Knackered! And it’s only Wednesday.

I’ve done a phenomenal amount of work these last two days. A full fire alarm refurbish (including new panel, splitting two zones into three so new cabling, and fault elimination on the old system) and installed 7 cameras so far of a 10 camera system.

It hasn’t helped that the temperatures have been in the mid 20°C mark, and tomorrow it’s set to climb to 30°C at least. I’m not looking forward to that. I’m a creature of cool weather. I like it in the teens.

Today I’m back at the same place fitting the final three cameras (all on a fairly short run, I saved the best till last) and then I’ve got the door entry system to fit (single wire, not too difficult). Hopefully I’ll be done by mid-late afternoon rather than the last two days which have seen me getting in well after 6.

The fire panel wasn’t helped by the first one being faulty from the manufacturer. Where SC1 and SC2 are there should be a black terminal block. I’d be interested to know who QA’d this.

Lockdown. Things I’ve noticed & learned to appreciate.

So after a few months of lockdown, we are beginning to see things starting to happen again. Shops are slowly opening. I can now get my Costa Coffee again (albeit as a drive through) and I’m seeing busier roads.

Apart from my current annoyance, which is people who are clearly out for recreational journeys driving everywhere incredibly slowly (usually 15mph below the speed limit) I am still enjoying the quieter roads; but they aren’t as quiet as they were when it first started.

My job is considered key – unappreciated, sure, but the government along with my industry representative body agreed that fire alarm maintenance and service is a priority job and must continue, and thus it was deemed correct for me to work through.

I socially distanced, and still do. I now have masks and hand sanitiser (although at first the selfish bastards hoarded it thus meaning I had to use other means to keep clean) and I have the sore face and ridiculously dry cracked hands to prove it.

My skin is pasty and white because I’ve been working through whilst my friends are all beautifully tanned; but I’ve not put weight on – which is a bonus!

The things I’ve learned to appreciate though:

Food. Basics such as flour, which we have always used as a family – we are very whole living, making many things from scratch and not buying pre-packaged. We use herbs, spices, flour, eggs, milk. These became in short supply. From what a friend tells me, not because of people copying our lifestyle, but because people who have never cooked before thought that if you added water to flour you got bread. Seriously! People would buy “herbs” and add them to tomatoes to make “pasta sauce”. That’s not quite how it works… perhaps I need to explain to them what a roux is.

Toilet paper. The legendary toilet paper shortage was beyond a joke. To be perfectly honest I actually blame the supermarkets a lot for this. We saw it coming. The rumours started spreading. Supermarkets could have immediately implimented a one-per-customer policy and stopped the grabbers. What they haven’t realised, of course, is now the hoarders have hoarded; their sales in the long run will fall. This will be better for us who didn’t hoard as it will drive the offers to clear the overstock. Fucking fools.

Cleaning Products. I was shocked by this one. I often wonder how filthy some people live. Rushing out and buying hand soap. Don’t they have a spare bottle ready to go? I buy it for the business, so I tend to buy by the 5 litre container anyway. Same for shower gel. I have to clean myself after a mucky day and I can really hammer the stuff. Buying it at supermarket prices wouldn’t save me any money, but by buying in bulk I cut down on single use plastics. We’re currently on a nice Scottish sea kelp shower gel. I had it in a hotel last year and rather liked it.

As we come out of lockdown though, I see the queues at the shops. I wonder just how desperate some people are to buy products. I’m not sure I want to return to the previous normal. It’s too fast moving for me now I’ve experienced a slower pace.

My old car.

Just out of curiosity I did a search for my old Rover 114GTa on the DVLA site to see it it’s still around.

Sadly it looks like 2007 was it’s final year. That corrosion isn’t something you’d have fixed on a car of such low value.

In case you’re wondering, it was an Irish number plate. It was actually an M reg according to its date of registration.

A folk train.

Sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Catching a train from a station. Traveling across a beautiful autumn landscape whilst being entertained by live musicians. Stopping off at a delightful country pub and having a bar meal and some real ale, all whilst being entertained by the same musicians; before returning home.

I tried it a couple of times a few years ago – and the reminder just pinged up that we were on it.

Sadly, I stopped going because even though I thought folk fans would be gentler people, it turns out they aren’t. One time – this time – we played on it.

Meeting at the station – the crowd gathers. A large crowd. Over 150. This isn’t good as a standard British Rail carriage holds about 75-90 people depending on the layout.

The train then pulls in. It’s a Pacer. The words pacer will strike fear into the hearts of any northerner. These things have been the staple of our rail travel since the 70’s – and many of them were built in the 70’s. With horrible hard bus seats, rock hard unforgiving suspension, and a slow shuddery ride they’re at the end of their life (and slowly being replaced).

The train arrives and the push begins. People force their way into the first carriage to see the “main band”. We’re the “caboose” band so we are in the overspill carriage. Problem is because it’s a standard train and not a charter there are passengers on there who really don’t give a flying fuck about the music and just want to get home on a quiet evening train after a hard day at work.

Arriving at the pub it’s a free for all. We head up there with everyone else and find that the same people who pushed into the first carriage are the same ones who push up to the bar and take the best seats.

Photo of the pub from a previous visit.

Once in the pub we finally get a drink – and stand up for a while. There aren’t any seats. Even though we are obviously one of the bands there is no reserved seating.

Two ladies ask about us and I explain that we are in the second carriage if they want to sit in there for the return journey. One of them tells me quite bluntly that “they don’t care about support bands, they’re here to see X” (X being the other band with us, a bunch of guys we know and actually appreciate as musicians).

The return journey has exactly the same chaos. Idiots fighting over seats. Pushing each other. Again we’re in the second carriage playing. Again we see the same faces who got pushed out of the lead carriage by the idiots.

Our journey home is met by heavy rain starting. Very heavy rain. We’re parked in Rotherham though so it’s only one train from Sheffield to Rotherham for us, and then a quick drive home.

But, you remember the two ladies (both of whom were “front of the line” when it came to pushiness), well they were also on the train to Rotherham; but unlike us, they had buses to catch home after leaving the station – a walk from the train to the bus station in the cold rain, and then a 30 bus ride to their homes (Herringthorpe).

I could have given them a lift. But I didn’t. Fuck ’em.