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In, Out, Shake it all about – 14 June 2018

A busy day, in fact, a very busy day.

The day started with me dragging the brown bin and the grey bin into the teeth of a storm (Storm Hector) out to be emptied. I expected most of them to tumble and distribute their contents over the pavement, but they survived upright until the bin lorry appeared and emptied them.

Next was a bit of blood letting, the second in a fortnight. I didn’t know my blood was so interesting. When I returned with a little less blood in me than I’d gone out with, I picked up Scamp and we drove in to Glasgow to:

  1. Look for a pair of trainers for me.
  2. Have lunch in a new restaurant (to us) in the West End.
  3. Find a belt to hold up my kilt now that my waist has reduced in diameter.

Task 1. Parked at Tiso and suspended my disbelief at the prices they were asking for a pair of nylon shoes. However, I buttoned my lip and tried a few pairs on. None of them were exactly what I was looking for but some were worth looking at again. May go back again.

Task 2. Not really a task, more a test, to see just how good it was. Drove in to the city centre and got the subway out to the West End then walked down through the storm and occasional showers to La Lanterna West End. La Lanterna in the city centre is quite a Glasgow institution, one of the first, and some would argue, one of the finest Italian restaurants. I’d spotted LLWE on Monday when I went for a walk, rather than risk my knee in the advanced salsa class. Snapped the menu on my phone and booked us for lunch when we got home. It was not very busy. Just three blokes obviously having a business lunch. One of them apparently had two mouths! They were behind us, so I couldn’t confirm my theory, but the only way he could talk, constantly while eating was if he had two mouths. Also, since his cerebral cortex would have to synchronise swallowing with breathing, that would explain why he was talking absolute shite. One of those people who are so important they have to talk about themselves all the time. Have you noticed that people like that rarely ask questions, and if they do, they never listen to the answer? That’s because they know everything and don’t need your opinion, especially if it contradicts theirs. Scamp says I’m a cruel man, sometimes. Sometimes? What do you mean, Sometimes?

The food was good. Scamp had Arancini for starter and I got a bite of one – it was superb. I had Rigatoni Amatriciana with braised pig cheek instead of bacon. Scamp’s main was Hake fillet in a light tomato broth served with potatoes. I had Risotto with roasted pumpkin and wild porcini covered in parmesan shavings. Now it was lovely, but I got greedy (who me?) and scoffed the lot, which was a shame because it lay a bit heavy in my stomach for the rest of the day. We’ll certainly go back DV.

Task 3. Subway back in to Glasgow. It was now about 3pm and the train was busy. Scamp got a seat but I chose to stand. I must have looked as if I was in a bit of pain because a girl sitting opposite Scamp offered me her seat. I smiled and thanked her but said I was OK. It thought that was very kind of her and thanked her again when we left at Cowcaddens. It’s nice to see that kind of attitude in young people today. I also thought as I was getting off the train, “Maybe I just look like an old man, an auld guy, which I suppose I am.” Walked up to Bath Street to see about a belt to hold up my kilt. The girl told me that a belt wouldn’t really help and suggested I get the kilt adjusted to fit. I told her I’d been told last year that it would take a month or so for the alteration. She seemed surprised and said she could do it today if I could bring it in by 6pm. It was now 3.30pm. Yes, we could go home, get the kilt and bring it in with time to spare and that’s what we did. Drove home, picked up our bin which was lying are un the kilt, drove back to Glasgow and handed it in. Got measured and told to go for a coffee and the kilt would be ready for us in an hour. AN HOUR, not a month! Did as we were told, went to JL and had a pot of tea each which is where today’s PoD came from. I liked the shot because it looked like a still life. Walked back to the shop and tried on the kilt and knew right away, just like Cinderella did, that it was a perfect fit. The girl, I didn’t even find out her name, wouldn’t take anything for the work, but I managed to get her to accept a few quid as a token of my heartfelt thanks. Walked out of that shop feeling better than I have for at least a week. Both the girl on the train and the girl in the shop will never know just what their individual gestures meant to me today.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a less frantic day. Still stuff to do. Still people to see. Just at a less frantic pace.

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Dancin’, but No’ Dancin’ aye, Dancin’ – 13 June 2018

Confused? You will be.

Today we went dancin’, although I had been warned not to by my experts. However, we had agreed between ourselves that a half hour of ballroom wouldn’t do me very much harm. It didn’t. I’d told Michael that I was crocked and that I’d sit out the jive. He agreed.

We danced the waltz quite well, but Michael pointed out where we were making it too simple, and then it was so obvious that we were cutting corners. It always is obvious once you have it pointed out. It’s the turns, even in the waltz that are causing the problem with my knee. I’m sure about it now.

On to the jive and I sat out. However, it made the class unbalanced with an odd number and, as he had already said he was just going over the first four spins again <This should really have a ‘Technospeak’ warning, shouldn’t it!>. As he was just going over the first four spins again to make sure we were confident with them, I felt I could walk through them without causing myself too much discomfort. It was easy! I even managed to dance the routine (quite badly). So we now have a couple of weeks off before we get a chance to dance again and it will be Ballroom Tango when we go back, instead of waltz.

Walking back from the dancin’ was where I saw the motorbike or scooter to be more exact, with a wide empty space behind the handlebars. It was Scamp who noticed that there was no seat and then we both realised at the same time that this was a scooter for a disabled person in a wheelchair. What a brilliant idea. This was no Mobility Scooter, this was a scooter for a biker in a wheelchair. Not only that, this was a vehicle with street cred and attitude. It even had a handbrake! How smart is that! There was no competition, this had to be PoD.

Portrait class tonight was more interesting because it was our first chance to use colour. It was going well until someone noticed that the elderly gentleman, Jim, who was sitting for us had gone a strange colour and seemed to be on the point of passing out. We got him off his stool and on to a chair, but he was determined to continue and posed again for the second sitting in the chair. I was quite pleased with my last night’s work in the class. It’s not been a wonderful class, with little in the way of actual tuition, but it’s given me the chance to measure my skills against others like myself. Learned a bit about where all the bits of a face go(!) and gained some confidence in my drawing. Still don’t want to do a full life class. I remember saying to the principal teacher of art at school that I couldn’t handle figure work (nudes) and he told me with a wink, “You’re not really meant to handle them!”

Another blood letting tomorrow, then we’re hoping to face the stormy weather and go for lunch in the West End.

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The Web – 11 June 2018

I had an appointment with the nurse today to review my blood results. Never much fun.

Before that I was booked to drive Scamp to the hospital for what turned out to be her last appointment. She’s now officially signed off.

After I dropped her back at the house, I grabbed my new shoes and took them for a run to Glasgow Fort to return them or exchange them for a half size bigger. Got there to find it wasn’t a Clarks outlet store, so they couldn’t process them. If you Google “Clarks outlet stores Glasgow” the map shows three pins. One of which is The Fort. If I’d read the text I’d have discovered it wasn’t an outlet. Why is the pin there on a map showing Outlet stores? Don’t know. The manager wasn’t that helpful, he just kept telling he “I don’t do the web”. Almost like “I don’t do drugs”. Maybe he should “Do the web”. (Maybe he should do drugs too.) What he should do is work on his customer skills. He just wanted to wash his hands of me and told me I should write to The Web and complain that they were showing the wrong information. Does anyone know the address for The Web? Maybe I just write my complaint on vellum, put it in an envelope, seal it with sealing wax and address it to:

The Web
Internet Land
The World

I should write to Clarks and suggest they give this man a computer and a modem then get someone to sit down with him and explain what Tim Berners-Lee invented. I bet he doesn’t even have electricity in his house. You should go to Clarks in The Fort, ask for the manager and say “Hi. You don’t know me, I’m The Web.”

Drove home blazing, but not quite incandescent. I didn’t know then that I was on the wrong. That’s when the incandescence started. Calmed down when Scamp left to go to Marjie’s Afternoon Tea. Sat and drew a face or two from Croquis Cafe. Just to show that I’d done some homework for Wednesday.

Saw the nurse and she reassured me that my stats were ok. Nothing to worry about, and she was very impressed JIC, that you’d convinced me I had to take paracetamol for about a week before I’d see any improvement. The problem with my knee is most likely a torn ligament. Painful, but not serious.

Drove to Salsa but didn’t want to dance in case I made my knee any worse. What I did do was help out with Irene’s class who are Level 1 week 6 so, fairly simple stuff that doesn’t involve dangerous twisting. Certainly couldn’t face the Advanced class so I took my leave and went for a walk around Kelvinbridge. Got the PoD there which started out as a boring, dull shot of the actual Kelvin Bridge, then dunked it in a bucket of ON1 (my newest photo-processor) and out came a faded, sepia toned aged print.

Going to meet the Auld Guys for beers and lunch tomorrow, hopefully.

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Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

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In the Toon, in the sun – 6 June 2018

A girl cutting hair? It’s a barbers, not a hairdresser’s!

We were all set to go to the dancin’ today at Blackfriars until Scamp got a message to say that it was cancelled. That gave us a fair bit of the afternoon to fill. I wanted my hair cut, Scamp wanted to go shopping, not for shopping. Not going for the messages. This was serious shopping. I also wanted to go shopping for a couple of books. With all that in our collective heads, it seemed a visit to Glasgow was in order, but a visit on the bus this time, not a drive. It was a really hot day, so we also decided to have lunch out and make a day of it. So that’s what we did.

First stop the barbers. My usual place, the Nile Barbers, but what was this? None of the usual faces. One guy and a girl. A girl in Nile Barbers? Never seen that before. However, she cut my hair exactly how I wanted it and only asked for £7, pensioners rates. Then one of the usual barbers returned. Ah, that’s good. It’s not a total take-over. I can rest easy knowing that the everybody’s getting older guy and the conspiracy theorist have not been sacked, and that Silent Bob will be back in his corner cutting hair without a word.

Back up on to Sausageroll street and having to go round the part demolished New City Palace to get to Waterstones where I bought the final book in the Themis Files trilogy. I just finished the second book in the series this morning and it’s some measure of the attraction of the writing that I went out this afternoon to buy the sequel. Book two in a trilogy is so often just treading water and going nowhere, but this book took the story on a completely different direction and led neatly to the final(?) book. The question mark is there because I’ve read on the net that it might not be the final book. That would perhaps be a shame. I’d like to see the story drawn neatly to a close, whatever that is. I’m keeping the book for the holidays. That will leave a decent amount of time for my brain to work on the implications of book two and prepare for the finale. If you haven’t read the series, I really recommend that you do. I won’t give away the plot or the twists. All I’m saying is read it. It’s SF, but does the ‘F’ stand for Fiction or Fact? You choose.

Met Scamp who had done the shopping she intended to do and was loaded down with bags. We went to lunch in Paesano – best pizza place in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Scamp reminded me that although we’d gone in by bus, I was driving Fred and me to the college tonight, so Nick the Chick says “No alcohol shall pass thy lips on pain of five thousand penalty points and a £50,000,000 fine (plus VAT).” So I had fizzy orange instead 🙁

Walked round to Queen Street for coffee in Nero and it was while walking round I got today’s PoD.  It’s a reflection of the College of Building and Printing reflected in my favourite glass fronted building in Queen Street.  I liked the distorted writing that should read “People Make Glasgow”.  Title was Lost in Translation.

Bus back and soon it was time to go for Fred. We’d an older sitter than last week and I think I managed to do him justice. Like he said, everyone’s interpretation is different. Roseanne (tutor) tried to rile me with a few digs about people criticising the Loomis method, but I gave as good as I got. She tried her best to blank me when doing her rounds, but eventually gave me a few words of wisdom. I took her advice and the second sketch once the sitter had had a rest was a lot better and from a totally different viewpoint.

Tomorrow is to be at least as hot as today. We have no plans as yet.

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Getting in a scrape – 2 June 2018

Today was to be wet with thunderstorms. Well, they got that right.

John and Marion were coming to dinner today, so that mean we’d be busy. Not too busy to have to stay in all day. We went out early for a run in to Glasgow. Wandered round JL, went for a coffee in Nero perused CassArt for some A2 sketching paper, but decided I’d rather pay a reasonable price in The Works instead. After that we came home. I dropped Scamp off at the house and went up the ‘Toonie’ for some extra ‘messages’.

When I got back to the car, I got a shock. Big white scrape along the front wing and black scrape below it. Paint scraped off the corner of the wing too. Drove straight to Halfords and got some touch-up paint to add to the chicken and peanuts I’d got in Tesco. Luckily, the white scrape was off the offender’s car/van and not mine. Most of it washed off and the black scrape came off too with a bit of Brasso (cheaper than T Cut and does exactly the same job). Paint isn’t quite the right colour, but it’s only a couple of chips that as Maisie would have said “A blind man, running for his life wouldn’t notice.” Still angry though. Even worse, the dash cam hadn’t been set on parking mode. It is now. However, I bet Mr White noticed the dash cam and is shitting himself wondering when the irate driver or the polis’ are going to come knocking on his door. I also bet he’ll be checking his car for ‘ten pence coach lines’ when he next parks in Tesco.

John and Marion arrived just after the predicted thunder storm having driven through the heavy rain that was also forecast. It was a late end to a frustrating day for quite a few reasons. Tomorrow will be better.

Hoping to go to Gardening Scotland tomorrow.

<NOTE: Blog written up on 3rd June>

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Dull, dull, dull – 20 May 2018

Just in case you didn’t guess, today was a bit dull.

In the morning we drove in to Glasgow because Scamp had an appointment with M&S to spend some money. I was looking for photos. We both got what we intended to get. Scamp completed her swimsuit ensemble and I got a few photos I’d been looking for. My favourite and PoD is above.

<Technospeak>
When we got home I resumed my work on trying to figure out what was wrong with Scamp’s computer which wouldn’t respond properly to Autoplay any more. I eventually found the problem and the solution in an old post on the internet. It involved a complicated bit of deletion using the registry editor Regedit, also known as “The Hand Grenade” (what happens if I pull this little pin out?). Luckily I was very careful which pins I pulled out and nothing went bang afterwards, but what did happen was that Autoplay now plays nice. Not perfect, just nice. Perfectly may mean more work tomorrow or some other day. For now, it nearly works.
</Technospeak>

I made dinner tonight which was the complicated and not very successful Aloo Saag. Not as good as last time. The spinach sauce was too thick and there was a taste in there that just didn’t gel. I might water it down slightly tomorrow for lunch. I also baked another sourdough loaf which was slightly more successful than the first, but not as good as the last one.  Middling.  Still some work to be done on consistency of the dough and baking time.

It being such a dull day, I couldn’t even be bothered going over to St Mo’s to get more photos. I’d got the ones I wanted. This is the photo I went to take. The candelabra its twin are in an alley just off Queen Street and I’ve often wondered why these ornate lights are there in an alley that just hold dustbins. Maybe there’s a story there waiting to be unearthed. It didn’t win PoD because the group discussing The Duke (not to be confused with The Red Juke) was more interesting.

Did a bit of sketching while watching a boring Jools Holland, but I really need to do more, and before Wednesday. That may be the plan for tomorrow. Some decent sketching. Scamp’s going out to meet Isobel in the morning. Busy week this week, something on every day.

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Shopping with the Diamond Geezers – 16 May 2018

We didn’t have much planned today, other than to get some compost and do some more work in the garden.  It would have been a shame to anything else with another beautiful day.

To that end, we went for a trip to B&Q in the morning to get some cheap grow bags. Half the ’grey hairs’ in Cumbersheugh were there today with their Diamond Cards, looking for their 10% discount, and they’d all been raiding the cheap grow bag section. As a result there was only one left. A poor little torn at the corner item with some of its peat leaking out. I took pity on it and humphed it into my trolley. Scamp wanted some ‘Busy Lizzies’ for her planter beside the back door. She picked some that looked as if they might last until the weekend at least. The same couldn’t be said for a lot of the plant in B&Q. Lots of them were dehydrated and even more looked as if they were past reviving. However, she was happy with her choice and with her care and attention, I’m sure they’ll be flowering soon. Back home we got to use our IKEA porter’s trolley to cart the bag of peat from the car to the raised bed where it will provide some much needed nutrient.

By the time we got back there was just enough time to have a bite to eat before we left for Glasgow and our ballroom / jive torture. We didn’t do too badly with the ballroom, but the jive was a bit of a ’disaaaaster darling’. I can handle the footwork in the waltz and the footwork in the jive, but trying to fit in the footwork with the arms in jive is too much for my little single core processor to handle. I really need a brain transplant, hopefully a quad core one to manage the psychomotor skills needed for this dancing caper. I was really thankful when the lessons came to an end. It was great to walk back through Glasgow under a blue sky with office workers walking about in their shirt sleeves. Glasgow under a blue sky became PoD.

Back home there was the temptation to go over to St Mo’s for another photo or two, but I only had an hour and that isn’t long enough to do it justice, so I left Scamp to her planting while I prepared my drawing materials for taking to college tonight for the portraiture class. I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about the class. How good would these artist be? I know how good Fred is, but would the others be even better? I needn’t have worried. I’m about the middle of the class. Not as good or as confident as Fred and not as basic as some. I’ve a lot to learn. It’s just a small class just now, only five of us, but hopefully it will get bigger. First week done. Homework for next week. A self portrait or a head and shoulders of a member of your family. I suppose that will be Scamp! Oh yes, as a bonus the teacher, Roseanne, plays some interesting music.

Tomorrow the car goes under the knife at Halfords to fit the dash cam. Hopefully Scamp’s taking us out for the afternoon while the operation continues.

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Dancing, Dancing, but not all the day – 2 May 2018

Today we’d agreed to go to ballroom and jive, but not salsa, just in case it was a Shannon Show, all ‘Oo La La’ and ‘Happy Chests’ (Don’t ask). As it happened, we needn’t have worried as Will took both classes. So, here’s how the day unfolded.

Sat and worked through some of the tutorial videos for the new RAW processing software in the morning and am much better pleased with it now. It’s a real pity they didn’t get some of the YouTube tutors to produce their advertising videos. Then I’d have decided much quicker to give this software a try. It’s only when you get down to the nuts and bolts of a program explained by somebody who knows what they are talking about that you see its full potential. No need for tacky music and faked up special effects. It seems like a much better program now.

Drove in to Glasgow to go to the Ballroom Duet. Waltz was good and I think we passed with flying colours. Now we’re on to the small details. Big Steps and Rise and Fall. Using the Frame and Using the Core. Enjoyed it and also starting to get to grips with the Jive routines. Things are looking up at last. Next week will be a desert of dancing. No Salsa on Monday as the STUC is closed for the May holiday and no ballroom on Wednesday because both teachers are on holiday. We’ll just have to move the couch back and dance round the living room.

After we left Blackfriars we went for a coffee in Nero in Queen Street and noticed a degree of activity around the GOMA. On further investigation, it turned out that it was a film company doing a little bit of location shooting. I’ve no idea who the ’star’ was, but she most definitely thought she was a ’STAR’! Took a few photos and walked back to the car, but not before we stood and watched the giant demolition machine that was biting lumps out of the old hotel in front of Queen Street Station like a gigantic prehistoric monster. Scary looking thing.

When we came home the sun was shining so I grabbed the Nikon bag and took a walk around St Mo’s. Got the PoD which is of a tree climbing snail that only seem to climb the ash trees. After a bit of processing in ON1 and a bit of detailed work in Lightroom it began to look very pretty. It’s not what I saw, it’s what I wanted to see.  Came home through a rain shower to fish ‘n’ chips which were delicious, Scamp!

Hoping my latest lens will arrive by DPD tomorrow. Not new of course, but as good as. I’m looking forward to having a macro lens for my Olys. Up until now I’ve had to rely on a cheap pair of extension tubes. They are made of plastic with metal mounts and are getting worn and as a result letting light in which means I need to do more post-processing.

Other than lens-waiting, we have no plans for tomorrow. Some light gardening perhaps?

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You shall go to the ball – 25 April 2018

I had an idea at 4.30am

I woke at 4.30 this morning with an idea in my head. Today we were hardly going to be in the house. We were off to Glasgow to waltz and jive at midday and we wouldn’t get back until around 4pm. After dinner we were going to be off again to salsa for another couple of hours. We’d out of the house more than in it and wouldn’t notice that the heating was off, so why not cancel the repair to the boiler and re-schedule it for tomorrow. That’s what we did. There was no problem re-scheduling and we both got to dance practise. Simple. I don’t usually get good ideas in the middle of the night, but today I did.

Waltz was good, so good that we got to go on to the next dance which was Quickstep. I was so good at it, that I was too quick for quickstep and had to be slowed down. Michael wasn’t there, it was Ann Marie, his second in command, who took the class and went over the first steps in quickstep. It seems too simple, I’m sure it’s not. Jive was just the reprise of the first routine and also the First Spin of the Seven Spins. Ann Marie was answering questions about a dance this Sunday. The stupidest question was by one girl who asked “See this dance, do WE get to dance too?” Obviously she’d led a sheltered life and had never been to a dance before. They not only walk among us, some of them dance among us too!

On the walk back to the car I grabbed a few shots of the characters outside the Gallery Of Modern Art (GOMA) in Queen Street. My favourite and PoD is at the top of the page.

Salsa tonight was again a lot of fun. We managed three, well, actually two and a half classes tonight and needless to say both our fitbits were registering all green for our activities. I’m quite happy to admit that I was totally shattered coming out of the STUC afterwards. Drove home to a cold house with the hope that the repair man can get the boiler going again tomorrow, because it now won’t even try to start up.

So again the repair man will be knocking on the door between 8am and 12 noon tomorrow. We’ll have to be up and ready. That means an early(ish) bed. G’night!