Sea passage south.

Heading south from Hartlepool to the south coast for a bit of array cable installation at a windfarm. The weather’s good and the ship is making good progress. It’s mainly the same crowd that were here last season, rough and ready in the main but good at what they do. They’re loud a lot of the time and this comes hard to the ears, especially if used to more gentle surroundings.

The ETA is tomorrow afternoon, a couple of hours of DP trials on arrival and then, all being well, they’ll start the first cable. The tides are just of full springs and that throws an element of complexity and risk into the mix. The currents will run hard at times and getting caught beam on is a bad place to be, very bad. Very risky. After a jittery event or two last season the lessons have been learned, at least on paper they have. They were mentioned in the pre operational briefing just now, fingers crossed those that matter are fully aware.

I’m here to see that the first few (of sixty two) cables get installed as they should be. As per the agreed and approved procedures. If they do then I’ll observe the first three of this batch and then come back in May once the crew have changed out and observe the first three that the new chaps install. That’s the plan.

The journey up from the sarf to Hartlepool earlier in the week was unusual in that it was the first trip I’d done away from home since UB died. UB was a major part of my (our) life, in character forming, value setting, standards, appreciation, bantering, eating, caring …….. living. I didn’t realise how big a part, how massive a part he’d been. Now he’s gone and I know or rather I’m realising, learning, just how much. At one point on the train journey, just north of Peterborough, I burst into tears, the sadness and realisation just too much to deal with on a busy rattly Edinburgh  bound Express. The tears didn’t last long, English sense of duty and all that malarkey came into play, but the sadness endures, of course.

Mucker Geoff is keeping an eye on the tree removal contractors at 143. It’s a fair guess that the garden at said property has been neglected, in varying degrees, for at least a decade. Overgrown is too gentle a word for it. One dead and fallen tree turns out to be not a tree at all but an old fallen metal Rediffusion (a very early cable TV provider from the 1980s) mast that has become entwined and camouflaged with vines and other garden growth. Not quite sure how or if they’ll be able to take it away. If not then it’ll be a job for the disc grinder and Makita reciprocating saw and half a dozen trips to the local tip….sorry….re-cycling centre in the old jam jar.

If all goes well on this fine vessel, then another four or five days should see me back in Fannit and dealing with said Rediffusion mast and re-acquainting with those fine and friendly fellows at the council tip. While dwelling on visits the tip, it brings to the fore the question of what to do with UB’s ashes? Just what do you do with the ashes of someone who meant so much to you? Leave them in the casket and keep them at home I guess?

Suggestions please?

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UB=Uncle Brian

Brian James Howell

Born in Erith in 1938, brought up in Dartford the youngest of three boys, his brothers were  Collin and Roy. Brian was a grandson of the infamous Erith bargee Robert  ‘The Devil’ Austin.

Attended art school from  1955 until 1958 at Gravesend initially and then at Canterbury School of Art where he qualified as a Silversmith in 1958. A career in art and silversmithing was delayed by National Service in the Royal Engineers where he served, following initial training, in the BAOR. His army service provided him with training in electronics as a signalman technician and also taught him to drive HGVs.

He used his HGV qualifications, following departure from National Service, to earn his living, as a long distance lorry driver although he did spend many years driving and operating large mobile cranes for West Street Hire, based in Gravesend.

Following the death of his mum Violet in 1985, he moved from Dartford to live at his brother Roy’s house in Cliffe Woods and then in March 1986, following his brother Roy’s death, moved to Margate to help his sister in law Gwen , nephew Richard and niece Carolyn in their pub the Quart in a Pint Pot.

From 1988 – 1993 he moved to Northfleet and resumed a career as a HGV driver with the COOP dairy. In 1993 redundancy brought him back to Margate where he lived in his house at Fort Mount. In November 1995 he moved to Birchington to live with his nephew and niece again. That family unit moved to Westbrook, Margate, in May 2002 and then finally Brian moved to his last address in Millmead Road in August 2009 where he remained until his death. He was happy for those last years, living with his cat ‘Spot, receiving visits from his lifelong friends Roy and Sheila.

Brian was a talented artist as well as being an accomplished silversmith. He designed and crafted silverware for use in Canterbury Cathedral . He was a gifted cabinet maker and model ship builder. His DIY skills were of the very highest order and he was in great demand to assist with decorating projects and furniture making.

He was also a competent pianist and though self-taught could sight read musical notation. His natural shyness precluded him from ever playing in public, his audiences always consisted of family members, close friends and the cat.

Brian never married but did have did have a long lasting relationship with Iris.

Brian was hospitalised in QEQM on February 1st and was transferred to a nursing home under the care of the hospice palliative team on February 17th. He died in Shottendane nursing home at 0545 on Monday the 20th of March following a short but brave battle against bladder cancer which had returned following a previously successful battle in 1998. He was 78 and much loved by his nephews Richard and Martin and niece Carolyn.

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Fourth Form schoolboy

Aaaah, back in the day, 14 years old (ish)  school boys inventing silly things, just like this supposed address wott I filched from the tinterweb this morning. Happy days.

Linda Lykes,
The cock Inn ,
Tillet ,

Lynda Lykes being the landlady and Erbum being a small village outside Tillet in Herts (Hertfordshire).


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Cats and cables

Dear blog readers, sorry to have left you for so long. Lot’s going on with the domestic front, mainly to do with the oldies needing support but also yours truly being lazy, lacklustre and generally indolent.

Poor old drunky nunky is coming to the end of his days. Memsahib and allatsea have taken his faithful mog ‘Spot’ into the towers to join the already large, old and seemingly, ever growing band of rescue mogs already here.


‘Spot’ the mog keeping allatsea company in the ‘Towers’ office. Note him preventing access to the Orange guitar amp. He doesn’t like loud settings or indeed for that matter, too much crunch on the gain control. Bless! Next pic is ‘Spot’ esconced on the same desk but sans amp.


The next few pics show how 1GB subsea power export cable is capped to allow it to be left on the seabed for half a year without damage, prior to connection to the offshore substation……they say.



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Your man Frankie speaks

Frankie Boyle

Here’s a wee column the Guardian wouldn’t print because they didn’t like the Rupert Murdoch jokes:

Say what you like about Donald Trump but he’s already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest working model we have for a Trump presidency. Last week he gave the sort of press conference that in a movie would bring a weary superhero out of retirement. His answers were filled with pointless digressions and absurd sentence construction, like he was desperately trying to avoid the buzzer on some unfathomable new Radio 4 panel game. And yet I wonder if Trump isn’t playing to his base quite effectively: grievance is a key part of his appeal, and chaos may well just look like him butting heads with Washington insiders. His approval rating among Republicans was 84%, before he started what will no doubt be a series of rallies. Even Trump isn’t stupid enough to think he’s still fighting an election, so the assumption has to be that he’s trying to enthuse his base to create pressure for his agenda on Republicans in Congress.

Trump’s base are people who believe that the U.S is a country run by elites enabled by mainstream media propaganda. Which, awkwardly, it is. Distorted media has been around for as long as Rupert Murdoch. By the look of him that would include telling Moses the commandments would go down much better if he took the third tablet and carved a pair of tits on it. I do feel for Rupert. Not least the arthritic tadpoles that shuffle around in his scrotum, clutching their tiny hearts every time they hear Jerry’s voice, muffled by his adult nappy. Trump isn’t inventing public disillusionment with the news media, just as he hasn’t invented their dissatisfaction with the fruits of globalisation. He has co-opted these grievances, and followed the pattern of his whole life by bringing a lot of disparate stuff under the Trump brand.

The loyalists Trump has appointed form a kind of intellectual wing of anti-intellectualism, but really they’re pouring out of the gates of Mordor so fast it’s hard to keep track of them all without some kind of bestiary. Steve Bannon, who has the name and face of a relegation haunted Scottish football manager, agitates for a white supremacy that already exists. Ironic, really, that one of the main things his Administration seems to have illustrated is that only black people are good at being President. Seemingly every day we have the unveiling of some new cabinet member who has stepped screaming into our dimension after being outwitted by a Princess in a cautionary folktale. If Trump nominated his horse as a consul it would be a blessed relief.

The modern far-right have a lot in common with Jihadis in that their sexual desperation has been used to radicalise them online. The Brexit and Trump campaigns have been their training camps: the equivalent of a few weeks in some desert barracks shooting an AK-47 into an old mattress. Imagine the adrenaline surge of feeling responsible for a huge election upset. And then they have to go back to normal life. A life where during the 10 minutes they had their picture up on Tinder it was left-swiped so many times they got whiplash due to voodoo. Where they look like Joseph Merrick carried a photograph of their face in his wallet as an appetite suppressant. Where their mail-order bride heard who she was being delivered to and chewed off her toes just so she had something to block up the air holes in her crate. And so they channel their energy back into the trenches of hate that now pass for political discourse, to where they feel safe and newly empowered. There’s never been a better time to be wrong.

I sometimes think that the new right have arisen without warning, then I remember that there were loads of warnings but I just kept muting and blocking them all. In all the hilarity of Trump, in the all the cluelessness of Brexit; in the sheer inchoate, transparent, head shaking, WTF of it all, it’s easy to forget that we are losing. We sign petitions while they sign executive orders, pass laws, remove regulation. We share pictures of them signing away our rights as caption competitions. And yes, I realise columns like this aren’t any more effective. There’s obviously a limit to the need for humorous metaphor when describing a society literally being run from a country club.

RGH Primary 1

Aged 6 at Wrotham Road School, already the matinee idol good looks showing… the trained eye.

The disillusioned electorate that voted for Trump are right to feel the establishment doesn’t care about them, it rarely even considers them. The Democratic Party’s response to Trump has had all the zip of an adulterous journalist phoning in coverage of a conference they didn’t attend, and there isn’t a war he could declare that they won’t back. For Republicans, Trump’s unpredictability is tolerated because his ideology largely overlaps their own. These are disaster capitalists and Trump is their unnatural disaster. They look to adapt to and capitalise on the situation as they would try to find profit in any scenario from hurricane to plague. Whatever happens next, it’s certainly not going to be dull. Or survivable

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Replace or not to replace.

So the Acer Aspire started playing tricks. It wouldn’t boot up or it would boot up, eventually, and run ‘right’ for around 10 minutes and then it would start slowly becoming  un-responsive and then finally  freeze altogether. Very irritating especially when trying do something useful on it rather than waste a morning on You Tube or similar. It’s just on five years old and has been  a good tool up until recently.

So the decision was made to replace it with an equivalent bit of kit, your standard i5 desktop sort of thing. As time wasn’t pressing I took several days out to research the best deal and finally settled on an HP Pavilion with an AMD 10 processor, giving an Intel based PC a side swerve for a change. It arrived promptly some 14 hours after I’d ordered it online (thank you DPD) and upstairs to the office it went to be unpacked and flashed up.

Hmm, firstly, the desktop is around twice the size of the Acer it’s replacing (ooops, didn’t check the measurements) and noisier despite being described in the marketing blurb as ‘super quiet’. No show stoppers though.  I booted it up and just about the first thing it wants to do is download a 4GB update and then install it. There’s a warning this may take around 90 minutes. Very un-impressive that’s half the morning gone then and nowt achieved. Anyway off it goes on its self-determined voyage to updateland and back. Sadly the voyage got interrupted near the end when during one of the many self initiated ‘restarts’ it didn’t restart. Instead there was a blue screen with the words  ‘Disk Failure’ prominently featured. Oooh bugger. Luckily a branch of the vendor is only a couple of miles away so back into its box it went and off we went to have a word with the chaps at ‘Knowhow’.

Now as luck would have it there was no queue and phaffing around before an earnest and geeky young chap (though a tadge smug I thought) said I wasn’t to worry because he’ll do a simple ‘restore’ and all will be well. With a disk failure I queried? Yes he said firmly, it’d be no problem. He’d give me a call when it was done and I could come along and collect it. ‘Fankyoo’ I replied, trotted off to the car park and tried to remember where I’d left the van.

True to his word a few hours later our earnest geek rang me on my mobile. ‘Erm, we couldn’t restore it’ he said, ‘there’s a total disk failure, come in and we’ll give you an exchange.’ Coo fancy that.

So some 24 hours later the new HP is up and running with data transferred over and all is well. Very well in fact. Since the HP arrived the Acer has been working absolutely splendidly, as good as new. That’s £499.99 down the Swanny then?


Allatsea some 26 years before he bought his first PC in 1993.

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I sat down and ritt


Blimey, not much blogging of late, there’re good reasons though.

Aged mum still in hospital, been there since November 29th, requiring much support in many ways. This has been a large absorber of what would otherwise have been free/blogging time. Aged Uncle also needing much support, admittedly mainly from memsahib allatsea and he too is now in hospital, the same one (so far) as mummy allatsea. His faithful moggy ‘Spot’ needs feeding twice a day so he’s being incorporated into the daily ‘to do’ list.

Things learnt:

A certain ‘Care’ home in Deal doesn’t quite grasp the concept of care. Mummy allatsea lasted 48 hours there before falling (when unattended) and smashed her already smashed hip …again. Back to QEQM she went. No wonder the NHS is struggling, she’s in a ward crammed with similar cases.


Q: How long would you expect a HP Pavillion desktop PC to last?

A: In our case, 93 minutes, as experienced yesterday!  From delivery to being taken back to PC World. The replacement too is struggling with a 4GB Windows 10 update. Deep effing joy. The whole malarkey  triggered by our faithful Acer Aspire starting to go a tadge awry (it’s 5 years old) but ironically behaving impeccably since forking out £500 for the new HP. Grrrrrrr!


Finny ‘Bigmog’ is diabetic. Not faggy easy to control Type 2 either. Full blown needing injections twice a day (cue memsahib allatsea as a certain coward runs for the hills) and careful diet regulation …….. oooh yes and great wodges of cash to the vets too.


A poem by James Farrar


Brave roadside ragwort scurried under wind.

The mad meadow grass where mildewed agony

Spews forth crows like ghouls

Clanking the hedge-eddies with fingered spread.

The hedge-dank leaf-fouled lane before me falls

To a dead distance of hills and sky.


Struggle under the writhing wood which a mile back

Roared like a sea. The lustful air,

Harvesting shoals of jaundice from frenzied oak,

Plucks vainly at the slow arc-tracing pines.

Stand in a devil-darkness of leaves and smoke,

Shin-deep. Wild branches scream despair

At the full thunder of the drowning year.


A caravan comes up the lane: old horse cringing

Like a tired insect in its slow grief.

Bleached painted sides, lean leathern gypsy driving:

Old woman and blind son with bitter mouths curled.

Yet the lean one turns with lit face; his voice peal

‘Bound away north. Back in spring, in spring!’

Thralled I watch them away under the hills

In the tunnel of darkness, the dying world.


Break fibre, raise and fly leaf!

Rise, in the wind’s lusting mouth sing –

Soar and shout, to the faint stars away!

I care not that night comes cold or the dead sun

Droops on the earth in the short weak day –

Back in Spring, in Spring!

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