"Oh really, they made you switch to a bus replacement service? That's horrible! They should absolutely pay for individual taxis for you all. After all, I'm sure the fault wasn't completely out of their hands and there's nothing they could have done about it, right? Evil b******s!".
Then no sooner does the phone go down when it rings again "can you look after your nephews for a few hours?". Erm, how about "no", because I'm actually quite busy with my own life. We have these things called babysitters. You pay them money and they will look after your kids for you. It's remarkable what you can get people to do for money these days.
And I've just realised I've become the guy on the train, moaning down a phone line. On that note, links and vids time!
The first link is about one of my local regiments (of sorts); 2 PARA. Because jumping out of perfectly adequate aircraft is all well and good, but I guess it can get a bit routine, and the boys have been there before. So in order to freshen things up the battalion has spent the last two weeks on Exercise Eagles Nest at the Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland. Not living in camps though. Living in the field, in the middle of some of the harshest weather this country has seen for years.
I think the words you're looking for are; "a little bit mental".
To read more about it, follow this link.
Next up a video from British Forces News, as the UK's production facility for the rear ends of the F-35 is now up and running at Salmesbury in Lancashire.
Also from BFN (or more properly the BFBS), good news about Typhoon as the first Tranche 3 aircraft is being put together.
Third and final video, this time with a hint of Russian. Well actually more than a hint of Russian. What you're about to see is 10 minutes worth of various Russian surface to air missile systems in action.
It's attractive for a number of reasons. First of all there is something that just can't fail to impress about watching large surface to air missiles being cold ejected from their tubes before blasting off towards the target. Keep a note, because this is how the Royal Navy's future SeaCeptor system will work on the new Type 23/26 frigates.
Secondly, it's odd when you think about it, how much work the Russians put into surfaced based air defence over the years, but NATO never really seemed to? The array of equipment is impressive and you can't help but look at each system and think of all the export orders that were generated by each design and how those systems could probably be done as good, if not better here in the UK, and sold on around the world. Missed opportunities and all that (although it's not quite that simple, granted).
Thirdly, I'll admit it, I find the music to be quite funky. Enjoy.
Lastly, something of an old story I came across the other day about the survey ship HMS Enterprise. While operating close to Port Rashid, Dubai, last November, Enterprise deployed her survey motor boat "Spitfire" that managed to capture some fantastic imagery of two old Dhow wrecks. The clarity of the images is quite remarkable and shows just how far advanced some of the kit is that is used by British forces now.
There's been lots of talk lately over on the comments section at Think Defence about the kinds of capabilities that GB can bring to the coalition table that others cannot. Now tell me how many nations can produce underwater images and mapping with this kind of quality. Not many I'd wager.
On a final note (no links or vid for this), just quickly reviewing the Mali situation it seems things have turned out a lot easier for the French in their intervention (so far) than otherwise expected.
It seems that as the French approached the front line the militants pretty much gave up hope of any advance, and having been involved in a couple of skirmishes (mostly with French special forces) as well as being bombed and attacked by helicopters, the militants have decided that discretion is the better part of valour and have withdrawn with quite unseemly haste into the Northern deserts.
Despite press reports about the freeing of Goa and Timbuktu, it appears that all the French forces have done is insert para troops onto the airfields, with special forces having already secured the drop zones. The chances of further contacts in these cities is probably low, but we all know that Islamist militant groups across the world have a great fondness for unconventional methods, so the French aren't quite in the clear yet.
The major issue now revolves around what becomes of the militants heading north? As they withdraw over the coming days, the RAF's Sentinel asset in theatre should be able to use its Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) radar mode to track their movements and perhaps give the allied forces some idea as to whether the militants have simply withdrawn in order to set up defences, withdrawn to reorganise before an attack (probably the least likely), or whether they are transiting back into their more traditional "turf" in south eastern Algeria, and perhaps even intending to head further north east, into Libya.
The chances that they will go east to somewhere like Nigeria - at least in any sizable numbers - are significantly reduced by the advanced position of the French forces, and judging by the information that is trickling out from front line sources in Mali.
If the rebels are going to run anywhere then Libya seems the safest bet. For a country that is already trying to get a handle on domestic instability caused by a number of groups, this can only be viewed as bad news for the Libyan government.