Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Vagabond Committee



It normally takes me the best part of two hours to get home, which at this time of year means that on my working days, I leave in the dark and come home in the dark.  None of this was my idea. 

At 6pm I was at my front door, entering the code that unlocks it.  This didn’t work.  So I tried again.  That didn’t work.  So I tried again.  That didn’t work.  So I tried again.  That didn’t work.  So I tried again.  You can see where I’m going with this one.  Now it’s 7:45pm and I’m in the pub.  It’s cold outside, but it’s warm in here.  There’s beer in my belly.  Not very much: work again tomorrow, after all.

I’m locked out of my own flat.  It’s been a while since I lived anywhere it was possible to get locked out of for more than a few minutes.  I used to lock myself out all the time, a while before that, but that was when I lived next door to my landlord, so all I had to do was wait for him to get home, either sitting on my front door step, which wasn’t so bad, or in the park just across the road, which was usually less bad.  At least before people started going there to get stabbed.  That was around the time I started to be more careful about not locking myself out.  I moved away eventually, never once having got stabbed.

Your call is number four in the queue.  That’s what it said on the other end of the phone to my landlord, who for some reason contracts himself out to a call centre in Liverpool at night time.  Liverpool is miles away, which is no use at all.  Your call is number two in the queue.  Then it cut out completely.  I’m still in the pub, typing words to pass the time.



Nick called at 7:43pm.  Nick’s the local bloke who fixes things on behalf of the landlord who may, or may not, be in Liverpool.  I’ve never met him.  I am a peasant.  Nick asked me a lot of questions about why I couldn’t open the door, which were just versions of have you tried opening it and/or doing the things you need to do in order to open it?  Yes Nick.  Yes I have.  None of these things worked (in fact, only one thing; namely, entering the code, which didn’t work).  Hence why we find ourselves in this situation.  I’ll come out and fix it then, says Nick.  Thanks Nick.  I’ll have another pint while you do that.  Hopefully I’ll be inside in time to go to bed at the time I would have anyway Work tomorrow, after all.

The two tellies in the pub are playing the BBC news.  Conservative MPs are voting about how confident they are in the Prime Minister’s ability to leave the European Union for us by the end of March.  I’m not very confident in landlord’s ability to get me into my own flat before the pub closes, but I’m not allowed to vote about that.  So much for democracy.

I almost feel sorry for Theresa May.  Almost, because she’s a Tory and therefore doesn’t really have human feelings or a soul.  She didn’t want to leave the EU, but now she has to because more people will it than don’t.  It seems pretty clear now that people who willed it don’t know what they willed, but that doesn’t matter for reasons nobody has actually articulated because nobody can.  Something about democracy.  Whatever that is.  The 1922 Committee is so named because that’s the year the average Conservative Party member wishes it still was.  You know the good old days you hear about from time to time?  That’s when they were.  1922.  Ninety-six years ago.  Those were the days.  All three hundred and sixty five of them, assuming 1922 wasn’t a leap year in which case shut up.   There were three hundred and sixty five good old days, and then they were over.  1923 was terrible.  1924 was even worse.  My grandparents on my Dad’s side were born in 1924.  They were good people.  My granddad would probably have voted for Brexit.  Not so sure about my grandma though.  My Dad always wondered if she was secretly a Lib Dem.  Nobody will ever know for sure because they’re both dead.  Good people, but now I’m repeating myself.

Occasionally I wonder if being homeless might be great.  This is of course offensive and all the other kinds of disgusting, to think such a thing, but anyway, sometimes I do.  I have a totally unrealistic romantic view of the idea of homelessness.  Of course it’s a fantasy with a subtext of being able to eat and sleep whatever and wherever I want – not on-the-streets in abject poverty homelessness.  Vagabondery, which I have just now decided surely has to be a word – and so it’s a fantasy in which for whatever reason if I need money I can just walk up to a cash machine and get some, like how I thought it actually worked for adults before I turned into one myself.   You can’t afford it?  Just go to the bank and get some more money! 

Your call is number three in the queue.  Oh no, no, it’s not anymore, because you’ve been cut off for no reason at all.  Your call is number four in the queue.  Brexit means Brexit.

What it is, is, I associate that kind of homelessness – I’m sorry, the vagabondery – with freedom.  The stupid kind of freedom, you know.  The kind where you don’t actually have to do anything.  The sort of freedom you might decide you had if you came home you couldn’t get in.  All your stuff would still be there, but instead of taking any steps to get it back or back to it, you just decided oh well, I’m homeless now, and moved on with your life.  Cash machine, then over the hill, free.  Brexit means Brexit.  None of this was my idea. 




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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Ecobricking It




An ecobrick is a plastic bottle stuffed full of plastic, which you then use as a brick.  It's a idea that's been on my radar for some time now (Earthship Brighton, which I visited a few years ago, is partly made of them) and recently they've been showing up in Facebook feed too, so I decided to get involved in making some.  Turns out there's a "Global Ecobrick Alliance" to guide you along, to which I have signed up, subscribed, and so on.  Here's an introductory video from their YouTube channel:



Here's a plastic bottle I had in my recycling bin, now empty of sunflower oil, into which I will stuff my first brick's worth of stuff:


It's not the most common size or shape of bottle, but I don't think that matters too much.  I can build up a collection of these in time myself.  Also the "movement" of ecobrickers, if that's what it is (and I hope so) seems to be all about connecting with others making bricks of their own, so no doubt I'll have the chance to contribute to a wider network of ecobricks, which can then be put to good use.

Go and sign up at ecobricks.org right now.

Yeah.





Related posts

A Weekend at Earthship Brighton
Sitting on a Landfill (Waiting for the End to Come)
Plastic Free Market Forces
Everyday Things You Don't Really Need at All #1: Washing Up Liquid
Everyday Things You Don't Really Need at All #2: Toothpaste



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£1.00 a Day Eating Challenge: Round Two, Day Six, Seven, Eight, and On




Round Two is over.  I made it eight days this time; one more day than in Round One.  It's been an interesting experience, as well as a boring one.  I've learned some things:

1.  Eating on a tiny budget is a popular pursuit; a necessity for some, a game for others, both for many.  (There's nothing wrong with that; there's no need to get hung up on concerns about "poverty porn" or ruthlessly instagrammed false humility).  The Facebook group, Feed Yourself for £1 a day has over 10,000 members.  Food-Surviving on 50p a day has nearly 7,500.

2.  It's neither healthy nor unhealthy to limit yourself like this.  Cheap, healthy meals aren't necessarily more expensive than cheap, unhealthy ones, but generally take more planning and preparation.  For instance, on day six this time around, worried about how healthy and shiny I was starting to feel after all that broccoli, I splashed out in Heron Foods on six packets of "curry" noodles for £1.00 precisely.  They sustained me for that afternoon and evening: my stomach appeared to recognise them as food, even if my eyes didn't.

What?
3.  Longer term, I've resolved to limit myself to a weekly budget, probably of £10, for food.  This allows for adequate fresh ingredients, and will be supplemented by a stockpile of staples.  This seems to be the best way to stay healthy, happy and un-distracted by food.  That's all I have to say about that for now.  No point making a big deal out of it.  There's other things I want to concentrate on.







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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

£1.00 a Day Eating Challenge: Round Two, Day Five (EAT PORRIDGE EVERY DAY)




I'll tell you what: that lunch I made last night was absolutely delicious.  Fried rice, with grated ginger, broccoli and black pepper.  That's all it was, but it was yummy.  YUMMY, I tell you.



I'm back into the porridge habit, too.  If you want to live to be 100 or more, you should eat porridge, as evidenced here, and there - and everywhere.  There are two other things I would like to say about porridge:

  1. Porridge oats can last basically forever.  I bought a 25kg bag of them over years ago.  I keep it under my kitchen counter in a dry spot and their original paper packaging, and they're as good and fresh today as they always were.
  2. It's even easier to make porridge than you already thought it was.  You might think you need a saucepan or a microwave, or other ingredients like salt or milk but you really don't.  Spoon the required portion size of oats into the bowl you intend to eat them out of, pour water just boiled from the kettle over, stir and leave.  You might want to try leaving them, covered, overnight, to make "overnight oats" but you can just as well do what I do - leave them uncovered, to cool just for 5 - 10 minutes while you're in the shower.  It might not give you as creamy a breakfast as you're looking for, but it's perfectly adequate.  I sprinkle in a little sugar, and plenty of mixed seeds to feel consistently amazing.
Today's budget is £1.28, so I can stock up on potatoes on the way home.  I think that's all I'm going to need. Broccoli and fried rice for tea again.  And potatoes.  I don't see that I have any other choice.










Related posts

Experimental High Protein Vegan Breakfast Energy Bars
Spaghetti Brocolesse
Grow Your Own Meals Indoors, Forever and Ever?
Celebrating Roast Potatoes


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