Friday, 31 October 2014

Cracking on with things

This morning I had been nominated to drop TP and Peanut off at Redditch Station as they were spending the weekend with his mother.

As is usual they needed to be encouraged from their pit and nagged repeatedly to ensure they actually made it to the station in time for their bloody train … if my son were any more laid back I swear he would be fucking horizontal. As someone who is habitually early, his last minute approach to life drives me up the wall and is a regular source of friction between us. Today I swore that I would be intentionally late when I pick him up on Sunday to see how the little sod likes being kept waiting!

To kill time whilst waiting for TP, I headed out to the garage and inventoried the parts that needed to be powder coated. I ended up with sixteen items that ranged from the frame and swing arm through tin ware to small items of bracketry.

After delivering TP to the station I headed home where I loaded up the boot with the motorcycle components and then made a second trip in to Redditch to drop them off at Redditch Shotblasting. This company had been recommended by the dealer from whom I had bought the bike and I was reassured that I had made the right choice when, after a cursory glance at the contents of the car, the proprietor recognised it as  Royal Enfield frame. We talked* through my requirements and my confidence grew further when I learnt that they had done powder coating for the National Motorcycle Museum exhibits and would be having a display stand at tomorrow's open day. The only decision left was the colour and I eventually settled on a glossy green that had something of a 1950's army surplus feel to it.

All I need to do now is wait the week or ten days it will take to complete the job.

After lunch I pottered a little while longer in the garage and knocked up a couple of engine stands for the upcoming degrease/decontamination. 30% and I then took the dogs out for a walk around a shortened version of the Three Miler. The afternoon also included a visit from our Structural Engineer and we discussed and agreed the approach we will be taking for our remodelled steps and retaining wall project.

We then made our second trip of the week to the Vet's.** On this occasion we went to have Marauder's eye checked. She has a minor tear on her third eyelid, probably as a result of playing with Whiffler, and was prescribed antibiotic eye drops as a precautionary measure.

As the day waned middle-aged lethargy kicked in and we settled for a quiet evening in. However we were more vigilant than usual this evening as Whiffler is suffering some quite nasty after effects from drinking puddle water.
* It almost got creepy when I mentioned where I lived and he reeled off my current and previous vehicles … He is a Defender fan and his girlfriend lives in the same village as us … he walks her dog past The Pile most mornings.
** The first was on Monday as both T&M have a minor ear infection.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Friends for Dinner

There is not a huge amount to say about Thursday. I woke early and crept in to the kitchen to make coffee, aware that I had three comatose teenagers crashed on the sofas in the living room. I was tempted to wake them but my benevolent side conquered and I left them to their alcohol induced  slumber until a much more civilised nine o'clock.

At the mid point of the morning I ran TP's mates home and spent the remainder of the morning doing very little indeed. After lunch I headed out to the garage and spent an hour or so removing the final two lugs from the Enfield frame. Once I had finished 30% and I donned our boots and headed off for a walk with Tyson, Marauder and Whiffler.

This evening we were joined by Jules and Annette for dinner and that's just about sums up the day.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Mid Week Dining

The activity I had planned for this morning was something I had never done before and I was somewhat apprehensive …

… I planned to take an angle grinder to a perfectly serviceable motorcycle frame and start cutting chunks of metal from it. Obviously a cut in the wrong place would leave me with, at best, a missing mounting point for a component or, at worst, a knackered frame.

Needless to say I started simple by removing a pair of lugs for an obsolete side panel. I cut well above the frame tubing, to minimise the risk of damage, and then used grinding and  flap wheel disks to remove the remaining lug and weld material. After an hour of work I stood back to review progress and was fairly happy with the way things were going. The surface would look great once powder coated and the frame would not be littered with redundant brackets that provide a multitude of rust traps.

After my first hour I took a break and accompanied 30% on a wander around Tesco's aisles. There is not much one can say about a supermarket visit really but I will make one observation about 30%'s shopping habits  … in my mind, most people walk around the supermarket in an orderly fashion; up one aisle, around the end and down the next, continuing in this fashion until they reach the last aisle and then head for the cash registers. 30%, on the other hand, does not. She is all over the place; leaping forward a couple of aisles, then dropping back three to collect something from her list. This makes it a nightmare to keep track of her when she says "can you just go and get some olives". It takes me a couple of minutes to grab the aforementioned olives and then another twenty to locate my randomly wandering partner. I swear I will electronically tag her the next time we go shopping.

Lunch followed and I then headed out to the garage for another couple of hours of minor frame modification. The weather was grey and drizzly so there was no three mile walk today but we did take all three dogs for a run around the local green where they had a great time charging up and down the bank and around the pools.

As the afternoon flowed in to the evening we tidied ourselves up and headed out to the Oak at Upton Snodsbury for dinner. TP was entertaining a couple of mates with pizza, beer and movies so we had decided to leave them to it and dine alone for what seemed like the first time in ages.* The food was glorious and I can heartily recommend the grilled halloumi stack followed by the sea bass as a winning combination … I probably should have left it there and not had the Belgian waffles for pudding. I wandered out absolutely stuffed as the portions are generous as well as beautifully cooked.
* We eventually recalled that it was a Lobster Evening at the same venue back in July.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

So much for a holiday lie-in ...

… This morning I woke and hadn't a clue what time it was as the bedside alarm was helpfully flashing 18:24. The level of daylight suggested that the sun might be peeping over the horizon so I took a chance, rose, dressed and wandered down stairs. It was just before six o'clock and Whiffler was still snoozing in his crate. After letting him out for a pee, I made coffee and took a very gentle start to the day.

As dawn slowly turned in to morning I pottered, drank more coffee and breakfasted. A little before nine o'clock I got my arse in to gear and also in to the car …

… First stop was at Redditch Motorcycles where I had a long and pleasant chat with the proprietor; Chris as he opened up the shop. I handed over the Enfield forks and left him with a rather imprecise set of instructions which involved fork springs, seals and powder coating. We then agreed that I should not hassle him for at least a month as he has an absolute mountain of work on at the moment.

My next stop was at Screwfix where the service was far less personable, but I was soon supplied with grinding disks and was heading back over to Chadwick End to return the incompatible parts to Hitchcocks. After a chat with the parts counter chap I headed towards home, walking through the door in the late morning.

I then amazed myself and dragged out the lawn mower for the second time in ten days. Forty minutes later I had certainly worked up an appetite for lunch.

The afternoon saw me degenerate in to sloth and a long snooze was taken on the sofa. I then summoned TP and took the dogs for a walk. As is now usual TP accompanied me for the first fifteen or so minutes before turning back to avoid over exerting Whiffler. It was a pleasant enough walk but I was amazed at the number of people and cars on the Three Miler today. It was incredibly busy for a single track lane that doesn't really go anywhere apart from the three or four properties dotted along it's length.

There is little more to add. I had intended to make a start on removing brackets from the Enfield frame but a combination of poor light and low blood sugar made me think that it was better put off until tomorrow.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Quote of the day

Whilst discussing Whiffler with 30% this morning I delivered this nugget of wisdom …

"Putting to one side the fact that he is much bigger, he hasn't grown at all since we got him"

I also have a suspicion that Eddy may well be masquerading as the Pope of the Dogs. The fact that he isn't even a dog makes his ascendance to this role peculiar and I am wondering if I am witnessing a Worcestershire version of the Pope Joan fable.*

As you may, by now, have guessed my holiday has truly started and it seems that my brain runs using an alternative OS when I don't need to work.

This morning I headed over to Hitchcocks Motorcycles at Chadwick End to pick up the Trials Kit for The pile of components formerly known as The Enfield. This may seem somewhat premature but I want to remove redundant lugs and brackets from the frame prior to powder coating. Consequently I need to test fit the components to ensure I don't get grinder happy and remove something critical.

I spent most of the morning at the Sales Counter as I had a long and expensive list of parts to collect. Whilst I was there a number of customers came and went and they, along with the staff, made me feel quite youthful by comparison. It is appears that there may well be a minimum age for Enfield Ownership and spares handling that I have yet to reach. I discussed this nugget with 30% on my return and she promptly pointed out that I was a) delusional and b) old … Thanks!

On my return I unpacked the car and piled my new toys on one of the benches in the garage. We then lunched and took a walk around the Three Miler. 30% only did a portion of the walk to save Whiffler's little legs as TP had already taken him for a walk in the park earlier in the day.

Unsurprisingly my afternoon was spent examining my goodies and I now have a reasonable idea of what I can cut from the frame. I had planned to nip in to Screwfix to pick up a new grinding disk but never actually made it that far and, instead, decided to do that tomorrow. I can combine it with a return trip to Hitchcocks, as there is no way two of the parts are compatible with my frame.

That just about sums up my day. I did meddle with the bike in the evening and managed to blank off the EGR port on the cylinder head and also remove the front disk as the hubs will need to be removed, polished and built on to new rims in the very near future.

There was, surprisingly, a work call too … While I was out my boss called and left a message with 30%. I called him back and he advised that we had not been successfully down-selected by the client. Apparently we had been ranked in third place and the client wants to put our offer "on ice" in the event that the negotiations with their two preferred Vendors do not work out.

As gentle let down's go that one is on  a par with "it's not you, it's me". In other words; complete bollocks and my personal opinion is that the Sales Team never fully understood the politics or the Client requirement from the very first moment.

As for me, I am strangely disappointed by this event. Although I had grave reservations about the solution I actually hoped to be able to work through the deficiencies and develop a viable offering. Bugger!
* I never said I was original.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

If at first you don't succeed*

A great and late night out and a puppy that has no comprehension of the BST/GMT switch do not make a good combination and it is fair to say that I felt dreadful as I wandered down stairs to let Whiffler out for a pee. This was at six o'clock. I was desperately short of sleep and had a minor hang over. The consequence of this was that the first three hours of the day were spent on the sofa and even strong black coffee was ineffective at raising energy levels.

Food actually did the trick and once I had got  myself on the outside of a couple of cinnamon bagels I felt able to do more than just press buttons on the remote control.

As is likely to be a recurring theme for the week, I wandered out to the garage and pondered the filthy engine and gearbox. After some gentle rubbing of the fins on the cylinder head I could see that it had the potential to clean up nicely but I rapidly came to the conclusion that the lump needed to be taken outside and degreased properly. This would need TP's assistance and would not happen today as he was out at work.
It doesn't look too bad from a distance
If you think this is grotty you should see the front sprocket
As an alternative I decided to attempt to separate the fork ends from the main tubes. The alloy fork ends are badly corroded and need stripping and polishing, but first I need to separate them from the fork assembly … it is fair to say that I got absolutely nowhere and headed back in to the house to consult manuals and the internet.

Lunch sated my hunger and the web had provided suggestions on deconstructing my front suspension so I headed back out the the garage … Once again I got nowhere and was reluctant to use brute force on the forks so decided to vent my frustration on the neck tube bearing races. These little sods need to be removed prior to powder coating and had thwarted me yesterday. Today I made a slight tooling change and tried again. A few clouts with a hammer on the end of a drift and the little devils clanged on to the garage floor.

My frustration was somewhat dissipated by this success and I left my lair, cleaned myself up and took T&M for a walk.

That just about cover's the days activities. The combination of hang-over, too little sleep and exercise meant that I was snoring on the sofa by half past nine and was snoring in bed shortly after ten.
* do something else instead

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The "who" of the "what"?

The first activity of the day was to run 30% in to Redditch to collect her car, which had finally been repaired.

Once back at home I headed out to the garage to undertake a rather unpleasant task. The Enfield's frame and swing arm needed to be degreased in preparation for powder coating and this meant that an eight year accumulation of chain lube, oil and road dirt needed to be removed from the lower parts of the frame. My chosen method involved a domestic steam cleaner with a barbecue cleaning brush. I then applied a commercial degreaser, which was left for a good five or ten minutes before a stainless steel pan scourer was used to shift the stubborn residue. Hot water was then used to clean everything off.

I had a secondary motive for getting these two components cleaned up. I had noticed that the swing arm had some scoring from a loose chain so, once cleaned up, I headed over to Arden Motorcycles to get their opinion from an MOT perspective. The verdict was that the swing arm was fine and they also recommended a local company for the powder coating.

Relieved that I didn't need to buy a replacement swing arm I headed home and, after lunch returned to the garage where I separate the rear brake pedal from it's shaft and sorted other items that will need to be powder coated. As four o'clock approached I emerged from my lair and prepared to walk the dogs.

30% joined me on my walk and, for the first time, Whiffler was taken around the Three Miler. It was probably a little too far for him but there was method in our madness, as we were out for dinner this evening and hoped that the walk would tire him.

That just about sums up the day apart from the emergence of a new character in my panoply of lunacy. Early in the day I was talking to Marauder and she advised that she did not need to sit in order to received tidbits of cheese. Apparently she has a dispensation that means sitting is no longer obligatory. I enquired as to the source of the dispensation and was advised that it was granted by The Pope of The Dogs.

I found out little more about this canine cult leader apart from the fact that he has a fantastic hat.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Time for a break

Since my assignment to the latest project I have become a huge fan of Fridays; being the official start of the weekend. Although weekend working has occurred a few times in the recent past things have quietened somewhat recently, as we wait for our client to make a decision. I was particularly looking forward to today as it is my last working day for a whole week. I have nine whole days to do exactly as I please.*

Neither of us have anything major planned other than to spend the week at home and enjoy doing domestic stuff. It goes without saying that I am hoping to spend a good amount of time in the garage getting the Enfield's frame ready for powder coating but I also want to get out and get some dog walking done too as T&M have been somewhat exercise deprived due to the impact of work and the recent arrival of Whiffler.

However before the holiday could start I needed to get work out of the way. I had a pretty full day that involved hosting a couple of calls, arranging for an analysis of costs and margin to be completed and completing a hand over to my Boss, who will be minding the deal while I am off. I managed to get all of this completed and did also find forty minutes for a much needed kip after a very bad night's sleep.

By five o'clock I was finished. My out of office was set and I shut down the laptop. My holiday starts here.
* Provided 30% has been notified in advance and has granted written approval. It should be noted that she retains veto powers that can be employed at any point.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

I used to work for this bunch of pricks*

It is more than twelve months after I left their employment and Dante's Nine Circles of Hell are still managing to screw around with my life … let me explain.

Back in September I received a tax calculation from the Inland Revenue that suggested that I owed them a significant quantity of unpaid tax. I took a quick look at their sums and noticed that their salary figure for 2013/14 was £24,000 more than I actually earned. I dug out a copy of my P60 to verify this and called them. After waiting in a queue for twenty minutes I eventually spoke to a chap who listened carefully and took down all the details including the reference from my P60. This troubled me as the P60 is an official Inland Revenue document that summarises earnings, tax and national insurance contributions for every employee in the UK. You would sort of hope that Tax Office staff would use one of these as a reference document when calculating tax.

To cut a long story short; Tax Year 2013/14 was the year I moved from being a Daemon in the Nine Circles of Hell to being Shifter Jnr at the Neat & Tidy Piano Movers. It appears that Dante's Nine Circles of Hell had submitted duplicate forms covering my earning during the six months I worked for them. The morons at the Tax Office had summed these duplicate returns and added them to my Piano Moving earnings rather than discarding one of the duplicate forms.

I was somewhat relieved to find it was a simple mistake and the chap at the Tax Office reassured me that it would now be resolved. He did warn that this could take up to eight weeks as it would involve communication with Dante's Nine Circles of Hell.

We now leap forward four weeks and, this morning, another tax calculation arrived in the post. I opened it and saw that it was a duplicate of the original with the same mistakes. In fact not a single number had changed.

As a result I spent twenty five minutes in a queue this morning before talking to another Official from the Inland Revenue. It was one of the most fruitless discussions I have ever had. I described the history of my case and repeated all of the details including a summary of the previous call with the Tax Office. All I got in return was that the Tax Officer did not understand why a new calculation had been issued, neither could she confirm that it was incorrect but she could advise that new information had come to hand and my calculation had now been forwarded to another Department.

What the Fuck does any of that mean? From my perspective it looks like they have not managed to get any sense from the PAYE Dept at the Nine Circles of Hell and have just regurgitated an incorrect tax calculation in the hope that I will just pay it … like that is ever going to fucking happen!

I asked if there was anything I could send that would help to move this along; advising that I had all of my payslips, P60 and bank statements that clearly demonstrated my earning over the year in question. I was told that this was not needed and I find that very interesting. If my earnings and deductions are not needed then I am a symptom rather than the problem and the little I could learn suggested that Dante's screw up impacted more than just me.

I'm still not fucking impressed and pointed this out in a polite fashion to the Tax Office … and it could still take another eight to twelve weeks to resolve!
* Yep, I worked for the Inland Revenue too (1987 - 98)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Modern Orifice Life

The possibility of a free curry, and the fact that my Boss was going to be in the office today, meant that I was lured from my lair and was to be found wandering around The Depot this morning.

Actually getting in to work was an exercise in logistics as 30%'s car is still not repaired. It was therefore necessary for her to drive me in to work, dropping T&M off at the Grooming Salon en route. It soon became apparent that the free curry was not going to happen, as it was dependent on the presence of a Senior US Executive, who had mysteriously gone awol somewhere between Texas and Redditch. To be honest I can totally understand him being a no show as Redditch must be somewhat underwhelming after the delights of Houston or Dallas.

I therefore settled at my desk, waded through a hefty pile of receipts and finally cleared my outstanding expense claims. This involved several trips to nearby MFDs* which gave me plenty of opportunity to shoot the breeze with friends and colleagues. To be honest I had a lovely morning. I didn't actually do much work but got plenty of networking done.**

The afternoon was slightly more constructive and I used the two hours of calls to prepare a set of minutes from a call I hosted yesterday. The working day ended shortly before five when 30% collected me and then the dogs from the grooming salon.

That pretty much sums up my day but 30% did have a significant piece of news. The reason she needed the car today was for a hospital appointment. It seems that she has a large fibroid and may well need to have an operation in the near future. There is no cause for concern and she has received the news stoically … in fact, it seems that she is perhaps looking forward to a few weeks off work while she recovers from the surgery.
* MFD: Multi Function Devices, a combined printer, scanner, photocopier unit
** I saw Fiona's photos from Cuba and talked to Tim about motorbikes

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Confinement, Excitement & Metaphysics

I have felt somewhat constrained for the past three days. A combination of work and being the only responsible adult at home* has meant that my days have been spent in front of a laptop or keeping an eye on a semi-continent puppy. I feel that it would have been wrong to take T&M out for a long walk and leave Whiffler in his cage … I have sufficient foresight to imagine the nightmare of walking Tyson, Marauder and Whiffler without another person to assist. He will need to be far more disciplined on the lead before I attempt that milestone.

Consequently Tuesday was much like Monday in that I worked and listened for a tell tale yap that indicated that I needed to let the puppy out for a wee.

30% returned in the early evening and caused much excitement amongst the canine members of the household. She was certainly way too much fun for Whiffler and, after three dry days, he spent most of the evening piddling on the floor. It was apparent that my company is so uninspiring that bladder control was far more interesting than spending time with me. 30%, on the other hand, is excitement that exceeds one's powers of self containment.**

I did however finally get the opportunity to escape the confines of the house and after an hour in the garage I can report that I finally separated the Enfield's frame from it's engine. The next stage in the process with be degreasing the components ready for powder coating and possibly some minor frame modifications to remove some now obsolete lugs and brackets.

I have just realised that despite it now being a pile of components I have still referred to it as The Enfield. I'm not sure whether it would be better described as "The components formerly known as The Enfield". However, this is now heading dangerously close to one of those bullshit debates about trees falling in uninhabited forests.
* 30% is on a three day break at Champneys Health Spa
** if you are a four month old puppy

Monday, 20 October 2014

Thinking Ahead

It is Monday. It is half past six and, once again, I find myself preparing to head in to Birmingham for a trip to the Dentist.

On this occasion it was a quick five minutes in the chair whilst he removed four sutures and checked on the healing of the gum. He is happy with progress and I need to return in four weeks time for a further check-up. I must admit that two hours of travelling for a 15 minute appointment is now becoming tiresome and I wish we could leap forward to the point where an impression is taken and something that actually sits above the gum is fabricated. At present all I have  to show for my investment is a dull, grey metal disk that caps the implant.

Putting dentistry to one side I headed home as quickly as the train timetable allowed and was soon sat back at my desk. The day was spent cost modelling and analysis of the aforementioned models combined with calls to discuss the latest Customer requests for information. It seems that an observation I made last week has ruffled a few feathers and the Sales Team may actually have to go out and do some proper work.

I eventually escaped the clutches of work around half past seven and congratulated myself for the foresight that meant a piping hot sausage casserole was waiting in the slow cooker.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A quieter Sunday

Whiffler decided to wake us up a five o'clock this morning. Presumably the little sod has decided that if he is not to use the house as a lavatory he will find other ways to irritate us. Fortunately 30% volunteered to venture downstairs and sooth the beast, possibly to avoid me wandering down and strangling the damned thing. This meant that I had a couple more hours of sleep and stumbled downstairs at a more acceptable eight o'clock.

After breakfast I ventured out around the Three Miler with T&M, returning mid morning. I then headed out to the garage to get medieval with the Enfield in an attempt to remove the frame from the engine. The cutting disk was brought in to play along with a large hammer and the centre stand is now resting on the pile of scrap. I did need to cut through one of the frame studs to release the stand so will need to add a couple of replacement items to my ever increasing shopping list.

I emerged from my lair at lunchtime and, after eating, bade farewell to 30%, as she is off the Champneys Health Spa for a couple of days with her friend Jules. TP was out at work which meant that my afternoon activities were somewhat constrained as I was on Whiffler Watch. I therefore decided to take him for a walk before returning and knocking up a casserole for TP's and my dinner on Monday.

The rest of the day was relatively leisurely … if you call being on constant watch for a semi-continent puppy "leisurely".

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A milestone reached

This morning 30% and I headed in to Redditch for a few necessities* … my underwear and sock drawers required replenishment but, more importantly, I needed a new pair of boots for dog walking.

Yet another pair of shoes has fallen apart after repeated tramping around the Three Miler and it is time to select another pair. Choosing the right pair is always a gamble and, in the past, some of the most comfortable walking shoes have been quite unusual. Previously I have eschewed expensive pairs of walking boots in preference for a scabby pair of slip-on loafers, finding that light weight, Gore Tex engineered creations just do not seem to work on my feet.

A recent eBay acquisition by TP gave me an idea for my next pair of walking footwear. A couple of months ago a parcel arrived for him and, when opened, contained a shiny pair of Doctor Martens boots. I used to live in these from the age of sixteen through to my mid twenties and after trying on TP's latest fashion statement the mental gears slowly started to turn.

Today I went out and purchased a pair of black, nine hole DM classic boots.** I know that they will hurt like hell until they are worn in, but I still recall how comfortable they used to be once they had adapted to the shape of the wearer's foot … and they are a timeless classic too.

After picking up a mountain of pet food we headed back home for lunch. The day had been relatively fine and, after eating, I took a look at the lawn and decided that it would just about cut … Dry was not a word to be associated with the grass but the mower did a reasonable job and the fact that it is now trimmed means that it could now actually dry up and be tidied further.***

With the garden tidier we loaded Whiffler in to the car and took him for a wander around Alcester Food Festival. The real aim was not to sample the ubiquitous chunks of cheese, snippets of sausage or samples of sauces. We took him as we knew that there would be many people. children and dogs there and it was a perfect puppy socialising experience for him. He behaved beautifully, even when a grumpy Lurcher snapped at him, and was exhausted by the experience.

As afternoon turned to evening I wandered out to the garage and found myself swearing at the centre stand assembly of the Enfield … After consulting the manual and a couple of on-line diagrams it looks like WD40 and a fucking big hammer might be needed.

As the evening drew to a close and the dogs were let out to water my freshly trimmed lawn we were finally able to say that we had reached a milestone in Whiffler's development as we had gone an entire day without indoor crimes.
* The observant reader will note that 30%'s car is not among the list of necessities … the bloody thing is still in the repair shop with "faulty head lamp washers"
** I also picked up a couple of pairs of brown casual boots too … I am always dangerous in a shoe shop
*** It is now short enough that we can actually see Whiffler as he charges around the lawn instead of peeing.

So Close ...

It was another quiet day at work today and there is little to report.

Late in the working day a list of additional questions arrived from the Client. A quick perusal of these and the email distribution list showed that they had been issued to the right people and a call had already been set up to discuss them on Monday. I didn't therefore trouble myself to duplicate this action.*

In the afternoon I took the dogs for a walk and, again, TP accompanied me part way round with Whiffler. The weather was fine and it is good to be outside before it finally turns to full-on Autumnal grey and wet.

At the end of the working day 30% and I met up with the Elf and  headed over to Littleton Auctions to peruse the lots. We haven't been for a couple of months and hoped for some hidden gem, but there wasn't anything that really piqued our interest so we left with no intention of bidding tomorrow.

As the evening progressed it, again, looked like we might finally get a day without pee on the floor. However, when  I wandered out at around nine o'clock there was a suspicious puddle on the newspaper.

I swear the little bugger is taunting me.**
* A surprising fact is that the Piano Movers do like to say the same thing repeatedly and ensure they do tell absolutely everybody about it. I have never seen so much unnecessary email before, including the classic use of [Reply All] in a mail that stated "Please can we stop using Reply All".
** During the day Whiffler only needs to be let out every ninety minutes or so but as soon as we settle down for the evening the little sod demands to be let out at intervals no greater than thirty minutes. I swear the little sod can ramp up his metabolic functions with the aim of disturbing my couch potato time. In fact I am starting to think that he has gone beyond associating peeing outside with a reward of cheese …

… I am now suspicious that he he is now thinking along the lines of:-

More Water Drunk = More Pee = More Cheese

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Almost a Dry Day

This morning I tidied myself up and headed in to the Office.

The reasons for this increasingly rare trip was that a) 30% needed a lift in to collect her car, b) I needed a haircut and c) I had expenses to submit. By nine o'clock I was settled at my desk, coffee at my right hand, wading through a raft of receipts, copies of advance approvals and an electronic submission tool. The first batch was soon submitted and I then made a start on the next. All was going so well until I noticed a charge to my corporate credit card for which I had no receipt …

… Bugger! I had forgotten to cancel a hotel room and had been charged as a "no show". A quick call to the hotel got me an electronic copy of the invoice but I will definitely need a chat with my Boss before submitting this batch of expenses. Damn!

Slightly annoyed I headed out for a haircut, lunched and then headed home where I spent a relatively quiet afternoon identifying the set of activities that will need to be completed to refine our solution, assuming that we will get down-selected.

As the afternoon drew to a close I headed out for a walk around the Three Miler with T&M. TP and Whiffler joined me for the first mile before turning back to avoid over exertion.* The walk was a delight and I returned to a relatively empty in-box. That being the case I shut down the laptop and started to enjoy the evening.

30% arrived home shortly after five, having cadged a lift from a Piano Moving colleague that lives close by … apparently the headlamp washers on her car are somewhat reluctant to work and the Mechanic needs more time. I suggested that she might like to think about whether it was time for a new toy as, although the TT is a fine driver's car, it is somewhat unrefined for a German sports car.**

Leaving her to ponder this I wandered out to the garage to spend some time with the Shitter. I spent a happy hour removing the forks and head lamp casquette. I also had a look at the centre stand but, if I am honest, that i s all I did … look and get my hands dirty.

I was soon summoned from my deliberations and headed back in to the house for dinner before settling down for the evening. At this point I suppose I ought to explain the title for today's Journal entry…

…since Whiffler's arrival we have spent many a happy hour cleaning up soggy newspaper and worse, but over the past week his toilet training has taken a leap forward and he is now starting to catch our attention and head for the door when he needs a pee. This may be due to the amazingly persuasive powers of cheese … we are going with reward based training and a chunk of cheddar is the treat of choice in these parts.

Today it looked like we had managed a complete day without a single incident and I commented as such as we were settled on the sofa. TP smirked and 30% looked rather sheepish. Apparently there had been a single incident while I was out in the garage … and it had happened on 30%'s watch.
* I am yet to decide whether I am referring to TP or Whiffler here
** It is bloody noisy in a bad rattly sort of way rather than having a great engine noise.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hump Day

After the manic start to the week I approached Wednesday in a much lower gear.

After a drive in to Redditch, to ferry 30% from the garage to the Office*, I headed back home where I settled in front of the laptop and spent much of the morning completing mandated training, updating status reports and other items of administration that had accumulated over the past couple of months.

As twelve o'clock chimed I felt marginally invigorated as the mid point of the working week had finally passed and it was now all down hill to the weekend.

A few minutes later 30% pinged me to advise that her car would not be ready until tomorrow and requested that I collect her around one o'clock. I dutifully performed this taxi service and then settled back at the laptop for two hours of team calls that were definitely FYI rather than FYA.

At four o'clock the final call of the day was a status update on the latest deal. The greatly anticipated call with the Client's CIO didn't happen** and there is a possibility of further delay to the down-selection decision. As a consequence the call was short and by half past four 30% and I were headed out of the house to walk the dogs.

30% only walked a short way with Whiffler before turning back whilst I completed the Three Miler in a steady fall of rain. I arrived home soggy but actually quite enjoyed the solitude that the bad weather brings.
* Her car was in for an MOT & Service
** Apparently he was unwell

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I plan to coast through to the weekend

I hit the laptop early on Tuesday morning and could be found making final revisions to the cost model before the clock struck eight. By nine thirty I was talking our Pricer* through the Customer request and the model and it is fair to say that she was her usual courteous and helpful self …

Why haven't you done this? What makes you think that is my job? These were two of her particularly jarring comments this morning, made even more so by the fact that she knew we were under ridiculous time constraints. I bit my tongue and patiently talked her through the new model and baselines. She made a couple of suggestions which I adopted and passed the updated model over to her. Within twenty minutes she had thrown her toys out of the pram advising that she was not able to develop two price types from a single set of figures.

To be honest I was expecting this and had already made a start of a new version of the model along with the necessary calculations to determine a before and after unit rate. By lunchtime I had got Management consent to this approach and had finally got her to understand the concepts involved.

Over the course of the afternoon I was on constant stand-by and several times had to reiterate facts and correct misunderstandings. Eventually as five o'clock approach the price release was delivered and I passed it across to the Sales Lead. It is fair to say that they were pleased and it was passed over to the client in short order.

Final task of the day was to attend the six o'clock call and I was the recipient of a number of sincere and not so sincere** congratulations. I did the decent thing and asked for a formal e-mail of thanks to be passed to the pricing team …

… but I have a very long memory and one day I will give our charming Pricer some full and frank feedback.
* It was a bloody good job 30% pinged me just before this call to remind me to let the chickens out!
** Our Sales Lead could make one doubt absolutely anything he says.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Ups 'n Downs

There is extreme pressure at work to get a new price in front of the customer by close of business on Tuesday. The problem is that the new costs have not yet been delivered and, for some strange reason, our Sales Lead cannot understand that he cannot have a new price without first having new costs.

The net result was that I spent time today either modelling and checking the costs I did have or explaining them to the saner elements of my management chain.

I also received an email from the British Computer Society informing me that my examination results were now available … I logged on to their web site with a degree of trepidation as the timing of the course and test was hardly perfect. Having to interrupt my revision to spend time explaining deal and cost history is not the best way to prepare for an exam.

I was hoping to scrape a pass so was bloody chuffed at landing a solid 90% score.

Of course The Neat & Tidy Piano Movers is an American company so, after reporting my pass to my management, my success was announced to the team resulting in  a veritable storm of virtual "High Fives".

Sunday, 12 October 2014

One Day, two walks

Sunday followed in a similar vein to Saturday. T&M were walked around the Three Miler early in the day and I then retreated to the garage for a few hours. I emerged shortly after lunch, having reached the point where specialist tools, workshop manuals and TP's assistance are required to progress further.
I like a challenge
Having cleaned myself up I prepared for a snooze on the sofa … as my eyelids drooped I heard 30% wander in to the lounge and it became apparent that it was now time for the second walk of the day. All three dogs were assembled along with the necessary paraphernalia of leads, treats and "pooh bags". We then took a wander up to the field where the village kids sledge in Winter before looping back along the lanes in to the village. It was only a mile or so but far enough for Whiffler's little legs at this point in his development.

The rest of the day was spent taking it easy and contemplating the innards of the Tumble Drier after it died.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Time to buy a manual, I think.

There is not a huge amount to report for Saturday. It was a quiet day with no demands to do anything or be anywhere.

I took T&M for a walk around theThree Miler straight after breakfast and was back at home drinking coffee shortly after ten o'clock. I then headed out to the garage and continued dismantling the Enfield. Over the course of the day the swing arm came away easily and the rear and front brakes weren't particularly troublesome either. The handlebars, levers and switch gear were light relief and then it was time for the forks and steering yoke …

… I have never dismantled a motorcycle to this state of disassembly before and it is fair to say that the deconstruction of this assembly is not straightforward. A web search suggested that a specialist tool was needed so that, along with a workshop manual, was added to my shopping cart.

The rest of the day was spent doing as little as possible. Stevie and The Elf came over in the afternoon and a pleasant hour was spent chatting and tucking in to a Victoria Sponge that had materialised courtesy of Peanut. Other than that I took it easy spending some time on a project over which I have control and is proceeding in an orderly fashion.

I may not know what I am doing but I know enough to stop, take stock and research before continuing.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Cyborg Transformation: Phase 1 ***

Once again I found myself heading in to Birmingham on the early train this morning although, on this occasion, it was a personal trip for the insertion of my dental implant.

By nine thirty I was seated in the Dentist's chair, had received enough anaesthetic to fell a bull rhinoceros, and was covered with a green surgical drape. I won't go in to the finer details as the thought of it actually makes me cringe but my lower right gum was cut open and peeled away from the jaw bone. My jaw was then drilled to receive the implant.* The titanium implant was then screwed in to my jaw and the mildly amusing aspect of this stage was that the Dentist used a tiny ratchet driver to screw this device in to the bone. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the swing of the handle and hear the unmistakeable click of a ratchet driver mechanism.** Once the implant was implanted it was capped, a few sutures were inserted and I was sent on my way after a full hour in the chair.

I need to go back in a week for the removal of the stitches and then again about a month later for the impression that will allow the crown to be made.

Once I was back at my desk it was the usual nonsense of trying to talk to a Salesman that just will not listen. In the end I left him to his own devices after explaining the situation for the third or fourth time. He has yet to learn that dislike is a causative agent of change but not the actual mechanism by which change is achieved. I cannot change my costs just because he  doesn't like them. I need to change the solution … but he wants that left well alone!

After work I wandered out to the garage and continue the deconstruction of the Enfield. This evening the shock absorbers, rear wheel, foot rests and side stand assembly all got separated from the frame.
* The hole was eight millimetres deep with a 4 millimetre diameter … or, as I would put it "Bloody Enormous!"
** There is a strange parallel between my garage and the Dentist's surgery where shiny tools are applied to repair decrepit machines
*** cy·borg n.: A human who has certain physiological processes aided or controlled by mechanical or electronic devices. 

I am pretty certain that chewing is a physiological process and it is certainly going to be aided by the dental implant which is clearly a mechanical device … It had to be inserted with a bloody posh spanner!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Persistence & Penetrating Oil

Work was the usual disorganised chaos of calls with people who a) should know better, b) clearly don't and c) therefore need to be told. There was the expected set of unrealistic expectations and ninety minutes when I had to be on my best behaviour for a customer call.

In summary the client's decision will be delayed … no surprises there then …. and they would also like us to modify our solution and pricing to to facilitate their evaluation … that one wasn't exactly left field either. We obviously have little time and there is only so much that can be done. It is a shame that our Sales Lead doesn't recognise this. I dutifully took the team through an analysis of the "ask" and it's impact on our costings and set the wheels in motion to get new cost estimates.

So that was work, challenging and a text book case of "how not to do it". I understand why it needs to be done this way and will do my utmost to complete the requests but I hope that The Piano Movers will learn from this experience and do things better next time.

Outside of work I receive a glowing report from the Doctor at my regular review and also made some progress on the disassembly of the Enfield. A few of the bolts have been stuck fast so, for the past week, I have been wandering out every couple of days and giving them a squirt of WD40. Today I attempted to release some of them and had a successful session ...

… I finally managed to removee the chain guard from the crud encrusted swing arm and, with the use of a pair of Mole Grips, the Allen bolt holding the exhaust header came free. Encouraged by this progress, I temporarily removed the front wheel to gain access to the mud guard bolts. These are steel bolts screwed in to the aluminium fork bottoms and galvanic corrosion was a concern. The combination of penetrating oil, good access and a few taps with a rubber hammer worked and the mud guard was soon added to the pile of scrap components.

At this rate I could be down to a bare frame by the weekend.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The IT Crowd

For the past three days I have been schlepping up and down to Birmingham on the train to spend my days being shown a vast number of slides outlining ITIL Service Management concepts. The presentation has been delivered in a Nigerian accent and has been interspersed with mock examinations and interjections from my marvellous classmates.*

The evenings were spent completing further mock examinations and reviewing further badly written slides. Over the course of the three days I managed to meet or exceed the pass mark on each exam I took and today I finally got to sit the actual exam after a tortuous session of deliberating sample questions and answers. It is fair to say that the examination was tougher than the sample questions and I came away with the view that I may have just scraped a pass … I now need to wait three weeks for my result to come through.

I finally arrived home in the mid afternoon and settled to the fiasco that used to be my email inbox … allegedly we will be given a down-selection decision by our prospective client today but my personal opinion is that snow in the Sahara is more likely.
* Just so we are all on the same page. This is pure, distilled 100% proof sarcasm. I barely tolerated a couple of them and am, today, rejoicing in the fact that I will never have to meet the rest of them for the rest of my life. I have never met such a lack lustre bunch of prats in my entire life. They truly were a collection of IT cliches and you would try to avoid each and everyone of them UNLESS you desperately** needed support for a particular item of infrastructure or process.

They ranged from the pushy cow in the Procurement Department to a collection of overweight, poorly dressed Techies that had that misplaced arrogance that occurs when they have a temporary position of pseudo power that comes from knowledge of a particular technology.***

Basically not one of them had a decent understanding of the industry they worked in and were specialised to the point of virtual ignorance.

Did I say I fucking loathed them?

** You would have to be desperate to contact this bunch!

*** and we all know that technology is forever changing and what was a key skill two years ago is now redundant.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

My idea of a relaxing day

Sunday morning was supposed to be spent poring over ITIL documentation but the text was so poorly written and so similar to the American document I read yesterday that I gave up and took T&M for a walk around the Three Miler instead. 

After lunch I headed out to the garage and continued the disassembly of The Shitter. It is fair to say that it, most definitely, looks very different now as the seat, rear subframe and mudguard assembly, tank, air box and battery box are now scattered around the garage. 

I did take an hour out in the late afternoon to take Whiffler for a walk. accompanied by 30%, Tyson & Marauder before returning to my lair to continue the conversion of a fairly serviceable motorcycle in to a pile of filthy, rusty components.

I cast my mind back to the Spring Clean of the CBR 600 earlier in the year and am amazed at how badly the Enfield has deteriorated in it's six years of existence compared to my nineteen year old Honda which is still in beautiful condition. 

With thoughts of what I need to do next* on the bike perambulating their way around my skull, I wandered back in to the house for Dinner and a quiet evening in front of the TV. I have to admit that The Shitter is a splendid distraction after being absorbed and consumed by work for the past six weeks.
* Mostly freeing up rusted and corroded fasteners of one type or another

Saturday, 4 October 2014

A semi-normal weekend

Conscious of the fact that I had not prepared for next week's ITIL Training Course, I spent a good chunk of Saturday morning doing some pre-course reading.

I had two documents; the first was from the Training Provider I will be using and the second was donated by an American Colleague, sourced from a US Company for the very same Internationally recognised qualification. I settled down with the first of these, the UK course specific document, and within minutes was totally bemused. I can quite honestly say that I have never read such jargon filled, badly written nonsense in my life. It was truly awful. I finally gave up when I reached a sixty word sentence that reached new limits of impenetrability.

In desperation I reached for the American document and was amazed at the difference. It proved that it wasn't just me being thick. This covered the same dry concepts and used the identical terminology but had been crafted by an individual who actually knew how to throw a few sentences together and make a description of IT Service Management tolerable.

A couple of hours later I had a semi-understanding of what I would be facing next week and decided to enjoy my Saturday. Perhaps foolishly, I also made a personal commitment to attempt the revolting document tomorrow now that I have a notion of what it was trying to convey.

Saturday afternoon was spent out in the garage where I continued the removal of obsolete components from the Enfield. I was obviously lucky with yesterday's selection of parts as the ones I removed today featured completely corroded fasteners. I encountered bolts that snapped clean in half and others that required the use of a cutting disk in an angle grinder to free tinware from the frame. I am not making particularly rapid progress but that was never the point of the exercise. Don't get me wrong, I am very keen to wheel a gleaming Trails Motorcycle from the garage but I want to enjoy the process … a labour of love rather than a period of servitude.

As the afternoon progressed 30% knocked on the garage door …  It was time to take Whiffler for his first trim. Over the past couple of weeks 30% has started commenting that his face needed clipping. In the case of T&M, I let her gentle nagging observations continue for a week or so before I plug in the clippers and give the girls a trim. However Whiffler is a completely different matter and I pointed out from the onset of her observations that his first trim needed to be done by a professional as he wasn't exactly going to sit patiently while I wielded the Clippers of Doom.

An hour later we were back at home with a puppy that looks completely different now he has had his face and paws clipped, his ears plucked and his nails cut. It went well although it was apparent that he wasn't a huge fan of sitting in the load area of the car judging by the widdle I needed to wipe up … at that point I offered a prayer to the Gods for making me choose the dog guard that came complete with a custom cut, raised lip, rubber boot liner … the best £40 up sell ever!*
Who's a pretty boy then!
The afternoon and evening featured further motorcycle deconstruction, dinner, an expression of disgust at the TV schedules and a further session out in the garage where I made a start on the lights and indicators.
* The alternative would have been mopping up dog pee from a navy blue carpet

Friday, 3 October 2014

"Me" Time

If I am honest I took it easy today and did only what I needed to before I stepped away from the laptop, walked the dogs and caught up with some sleep on the sofa.

Do I feel guilty about this … Do I fuck! I have had an exhausting six weeks and, despite having submitted our Proposal and presented it to the client, I know that I will be working again this weekend. This weekend's labours are preparation for a training course that I am scheduled to attend in Birmingham next week. Saturday and Sunday will see me dipping in to an ITIL Foundation Study Guide … Oh Joy!

Having covered my weekend "must do" activities I will return to today. After exercising both T&M and myself I finally wandered out to the garage and  made a start on dismantling The Shitter. I soon realised that I really need to shift the bikes around so that Shitty is a) much nearer the tool cabinet and work bench and b) better illuminated. However this was only a short playtime so I concentrated on components that were easily accessible and did not need to be labelled, photographed or bagged for future reference.

In summary I spent a happy hour pottering and managed to remove the rear foot rests and a few other obsolete accessories including the tax disk holder*, mirrors and a clock that appeared to require blu-tack to affix it to the bike. As I removed components from the handlebars I finally fathomed the purpose of the switch that had been confounding me for a few days … the bike had heated handlebar grips … another obsolete part destined for the bin.
I did say it was somewhat neglected
So far, despite the corrosion and accumulate dirt, everything has unbolted without major drama. The bike is only six years old so I am hoping that much of the rust is surface only and that the bolt threads remain reasonably uncorroded … fingers crossed.

I suppose I should outline my plans for this old Bullet, I have found 1950's Vintage Trials Machine conversion kit that looks fantastic and should keep me occupied for months … and months, and months!
* From 1st October there is no longer a need to display a tax disk

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Schrodinger's Chicken

It was mid-morning and the 'phone rang …"What do you want for dinner?" … It was 30% and it was obvious that she planned to take a wander around the supermarket at lunch time. My mind was in it's standard mode of operations* and I really hadn't got a clue what I would want to eat in eight or nine hours time. After all, the toast and marmite I had for breakfast was still fresh in my mind and I had the delights of lunch to resolve before I needed to consider my evening meal.

After a moment or two of mental stammering I sifted out a few relatively appropriate thoughts and managed to advise that I fancied a meal featuring a chunk of protein, some fresh green vegetables and new potatoes. After the past few days my diet appeared to be sandwich based and I really fancied a simple meat 'n two veg type of meal. At this point 30% chimed in and suggested Chicken Kiev.

I instantly baulked at the idea of these over processed, oily, garlicky chunks of god-knows-what and pointed this out advising that I most definitely did not want Schrodinger's Chicken for tea. I went on to explain that, whilst the label on the front of the box would declare it to be "chicken", it was a processed meal with a high possibility of MRM** in it's makeup. This, in my opinion, meant that it was both chicken and not chicken at the same time and only by careful observation of the ingredient list would one actually determine it's true state.

I ended up with fishcakes.
* i.e. Blank
** Mechanically Recovered Meat

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Busy Three Days

The title pretty much sums up the start to the week.

Monday 29th September

Monday saw me on the 07:50 train from Redditch to Five Ways for a CT scan of my jaw, in advance of next weeks cyborg transformation*. I was somewhat apprehensive about the procedure, recalling the acute claustrophobia induced by a scan a few years ago. There was no way I was looking forward to being  slid in a tube like machine and having to lie still. Fortunately, on this occasion, I was sat in something more akin to an electric chair with imaging hardware rotating around my skull and felt far less constrained. The scans took seconds to complete and within five minutes I was watching a 3D rendering of my jaw appear on screen. 

By five past nine I was back on the platform at Five Ways waiting for the train back to Redditch. 

The rest of the working day was spent preparing scripts for tomorrow's client presentation and making final tweaks to the running order.** Five o'clock was the deadline for Proposal submission and our Sales Lead confirmed that our submission had been delivered. The review of presentation matierials continued until six in the evening when I was forced to hang up, eat and tidy myself in preparation for a trip to the theatre … Just over an hour later I was wandering through the doors of the Malvern Winter Gardens and plonking myself in to a seat for  their production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

If I am honest my heart wasn't in it. I was tired. I had an important client presentation on the morrow and really just wanted to be a couch potato. However I remained positive and can report that the plot held my attention but I was not a huge fan of the play itself. I came away thinking that I would like to see a better production or perhaps the film version from the early '60s.

The day closed with a quick shave and selection of a suit, shirt and tie as I had another early start on Tuesday.

Tuesday 30th September

After six measly hours of sleep I hauled myself out of bed, washed, dressed, drank coffee and wandered out to the car. After a two hour cruise down the motorway I found myself outside the Slough Depot and waited patiently for the rest of the RFP Team to arrive.

By nine o'clock we were all sat around a conference table, making last minute tweaks to the running order and muggins here suddenly acquired an extra slide to present.  I am still not quite sure what the infographics were suppose to represent but the Execs appeared to like the bullshit I spouted so I couldn't be far from what they wanted.

At midday we climbed in to cabs and were ferried over to the client's offices in Uxbridge. It is a site I know well, having visited the current client and many others during my subjugation with Dante's NCoH.  I played I-spy Corporate Logos  as we drove past concrete and glass.

The presentation went well. The client was attentive and more than happy to give us more time when it was apparent that we were going to over run. The timing issues meant that I needed to abbreviate my delivery to ensure the Technical Boys had time to get in to the nitty gritty. I therefore raced through my slides and was able to sit back and ponder why anyone would design a chair as un-fucking-comfortable as the one I was forced to sit in for the next three hours. 

As six o'clock drew near the session closed and I was able to stand upright with every muscle in my mid section screaming. I was so looking forward to being cosseted in the cabin of the Range Rover after being cooped up all day.

The drive home was a delight and my aching back eased as the miles passed. I arrived home shortly after eight and 30% advised that a beer was chilling in the fridge … Christ it was welcome!

Wednesday 1st October

Wednesday found me, once again, on the platform at Evesham waiting for the 07:50 to Paddington. Today was the debrief session and for the first time in many weeks it was a relaxed just get here when you can rather than can you be here by eight thirty?*** 

The casual approach to the start time was an absolute boon as Paddington Station was in a state of chaos. Signalling problems had led to delays on the Underground which in turn had resulted in overcrowding and temporary closure of Tube stations. As a result the taxi queue was over one hundred yards long and had an estimated hour of waiting. I decided to wait it out and eventually made it on to the Tube Systems about an hour later.

The debrief went well and much of the session was spent examining who would be responsible for what in the hastily assembled, hybrid solution that we pulled together in the last two weeks. By four o'clock we were done and I found myself heading back to a much calmer Paddington in time for the 17:22 back home.

* dental implant
** apart from the twenty minutes on the 'phone to the Tax Office advising them that they had got their calculations wrong and that I most definitely did not owe them over four thousand pounds in back tax … they are now rechecking their figures after noticing that Dante's Nine Circles of Hell sent two returns effectively doubling my salary for the first half of 2013/14!
*** This may look like a question but it is most definitely an instruction.