The Meerkat Muse: 20/3/24

Welcome to the latest edition of the Meerkat Muse!

Facebook Fails

We begin with the events of two weeks ago, when the world briefly melted down due to an outage of Meta’s various social media platforms. I wish I could say that I was immune to this, but my initial reaction was I’d been hacked, followed by consternation as I tried to get back into my accounts, followed by a great deal of anger as everyone else got back in, whilst I had to jump through frustrating hoops to do so.

I get annoyed when something works easily for everyone else, but for some reason does not work for me. I realise this is silly, but it’s stuff like this that really winds me up. If (for example) a tactic works for everyone on Football Manager except me… well, it should work me too, there’s no reason for it not to, so that does piss me off. Ultimately I know I’m being daft, but it is frustrating when something works for everyone, except me.

Ah well, Facebook is working for me once again, so let’s breathe out, and move on.

Fantastic Films

Back in early March, my wife and I watched Dune: Part Two, and let me tell you that this film is a visual feast. It is epic, in the way any true blockbuster should be, yet it never feels overloaded with special effects. Much of the focus is on the human element, and director Denis Villeneuve ensures we are invested in these characters for better or worse.

I never never read the Dune books, which I know have historically resisted film and TV adaptations, due to their complexity, but the two films released by Mr Villeneuve have been possible to follow, even if I have at times struggled with the myriad collection of characters and regimes. It seems fairly inevitable that there will be a third instalment to this series, though exactly when we’ll see that is anyone’s guess.

That night, we ordered in pizza (because why not?), and then my wife and I watched Ferrari, about the late great Enzo Ferrari, founder of the legendary Italian car company. The film explores the turmoil in Mr Ferrari’s personal and professional lives in 1957, when it was feared Ferrari could go bankrupt. It also reminded me of the terrible danger of motorsport back then. The idea of modern racing drivers leaving ‘goodbye’ letters to their loved ones is unfathomable. Back then, it must have been considered completely normal.


To cut a long story short, we need a new passport for our daughter. There are plans afoot, but a strange rule around passports is that if they are due to expire within six months, you can’t travel to certain countries. I suspect this rule is in place to foil immigration scams, but it seems to me it makes life more difficult for the vast majority who abide by the rules. Ah well, there’s nothing I can do about it, so once again lets exhale.

Where the Subconscious Goes

How about a conspiracy/heist dream? This one involved some kind of hunt for a key, and a whole bunch of people scrambling around looking for it, only for the key to turn up at the starting point, planted there by by a clever thief. She collected it (it may have even been hidden in a police station, my memory is fuzzy on that point), and headed off to grab whatever it was everyone was searching for. Very peculiar, and rather in keeping for my recent nocturnal adventures.

Another dream brought a moment of poignancy. I was walking up a familiar path, and greeted by the sight of my beloved Nan, who was waving to me. I don’t recall much more than that.

A Tattoo Idea

Yes, I know it’s not been long since my most recent tattoo, but I am already planning tattoo number eight! My daughter drew a dragon, and it was a most excellent dragon, and I want it forever emblazoned upon my skin. My early hope is to place it upon my chest, though we shall see.

Cat Cafes

On Saturday the 9th, my wife, daughter, step-daughter and granddaughter paid a visit to a cat café in Southend. We’ve done this before (years ago to the same venue, and also to one in London), and the premise is adorable. You have coffee and a sandwich whilst being entertained by (and perhaps entertaining) various cats! Some of the cats were quite curious, and one even stole my wife’s chair, whilst others were inclined to do what cats love to do: sleep! One tried to lick the remaining cream from my daughter’s milkshake, which is an ever-present risk when you have food around felines!

Once we’d dined, the remainder of the day was spent doing a bit of shopping (not my favourite activity, though I did pick up a new book for myself) and visiting the arcades along the seafront. It proved to be a very long day, and I think we all slept pretty well that night.

My new book is Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree.
My wife took this beauty shot of Southend seafront.
She also took this photo of this intriguing murial.
My daughter insisted upon buying the boob candle!

The Sleepless Night

For reasons I still don’t understand, the other Sunday was a sleepless night. Well, OK, I understand part of the reason. My daughter has had a persistent cough, but this isn’t usually enough to prevent me from sleeping. Somehow, the Land of Nod refused to let me in for what felt like an eternity, and my wife and daughter were similarly afflicted.

Occasionally I do get these moments of insomnia. I have no idea why, and they’re very infrequent, but they typically feed themselves when they happen. You become very conscious of not being able to sleep, and the harder you try, the worse it gets. To make matters worse, the following I was lone-trading at work, and let me tell you, doing that through the fog of fatigue is not fun.

The Return of the Lap(top)!

It feels like an eternity since the laptop went away for repair, but it is done, and at the time of typing this, on its way back. The old laptop is not bad by any means, but doesn’t charge properly, so having the newer, more powerful laptop back is great. I can resume work on the sequel to The Awakening!

‘I want my country back’

This is a popular dog-whistling tactic employed by the hard right. Recently, Lee Anderson, formerly a Tory MP and now part of the Reform Party, issued this particular dog whistle.

What does this even mean? Has he lost the country somewhere down the back of the sofa? It’s such an empty, vapid statement, designed to stir up racial and ethnic tensions for the sake of winning votes, yet it is a hollow, meaningless thing to say. Mind you, the Reform Party is hollow and meaningless in its own right…

Based on Mr Anderson’s history (which includes allusions to forced labour camps, anti-Semitism, and misogyny), it would seem his version of the country is one where ethnic minorities have to wear ID badges, and where women are subservient. His empty rhetoric serves no purpose other than to stoke the fires of division.

The Fantastic Case of the Frogs

As I was going to bed the other night, I went to fluff my pillow, and discovered a small green frog tucked up underneath it. Over Christmas my stepdaughter and I conspired to hide little ducks all over the house for my wife to find. In the wake of this, are the frogs some form of revenge? I found another on the windowsill, another on the cabinet, yet another in the bathroom, and yet another on the windowsill above the loo. A further frog turned up on the beanbag in my daughter’s room, and I found two more in the kitchen.

By my reckoning that makes eight of these tiny critters. My wife is denying any involvement in a frog-related plot. My daughter and stepdaughter also claim ignorance. In fact, they blame me! I categorically deny any responsibility for the frogs!


A Quiet Patch

The past few days have not been especially eventful. I go to work, do some work, come home. I did have two consecutive days off work the other day, which was nice, and this gave me the chance to reacquaint myself with Football Manager 21. The resumption of my fresh journeyman career has felt quite refreshing!

Stepping Up

I sounded out my manager about something the other day, and she told me – in the friendliest way possible – that I needed to step up if I am achieve this goal. I won’t lie: this stung a bit, because I feel like I have stepped up, and she was quick to acknowledge that in terms of sales I absolutely have, but it would seem there is still progress to be made.

The trick is to swim, rather than sink. It’s not a setback, it’s an opportunity to be better.

The Passing of the Buck

What has me so annoyed?

Recently, a set of circumstances arose at work where a web order came to the showroom (nothing unusual there), but it seems that the responsibility of the web-sales team ends the moment that the store gets involved in handling any issues. Thus, when one of the two tiles the customer ordered was found to be damaged, it became my responsibility to handle the matter. Subsequent problems with warehouse stock therefore also became my responsibility. I am always seeking to do better at taking responsibility for my own deeds, and I will indeed take responsibility for others too, if required, but I can’t help but feel that the buck has been rather abruptly passed to the store, and now it’s a problem that will give me a headache.

The theme of responsibility can be a thorny one in any sphere of our lives. Where does our personal responsibility end? How far does it overlap with someone else’s?

Manic Mondays

A recent theme of my Mondays has been to lone-trade at work. I have mentioned before how this does not bother me, and overall, it doesn’t, but there are hang-ups to it. The most recent Monday was busy for a number of reasons, and I felt quite knackered come the end of it. I didn’t achieve everything I had hoped to do, but overall managed to churn through a lot of it.

‘A Royal Announcement’

On Monday, social media was awash with the theory that some kind of revelation of a royal announcement was going to take place. This was said to involve Princess Kate, who has been absent from the public eye for several weeks, following some kind of operation. Part of the social media frenzy could be attributed to the edited photo recently released of Kate and her kids, which sent tongues wagging for reasons I do not understand.

No announcement was forthcoming, which leads me to believe this was some sort of hoax. Leaving that to one side, who actually cares? Is Kate not entitled to privacy where her health is concerned? Are we yet again becoming overly obsessed with what the Royal Family are up to? Does it actually have any tangible impact upon the nation if they edit photos, something countless people do every day? Why is it that we as a country wind up not seeing the wood for the trees where the Royals are concerned? Like a lot of families, the Royal Family is decidedly dysfunctional, and also, they are not special. They were born into wealth and status that is entirely unearned. The state functions they carry out could be done by any number of qualified people. They cost the taxpayer not inconsiderable sums of money. There will be a lot of time and energy wasted over this business with Kate. Can we focus on what is actually affecting the country please?

With that royal rant, it is time to draw this edition of the Meerkat Muse to a close. I hope you have enjoyed it! Until next time!

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