Pulled Over

January 28, 2009

Recently I’ve twice had the misfortune to be pulled over by PC Plod.

The first time was with a full car, by two motorcycle cops. Their reason was a failed light, but they then started jumping up and down on the rear bumper, trying to make the car “bottom out”. i.e. hit the suspension stops. I knew they had fallen off (not an MOT failure), but I pointed out I was house clearing, so therefore carring a lot – but no more than 5 people plus luggage, surely (the car’s stated limit). So the officer, disgruntled at not failing the car as “overloaded”, gave me a warning. Had to go through the whole indentification procedure; “post code” “tango whisky…”

The second, last week, was a bit more alkward. IF one times it right, one gets the needed 3/4 way around the roundabout at the end of my road, in one go, without shooting any of the three sets of lights. It was my mis-fortune to mis-time it, shoot one set of lights at red, with a cop cart behind me. I got out, full of apologies and explanations. Without grovelling, I explained it was a mis-timing on my part, that as there was no camera on the junction I would try it on (and I would not on such a junction, or any unknown junction).

I was let off with another warning, no penalty points (which they could have given me) because “I had the right attitude”. Mind you, it was iffy; if you pass the first lights at amber, you hit the second at red – and with only 20yds between the two, no chance to slow down and stop…that may have been my near-undoing this time


January 26, 2009

I tried to move mother’s car yesterday, but a flatish battery and damp prevented it starting. Charging the battery overnight, plus my car in tandem jump starting it (but had tried that yesterday, but car’s battery too flat) eventually allowed me to start the car, and then to drive it to the back of mother’s house.

I did not try and get an MOT for the car in December, and its tax disc runs out at the end of the month. Hence the desire to declare SORN (Statuatory Off Road Notification). But I want to keep the car for storage. For there is a garage full of stuff, much of it junk, but I can see items to keep and/or sell. One item I guess has a value of £100 on its own.

But the garage needs to be cleared out. It’s made of asbestos, so that will need specialised demolishion as well, and will drag down the value of the house *should* we inherit it. If it has to be sold, then to hell with the council, that’ll be their problem.

More notes on a depression

January 21, 2009

For the first time in weeks I attended the choir I sing in. Many gave me sympathy for my current plight re mother and work.

Driving back (and looking for a bank machine to top up my mobile phone, as it became empty this evening), I became aware of more places closed down in Richmond; restaurants and pubs/bars. As I was travelling further, there was, of course, Woolworth’s in Twickenham, plus more bars, and some others.

I note that as M&S’s close down of 27 of their “Simply food” chain , various suppliers also collapse. Sir S Rose, the now CEO and chairman of M&S, made a bad call by not putting it in the hands of the John Lewis Partnership’s Waitrose brand. He had the chance. JL could cope because in many cases they did not intersect branches, and with little extra overheads could manage the extra turn-over in premium ranges.

Finally, an odd note on a depression.

I purchased Seville oranges (from Waitrose, Beaconsfield, my usual store) about a week ago. Yet an on-line forum (I was looking for alternative recipies) suggested these were as rare as hen’s teeth, and that Waitrose was the only supplier, other than specialist greengrocers. I had wondered if even Waitrose supplied every store, but last weekend proved wrong on that point, when I found them in Richmond.

So how come Marmalade making is such a topic this year, (e.g. “The Archers”) when none of the *major* supermarkets appear to be stocking Sevilles?

Local MP / Recession

January 19, 2009

A local MP is Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman (Twickenham) I respect his abilities, though not all his policies.

There does seem to be a saturation coverage for him at present, and that is at a time when he seems to be on a publicity high. Desert Island Discs, various BBC news programmes, much discussion of his dancing etc. I believe him to be a far better performer in the House of Commons than his leader, Nick Clegg. It is one of my rant topics, the current “Cult of Youf” that means he is not leader. Or, in a hung parliament, C of the E. It would be a sad loss were he not C of the E, no matter what party nominally in power, given the current situation of the oeconomy (correct spelling).

My (demutualising) shareholding in the Halifax – HBOS, now Lloyds Banking Group, appear to be such that the share certificates may as well substitute for toilet roll.

Notes on a recession.

In Richmond on 17.I.09

Sony Centre; closed by last weekend, store gutted by Saturday.

“Paper Passions”, a specialist shop for good cards, other paper goods etc, closed “beyond control” = bank pulling plug (?). Store still stocked, so clearly not due to lack of stock, or if xmas was anything to go by, not lack of custom.

Whittards. Closing down sale, probably as part of rescue.


January 18, 2009


For many years my father grew this type of orchid. Probably Pleione Formosana. I remember one year in particular. I was in temporary residence in Shepherd’s Bush, W London, and the property was up for sale. It was just before I found a hovel in Richmond, which was central, in a good area, cheap, but a hovel.

Although in theory I had just one room, one corner was made into a
kitchenetteine, and the external loo/shower was effectively just for me, as the other “flat” (sic) was never let while I was there. I thus had what was in effect a (very) small flat for the price of a room – but it was a hovel. The electrics were a disaster area. I saved some cost of the rent by improving the place (e.g. putting up shelves in the kitchen (properly!), which were sorely lacking).

Indeed, living there for a year allowed me to save enough money (plus a legacy) to buy a flat in the same general area. Why I left, and in such a hurry, is either elsewhere, or will be elsewhere in the future.

But I digress. My father lent me a pot of Pleiones to brighten the Shepherd’s
Bush hovel, so I have a soft spot for them.

Anyway, I found various websites for these, and one in particular, Heritage Orchids. Since they are close to where my mother lives, I dropped by (by arrangement) and purchased some Formosana, and a hybrid called Rakata. I was interested in this, as at Chelsea Flower Show one year, I had been very impressed by (a different company’s) display of yellow and apricot Pleionies.

Those I purchased had been potted up for me, (although I had agreed to purchase some compost as well, to save me calling in at a garden centre or whatever).

It’s rather late to mention this, as its been at least a three months in action, but I was reminded of this today.

The greenhouse heater of many years was a commercial unit from my late Uncle, who had a market garden. Its failure was due to corrosion on a rivet, that was also used to make the electrical connexion between the mains and the heater element. Very difficult to fix. It was a brilliant unit, as the fan was on all the time (keeping the air moving), and only switched the heater on when needed.

A couple of years ago, on its failure, I got a second heater, which is a greenhouse heater, but is really just a standard heater with a different thermostat (for colder temperatures), and all plastic housing for safety reasons. When it switches on, it is both fan and heating element, and both switch off when it is warm enough. But keeping air moving in a greenhouse has great benefits in winter.

Last November when it was needed, I found that the thermostat had failed, and that it defaulted to being on (fan and heater) whatever the thermostat setting. I tried to find another, but could only find another identical example.

But I kept the old unit (heater off), running all the time, to keep the air moving, plus the new unit coming on as and when. In the very cold spell, just past, the minumum temperature was 2.5C – not bad for a guess on the thermostat, but I then turned it up slightly, and now it’s closer to 7C – a bit too warm.

For many years the greenhouse heater was run by an electronic thermostat system I had built from a magazine design (but with modifications). I guess the heater element must have failed, for it to be substituted, years later, by the commercial unit.

Due to the high cost of electricity, I am wondering how I can reduce costs. Clearly making a small interior second greenhouse within the first – may be using bubblewrap to make temporary walls – is a start.

More on dumbing down

January 14, 2009

I told a minor lie yesterday – I find I have a set of L7890 pliers as well.

Nothing from Lindstrom.

However, this arguement against dumbing down is not the first. I went around purchasing all the then Ciba-Geigy Araldite (Blue and Yellow) I could find, once I was alerted to a change then (Blue and White). These days I have to use Blue and White, but with a filler.

However, one reason to buy a sub-standard unit, as I put to mother this evening, (& she understood) is to use on parts that put a strain on the joint, and of course, reserving the vital jobs for the box jointed pliers that really need the quality would be the priority.

From time to time I rant on about the degrading of quality in tools. Eclipse is one company whose pin chucks were elegant well made tools, but are now chunky and crude.

It was a surprise, however, to find that I should add Swedish tool manufacturer Lindstrom to the list. I already have some of their pliers (models L7891, L7892), and a host of their cutters (80-series 8140 and 8160, with a set of spares, and RX-series 8130 and 8247). I also have pliers from another manufacturer (CK), but that is not today’s issue.

I decided I needed another bent snipe nose pliers (L7892) due to my hand injury, so I ordered a set from Farnell. I was amazed to receive a lap jointed tool!

Now the Farnell catalogue, the Lindstrom catalogue and all other sources show this as being a box jointed tool. I even phoned up Lindstrom, and the person who answered (I’ll not name them) read out from Lindstrom’s information all the advantages of box jointed pliers!. I’ve emailed Lindstrom asking what has happened.


This first photo shows a typical Lindstrom box jointed plier.


The second shows their ultimate RX range plier, new stock, lap jointed with a screw through the joint. It is not so clear, but in my opinion the quality and finish are cruder
as well.

Classic manufacture New stock
Joint (Hinge) Box Lap with screw
Model no On (unique) handle Stamped on metal (common handles)
Country of manufacture Sweden France/Spain

(sorry, this table has not come out too well).

As it happens, the change happened about 6 months ago, and there are still some old stock units around. I’ll be buying up lifetime’s stock tomorrow!

Why buy substandard units – as Lindstrom must admit, given their literature – at such high prices; the only justification was quality, which is clearly down the toilet now.

This is not the first time I find myself buying a lifetime’s stock of items, but this was not one place I considered I would have to do this from!

Work dilemma

January 10, 2009

I don’t often comment about work, although it is the dominant theme of my life, but this weekend has a real dilemma.

Either I make two assemblies, for a good customer, but we cannot complete the units because the panels have to be repainted (the wrong colour by two RAL points); value of the three (one already finished) ~ £15k. Maybe bt 25th before we get the panels and complete the units, *if* I do thewe assemblies now.

Or one large assembly, for an awful customer (meaning, payment is a real pain), but we could finish before 16.I, and blackmail them to pay up-front, approx £15k.

This example is just a regular situation I face, but it is not usually so finally balanced as this. Normally it is one urgent and one not quite wso urgent, but the latter worth zsay 40 times that of the urgent; which do you do first?