January on the Wane

January is on the way out, dear reader, which can only be a good thing. The days are steadily getting longer, although not especially warmer, just yet.

Lying in wait is February, and in the blink of an eye it’ll be March, with a ski trip to the Dolomites. I am imagining much in the way of leisurely slope-side pizza-consumption in the early spring Italian sunshine. Followed by Tiramsu, and almost certainly an espresso. Then, with a sigh and probably a burp or two, strapping on the skis and hurtling down the hill towards Brexit Day.

The country feels in a state of some turmoil as Brexit approaches. Personally, I can’t help but think the whole thing was an extraordinarily bad idea.

While I accept that Mrs May possibly hasn’t done as sterling a job as she might in navigating these choppy waters, I do have some sympathy given that she wasn’t for leaving in the first place. And I find myself grieved by the overall air of grasping self-interest that seems to be prevalent in the country, not particularly unusual in Westminster at any time, it must be said, but seemingly magnified just now. It feels like the country’s in a bit of a pickle, and rather than everyone rallying round to try to find a solution, everyone is instead fighting their own corner all the more fiercely, with Ms Sturgeon eyeing an opening to sell independence to the Scots again.

Along with worries about the Irish border, the long-term loss of GDP for the UK economy, loss of jobs, port blockages and the like, of immediate and pressing concern is the state of the nation’s Empire Biscuits, and in particular, the depth of icing. Last Friday the icing was unacceptably thin. This week the Admin Supremo attempted an early EB acquisition on Thursday night at Tesco.

“Never seen such pale Empire biscuits” was the report Friday morning. 

Bring on a second referendum I say.

Meanwhile, January has seen a marked decline in the use of the washing machine at Only Here For The Cricket Towers. Over the festive period in particular, I was delighted by how long my clothes were lasting between washes. It belatedly occurred to me that, in employing the tried-and-trusted Sniff Test each morning to determine my clothes’ eligibility for another day’s use, I had neglected to take into account the cold that I’d been suffering from for weeks, and thereby unable to effectively smell anything.

I do apologise to all my friends, particularly the huggers.

January has also seen a marked upturn in my sleep quality. On becoming more and more aware of the shape and hardness of the springs in my mattress, I petitioned the landlord for a new one, and received the go-ahead a week or so ago. I was reminded of a previous flat tenancy, twenty years ago now, when I inherited a room in a flat on Magdala Crescent. Lovely flat, quiet street, perfect location.

After a month or two living there, I began to question the cuts that were appearing on my torso without any apparent cause, until one day I noticed that some of the springs in my mattress were actually poking through. Not an awful lot, but enough to draw blood periodically. Somewhat timid in nature at this point in my life, I never mentioned it to anyone, and instead found a narrow strip along the westward side of the mattress which was unmined, so to speak, and lay very still every night.

I note with some alarm that Facebook is about to integrate Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Quite what that means I’m not sure, but I’m alarmed mainly by the implication that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, a fact of which I was unaware. I was becoming quite fond of WhatsApp too. Ickle Bef uses it to send pictures of swans on the canal, which is charming. And Nicola, sporadically occupied in the Caring Profession between documentaries about the state of the Polynesian rainforests [subtitled], sends occasional informative updates to us all from drug dens in Leith.

If WhatsApp takes a Facebook approach to life and applies its cursed algorithmic approach based on one’s “liking” and “posting” activity… well, no-one will ever see anything I say, ever. 

I might have to start speaking to people in person from here on in. Eek.


I am not a fan of Facebook. I resisted setting up an account for a long time, despite the number of email invites that kept popping up in my inbox. However, I eventually caved in, and then wondered why I had. I sent a Facebook message to Kenny D asking him what it was all about. He didn’t seem to know either. I then spent the next few months becoming people’s friends, until I had amassed, ooh, about 14 friends in all. But having plenty of other ways to waste time of an evening, I never found myself actually logged on to the site unless I had a ‘friend request waiting’ or some such. Whenever I did so, I would discover that several of my friends had headbutted me, sent me a drink, or turned into pirates.

I realise that this is all going to sound a little priggish, but frankly I couldn’t be bothered with it all. I can understand why people with a lot of spare time on their hands (and a lot more friends than me) might find it entertaining and even possibly useful. It is, no doubt, a great way to keep up with old friends. Provided that your old friends are in fact, not really that old, and understand the concept of social networking websites.

But something old-fashioned in me somehow prefers finding out how people are face to face, or at least via email, rather than checking to see if they’ve updated their status. Email looks positively personal and intimate beside Facebook. And how honest can you really be, given that (depending on your privacy settings, no doubt) any Tom, Dick or Tara in the world can read your thoughts, and view your photos? This, of course, is also a weakness of blogs.

I eventually got fed up, not to say a little worried at the prospect of identity fraud. It’s one thing the government donating your private details to criminals in a user-friendly easy-to-read CD format, but it’s an even more astonishingly stupid thing to publish your own details online for the world to see.

So I decided to extinguish the flickering flame that was my presence on Facebook, and attempted to delete my account. The faceless Facebook hierarchy were not amused at this, and demanded that I explain myself by checking the appropriate box beside one of a list of ‘reasons for leaving’ that they’d prepared earlier. I tried ‘Worried about security’ whereupon a smug and authoritative message popped up, explaining that I could change my privacy settings if I was really worried about it. Slightly taken aback, I selected ‘Don’t find it useful’ to find another message appearing, pointing out how I might find Facebook more useful if I had made a bit of an effort.

Eventually they let me go, with the slightly disturbing parting shot – “You can reactivate your account any time you like by logging in again with your username and password.”

Excuse me? If my existing username and password still get me in to the system, how deleted exactly is my account? It seems that Facebook is a little like Hotel California… You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave…