tuesday!! Who’d have thought you could burn on 21 April?????!! Certainly not me!!!

 

25 April 2015

 

Just managed to rather distractedly pour a full large jar of Gold Blend into the jar where we keep tea bags – what a muppet!! Thanks M for tidying up my mess!!

 

3 May 2015

 

A very cheap and hopefully not so nasty blind friendly washing machine just been delivered, and my first wash loaded and merrily spinning around – fingers crossed that I set the dials correctly, or the twits will be wearing some interesting uniforms this week!!

 

5 May 2015

 

5.30 on a wet Tuesday morning is not a good time to find out that the snicket through which you walk your dog has seriously overgrown almost overnight – it was like being dragged through a car wash!!

 

You can’t handle the (naked) truth!

Audio description (AD) on TV programmes and films is truly one of the features of modern life which gives me the most pleasure. For those who have not experienced AD, it brings a programme or film to life for visually impaired viewers by describing the visual elements on screen that would otherwise remain “unseen”, such as action, facial expressions and body language.  This is done by narration during gaps between dialogues.  It is produced for an increasing number of TV programmes – according to OFCOM, in 2013, 23.3% of output (on services that were required to have it had AD.  AD can be accessed on most modern TVs regardless of service providers.  It can also be accessed on some DVDs through the menus, usually the language menu, but it appears to be a complete lottery as to which films have it as an option.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a rush of adrenalin kind of pleasure, it’s more a satisfied discrete pleasure that comes from not feeling left out, a feeling that I’ve enjoyed the media in the way intended. In short, it normalises the experience for me, and I love it!

 

How bizarre, for example, that when reflecting on the Revenant (2015 film), my first thought was “What beautiful scenery”, so vivid were the images created in my mind! That’s how good it can be.

 

I can now fully partake in (dialogue deficient) action films, whereas for years I avoided them like the plague as there wasn’t much that I could follow. Whilst family tried to describe what was going on, they didn’t always know the characters names, and more often than not had not had the chance of seeing it beforehand.  This often led to at best confusion, and at worse frustration.  Such a practice can be a recipe for family tension, or full blown arguments!

 

However, there are a few features that could be improved. For instance, the BBC AD regularly gets people’s names wrong, which could confuse someone who is less on the ball than me, and then there are the films where you can’t hear the AD because of the noisy background; one often wonders whether the equivalent of proof reading has happened at the production level before the output is made available to the public!

 

AD is also available on some films at the cinema. I am a patron of Cineworld, and when a Cineworld film has AD you are given a handset and headset that can be used to play the AD track.  This means you have to have one ear on, and one ear off, so that you can hear the film as well.  In my experience, the major flaw with this system is that receiving the signal Cleary can be tricky.  Once found, you have to keep the handset perfectly still, or the signal is lost, usually at a key point in the plot. This has often resulted in me sitting with my arm out-stretched, slowly losing all feeling; it’s a bugger trying to open a packet of Revels in this position, I can tell you!

 

It’s also tricky getting the volume level right; a noisy car chase requires the volume to be turned up to a loud level, but this can cause problems when the film quickly cuts to a quiet scene – many is the time that my headset has blasted out the AD track to the rest of the cinema theatre as I quickly fumble for the volume control!! It’s a good job it’s dark in the cinema to cover my embarrassment!

 

I often think one improvement to the AD service would be to give the user a choice of AD formats, e.g. the standard Victorian politically correct AD or a more earthy laddish AD.

 

The example that I always give to make my point comes from the 2006 film Casino Royale. In that film Bond’s love interest, Solange, rides a horse on the beach; that just about sums up the AD for that scene.  My ex-wife immediately said that it omitted to tell me that her big boobs were bouncing all over the place – Solange’s, not my ex-wife’s!  Male or female, if you’re sighted, you would have noticed that for sure!  If you’re male and you’ve seen that film, I bet you can see that scene in your mind’s eye right now!  So why should I miss out on this when AD is supposed to level the playing field for me?

 

Ok, so perhaps this isn’t the best example as Casino Royale has a PG-13 rating, but it does make the point.

 

AD is brilliant at describing a person’s height, age, hair colour, eyes, etc, but it describes a person like your mum would. It’s quite different to how one of my mates would describe a person, male or female, who just walked into the pub, for instance!  And you might as well switch off the AD altogether if there’s a naked scene; suddenly, the man or woman that previously felt compelled to describe the most irrelevant of personal features in minute detail, suddenly becomes mute!  Never mind no description of size, shape, etc, there’s little, or more usually no description as to what they are actually doing.  It’s definitely more Barbara Cartland than E.L. James!  One is often simply left to imagine what might be happening, and although it might sound like wrestling, if there’s no AD then it will not be wrestling!!

 

Which AD style would you prefer if you were watching a love scene; Victorian AD or laddish AD? I’m sure we all have friends that we suspect would give us a no-holds barred AD if desired – I can think of at least a dozen friends, and they’re not all male!!

 

In summary, whilst AD is awesome on the whole, it does leave one feeling slightly like a part of a social subset that cannot deal with the realities of adult life, and that kind of thinking should, to my mind, be left in the past, along with the institutions and the nanny-state attitudes which accompanied them.