The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Archive for June, 2012

Oh, What a Tangled Weber We Weave..

Posted by Exile on June 28, 2012

The sun is shining today, for a change. In fact, the weather is looking good at the moment despite the heavy June mid-summer-in–the–global-warming-you-lying-swine rain and the somewhat cooler global-feckin’-I-don’t-believe-it-warming low temperatures that we’ve been having round here lately. With this sudden onset of Summer, my dearest and nearest decided we should get the old Weber grill out of its winter wrappings and grill food. Sounds easy, why not? Out with the Weber then Exile, and give it a good looking at. It’s the baby model. It runs on a small gas cylinder which holds about a pound of compressed propane. It usually lasts for about three good grillings. If I ate a pound of beans, I could fart more than these canisters can hold. It was empty. We need gas. These little canisters are not cheap, so I did a quick mental calculation and, adding the cost of driving the four kilometers every time to get a refill, I decided I might convert the baby Weber to run on a larger canister. The larger the canister, the more economical it would be to run. Brilliant. Wonderful. Well thought out Exile. Give yourself a pat on the back.

The tube which feeds the gas to the grill will not connect to a larger canister. The adapter which fits on the canister is completely different to that which fits on the larger bottles. OK, I need to get a new hose and the correct adapter which will, ultimately, get screwed onto the gas inlet on the grill. Looking at the Weber website, I found one that fitted both ends and even found a dealer nearby that had them in stock. Luckily for me, they even had a store sale going on and I could get the thing at 50% off. Things are looking up, I thought. Off then, and get the ruddy thing. I did. It cost me a tenner in English money, about one hundred Danish crowns.
Unfortunately, they do not carry gas bottles in that store, so another trip was necessary. Off then to the local builders merchants. I know they have these things. Taking my newly acquired Weber gas hose and adapter thingy with me I sullied into the local Silvan Builders Merchants and Hardware store. I Know people there. I used to work there. Albeit part-time. I found exactly what I was looking for, checked that everything fitted and walked out with ninety five quids worth of gas and bottle, deposit duly paid. Gone are the days of one pound canisters. I now have 45 pound bottles to fire up with. I’ve got enough gas here to last me a lifetime. It is a propane/methane mix, a carbon hybrid to be correct. Which means that when I use it, I will produce vast quantities of CO2 and will add to the ever worrying and non-existent global-bloody-warming. I don’t care. I’m already paying enough taxes for my carbon emissions, even if they aren’t making any feckin’ difference to anything anywhere. What did the damn environment do for me lately? Nothing. Apart from rain on me.

grillgasHome again and raring to go, I grabbed my trusty spanner and set about the conversion. Remembering that gas fittings are always left hand threads, as opposed to the normal right hand, I screwed the old hose off and the new one on. I fitted it to the bottle and fired up. Success! Not a dry eye in the garden. Honey, I’ve converted the grill to bottled gas, I said and beheld my handiwork. Little grill, huge bottle.

She has an eye for the obvious has my beloved…

That bottle is a bit big, she said.
Yes it is, I said, that’s the point.
It’s not very pretty, she said.
No it isn’t, but it will keep going for ages, I said. I showed her how it works, valves at both ends, and explained the economics involved.
You’re mad, she said. It cost you over a hundred quid. 

Deflated, I said nothing after that.

She then casted a glance at the grill.
It needs cleaning, she said.
Have we got anything to clean it with? I asked.
Somewhere, she said and disappeared into the shack that we call our house. I could hear her crashing around in the cellar looking for said cleaning material. I know we have the stuff, in a spray canister. I remember having to buy it last year. I thought we had put it in the closet with the other cleaning stuff. I looked. Yes, there it was. I went back to the grill and sprayed the whole thing, inside and out, top to bottom.
Finally, sweating, panting and defeated, my lovely long haired one returned to the patio and declared she couldn’t find the bloody stuff to clean the grill with. Not to worry, I said. Look what I found. I think she was really impressed because she said nothing, for once, and simply went off to the kitchen to get water and sponges and cloths. Twenty minutes later, I was up to my elbows in black grease and old bits of burnt food that had clung to the grill plate and the inside of the shell that is the Weber grill. After a good scrub it was as good as new and she was pleased with the results of my intensive labour.

I’m happy about the whole thing. I see the new conversion as an investment and hang the æsthetics. We could grill a small ox on this thing now and I’m sure the hundred and odd quid was well given out, even if she does think I’ve gone stark raving bonkers. All I need is for the weather to really improve so that I can actually get some use out of it.

Maybe I can create some real global warming. At least, in the garden.


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Ad Notem, In Memoriam.

Posted by Exile on June 26, 2012

At 8,33 on Sunday evening, June 24, 2012 a very dear and old friend passed away. Another victim of the filthy disease we all know as cancer. Ken had fought bravely against it for over two years, first as Leukemia, later as a cancerous infection of his nervous system and, finally, a tumour in his brain for which nothing could be done. I, and many others like me, have become the poorer for his passing. My thoughts go to his family and to his wife, Lynn, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting and yet know, that she must be devastated far beyond what I now feel.

Ken was a big lad. Taller and broader than I and strong as an ox. We all knew him as "Horse", mainly because of his stature and strength. If something heavy needed moving, you turned to him first. The man could move mountains if asked to do so. His character was equally as strong. I never heard him whine or moan once, no matter how adverse the situation and although we did hear him complain once or twice it was always justified and never without good reason. Usually, the big man would take it all with a smile and just get on with the task at hand. 

I went off to find some piece of poetry that might take the sting out of writing this but realised that Ken probably wouldn’t have appreciated that particular gesture. He knew a few good rugby songs and could rattle off the odd limerick, but poetry? No. So I found this quotation concerning the nature of horses and thought that it may suffice.

Where in all the world is nobility found without conceit?
Where is there friendship without envy?
Where is beauty without vanity?
Here one finds gracefulness coupled with power,
and strength tempered with gentleness.
A constant servant, yet no slave.
A fighter, ever without hostility.
Our history was written on his back.
We are his heirs.
But he is his own heritage. The Horse.    

H. H. Eisenbart
in Eisenbart and Buhrer:
The Kingdom of the Horse

Let’s look at this.

Nobility without conceit. One could never have called Ken conceited. He rarely spoke of himself unless asked but always concerned himself with the welfare of his friends and colleagues. If anything is to be said, then let it be that therein lies the nobility in the man. He cared. And that is noble indeed.

Friendship without envy. Always. If anything good happened to you, Ken would be the first to offer congratulations. It was always "Well done, good for you." It could have been his motto.

Beauty without vanity. I don’t think any one of us would describe Ken as having been beautiful at any point, but nor was he vain. In fact that was the beauty in him. His character did not support vanity. Pride in himself maybe, but vanity was never on the field.

Gracefulness coupled with power, strength tempered with gentleness. Ken was never going to be graceful. Just as a bull dancing ballet is never going to be graceful. And yet he graced us all by simply being among us and lending himself to whatever we were involved in or occupied with. Equally, all the strength and power of this man was never used in a violent way. Ken used his size to keep the peace. That solid glare and the calm yet demanding inference of intervention was usually enough to stop anything untoward happening in his presence. Ken would not tolerate bullying. Truly, the gentle giant. Even when involved in our mischief, he was always the one to see to it, that no matter what the jibe or jape, no-one actually got hurt.

A constant servant, yet no slave. Constant in that he was reliable. Ask the man for help, you would be sure of getting it. And yet, like most horses, you could lead him to water, but you couldn’t make him drink. (Leading him to beer would be another proposition entirely, but I’m sure you catch the drift of this.)

A fighter, ever without hostility. Truer words never spoken. Ken fought like a demon against the disease which finally claimed his life and he did so without bitterness. I never heard him use the word hate in its true context and a fairer and less hostile man never walked this earth.

Our history was written on his back. Yep. He carried a few of us on those enormous shoulders at one time or another. Both physically and mentally.

We are his heirs. Yes we are. What he gave to us will remain with us until we meet with him again.

He is his own heritage. Indeed he is. There will never be another like him and we shall speak of him for many years to come and be proud to say that we knew him. This world is a sadder place for his passing but he will always be there, in our hearts and minds, as long as we draw breath.

His most simple testimony must be, that there are few people in this world that can say that they had over a hundred people that would call them friend. We who knew him, soldiered with him and held him dear will sorely miss him. It was my, our, pleasure and an absolute honour to have known you and to have served with you those many years ago.

Rest in peace Ken, you old Horse. You earned it.

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Us and Them

Posted by Exile on June 18, 2012

Or, the ups and down of national sportsmen and women.

I don’t suppose it has escaped many people, that the European football championships are being held at the moment. Personally, I don’t follow this wimpy game and do not understand the vast outpouring of emotion and behaviour, both good and decidedly atrocious, that this activity generates. This makes me perhaps the ideal observer since I have no affinity for any particular team or, for that matter, any country that may or may not be participating. I really don’t care who wins or loses. After all, it’s only a game, like tiddlywinks, not warfare. No one gets killed and there is no sovereignty involved. I am amazed how the conversation during these championships is centered singularly on the goings on that manifest themselves on football pitches and the people involved in these activities. I find myself somehow above all this and flatly refuse to involve myself in it, removing myself from any such nonsensical and useless discussion.

My dear lady wife, on the other hand, is a dyed-in-the-wool nationalist when it comes to sports and she follows them with a passion, albeit from the sofa. She, and I suppose thousands of others, follow the procedures unfolding before her on the TV and will brook no interruption or distraction. She applauds, bemoans, shouts and verbally abuses, depending on who did what and how the “bloody stupid” referee judges the situation. She sighs, she cheers and boos at the action and generally has, I suppose, a great time of it all. I usually leave her alone to get on with it. It doesn’t matter if this is handball or football. The procedure is the same. Yesterday it was football. Denmark v. Germany. I went about other business. Occasionally, I try to show some interest.
”Which one is Ronaldo?” I ask. “Bugger off and leave me alone.” she replies. I do so. Immediately and before something gets flung at me. 

However, fortunes are fickle, as my grandmother would be wont to say. And she was right. You can’t win ‘em all. Such is the nature of these overfunded, overestimated and far too meaningful (for some) competitive games that we call sport.

This is where the ups and downs comes in… have noted a certain trend amongst the people that follow these events. It concerns the winning or losing of games and the personal relationship between the onlookers and the players involved in this affair.
When the team of choice wins, it’s all “WE”. We won. We played well. We were great. We whipped ‘em. And so on.
When the said team of choice loses, it’s an entirely different matter. There is an instant distancing of the hardcore supporters and the so called “fans” (fanatics..Ed.) from the players.
Suddenly and surprisingly, it’s “THEM”. They were useless. They played like amateurs. They threw it away.

Oh. No solidarity in defeat then? No commiserations to the brave and beaten combatants? Nope. Like Caesar at the arena, it’s off with their heads and we don’t know them. I believe this to be a reaction caused by the garb the said supporters are wearing which so empowered them before the game and which now points them out as decided losers. It must be hard walking home, head hung low and wearing the very same shirt as was worn by players on the battlefield, along with accompanying war paint, while knowing that one has been so utterly defeated and humiliated.

I may not know or even understand about the fickleness of fortunes in sport, but I’m getting a grip on the spectators…..

Unforgiving lot, aren’t they?

Nothing fickle about that.

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Suck it Up

Posted by Exile on June 8, 2012

Every now and then the budget account starts looking real good. My long haired and lovely one and I generally both put money onto the account and I sort out the bills on the monthly basis. My other half, on the other hand, is a genius when it comes to financing the house, so she looks after the negotiations with the bank. Hey, you do whatever you’re best at. This month, however, the budget looked really good, showing a clear positive result and carrying on to the end of the year, so I decided to give her a little surprise. “Honey”, I said, “the budget looks great this month so don’t pour money into it. Buy something nice for yourself and then put the rest onto the savings account.”

She smiled. “OK.” she said. “Thanks.” she said. And then she whizzed off in her little Citröen to go shopping.

Hours later, she’s back. She’s bought a vacuum cleaner. A Dyson vacuum cleaner. With all the fancy bits.

Dyson - stoevsuger - DC29DBALLERGYNow let’s get something straight. If I had bought her a vacuum cleaner, never mind the make or size and had presented her with it along with the words, “Honey, I bought something nice for you.”, I would have spent the rest of the week having it surgically removed from my arse. Bits and all, including the hose. But no. I guess I got lucky and she thinks of this as being “something nice”. Having figured out how to assemble and use the thing, neither the dogs nor I agree, but there again, our opinion doesn’t count for much in these particular areas.

OK, the other vacuum cleaner was a bit of a pain. It was never great. Too small, underpowered and with that annoying bag that never really fitted the machine and which was full in no time, this is an improvement beyond the normal. No bag required. In fact, that’s what prompted Mr. Dyson to invent this machine. Well done Sir. I congratulate you. Bravo.
Credit where credit is due, says I. And I have to say that this is probably the best vacuum cleaner I have ever had the displeasure to use. (I equate vacuuming the floor with mowing the bloody lawn and regular readers will know my loathing for that particular job…)
This vacuum cleaner really knows its business. It sucks like a five-hundred dollar hooker and does that constantly regardless of how much crap it has removed from the carpets and the wooden floor. Dust, dog hair, plain old garden dirt, stuff the dogs bring in, spiders and anything else that isn’t nailed down goes into this greedy devil. It is as rapacious as it is voracious. The dogs seem to know this instinctively and stay well away from the business end while giving the thing a good measure of bark and growl from the safety of the dining table under which they hide. One can see how much undesirable dust etc. one has collected as one goes, because Mr. Dyson, thoughtfully, made the outer canister of the dust trap transparent. Wonderful. One can see how dirty the house was at a glance. Thank you Mr. Dyson.
Something nice? I don’t know. Something effective? Yes. Definitely. Which I suppose is, in some strange way, comforting. Either way, the floor hasn’t looked this good or been so clean in a long time.

Anybody need an old worn out Philips vacuum cleaner? I have one going cheap, has never been up anyone’s arse…. yet.

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Come Fly with Me

Posted by Exile on June 8, 2012

If you dare!

Delta-B767I’ve had a week of being the “Security Guy” or, at least one of the security guys, at the airport. I don’t believe Delta Airlines know how safe they are flying out of Copenhagen. It’s been an interesting week. From simply guarding the aircraft to checking out the passengers, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a job so much in years. The responsibility is heavy though. Every time you say OK for a passenger, you are making yourself responsible for the lives of about 220 people. Think about that for a minute or two. If I let the terrorist get past me, they all die. So pardon me if I take that personally and make sure I’m thorough when I do what it is that I do. And, bear in mind, it could be anybody, although there are some you can almost rule out from the start. Even little old ladies get questioned. Someone, somewhere, at some time, may have infiltrated her luggage with something, so it’s important to know if she left her baggage unattended for any length of time.

I’ve read a lot of complaints about airport security. Mostly from people who felt offended about being stopped and questioned. And all the “I was groped by a security person” idiocy. Believe me, nobody gets groped. Searched, patted down? Yes. But never groped, nor raped, disemboweled or otherwise molested. Even if he or she is brown, black, white, green or red. Colour doesn’t enter into it. If you trigger, by your response to our questions, any negative sign which we have been trained to look out for, you’re going to be stopped and selected for further enquiry and yes, we’re going to look in your belongings. We’re going to have you searched too. It’s not vindictive, it is required. If that’s unpleasant for you, how do you think the searcher feels? He or she probably doesn’t enjoy having to stick his or her hand under your sweaty armpit or up into your crotch. It’s just necessary to protect the other 219 passengers and crew. It’s nothing personal. Don’t like it? Then drive, or walk, to wherever it is you want to go. 
Surprisingly, a lot of passengers actually thank us for taking the time to do a thorough job. They apparently recognize the fact, that we are there for the purpose of getting them to wherever it is they are going safely. Which makes it all worthwhile and makes the whole affair more enjoyable.

Yes, I’ve stopped an Arab guy. Then again, I stopped a couple of Europeans too. They didn’t satisfy me when I questioned them about their travel documentation and baggage. It turned out fine for them all and they all got away on the aircraft after subsequent questioning. Most people get through it with no problem at all. The simple fact is, that the heightened security works. It’s frightening to the bad guys. They will content themselves with something less secure, less intrusive. And then they won’t have to come up against me, who has been fighting terrorism since 1978 on the streets of Belfast. George Bush thinks he started the war on terrorism in 2001. Little did he know that we Brits have been at it since the IRA started the carnage many years before the WTC got flattened by the ragheads. I grew up watching the PIRA, IRA, PLO, the PFLP, Red Brigade and all the other ridiculous, murdering, communist inspired, Jew hating religious fanatics that want to rid the world of all sense and reason.

Well, I have bad news for them.

I’m back in the game.

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Safety Dance

Posted by Exile on June 2, 2012

Which sounds a bit weird coming from me. When I dance people usually run away or get seriously hurt. But here we go.. long story made short.

See, I found a job. It’s not full time nor will it last very long but it’s something I really wanted to try once I’d found out what it was. I had answered an ad in the paper which didn’t really say a lot about what the job was. It directed me a website for further information, which it didn’t really have and, since I have to apply for two jobs every week in order to get my unemployment benefit, I fired off the standard blah-blah letter. Holy smoke, they called me in for an interview.

I turned up, not expecting having a chance in hell of getting hired but after ten minutes of conversation, I was hired. I’m going to be a passenger profiler for Delta Airlines. I was given a date and time to be at a certain place and the training for this job began. Bloody hell. I’ve never read and studied so much in a long, long time. Every day brought a new exam, pass or leave, and a lot of study. Some things have to be learned by heart. In fact, a lot had to be learned by heart. Questioning techniques, what questions to ask, who to look out for, what to look out for and a whole plethora of other stuff. Like I said, long story made short, it took two weeks but I made the grade. Absolutely the oldest guy in the team, I get to be “Daddy” for some of the others. “Bring them a bit of leadership.” was the term that was used. Jesus on a bike…  So, with the uniform on, I look real cool and with the added sunglasses.. well… “Men in Black” comes to mind. Just call me Mr. Security.

That was the safety bit. Here comes the dance.

We had to have a kick-off party. It had to be on a Thursday because the whole affair kicks off on Saturday and we figured we’d need Friday to recover. I wasn’t particularly pleased that a vegetarian restaurant was chosen for dinner but having said that, it was a pleasant meal in good company and the beer wasn’t bad either. We sat and ate and chatted and bonded with the other half of the team which won’t be profiling but will be looking after the aircraft while it sits on the ground. A good time was had by all and then it was off to the town for a night of drunken cheer.
Not having really been in the town of an evening and definitely not being up to speed with the youngsters, I contented myself with following along. I reckoned with my past record of partying and silliness I had nothing to fear. So where did we end up?

At a Techno street party…!

I was the oldest guy on the street. By a long way.

We found a bar and I decided to let my hair down and show these kids what a party really is. Throwing all of my one-hundred-and-eight kilos into the fray I hopped and bopped until daybreak. Actually, it was all fun. Everyone in a great mood and music up your wazoo.. Beer in a long endless stream and the usual crises concerning lost compadres and handbags. All resolved eventually and a very good night for the money. I wasn’t the last to leave and, despite the beer buzz, I’ll bet I was the most sober.

The whole shooting match at the airport got underway today. The first aircraft has been checked out along with all its passengers, on time and without hitch or hindrance. Well done security agents. I get my baptism tomorrow.

Fingers crossed and, I promise, no dancing.

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