The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle…

Posted by Exile on April 30, 2013

But I can’t just yet.

I have bought a motorbike. Not the first one I ever owned but it’s been a while. About 35 years to be precise. Long story…

I loved riding my bike in my youth. It was a great feeling back then, roaring round the countryside on two wheels and feeling the roll of the road beneath me. Now I’m getting close to early retirement and I want to do it again although, probably, at a slightly more sedate pace than in the past. Having saved the cash up, I went looking for a suitable machine. I decided I wanted a piece of British iron, or as close as I could get, so everything other than Japanese and Harleys was on the table. There wasn’t much around. I did eventually hear of a used Royal Enfield Bullet 500, British design, now built in India by the old Enfield Company (Indian) factory. The design hasn’t changed since 1947. Asking price at the dealers was £4500. I rang the guy up and fixed a look-see. Unfortunately, a little later in the day, he rang back and told me the owner had changed her mind and the bike was now up for auction on the internet. He gave me the lot number and wished me luck. I found the auction and resolutely began bidding. I won in the end and got the bike for £3000. Money saved is money earned in my book. Put £1500 back in your pocket Exile.

#7A little history came my way via the original dealer. The bike was bought new in 2005. The old guy that bought it got sick and never rode the bike past 1750 kilometers. He eventually passed away and his widow kept the bike until now. The bike has been in a garage for 8 years. It’s like brand new apart from the dust and a few perished rubber hoses and a flat battery. The dealer has tried the bike and it runs OK. It isn’t even run fully in yet. So far so good.

Having bought it, the bike needed to be collected from the auction house. It is not registered yet so I had to collect it on a trailer with a great deal of help from one of my buddies. So, now, it’s at home with me in my shed. Unfortunately, the idiots at the auction house don’t know much about motor bikes and didn’t know how to start it. One needs to switch the engine to run, turn on the fuel, open the choke and then kick it over. They apparently did none of this and, when it failed to start, they decided it was the spark plug that was at fault and took it out to replace it with a new one. The boss even went out with it and bought a new plug but while I was picking up the bike in one city, he was 150 KM’s away in another. The eejit. So they’re going to post it to me later this week.

So. it has to be re-registered in my name, I need to get it inspected for roadworthiness (Ha! No problem!) and I need to get a new number plate to register it as mine and put it on the road. Insurance is a given.. and it’s gonna be cheap because I’m a careful old git now and not a silly youngster like I was back in the day.

Anyhow, once I get these things sorted out, I’ll be away. Look out Denmark, here I come. Vrooom!

I can’t wait to get going.

Update: 05 May 2013.

Since posting the above, I’ve been a busy boy. The spark plug arrived in the post and after fitting it to the machine, I started her up. She fired almost instantly and ran just about as sweet as a nut. I’ve put some hours into cleaning away 8 years of neglect and used a whole lot of chrome cleaner to really put the shine back. A damp cloth cleaned off all the dust and I had to replace the breather tube above the crank case. It was perished after standing for so long with oil residue in it. I charged the battery but may have to buy a new one. If they don’t get used regularly they simply die off, however, I’m crossing my fingers because it did take a charge and it will power the lights with the engine off. I’ll be picking up some trial plates next week and getting it inspected at the local testing station. After that, registration and off I go. The plan is coming together…

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Posted in General | 1 Comment »

From our European affairs desk:

Posted by Exile on February 1, 2013

Brussels. EU to instigate Gold Tooth Tax.

The EU commission in collaboration with the Central European Bank is to instigate an astonishing new tax to bolster the worth of Euro gold reserves. As the present monetary crisis continues the EU is about to capitalise on citizens who have had their ailing teeth filled with gold fillings. As the price of gold generally increases, the value of these fillings also rises. Therefore, according to EU tax officials, those citizens with gold fillings are gaining unearned amounts of money. This is to be compared with “hidden investment” and will become tax liable.

Dental records across the entire EU will be subject to examination and taxes will be applied to consider the rise in value, from the date of the filling, until present gold prices. Citizens will be taxed on the accrued differences.

MP and Euro MP Sir Gerald Fox-Hunter had little to say when questioned by our reporter.

“This is yet another attempt by the Social Democratic led EU Commission to level an already too flat playing field. It is one thing to take the food out of the mouths of the people, which is only to be expected, but to take the very fillings from their teeth is nothing short of appalling.” he said. “I shall be raising the question in the House (Commons. Ed.) later this month after the end of the fly fishing season.”

The EU tax is expected to take effect within the next six months. It is expected that those with gold fillings will have time to have their gold fillings replaced at their own expense if they so wish and thus avoid the tax. The resulting pile of gold will be harvested from dental surgeries across Europe and sent directly to the Central European Bank vaults to bolster bullion reserves.

Posted in Wry grin | 3 Comments »

The Lighter Side of Passenger Profiling.

Posted by Exile on September 17, 2012

Or: Some of those rare and amusing moments that occurred during my three months with Delta Airlines and ICTS Security.

Interviewing 210 passengers a day can get a bit monotonous. The same questions repeated ad nauseam and pretty much the same responses to those questions can add up to a dreary working day but once in a while the unusual and amusing raised their ugly heads and brought a little cheer.

Souvenirs.
I had a lady from the USA before me.
What items do you have in your baggage that could resemble, or be used as, weapons? I asked. She wavered.
I bought some antiques in Sweden.
Antiques?
Yes, this old syringe and some other things.
I looked at the syringe. It was a cast alloy single object with a long pointed nose.
You might want to pack that in your check in luggage, I said. Anything else?
Yes. I have this knife.
What?
Yes. It’s an antique hunting knife..
WHAT?
I looked at it in amazement. It was beautiful. Silver pommel, silver rings, horn handle and in lovely condition.
Madame, I said, You won’t get that through security. Pack it away before they arrest you and confiscate it.
But it’s an antique…
Oh. So it only kills old people..?

A slip of a lad.
A little old lady presents her passport. I put it through the computer swipe thingy and all her details pinged up on the screen. No problems. I looked a bit closer and discovered her year of birth was 1923. I thought, I’ll make her day.
Madame, I said, this passport appears to be forged.
Pardon? she said.
Yes. It says you were born in 1923. I find that hard to believe.
She blushed, smiled and said, Thank you young man but it’s true. I’m 89 years young.
(Young man? I’m pushing 60. Who made whose day?)

Groupies.
A similar little elderly lady stood before me, all smiles and obviously in a good mood.
Are you traveling alone Madame?
No. I’m with a group.
The Spice Girls?
Tee hee.. no. Another group. A different kind of group. We’re the global grannies.
How big is that group?
40.  We’ve been on the cruise.
Well well. The Global grannies? Suits me fine. I said and pointed to my rotund middle regions. As you can see, I’m a global grandpa.
Hoots of laughter from all of the grannies. We had to split them up into smaller groups of four to ease processing. They were wonderful and great fun to interview. You can Google them. They are from Billings, Minnesota and they made our day.

Divine non-intervention.
The queue was getting very long at the “assist” line. Have you all tried the electronic check in system? I asked. Six people replied in chorus, It doesn’t work.
I caught sight of a priest about six or seven places back in the queue.
Padre, it would appear we need your help….
Even he laughed.

Manners maketh man.
A woman doing battle with huge suitcases at the check in counter caught my eye. I offered to help.
Leave me alone, I can do it myself. she snapped.
Excuse me Madame, I said. Where I come from we call it good manners, politeness and proper behaviour to offer assistance. Please accept my apologies. I shall not trouble you again.
I walked off.
Five minutes later I was tapped on the shoulder. It was her.
I owe you an apology. She said. You are right. You were being polite and your behaviour was impeccable. I was rude and ill mannered. I’m sorry.
That’s alright Madame. Think no more of it and have a pleasant flight home.
Thank you. She said.
Then she hugged me.

More than she bargained for.
A simple question to a middle aged lady. What battery operated or electrical devices do you have in your baggage?
I have a phone, a camera and this.
She produced a huge erotic toy from her hand luggage. It looked evil. Big, with a knobbly top and knobbly rings on the shaft of the thing. If R2D2 should ever have a penis, this is what it would look like.
Madame, please…
She pointed it threateningly at me and waved it under my nose.
Do you know what these cost in the States?
I’m sure I have no idea Madame but…
Twice what I paid for it here. A bargain.
In her enthusiasm she somehow switched the bloody thing on. It buzzed like an angry bee in a jam jar, the top started bobbing about and the knobbly rings began rotating each in their own direction.
Madame please, I’m glad your shopping trip was a success but please put it away. You’re frightening the children.
I can’t seem to switch it off…
Oh dear….

The slip of the tongue.
I was confronted by an extremely good looking young lady in a low cut summer blouse that barely covered a pair of the finest breasts that it has ever been my pleasure to clap eyes on.
I asked to see her ticket information. I couldn’t see how the ticket was booked or paid for.
Please tell me, where did you boob… er.. sorry.. where did you book your ticket?

Career decisions.
While guarding the door of the aircraft, I overheard a pretty stewardess talking to her colleague.
I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t have done something else. You know, settle down, get married, have babies..
(I couldn’t resist it..)
I can help with the last bit…!

Posted in General | 2 Comments »

We’re Doomed..

Posted by Exile on July 24, 2012

Or maybe not, depending on the Mayans, or the Aztecs, or someone else… 

The knowledgeable types amongst us will know that the great Mayan Long Count Calendar comes to an abrupt end on the 21st of December 2012, which heralds the end of the world. In about five months from now as I write this. The winter equinox. Just before Christmas. Bugger. I like Christmas. Or should I say, used to like Christmas. T’was a cheery time of year, in my youth. 
It is therefore, like it or not, that you will have to make the choice of preparing for our utter and total destruction or plan your Christmas shopping in the next few months. If you follow the chatter on the internet, the screaming eejits have the advantage and they are descending upon some otherwise unknown French village in the vain hope of avoiding the coming apocalypse by congregating there. I have no idea why a village in France is going to be exempt from global destruction, but there you are. Voila. 
Admittedly, we have been warned of the end of the world by others at various times in the past, all to no avail, but someone has to be right at some point in time and the law of averages is against us. Not only that, we are talking ancient wisdom here, from the Mayans. And they were bloody clever. (Just raising my finger here! You have been warned!)

The Mayans started work on their calendar somewhere around AD 600. They worked hard at it, making astronomical observations, predicting the seasons, the rise and fall of the planets in the heavens and major events in their own history. All these things were carved in stone in strange hieroglyphic pictures and interpreted by the holy priests of that civilisation, much to the consternation or elation of the masses that were the Mayan folk. It would appear that no matter where you are, religion is power, be it biblical or pictorial. Sacrifices were made, the gods were appeased and all was well. Their calendar was extremely accurate and various astronomical events were predicted until well into our century, including solar eclipses. And then, it just stops. On the 21st of December this year. There was no need to continue, say the learned. It is The End. So there.

Of course, there may be another explanation. Here’s one.

https://i0.wp.com/www.maya-portal.net/files/8-tlaloc_thumb.jpgIt is the year 738, about five in the afternoon on Thursday in the third week of the month of the Lizard King Porcupine at the Mayan calendar workshop.
Fred Querxacotl and Joe Zaxtpitl are rounding off the day’s chiseling in stone and Joe is sweeping the floor for the fifth time that day. It’s an hour to knocking off time. Fred seems a little depressed.

What’s up? says Joe.
I dunno, says Fred, I just don’t see the point any more..
To what? says Joe.
All this chiseling every day. We’re up to winter equinox in 2012 now. What’s the bloody point? We’ll be long gone by then. Says Fred.
We’ll all be long gone before that, says Joe.
What? says Fred, and lays down his chisel. What do you mean?
Well, says Joe, according to the vicar in church last sunday, the bloody conquistadores will be here already in about 1520 and they’re gonna wipe us off the face of the earth.
What? says Fred, that’s only about 8oo years from now. I’m nearly 500 years past that already. Bugger me!
Yeah, says Joe, some bastard called Hernan Cortes is coming over here from Europe and he’s gonna sort us right out. Well not us really, but them that comes after us, the Aztecs.
This is news to me, says Fred. Who the hell are the Aztecs?
Well, says Joe, first the Aztecs will rise up within the next few hundred years and be a great civilisation much like we are today and we, the Mayans, get clobbered by them, then come these dego chaps from Spain and they clobber the Aztecs. A bit like what we did to the Olmecs.
Oh yeah. I remember the Olmecs. Bunch of wankers. Big heads. So what about us? says Fred.
Well, like I said, we’re doomed mate, says Joe. We’ll all be long dead by then.
Well bugger me, says Fred. That’s it then. I ain’t doin’ this any more. They can shove this job up their arses.

And with that, the last man able to chisel the words and likenesses of the gods quit his job and went off to live his life as peacefully as he could and never looked back. Joe started a gravel business and got a contract for the South American interstate highway, which failed as a financial project, and ended up in a place called Nazqa building short roads and designing vast rock gardens in the shapes of indigenous animals and birds. Joe’s work can still be seen today, as can Fred’s calendar.
Sure enough, the Aztecs came and finally wrested power from the Mayans forcing them to give up the recruitment drive for a new chisel operator. The calendar was never finished.

Or was it…?? As I said, you decide. Merry Christmas.

Posted in General, Strange. But True. | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in General | 14 Comments »

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…

https://exilefiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/6a0133f326b1da970b013489991439970c-320wi.jpg?w=300I 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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