2015 — 9 July: Thursday

My motorway observation yesterday may just be an instance of "confirmation bias"1 but I still remain convinced that living within non-commuting distance of my work was one of my smarter decisions, made by the end of the 1960s — after watching my father spend 12 hours a day, five days a week, on the combination of his job and its daily commute into Moorgate. Averaging out the global travel burden imposed on Planet Earth by the next-gen Mounce siblings, I suspect John's carbon footprint more than conceals any trace of mine over the past four decades.

Last night's entertainment?

I revisited several items from 2007 — many2 probably bought in attempts to take our minds of Christa's worsening health — and will probably now retire quite a few of them. Clearing up and sorting out in the wake of dear Mama's recent planetary lift-off is proving a useful exercise in de-cluttering. As was watching and listening to Big Bro as I left him to work bemusedly through the suitcase I'd hastily stuffed full in mid-March with what — for probate valuation purposes — I'd blandly described as "trinkets of sentimental value removed from her room in the care-home".

"Why would anyone keep this?" was one of his more-frequent mutterings.

I don't understand...

... how the well-telegraphed measures in yesterday's Budget can have taken anyone by surprise. After all, politicians never lie. You always get what you vote for. And it's always exactly what you wanted. Or have I misunderstood the nature of our democracy? But then I also don't understand the importance so many people seem to attach to the bits of patterned cloth they dangle from flagpoles. I am but a bear of simple brain.

Who needs some honey, or near equivalent, for his breakfast.

Back on "clutter"...

... I was somewhat amused, on noticing this unfamilar popup...

Reader focus

... after reloading Firefox in the wake of its latest update, mere minutes ago. Clicking on it amused me slightly more.

A lady purporting to be from my bank phoned me, wishing to know what I thought of the "recent service". I told her she had a problem. [Silence.] Relenting, I went on: While I was prepared to accept "she was who she claimed to be", and to be calling "on behalf of who she claimed to be", the fact remained that she couldn't prove any of that to me over the phone, could she? So, unless she cared to contact me again using a more secure medium, I would not actually be prepared to discuss anything with her.

"Oh. OK. Erm. Well, thank you for your time." (She sounded surprised. Why would that be, I wonder?)

Having taken advice...

... from the guru buying my lunch today, and treated him to an icecream cone at Carlo's for "pud", I have just been poking around to de-activate both my Adobe Flash reader (a plugin for my web browser) and the "Iced Tea" gubbins that aids the running of Java applets in said browser. I stumbled across the latter when trying to show Big Bro likely motorway conditions courtesy of the heavily programmatic Highways Agency website.

Flash and Java seem able to expose a larger attack surface more effectively than I think is strictly necessary. Not that I generally browse anywhere particularly nefarious. I was warned that removing them would probably break other stuff. Simply de-activating them seems a better bet.

Room(s) with a view

I found these among some care-home photos that John will be taking back to NZ with him. First, our little house in Wilmslow — my bedroom was in the middle. We lived there from 1954 until early 1960, and I can still recall standing on the transmission hump of Dad's Vauxhall saloon (OOM 207) as he drove on to the drive when the builders were just putting on the roof tiles:

11 Vale Road, Wilmslow

Six years later, we moved about five miles away to a new 'yuppie' (!) estate in Alderley Edge, in 1960; my room was again in the middle (but at the back). It was a nice, rather more modern, house. I had been promised I could choose my own bedroom décor and I suspect I tested dear Mama to the limit by opting for a bright red carpet, three white walls, and a mostly red Chinese pattern wallpaper on the fourth wall. I suspect I was regarded as mad, but in fact the decoration actually looked stunning.

17 Green Villa Park, Alderley Edge

The red carpet found a new lease of life in the dining room — my preferred hiding place for curling up in an armchair for a quiet read — of the next house, down in Harpenden, in early 1964; my bedroom was again in the middle:

62 Meadway, Harpenden

It had a walk-in closet that became my library. I could shut myself quietly away in there at night, with a light on, and read long after 'official' bedtime for the rest of the household. The house had originally been built for the builder's own occupancy but his wife preferred the one he built next door. By the time my parents left Harpenden, at the end of 1970, I'd more or less moved out. I certainly never considered their houses in Meldreth (1971) or Penn (1972) as "home" in any real sense. Though I had a room and a bed in each of them for my use at weekends. Since John set off for NZ in the summer of 1970, too, I guess my parents' "empty nest" arrived rather abruptly.



1  Hard to unravel the ghost in the machine, is it not?
2  "The Family Stone", for example. It strikes me that my tastes, interests, tolerance, and patience levels have all changed (some quite dramatically) in the last eight years. Funny how these changes can creep up on you.