Last week we had some high winds and down came one of my ham radio antennas. My two metre ten element Yagi is a Jaybeam and probably 20 years old. It has been down before and a number of the elements replaced, but the beam was not the problem. For reasons that will be obvious to most of you it was mounted on a short fibreglass scaffolding pole attached to the aluminium mast. This is the second failure of a fibreglass scaffolding pole I have had recently and I suspect it is down to UV degradation due to age.
It has been a strange kind of week for me. I finished work last Sunday morning and got to bed by 8am, for some reason I was wide awake by twelve and so I worked some SOTA activations on various bands and a couple of SOS radio week stations. I missed quite a few stations simply because I could not hear them on the collinear, but although I was awake I did not feel like I was in a fit enough state to sort the beam out.
On Monday I got as far as deciding it was too cold to tackle the beam problem when I felt the pain shooting through my hands on the cold metal of the mast. For some reason from that point on I had an attack of ennui.
I just could not motivate myself. Everything was a real effort. I looked at the jobs I wanted to get done and then forced myself to do only the ones that had to be done. I filled the dishwasher, put some washing on and prepared an evening meal, but I could not even be bothered to make my own lunch. I read my emails but only replied to those that needed a reply. All the radios were on but apart from a few SOTA stations I could not be bothered answering CQs even from friends. I starred at my blog pages. I had stuff I could write about but did not seem to know where to start. I looked at my empty rucksack and the pile of radios that needed charging and I knew what I needed, but I left them there, looked out of the window at the dark grey sky and slumped on the sofa. The whole week was the same, anything I did was with supreme effort.
Not that the week did not have some highlights; I really enjoyed my trip to the radio club, once I got there and Helen's NUE-PSK unit finally arrived. I mentioned to her how I was feeling and said "I would have set it up for you if I wasn't so out of it!" I loved her reply "It is mine I'll will do it". That was telling me! It goes to show she is deadly serious about giving portable PSK a go. I might have to beg her to let me have a go.
It was however fortunate that I was a little out of sorts with myself, because I am fairly sure if I had got the beam back up it would be down again by now. For the last 36 hours I have been seriously worried that not only my antennas and fence panels were about to go west, but that the roof was about to come off my house. It took a long time to get to sleep last night because of the wind and I expected to find slates embedded in the roof of both the Land Rovers this morning.
One thing that made me feel a little ashamed this week was a fairly local radio amateur who has been making a nuisance of himself. His previous antics on the GB3MP repeater have been posted by a number of people on YouTube, he spent Christmas day 2009 through to New Year 2010 on the two metre calling channel playing music and having a ham radio quiz with himself. I refused, a long time ago, to speak to him after he was disgustingly abusive to my wife when he interrupted a net, which included my wife who was mobile and myself (at home). This week he was whining on for hours on 145.500 how someone would not let back on their net. It culminated in him threatening to kill himself. This guy needs professional medical help, but although I feel ashamed of myself I just wanted to to pick up the mic and shout "Go ahead do it! Give us all some peace. The Runcorn Widnes Bridge looks good." I am ashamed of myself but not as ashamed as I am of a system that lets people like this keep their licence and is not providing the obvious mental health treatments that they need. At one time he was an okay guy and he knew his stuff, but now he is just an embarrassment and a danger to himself and others.
I am stuck in work over the weekend so no SOTA this weekend, however if the weather is good I may be on a hilltop or two on Friday 9th February in the form of some little one pointers in the Welsh Borders region. This might be just what I need; Fresh air and the wind in my hair, but the winds had better calm down or these tiddlers could be difficult to qualify using rubber duck antennas on two metres only. If the weather is any good it will be as many HF/VHF/UHF bands as possible and I will be able to cross off a few WBs from my activated list. The rest of the weekend might be interesting too but may not involve radio. I have something to look forward to so why do I feel so down. Maybe it is an age thing, maybe I am turning into an even more grumpy old git. Just so long as I don't loose my marbles and become a nuisance with nothing better to do than mic key and curse at people on the radio.