Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Out of my way, Erebus!

After weeks of cyclonic gloom and rain, today was, at last, truly anticyclonic: clear blue skies, warm and sunny, with hardly a breath of wind. The sort of day when you want to do something spectacular. So I had a bonfire outside the bottom gate of my back garden, setting fire to three years' worth of garden rubbish. My goodness, I LOVE a good roaring bonfire! It is hadn't been for sex, I would probably have become a pyromaniac. And it's no quick blaze-and-ember for me: I can keep it up for several days, and have several satisfying burns in a row. The heart of the fire is Abaddon, it is infernal: bank it up overnight and you can rekindle it in the morning and burn another mountain of whatever is that is cluttering your life.
This is possibly the most boring posting I have ever made to this blog, but I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of a wicked conflagration.

Jake Thackray

Jake Thackray was a brilliant man, a poet who set his poems to music and sang them to the accompaniment of a quirky guitar. I adored him, as did my kids. His songs were full of wit, wisdom and often a certain poignancy. His accent was unplaceable: a fruity RP kind of pronunciation which frequently lapsed into a delicious Scouse (Liverpool) intonation with incongruous vowel quantities.
Look at him. A latter-day Byron, full of life and passion, but also given to melancholy. He finally drank himself to an early grave. Jake Thackray, you were a one off. I recommend anyone reading this to try to get hold of some of his recordings. His songs are simply amazing.
Here is one that has a certain resonance for me. Try to hear it in a minor key with a quirky syncopated rhythm:

If your come around to mourn for grandad don't dress up in black
'cos although my grandad's dead and buried odds on he'll be back, yes.
Although they stuffed him in his coffin and read out the will
And although he's six foot deep in darkness he'll never lie still.
He's made of sterner stuff, he's not dead enough.
Angels, saints and seraphim
Please will you try to keep an eye
On him.

On his ninetieth birthday, grandad went down for a drink.
Now my grandad is a rabid dipso with a throat like a sink.
He drank himself towards the skyline and his friends to the floor
Just to prove how fit he was for boozing for ninety years more.
Your pearly gates he''ll climb when it's opening time.
Angels, saints and seraphim
you'll find it hard to keep a guard
On him.

They brought him home upon a handcart with his legs in the air
He was singing Rule Britannia in his underwear.
He challenged all the county police force to a fight right away
Then he offered to put the ladies' union in the family way.
You crystal domes will shake when he makes his break
Angels, saints and seraphim
He'll give the slip so get a grip
On him.

The doctor lifted up an eyelid and pronounced him gone
But to judge from grandad's finger signals the doctor was wrong.
They dressed him in his Sunday nightshirt, they combed out his hair
But they couldn't get my grandad's boots off, he'd need them up there:
You silken wings he'll shed, he will paint paradise red
Angels, saints and seraphim
Please don't expect that much respect
From him.

Even at the solemn moment he wouldn't behave
For I heard him whistling in his coffin on his way to the grave.
He took off towards the New Jerusalem with his pinch of salt
I distinctly heard him flatulating in his marble vault.
Your candles will be dimmed when he gets the wind.
Angels, saints and seraphim
Although he's old, although he's cold
Keep a tight hold
On him.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Giz a cuddle!

I don't think I am old and crabby. At least, I hope I am not old and crabby. But do you know what makes people old and crabby? One of the things that makes people old and crabby is that nobody touches them.
For nine weeks, I had constant and wonderful touching: cuddles from my grandchildren, hugs from my daughter, even the occasional happy embrace from Bruninha, the Brazilian nanny.
Since I came back, which is nearly four weeks now, literally nobody has touched me, apart from a most welcome handshake from my old mate, Roger B, who came to stay for the weekend..
Not being touched is not healthy. I have thought about going into my local supermarket, Tesco's in Ely, and putting a sign round my neck saying "Anybody fancy a cuddle?", but I have a feeling that I will be misunderstood, arrested and thrown into the chokey.
You know, I think the English are not good at touching each other, which is why they all have dogs and cats.
Well, if all I can expect here is an occasional desultory lick from a cocker spaniel, the sooner I get back to San Diego, the better.
Is anyone out there on my wavelength on this?

Gopher it!

Re the Ark I referred to earlier: my faithful correspondent P expressed surprise that I was able so easily to get hold of 300 cubits of gopher wood, and at such short notice too. Sorry, P, but if I tell you my source, who knows how many people will rush out and build an Ark, in contravention of the Don't Build a Frigging Gopher-Wood Ark Without Our Permission Act, 2001, one of Blair's more obscure bits of legislation, arks at that time being considered potential WMD's.
Any road up, thank goodness the Flood receded and I was able to recycle the timber to make eight thousand Swift nestboxes, probably the only ones in Europe to be made of gopher wood. which is not surprising seeing that nobody has a bloody clue what "gopher wood" is. This from Wikipedia:
Several guesses as to the nature of gopher wood have been made, the most common of which is the cypress. Adam Clarke, a Methodist theologian famous for his commentary on the Bible, cited the Greek word for cypress, kuparisson, and the resemblance of this word's base, kupar, to the Hebrew word gophar. Other suggestions as to the identity of the wood include pine, cedar, fir, ebony, wicker, juniper, acacia, boxwood, slimed bulrushes and resinous wood. Some dictionaries mention gopherwood as a deciduous tree with white flowers, specifically Cladrastis kentuckea, or American yellowwood; this type of gopherwood has no known relation to the material of Noah's Ark. Gopher might not be a type of wood at all and may be a type of reed, as reed boats are as ancient, if not more ancient than wooden boats.

Well, anybody can make a mistake.

Come clean, P-Bowles!

Once again, Mrs Trellis is right on the button, or at least on some kind of button:
Dear Camilla Parker-Bowles, she writes, reading your latest postings, I find myself bereft of speech. I admired you at first, the way you took over from Princess Di, whom everyone thought gorgeous while you seemed to be a bit dowdy, pardon the expression. But I thought, no, give her a chance, even if she does look like a horse.
But now, I find your rantings about broccoli and slippers are just too much. First off, nobody wants to read about broccoli and slippers. Well, apart from maybe Jenny Bond, who is fascinated by the least breaking of the royal wind, as you might say.
Second, I had hoped you would privy us to what it is like to be married to HRH. I mean, how do you relate to a man who talks to plants? Specially when you think that they know that he is a vegetarian and is just waiting for the moment to cut them off their stalks and plunge them into boiling water.
Also, instead of broccoli, etc, I think it would be inspirational if you gave us an insight into your relations with your mum-in-law. I mean, the mother of the late Mr Trellis was a tartar, always implifying that I was not good enough for him, the b.tch. Do you get that from yours? Mind you, there's not a lot you can do about it anyway, her having the power to slap you in the Tower and such.
What I mean is, give us some REAL news, like how often does He slip you the royal length, and what do you have for breakfast?

Nobbut a lad

When I wor nobbut a lad - think late 1940's - we had us a gay old time playing various children's games, games with arcane rules and rituals and a vocabulary to match. We lived in such an obscure part of England that even the Opies failed to document us: no reference in their tomes to Tin Can Murky, Tippet or Salt, Mustard and Pepper, this last a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of girls' knickers, you know, those thick black cotton passion-killers with elasticated legs and a mysterious side-pocket.

Now, think early twenty-first century. I have been teaching some of these games and rituals to my three Californian grandchildren. And they seem to enjoy them in the interstices of time between more exciting distractions, eg, when mum hides the TV remote.
I think quite a lot about my mortality, about the time when something will strike me down and I will be no more. It is a great consolation to think that at least part of what is me will be passed on to a new generation. No big deal, but it's better than shuffling off the mortal coil and leaving no more trace than your name written in the sand.
Listen, guys and guyesses, I am not being morbid: I have already resolved to live long enough to get back all the money I have paid to the Chancellor of the Exchequer AND to cause the Prudential, my pension providers, to take out a contract on me because I have defied their actuaries' predictions. And the knowledge that three Californian kids may one day play Tippet with THEIR children makes my heart soar like a hawk, as you might say.

New slippers

I have new slippers! They are very posh: leather soles and soft leather uppers, cost un bras et une jambe, I can tell you. And I can also tell you that they fit perfectly. They are to my feet what the croute is to a boeuf wellington.
....I could not have told you that five minutes ago.
Why not, Allsop? I hear you think.
Because, mes potes, this is the first time I have put them on.
Nothing remarkable in that, Allsop, I hear you think.
Well, if I tell you that I bought them nearly a year ago, I think you will understand why I feel moved to tell you about it, or rather, them, now.
You see, it's a problem I have, something rooted deep in my psyche. Whenever I buy something for myself, whether it's clothes, a book, a DVD player or a new computer program, I am unable to open the wrapping, fondle the goods and start using them. I have shirts still in the celephane from TWO years ago, I have unopened packs of y-fronts unsullied by the imperial bum, I have an untouched portable oil-fired heater from THREE years ago, I have a year-old voice-recognition program that has so far gone unrecognised. The list is not endless, but it's not far off endless.
Then why don't you stop buying things, Allsop? I hear you think.
Good point, you've got an incisive mind there, Moriarty.
Which brings me to my other problem: I love buying things.
When I buy things for others, it's a joy; when I buy something for myself, I am paralysed in the way that I have described.
So, why did you decide to open the box today and put the slippers on, Allsop? I hear you think. Dunno, guv, honest. A sudden urge to break another taboo, perhaps. Who knows?
Ah well, in the next life, I think I will come back as a snail. No credit cards, no retail therapy, no psychological blocks; all I ask is a damp corner, an abundance of hostas and a dearth of songthrushes. Oh yes, and being both male and female might answer a few other unresolved questions...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Yorkshire karma

Come to England, go to Yorkshire. visit the moors: gorgeous, spectacular, soothing, guaranteed to slow down your heartrate, banish PMT and put the stride back in your spring. Good karma.
Just one thing: if you come upon a notice board in the middle of nowhere that bears the legend:


don't panic. I know it's bababobo, but think of it as a form of Yorkshire Zen. Clever buggers, I bet they can even tell you the sound of two hands clapping.

When I was a boy...

When I was a boy, every meadow had a pond in it where the horses could drink and wash their feathers, ponds which had three kinds of newts and lots of other wild life and you could fish all day and not catch much.
When I was a boy, you could catch sticklebacks and gudgeon and perch and roach in the local canal, and, if you were so inclined, you could also swim in it.
When I was a boy, you could walk the three miles to Wellington past cornfields where corncrakes rasped. And find every singing skylark in the sky, honest to god, every single one.
When I was a boy, the hedges were full of more species than I could put a name to, and full of nests with eggs that said blackbird, songthrush, hedge sparrow, bullfinch, and many others that I couldn't recognise.
When I was a boy, I was slim and full of energy and liked girls (didn't understand them, but liked them) and the summers were eight months long.
When I was a boy, I had no idea life would end up like this.
Mind you, when I was a boy, you also could go to the village cinema for 2d (old money) and have your parts felt by some old guy sitting next to you.
What has survived of that idyllic time? You tell me. Only the bad bits, I suspect.

Mrs T addresses the PM

You have to admire Mrs T's persistence. Once again she hits the nail on the point:
Dear Gordon Brown, she writes, first, may I congratulate you on becoming Chancellor of the XChecker, a post for which, they tell me, you are well suited, you being a dab hand at sex-related board games. I thought that person Lionel Blair had hogged the gaming table for far too long, so, well done you! Where is he now, by the way? Guitar player, wasn't he? Probably end up busking on the London Underground!
Anyway, knowing how busy you are, I would not presume to trample on your vaiuable time, but I just wanted to let you know how much I admire your command of the English language, you being a Scot and all, given to och aye the noos, a wee deoch and doris, and other incomprehensible nonsense. Not that that should spoil your game, as long as you keep your mouth shut.
But really, my reason for writing to you is because I just wanted to dissuage you from taking that rhodiola stuff. It's foreign, like garlic, and best avoided. My late husband developed a taste for Korean ginseng, and it was the devil's own job to hold him down when he got "physical", although, bless him, his way of working off his excess energy fortunately never involved me.
Yours commensurately
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retired

Rhodiola, I salute thee!

Sit up straight, pay attention, stop playing with yourself: I am about to transform your life. Let me start where I usually start: in the middle. Sometimes, when I am feeling lacking in list and feck, I buy a bottle of Metatone Tonic, retailing at about a thousand pounds a litre. I have no idea what is in it. Well, ok, it says on the bottle what is in it - thiomine hydrochloride, calcium glycorephosphate, potassium glycorephosphate, manganse glycorephosphate and some other potions, but if you are like me, you any none the wiser. It's all a matter of faith. But I take a slug before each meal in the belief that it will put the vroom back in my motor, or, in my case, the muscle back in my shoulders so I can cut the side hedge with an electric hedge-cutter (Funny how your priorities change as you get older: I have never felt this way about hedges before).
But now, stout yeopersons, prepare thyselves for a
I have discovered
Rhodiola exclamation mark
Hm. Hell, how I detest an anticlimax. It reminds me painfully of the reaction to most of the jokes I tell.
But, bear with me.
Rhodiola! bold and italics.
According to my daughter Sarah, who is to alternative medicine what Galileo was to planetary motion, Rhodiola is the bee's knees, it is the dog's bollocks, it is the lodestone, it is the alchemists' chrysopoeia, it is what puts the imperial lead back in the imperial pencil.
Once again, I can tell you what it says on the bottle, but to hell with that. Check it out here if you want (mainly because the print is too small for my rheumy eyes).
I take a capsule every day, and I can tell you that I have never been so randy, which at 71 could be dangerous. I also stay up later and hack the hell out of the undergrowth in my garden borders, so Rhodiola - or something - is working.
It's not available in the UK, so in about three weeks' time, I will run out. So, if I lose my sex drive, get to bed early and let the garden go to hell, you will know why.

Pass me the Chateau d'Iquem, Jeeves

There used to be a series on TV called Tales of the Unexpected. I remember one episode where the denouement consisted of the major domo to an aristocrat confessing that over many years he had served cheap plonk to his master and not the great vintage wines which his master believed he was drinking. Why? Because, according to the faithful and very scornful servant, his master "wouldn't know the difference". And why was that? Because the master always put an oil and vinegar dressing on his salad, so how could he possibly judge the wine?
Well, that explains why I, a side-salad man, have drunk cheap plonk ever since I saw that episode. That, and the fact that I am a bum whose criterion is not how good it is, but whether there is enough of it to see me through the evening.
I mean, there's such a thing as standards.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I want it to go on record that my commissioning editor is one of the most competent, sympathetic and understanding editors in the business. I totally withdraw and reject any statements I have previously made to the contrary.
He is to publishing what St Francis of Assisi was to bird flu.
Or something like that.
And now, if he will only remove the pliers from my gonads, I will get on and finish the book

Protest at the closure of CEH, Monk's Wood

This might be meaningless to a lot of my readers, but if you care at all about the future of scientific research into the environment of this country, I urge you to add your voice to the protest against the planned closure of Monk's Wood Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
If you need more background, just google CEH closure, and you will see all the government arguments for the closure, and the groundswell of arguments against. I won't defend Monk's Wood here, because its magnificent record speaks for itself.
To make your voice heard, go to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/cehclosure/


I love broccoli (So does my granddaughter, Kiki. She is also left-handed like me. That girl will go far), so, this evening, to accompany my - well never mind, the veggies might be reading this - I bought a crown of broccoli. It looked fetchingly green, complex and stalky: till I took it out to wash it.
It was then that I discovered that my broccoli was flaccid. We are talking fatigue. We are talking droop. I have to be honest, I don't stock the culinary equivalent of sildenafil citrate, so I just washed the ailing brassica, gave it the statutory three minutes in boiling water (with bayleaves of course, it's always good to be perfumed) and ate it while thinking of something else.
In fact it was quite tasty, and, of course, nutritious. There's more to life than being stalky. That, at least, is what I told myself.

Arks and apocalypses

This morning, my colleague Peter and I were to spend the day checking more of our Barn Owl boxes, but because of the weather forecast last night, we agreed to confer this morning at 0730 hours, because, as you will understand, we don't want to put birds out in inclement weather. The weather forecast was so apocalyptic - torrential rain arriving at 0900 hours and monsooning East Anglia till 1600 hours - that we cancelled our birding day.
I couldn't sit still and do nothing: I gunned the Land Rover and sped to the timber merchants to get the wherewithal to build an Ark (Actually, it could be blasphemous to do it off your own bat without a specfic instruction from Above, but you know me - soft-hearted when it comes to animals and ready to risk the Wrath of Him Indoors to save a few pairs).

And the weather today? Apart from a few spitspots, no rain, a few sunny intervals. In fact it didn't start raining seriously till 1600 hours, the time when it was supposed to STOP. And it rained for half an hour, enough to fill a very small bucket, and it's been quite sunny ever since.

I wonder if there's any nutters on e-bay prepared to pay a decent price for an unused Ark.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forward planning

A Merry Christmas to all my readers. And in particular:

A - F and TD? We invented it, and you are still at it. Amazing!
B - Of course I will be happy to share your 50th. Do I get a kiss at last?
C - The next time you are over from Germany, call me, you bugger, and we'll have a beer
D - Thanks for being tolerant of my idiocies and for coining the expression Old Scrote. Awesome
Jeff - Difficult to keep up with you! Keep banging the rocks, and when you come, bring the fiddle.
M - Mend your foot, man, and come clock some Norfolk birds
O&MM I only wish I could spend more time birding with you two outrageously wonderful birders
P - I am amazed you put up with me still, given that you now have to go up to all the nestboxes
P Mary - You are at the top of my book of good guys. Thanks for being there.
S - Sheila, I can't believe you read my blog, For goodness' sake, don't tell your old man
V - I hope the house move goes smoothly and you can cook raclette to your heart's content.
Z - It's going to be all right: I have it written down on a piece of paper!

To others who read my blog, I wish you a Merry Christmas too, although it's only 24 July. Still, with these floods, who knows where we'll be come Yuletide?!

Krona shmona, who needs them?

Here was me thinking it was a mechaieh, and it turns out to be a shlimazel.
A banker friend of mine has told me that it might cost me about ten of the Queen's best to cash that Danish cheque, so I think I'll frame it instead and hang it in my loo to comfort visitors in their hour of need.
A propos, the last time I visited Denmark (on business), I dealt with a fine lady called Sara Russel, and over a pleasant dinner (she was a stunning blonde lady, aren't they all?) revealed that she was a lesbian, in a steady relationship with a woman lawyer.
Did you ever see the original movie about Jesse James, where the town newspaper owner said to his clerk: "Take this down: the first thing we have to do in cleaning up this town is to take out all the lawyers and shoot 'em down like dogs".
At that moment, I could sympathise with his viewpoint.

Sanglier, anyone?

My god, Scrote, you still eat RED MEAT? You still eat DAIRY PRODUCTS? You still drink RED WINE? You still scoff BACON? and EGGS? At YOUR age! Unbelievable!
In different forms, all the above has been fired at me by well-intentioned jeremiahs. The thing is, chaps and lady chaps, I really don't want to die with my body parts in peak condition. When I die, I want my body parts to be knackered, used up, shagged out, only fit for fertiliser. Withered on the vine, as you might say. What's the point of having it if you don't use it, and, indeed, use it up?
Listen, when it comes to rationalising my weaknesses, I can outdo Jeffrey Archer.
Now, what shall I have for dinner? I fancy a sanglier, I wonder if Obelix has a spare one in his larder?

Monday, July 23, 2007


Once again, Mrs Trellis reveals her undying interest in literature.
Dear Jeffrey Archer, she writes, I envy you knowing a Dane. The only one I know, well know of, is Hans Christopher Anderson, but I don't know what he's famous for. He was much too late for the rape, arson and pillage thing, so maybe he was the inventor of blue-veined cheese, or a breeder of mermaids.
But, anyway, I am pleased that you are helping the Danes to learn English, poor devils (Don't they put a little o over their a's? An act of desperation, in my view).
I don't want to be blasphemous, but I don't know why God didn't get everybody speaking English in the first place, it being His Own Personal Mother Tongue, well, assuming He had a Mother. But He works in Mysterious Ways, as we all know, and screwing the Danes must be part of some Divine Plan the purpose of which we know not wot of.
By the way, this story of yours they bought, I hope it wasn't pornographic - you know the reputation of these Scandinavians, taking their clothes off and leaping into the snow - but, from what I know of your stories, that is unlikely, you sticking to normal themes like corruption, murder, love, incest and laundry.
Yours literally
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, widow, retired

Darling, we're rich! We can be married!

In today's post, such excitement! A letter from Denmark. Who do I know in Denmark? I open the envelope and a cheque falls out. I had forgotten that a Danish publisher wrote me about a year ago asking permission to use one of my short stories, permission which I had granted immediately on the grounds of flattery. And now, miracle of miracles, they have sent me a cheque for - as you can see - DKK 262,60. And I am like, wow. I am like, awesome. I am like, what a windfall.
Then I check the exchange rate for the noble Danish krona and that takes the steam right out of my sails. It's like ten krona to the pound, man, I mean, like, gloomsville, man.
Still, it was nice of them to want to use my short story. There are 29 more if anyone is interested, even at 262, 60 krona a throw.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

What daft names we give our birds! A sensible British naturalist suggested the name Pied Woodpecker as being a better description of D.major but it didn't catch on. Nor did his suggestion that the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (D.minor) be called the Barred Woodpecker. Ah well, it's all history now since the BOUffoons decided they own the vernacular names and can change them at will (Winter Bloody Wren, Grrrrr)
My favourite bunch of daft names are the ones the Victorian ornitho-hunter-gatherers gave to the members of a rather drab African genus of little brown birds called Cisticola, which, as you all know, contains 51 species, of which only one, Cisticola juncidis, the Fantailed Warbler (or, as we are now supposed to call it, the Zitting Cisticola), is found in Europe.
Look at this for a list as zany as anything The Goons could have come up with:
Tink-tink Cisticola
Wing-snapping Cisticola
Cloud-scraping Cisticola
Croaking Cisticola
Stout Cisticola
Wailing Cisticola
Rattling Cisticola
Churring Cisticola
Siffling Cisticola
Foxy Cisticola
Piping Cisticola
Lazy Cisticola
Chattering Cisticola
Bubbling Cisticola
Singing Cisticola
Winding Cisticola
Chirping Cisticola
And (I think quite rightly), amongst the rest there is a Red-faced Cisticola, totally ashamed of his close relatives. Believe me, the above names are genuine: even my fevered wine-soaked imagination could not have invented anything quite so bizarre. All this was prompted by the appearance of D.major on the nut feeder just outside my back door, bless him (or her).

To conclude, here is a Fantailed Warbler (C.juncidis). I told you they were drab little brown birds. Maybe they deserve their flamboyant names just to give them a bit of pezazz.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Battle lines

Today, 22 July, Turkey goes to the polls. It is a long time since the battle lines were so clearly drawn: the Islamists vs the defenders of Ataturkism. It is doubtful, though, whether the outcome will be so clearcut. If AK, the Islamist party is returned with a thumping majority, there is a serious possibility that the military, who see their domestic role as the guarantors of the secular state established by Ataturk, will step in, as the military has done more than once over the years.
Very few of us in Europe are aware of, or even care about, the fate of Turkey, but whether it goes the way of Iran or finds itself ruled by the military, what happens there will have serious consequences for us all. Remember, you read it here first.
Turkey, my heart goes out to you.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ozzie plonk

This South Eastern Australian red wine that I am drinking beats French wine into a cocked hat, dollar for dollar. It has body, taste, bouquet and the ability to knock out a zillion brain cells with every glass you take. What more do you want from a wine?
I love so many things about France and the French, I am only sorry they choose to sell to us the dregs of the good stuff they keep for themselves. Except for marc, that is, a distillation that sets the stomach on fire and does for the liver what Enola Gay did for Hiroshima.


As ever, Mrs Trellis manages to keep up with the news. Moreorless.
Dear President Clinton, she writes, I think your obsession with bosoms is getting out of hand. I don't want to dwell on the subject, you being a Democrat and therefore a "person without sin", but I do think you should try to get your mind on other things. After all, titties are only lumps of fat that women use to attract men, apart from those few who use them like udders to feed their babies. Ugh, if you ask me.
By the way, did you ever manage to detach yourself from that Lewinsky person, or did she have such a grip that you couldn't break away?
Anyway, best of luck in the primaries for the next Presidential Erection. Or is your wife standing this time? My bet is she has what it takes, unusual really for a woman.
Yours demotically
Mrs Blodwen Trellis, Widow, Retired

Drinkers and Crap

Last night, despite the threat of wind, rain and a minor earthquake in Earith, I set both my moth traps and had a suitably modest catch, consisting mostly of wasps, together with a few moths that had learned how to swim. Among their number was a moth called a Drinker, a moth for which I feel a certain affinity (see pic: big bulging middle, long snout, no pride), and a little brown job that did not fit anything exactly in the Waring-Lewington Moth Bible (Authorised Version).
So now, the exciting question is: have I caught a rarity? I have posted a photograph of it on the appropriate website (The pic is a "record photograph" which is Newspeak for a crap photo) and await the judgment of those who know about these things
Personally, from the photograph, I would simply identify it as a Dirty Brown Smudge Moth, a species new to science, but one which is very familiar to photographers.

Notting Bloody Hill

I think the time has come for me to go into the terrorist business, and my target, all you infidels (and all you fidels too for that matter) is Hollywood. At the tender age of thing, I watched the film "The Wicked Lady", and fell in love with Margaret Lockwood, her bosom and the beauty spot on it.
Since then, I have worked my way through countless romantic movies, identified with the hero, fallen in love with the heroine and cried my way through a month of bacon sandwiches.
This evening, I watched the movie Notting Hill for the nth time and soaked two table napkins and a large red-spotted handkerchief sobbing for Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. They are not REAL, for goodness' sake, so why do they get to me so?
At my stage of the game, romance is as likely as an Olympic gold medal for bunjy-jumping, but I still cling to the belief that one day, still, Margaret Lockwood and her beauty spot are going to walk into my life again and tell me that she is "just a girl trying to ask a boy to love her." And I will go down on my sobbing knees, belch, sneeze and fail to get up again.
Maybe it's just as well she's dead or I might make an ass of myself.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Sorry, David, best I could come up with in the short time available. I promise it will be tractors all the way next time!

Coop Divi

As usual, our faithful NorthWalian correspondent is quick off the mark, way off the mark in fact:
Dear Pope Benedict XVI, she writes, I was SO glad to read that you are a Coop customer, Over the years, the Coop divi enabled me to provide the late Mr Trellis with all kinds of little treats, eg, Crawfords Cream Crackers, even if it meant crumbs in the bed after a nibble and brief sexual congress.
I didn't really understand all that stuff about credit cards, though. The only card game Mr Trellis and I ever played was cribbage, and I still am not sure what "one for his knob" means, although it always made my late husband giggle and sometimes choke on his cream cracker.
Anyway, even though I am a Methodist (Primitive Wesleyan), I wish you well in your new job. It must make a change being in all that papal regalia after years of prancing around in a HitlerJugend uniform. Funny how things turn out, isn't it?

Yours submersively
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, widow, retired

That will do nicely, sir

Listen, guys and dolls, I have been imitated, I have been doppelganged, I have been stolen, I have been duplicated, I have been in several places at once. And it is no exciting out-of-body experience I am talking about: somebody filched my credit card details and went on a spending spree.
Bugger, over a thousand pounds of my money has been frittered by strangers on things I would never dream of buying, like ipods, three-piece moquette suites and illuminated socks.
Fortunately, the credit card company and merchants in general have a mechanism for dealing with this shit, so I should not suffer more from this than a bruised ego.
But, I hear you ask, how did the rascals do it?
Yes, that's my question too. My bank describes this occurrence as "rare" and also tries to reassure me by telling me I have reliable patellae - well, not really, but they have been most helpful. So, how do you avoid this stealth attack on your plastic? Simple to say, hard to implement: never let your credit card out of your sight.
As to the rascals, I wish them no ill beyond an intimate genital encounter with the flames of Hell and an eternity of irritable bowel syndrome.
As to how the scam came to light, I like to think that the Coop Bank, my Visa providers, immediately smelled a rat when they saw that purchase of illuminated socks appearing on my statement. They know me for a gentleman of taste.

Dear Al Gore

Once again, the indefatigable Mrs Trellis of North Wales grabs the wrong end of the bargepole:
Dear Al Gore,
she writes, I read with amazement that you were an author. I had always thought of you as a failed politician with a chip - or do you call it a french fry? - on your shoulder. But I am a generous-hearted woman and sorry to hear about your troubles with your publisher. I think you should piss in his ear. By the way, didn't you make a film - or do you call it a moving picture? - to make people love you and vote for you again? I do hope it works because a man of your age should not be out of work for too long: idle hands and all that, and anyway it puts hair on your palms and makes you go blind.
PS If you are ever in Llanfairpg, do call in and I will play you a dirge on my Welsh harp.
Yours understandably
Mrs Blodwen Trellis, widow, retired, no serious offer refused

Friday Grump

Since I got back from SoCal, I have trapped moths, fought off a virus, overslept, undershaved, waded through nettles to get to Barn Owl boxes, ignored the repeated wintry rainshowers of this amazing British July, dreamed unpleasant dreams about, well, never mind, and spoken happily once to the Allsop mass gathering in Auckland New Zealand (three adults, five children, and one I can't talk to yet because he/she isn't born till December).
So, why this Friday Grump? Because, MessieursMesdames, it turns out that I am working with the worst Commissioning Editor in recorded history (The Golden Oriole book refers). I have worked with about twenty different editors in my time, old young male female straight gay sober drunk bowlegged knockkneed naked dressed, and there were only two into whose ears I would not have pissed if their brains had been on fire. The rest were professional and gorgeous. But now I have finally met the obvious place to stuff the Giant Enema of Eternity.
This man is to publishing what Adolf Hitler was to race relations - or something like that, I am too angry to produce a better comparison right now - and in a just world would be immediately sacked by his bosses and apprenticed to a pastry-cook (Pascal).
"Publishers are people who drink champagne out of the skulls of their authors." It was never so true, and, because I don't want you to be left with an image of me as a wounded author, I will find and publish on this blog a photograph of a woman with an enormous bosom, in order to reaffirm my belief that there is a Divine Being who has a Divine Design and a Divine Purpose, which, if there is any Divine Justice, does not include my current Editor: Che gli bruci la casa! Che gli crepino i figli! etc.
PS Sorry, couldn't find a suitable bosomy woman, but a modest woman on a tractor is almost as good, nicht wahr?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lime Hawkmoth

After a long absence from mothing, I set my two traps the night before last and spent a confused hour or so the following day trying to remember the names of the various moths that I had caught. For example, I confidently named a Buff Ermine, until I spotted the moth next to it which really WAS a Buff Ermine. So what was the first moth, one I had seen many times before? It was only much later that it clicked: Buff Arches. It's a bugger when your memory starts to fail.
Anyway, among the beauties in the trap was a Lime Hawkmoth. My memory may be on the blink, but my amazement at the beauty of nature remains undimmed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Kelly boobs again

I received another passionate letter today from Mrs Trellis of North Wales, and reproduce it without comment.
Dear Lorraine Kelly, she writes, I am surprised you allowed the publication of that lewd photograph of a barmaid showing almost as much bosom as you do every day on television. I hope you realise that if you just showed the whole lot, they would just look like two boring lumps of fat, and a lot more men would give up and get to work on time.. So, cover up, there's a dear. Anyway, that apart, and do please try to be more modest in future, I loved your piece about Britain. It's galling to us in the Principality how we tend to be submerged, as you might say. As far as I am concerned, the great struggle against the Luftwaffe in 1941 was not the Battle of Britain: it was the Battle of Wales. They were after our Caerphilly, as I am sure you are aware. About the squirrels on your nuts, dear, maybe if you didn't display your nuts so blatantly, they wouldn't know you had any. Just a thought. Personally, I was a little surprised myself; you always seemed such a normal sort of person.

Boobs, bums and Britain

On the breasts of a barmaid in Sale
Is printed the price of the ale.
And on her behind,
For the sake of the blind,
Is the same information in Braille

The quoting of the above limerick was provoked by my experience on 4 July in the Old Town of San Diego, California, USA. Let me say first of all that I was immensely moved by the ceremonies that day. I shed a tear when the flag was raised, and even pledged allegiance to it (my grandchildren were watching me VERY closely). I sat through a reading of the Declaration of Independence, trying to cope with the anti-British bits. It was a moving moment. I only wish we showed such overt patriotism in Britain.
Which leads me neatly on to the connection with the barmaid. I discovered, as all we perfidious Albions do, that foreigners are totally confused by the various ways in which we describe ourselves (I suspect that a lot of my fellow citizens are equally confused). So, without the benefit of the boobs or bum of a barmaid, I wish to lay out the following:
The British Isles is a geographical description of all the islands in the group, including all of Ireland.
Great Britain is a geographical description of the main island, ie without Ireland and all the little islands.
The United Kingdom is a political description of the constituent parts of the Queen's Realm, namely, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (sometimes known as Ulster). ie, omitting the independent and very beautiful Republic of Ireland to the south.
Britain is a vague term that could mean any or all of the above.
The language we speak is known as English, except to linguists, who call it British English, the relativist bastards. Unfortunately, nobody apart from me, Queen Elizabeth II and the late Richard Burton still speak it, it having been replaced by Estuary English, a simplified form of the language based on a two-hundred word vocabulary, the glottal stop and an excessive use of the word "like" (You can hear it on any soap opera, and on most other TV programmes that do not involve vicars).

Be fair: how the hell could I have got all of the above on to a barmaid's curvy bits?

Back to basicks

In case it escaped your notice, yes, I am back from SoCal and readjusting to the realities of England. The main difference between the two locations is that Socal is spelled S-O-C-A-L and England is spelled E-N-G-L-A-N-D. That and the piss-awful weather.
Mind you, our bread is better than theirs, and we have a monarchy, so it's not all bad news.

A squirrel on my nuts

Today, I had a squirrel on my nuts.
I picked up my catapult and fired a pebble at it.
And missed.
Only just.
Just enough to make the squirrel turn and look at me. Contemptuously.
And then it went on feeding, come se niente fosse, as L'Alighieri might have put it.
It's just not fair. I am as brutal as the next man. All right, I was in one of my frocks, but that's no reason to be patronised by a rodent.
Just wait till the bloody flying ants emerge: I will become a Dalek: I will exterminate them!
Just trying to hang on to some vestige of self-respect, you understand.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A cry for help from fellow bloggers

Can anyone tell me why it has become so bloody difficult to post comments to blogs? No matter what combination I try, or even if I try to log in as "other" or "anonymous", google finds an objection. Maybe my mouthwash just isn't making it.
Jake aka Old Scrote aka various other combinations.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mrs T upbraids S Rushdie

It's good to know that the Socrates of North Wales never sleeps. Mrs Trellis writes:
Dear Salmon Rushdie, I appreciate all you have been through, what with an incurable fatwa on your head, your marriage falling apart, and you being named after a fish, but I do take exception to your snide remarks about the Fourth of July. It happens to be the date of my wedding anniversary, which I have always assumed is the reason why the United States make such a fuss of it, the late Mr Trellis having been an avid collector of American Pinup Art of WWII, specially Betty Grable's legs, which were insured for millions of dollars - more than the cost of fixing your fatwa, incidentally.
I think what you need, if I make so bold, is a new career. For example, with your hair, you could model for toupes and with a few witty remarks thrown in about the Prophet Mohammed's alopecia, make a real go of it.
Yours, etc, Mrs Blodwen Trellis, Widow, Retired

I say, old chap!

Most of the time, having a British accent is a plus round these parts. People think I am Richard Burton, ask me to recite poetry or talk like Winston Thatcher.
But Wednesday is the Fourth of July, and I am thinking it is a good day for a Brit to maintain silence and a very low profile.
In case you don't know, the fourth of July is when the American colonists held a tea party in Boston for King George the Third and then threw him into the sea - or something like that - and then invented the Paul Jones dance and declared it was a good idea to believe in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, which resulted in shopping malls, CocaCola and Fingerlickin Chickin.
Oh yes, and there was something a bit later on about freeing the black slaves and sending them all to Chicago, but I must admit to being hazy about the details on that issue.
So, folks, while the rest of America is getting high on saltpetre, I will just sit on the back porch and commune with our backyard Californian Towhee, SoCal's answer to the humble Dunnock. I might even feed it a pretzel if it doesn't feel compromised by the gesture: everybody's so bloody sensitive, it seems, on 7/4.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Night visitors

Last night, just after nine thirty, with the children in bed, I was making my way downstairs to my room when I heard unholy squeaking-twittering noises from the backyard. As I went out to investigate, Sarah was already on the decking having been disturbed by the same noises. Dark shapes were lumbering across the lawn, too large for cats and too hump-backed to be dogs. It turned out that the twittering is a contact call between the parent (mother?) and the two young ones. They climbed on to the shed roof and disappeared into the Black Acacia. Without my torch, we wouldn't have seen very much, and would almost certainly have missed the ringed tails. If you want to know what we had in the backyard last evening, look here.
Apparently the children heard and saw things too from their bedroom windows upstairs. At breakfast this morning, Sophie announced that ours is the scariest and most dangerous neighbourhood in America, Harry said he was afraid of nothing except ants, and Kiki finished her crunchy cereal (having, of course, removed the raisins).