Monday, 7 December 2009

Black Magic

We have reached that time of year when the car insurance is due. The evil time. The time when insurance companies use their peculiar brand of black magic to calculate how much you are going to pay for the privilege of driving on British roads. And, let’s face it, they have us over a barrel, sort of. I always thought that as time went by, and you didn’t have an accident or make any form of claim on your insurance, then the yearly premium would go down. I haven’t made a claim on my car insurance in twenty years. The insurance companies should be paying me to drive the damn car!

So I get this years renewal letter and guess what? Yes, it has gone up again. 90 quid more than last year! 90 bloody quid! So like a sensible person I go online and visit the one with the meerkat and the Tesco one as well, just for good measure. I now have a list of 50 ish quotes in front of me, 35 are cheaper than my renewal quote, including, and get this, my current insurance provider. In fact, my current provider on the compare site is £80 cheaper than my renewal!

I’ll sort through these and then phone my current provider and see if they can match any of these cheaper ones. No doubt I’ll be told, by my current provider, that they have provided the most competitive quote. I don’t think so.

I will go for a mid- range quote, somewhere between the cheapest and my renewal quote. My current provider will then break out the voodoo doll of me and stick pins in it as their own black magic has failed. I will also carry a bottle of holy water and several protection amulets just in case.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Shameful pastime...

So, what is it about science fiction in literature that is something to be hidden, almost ashamed of? It is ok to go to the cinema and watch the latest Star Trek film. Go to a screening of Lord of the Rings and people think you are mildly intelligent. But buy yourself a copy of “Foundation” by Isaac Asmov and you may as well admit to signing the sex offenders register.

Look through the reviews in the papers, or on the TV arts programs and you will never see a science fiction novel reviewed. When I was at comprehensive school I was regularly lambasted by my English lit teacher, Mr Mouncher, about my penchant for reading that “Star Trek rubbish”. It wasn’t Star trek. It was “Cities in Flight” by James Blish, a fantastic story written in the 1950’s.

A lot of science fiction is damn good literature, even the Star Trek and star Wars novels contain some good prose. Yes, I know that for every good sci-fi novel there is a crap one, pulp fiction of the lowest order. But other genres of literature have that as well, so why make us sci-fi fans feel like members of the dirty mac brigade sneaking into the porn shop via the side door?

I would put some of the “classics” against some of the books that I have read any day. Read the Nights dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamilton, anything by Neal Asher or Richard Morgan. Those three authors are relatively new to the field, but there are many more, older novelists from Asimov to Zelazney.

There are the Nebula and Hugo awards for science fiction. Some of the writers are Knights of the Realm, Arthur C Clarke for example.

Go on. Try one. Can’t be any worse than that Mills and Boon rubbish that women read, can it?

And remember, turn the collar of your mac up, keep your head down, and I’ll see you by the side door…

Thursday, 29 October 2009

It's a dogs life.

Today I am going to hand over my blog page to my dog.. She has something that she wants to get off her chest. So here we go.

Woof bark bark woof ruff ruff woof bark ruff bark...

Ooops, sorry, I forgot that you humans are a lazy bunch and can’t be bothered to learn your own languages let alone that of other species.

What I meant to say was mmm nnnm mmm slurp (sorry I had an itch in a private place. Don’t look so disgusted, you know you would lick yours if you could. And for gods sake give up on that “give her a biscuit, she might let you” joke. It’s tired, let it sleep!!)

Now as I was saying. Coats. Why on earth do you insist on dressing us up in coats? We are blessed by evolution, in that we already have a coat. It is made of fur and is warm, ok it does get a bit a bit smelly every now and then, it is always there and we don’t need another one. We don’t need wax, Barbour jackets, we don’t need ridiculous woolly things, we don’t need anything.

Just take us for a walk and feed us and we will repay you with unconditional love and obedience (I’m stretching it a bit with the obedience, but you get the idea.) Give me a woolly coat and I will piss on your sofa!


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Childhoods End

While I have been sat here this evening with Mrs Giant68, watching Strictly Come Dancing, I have had a terrible thought. We are going to have generations of people in this country, and possibly many others, that do not know the words to “Chim Chiminee” from Mary Poppins! This is disastrous!

Childhood is being taken away from children with the advent of the new gadgets I like so much. (see the previous blog. Yes, you. Go on, read it now, don’t be so bloody lazy!) Children will sit and play shoot ‘em up games and racing games on the latest game platforms from Sony and Microsoft et al. They forget that there are forms of entertainment that predate the video game. Parents should be encouraging children to read books such as “Swallows and Amazons” and some of the Enid Blyton stories.

They should watch the Disney films until they are sick. They should learn the words to “On the bottom of the beautiful briny sea” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. They should learn to hiss and boo at King John from “Robin Hood”. Then the world would be a better place.

I intend to tell my granddaughter the story of Bobtail Bunny as soon as she can begin to understand what I am saying. You know the story, I know most of the people in my family know it. “ At No.1 in Rabbit Row, a crowd of bunnies live, you know. The youngest one was Bobtail Bunny, he was so jolly and so funny...”

Oooh, the shiny things...

I am a sad man. It’s a fact. Once a new gadget or gizmo comes out on the market I will covet it. I must admit that I don’t always get it, Mrs Giant68 sees to that. But sometimes I have a little luck and something new will appear at home. Just lately I have welcomed a large, flat 1080p LCD telly into the house. And what’s the point of a tv like that without having a source for high definition, so a Sky+HD box now sits under the telly. Then we have all these shiny new gadgets that each have a remote control. That’s quite a lot of remotes. So we now have a rather good 1 for all remote, programmable over the internet from a central database of gadgets and doodads. Brilliant! Fantastic! I’m happy, loads of shiny new gadgets.

A few weeks ago my PC died. I nearly cried. It had been a labour of love for years, built by myself and upgraded over the years so that it was a bit like Triggers broom. It bore no resemblance to the original PC. But now it was dead and I had to replace it. Did I rebuild it with new parts or do i buy new and complete? I had a look around and decided that I really couldn’t be bothered any more with the building. It was not really cost effective to build anymore, not like the days of my first PC when I would trawl through the computer fairs and cheap deals on components.

So I bought a laptop. Huge amount of RAM and a correspondingly large hard drive. Guess what? Now I am in the process of installing Windows 7 on it. Not a gadget exactly, but it is new and shiny, and I do like the shiny things in life.

I think that, at times, Mrs giant68 despairs. She is happy with same old things that she has always had. “Why do we need a new TV, is the old one broken?”

“No, it’s not broken but we just need a new TV”


“Because.” A bit childish really but I have no good answer. Sometimes you just need new things. What can I say?

Ooh, shiny things...

Monday, 12 October 2009


In my study I have an album of photos from my childhood. They were given to me on my 40th birthday by my mum. In her infinite wisdom, she decided to bring them along to my birthday party and show them to all my friends. As all my friends were under the influence of copious quantities of booze they all thought them hysterically funny.

There were pictures of me naked on a hillside when I was about 2 or 3. Pictures of me through my school years. Pictures of me... Never mind, I think you get the idea. They were the sort of photo that gets dragged out when the new girlfriend/ boyfriend finally gets to meet the parents.

But there are only about 30 or 40 of them. That was the beauty of the analogue age. When cameras needed to be filled with a film and then, when the photos were taken, had to taken to the chemist and developed. All at a cost.

Now in the digital age everybody has a digital camera that takes no film and needs no developing. Pictures can be taken willy nilly and downloaded onto the family computer, uploaded to Myfacebookspace or whatever. I have just become a granddad, well, a month ago anyway, and I already have somewhere in the region of 500 pictures of my granddaughter on my laptop. Can you imagine how ,long it is going to take to show all these, and the rest that we take over the years, to new love interest when she gets older. Maybe we ought to give her business cards with the URL of where they are stored online and the message “ carry on without me and let me know when you are finished”

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A Social Networking Tweet

OK, now, I have been a member of Facebook and Twitter for some time, and I have built up a collection of just short of a hundred friends. Yeah, I know, my son has over 2oo friends and some people have even more. Here’s my question: Do these people know these “friends” or are they just random people that they have selected? I tend to ignore “friend requests” from people that I don’t know, but how many people will accept, thinking that they have just made a new friend, or maybe it was someone I used to know and forgot about? Or is it the league table of friends? I have more friends than you so I must be better.

Also I have noticed a propensity for people to have conversations through their Facebook status with people that are probably sitting right next to them. And it is generally really soppy messages. The kind that make you reach for the bucket and yak your intestines out. These people would not have these conversations in public so why do they feel that all their friends want to share it? You see, i tell my wife that I love her, I don’t feel the need to do it through a third party

So now I have alienated campers, Skegnness, facebook and social networking. Who’s next?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

East of Eden

Now, some of you may have noticed that I am not a great fan of sleeping under canvas ( if you hadn’t noticed then give yourself a slap and go and read my earlier blog, naughty person!). So when Mrs Giant68 decided that we would have a break away I started to get a bit nervous. But we decided we would drive around the east of the country, a region that neither of us had been to.

Well, it was a very nice part of the world, in places. We went to Skegness and noticed, please don’t take offence if you live in or, indeed, like Skegness, that Skegness has cornered the market for tattoo ink and gold sovereign rings. To say that it may be the capital of the Chav universe could be an understatement. Strange, then, that just down the road from Skegness is the Gibraltar Point nature reserve. This has to be one of the most amazing places on the face of the planet. Miles of grassland and sand dunes leading down to a huge beach. If I had known it was going to be this good i would have ignored skeggy and gone straight here. Some may say that the wind turbines that are out in the sea spoil the view but I quite liked it.

We visited stately homes, travelled in cable cars and drove somewhere in the region of a thousand miles over the course of the week. Then we ended up in Wilmslow. I know, Wilmslow is on the other side of the country. But my cousin lives there, among the WAGS and the footballers and coked up celebs. Fortunately the above qualifications do not apply to her and her husband. We spent the weekend cornering the market for alcohol and food. What a way to finish the holiday.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

I am far too young, I think.

In a few weeks time no.1 daughter will make myself and Mrs Giant68 grandparents. Now, while I am only 44 years old and Mrs Giant68 is a bit younger, I am not averse to becoming what is traditionally seen as an older character in a cardigan, slippers and sucking a Werthers Original.
I am positively looking forward to it. The thing is, though, what will I be called? What will Mrs Giant68 be called? Nanny makes her sound like a goat. Granny? Gran? She feels that these are terms reserved for an older person. She has decided to be nana. Sounds like banana, or bananas, another way of saying that she is crackers. Far be it for me to say anything like that though!
Me? I was told what I was going to be called. Grumps. Thanks!
Werthers Original anyone?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Healthy Options

Being a professional salad dodger of many years standing I find it suddenly hard to reconcile the fact that I suddenly fancy a plate loaded with green stuff. Where did this weird craving suddenly come from? It can’t be the sun suddenly beating down on the south of England, surely, as the sun has shone before and I have never felt like eating rabbit food. Usually when the sun starts shining I start buying burgers and sausages and charring them on the bbq. Maybe it is a sign that I am turning into my dad, who would, quite happily munch away on a stalk of celery. In fact I have some celery sitting in the bottom of the fridge, much to Mrs Giant68s dismay as she hates the stuff. If this is the case will I also turn into a grumpy old man? "Too late" says Mrs Giant68!
Maybe it is my body just telling me that I need to start looking after it. After all these years of excess, smoking, drinking, burning the candle at both ends… So, I’ll have to get the exercise bike out of the attic, give in to the delights of a herbivores diet and start to look pale and pasty.
I’m starting to come out in a cold sweat just thinking about it, I think I’ll go and have a cigarette!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Carry On Camping (or not...)

So. A weekend camping. I’ve never really seen the attraction in sleeping on the floor in a field under canvas. But some people like it. So when my friends invited us along Mrs Giant68, Mini Giant68 and myself went along, with an almost open mind. We borrowed a tent from No1 daughter, and a few other bits and bobs then headed up the A36 to Salisbury. Well, they did, I had to work on Saturday morning so while they headed out on Friday I stayed at home with a takeaway pizza and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon.
I followed on Saturday afternoon with some last minute equipment, a list had been texted to me that morning. Most of it was to do with the fact that it still quite cool at night and Mrs giant68 was feeling the cold.
Now, I have nothing against camping as such, apart from communal toilets, showers, cooking over a camping stove, insects, the fragility of the British weather… But ignoring all that nothing. We were part of a large group, some of them people I work with and a bunch of friends. All very nice people and I think that is what makes the whole experience something to enjoy. The site was a beautiful, just outside Salisbury, the weather was sunny and hot. A short walk into Salisbury along the river ended at the market then back to Waitrose for food for the evening bbq. OK so now I’m absolutely knackered, the dodgy hip is playing up and I want some alcohol. From this point on it's booze and food, cooking over disposable bbqs and a camping gas stove. Good job there were plenty of people to do this, with my aging joints I could, maybe, get down on the floor to do the cooking but I would never get back up again! Silly games and more booze then it’s time for me. At least, to sleep. That is a very loose term, to sleep, I tried not to roll down the hill off my mattress, but I felt that I needed crampons and rope to hold me there. At one point I think I rolled onto Mrs Giant68, (stop that! I’ve already told you I have a dodgy hip…) Not much sleep then.
We walked to Old Sarum castle in the sun the next day, had an ice cream and walked back. Then off home to mull over the camping experience, or maybe just catch up some sleep or just use a decent toilet ( not that there was anything wrong with the toilets at the site but it is not the same, having a clearout in someone else’s toilet.)
Would I do it again? Probably, if only for the company I shared that weekend. I would need to make sure that I had better equipment ( and possibly a new hip!) Whether Mini Giant68 will ever do it again is another matter, he’s a teenager, just, and values decent beds and the other comforts of home.
There is something about sharing time like that with some good friends that, while it may not recharge the batteries like a holiday sat by the beach, recharges something else that may be bit more valuable.
This morning, I am still knackered and need to catch up with some serious sleep, my hip still aches, I have sunburn but I am happy.
Think Carry On Camping, and if you were there you can try and work out who was Sid James, Jack Douglas, Barbara Windsor etc…
And don’t mention the spaghetti Bolognese.
Or Teds shorts.