Tag Archives: The Eighties

A Good Whine

8 Mar
The first developers of IBM PC computers negle...

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You all seem to have fallen in love with the Hub and I can’t have that because I’m the star of the Tilly Bud Show, not Rhoda, so I’m going to tell you about his larcenous past and you can all fall out of love with him again.

We had been married a year and had just moved to Joburg.  The Hub worked as a computer operator.  This was back in the day when technepts like me were afraid of computers, never mind operate one.  It was quite a specialised job, though not particularly well paid. 

I can’t help it: I have to big him up even as I’m trying to do him down.  Why did I have to be happily married to a decent man?  I could have married a bully, a philanderer or a vegetarian.*  Mutleytypemutters.

*Apologies to Flo and NRHatch.  I really can’t help myself sometimes.

  In ye olden days of the Seventies and Eighties, computers were massive – great big IBM main frames with what looked like cassette tapes in the shape of wheels on them.  You had to take off your shoes when in the server room and walk in designated areas. 

To run one programme could take all night on several mainframes (you could do the same job now in a minute on a personal computer).  There was a lot of hanging about and (to my shame) he’s not a reader.  In his previous job there was no security so he would bring his motorbike inside for safekeeping.  Then he got to riding it up and down the halls and stairs to pass the time.  They never found out, and there was some speculation as to whether the mysterious black marks that appeared on the floors and stairs were caused by a poltergeist. 

In the job I’m talking about, there was an office mentality of Bosses and Thedirtbeneaththebosses’feet, Hub being one of the dirt.  There was a fabulous free bar and entertainment room on the premises, intended for use by all staff on occasion, but co-opted by bosses at some point until it became a magical place that staff had heard of but never seen.  A sort of Shangribar.

Never seen by any member of staff except the Hub, that is.  By means unspecified (he’s forgotten), he discovered where the key was kept and sometimes when he was on night shift, he would sneak in and pinch a couple of beers to help while away the time; if there were two men on shift (computing being a man’s job, of course) they’d have one each.  Never more than two altogether: apparently the secret to avoid being imprisoned for life is to take just enough that people don’t notice it’s missing.

I must be honest: if I’d known I was marrying a petty criminal, I wouldn’t have.  However, I made vows and I stuck by him, despite the drinking.

One night there was a marathon bosses’ drinking session to celebrate how well paid they all were, and the managers boozed hard until after two in the morning.  I can’t help wondering how they stayed in business.  Mind you, it’s not the bosses who do the work is it?**  **Good grief.  Never knew I was a closet socialist.

Once they had all gone home, the Hub entered the left-open bar room (no need for a key) and helped himself to three of the many bottles of red wine left on the tables.  In the spirit of wealth redistribution, of course, comrades.

I really don’t know why: neither of us have ever drunk red wine.  I go pink from time to time, but I don’t think that counts.  He believes he was just hacked off at their outrageous display of capitalist consumption when the proletariat could only afford to eat rib eye steak for breakfast instead of fillet.

Not being true criminals at heart, we didn’t know what to do with the swag.  We couldn’t drink it (eurggh); we couldn’t offer it to our more cultured friends (didn’t have any); we couldn’t give it away (accessories after the fact; enemies after their arrest: fact); we couldn’t destroy it (waste perfectly good wine?  We’re northerners; we don’t do waste).  Result: the bottles sat in our wine rack gathering dust for twenty-four years and spreading guilt (me) and irritation (the Hub: ‘Can’t you dust just once every couple of years?’) with each day that passed.

I felt a little better when we emigrated back to the UK in 1996, though I was worried customs would nab us on the way in (of course we had to bring the wine that we would never drink back with us, and leave my state-of-the-art microwave and its boomerang turntable behind).  Customs let my eleven trunks through without a hitch, even though the wine was listed in one of my eleven itemised notebooks (‘Lego: 10 x onebricks, blue; 30 x twobricks, blue; 17 x threebricks, blue; 375 x fourbricks, blue’).  When she gave the notebooks back to me, the officer couldn’t hide a smile as she said, ‘You are very…thorough…aren’t you?’  Good job she wasn’t or I’d have been arrested for receiving stolen goods and harbouring a fugitive for ten years.

And, at last, at long, long last, we reach the point of my story: here’s one of the three stolen bottles:

Isn’t it lovely?  Dusty?  Empty?  It done gone sprung a leak up there on the wine rack.  I walked into the kitchen and thought someone had murdered my fridgefreezer: wine was everywhere, in the egg rack, the cheese rack, the milk shelf, culminating in a pool on the floor. 

It was all the Hub’s fault, of course – a wife, like an elephant, never forgets; twenty-four years is nothing to an outraged woman facing red stains in her brand new kitchen, and a charging elephant is pretty dangerous to a Hub, as he knows, having once escaped one in  Zimbabwe.

Of course he claimed it was my fault: ‘You told me it was leaking when you packed up the kitchen.  Why did you lie it down again when you got it out?’ 

I hate it when he’s right.  Please tell me you don’t like him anymore: it’s all I’ve got.  That, and a fridge with pink innards.


I’m shocked!  For years I’ve been proud to support the South African wine industry, no matter how dishonestly come by, and I’ve just noticed the bottom part of this label:


Weyhey!  I’ve just realised I’m not such a good girl after all!  This proves it.  They say confession is good for the soul.  I hope they don’t also say the South African Police read this blog: if I have to go on the lam, who will do the dusting?

Monday Music

29 Nov

We’re starting with The Kane Gang.  I always loved this song but I haven’t heard it in fourteen years; a Facebook friend posted it yesterday.  Only trouble is, those mean people at Sony say I can’t share the video with you, so here’s the audio version:

Everyone on Facebook says it reminds them of the British summer of 1984 but it reminds me of video tapes and that I was in South Africa.  Another reason to resent my parents.  Oops, sorry: I’m on the wrong blog.


Another week, another episode of the X Factor.  I was sorry to see Katie Waissel go, her pornographic grandmother notwithstanding.  I thought this was her best performance:

I loved Rebecca Ferguson this week; I think she’s fabulous but it was all becoming a bit samey so it was good to see her liven up a bit:

But the performance of the night for me came from Matt Cardle:

Our Survey Says

5 Oct
A map of Manchester from about 1650, from &quo...

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With thanks to Benjamin Judge, who pointed me in the right direction. 

I’m part of a scene: the Manchester blogging scene.  This is a surprise to my family, who believe to a man that I should remain unseen as far as possible, given my predilection for oldfashionedness: dress sense; religion; approach to mumhood – you name it and I’m a couple of decades behind the rest of the country.   Though I see drainpipes and draped scarves are back in fashion, I said to myself as I watched Doctor Who and ate my Viennetta.   

I quote from http://www.delineo.com/the-state-of-the-manchester-blogosphere/  

                      In September 2010, Delineo commissioned a report to investigate the Manchester blog community. This research investigated over 350 blogs in order to accurately capture a snapshot of the vibrant blogging scene in the city. 

According to the report, the average personal blog has 14 posts per month.  I am happy to declare that I am above average:  page 14 of the report proves it.  I also get an honourable – though inaccurate – mention on page 18, which claims that my sixteenth month-old blog was set up in May 2005.  If I had listened just once to Tory Boy it would have been; unfortunately, I only noticed him when he left home and gave me somewhere to store the wet washing on a rainy day, so I was a bit late in coming to the party.   

Still, they say there’s no such thing as not quite right publicity, so I’m not complaining.  Why should I?  I’m on the scene. 


V. Okay

14 Apr

I finally got to watch the new V last night.  It wasn’t bad.  I enjoyed it enough to sit through two episodes and set up a series link.  The hero is now a heroine (Mrs Clause, Elizabeth Mitchell) and the collaborating female journalist is now a collaborating male journalist (a creepy-looking Michael J.Foxonbotoxalike).  The vulnerable teenage girl is now a vulnerable teenage boy and…I think you might get where they’re going with it.  The priest is still male (we haven’t moved on that far since the Eighties) though he is much younger (Taken and 4400‘s Joel Gretsch).

I can’t decide if it was ripping off every sci-fi movie, series, game and cliché it could find, or paying homage to them.  The intro was straight out of Independence Day but there was a character who said as much.  There was also a scene at a warehouse with an address beginning, 44oo Whatever Street.  Spud said there was something from the game Resistance in it as well.  It could be fun spotting the references or it could become tiresome, but I suspect I’m going to watch it all anyway; though nothing could replicate (see what I did there?  Star Trek reference?  Just paying homage, honest) the shock of Diana and that jaw in the original series.

V is showing on SyFy.  You may not know the channel because, up until ten o’clock last night, it went under the name of Sci Fi.  They had a big launch that I missed because of my habit of fast forward(!)ing (don’t mind me, I am just trumpeting science fiction references in the style of the new V) the adverts.

As much as we all love science fiction, we never watch the SyFy channel; I don’t know why.  We might start, however, because there is a new series coming on called – wait for it – Painkiller Jane.  How cool is that for a title?



Yesterday’s prompt required us to start a poem with a line from a choice of eleven, from the poetry of Norman Dubie.  I know I am supposed to take the prompts seriously but sometimes I can’t help myself.


Poem Starting With A Line From Norman Dubie


Her breasts filled the windows like a mouth;

her stomach blew up like yeast

and her chins went south.



I missed my Dad yesterday so I wrote this one:


The Last Time


Last time I saw Dad

he lay in state, refusing

to laugh with me or

at me.  He gave me

away in that suit.  I gave

him away in that 

suit.  Too young to die;

too sick to live.  Cigarettes

did for him, at last.



Have a great day!

PS: Relieved

2 Mar

Sony, intimidated by my threat to mobilise the world, have fixed the problem. Or, to be strictly accurate, the PS3 has fixed the problem itself. Just what we need: intelligent computers. A few tiny steps from sentience and then we’ll have Arnold Schwarzenneggers all over the place.

Let me terminate this topic by telling you that Spud is at this very moment catching up on last night’s playing; I can hear him muttering parent-approved swear words under his breath (blast/fart/crap). He reminds me of his father, who would come home from work in the early days of our marriage and play games on his monochrome screened, 20 megabyte hard driven computer, and scream the foulest language at it. When I asked him why he played them when they had such a deleterious effect on his mood, he replied, ‘Because it relaxes me,’ proving that even back in the Eighties computers were already smarter than some people.

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