Oops

One of the perks of work is that I get a TasteCard. Not only does it provide 2-for-1 offers on a range of restaurants, it also provides discounted cinema tickets.

So, when my friend Boris suggested we go to Vue Cinema on Sunday afternoon to see the new gay film Firebird, I naturally thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to use the card.

I logged on to the TasteCard website on Sunday, just before I left the house, to see how to get the offer. Unfortunately you cannot simply flash the card at the ticket desk. I needed to purchase a voucher code, which I would then redeem at the cinema.

So, I went through the purchase process and bought a code.

“Your code has been sent to your registered email address.”

Ah. There is a problem here: because I got the TasteCard through work, it is registered to my work email address. And our company email is locked down so the only way to access it is on my work laptop — which was in the office.

(I will add at this point that company policy is that employees should take their laptop home with them every night, but… meh)

Now, a lesser person would have just written off the £13 cost of the voucher codes. But not I! My security fob gives 24/7 access to the office building, and I had a twenty minute window between getting off the train and getting the bus to Cheshire Oaks. Would that be enough time to get from the station to the office, then to the bus stop?

As it turns out — yes! A quick speed-mince across town and I was in and out of the office in less than five minutes. It would have been even less time, had I not had to wait for the laser printer to warm up.

So, if the security guards at the office were watching the CCTV on Sunday and saw someone dash in, leg it up three flights of stairs, dash into the office, turn on his laptop and the laser printer, quickly print off a voucher, and leg it back down the stairs, they don’t need to worry – it was just me.

What is the point of this blog? Nothing really, except to illustrate the lengths I will go to in order to save a few quid.

I then got rinsed for £3.99 for a Coke Zero at the cinema refreshment stand. BAH.

(Firebird itself was excellent, look out for a separate post about that soon)

Two years

Will it ever get any easier?

As someone who couldn’t see my mother in hospital until the very final hours of her life, and then could only attend her funeral with six other people, I am naturally enjoying the “well actually the rules were silly and everyone broke them anyway” discourse in Toryland over the past few days. Shitheads, the lot of them.

No context iPad

Apple, at one of its periodic “look how great we are” events, has unveiled a new iPad Air. It’s the 5th generation model! It’s Star Trek: Enterprise!

I’m probably going to buy one to replace my iPad Air 2, which has served me well over the years, but is now on its last legs. It’s slow, turns itself off at random points, and last week the screen suddenly developed the weird affliction seen below. It’s great if you’re a fan of psychedelia, less so if you want to browse the web.

iPad screen showing various glitches, including incorrect colours and parts of previous screens remaining on screen

Apple’s marketing likes to tout the benefits of the iPad as a creative powerhouse, a complete system for work and play. Me, I use it mainly to browse the web and find memes to post on Twitter. Every time I see an amusing or strange photo, I save it in the library, ready to drop into an @-reply, clock up those likes and retweets, and release that sweet, sweet dopamine.

The thing is, half of the pictures I find, I never actually post for one reason or another. The photo library on my iPad is now full of stuff that has accumulated over the past seven years. I’m sure they would have made excellent Tweets, had I remembered to actually post them, but in many cases the reason I saved them is lost to time.

BUT… it seems a shame to waste all these images, so here for your entertainment is a selection from my iPad photo library. There is zero context for any of these images, because I don’t have any. Enjoy!

Continue reading “No context iPad”

Still here

Hello.

It’s been – oh wow – nine months since I last blogged. Nine months. People have gotten pregnant and given birth in that time. I suppose you could say this was a pregnant pause (sorry).

The Robert of ten years ago would be horrified that he had left it this long without forcing an opinion on the world. Today’s Robert is more relaxed, and has realised that he doesn’t need to pour every single thought he has onto the Internet. Unfortunately, that seems to have translated into not pouring any thoughts out.

Without going into too many specifics, the last year or so has been tough. The effects of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, upheaval at work, general despair about the state of the country (nay, the world) have all taken their toll. Truth be told, getting through the day has been a struggle at times, and the last thing I’ve wanted to do when I get home in the evening is open up WordPress and start typing.

Are things better now? Not in the world generally – if anything, things are worse – but in my own life, I’m going to cautiously say… yes? I’m at the point where I actually feel like doing this again, at least for now.

I’m not going to make any promises on the blogging front, because history has proven time and again that I am rubbish at sticking to them. Also, frankly, it’s my website so the update schedule is my business and no-one else’s. I do have a plan of sorts in my head for what I want to do with the website in future, so you may see some changes.

Feel free to moan at me for not blogging more over on Twitter.

One Year

One year since the phone rang at 1am, just as we were going to bed.

One year since a nurse told me, with classic British understatement, that my mother had “taken a bit of a turn for the worse.”

One year since a 3am taxi ride through deserted Liverpool streets.

One year since I held my mother’s hand through latex gloves as she gasped for air.

One year since I told her that I loved her, despite not being entirely sure that she could understand me.

One year since that second phone call, after a couple of hours of dreamless sleep. The phone call that I didn’t want to answer, because I knew what news was waiting for me when I did.

One year.

If there is one thing above all else that still pains me, it’s that I never got to say a proper goodbye. I imagined one last heartfelt conversation, a chance to say what needed to be said. It never happened.

Say the things you need to say, to the people you need to say them to, and do it before it’s too late.

Charity begins at the home page

My birthday is approaching and, in lieu of any gifts, I am asking for donations to the Amyloidosis Research Fund.

In April 2020 my entire family was devastated by the loss of my mum, Dot Hampton. Her death has left a massive gap in all our lives, and the pain and grief are still very real, nearly five months later.

Robert with his Mum

Continue reading “Charity begins at the home page”

Mum

Photo of my Mum

Today we held the funeral for my Mum, who passed away two weeks ago after contracting Covid-19. She was 72, which is far, far too young for this to happen. To say I am devastated is an understatement. Her death has left a hole in my life that can never be properly filled.

I don’t often share personal stuff on this blog, but I need people to know what a wonderful person she was, and what she meant to me. So here goes, with a blog post I never wanted to write…

Continue reading “Mum”

My favourite photo of 2019

How to sum up 2019? I did a fair bit of travelling, saw some new places and made some new friends (#TågFärjetur), and revisited some familiar haunts too (Hamburg, Berlin).

But if there’s one photo which sums up my 2019, it’s this one, taken at Liverpool Pride on 27th July.

Robert at Liverpool Pride 2019 in a rainbow poncho

It rained relentlessly for pretty much the whole day, only letting up briefly for about an hour late afternoon. It rained during the Pride march itself, it rained on all the marquees, it rained on everyone watching the acts on the main stage.

I didn’t care. I was wearing a rainbow poncho I’d bought from Clas Ohlson which kept me (mostly) dry, and I was with my friends. I had a great time.

Smiling, even though by rights I should have been totally miserable? That’s 2019 in a photo, there.

Still Furious

When I woke up the morning after that vote and saw the result, I was despondent, I was angry, but I genuinely believed I would get over it. I thought time would be a healer, that the country would coalesce around a reasonable Brexit compromise, and we would all move on.

It hasn’t happened. Three years on, and I’m still furious.

Furious at the needless waste of money and effort that is being expended to try and protect us from the impact of this decision.

Furious at the lack of action to solve other serious problems while Westminster obsesses over the minutiae of Brexit.

Furious at the loss of opportunity to live and work freely in 26 other countries.

Furious that millions of young people, who didn’t get to vote because they were under 18 at the time, will have to live for the rest of their lives with a decision that was out of their hands.

Furious that a politician was murdered.

Furious at the liars and cheaters in the campaign who got away with it.

Furious at the media who failed to give the arguments any proper scrutiny.

Furious at the politicians who are too cowardly to stand up and ask for a rethink.

Furious that my patriotism and belief in democracy has been called into question because I want to stop a damaging Brexit.

Furious that bigotry and xenophobia is now being treated as a legitimate political position.

Check back in with me in three years. Maybe by then I’ll be over it. But I doubt it.

Brex-iety

I spent the weekend in Hamburg with some friends, enjoying all the sights and sounds that Germany’s second city has to offer. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll have got a flavour of my trip. I will try and get a longer blog post up at the weekend detailing the shenanigans.

In the meantime, I wanted to mention one thing. A change in my mood, for reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. When I got home, it hit me: for the 72 hours I was away, I didn’t hear anything about Brexit.

Maybe Brexit was being discussed on all of Germany’s news channels, but if it was, I didn’t see it. I was busy exploring the city so I wasn’t on Twitter as much as usual. And I was much happier.

I’ve always prided myself on keeping up with the issues, but when everything is just so grim, it’s wonderful to get away for a few days. I got back home at lunchtime on Monday. By that evening, all my anxieties and worries had returned.

And, whatever happens, the source of stress is going to go on for years. If the deal fails, we may leave without a deal, with severe long-term consequences that we will all experience. If May’s deal goes through, we have many years of wrangling about our future trading relationship which will dominate the agenda. There’s a tiny chance of a second referendum, which will probably be even more rancorous and unpleasant than the first. We will have a new Tory leader, probably a much more right-wing one (and given how right-wing May has been, that is a scary prospect). Frankly, I’m not sure I can cope.

Someone please write something in the comments to cheer me up.