Archive for May, 2013

47 not out.

It was my birthday! Huzzah!

I was working, and I don’t drink or do other drugs, but I celebrated by not dying. Again. Quite the party animal, me.

However, it got me to thinking; all I do is work, sleep whenever I can, and train whenever I can force myself to do so. Life is passing me by. No more. I have a plan!

Yes, all who know me or have read this blog before will know I make plans, get all excited, then quietly give up shortly thereafter. Not this time.

I’m saving up each week and for my 50th I’m getting a Harley. I think I have finally reached the age where I could just enjoy puttering along at the speed limit. I’ve given up on boy-racer-ing in the car. I don’t take the piss even on the motorways. If I can ride a bike like that I can stay in a job, with a bike and out of hospital.

I’m saying my 50th, arbitrarily, as it will give me time to save and also time to tick all of my other mid-life-crisis, (pushbike subsection) boxes before I get it. Which is to say; the Fred Whitton (a 112 mile ride around the most hideous hills in the Lake District:

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Now *that*, my friend, is a ride!

Also there’s the Lands End to John O’Groats thing and a brand name Ironman. I’m not going to go through life saying “I did an Iron distance tri” For brevity if nothing else, I need to do the brand name event.

“Yeah, did the Ironman.” See, so much neater. No-one respects a man who says “I did a generic Iron distance triathlon”

I digress.

Harley!

I’m thinking a second hand 1200cc Sportster. The good thing about it is; 99% of Harley riders only bring them out of the shed on the one glorious day we have each year. So even one that’s a few years old may never have seen rain (or rust) and will have covered a pitiful distance. Some of them are a few years old and don’t have 5,000 miles on the clock!

This for example:

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2004, one owner from new, 3,981 miles! That’s going for £4,850 right now. If anyone wants to buy it me I’ll reluctantly accept.

There is a possible non sequitur there. I have to do all my box ticking (cycle section) before I get a Harley as I’m never getting back on a pushbike once I have one. Phase II of my midlife crisis involves me getting back on a Harley and getting fat. (Fatter!)

I have the incentive this time of knowing that my livelihood (as well as life) depend on my riding like a sane commuter. I reckon I can now.

 

That’s for the future, though I started the saving this week. If I get a well paid job I would prefer a ‘big’ Harley.

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At nearly 13k I would have to be on a massively well paid job though.

This new shift at work is comparatively brief, about 10 hours a day, and it’s relatively social hours, 1300- 2300 ish, but I’ve not adjusted to sleeping so early yet. I’m constantly knackered at work. Which means I have to drive with the window down and get a painful, stiff shoulder or fall asleep. I’m reminded of the sage words of the Dread Pirate Roberts: “Life is pain, princess.” (“Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”)

I know I’m still alive because I’m in pain. It’s not much of a comfort, truth be told.

Still, at least it gets me thinking about The Princess Bride, one of the best films, EVER!

The Dread Pirate Roberts, Inigo Montoya (“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”) and THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY!  What more could you ask from a film?

 

I say I’ve started saving towards my bike, what I mean is I’ve moved some of the debt.

We usually pay £78 a month combined gas/ ‘lecy, direct debit. I checked the bank and they’ve taken out £306. Not so much as a by-your-leave.  I rang them up, about to go mad with them and they said they hadn’t taken a reading since December (who’s fault is that?) and, once I’d provided them with a reading, we actually owed £500+ . They hadn’t taken the £306 into account so ‘just’ upped our payment to £100 a month to pay of the remainder in a year. You set up direct debits to spread the cost so you don’t get huge surprise bills. If we had budgeted for £78 and they suddenly quadrupled the direct debit we would have been screwed. Luckily we are living in the land of plastic so it just got added to the bill. Bah.

 

I sent away my completed medical form for my HGV licenses on Monday, as soon as I get that back I’ll be applying to Iceland. I’m on £8.75 an hour at Ceva, the shift I did (on a Saturday, mind) at Iceland I was getting £12.50 an hour. And paid breaks. And a free nervous breakdown.

 

Next week the company I run to (Sealy beds) is off after Monday for 10 days so I’ve told the agency I’m having Tuesday and Wednesday off to do some training. Only six weeks until the Outlaw, that’s five weeks of training (you have to rest for the week before.) *gulp* Tuesday I’m going to do the full ride (112 miles) and a big run. I have to know in my head that I can do this.

A swim would be nice as well, I’ll have to look into whether there are any early sessions available.

 

Today has been mostly spent avoiding doing training. The thought of a 20+ mile run is too much today. Instead I’ve bought a lawn mower and mowed, bought and planted two new Acers and bought and replaced a washer on a tap. It has been dripping for years. I’m updating my CV to include ‘bit of a plumber’.

 

I’ve just watched The Mask of Zorro. Oh dear, oh dear. Wendy has seen bits of it and liked it, but not all. I’d never seen it. They were happier times. Dear oh deary me.

I’m sure there were loads of things I was going to say, but as ever they’ve slipped my mind.

So, without further ado, it’s off to my brief time spent on Twitter;

The DMreporter had a hoot with the tories going into meltdown over gay marriage:

GAY MARRIAGE: The facts – • Eastenders to feature gay couple ‘who are always naked’ • Beastiality, necrophilia & incest ‘next on the list’

GAY MARRIAGE: The facts – • House prices to tumble • Leeds to be queer only • CofE priests ‘must give blowjobs’ • Increased cancer threat

GAY MARRIAGE: The facts – • Heterosexual couples MUST divorce • Children of gay unions ‘grow horns’ • Schools to introduce rimming lessons.

GAY MARRIAGE: The facts – • Payments to the EU to rise by £500bn • More terrorist attacks likely • Public gay sex ‘a legal requirement’

TERRORISM: Fury as police continue to deal with criminal matters involving white people in wake of Woolwich attack.

GHETTO BRITAIN: ‘Claim benefits for more than 5 years and become Soylent Green’ – government to end scrounging and hunger problems.

POLITICS: Lord Ashcroft warns the Conservatives face a “spiral of irrelevance.” Cameron counteracts by promising a “cascade of perpetuity.”

POLITICS: MPs demand pay rise in line with what inflation should be were they doing their jobs properly.

BREAKING: “It’s all downhill from here” admit experts on everything.

 

 

Politics/ Tory scum:

Tory MP, currently with his third wife and counting, says the same sex bill devalues the institution of marriage #awks

Tory Tebbit warns gay marriage could lead to lesbian Queen & artificially inseminated heir Are we supposed to care?

former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking in favour of #equalmarriage: "if God is a homophobe, he is a God not worth worshiping"

Cameron: Black man is shot, nation-wide riots ensure for days- Stays on Holiday. White man is beheaded- Calls COBRA.

Nick Griffin said earlier he thinks Britain should "kick out hate preachers". Right, who’s driving him to the airport?

(UKIP tips subsection)

Aslan is a character in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series and not a religion hell-bent on the Aslanification of the UK

Shania Twain has nothing whatsoever to do with Islamic law.

Save valuable time on developing environmental policies by not giving a flying fuck

 

General observations:

Just so you know, kissing someone mid-sentence works better in films than when a bus conductor is asking why you don’t have a valid ticket.

Raining in Biblical proportion in Norfolk, as locals gather, hold webbed hands, flex their gills and chant "our time approaches"

Emergecy COBRA meeting called to discuss what vile, intrusive, illiberal shit can be foisted on the public off the back of one murder.

I’m actually quite surprised that Tebbit’s still around to talk shit. I’d assumed he’d thrown himself on Thatcher’s funeral pyre.

Well, I say ‘assumed’. More like ‘hoped’.

Norman Tebbit: "But what if a horse married a cupboard and then a baby happened? What if a Viscount bummed an apple strudel? What then?"

I thought Dan Brown’s new book had a tighter narrative but obscene levels of product placement. Turns out I was reading the Argos catalogue

Paris Hilton is releasing a new album. There has literally never been a better reason for the Death Star to explode your planet.

Are the media referring to the EDL’s attack on a mosque today as a TERRORIST attack or is it only if it’s brown people. I forget.

 

 

I noted (as the media and Right all started screaming “MUSLIM TERRORISTS!)

Btw, When I was a soldier in Woolwich the (Provisional) IRA were killing us. Ergo all white xtians are terrorists. First against the wall. #twats

I expanded it on Facebook:

Getting on board with the hysteria. When I was a soldier in Woolwich the Provisional IRA was big on killing us, therefore it follows that all white xtians are terrorists. Join with me in sending them back where they came from. They are all bastards. ‘Cos racism.

And noted:

‘Xtian looking’ white man murders a 75 year old Muslim. Quick mobilize COBRA it’s a terrorist attack. Oh wait, no-one gives a fuck. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/02/birmingham-murder-racially-motivated-police

 

 

Just seen my first mention that yesterday’s murderers were probably claiming benefits. Does anyone have a full house yet?

Of course the Westboro Baptist Church blamed the #Woolwich killing on "UK acceptance of gay people": http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/05/23/us-church-blames-woolwich-terror-killing-on-uk-acceptance-of-gay-people/ …

My company has a really strict dress code:

My company has a really strict dress code

Just seen a recruiter ask on a tech list why ppl hate recruiters. I can’t watch.

#twitter will morph through AI and teach itself how to carry a pitchfork and flaming torch one day. #Twitternator The Plebs Strike Back

RT @PantsTips Use pants to cover up any genitalia you may have.

I love the British. Eyewitness on @Channel4News who was on plane when engine caught fire said ‘we all thought, this is not looking good.’

BRAINIUS: (onstage) Didyu evere Knuw yor moy hero?Everthinge Im wuld liek To be!Im floy hihger than a Neegle!Youm am Winde beneep moy wengs!

Jesus Mary & Joseph, either that’s a fox howling directly outside the window or something has come for my soul

Limiting GP appointments only makes sense if the government can share out health problems more evenly

If you only see one kettle that looks like Hitler today, make it this one:

And on that note,

toodles.

Buck.

Same ol’.

It’s been tweaking of the norm at work. I was getting in for 1500hrs, sitting around for 30- 90 minutes for that jobsworth I’ve been sharing a unit (truck) with to get back then trotting off up to the Scottish border, doing a trailer swap and then back to Crewe. This takes until about 2330hrs. Then on Tuesday the guy at Crewe went on one. “You’re supposed to be here by 8 o’clock! Now we’ve missed the connection for the next driver” etc, etc. I let him rant a bit then told him that was a good run. I couldn’t get there much faster. If he wanted an earlier delivery I’d have to start earlier. “It’s not rocket science.”

That went down well.

I put my ‘phone on silent when I go to bed otherwise I get random tweets and emails waking me up. On Wednesday I got up at 1210, had a quick shower, turned the volume back on on my ‘phone and saw I had two missed calls and a text. From the agency. Start at 1300hrs from today.

Aaaarggghhhh! Flap on.

I got in for 1315. (In the car.)

The change of times means I can get back to Crewe for 2115. Not what they want but near enough to stop them whining.

The great things about the change are; not having to sit around waiting for Bill to get back, not having to talk to the brain-donor security guard at Aspatria and a more reasonable finish time. I can get to bed by 0100.

The downside is as it’s a straight run with no waiting around now I’m only averaging about 9 hours 15 minutes (paid) a day. This is piss-poor in the lorry driving world.

 

Then they were desperate for drivers at Iceland this weekend. So after a full week at Ceva I went in today (Saturday). It’s not so much the money (which, let’s face it, never goes amiss) but the fact that I want to keep my foot in the door there.

They sent me out with a 9 metre trailer. Titchy. To Ashton. I noticed it was marked as a “RED ROUTE”. This did not inspire joy. They have some awkward bastard stores as it is, which aren’t marked as red route. Hence this had to be bad. It was. I had to drive an (admittedly relatively small) artic through a pedestrianized zone in a town centre, then reverse in a tiny street on to the bay.

I managed it after a couple of attempts. It was that tight that I took up all the road and I still wasn’t straight. ie, my unit wasn’t in line with my trailer. I asked the guy who worked there and he said that wouldn’t do, I had to back it in and leave my unit at a right angle to my my trailer. I was less than chuffed. In the end I had to get it like this:

Tight.jpg large

It was totally weird. You never set up the trailer to leave the cab like that, so I was having to work out how to get the trailer on while at the same time leave the unit skewed. Odd.

 

I have started riding in to work. I’ve drastically reduced my kit and manage to get everything in that fancy arse saddlebag thing I bought last year. This means nothing on my back. Yay!

It’s jam packed though, so I only pack my waterproof coat (no room for leggings). It’s been pleasantly warm so I’ve been going in my shorts. Obviously it has pissed down most nights. But of course.

I finally gave up on conventional wisdom this week. The received wisdom is you pedal at 90 rpm and choose the gear that lets you do that. Supposedly you do it in higher gears as your muscles develop.

Bollocks.

I’ve been doing it like that since I got back on a bike (3 years ago?) and I’m still changing down to mid range gears over tiny hills just to keep up the cadence. Then I thought back to my teens (when I had calves of granite) and I didn’t know about this new-fangled philosophy. I just stuck it in top gear and went like stink.

I’m fairly certain it’s a body-builder truism that you use light weights, repeatedly, for muscle definition, heavy weights for muscle building. Anyway, I’m in 10th gear (it’s actually about 14th gear nowadays, but to me 12 tooth/ 52 tooth will always be 10th gear)  all the way now. And I’m adjusting my saddle back up the height I think it should be at. Screw this cramped position, I’m going to have a full pedal swing of power.

Yeah, that’s me sticking it to the man.

 

Wendy has been to see Star Trek this week and loved it. I’ll wait till it comes out on DVD. However, I did watch Doctor Who. Utterly awesome. And it’s about time. The whole of this series has been sacrificed to set up that (admittedly epic) episode. It seems to support my contention that what is wrong with this series is Clara. River Song makes an appearance and the show is sublime again. It does cast Amy Pond in a good light though. Clara is pretty (as was Amy) but is so much less than engaging. So it wasn’t just her looks that made the (Amy) character, is what I’m saying. I’m sure that could have been expressed more eloquently.

 

My Snooper trucknav arrived. That is one hell of a bit of kit. It kicks the crap out of the Tomtom. I only got to use it yesterday for Iceland, but it really does the job. I’m prepared. Bring it on!

 

Oh, I had my HGV medical renewal form returned to me, which was nice. £88 for the doctor to tick the boxes on a form and she’d missed out five of them. Ace. She’s not in until tomorrow, hopefully she can just do the five ticks and give me the form back. I don’t want to have to wait for another appointment. Or pay again.

 

The only other thing is I’ve switched diets. I can’t bear that meat one. I’m just having 50g of rice and homemade curry for breakfast/ dinner the same for my packed lunch and a small bowl of cereal when I get in from work. With the cycling it is working, slowly. It’s better slow than not at all. I can only last days on that meat one then I have to eat something.

 

On Twitter we had:

The DMreporter

AWARDS: Fury over new BAFTA category – ‘Best Performance by an Actor Currently Charged or on Bail for Sex Offences.’ #BAFTAS

CINEMA: New Star Wars film to be shot in Britain, continuing our tradition of producing underwhelming franchise additions 30yrs too late.

This week’s Daily Mail Cancer List: Mon) Curry Tue) Dry skin Wed) Velcro Thu) USB 3 Fri) Nice walks Sat) Zumba Sun) French kissing

BAFTAS: Whose boobs nearly fell out and whose didn’t? A sensitive pictorial essay.

SCANDAL: Fury as BBC admit to knowing the iPlayer caused cancer as far back as 1987.

IMMIGRANT HELLHOLE: A spokesman for Migrationwatch said ‘every time a foreigner moves to Britain a puppy dies.’

EDUMACATION: Michael Gove receives vote of no confidence from humanity.

 

 

Politics/ tory scum:

Mick Philpott kills 6 kids: Tories blame benefit system. Bedroom tax victim commits suicide: Tories "don’t comment on individual cases"

The EU or Michael Gove? Hm, tough call. Oh no hang on, I’ve decided.

If it is a ‘spare room subsidy’ where is the corresponding ‘overcrowding payout’?

(UKIPtips subsection:)

Having no objection to being called a ‘Brit’ is a great way of justifying calling people of other nationalities whatever the fuck you want

Tell inquisitive children that a same-sex kiss is what happens when people become too reliant on the state.

 

TV news camera person we salute you

 

A gang of toffs calling each other daft names dominates BBC news, selling off your NHS to same gang of toffs and not a mention #bbccomplicit

The EU, UKIP, his own backbenchers or the electorate? I’m not sure who Cameron’s fighting, but I do know he’s not winning.

English chums, be clear Farage’s debagging was nothing to do with nationalism. It’s a cross party affair. EVERYBODY thinks he’s a bawbag.

Ukip donor says women in trousers are ‘hostile’ and unmarried mothers need a ‘smack’ via @Telegraph http://soa.li/UmCteyk

Tory association heads say support for gay marriage has cost them next election, may I point out you haven’t won one since 1992

 

General observations:

I saw less flares in 1975 than in the new Star Trek film

A 3D printer that can make guns? Pffft, that’s nothing! I’ve had a Canon printer for years.

Referendum: Should this government leave the UK? A: Yes.

Scientists say people who drink daily reduce their risk of heart attack. As for livers, scientists said "fuck livers" and then high-fived.

First kebab was invented in 1994, when an emo lamb set himself alight when hearing Kurt Coban had died. The result was tragic/delicious.

I have made up a joke. Question: How many UKIPs does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: Fuck off UKIP.

Oh jesus. Someone has burgled my house and all they took was that cup of tea I just made for mysel- Ah no, there it is. Never mind.

Amazon made more money from government grants than it paid in tax last year – http://ow.ly/1Wf1xW #corporatewelfare

That awful time I was in Berlin, marching along, repeatedly pointing at a bird shouting "Seagull! Seagull!" while sniffing my toothbrush 🙁

I had a bad moment: "*L/h/s chest pain* FUCK! HEART ATTACK! Me, triathlete, heart of an ox. Irony. Who will tell twitter I’ve died? *burp* oh. As you were.

This prostitute song is good. It’s like the Oompa Loompa Sex March. <<#LesMis

Just typed in belly porn instead of belly pork in google. Not very hungry anymore.

 

That’s your lot. I just don’t get time to browse everyone’s tweets anymore. What is Amnesty International’s twitter handle?

Later,

Buck.

Oh how we laughed.

You know that little incident I had last week with my TomTom (supposedly) Trucknav?

The one that nearly had me ringing the police and blubbing like a girl?

I got on to TomTom. There was no way to contact them on the ‘phone so I ended up in a protracted email exchange. I said that I’d looked it up and there were two versions of the model I have, one for cars and one for trucks. They said they only sold the lorry one, so I couldn’t have the car one. They told me to check my settings. I did. Then tried the test route again. (Irlam  to Lymm. The quickest route takes you down a B road and over a 3 ton bridge.)

The satnav told me to take the bridge. In a 40 ton, 53’ artic.

I told them.

They said I had to turn my notifications on. I found the buggers hidden in a sub section of the menu. They were on and had never warned me about a height/ weight/ width restriction or dead end.

I told them.

And so it went.

I was looking up different devices in the lag between emails. I came across one called a Snooper. It actually does all the things the TomTom had claimed to. Guide you on suitable roads, avoid restrictions, warn of speed cameras, etc. They had links to several articles where they’d won the best trucknav category from Truckers World (or whatever) for the last three years running. There were three different publications and they’d all said the Snooper was hands down the best kit.

After I’d sent my last email and heard nothing for several hours I thought they’d given up on me. Their whole attitude was that I was doing it wrong and their kit was bob on. I thought “Screw it!” I went and bought a Snooper. £400! I need it if I’m doing store deliveries all over the place. My job depends on it.

later that evening TomTom emailed me saying they were going to put an upgrade on my account. I plugged in and it automatically downloaded and upgraded me to all of Europe maps, car or Truck mode.

No such option prior. I clicked truck mode, suddenly it was saying “confirm settings; 40 ton, 53’3” long, 13 ton axle weight, starsign Gemini, favourite colour blue, etc”  I tried the test route; perfect. Obviously.

Bollocks.

Now I have two perfectly splendid satnavs. One for a snip at £355 the other a bargain at £399.

Still, I need one for the job.

Then they said I’d got my old run back at Ceva.

Trunking from Irlam to Aspatria to Crewe and back to Irlam. Which I can do blindfolded.

Ho ho ho ho. *beats self senseless with irony stick*

 

So that was hilarious.

I immediately decided I wanted another job. I can’t be arsed with being Ceva’s agency bitch. Iceland take on from the agency and it’s good money I happen to know. I’ve been with Ceva for 14 months and they are laying staff off not taking them on.

Because it’s that sort of week, I can’t apply for other jobs.

I had to have the (five yearly) HGV medical. £88 for the doctor to tick a bunch of boxes on a form the DVLA send you. #kerching!

I was about to send it back when I noticed a checklist on the envelope; have you included: Fees, form, licenses… What?

I had to send the originals of my paper and plastic license back to be renewed. The renewal date is five days before my points come off. Of course. Which means I’ll have to send it back again, and pay a fee, to have them taken off.

Anyway, this means I can’t apply for a driving job anywhere as they first thing they want to see is your license. Mine’s in Swansea. Ace.

 

Seeing as I was back at Ceva I took to riding in to work this week. 21½ miles round trip. It blew a gale and pissed down on me. It really has been one of those weeks.

The extra exertion is good for training purposes. And it helped kick off my diet.

I am back on that Harcombe diet. I was doing it from memory. I thought it was 2 meat meals (say chicken and salad or bacon and eggs) and 1 meal of 50g of porridge. It made the ride home a hellish feat of endurance. Today was only my fourth day and I was forcing the food down it was so repulsive.

I was weak and ill. My body runs on instant energy foods. This stuff is slow release, if at all.

You’d be amazed how quickly bacon and egg can become disgusting  if you don’t have it with beans and toast and all the lovely carby treats.

Today I’ve been so weak I’ve not trained. I did some more gardening and felt sorry for myself. In desperation I broke the man code and read the manual. I was doing it totally wrong. I can eat two meals of vileness but then I can have a curry! 50g of brown rice, a shit load of chicken and stir fried vegetables in tons of spices.

Guess what I had for tea?

I think I can honestly say, in all modesty, it was the pinnacle of human culinary achievement.

I have been grumpy and snapping at Wendy today (luckily for her, on this shift I don’t see her all week) until I had that curry. Now I am a happy bunny. Life is good. Meat and veg and carby rice. Sweet.

A proper meal. Suddenly the diet seems sustainable. If I was to split that in two, one for dinner one for tea, I could just have one gopping meal a day. And enough energy to ride home!  Cool.

 

To summarise my week, then: ‘bad’.

 

Enough of my whining; to the Twittersphere!

 

DMreporter had:

BUSINESS: George Osborne offers tax breaks to any Wars willing to move to the UK including Star, Syrian, US Drugs or ‘On Christmas’.

 

Politics/ Tory scum:

Our research indicates that jobseekers threatened with capital punishment are more likely to find work than those being sanctioned

16 railway franchises in the UK. 1 is state owned. It produces the most profit and has highest satisfaction rates. It’s being re-privatised.

All in it together:

#QueensSpeech an elderly pensioner doing PR for a failing Tory party that refuses to suspend a rape suspect

(UKIPtips) Prevent EU plague-bearing rats from entering the UK by cleansing cross channel ferries with fire and enhancing the pet passport scheme.

 

 

General observations:

Smallest man in the world:

When I was growing up I wanted to be a Dalek or a Cyberman Can’t believe I failed to be honest. Life’s cruel

 

Still loving the dog who looks like Bungle off Rainbow:

 

Oh you lost your phone and it’s on silent? Too bad, if you liked it you shoulda put a ring on it.

Avoid awkward silences in interviews by weeping uncontrollably and begging for the job.

Crimer Show had us on tenterhooks:

PEPL: Ahhg ! OFU is gona gete us!Aleins comeing!Helpe ! Whye is thise hapens ! CHILTRENS: Thise am cooliest Thinges Im am seee sinse I borne

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before this brand new charity shop in Bury town centre revised their shop sign:

Sorry, I’ve been working or sleeping or cycling all bastard week, I’ve not had much time to collect everyone’s wit on Twitter.

Must. Try. Harder.

Later,

Buck.

New gig.

It’s Sunday. It seems like a lifetime ago I was stressing about the induction.

That was Wednesday, I think. On Thursday I was in for my first shift. Surprisingly I slept OK, the problems on the road are are manageable because you are not being watched, so you can just work through them.

That is not quite the case, the trucks all have satellite trackers to monitor your every movement, stop, and speed. All trucks have tachographs which monitor your speed, when you stop, when you take your break, etc. Plus these one are fitted with a forward facing camera which activates every time you brake harshly, go over a bump, or hit anything. Apparently there has been a huge rise in false insurance claims. People pulling in front of trucks then slamming on the brakes. Claiming they had a car full of their mates, all of whom claim for whiplash.

So, in that instance it is good tech, as it protects the lorry driver. However, it also activates if you clip a kerb, or go over a speed bump. So every incident is recorded and can be cross referenced with your speed and location to determine if you were speeding or not paying due care and attention.

You have to just drive like normal, with an eye to the speedo, and try not to think about being monitored every single minute. And hope you don’t get lost.

Anyway, I was OK about it the night before, and fairly relaxed about it on the day. It was a bit of a flap trying to suss out the new paperwork and the correct procedures, but that was to be expected. My main worry was the stores. Iceland bought out half of the Woolworth stores when they went tits up, so it’s loads of town centre, poxy little places.

My first day was two local drops, I forget where, then back to base to take out a second trailer. The stores were less than ideal to access, but within my ability. The second day was just two stores. Harder, but still manageable. I was getting cocky, thinking I had worried over nothing. Then on Saturday they sent me to Salford (a store delivery point on the roof of the complex, loads of really, really tight corners) then Macclesfield.

Up until Macc the combination of satnav and the driver-written notes had got me everywhere perfectly. Not Macc. The satnav took me by a car route. I ended up down a twisty country lane a few hundred feet from a narrow, height restricted bridge. The road signs leading up had said ‘low bridge, 1 mile’ the satnav had seemed to say my turning was just before it. I got there and was totally stuck. I was an inch and three quarters too tall for the bridge. There was an open gate into a farmers field to one side, a mile of twisty B road to reverse down to the last turn off, or a too small bridge to drive into.

I’ll not lie, I was nearly having a break down. I was hyperventilating and very nearly crying. I tried reversing, but could only get a few yards before a car would come and I’d have to stop. I eyed the farmers field but the gate was so tight I’d have had to turn on my back axle and screw it in. This would have put the cab in a tight arc around the trailer and the road just wasn’t wide enough.

Third day on the job and I was imagining I was going to have to ‘phone work and tell them I was stuck, and the police to get them to clear the mile for me to reverse (around some very tight bends) back to the turn off.

In utter desperation I tried dropping the suspension. I measured the trailer height against myself and lowered the air suspension. It dropped by about  two and a half inches. I dropped the back of the trailer by about the same. Then, having nothing to lose I inched forward. The bridge was so low that height restricted vehicles could only get through in the middle of it so if I couldn’t make it through all the cars behind me would have had to reverse out of my way. I got up to the bridge, stopped, got out and checked. I had about three inches! Either the bridge sign was overly cautious or the truck height indicator was, I could have made it with the suspension up! I crawled through and was nearly crying with relief.

I made it to the Macc town centre but there was no sign of the store. The notes were an aerial photo’ of the actual street you needed to be on to do the delivery, no clue as to how to get there. The satnav, not content with its evil height restricted triumph then tried to take me into a pedestrianized zone. I had to back up a side street and turn around. Whilst I was doing that some chap gave me directions. I followed them until I was faced with a tiny side street, bustling with shoppers and crowded with parked cars, that said ‘T’ , a dead end.

I’d already pulled in to it, following the directions, now I was wondering how the hell I was going to get out again. It looked like a reverse into a carpark and out. I got out and asked and some woman said I was on the right road, just go around the corner. I thought she might have been thinking of the front of the store, but someone else said that was the way for deliveries. Whatever else I can say about the shitty little one horse town, double yellow line parking bastards, the were very helpful. So then it was just dodge all the parked cars spin it around and back up a ramp. Past more parked cars. 

Worst. Day. Ever.

A day so bad that I was wishing for it to be Sunday even when I’d finished and got home. I just wanted it done and gone.

This, naturally enough, lead me to a pretty dedicated attempt to set the truck settings on my satnav. I googled all the specifications it wanted, height, length, width, axle weight, star sign, etc. Usually it says it doesn’t recognize the configuration. This time it said something about “truck maps not available reverting to car settings.’”

This irked me a little. After tracking down all the right specifications and all. I googled the fail message and someone had posted it and got the reply that TomTom did that model (7100 pro, Trucknav) in a car OR a truck format. He’d (and seemingly I) bought the car one. A Trucknav. That cost over £300. For cars.

I will be having words as soon as customer services is open. The reply to the guy’s post said you can upgrade the software from TomTom. For £104.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I’m not getting too excited until I’ve actually spoken to them. It may be wrong advice, there might be a simple fix, but if I have to pay an extra £100 for the Trucknav I thought I’d bought… Holy crap am I going to be miffed.

 

In other news (moving swiftly on) I managed to get my training mojo going this week. On Monday I swam  the full 2.4 miles (in 1.48  Pitiful, but we are allowed 2 hours, so I’ll take it) followed by a 10 mile run. Oh my giddy aunt, that was tough! I’d forgotten just how hard ‘bricks’ are! (A ‘brick’ being combined training, eg ride/ run, swim/ run etc.)  A 10 mile ride after a 2.4 mile swim is really hard and quite slow. Whodda thunk it?

Oh, everyone. Just me who forgot then.

 

Oddly, after a year or two hiatus I’ve gotten back in to my garden. It was stressing me out as a horrible chore that I just couldn’t be arsed with. I tidied up one bit. Then I went to the garden centre. Then I planted some tomato seeds, today I went and bought some more plants and rearranged the garden. I’ve turned over quite a section of overgrown grass and planted two hardy fuchsia plants with a silver foliage plant between them for contrast. The raised bed is still looking lovely with the tulips but I’ve planted in some dahlias and some other bulb behind them for when they die down. It should  look nice again this summer. The last two summer’s it’s just been whatever survived from the year before.

It’s weird how my interests seems to go in cycles. If I could retain an interest in one subject I could have been a brain surgeon or President of the World by now.

Ho hum. The world is safe. I have the attention span of goldfish with Alzheimer’s.

Amongst the things currently on hold are my sax, French and Kung Fu.

For shame, Bucky, for shame.

To be fair, I don’t have the time to do anything except train and work most of the time. Not that I train as much as I should. It has not failed to register that the sudden interest in gardening might just be a preference to training. Tough tits. Big training again tomorrow.

 

But enough of my navel gazing, what of Twitter?

 

The DMreporter had this;

HUBRIS: Are the middle-classes dying out? Explosion in chav population blamed on ‘selfish middle-class women and their career delusions.’

LOCAL ELECTIONS: Nigel Farage prepares for ascension.

NIGEL FARAGE: “No one can stop the Ascension! I built this debate for the demons to feed on and come election day, I’m getting paid.”

LOCAL ELECTIONS: SouthShields to leave the EU with immediate effect.

NICK CLEGG: “Naturally I’m disappointed that we’re less popular than the BNP, which is why I’m launching our new ‘White is Right’ campaign.”

MELANIE PHILLIPS: “Wibble wibble leftwing hate ftang kersplibble destroy society humnumn flapflap only I can defend against lesbians gogoo…”

 

Politics/ Tory scum

Hey government! Benefit overpaid due to fraud £1.2bn, benefits UNPAID due to error £1.3bn!

#UKIP asking people to "send a message" today. Presumably the message reads "I’m a racist fuckwit"

The problem with the Tories despising UKIP and UKIP despising the Tories is I find I now have common ground with both those parties.

There’s only one reason why you’d focus on the runners-up in a race, whether it’s politics or sport: because you’re on their side.

The thing I miss the most about Tony Blair was the entirely calculated, faux spontaneous faux candour. He was really good at that.

How do you pronounce Farage? Far-ahj, Farridge or toad-faced scumbucket?

 

Subsection UKIPtips (parody) account:

Demonstrate how right-wing you are by describing the Labour Party as ‘Socialists’

Surprise your UKIP friends by singing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and not being arrested. Say the word ‘blackboard’ for added shock value

UKIP Tips! Add the the words ‘sensible’ and ‘common sense’ when saying something ridiculous in an attempt to hide the fact you’re a lunatic

Demonstrate your opposition to the Euro by going into a travel agents and trying to book a holiday to Poundland

Challenge the ‘cosy Westminster consensus’ by setting fire to parliament and blaming it on communists.

Banned from fostering kids because you’re a UKIP member? Why not take your fight to the European Court of Human Rights?

When making soft rock compilation CDs for your UKIP friends, take care to avoid including any tracks by Foreigner or Europe

Highlight how politicians ignore ‘ordinary people’ by messaging parody accounts and asking them to visit the area where you live

 

General observations:

A man just ran for this train and got his head stuck in the doors. Someone in the carriage shouted ‘TWAT’ at him. #visitlondon

Teenager on train: I’m not a feminist. Mum: Do you want to own things and decide who you sleep with? Teen: Yeah. Mum: You’re a feminist.

LIVEN up your cat’s day by filling its litter tray with Rice Krispies.

Nice letter:

On train. My false eye pops out onto next seat. It’s a British train. Fellow passengers act like they see eyes popping out all the time..

Watermelon carving:

 

Life is like a box of chocolates. I haven’t had one since Christmas.

Niece just posted this on FB.

TRICK your employer into thinking you’re in good health by calling in sick.

‘SIZE 10 MAX.’ So pleased they put it in capitals as otherwise I wouldn’t have seen it through my fat eyes.

I’m just hope Queen Beatrix has stepped down to take up pottery or else why bother.

ENJOY the sophisticated ambience of a sushi bar by strapping some peeled fish fingers to a Scalextric car.

Today in 1945 Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide after being married for one day.<<Marriage, huh?

The only way you could stop me drinking so much beer is if you made the blue bin transparent. Then again I might take to burying the cans.

@BearGrylls (posted:) our producer suffering from a brutal snake bite

HOLY SHIT! FFS!

Laziness is the only thing stopping me from attempting to make a fully functioning Iron Man suit for my cat.

What’s the medical name for someone who reads the Daily Mail?

Just gave a false name in Starbucks. Yeah. Me. Sticking it to the man. #rebel

(To which someone replied:) You’re supposed to say "Don’t tell him. Pike" when you’re second in the queue.

‘Mayonnaise’ and ‘mayor’ come from the same Greek root meaning, "Has no place in a sandwich".

Kentucky parents give 5 year old a rifle as a gift. He promptly shoots his two year old sister dead http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-kentucky-boy-accidental-fatal-shooting-sister-20130501,0,2768797.story …

Testimonials for company that makes rifles for children 4th one from father who bought pink rifle for 4-yr-old girl http://crickett.com/crickett_testimonials.php?osCsid=uc4289ublt20mvhq4rrksinej6 …

NEWS! Toddler shooting tragedies could be prevented by arming 2 year-olds, insist NRA

So far the "who we’ve lost since last year" video montage for the NRA convention is 74 hours long.

 

Chef Tip: If someone says "the mackerel eats well", it’s obviously still fucking alive.

Bach on radio. 4yo: "Dad, what’s this music about?" "Sometimes music is about feelings." "I think it’s about a rat eating some flowers."

 

Think of a sausage. Double it. Now you have two sausages.

My boss told me ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’… Now I’m sitting in a disciplinary meeting wearing my Batman costume

Does anyone know if I can get a half price designer leather sofa with 4 years’ interest-free credit & no deposit this bank holiday weekend?

Are religions unfair to women? Hang on, I’ll just ask all the female bishops,oh wait..

Nigel Evans accused of "gay rape", apparently. I guess that if he’s found gay guilty in gay court, he’ll probably be sent to gay prison.

Wisdom from my youngest: ‘Tony Stark really is the kind of jerk Bruce Wayne pretends to be to hide his identity. I like him though’

I refuse to believe my first (Kindle) edition of Hamlet (digitally signed by Shakespeare) isn’t authentic.

That was me sticking it to the man. In your face, kitten pics!

On that bombshell,

toodles.

Buck.

The wheel turns.

Work has totally gone tits up with Ceva. 3 shifts, at random times and with no notice for two weeks on the trot, this week it has got to Wednesday with no work. They don’t work weekends, so best case two days work.

Then the agency called me on Tuesday and asked if I’d be OK to do the DHL/Iceland induction on Wednesday. It’s massively out of my comfort zone, but it always will be. You can’t move from trunking to store deliveries without adjustment. Now is a good time to do it as I’m getting no work at Ceva.

So I went for the induction. Again. My third time as a driver for that site. I failed the first one (I’d only just passed my test and had no experience.) I passed the second but bottled it and told the agency I didn’t want to work there.

This one was, as ever, a nerve wracking event.

They said turn up for 0600 for a six hour induction. Five of us turned up. They started us off with a breathalyser for alcohol and a urine test for other drugs.

Then there were two.

Three of the drivers failed the drugs test!

So that was a good start.

After that we went out for an assessment drive. The one good thing about that is the fact that the whole of DHL/Iceland’s fleet (out of that site, anyway) is automatic gearbox, which is one less thing to worry about.

You guessed it. They had rented some manual gearbox trucks! D’oh!

A few issues with the gearbox (and the fact that the trailers were twin axle not triple, which oddly means you take the right line for a corner, glance in your mirror and your trailer is heading for the pavement! Weird.) aside it was an OK drive. I passed that. Then there was the written test, road signs, driver hours regulations, geographical knowledge (on which I only got two wrong! Ha!) etc.

Then it was death-by-powerpoint. From about 0900 to gone 1500. I’d hardly slept the night before with nerves, up at ungodly o’clock, then once I’d passed the three test (drugs/ alcohol, assessment/ written) I relaxed. The mind numbing boredom of sitting through hours of slides on safe lifting/ manual handling, coupling a trailer (!), and a gazillion other things we already knew was tantamount to human rights abuse. The worst of it was by the time we were finally released and I should have been able to celebrate I had a stinking headache. Bah.

In the course of the day we chatted about me having worked there in the warehouse and I said how I’d originally taken my training to do ‘warehouse to wheels’. As you know that amounted to nothing after we’d spent all that money on training to get my licenses. The induction guy said “They’ve just started three guys on warehouse to wheels. One already had his license but they are putting the other two through theirs.”

Obviously he now sleeps with the fishes.

That was today. A total pain in the arse. The thing about this is; it’s supposed to be regular work (no surprise, if 3/5 of the drivers fail the drug test!) it’s better money (not sure how much better yet) and Iceland/DHL take on drivers from the agency, then it’s serious money. Oh, and it’s days (stupid o’clock start) with no nights out. The downside is delivering to poxy little stores in town centres, having to unload the stock, and having to work weekends.  Rough with the smooth.

The agency called me as I was having my tea, I do my first shift tomorrow. 1430 start. Unusual time. I thought it was all morning starts. Whatever.

Now I start the adjustment to store deliveries. *gulp*

Slow and steady. I’ll get there.

I’ll let you know how I get on and do the other stuff (and Twitter) at the weekend.

Later,

Buck.