Santa’s sleigh in the sky

If you have little ones and they are up early on Xmas morning (and what child isn’t? 🙂) and the weather is clear then point them towards the heavens at the times below. With a bit of patience and luck they’ll see a little light speeding through the sky: Santa’s sleigh heading home!

5:16, low in the sky travelling SE to E for 2 minutes.

6:49, higher in the sky travelling W to E for 6 minutes.

These are London times but you can check for times near you.

(it is, of course, the International Space Station)

Scammer frustrated

I would not ordinarily take any pleasure in wasting somebody’s time, raising their blood pressure and upsetting their morning, but there are exceptions….


I had a call, apparently from Amazon, to say that my Prime subscription had been renewed for £79.99 but asking if I wanted to cancel.


Knowing it was a scam I took the call. After saying that I wanted to cancel I was immediately ‘upgraded’ to somebody else. He asked if I had access to a computer.


As it happened I had an old laptop to hand, devoid of data but in working order so I decided to see how they were going to play this.


I was asked to open a browser and was directed to the AnyDesk website. AnyDesk is a legitimate piece of remote control software. Following their instructions (and playing dumb and non-IT literate) I downloaded the program and let the scammer take control of the computer.


Thence my browser was taken to a fairly amateur Google form where I was asked for name, address, the amount I wanted credited plus my bank details. I filled this all in with fake data and the aforementioned amount of £79.99


After this a screen appeared confirming a payment of £7,999 – a hundred times the original amount. I was told that I must have typed in the wrong amount and that I’d need to pay back the extra. Scammer asked if I used online banking.


I said that I did but would have to see to this later as I had a medical appointment. This caused him to get quite agitated and tell me that if it wasn’t sent back right away then I’d be under investigation for money laundering. I persisted saying that it could be done later.


So aggravate matters further I told him that I needed the toilet and kept him waiting for another few minutes. Back on the phone he was telling me that the police would be called if I didn’t send the money back right away. Noting that the call was just coming round to 30 minutes I decided it was time for a break and put the phone down.

The Scam?

I wish I’d had a redundant online bank account with ninepence in it just to see what would happen.

My suspicion is that they’d dup somebody (the ‘patsy’) into logging into his or her online banking where, of course, there’d be no mysterious £7,999 deposit. They’d then say that the money was on its way and tell the patsy to send £7,920.01 back to Amazon to correct the credit to the original £79.99.

Sadly people must fall for this.


A minute later the phone rang again. Scammer was back with an irate “How dare you put phone down on me?”. I said I’d not put the phone down on anybody, this got an angry “Just now!”.


“Oh”, I said, “You were talking to my father, he’s gone to the clinic”. This invoked: “It is not his money, he must give it back. You need to log into his online banking”.

I told him I’d only just got in and asked him to tell me what the situation was. At this point he lost it.

“That is not your money, your bloody father must send it back”. He then said that this was money laundering and the police would be coming if the money was not sent back. I calmly explained that this was not a money laundering situation and the police would not come round until there’d been a proper investigation. This caused more ranting whereupon I asked if this was the sort of behaviour expected from Amazon employees. At which point, I am delighted to report, apoplexy appeared to set in at the other end of the line!

I toyed with telling him that he himself had been conned but reckoned he’d be more frustrated thinking that he’d come so close to a £7,900 payday.

Accordingly I put the phone down satisfied that he’d spent 45 minutes not being able to scam somebody else.

Brian and Roger

“Brian and Roger” chronicles a series of voicemails between two divorced dads.

One of them is manipulative. The other one is nice.

Improbable situations, sometimes outrageous, strong language at times.

This programme is not suitable for those of a genteel disposition.

iPad etc:-

Apple Podcasts


Tune-in Podcasts

Acast Podcasts

It’s a podcast so you may need to download a program or app.

Caution: can be addictive and lead to AFOCL incidents.



Back in 2001 I was on contract in Aldgate. I’d take the train to London Bridge, walk along the Thames Path then across Tower Bridge and St Katherines Dock to get to work.

Just outside the station a homeless chap called Martin used to beg. I’d buy him a sandwich or a cup of tea a few times each week.

One morning Martin wasn’t there, not the next day either, nor ever again.

I didn’t think much of it: people move on.

Four years later I was boarding a train in Woking, when a voice called “Oi! Mate! Hold on!”.

I looked round and it was Martin! Neatly groomed, smart casual shirt and new pair of jeans.

Here’s the story.

He was begging at his usual pitch when a woman walked past, glanced at him, walked on a few paces then stopped, came back and asked him “Are you Martin?”

When he affirmed she said: “I’ve not seen you for years. I’m your Aunt!”.

Auntie lived in somewhat humble and dilapidated accommodation nearby but she took him in.

Two weeks later her number came up on the Premium Bonds! They moved out to Surrey and she set him up in his own gardening business.

“Listen mate”, he said to me, “I owe you a drink, in fact several drinks. Give me your number and we’ll go for a beer”.

So I gave him my number.

Never heard from him again!

I wish him well though.

UXB Addiscombe

In 1998 we moved into Alexandra Road. The house needed some work and the garden had been neglected and was full of rubble. We hired somebody to clear the rubbish and also turn over the soil.

Next day I was out in the garden in discussion with Phil, our builder when we spotted a curious small cylindrical object.

“Oh, looks like a bomb!” said Phil.

I pondered for a few seconds. The railway line nearby had been a WW2 target for the Luftwaffe

“Too small”, I replied, “anti-aircraft shell maybe?”

“Er, didn’t some of those have warheads?”

I went inside and called the police on the non-emergency number and explained that we might have found an unexploded wartime shell. On hearing this the operator said “I’ll put you through to 999”.

“Oh, no rush,” I said, “it’s been there 50 years, it can probably wait a few minutes more!”.

I explained the situation again to the emergency operator and she said “We’ll send somebody round right away but meanwhile please keep away from that side of the house and also let your neighbours know.”.

Well, we’d met the neighbours on one side but not the other, so I knocked on their door and said “Good morning, my name is Andy. We’ve just moved in next door, oh, and – by the way – we might have an unexploded bomb in the garden”.

A constable arrived, took a look at the artefact, said it looked dodgy and that the inspector was on the way. A uniformed inspector arrived, took a look himself and said “It’s quite possible. We find about one a year. I’ll call the Bomb Squad”.

By now four houses in Alexandra Road and another four in Davidson Road had been evacuated. Neighbours who’d never met before were chatting and making each other cups of tea.

Eventually we heard a siren and a dark blue Ford Granada pulled up. Two burly chaps got out, spoke to the inspector, and walked through to the garden. When they came back one was carrying my ‘bomb’. Without a word they got into the car and drove off.

I asked the inspector what it was. He replied: “They said building material – but I’m not so sure…”.

This gave me a theory. I suspect that during Bomb Disposal classes the instructor will produce my ‘bomb’ and say “Now, if some daft pillock calls up with one of these….”.

There was a postscript. Later that I day I came home in the car and was looking for somewhere to park. A chap pulled up on the far side of the road, got out of his car and made that universal gesture which means “I’m just popping on for a second then I’m off again so you can have the space”.

Next day I saw the same fellow and said to him “Thanks for the parking space yesterday. My name’s Andy, we’ve just moved in opposite”

“Ah!”, he said, “you’re the one with the bomb”.



Hayling Island, 2015.

Hayling Island, 2015.

Hayling Island, 2015.

The Solent, Hampshire, 2015.

Carshalton, Surrey, 2018. The Carshalton Day Of Dance.

Hampshire Avon, Boxing Day 2019. In flood and over half a mile wide.