The Blog of Zakspade

 November 2016 Archive
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Sounds of Summer (290 words, Phil Green)
Wednesday 30 November, 2016

It was freezing this morning. No, I mean it, it really was.

So with a white hoar frost having made everything white, why do the sounds of summer come to my mind, and what was the thought that made me smile?

When the sun shines I am not surprised when I hear a motorcycle. As an ex-motorcyclist, I can usually identify the engine configuration and likely size of the two-wheeled vehicle making the sounds that come to my ears.

So when the little 125 that comes past my house every morning at 7am assaulted my ears and made my dogs bark (again), I rolled my eyes.

The little [insert insult here] who rides it modified the exhaust. It is now ‘rorty’ and masquerades as something much bigger. The fact that it can be heard across much of Leighton Buzzard makes him a moron, but what really caps it is the fact that he wrings the neck off the thing as he covers the 140 metres of my road.

The word ‘loud’ isn’t adequate to describe the level of noise he manages to get from the small engine.

His idiocy in making sure no person alive could miss his passage isn’t what made me smile.

No, in the spirit of Christmas, with my wife insisting there is no ‘bah, humbug,’ from me, I pictured him losing control on the icy surface at the end of my street and wrapping the stupid machine around a lamppost.

However, keeping to my wife’s directive, in my mind he comes out of the encounter unscathed so that he can otherwise enjoy his Christmas while the rest of us bask in the subsequent peace.

The sound of summer coming from him doesn’t make me feel warm.


Bleeding Obvious (14 words, B.P.)
Monday 28 November, 2016

Yes, Bev, I know I did not write an entry for Saturday 26 November!

Faith (200 words, Greg Pattison)
Thursday 24 November, 2016

My faith in humanity has been restored and bolstered by the fact that most of word count limit suggestions have come from friends as opposed to Friends.

Far from being the dominant form of communication on the planet, it turns out that Facebook is merely just another way for people to communicate.

I had wondered. When I worked in IT, I lived on email: it was email at work, home and when I was dreaming of being on a desert island away from the high pressure hustle and bustle of modern life.

Email is by far the quickest and best way to contact me, but I find it difficult to convince many Friends that there is an alternative to Facebook’s message service.

Given the effect on the battery life of the average smart phone, the Facebook app will never see itself being installed on my mobile. Consequently I miss notifications that someone is urgently trying to contact me to tell me they saw a video of a kitten smoking a German sausage while riding a bicycle - the kitten, not the person trying to contact me.

Someone trying to contact me via Facebook while riding a bicycle would be silly...


Turning Tables (299 words, Mary Rosset)
Tuesday 22 November, 2016

A Facebook Friend recently Posted that they had been the victim of a driver to who they gave various terms.

Apparently he almost ran them off the road then as if to add salt to the injury, he set about lambasting the person he had wronged.

Many years ago another friend who lived and drove in London told me that unless he cultivated a particular frame of mind he was likely to turn grey prematurely. This is what he told me he did to stave off becoming old before his time...

Whenever anyone drove like a pork chop, he would smile pleasantly at the transgressor who would ‘let off some steam’ and get mad. Meanwhile my pal’s smile would become even more good-humoured in the style of a simpleton.

I have adopted his approach and I ask you to trust me on this: the other driver gets even madder and the language proffered can end up turning the air all shades of blue. However - and this is the bit that my London buddy and I like - while the other driver rants and raves the rest of the day, the owner of the smile gets through the rest of the day without their blood having boiled.

Many idiots who shake their fists and threaten other road users when it was they who screwed up in the first place, tend to be angry at themselves no matter what they claim verbally. Consequently they hurl abuse at others as a way of releasing their frustration.

Not giving the plonkers out there somewhere to vent has them mad all day whereas trying to battle them with words or gestures has them justifying in their own minds their angry outbursts.

Barely any grey hair in my head, and I’m 92 you know...


Humanity (145 words, Keith Horne)
Sunday 20 November, 2016

Modern medicine seems to have turned from a wonderful thing to a science apparently dedicating itself to bucking Nature without regard to the consequences or giving any consideration to quality of life.

When I said that to a chap I once used to work with, he came back with the following:

Modern medicine makes survivors out of individuals who would otherwise die, who then further their damage-prone genes. This is a cost to our chancellor, society, and the whole of Mankind, that is going to kick us all in the butt in the future. The Human Race will end up being a watered down society of cripples who rely on support devices to live.

Oddly enough his name was not Adolf, but his initials were AH. So maybe he shares something with the guy. One thing he most certainly doesn’t share with anyone is humanity.


Short (25 words, Pete Wilson)
Friday 18 November, 2016

Why is it when I ask people to submit a word limit of anything from ten to 500, they tend to opt for low numbers?

My Age (21 words, Paul Davies)
Wednesday 16 November, 2016

When asked for a word length to write to, Paul said, ‘Make it 21 - my age.’

I laughed, out loud.


What Are the Odds? (500 words, Len Moore)
Monday 14 November, 2016

What is the betting that Milton Keynes has its own horseracing course by the end of 2017?

Who will give me odds? Anyone?

I recall, many years back, reading a national magazine article on Milton Keynes hosting a major motorcycle race on its streets. I mentioned it to a work colleague as I thought it quite funny and it had some very convincing mock-up photographs. He told someone at a local newspaper and the story ran in time for April Fool’s Day that year. There were a number of residents who were outraged...

Who would have bet on that making it into the local Press?

Driving along one of the major routes away from thecentre:mk just the other day, I saw road signs I had not noticed before. They warned of a roundabout up ahead. Said roundabout has been where it is has always been since it was build in the 80s.

It seemed odd to me that someone felt the need to spend public money on erecting a sign warning of something that has been obvious for over 30 years. I supposed money has to be spent somewhere.

As I approached the roundabout, the damage to the paving tiles running around it was painful to see. A vehicle had quite plainly been piloted up to, and over, the roundabout. I suppose the cost of repairing the roundabout would run to more than the cost of the signs. My travelling companion pointed out to me that this same roundabout was victim to vehicles smashing in to it on a regular basis.

Judging from the degree of damage, whatever struck the roundabout did so with great force. I thought of the occupants in the vehicle and felt relief that it had not been me.

I would have thought that in a place known for having roundabouts, and their tendency not to up sticks and wander about the place, that people crashing their cars into them would not have been something to bet upon - but I would have been wrong.

Then there is the news that the UN is to move their headquarters to Central Milton Keynes in time for summer 2017. That news item caught my eye.

Or at least it would have had I not just made it up.

The thing is this: Had someone asked me to bet on the likelihood of horseracing, crashing into 30+ year-old roundabouts, or the UN moving into Milton Keynes, then as luck would have it, I would have placed the roundabout crashing at the bottom of the pile.

I grant it that the Redways are too narrow for decent horse races, but horses could probably adjust. The UN might have to downsize a little to ensure they could find offices suitable for their ongoing crusade against wars and suchlike across the world. On reflection, maybe a lock-up industrial unit outside the centre might better suit them?

But what is this about roundabouts springing up unexpectedly?

Seriously? What are the odds of that?


Run Out (194.5 words, David Russell)
Saturday 12 November, 2016

There has been no shortage of suggestions for word lengths this month. Having asked for between 10 and 500 words, inclusive, it never occurred to me to insist that word lengths should be in the form of integers.

Given I was basically inviting challenges regarding my ability to hit targets while maintaining correct grammar and syntax, while retaining a degree of comprehension and sensibility; I really ought to have anticipated someone trying to bowl me a spinner.

There now; I have used a cricket analogy so I feel obligated to incorporate a cricket-themed title for today’s Blog entry. That is the explanation for the title, Run Out.

Those who have never played or had any interest whatsoever in cricket - a game that has enthralled millions all over the world - should worry not one bit.

Anyhow, I feel that this Blog entry is going off on a tangent, and lest I am accused of prolixity, I shall continue onward toward my goal; being to write a Blog entry to David’s required length of 194.5 words.

Oops, I may have written too much on the task rather than just getting on with it.

Oh, bug...


Who Stole Summer? (117 words, Graham Smith)
Thursday 10 November, 2016

I suppose it was inevitable. We experienced a late summer and when that finally ended, the weather remained mild. So everyone got used to the lack of inclemency.

Ah, but what a difference a front makes.

It is November and the weather has swung from pleasant to colder than average. Indeed it has turned so cold; so suddenly, that less than a week after taking the dogs for a walk wearing a long-sleeve shirt, I found myself looking into the sky yesterday and wondering if it would be snowing before the end of the week.

The change in the weather I can handle. What I can’t get my head around is the question of who stole summer!


Back is Back (135 words, Thomas Tresham)
Tuesday 8 November, 2016

Eight days have passed since injuring my back. I have progressed from unable to stand, to being able to walk to the local shops; albeit slowly and carefully. Indeed, I took the dogs out with me yesterday.

Suffering incredible back pain is not good. However, taking something useful from it is good. A very important lesson has been learnt.

It is crucially important to remove the strain which caused the injury in the first place. In my case, I carefully fell to my knees to escape the pain.

As I did so it occurred I had given myself nowhere to lie down as I was in an ensuite at the time and was now unable to open the door.

Not good.

Moral? Get to the ground quick, but make sure there is enough ground first!


Rest (12 words, Helen Wilkinson)
Sunday 6 November, 2016

No Blog entry today as it is the Lord’s Day of Rest.

Guy Fawkes Night (392 words, Faye Woods)
Friday 4 November, 2016

Today’s Blog entry is sponsored by Faye Woods. Faye could have set my limit at 20 words, but she decided that I should be let loose with 392 of the things.

Ah, Guy Fawkes Night is but 24 hours away. It commemorates the failure of a religious movement to do something as simple as blow up a parliament session while being visited by its titular head; King James I of England and VI of Scotland.

Not only does it celebrate the fact that a way of control - sorry - way of life remained intact, it is the focus of weeks during which pet owners find themselves having to decide whether to lead their lives or stay in and assure their animals that no one is actually going to ram an explosive charge through the letterbox - no matter how loud a bang it makes.

Age may well have much to do with my believing fireworks seem louder than when I was a kid, but I don’t recall them rattling double-glazed windows when I was knee high to a thing with knees.

I pride myself as a dog owner who doesn’t possess a fiend hell-bent upon barking for the sake of it whenever it feels the area is too quiet and the neighbours need their lives enriched. Neither of my dogs exists in order to make anyone’s life poorer than awkward shift hours already achieve.

Recently both have barked in the evenings. For this I am full of regret and would apologise to all my neighbours if they would first have a word with the imbecilic morons who feel that starting a fireworks party at eleven o’clock at night is acceptable. I am sure that if I trained my dogs to bark long and loud every time I walked them past the House of Morons, the occupants would complain.

I hear their words in my head as the idea winds its way past my brain cells: ‘Sorry, but it is just once a year.’

So it is okay to be a totally and utter dork as long as it is just once every 365 days? What about Leap Years, do they get an extra day of idiocy, or do they spend it in bed?

No worries - I will pack my dogs away and get them out just the once each year.


Welcome (256 words, David Russell)
Wednesday 2 November, 2016

Welcome to today’s Blog, sponsored by David Russell - an ex-work colleague. It is he who set me a word limit of 256 to which to write today’s Blog entry.

I use my Blog as a way to keep my eye in so that I effectively never suffer periods of down time with respect to my writing. In between the time I was working in IT and now, I was a copywriter. My employer was also a website builder and design company and it was my job to fill sections with just the right amount of words so they carried meaning; provided added value with respect to SEO; and looked good in the allotted space.

They were three aspects that needed to be considered together. The first two probably make sense to many, however the third requirement taught me a very valuable skill: writing to character length as opposed to word length.

I write a column for a local paper that is typically 340 words as me, but can be nearer 390 words when written as my dog.

Why? Well, isn’t it obvious? Dogs might be clever, but they use shorter words. Shorter words mean more are required to fill the available space - which is determined by the maximum number of characters one can fit into the room for text.

Being aware of the difference and developing a knack for writing to very exact lengths means that this piece will be exactly the 256 words you set as a target for me, David.

You’re welcome.