Friday, 28 February 2014

Farewell the month of the cabbage king...

February is such a confusing month; even the spelling of the word itself is confusing - just why that first ‘R’? It seems to me to not be a full month at all, even on a leap year. I always think of February as the runt month; 28 short, stunted, dark days, the only month with fewer than 30 days, the third, not the second, month of meteorological winter in the northern world. It’s the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. It’s the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years consecutively, either back into the past or forward into the future, will have four full 7-day weeks.

Yes, a confusing month.

A month out-of-time time, a month waiting for the rest of the year to begin, a dirty month waiting to cleanse an even dirtier season.

For a long time in the Roman world February and January didn’t exist because the Romans, rightly, considered winter to be a monthless period. December, January and February were one long gruelling battle against the cold and the elements for one very long month. At times February has been as short as 23 or 24 days; then the Julian calendar brought in leap years every fourth year, gaining February a regular 29th day except when the leap day is cancelled which happens because… well, I guess it’s because it can.

See I told you it was a confusing month.

Yes, once every four years the 29th day is allowed its freedom, falling upon the world for a full 24 hours before slipping back into the abyss of time to await its turn to come out again. It must be a lonely thing, the 29th of February. Only allowed out once every four years, I wonder how it spends its time? Perhaps it plays I-spy: ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘M’. Well, what else would it spy but March? Or perhaps the ‘M’ stands for marriage, as only on a leap day should a woman ever propose to a man. Mind you, if he refuses her, she becomes 12 pairs of gloves the richer to hide her ringless finger according to mediaeval law.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to be born a Leapling. A child born on the 29th only gets to celebrate its birthday every four years, so has to borrow a birthday from February 28th or March 1st. Some say that Leaplings aren’t human children at all, but children of the Elven race, brought to this reality in human form from the grey world to cause mischief. In Scotland Leap Bairns are said to be cursed and up until the 1500’s were left on the moors to die.

The month of purification, St Oswold’s month, Solmonath, mud month, kale-monath, hornung, helmikuu, the month of the pearl, the month of ice and frost, the month of the cutting of wood, the month of submerging, the month of the cabbage king.

Farewell February, February farewell… see you next year.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The End...

Just what does The End really mean? No, I’m not being philosophical; I’m mainly talking films and old ones at that. But whilst I’m about it does anything ever really end? Relationships, old wounds, sunny days; even when we croak there are those that believe that we go on. In the simplest terms I guess that we all do; as we become dust and go on to feed a tree or become a very thin layer of sedimentary rock.

I wonder what will happen when the universe comes to an end; will a big THE END flicker up onto the blankness of the great cosmic cinema screen? No, stop there! This really is about films okay? If we get into that deep stuff we’ll be here all day and resolve nothing. Even that flimsy reference to the cinema at the end of the last para isn’t enough to keep us on track if we broaden things out. So, films then…

Back in the days of the great Hollywood studios a film was made, the story told, and that was that. No sequels, no prequels, no franchises; we were left wondering what happened next, our imaginations carrying on the story where the movie left off. How much better was that? A moment or two of magnificent glory and then over and out.

Perhaps it was The End appearing on the screen, and it actually meaning the end, that created those classics movies. Now don’t get me wrong, I like James Bond as much as the next man (unless he is a Bond fanatic and can recite every Bond girl in order, which would make him a bore) and I like Harry Potter even though the story is pretty much the same in every film. But back in that golden day films were written by writers to be films. Singletons, one-offs that were meant to be sequel free, stories that stood up, fresh and exciting each time, by themselves.

How disappointed I was to hear then that in 1988 a follow-up script to Casablanca, probably the ultimate stand alone movie of all time, written by Howard Koch, one of its original screenwriters, was found. If it is ever made (God forbid) its title is (wait for it) Return to Casablanca (Groan). In this sequel to the most ‘no sequel required’ movie of all time,  Ilsa and Victor Laszlo search for Rick after he joins Free French forces opposing Nazi general Erwin Rommel in North Africa. It turns out that Ilsa gave birth to a son and that Rick – not Victor Laszlo - was the father. The son, described as a ‘handsome, tough-tender young man reminiscent of his father’ is now in his 20s, and his quest to find Rick is the main storyline.

This is one film I never want to see made, it kills my imagined sequel storyline dead. It seems that Ilsa never came back to Casablanca and - in a sudden flash of realisation that happiness is more important than doing one’s duty - she and Rick never did open La Place de Rick Nightclub in Paris with Louis playing lead trombone in Sam’s Seine Swingers featuring Yvonne on vocals. No, if this sequel is ever made there’s no chance that Ugarte survived that bullet and came, along with Signor Ferrari to sell drugs to Harry Lime, who fled Vienna for Paris, on the black market. Nor will Carl and Sacha open a patisserie next door to Rick’s.

If  ‘Return To Casablanca’ is ever made I’ll know for sure what happened to Rick, Elsa, Victor, and the rest after the fog at Casablanca airport cleared and I really don’t want that. I prefer to continue to have as many sequels as my imagination allows; one will simply not do. So no sequel please; particularly as none of the original stars are available except inside my head. The time to make that film has passed; remember what was recently done to The Wizard of Oz, and who on earth could play Rick Blaine and Ilsa Laszlo’s son with conviction? Matt Damon and Johnny Depp are too old.

Let’s face it, there are certain films like Citizen Kane, African Queen, Gone with the Wind and, of course, Casablanca, that need to stay as pristine and perfect as they are. They have no need for sequels, they are one-offs, and the rest of the story should live inside our imaginations.

The End.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Smell the coffee...

I blend my own coffee from three types of bean in an old, almost antique, grinder I bought from an old coffee shop in Lincoln. I’m not talking about one of those awful places that give away tokens and free we-fi, I’m talking about a seller of coffee beans.

The smell in that shop was almost unbelievable, so rich and dark that you could almost taste the coffee in the air. They roasted their own beans on the premises and the coffee smell had seeped into the wood of the dark, coffee stained, oak counter. My grandmother took me there a couple of times when I was a boy and I waited patiently while they hand ground the beans for her coffee; so when I heard they were closing I bought one of their old grinders online.

I like my coffee strong and black with just enough bitterness to almost bring a tear to my eye. I have no time for cappuccinos, lattes, cortados, ristrettos, or any of that other nonsense. I like to taste the coffee, black coffee made from three types of beans; Nigerian beans, beans from Eastern China, and a very bitter bean that is grown along the banks of the Amazon. I roast the beans myself in a small coffee oven that I bought on ebay for less than a tenner. It’s a bit scratched and battered but it’s the real thing with an old coffee blackened tray to spread the beans out on.

It isn’t a quick process making coffee; it takes me almost three days to get enough ground coffee to make about 20 cups. My coffee is precious and I drink it from a Clarice Cliff coffee cup I bought at a car boot for 50p before car boots became collector's fairs. Alas, there is no saucer and there’s a tiny chip at the base, but it has the decadence of art deco and history. I often wonder just who may have sipped from my cup.

Yes, there’s nothing like my coffee, it tastes like shit but it's special; particularly when you paint with it.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The blog what you wrote…

You know, this blog writing malarkey isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. When I signed up at the blog writing academy I was led to believe that it would be easy. “Don’t worry,” said the Head of Blogging, “blogging is a piece of cake. All you have to do is come up with something to write about and Bob’s your uncle.”

Well, Bob is indeed my uncle, but that doesn’t help much when I run out of topics to go on about. Fortunately I have my Facebook friends, at least I have the ones that survived the cull, and they are always there to help me out. I’m not sure if they realise it but they write a lot of my blog posts for me. Some days I throw out a random phrase or thought and whatever comes back becomes the inspiration, and often the content, for that day’s post.

Now some might see this as nicking other people’s ideas, but I prefer to think of it as audience participation. A bit like that old programme ‘The Good Old Days’ where the audience were encouraged to oooh and ahhh with each utterly ubiquitous use of unduly unpredictable and always awfully alliterated acclamation Leonard Sachs moustachioed mouth uttered.

The show was recorded at the Leeds City Varieties Music Hall. The idea was to recreate the feel of an old Victorian – Edwardian music hall, something they succeeded in admirably. From 1953 – 1983 the show hosted around two thousand performers, yet despite its thirty year run there were only sixty-four programmes made.

Each week modern-day artists would dress up in period costume to recreate songs and sketches in the style of the old music hall; it was magic. Danny La Rue was a firm favourite, Roy Hudd’s cheeky chappied Max Miller a triumph, and Morcambe and Wise’s spoof of ‘Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde’ hilarious.. Along with strongmen, trapeze artists, trick cyclists, magicians and a host of other variety acts it made for a really entertaining hour or so. Audience participation wasn’t just encouraged it was expected and eveyone turned up in period costume. Finally, at the end of each programme artistes and audience always joined together in a stirring rendition of ‘Down at the Old Bull and Bush’. Yes, come, come, drink my port wine with me, down at the old bull and bush.

You know, perhaps this blogging malarkey is easier than I thought. I set out to explain how hard it is to think up new blog posts, moved on to audience participation and ended up writing about an old TV show. Maybe the Head of Blogging down at the Blogging Institute was right after all.

Thanks, you’ve written my blog for me yet again.

Monday, 24 February 2014

February – wet back yard…

Sometimes things have to be done despite the weather and crows.

I was hoping for a sunny day yesterday so that I could get out into my tiny back yard and start to get it ready for spring. It didn’t happen. Instead the day was as grey and grumbley as my mood.

It’s that time of year I guess. I can feel the black crows flying, even when the skies are clear. Sometimes I’m sure I can hear the beating of their wings, their caws as the snap at each other. It’s just my mood.

Pulling on my old kagool I ventured out into the damp, telling myself, as I dragged it over my head, that gardening is better done in the rain. The soil is more likely to give up last year's dead plants in the damp and wet leaves are easier to rake than dry.

It seems that I’ve become good at lying to myself as none of this was true. The wet leaves clung, the sodden soil leaked through my gardening gloves; a thing I rarely wear. Even the simple cutting back of ivy became a battle as the snails, which to my surprise were everywhere, came out to play.

It took me a couple of hours of cutting, raking, shell crushing, digging and brooming. Pots were emptied of weeds and last years stragglers. Sickly trailing nasturtiums were put out of their misery. Empty pots were upturned. A wheelie bin full of last year’s garden produced. It looked quite tidy by the time I’d finished. Empty, but tidy and ready for whatever whim takes me this time around; sweet peas maybe, something highly scented to catch the breeze and waft.

Looking at the empty pots and beds, I tried to remember how they had looked last year and for a second I almost caught a glimpse of what had been. But then the crows battered my thoughts away. Damn the crows. Hurry along spring, I need colour.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Gran's nursery rhymes...

It’s funny the things that you learn at your Grandmother’s knee; old sayings, cures for warts, recipes for disaster and rice pudding, curses and love charms. I used to love the songs and rhymes she would sing. Songs from the music hall about Kelly (k-e-double l-y), Burlington Burty, The Boy She Loved, and more nursery rhymes than you could shake a stick at. 

My Gran knew more nursery rhymes than anybody I’ve ever known.  Here comes the galloping Major - The dog is in the oven - Little Tessa chopsticks - Billy get your Daddy's axe... Yes, I loved the nursery my Gran used to sing to me.

It’s only as I’ve grown older that I’ve thought about those rhymes a little more deeply and recognised just how disturbing and macabre some of them were. Oh, she sang the Jack and Jill’s and Humpty Dumpty’s, but she also sang some rhymes that I think wouldn’t go down very well in today’s world.

Sometimes I wonder if she might have made them up herself. Well, somebody must have made each of them up once. Here’s one she used to sing to the tune of Polly Put The Kettle On. It’s called Billy Get Your Daddy’s Axe.

Billy get your daddy's axe.
Billy get your daddy's axe.
Billy get your daddy's axe.
Your sister's up the tree.

Sammy fetch the cooking pot.
Sammy fetch the cooking pot.
Sammy fetch the cooking pot.
We'll have her for our tea.

Chip chop, chip, chop.
Chop her down and never stop.
Throw her in the cooking pot.
We'll have a bonny supper.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

What have the Scottish done for us?

With thanks and a passing nod (which is as good as a wink to a blind bat) to Monty Python.

A meeting is in progress to discuss Scottish independence at Number 10 Downing Street. A few MP’s from all political parties and a couple others are in attendance…

Boris: What exactly are the demands?

Dave: We're giving Jockey Salmond two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of the Scottish independence idea, and if he doesn't drop it immediately, Barroso will cut his balls off.

Boris: Cut his balls off?

Dave:  Well, at least his sporran, and send it back in tiny bits on the hour every hour. Show them we're not to be trifled with.

Nick: Also, we're demanding a ten foot tartan statue of Kenneth McKellar with his haggis hangin' out.

Hazel: What? They'll never agree to that, Dave.

Dave: That's just a bargaining counter. And of course, we point out that they bear full responsibility when we chop them out of the pound, and that we shall not submit to blackmail!


Dave: Just what have the Scottish ever done for us? They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.

Ed: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers.

Dave: Yes.

Ed: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers.

Dave: Yes. All right, Ed. Don't LABOUR the point – tee-hee, get it? And what have they ever given us in return?!

Nick: Chicken Tikka Masala?

Dave: What?

Nick: Chicken Tikka Masala.

Dave: Oh. Yes, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

Boris: Ya, and the flushing toilet.

Hazel: Oh, yes, the flushing toilet, Dave. Remember what it used to be like at Eton?

Dave: Yes. All right. I'll grant you that Chicken Tikka Masala and the flushing toilet are two things that the Scottish have done.

Nick: And tarmac roads, the pneumatic tyre and driving on the left.

Dave: Well, yes. Obviously tarmac roads I mean, the tarmac roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the flushing toilet, Chicken Tikka Masala, tarmac roads, the pneumatic tyre and driving on the left…

Boris: Radar, the television, microwaves, refrigeration, the telephone. Ya?

Nick: Chloroform, penicillin, the hypodermic, anaesthesia.

Hazel: Fingerprinting and colour photography.

All: Huh? Heh? Huh...

Donkey: Golf.

All: Eeee awww.

Dave: Yeah, yes. All right. Fair enough.

Boris: Whisky…

All: Oh, yes. Yeah...

Boris: Ya. Ya, that's something we'd really jolly miss, Dave, if the Scottish left. Huh?

Hazel: The Bay City Rollers and Lulu.

Nick: Dolly the sheep and hypnotism.

George Carney: Hey guys, let’s not forget all that lovely GDP generating oil.

Hazel: And winning Wimbledon and an Olympic tennis gold for Team GB, Dave.

George Carney: Yeah, they sure did help a little with that. Let's face it you limeys. They're the only ones who could.

All: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Dave: All right, but apart from the flushing toilet, Chicken Tikka Masala, tarmac, the pneumatic tyre, driving on the left, radar, the television, microwaves, refrigeration, the telephone, chloroform, penicillin, the hypodermic, anaesthesia, fingerprinting, colour photography, golf, whisky, The Bay City Rollers, Lulu, Dolly the sheep, hypnotism, a fortune in oil, a British win at Wimbledon, and a tennis gold for Team GB what have the Scottish ever done for us?

Nick: Unification and the forging of an Empire.

Dave: Oh. Unification and an Empire? Shut up!

Cue John Philip Sousa's The Liberty Bell

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Branston Pickle mysteries…

Why do I eat Branston Pickle? After all, I'm not sure that I really like it and why do the lumps always congregate towards the centre of the bread? What are those lumps anyway? According to the ingredients they are a variety of diced vegetables which includes swede, carrot, onion, cauliflower, onion, and gherkin with a sauce made from spices and sugar. But it's the including bit that bothers me. Just what are Mr Cross and Blackwell forgetting to mention.

Could some of those lumps be a little more sinister than Messrs Cross and Blackwell are letting on? Are they actually cubes of triffid stem or chunks of alien seedpod? Of course you can get smooth alien free Branston, but what’s the point of Branston without chunks? Are they trying to lull us into a false sense of security? Maybe the plan is to get us all to eat Branston and then replace us with replica beings whilst we are in a Branston drugged sleep. Or could those chunks be the fruit of the Himalayan moon flower? You know the one I mean; the flower that only blooms at full moon and is the single cure for werewolfism (lycanthropy if you prefer). Maybe Branston is there to sort out the wolves from the chaps… Wooooooooooo!

Unlikely? Well, there is definitely something a little bit odd about Branston. You see it seems to have a life all of its own. For example: why can I never find it in the cupboard? I move jar after jar of jam and mustard, shift cans and boxes until the cupboard is bare and I still can’t find that elusive Houdini-like jar. Then, when I am least expecting it, I find it in my hand as if by magic.

Perhaps each jar of Branston exists in infinite multiple universes, simultaneously slipping through space and time like some pickle based Dr Who, because another weird thing is that there seems to be a jar of Branston at the back of every kitchen cupboard in every household in the UK - even if the householder has never bought a jar of Branston in his or her pickle-free life. Is Branston controlling the vertical? Is Branston controlling the horizontal? Are we all living in a Branston created Pickle Twilight Zone?

‘Do you have any Branston Pickle in the cupboard Mary?’
‘I don’t think so Scott; no, definitely not.’

But Scott looks anyway and eventually realises that was holding a jar of Branston in his hand all along. Wait! Is that really HIS hand? (cue Theremin-based theme music) Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do…

Yes, that damned pickle is as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel and as omnipresent as God... and what about the quotas? Why can I never get the amount of Branston just right? My cheese sandwich always seems to have so much of the rich brown matter that I can’t taste the cheese, or so little that I wonder if I remembered to put the any of the bloody stuff on my sandwich at all. It’s as if the force of the Branston is controlling my judgement and bending me to its will.

People, be warned! Branston Pickle is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma contained within a wholly innocent looking jar and it is all around us…

Spread it.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Square one...

Anyone else wish that they could go back to square one and start again? Of course I’m not really sure quite where or what square one is. Is it birth or that twilight time before we are born, or is it something far older linked to creation? Maybe we are all playing a huge celestial game of Snakes and Ladders.

Cosmic. To infinity and beyond!

There are a few theories about the term ‘square one’ and how it came about. The first is linked to board games. The earliest use of the phrase in print is 1952, from the Economic Journal: “the reader is always being sent back to square one in a sort of intellectual game of snakes and ladders.” Of course on most snakes and ladders boards you don’t slide all the way back down to square one, it’s usually square four; but I guess it’s a contender.

Then there’s the hopscotch (the game that some of us played in the playground) theory. It’s played on a chalked grid of numbered squares. The rules of the game can vary, but it usually involves hopping from square to square whilst missing out the square with the thrown stone. Players usually hop from square one to eight or ten, dependent on the length of the scotch, and then back to square one.

My favourite’s the BBC football theory. Back in the twenties early BBC radio commentators helped listeners to follow the progress of football and rugby matches by dividing the pitch into eight notional rectangles. They described the play by saying which 'square' the ball was in. The term ‘back to square one’ was never used but despite this, the BBC claimed in January’s 2007 edition of The Radio Times (celebrating 80 years of BBC football commentary), that The Radio Times’ grids led to the phrase. The grid system was dropped in the 1930s, but not before ‘back to square one’ had entered the consciousness of the nation apparently.

Snakes and Ladders, Hopscotch, Football; whichever one of these it was it seems to have been a game - a bit like life really; a really big game with winners and losers, progression and set-backs, pinnacles and depressions. Corny I know, but true I think. Given the chance though, would I really press the cosmic reset button and start over? I don’t know, maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. Shall I roll the dice again?

To infinity and beyond! Or maybe just back to square one.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Man’s best friend…

I’m not really a dog lover, I much prefer cats, and one of the reasons for this is pretty basic; dogs scare me a little, in fact the big ones scare me a lot. There I’ve admitted it. I am more than a little nervous around dogs and will cross the street to avoid even the friendliest of mongrels. It isn’t a phobia and I’m sure that I’ve never been bitten by a dog - chased, barked at, worried by, snapped at; but never bitten.

I think my mistrust is probably instinctive. Strange dogs are just that and, as I’ve never owned a dog of my own, I’ve never bonded with one. Of course I pretend to enjoy all that jumping up and licking that some of my friends dogs insist on doing, but really I hate it. It’s all a little too much for me and I’m always aware that behind that licking tongue is a set of very sharp teeth and a powerfully determined jaw. Well, they don’t call ‘never giving in’ dogged for nothing.

Man didn’t domesticate the dog to be a pet. Dogs were trained to be our weapons and by trained I mean we took their natural killing instinct and by force used it to our own benefit. We had dogs to protect us and help us kill things, not to do tricks and wear cute little coats. Corgis, Terriers, Dachshunds, Jack Russells, all so friendly, all trained to kill for man. Just why do you think so many garden gates carry the legend ‘Beware of the dog’?

Of course some breeds are more dangerous than others, Dobermans, Alsatians, Pit Bulls, to name a few. But even the purely decorative Pekingese was originally bred to catch rabbits for their Buddhist monk owners, and those cute Mexican Chihuahuas were used by the Toltecs to keep the rats down.

With the recent spate of dogs killing babies, children, and even young adults it seems that no matter how they appear dogs remain true to themselves. Their instinct is to hunt and, where they are able, to hunt in packs. They aren’t doing anything wrong in their doggy eyes, they are just being dogs. Sometimes I think that it’s very easy to forget that if we didn’t feed our pet dogs, they would turn on us as food to survive.

It’s easy to be wise after the event, terrible to spend your life regretting. If you have a dog, any dog, and a baby or toddler I think that you should keep them apart. Dogs and babies are great and most go together just fine. But sometimes they really don't and it isn't worth taking the chance.

Always remember that dogs bite. It's what they have teeth for.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Beans or spaghetti hoops (2)...

Beans or spaghetti hoops? That is the question.

I think that I may have touched on this subject before, but there are some situations when only the foods of our childhood will do. The foods we ate as the rain poured down and we couldn’t go outside to play or managed, for once, to convince our mums that we didn’t feel very well and couldn’t go to school that day. Wet day off school foods - boiled eggs with toasted soldiers, tinned tomatoes, beans, and spaghetti hoops.

We all have our favourite ‘make things better’ foods, mine’s beans on toast although sometimes it’s tinned spaghetti; the long wormy stuff, not the hoops and certainly not the alphabetti. I never could face alphabetti spaghetti. Perhaps it was all the potential words; I’d spend so long looking at it, making some that I’d never get around to eating it.

These days beans on toast is my late night ‘something’s wrong but I’m not sure what’ food. A plateful of beans on toast and the world seems doable once again, at least for a while; it’s my facing the world food.

What’s yours?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Weathering the weather...

Damn, damn, and double damn. At times like this I almost despair. Stopped by the weather! Just when did that begin to happen?

I remember countless boyhood summer holidays sat in car parked boredom as I watched the grey stormy seas and listened to the rain beat down on the tinny roof of  our small family car. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t that bad. Not the sun, sea and sand we were hoping for of course and, yes, it was disappointing, but the weather didn’t seem to stop us back then. Perhaps it was the lack of an alternative.

I’ve taken that approach throughout my life both literally and metaphorically – never letting the weather stop me from doing what I wanted or needed to get done. I’ve been drenched to the skin so many times, rain running down my face in rivers, that I’m surprised that I’ve never grown gills. I’m no stranger to the elements. I’ve weathered cold, snow, sunshine and wind as I’ve meandered along through my life, but something is changing, I can feel it.

So the plan was to go to Wales for a few days. Not the best time of year maybe, but I’ve known February weekends where we’ve strolled along Whistling Sands to the rocks and sat in the sunshine without coats. Of course, I’ve also known other February days when the Whistling Sands winds were so fierce that the sea was whipped into a snowy froth and the car felt like it was being battered by the breath of giants. I’ve never known weather like this though; weather so bad that it’s stopped us from travelling because of the floods, fallen trees and the threat of no electricity.

Either we’ve changed or something else is going on and I think it’s something else.

The weather in our part of Wales remains fierce by all reports. A hundred miles an hour winds, flooding, trees blown around like matchsticks, seas brimming over into the streets. Some of the worst weather in memory; it makes you wonder it can get any worse. Meanwhile here in the city we’ve seen a few fallen trees and branches, some fluttering tiles, scattered left-out wheelie bins escaping along the road. Where were they escaping to? Who knows? Perhaps they were off to wheelie bin land to live out their plastic lives in plastic sunshine and get away from the wind.

There seems to be no escape from this weather wherever you are. Some places have it worse than others, much worse where the floods have taken over the land. But no matter where you may be there’s no doubting that the weather has negatively impacted our daily lives; something that we’re not really used to in the UK.

So, I’m not off to Wales as planned. Oh, I’ll get there again soon enough, maybe tomorrow. After all this horrendous weather can’t last forever; it’s disconcerting though. Yes, something is changing and I don’t think it’s all down to me. Maybe the weather’s changing me; maybe we’re all going to have to change with the weather.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine and Cupid…

How is it possible to despise someone who died almost two millenniums ago? Well, I guess the seven mobsters who died in the St Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 might have a reason; but that was mainly coincidental in St Valentine’s Day terms. What isn’t so coincidental, and certainly not at all hearts and roses, is that it appears St Valentine was just as big an extortionist as Al Capone who ordered the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

In around 300AD pre-St Valentine would roam around Rome applying chastity belts to the pelvises of all married or soon to be married women. Just who gave him the authority to do this I don’t know. Maybe it was the Pope; it seems like a Popish thing to do. In order to get these chastity belts removed, the husbands and suitors of these women would have to give pre-St Valentine gifts and expensive trinkets. In return for these gifts, pre-St Valentine would remove the iron chastity belts and the men could once again enjoy their true love. If gifts weren’t forthcoming I guess that it meant that the man didn’t love his woman. Maybe that’s why women give men such a hard time if they doesn’t rush off to the supermarket on Valentine’s Day and buy a cheesy card.

As an interesting aside, the use of chastity belts was common in England until Victorian times and they became known as ‘Valentine Savers’.

Of course, you may need to take the above with a large pinch of salt. But then what about Cupid? You’d need an even bigger pinch of salt to believe that Cupid flew around on those tiny wings shooting arrows dipped in love potions at people and making them fall in love. What if he took someone’s eye out? Mind you the Roman cults who worshiped him were taking more than an eye out and they weren’t really celebrating love at all. To them Cupid was about lust, desire, and erotic love (hence Cupid’s Greek counterpart Eros) and the orgies that took place in his name were excessive; sometimes involving hundreds of people, animals, and inanimate statues. There was a salty love potion involved, which all the women were required to drink before the ceremony, but we’ll leave that there. Yes, it seems there was more prick to Cupid’s arrows than meets the proverbial eye – in or taken out.

Why, oh why Valentine’s Day? Cupid and Valentine aside, the idea of giving gifts and cards on just one particular ‘love’ day strikes me as pretty ridiculous. If you love someone it’s an all of the time thing. Buy those flowers and chocolates when your beloved is least expecting them, not because there’s a day set aside to meet an expectation driven by sugared-up ancient rituals and card companies.

Yes, if I had my way I’d shoot that stupid cupid with one of his own arrows. That’d make him see my point.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

A late Shirley Temple...

Excuse the pun.

This post should have gone out yesterday. But what with one thing and another, not least of all lack of enthusiasm, it just didn’t. Oh well, it isn’t as if my blog is topical or time sensitive, a day or a year here and there really makes no difference. I sometimes wonder if anything does. Yes, I’m slipping into one of those again; I can hear that black dog barking in the distance. Now where did I put that muzzle Anyway, here’s yesterdays bit of nothing.

Bye-Bye Shirley Temple, what smiles you brought to so many lips and what an extraordinary life you led - actor, diplomat, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother.

I’ve never seen a Shirley Temple film all the way through, so how is it that she’s one of those iconic creatures that everybody has heard of and that is instantly recognisable from her picture?

Shirley Jane Temple (yes it was her real name) was born in Santa Monica, California. She landed her first contract aged just 3 years old making low-budget movies -‘Baby Burlesques’ - for the Educational Pictures company. Burlesque and Educational seem to sit comfortably uncomfortably together. But then it was 1931 and minds didn’t work the same way then as they do now.

Her mother soon saw her potential and enrolled her in dance classes. Her father, a banker, became her agent and financial adviser. She was contracted to Fox and when she was 6 years old appeared in her first Hollywood feature film, Carolina. Shirley was an overnight sensation and the cute, bouncing girl with golden corkscrew curls became a top earner for the studio and her parents.

President Roosevelt called Shirley Jane ‘Little Miss Miracle’ for raising public morale in the bad times of the depression and, in the way politicians do, went on to say, ‘As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.’

Her song-and-dance routine ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’ appeared in an almost surreal scene in 1934’s feature Bright Eyes. It brought her a special miniature Academy Award, for the ‘Outstanding Personality of 1934.’

By 1940, Shirley had 43 films under her tiny belt and then her film career was over as Judy Garland stepped into the red-slippered limelight. The adult Shirley never made it into grown-up films and followed other roads instead. From the little I’ve seen she strikes me as one of the better adjusted child stars, unless of course she was addicted to bon-bons.

Shirley Temple died aged 85. Every little girl with blonde curly hair will be forever in her debt.

I've thrown away my toys,
Even my drums and trains,
I want to make some noise,
with real live airplanes.
Some day I'm going to fly,
I'll be a pilot to,
and when I do,
how would you,
like to be my crew?

On the good ship
its a sweet trip
to the candy shop
where bon-bon's play,
on the sunny beach
of peppermint bay
Lemonade stands,
crackerjack bands,
fill the air,
and there you are,
happy landings on a chocolate bar.
See the sugar bowl
do a tootsie roll
in a big bad devils food cake,
if you eat too much,
oh, oh,
you'll awake,
with a tummy ache.

On the good ship
its a nice trip,
in to bed you hop,
and dream away,
on the good ship

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Burbidge and Doey…

It’s funny the words that we sometimes use to hurl insults at each other. Although when I say funny it isn’t the ha-ha kind and I’m not at all sure that peculiar quite catches it either. Good old Bill could turn quite an insult: ‘You peasant swain! You whoreson malt-horse drudge!’ ‘You juggler! You canker-blossom!’ I have no idea why a juggler should be seen as an insult, I quite like them, they’re very dexterous. Perhaps that’s the insult.

I’ve been called quite a few names in my time, but I gave up saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ when the perpetrators of my taunting saw the sense in what I was saying and began beating me with branches and throwing bricks at me. What a Doey I must have been. But I digress.

My school days are a distant memory now and they somehow seem to have become muddled together with Tom Brown and Billy Bunter. It was an all boys school with a boarding house, although only a third or so of the boys were boarders. We had prefects who caned, fagging, a tuck shop, bullying, and some of the masters hadn’t a teaching qualification to their name. It was great in many ways, a tiny microcosm of society with all its class structure, prejudice and cruelty. Acting, looking or being different was not a good idea. It was far better to tow the party line - which brings me to Burbidge and Doey.

Mathew Burbidge was a boarder in School House. He was a tall chap with fair hair and, unfortunately for him, a twitch. It wasn’t a very bad twitch, occasionally his head would flick to one side and his eyes would blink several times. Not a bad twitch at all, but enough for his life to be made misery and for his name to be used as an insult for anyone who tripped or stumbled: ‘You Burbidge’ the boys would shout every time someone dropped a rugby ball or fumbled a catch at cricket. Burbidge just sat at the house sidelines and blushed. Well, what else could he do? Fighting back against a couple of hundred other boys wasn't really an option.

Doey on the other hand was quite different. Doey Quainton (I never knew his first name, just his nickname) was a day boy and came from one of the villages surrounding the school. His father was dead and he lived in a cottage with his mother. He was an affable chap who was always smiling and he did everything slowly. He talked slowly, walked slowly, laughed slowly, eat slowly, he even cross country ran slowly and was always last back to school after the five mile run. Of course all that slowness, together with his continuous smile and the fact that he was a day boy, obviously meant that he was the village idiot.

If anyone did something stupid, or reported a minus weekly house point score at the weekly lunchtime house meeting in the chem lab, then he was called a ‘Doey’ or, if it was a particularly stupid act, a ‘Doey Quainton’. Doey didn't seem to mind though. He simply kept smiling, moving along slowly on his way to the library where he spent most of his time.

Burbidge and Doey left school the year after I arrived. Doey went to Cambridge and Burbidge went to work in the family business. Their names however lived on in our school and when I left six years later you could still hear the cries of Burbidge and Doey from small boys who had absolutely no idea why they were saying it or who Burbidge and Doey were.

Fame can take many forms I suppose.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Ray guns...

Ray Guns – Come on boys, what’s not to love?

It was all space adventure when I was a boy - Dan Dare, Lost in Space, Bleep and Booster, Doctor Who, Forbidden Planet and (Yes, I know I’ve said it before) Klaatu barada nikto! Later it was Star Trek. But somehow I never fancied a Phaser; Phasers didn’t look ‘spacey’ enough, in fact they looked more like a cross between a hairdryer and an electric drill than a galactic alien monster destroyer.

No, I wanted a proper Ray Gun, one of those guns that I guess we’d call retro today, all fins and twiddles, flashing lights and fire. How I longed for a Dan Dare Ray Gun, the red and silver one, the Cosmic, the one with the green, white and red beams. They were available direct from The Eagle for around ten week’s pocket money. I started to save, but somehow I never quite managed to stop munching Blackjacks and Fruit Salads for long enough to save up enough to buy one. Besides they weren’t making them any more. My Eagle Annual was from the mid-fifties and the Cosmic was a thing of the past – retro even then.

The closest I came to Dan Dare’s Cosmic Ray Gun was a red ray gun water pistol bought off the Tuesday market. It was okay, but not really a ray gun. Real ray guns made a clattery noise when you pressed in the trigger and shot sparks not water.

I guess that I was just born too late.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Toothache, no water, not reading in the bath, and Bagels…

Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.

I woke up this morning with a slight toothache. Well, when I say toothache, more an ache in the place where one of my teeth used to be. It was apt really, because today is National Toothache Day - a day celebrating toothache, who dreams these things up I wonder; a dentist maybe?

It’s not just Toothache day though, it’s also National Bagels and Lox Day, National Read in the Bathtub Day, and World Marriage Day; quite a mixture really. But being one to celebrate anything that’s going I decided to run a bath and have a read for half an hour.

Turning on the taps I soon realised that today must also be National No Water Day, because the trickle that came out of the Edwardian mixer tap soon dwindled to nothing with a gurgle and a final splutter. No water! What was going on?

Immediately I imagined that the downstairs of our house was awash with water as the inlet pipe must have burst overnight. I ventured downstairs and then downstairs again to the cellar. No water anywhere. I breathed a sigh of relief and consulted Twitter.

It seems that Twitter does have its practical uses after all and I soon found out that there was no water in our postcode or indeed in the postcode just to the right of us. How would I cope? There were teeth to clean, washing-up to be washed, coffee to make, and a quick wash, at the very least, would have been nice.

As I brushed my aching teeth in Evian I wondered how long we would be without water. Filling the kettle with Sainsbury’s sparkling water I made myself a coffee and, sipping it, I consulted Twitter once more. Apparently the pumping station had a problem and the pressure was low. United Utilities were doing their best to rectify the situation but the water would be off for some time.

‘Some time’… just what did that mean? I needed the loo.

Luckily I found that the toilet downstairs in the cellar had one last flush left in it and, business done, I figured that that there may also be a little water remaining in the cellar taps.

I managed to fill four good sized saucepans and, after boiling them on the stove, completed the washing up. I even managed a shave and a wash, with a little water to spare for more coffee.

Thinking how annoying the no water situation was I remembered back to the times I visited my grandparents in Lincolnshire. They had no running water, just a pump and a huge tank of rainwater by the back door. Their toilet was way down the garden in a brick shed where there nestled a two-seater wooden board with a deep hole below. How did they manage?

‘Basically’ was my only answer.

The water returned around four o’clock to much relief and the preparing of dinner. Having no water had been an annoying, dispiriting thing even if it had been for only a few hours. It made me realise just how awful it must be for those people in the floods with no water and their homes awash with the stuff. Those few hours had been more than enough for me.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Favorite Daves...

Morning Dave.

Today was “Call Everyone Dave Day”, a tribute to Only Fools and Horses character “Trigger”, played by actor Roger Lloyd-Pack who died two weeks ago aged 69. It would have been his 70th birthday, so today I’ve spent all day calling people Dave and putting together my Dave A-Z. How many of my Dave list do you recognise?

Here it is.

Dave Attenborough
Dave Bowie
Dave Cassidy
Dave Duchovny
Dave Essex
Dave Frost
Dave Gray  Dave Hockney  Dave Icke  Dave Jason  Dave Kossof  Dave Lynch  Dave Mitchell Dave Niven  Dave Owen  Dave Platt  Dave Quayle   Dave Rose  Dave Soul Dave Tennant  Dave Usher  Dave Vanian  Dave Walliams  Dave Xavier  Dave Yip Dave Zepeda

Friday, 7 February 2014


The best thing about wine is the wine. Listen, I’m no wine buff, but I know what I like and that’s basically a nice Merlot or Cabernet and you can forget the vintage as long as it tastes good and lifts the clouds.

It was while I was drinking a nice recreational bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 last night that I got to thinking about vintage; the word that is, not the wine. Wine’s like that for me. It focuses my mind on the strangest things and I have to rush for a pen and write them down before the wine makes me forget.


Now I work (as I laughingly call it) in a place where everything is vintage ‘this’ and shabby chic ‘that’, retro or up-cycled. My working world is awash with pink and cream and duck egg blue and apparently everything vintage is ‘GORGEOUS!’ (or so the ladies declare) even those horribly tacky cheruby things, even those pieces of horrendously kitsch faux Louis XIV painted furniture. Of course to my eyes it all looks a tad too chintzy, a pose, tacky even; the kind of stuff a stuck-up maiden aunt might like, all too Parisian: Maurice Chevalier – Eiffel Tower – Dubonnet.

Vintage has become one of those words that get’s bandied about far too often; so often that it’s almost lost its meaning. Vintage is about the year a wine was made, purely and simply, and the clue is in the word: ‘Vin’ meaning ‘Wine’ and ‘Age’ meaning ‘Age’. I have no idea what the ‘T’ is for.

Vintage isn’t meant to be used to describe anything in a distressed and shabby state. It’s about wine! Ebay is full of ‘vintage’ this and ‘vintage’ that, but as a word it’s only really helpful if it’s misused alongside the decade that the item was made. ‘Vintage Sixties’ at least gives you a ballpark idea of the era that whatever piece of tat you fancy belonged in. The word vintage alone tells you nothing, it’s meaningless.

It’s generally accepted that an antique has to be 100 years old and older. Anything younger than 100 years could be vintage if you insist on misusing the word. That makes 20’s and 30’s vintage, and 40’s, 50’s, even 60’s probably. But I struggle to see how anything from the 70s or 80s is vintage in any way.

Of course there are some things described as vintage that have a defined time slot associated to them. A vintage car is generally a car built between 1919 and the end of 1930. Anything before that is a veteran (unless it’s 100 years old and an antique), and anything before vintage a classic; although there seems to be little agreement on exactly what the term ‘classic’ means. Cars between 30 and 49 years old are generally accepted as classic by many, but I’m sure second-hand car salesmen everywhere would disagree – particularly when they have 1992 Mondeo to shift.

Perhaps as the pace of change speeds up even faster, and things become redundant more quickly, things will become ‘vintage’ after only a handful of years. It certainty seems to be happening in the geeky world of gaming with redundant consoles and computer games changing hands for silly prices. Maybe an eighties Care Bear or Cabbage Patch Doll really is vintage to a five year old child; perhaps it’s even an antique. Maybe it’s all about perception.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for hanging on to things, up-cycling to make things look more attractive, recycling to give them new life and purpose. But I can’t stand the meaningless vintage sales label.

Rant over; I really do have too much time on my hands. I think I’ll stick with the wine; pour me another glass. Cheerio!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Empty headed…

Today my head has been mainly empty. It’s not unusual - as Tom Jones might say - it happens quite a lot. It’s almost as if my mind decides that it doesn’t or can’t take in any more and flushes all my thoughts away for a few hours. It isn’t a bad feeling, I quite like it; not thinking allows me to just float.

And floating, not thinking, I can go anywhere I want. So today I’ve been up in the air on a cloud of ennui - which is a word I love - loving the listless, empty dissatisfaction it brings on. Who needs excitement anyway? Who needs thoughts? Who needs anything when you are floating?

And floating on - as The Floaters might say – I find myself at the top of a tower watching the Dervishes whirl in the courtyard below. Dervish – I love that word - Dervishes whirling, whirling, round and round, faster and faster, focusing on the turning until their heads are empty and their minds are clean. If only my name was Larry I might become a Dervish; floating wherever my empty mind takes me. My empty mind devil’s workshop, my monkey mind; just call me Larry Empty Head as I float way.

Look - there I go.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Telephone voices…

Why is it that whenever I make a call and get through to an answering machine my telephone answering machine voice kicks in. This voice is weird, it sounds a lot like me, but my words are more clearly pronounced and for a minute or so I become a BBC announcer from the 1940’s.

I’ve noticed my telephone voice before, or should I say voices; it seems to change dependent on what type of person is on the other end of the line. I almost mimic the other party in some ways: they call me mate and my matey voice switches on. They speak with an educated voice and I become professor know-it-all. God knows what I would happen to my voice if Lord Toff or a Gor Blimey bloke were to call me – “Gor Blimey, if it aynt Maory Poppuns, wawl I never!’

Perhaps I use telephone voices because I’m really a frustrated actor. That could be it, because if I get one of those so obvious selling-me-something calls I sometimes use the voice of my very old confused man self and simply repeat: ‘Hello… hello…hello’ until they go away. Or if they ask to speak to me by name I’ll often put on my sombre voice and inform them that I died that morning and would they like to speak to my widow? That gets them flustered and they always decline, apologise and then ring off.

Then there’s my ‘Sorry I af no ze good English. Plees repeatez I will write een book. Sorry I af no penis” voice. After two minutes of ‘Plees repeatez, plees repeatez. I af no penis.’ That seems to do the trick and they can’t wait to find a way to end the call.

Sometimes, if I get a particularly persistent caller, who won’t take no for an answer, I put on my other answering machine voice; the one that sounds like an answering machine message and ask them to speak after the tone. I love to hear them leave their message and then inform them that it did not record and to try again. Usually after two attempts they give up, although one girl selling life insurance tried six times before she swore repeatedly and stopped trying.

That’s the thing about the telephone; you can be whoever you want when strangers call. Maybe I’ll be myself one day. That would really confuse them.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Mr Shouty gets his pudding…

Remember Mr Shouty, that wholly fictitious character that’s always right and bears no resemblance to any person living or dead? Well, after a long break he popped back into our fictitious lives the other day like a bad penny that’s been used to buy too many lies.

He’s been ill poor thing. One day he got so shouty that his head exploded. Well, he was asking for it with his shouty ways. It hasn’t shut him up though. He still shouts at everything and everybody, it’s just that now he has an excuse for it. After all, everyone shouts after they’ve been ill don’t they? Well, the answer to that one Mrs fictitious Shouty is no. Stop making fictitious excuses for him; because just what was his bloody ficticious excuse before his head exploded?

Mr Shouty has an excuse for everything though. His excuse for sliding his slimy way back into our fictitious lives was ‘concern’. He probably bought it with that bad penny of his. Of course he didn’t come directly, that would be far too honest. Instead Mr Shouty started phoning someone that didn’t want to be shouted at; someone old, ill and frail who is far too polite to tell him to bugger off. We all know why he’s been doing it – he likes to keep in touch, particularly when he knows he isn’t welcome and that he might stir things up a little with his pudding spoon.

Of course he justifies and wraps up his behaviour with all sorts of nonsense. But it doesn’t change anything, he’s still Mr Shouty and Mr Shouty doesn’t like being asked to stop upsetting fictitious old ladies - particularly by a fictitious daughter in law…


Yes, same old Mr Shouty. It’s a good job he’s doesn’t really exist and is just a fictitious character who doesn’t resemble anyone living or dead. If he were real, that temper of his could give him a heart attack or worse – his head might explode again. Mr Shouty needs to shut his fictitious cakehole and eat his pudding all up; after all it’s his just deserts and at last he’s got it - fictitiously speaking of course.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Letting the words out...

Words fail me. Well, not exactly fail obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing this, but sometimes I’m not sure that the words inside me should be allowed out. Words are such dependable things if you know how to use them. The problem is that we often don’t.

My wife’s father died at the weekend. She mentioned it, almost in passing, as we were driving along. For a moment I was a little rocked and began to say something sympathetic which of course was wholly inappropriate; the man was a philandering bully who’d walked out on my wife and her mother after years of rages, physical violence, and controlling behaviour. My wife was thirteen at the time. There followed a few years of enforced and quite degrading arranged meetings where, if he was in a good mood, keep-money would exchange hands. I guess we’d call it maintenance these days.

He was an awful man and after a while the money stopped, he didn’t ask to see her, and they didn’t see each other for 35 years despite him living in the same town. Then a few years ago he began to make noises about wanting to see my wife. Of course, as ever, it was all on his terms and she was to contact him. She didn’t and rightly so. It was for him to make the first move, seek forgiveness, admit to his shame, but of course he didn’t. Controlling bullies are like that.

When she heard from her mother that this man was dead my wife was given a number to ring. It belonged to the son of the woman he ran off with. She didn’t want to call. She told me that it felt like her father was controlling her from beyond the grave. In all honesty I could see her point, but eventually she did ring. I listened to the conversation, the words she used, the dignified way she told this stranger that she wouldn’t be going to the funeral and thanking him for letting her know. Afterwards she told me that this man, who may well be her father’s natural son, sounded shocked that she wouldn’t be going to see her father buried. What a fool he must be.

My wife’s father has been dead to her for years; a memory and a very bad one at that. Even now she still worries over those terrible times. I personally hope that he burns in hell. As many things do, his death made me think about my own trashy parental circumstance. It seems that her father and my father are out of the same dirty barrel; expecting respect where none is deserved, bullying because it makes them feel like the men they aren’t, controlling because they have no self control. As I said: I hope that he burns in hell.

Words are such dependable things if you know how to use them. The problem is that I often don’t. I hope that when it’s my turn to make the call I can do it with the same control, restraint, and dignity my wife showed. I don’t think I will, but I was really proud of her and the way she handled that conversation.

There, they’re out. Looks like words didn’t fail me after all.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The capital of Peru...

What is the capital of Peru?

Is it ‘Capital’ or ‘Capitol’? Personally I always err on the ‘a’ side. But it seems that either can be used correctly. Anyway, what is the capital or capitol of Peru? I thought that it was one of those things that every schoolboy would know but…

I may have touched on this before, but what’s happened to education? When I was at school I seemed to have all sorts of facts thrown at me daily and I even managed to absorb some of them. What am I talking about? Well, I was a little dismayed by one young chap recently who when asked what the capital city of Peru was replied: ‘What’s a capital city?’ After having it explained to him, he then went on to ask: ‘Is Peru a country then?’

Even more worrying was that this particular young man went to Grammar School, left with three good ‘A’ levels, and drives around in a BMW.

Actually, thinking about it perhaps that explains it.

Now I don’t purport that learning by rote is a good thing and there really is a huge place in education for creativity and learning through experiencing things, play, and problem solving. But you aren’t going to learn your times tables by being creative and there are some facts that you just have to be told over and over until you remember them.

Of course, education doesn’t begin and end with school. I spent years watching ‘Blue Peter’, ‘Zoo Time’, and ‘How?’ and a lot of my general knowledge was absorbed simply by watching the telly. These days there don’t seem to be many programmes that make any attempt to give an insight into anything other than popular culture and celebrity.

And whilst we are on the subject of celebrity.

Why is it that almost all the quiz shows are now just vehicles for ‘B’ list celebs to make complete fools of themselves by not being able to answer the simplest questions? I’m amazed by their lack of general knowledge, I’m amazed by how much I seem to know in comparison and, whilst I consider myself to be educated, I don’t think that  I’m any more knowledgeable that most of my generation.

There I go playing the old fuddy-duddy card again.

Let’s make it worse.

I’m probably one of the last generation who as children read books from the library, listened to Radio 4, went for walks on our own in the countryside, climbed trees, played games outside in all weathers, were taught things by repeating what we were told over and over, were punished if we were badly behaved or lazy, and had toys that weren’t dependent on electricity to make them work.

Yes, I know that all of that has been said before and is a lot of a cliché.

But at least I know what and where Lima is. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Away from the sharks...

It is exactly three years today since 'The Management', of which I was part I suppose, set me afloat on the ocean of redundancy. Three years since I sat in my corner office staring at the naked ladies above the lake.

Naked ladies floating above a lake. Yes, it sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

But it wasn’t.

Once, not so very long ago, I used to watch the sun rise and then sit in endless hours of video conferences and teleconferences listening to the circling sharks talking nonsense and occasionally adding my own idiotic puffer fish nonsense to the general burble.

At first, after it had ended, I missed it. Now, after all this time, I can hardly remember it at all and it really does seem like a dream. In many ways I have a better life, there’s so much I don’t miss, but I really miss a lot of the people that I used to work with and although I see the occasional sunrise, I miss the naked ladies floating above the lake.

Three years; it’s hard to believe.

Oh well, I may still be looking for my desert island, but at least I'm no longer surrounded by sharks.