Where’s The Catch?

Lucy is now pretty much at full-speed around the house, having got the hang of crawling some time ago. She can make remarkable progress across the floor, despite her small size and inability to walk. Coupled with this ability to explore is also the desire to explore.

Everything which is within reach (and at times some things which aren’t), will be pushed, pulled, chewed and rattled. Our house is just a playground of new stuff to do now she’s got her crawling badge. Unfortunately, we can’t just let her loose in the kitchen cupboards, so we’ve needed to fit child safety catches on all of the doors. These are primitive lumps of plastic which screw to the door, with a corresponding catch screwing to the carcase of the cabinet. Pull the door open about 2 inches, push the plastic bit in slightly, then the door’s released. Easy.

Except these things are driving me nuts.

Each of our floor-level kitchen cupboards have drawers above them. That means the catches couldn’t be mounted at the top as designed. Nor could they be mounted to the side, because everything’s nice and flush-fitting, including the appliances, so there’s no room to get your fingers in. So the only place they could go was on the floor of the cabinet.

So now every time I need anything out of the kitchen cupboards (and that’s many times a day), I need to bend down, articulate my wrist in a monumentally uncomfortable way, pull the door open and then push the catch up into the cupboard.

Annoying.

Never Play on the Train Lines

There was a story on the local BBC news the other day about a woman who had fallen over whilst crossing a railway line on a gated level crossing. To make matters worse, she managed to fall when there was a train coming.

Now before you think I’m having a go at some poor woman who’s thankful to be alive after losing two limbs in some horrific accident on a train line, I’m not. The level crossing was manned, so a real person needs to look out of the window at the track and only then let the train know it’s safe to proceed. Even the reporting journalist who would have loved a sensationalist story admitted she was in no danger whatsoever.

So let’s see what we have so far: an old woman falling over on a train track, but in reality she was in no danger whatsoever. Normally that wouldn’t even make the Hedge End Informer, but for some reason it had popped up on the 6:30pm BBC South Today news. So what gives?

Well the whole thing seems to have been her reaction to it. She was described as not wanting to use that crossing again because she was “too traumatised”. She was even “considering suing Network Rail for the cost of replacing her glasses which she broken in the fall”.

For God’s sake woman get over it! You’ve fallen over: it’s not anyone else’s fault.

It gets better though – there was the mandatory “on location” report by the poor bloke sent to cover this case. Why do you think I’m being so harsh on this woman? It’s because arching nicely over the head of the reporter in the background of the report is none other than a footbridge.

A woman (who I’ve avoided describing as elderly, because I don’t think she was that far over 60) refuses to use the supplied footbridge, falls over on the train line and all the safety procedures work fine.

I’ve no idea what the outcome of the story was (I couldn’t find it on a web page anywhere), but I hope that Network Rail told her to get lost. I’m sure £75 for new specs would hardly be missed by NR shareholders, but it’s the principle. Replacement glasses indeed.

Bungee Jumps in Your Own Back Garden

I looked into the garden this evening and thought “this place needs a tidy-up”. Now in itself, that doesn’t deviate from any other day, but what made it different today was that I actually did something about it. I went out and cut the grass.

It turns out that there was very little real grass causing the place to look untidy, but simply the 18-inch high weeds in the middle of the “lawn” which made it look a lot worse than it was. Buoyed by this success and relative ease of tidying, I then set about the privet hedge which divides us from next door. This had been left for months to grow uncontrollably, and it looked a mess. Especially given that next door had trimmed her side and there was an obvious line where she could reach no further.

I started to hack away with the garden shears, only to find that half an hour later, I was getting nowhere and my arms were killing me. Enough is enough! I needed to go to B&Q anyway to buy a fence panel to replace the one that got smashed in the high winds a few months back, so while I was there, I bought a Flymo EasiCut 600XT Turbo WRX GSi hedge trimmer. Maybe Flymo doesn’t call it that model exactly, but it might as well be. Thirty-five notes gets you one meaty-looking electric hedge trimmer which can probably remove your arm without noticing.

I thought I’d swapped the centuries-old manual tool for a modern equivalent that should offer significant labour-saving advantages. What I actually did was to swap shears (which provided a handy, steady bicep training session) for this orange adrenaline factory that provides the ultimate full-body workout, along with being parts 1 and 2 of the MENSA induction test.

Getting the thing out of the box was the first challenge: it’s in an L-shaped box, which means there’s folds and flaps everywhere. I still believe it’s impossible to remove without resorting to the physical violence I required. Then there’s the instructions. The first leaflet that drops out of the pack shows how to use the “clippings collection attachment”. Bugger – I’ve picked up a box which has that part missing. Only after a careful read did I discover that this is actually an optional extra which presumably costs more than the machine itself. There’s the directions for the nifty “cable belt clip”, which have cables routed through here, clips lifting there, snapping into place over somewhere else. Blimey – all I need to do is cut the hedge. And then there’s the power-up sequence. Captain Kirk got to warp speed 9 with less button-pushes than this thing needs.

There are four power buttons, three of which need to be depressed to start things up (you work out which ones) and two of which need to be held during operation. Unfortunately, holding these buttons on needs a grip like a world-class rock-climber. It’s impossible to be stretching even slightly and keep the thing running. And then there’s the weight. When I picked-up the box it seemed reasonably heavy, but not overly so. That’s great on the shop floor for 10 seconds, but hang yourself over a rose bush at full stretch and I suddenly discovered muscle groups which had been on holiday since 1986.

Finally, there’s the fact that about 4 inches from your fingers (or sometimes many other parts of your body) there’s highly-sharpened chopping implements flashing backward and forwards willing human flesh to venture near enough for a bite. Like my circular saw before it, I was crapping myself just switching it on. It’s a bit like bungee jumping really – you know it’s probably safe, but if someone nodded off doing the safety checks, then it’s likely to end in a fatality.