As I write this the Covid noose is tightening again as the number of cases rises, seemingly inexorably. We are really comfortable, hiding in our new house and, honestly, I am grateful for the prolonged opportunities to tidy the garage, the loft and the garden. The big downsides are the inability to see our children, the grandchildren and all our friends from Norfolk. Readers, we miss all of you greatly and it is hard not to be depressed about it. Zoom, Skype and the like do not really “do it for us”. Another downside to our seclude existence is the lack of things to write about in these monthly articles. However, this month, there are two topics which, in normal time, might seem insignificant but, in these times, seem worth mentioning, so here goes!
On the whole, Management and I like to watch the same television programmes but, when our tastes diverge, we do have two sitting rooms, one large and the other a “snug” intended for the kids. Both have televisions so we can separate at times of crisis, like “East Enders”.
Anyway, we both quite like “Police Interceptors” on channel 5. Big hairy policemen chase weedy, drug fuelled toe rags who drive uninsured, untaxed or stolen cars at horrendous speeds until they escape the police BMWs, crash or get caught. Police helicopters, dogs and lot of yellow BMWs are present. Quite often, the police use a stinger – a metal sheet containing spikes which puncture tyres. The police throw it across the road in front of the toe rag’s vehicle and, all four tyres having been punctured, the car grinds to a halt and, the baddies run away and the police chase begins.
One access to our road is from a very fast dual carriageway. Coming from Hagley High Street, we go around a roundabout, travel half a mile along the dual carriageway and then take a right hand slip road before crossing the oncoming lane of traffic through a gap in the central reservation. Very dodgy and the site of frequent accidents. One day last week, as we set off along the dual carriageway, I passed a parked transit minibus. Hidden behind it were about 8 hairy policemen in reflective jackets and, on the ground by the van was a stinger, ready to be used. Great excitement! We crossed the carriage way into our road and pulled up in an old gateway, well out of the way. We then watched the proceedings from the safety of the nearby grass verge. Lots of police activity, marked cars, motor cycles, etc. We stood and waited. Suddenly, a black BMW came screaming along the dual carriageway with a high speed marked police Beamer on its tail, blues and twos in full mode. A result! We waited for the stinger to be deployed, as they say, but nothing much seemed to happen. The black BMW slowed down, indicated right , crossed the central reservation and headed back towards the roundabout. The marked BMW turned off his blue and twos and followed. The black BMW was an unmarked police car with two reflective policemen in it and the marked BMW had one policeman driving it. Obviously, they were killing time while the villain’s car approached. We stood there in the cold, desperate to see the villain caught. Eight times, the above high speed chase was repeated and the police stared to grin at us as they went around. Eventually, the police all got in the minibus and pushed off. Obviously, the villain had taken another route. Eventually, the marked police car drove up to our vantage point and the officer got out and approached us. Head office terrified he was going to reprimand us! He looked amused, thanked us for watching and explained (Yes, you have guessed it) that it was a training exercise to teach new officers how to use a Stinger. The black police beamer was playing the villain and our friend in the marked car had been chasing him. The trick is for the police to deploy the stinger and then whip it out of the way before the chase vehicle hits it. We had a lovely chat with the officer and he had done a great public relations job.
We treated ourselves to a new coffee machine. Made by Magimix, the Vertuo Next had good reviews. It arrived, I took it out of the box and looked at the instruction book. The first page described the procedure to toggle Bluetooth/Wi-Fo on/off. It then told me how to pair the Bluetooth in the coffee machine with my smartphone or tablet. Well, I don’t much care what colour teeth it has and my smartphone, a5S, won’t even drive the NHS Covid app soI moved on. I have no desire to operate my coffee machine from my car or my bedroom.
After that, the instructions were more straightforward. To flush the machine before use, I had to turn the machine on and run it without a coffee pod. Easy. Just press the button on top of the machine. The button will flash and, when the machine is ready, the light will be constant and ready to make coffee. No matter how often I tried, the light never became constant. After about an hour, I was about to telephone the manufacturer for help when I discovered in the very small print that the machine is delivered with Bluetooth switched on, so it will only work when paired with a smartphone or tablet.. WOT??! To turn off Bluetooth, I had to unplug the machine and wait ten seconds.Then, I had to place the handle in the unlocked position, press and hold the on/off button and plug the machine in again while keeping the button depressed. I did all this and the machine worked straight away, just by pressing the button on top. Unfortunately, in this switched off mode, I am unable to operate the machine from my bedroom, the car, Hong Kong or anywhere else. From switching the machine on to drinking coffee takes about 20 seconds so why on earth would I want to operate it remotely from my ‘phone? More to the point, why don’t they deliver the machine with Bluetooth off and the option to turn it on if you are so minded?
A friend wrote this: I would like to share a personal experience I had about drinking and driving. This might save you the cost and embarrassment of being arrested for DWI. As you know, people have been known to have unexpected brushes with the authorities from time to time, often on the way home after a “social session” with family or friends. Well recently, it happened to me. I was out for the night to a party and had more than several margaritas coupled with a bottle of rather lovely red wine. It was held at a great Italian restaurant. Although relaxed, I still had the common sense to know I was slightly over the limit. That’s when I did something I’ve never done before… I took a taxi home. On the way home there was a police roadblock, but since it was a taxi they waved it past and I arrived home safely without incident. These roadblocks can be anywhere and I realized how lucky I was to have chosen to take a taxi. The real surprise to me was that I had never driven a taxi before. Not sure where I got it, and now that it’s in my garage I don’t know what to do with it. If you want to borrow it, give me a call.