Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February floods

With the recent heavy rains, commuting down the A10 from Ely to Cambridge has become a nightmare.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Politburo as was

Ah, the good old days! When these worthies were in charge, you knew what was what. And if it hadn't been for the bugger top row third from the left, we might still know what is what. I wonder what the others are doing now (other than being dead, like Brezhnev). I suspect that some of them may be in the British Home Office working on CCTV surveillance, phonetapping, arrest without trial, universal fingerprinting and other exciting developments of our era.
I remember after the death of Generalissimo Franco, nostalgic graffiti appeared, always starting with the phrase "Bajo Franco, eramos...." (In Franco's time, we were... [followed by some positive aspect like "safer", "better off", etc]. My favourite, though, was
"Bajo Franco, eramos mas jovenes" (In Franco's time, we were much younger).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Al Varley Dell

Between 1939 and 1945, there was a lot going on. I have already written about some of my memories from those years. Here's another.
Every evening, the four of us - my father, my mother, my sister Betty and I - sat round our big farmhouse table in the living room for our meal together. At six o'clock, my father would switch on the wireless so that we could listen to the news, which was, of course, mostly about the progress of the war.
Betty and I had little interest in tne news itself, but we were passionate to know which radio announcer was reading it. There were four in rotation: Wilfred Pickles, Bruce Belfridge, Stuart Hibberd and Alvar Liddell. My announcer was Alvar Liddell, so I was proud as punch whenever a newscast began "This is the six o'clock news and this is Alvar Liddell reading it". I can't remember how the others were distributed, except that my sister's announcer was Bruce Belfridge; I never thought much of him. As for MY announcer, I had never seen his name written down, so for me he was Al Varley Dell, in the same way that I believed you went to the Post Office to get a Post Lauder and put things in a chester drawers.
Coincidentally, years later, I was interviewing a young man for a teaching post whose name, intriguingly, was Alvar Liddell. He was the son of MY Alvar, but he seemed to hate that I had recognised his ancestry, so I didn't think it politic to tell him what an important part his father had played in my evening meals between 1939 and 1945.
Oh yes, and I still have the little plate with a picture of Humpty Dumpty on it that was MY plate during those good family years. It is faded, scratched and chipped now, just like me, but it is still in use on boiled-egg mornings as a poignant reminder of Al Varley Dell.

Second time around

Let it not be said that I am not a fairminded person. Today, the memory of the last showing having faded, I decided to watch The DaVinci Code movie again (only this time with subtitles so I could have an idea of what that mumbling French bitch was saying). So, I fired up the DVD and then: .
FIRST: a long spiel about piracy - even though my DVD is legit, I begin to feel guilty;
SECOND: one of those pages about copyright that they must know nobody reads;
THIRD: a blank screen for about ten seconds. OK, time to cool down. The movie is on its way....
And then
FOURTH: a series of screens clearly activated by a three-toed sloth:
Columbia Pictures
Imagine Entertainment
Skylark Productions
Columbia Pictures
Imagine Entertainment
The DaVinci Code!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By which time all the above crap, plus that awful incidental music (I think it's meant to suggest sanctity, but it would be perfect for an attack of irritable bowel syndrome), have reduced me to a state which is much worse than hate. I have become indifferent.
So, fair-minded as I may be, I threw the DaVinci Code into the charity bin and went to my workshop to make a Barn Owl box.
But don't let me put you off. If you are a manic depressive, a cerebrally-challenged dwarf-molester or an insomniac, and preferably deaf, it might be just the movie for you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Another down-and-up day

Lapses of memory, things left undone, things dropped on the floor and not picked up - I realise that I am not as good as I used to be. But then, I never was as good as I used to be.
But it's not all bad news out here on the fens. My gorgeous cock pheasant is not only back most days strutting majestically round my back lawn picking up titbits, but he has also taken to roosting at night in the tall thorn hedge on the east side of the garden. I have become very protective of him and will not allow anyone to mention game chips in his presence.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Feast Day of Saint Mesrop

That's what's worth remembering about 19 February (unless it happens to be your birthday or wedding anniversary, of course). Mesrop was a 4th Century Bishop who became missionary and, to his lasting credit and our bafflement, invented an alphabet so that the holy scriptures could be written in Armenian. Look at it and wonder. I really admire an alphabet that has a symbol for "yech", a sound mostly provoked when you take the top off a bad egg.
Mesrop also, with St Isaac the Great (I know nothing about old Ike), established the Armenian liturgy, based on the early Christian practices of Caeserea in Cappadoccia (Central Anatolia).
And you thought 19 February was just a day like any other (unless it happens to be your birthday or wedding anniversary, of course).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Old Scrote 1 Côtes du Rhone Villages 0

OK, despite my recent rant, I finally drank the Côtes du Rhone Villages. After all, we of the war generation learned never to waste food or drink, however stale or gross.
But this particular wine gave me the impression that it had been drunk before.

Pulling a bird

As an Old Scrote, I no longer need to worry about the best techniques for "pulling a bird" (Translation: making oneself attractive to a member of the opposite sex). But, thanks to David Attenborough, I have learned a lot about how Pheasants and Tragopans do it: by amazing shivering displays of wing and tail feathers and unbelievable irridescence; about how Bowerbirds do it: by constructing a gallery and filling it with pretty objets d' art; about how Frigate Birds do it: by inflating a huge red throat pouch. All very spectacular. And beautiful to boot.
But I have just had my flabber totally gasted by learning how the Buff-breasted Sandpiper does it. He flashes his armpit.
In all my years of trying to ingratiate myself with women, I have frequently exhibited my best plumage, I have often demonstrated my artistic talents, I have even on occasion inflated my chest. But flashing my armpit - that's one that never occurred to me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

And another thing

And another thing. Today, I bought a bottle of French wine, something I haven't done in a raccoon's age.
It was a Côtes du Rhone Villages 2004, and should have been palatable. I used to drink this stuff when I was a sprog, and I decided to forget the advice of a friend now living in France that they send only the rubbish to England.
He is right, though. So right. It was without taste. It was acid. It was the sort of stuff that garage mechanics use to get the rust off nuts and bolts. It was the oenological equivalent of that stuff you use to get the limescale out of your kettle.
I remember when I was in Algeria having a conversation about Algerian wine (which is good fiery stuff in the main), and being told that "we export a lot of our wine to France pour améliorer le vin français (to improve the French wine)".
Now I know what the Algerians meant: French wine - at least the crap they sell to us - needs all the help it can get.
Thank God we beat the buggers at Waterloo or we'd all be condemned to pouring this stuff on our cornflakes every morning.

There has to be an explanation....

Please disregard the last posting. I have just discovered the problem: I have a poltergeist. I just dropped a lid on my kitchen floor and it DISAPPEARED. The kitchen floor is made up of marble flagstones, everything on it is totally visible. But not the lid. IT IS NOT THERE.
In my bedroom - forgive me, I don't want to become too intimate with you on this - I keep a torch in the bedside table drawer. I have a horror of being caught in the dark in my pyjamas. The torch, when I looked last night (just checking, you never know when a freak thunderstorm might bring the powerlines down), it was NOT THERE.
You see the pattern? I could have used the TORCH to look for the LID. This is one sneaky poltergeist.
I believe it is the same mischievous spirit that removed the potatoes from the boiling water this evening, although, of course, I can't prove it.
I just know, Horatio, that there are more things in my philosophy than are dreamt of in heaven and earth. Hell, that can't be right. I can't even remember a simple quotation now. Bloody poltergeist.

Lamb chops and mint sauce. Yummy!

Listen to me, you consumers of microwavable TV dinners, instant noodles and assorted crap, you are dealing here with a man who likes to make himself a PROPER meal of an evening.
Take this evening, for instance. Nothing fancy: honest Welsh lamb chops with baby new potatoes and fresh broccoli.
Moreover, I am a dab hand at timing (aided by a little clock thing). The spuds take 20 minutes, so set the clock for 10, then, having set it for 5, heat the grill and get the chops on the go. For the last 5 minutes, heat the water for the broccoli, meanwhile dishing out the lamb chops and harvesting the mint for the sauce.
Good, eh?
Except for one tiny thing this evening. Having got to the 15 minutes out of the 20 that the potatoes require, I realised that, although the water in the pan was bubbling merrily, I had forgotten to put the potatoes in.
Can anyone recommend some palatable TV dinners and maybe a few easy noodles?

My brain hurts

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Clear-sighted, that's me

I am, as you know, very keen on birds. I feed em, I nestbox em, I watch em, I listen to em. And I am really quite good at all those activities, well, except for the last two. Visual and aural acuity were never my strong points.
I was once showing someone round our bird sanctuary when I heard a squeaky kind of sound. "I recognise that bird call," I said, "but can't quite place it." Then I placed it: it was the sound of two branches rubbing together in the light afternoon breeze.
I was once with my old mucker, Martin, and we were looking for Egyptian Geese. "Found one!" I shouted, looking through the trees and across a meadow. It turned out to be the remains of a gnarled branch that had snapped off an oak tree.
Nothing I can do about the dodgy hearing now, even if I remove all the hairs and wax. But I think I have found a solution for the failing eyesight problem:

All I need now is a faithful native bearer to carry them round for me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Let's eat

A UNICEF report has just been published which says that British children are the most insecure, the least disciplined and the most unloved children in any European country.
I will tell you why this is so, and I would be grateful if you would publicise this in every forum available to you. The reason is: parents don't eat with their children. Let me put that in capitals: PARENTS DON'T EAT WITH THEIR CHILDREN.
Every culture I can think of, outside of the Anglo-Saxon one, makes a point of using mealtimes as a unifying cohesive event. It's primitive, it's atavistic, it's animal (think of gorillas, think of orangutans) : which is why it matters so much. And why it works.
Eating together, sharing, chatting, even arguing - it all matters.
Now, the sociologists and other babblers will give you all sorts of other reasons to explain - or, more sadly, explain away - the UNICEF findings, and probably find someone, eg the government, to blame in the process, but.....the family that eats together, stays together.
And now, for my next trick, I will solve the problems of renewable energy, third world poverty and global warming. Watch this space.

Beau Scrote

Somewhere in my thirties, I was walking along a street in Strasbourg (I was a delegate at a Council of Europe thing). A man walking towards me did a double-take, and then embraced me passionately. I mean a serious rib-cracking bear hug and kisses on both cheeks. I am not used to this kind of thing, being British.
He then stepped back and said "Légion Étrangère!", pointing at my tie. It seems that a plain green tie is - or was - the mufti of a legionnaire. I really didn't want to disappoint him - apart from anything else, he was HUGE (and I am 1,93m and a bulky fellow myself) - so I smiled and said the only thing that seemed to fit the situation "Zut, alors!" (Remember always to put an almost imperceptible pause between the zut and the alors if you want it to sound authentic).
I politely declined his invitation to "boire un coup" with him, explaining that I had an urgent meeting. Duty - le devoir - you understand. He understood, saluted me and went on his way. Bless him. And thank God.
Hell, it's not every day you get mistaken for a member of the French Foreign Legion.
Just call me Beau Scrote.

Happy 14 February!

Ah, the 14th of February, everyone's favourite saint's day.
That's right, folks, it's the Feast Day of none other than....
.... Saint Maro.
You know, the one the Maronites were named after?
Oh well, I can't be expected to anticipate you every time.

"Le chant maronite"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Mrs Trellis of North Wales

We have a wonderfully funny radio programme called"I'm sorry, I Haven't a Clue". At a certain moment, the Chairman (He is too old to be a Chair) says: "On this subject, we have had a flood of letters. From a Mrs Trellis of North Wales".
So, y'all, I intend to invent my own version of Mrs Trellis of North Wales. And here is why:
I loaded one of those freebie programs that tells you how many people visit your blog. Twice a week, they send me a chart to show, day by day and hour by hour, how many "hits" by blog has had. Every chart to date looks like this
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Which could mean that nobody is reading my blog, thereby confirming my colleague Johanna's theory that people who have blogs are losers, loners, pathetic nobodies who don't have a life. Thank God, she is wrong. I have had SO many letters from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales. You wouldn't believe what a loyal fan she is.
One thing I don't understand, though. All her letters begin "Dear Jerry Springer". Maybe she has a defective typewriter.
This is a boring post. So here is another photograph of one of my heroines, Margaret Lockwood (she is too old to be a hero):

A little Latin is a dangerous thing

This evening, lectores mei, I wish to talk to you about the learning, and the value of learning, Latin. So please put your chewing gum behind your ears and sit up straight.

I began, at the age of 11, with Mr Martin, who was an ace teacher of history, but only an approximate teacher of Latin. In one excited moment he communicated to us the information that some nouns of feminine gender referred to males, eg, agricola = farmer, nauta = sailor. I am sure he had no more than an academic interest in sailors.

I was then passed on, at the age of 13, to Mr Brookes, a tall cadaverous man with unbearably tight underpants (I deduced this from his tendency constantly to bend his knees while standing in front of us). Brookes, a Yorkshire chap, would regularly enter the classroom and say "Right, lads, we are going to learn Latin by a new method." Nothing worked for the poor bastard. I believe he left the profession and thereafter earned a modest living writing mottos for Christmas crackers.

Then, at 15, I was passed on to Mr Lloyd, affectionately known as Cellu. Lloyd, a Geordie, was much happier telling us about the parties and other riotous events of his student days at Durham University than imparting knowledge about Latin. We loved it, because we were all sitting in his class with erections wanting to know more about girls. I doubt he was more than 25, but he was ancient to us. I think I learned something about semi-deponent verbs and the ut+subjunctive construction from him, but I can't be sure. It's a long time ago....

Apart from that, I remember the Headmaster, Mr Thorpe, a bumwhacking member of the old school, repeatedly making a joke whenever he had the chance. The verbs of the third conjugation can be very irregular (compare English, go, went, gone), of which the most outrageous was fero-ferre-tuli-latum. Thorpe's contribution to English humour was the fabrication "pono-ponere-geegee-horsum". I never reproached him for caning my backside (which he did constantly and to our mutual satisfaction), but I couldn't forgive him for endlessly repeating - and then laughing at - his own poor witticism - pono, etc. In fact, for those who really want to know, it is pono-ponere-posui-positum. For more information, refer to Kennedy's Latin Primer.

As to the learning of Latin, many of us were called, but few were chosen. In fact, in the entire history - as far as I know - of my boondock Grammar School, I was the first ever to pass A Level Latin, and that with a bare 40%.

For those of my dear readers who have got this far - and I don't blame the others who gave up several paragraphs ago - I want to sing the praises of the study of Latin.

But I am not going to. I read Cicero and Catullus and Livy and Caesar and bits of a few other authors. But I am still baffled by most Latin inscriptions on tombs and monuments.

Dear long dead teachers, Martin, Brookes and Lloyd - and you Thorpe, you bugger - I hope for your sakes that St Peter speaks English. I also hope so for my sake.

Sic transit gloria mundi. Whatever that means.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The hell with it

Oh the hell with it. Let's have another picture of Jodie Foster. Erm,I wonder what her stance is on the taxonomy of Friarbirds?

Taxonomy: the last refuge of scoundrels

OK, I know that was patriotism, but I am in a mood at the moment. Taxonomy is concerned with classification. Like, there are animals and there are plants. Among the animals there are vertebrates and invertebrates. Among the vertebrates there are birds. Among the birds there are various families, genera and species. Keep going and you can narrow it down to the bird that is pecking holes in your milk-bottle tops or picking the mortar out of your brickwork.
And that's where the taxonomy hits the fan, because as soon as a species is identified, variations within that species begin to be described. Call them races, call them subspecies, call them figments of the fevered imaginations of fieldworkers who have been in the sun too long. But it's only a matter of time before one species with, say, four variations becomes five different species. And then another fieldworker, who has maybe been in the rain too long, says nah, there's two species and three subspecies. And then another......well, I'm sure I don't have to draw a picture.
Most of this garbage, by the way, has nothing to do with what the bird LOOKS like. It's more likely to be a variation in DNA or the syrinx or oesophagal tract (I am not making this up). It's enough to make a birder take up crossstitch.
OK, so you want to know why this outburst from a normally equable Old Scrote. The answer lies thousands of miles away in the Antipodes. I have been looking at the Australasian group of orioles usually known as the "Brown Orioles", and I discover - what I bet you already knew - that they mimic a related group called Friarbirds. What the expletive, I asked myself, are Friarbirds? So I make a quick encyclopaedic check and am told there are four species in a genus called Philemon. Sounds reasonable.
I then read an article about this mimicry which names three species of Friarbird, victims of oriole mimicry, NONE of which are in my list of four.
So, I go to the most recent authority, Sibley and Monroe, which lists TWELVE species of Friarbird. Maybe subspecies have become species? Maybe new species have been discovered? Maybe Sibley and Monroe were on substances when they wrote that page?
At this point the fire in my belly starts to go out. Taxonomy, shmaxonomy. As George Bernard Shaw might have said: "Those who can, do; those who don't, taxonomize".
Mind you, it makes a change from fretting about global warming and the price of plums.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sweet Charity

Listen, mes potes, don't tell Jodie, but she was not my first love. Long before her, I loved Shirley MacLaine.
Did you ever see her movie, Sweet Charity, in which she plays a dance-hall hostess, plagued by bad luck in affairs of the heart?
A box office flop, and in a way deservedly so: it has scenes of such longueur that you could cook and eat a three-course meal and not miss anything important.
But - and it is a very important but - it spawned some great songs: Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now, and (Sammy Davis Jr at his most daemonic) The Rhythm of Life.
And it has some great one-liners. My favourite is when she is taken to a posh nightclub by the handsome Italian film star who has picked her up. She looks around and says "This place sure is full of celebrities. I'm the only person here I never heard of."
And when she is in his apartment and he asks what he should do about his girlfriend with whom he had had a row earlier, she advises him "Be aloof. The aloofer, the better." Wish I'd said that.
So, there you have it. Another diva I lost my heart to. Don't tell Jodie or Shirley, but in fact there were a lot before them. In fact, I might make a list, starting with - God, I bet you've never even heard of them! - Margaret Lockwood, Patricia Roc and Esther Williams.
No, better not. It was tough enough coping with them during my pubertal years; trying to cope now will probably induce an inguinal hernia, or worse.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


You know those automated telephone systems, the ones where they say "For general enquiries, press 1", "For truss adjustment advice, press 2", etc?
I got on to one this afternoon, and they said: "You don't need to press any buttons. We know who you are and we know what you've done."
Not really, but don't those things drive you nuts? They never have a category that fits, so now, I just press 1 and then get them to transfer me to the right department (assuming there IS a right department).
The passport saga continues. I had a call from someone at the Passport Agency telling me the two photographs I sent were not satisfactory. Apparently, they couldn't see my left pupil. Sheesh, the amount of red wine I drink, I doubt if I still have a left pupil. They told me to take my glasses off when I got re-photographed, to keep my lips sealed, not to smile, and to look bug-eyed straight into the camera.
My hand to God, when Steve (the man who runs our local post office and does the photo service) was putting the photos of me together in a folder, his wife Elizabeth looked at them and said "Who's that?" She really didn't recognise me. "It's nothing like you, Jake," she said, bless her, "specially without your glasses and not smiling."
Is it me, or is it paranoia? Or has the world become totally bereft of common sense?

Envoi: the images of me in the new photos are so cadaverous that I really don't have the courage to post them here. Mind you, I reckon I could earn a few bob modelling for cathedral gargoyles..

Panic stations!

Today, two inches of snow fell on my village. I would tell you in centimetres, but I never really liked Napoleon Bonaparte.
Elsewhere in the Queen's Realm, several more inches of snow fell.
As a result, the media are a-scream with reports of chaos: roads blocked; motorists in peril; planes and trains delayed.
Like, man, it could be the end of civilisation as we know it.

The snow is already melting. By tomorrow, the aconites and the snowdrops and the crocuses will be out and smiling again.

Listen, you benighted foreigners, when it comes to panic, nobody does it as well as us Brits.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


There's a Waxwing somewhere near here (between Fordham and Chippenham if you want to make a quick dash for it).
A Waxwing.
ONE Waxwing.
A Bohemian Waxwing to be precise (in contrast to the North American Cedar Waxwing).
Years back, when I lived on the south coast, I was eaten up with envy that we had none at all, while Waxwings invaded East Anglia in their thousands. Well, hundreds anyway.
And in the twenty something years that I have been up here in East Anglia, I have seen scarcely a one.
And now, there is ONE between Fordham and Chippenham.
One solitary miserable bloody Waxwing.
It's enough to make person take up philately, but, as we all know, philately will get you nowhere.

Me and Jodie Foster

I love Jodie Foster.
Well, let me qualify that.
If I could, I would love Jodie Foster.
In the meantime, I have a real beef.
Having seen her first in a movie called "Taxi Driver" and later in a movie called "The Accused", I was stunned by her acting ability (as well as by some other very attractive bits of her). Well, ok, I guess the first time she shook up my platelets was in "Bugsy Malone", although I think she was outclassed by other actors and scenes in that movie.
Since then, I have seen her in a number of movies, and I am disappointed, not because she doesn't work her b off to play the part well, but because the movies in which she appears are so second-rate. For me, the exception is "Contact". But "Panic Room" and "Flightplan" are just potboilers by comparison. Mind you, she's making a few zillion bucks so she should worry.
Let me confess: I haven't seen "Silence of the Lambs", not because I am a vegetarian, but because I would rather she and Anthony Hopkins would get back to doing good stuff.
I am told that Jodie Foster is an icon in the lesbian community. Well, if the ladies in sensible shoes can do anything to get her the roles she deserves, I for one will be well pleased.

A brewery tale

For twenty-five years, from 1930 to 1955, my father worked for the Wrekin Brewery in Wellington in the County of Salop, which is why one of my earliest memories is sitting with him at our big farmhouse table gamely tucking in to bread and cheese and a glass of mild ale. All this in the evening, all this when I was about 6 or 7.
When I was 14 or so, my father got me a summer job at the brewery, where I learned a lot about the brewing business and the people who do the brewing. One of my favourite characters was Walter, whose job was bung-sniffing. That is to say, after the wooden barrels had been steam-cleaned, it was his task to stick his nose - and a tapering beauty of a proboscis it was - into the bunghole of the barrel to assure himself that it was "sweet", to use his word. I never knew his surname, but it should have been Tapir.
I spent some time perched on the rafters of the racking room applying antifungal paint to the ceiling. The racking room is where the beer finally enters huge vats before being "racked", that is, put into the barrels. Above me a ceiling, below me a sea of beer.
Which brings me to the point of this post. They told me solemnly to be careful up there in the rafters because of something that had happened years before, when a man doing the same work had fallen into the vat of beer and drowned. They told me that when his widow came to collect his body, she was understandably distraught. When she asked "Did he suffer?", the Head Brewer replied "We don't know, ma'am, but he got out three times to have a pee".
That's what they told me, and when you are 14, you must believe what your elders tell you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Saint Agatha

Today, 4 February, is the Feast Day of Saint Agatha. She is the patron saint of bell founders. Don't you want to know why? It's a gruesome story. Because she rejected the advances of Consul Quintian - this all happened in the third century - he had her tortured, which included cutting off her breasts. She is often depicted in art carrying them on a tray, and because of their supposed resemblance to bells, she became the protectress of bell founders. It is believed that their resemblance also to round loaves led to the custom of blessing bread in church on her feast day. Today is also the Feast Day of the twenty-six Christian martyrs of Japan who were crucified in Nagasaki in 1597 on the orders of the Shogun of Nagasaki, Hideyoshi.

And you thought the fourth of February was just a day like any other.

Grand Unified Theory

I think it's high time the media developed their own Grand Unified Theory, equivalent to the GUT which will incorporate gravity, relativity and quantum mechanics.
Let's bring all the horror stories and conspiracy theories together in one glorious GUT. I offer the following headline as a start:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

To my organ

I wish to apologise publicly to the organ which has given me, and continues to give me, the greatest pleasure in my life.
It seems to rise uncomplainingly to the demands I put on it, and only occasionally gives me cause for concern when I have, wittingly or otherwise, abused it.
At the moment, it is quiescent. I think I have temporarily satisfied it, but I know it will back in a few hours, pulsing insistently and forcing me to feed its appetite yet again. One way or another.
I dread the day when it will revolt, when it will finally reject the demands I make upon it. After all, it's been firing on all cylinders for seventy years, and the time must come when all it will tolerate will be bread and milk. No more red meat and red wine. Ah well, I suppose I've sown my wild oats, in a manner of speaking, and have no cause to complain if and when it finally shuts down.
Funny, it's been my faithful organ all these years, and yet I have never actually set eyes on the damned thing.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tough Guys

Did you ever see the movie, Tough Guys? With Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas? Well, if not, get a copy and watch it, especially if you are over a "certain age".
The thesis of the film is that there is no place for old people in western society any more, but the way it is demonstrated is both poignant and funny.
I won't spoil the plot for you, but I can tell you that it reminds me of what my son advised if I start to feel that I have become too old to cut the mustard:
"Dad, buy a 1000cc Kawasaki motorbike....

Then, line up 22 London double-decker buses...

Finally, put a ramp at one end, and phone the Guiness Book of Records....."

I like win-win propositions.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fencing master

The fence panel is restored! LH Post unwobbled, RH post de-broken, panel screwed in place, sight of neighbour's dustbin and compost heap banished forever, or until the next typhoon. It was a struggle but I persisted.
My osteopath says he should have me back to normal by midsummer.


If you want a daily tonic, visit Randy Glasbergen's website.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


This morning, as I awoke to the realisation that it was the first of the month, I shouted "Rabbits!" Of course there was nobody to hear me, and my sleep had been dreamless, bereft of sweethearts or trainsets, but I shouted it anyway.
Because you have to.
Shout "Rabbits!", that is.
On the first day of each month.
At least, that's what my mother told me.
And, if it is to be effective, it must be the FIRST THING YOU SAY.
Otherwise, you will be deprived of the luck that shouting rabbits on the first day of the month will bring you.

How many daft superstitions do you still observe?