Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Look round and consider how much of your life is dependent on electricity: lighting, heating, cooking, washing, computer and other electronic devices. Then, after you have done that, turn on the cold water tap (faucet) and flush the toilet. Clean water to drink and to wash in, and an efficient system to get rid of your waste or "dirty" water.
I have noticed that both my electricity and my water bills have gone up astonomically in the last eighteen months. And you know something? I don't begrudge them a penny of what they charge me to keep my life safe and comfortable.
Pity the two-thirds (is it?) of the world's population who don't have either utility. We are damned lucky. Let's face it: our civilisation would (will?) crumble the day we no longer have electricity or clean water.
Oh yes, and the corkscrew.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
It's heartening that a local boy from the underprivileged NorthEast has made good. It's even more heartening for me that he and I are alumni of the same Oxford college. Sadly, he was after my time, so never knew me, except by reputation, based on my addition of an indelible stain to the front door of the President's Lodgings. Werl, it's fame of a kind.
Anyway, I want Mr B to know that if he needs me, he can call on me. Anytime. I am not THAT busy with barn owls. What is more, I will settle for a mere tenth of what he is earning with JP Morgan Chase and Zurich.
But if he doesn't, he'd better watch out. I can be a demon with the wax and the pins.
Yesterday, a farmer's wife (we were there on Barn Owl business) announced that a particular bird of prey had bred on their land for the last three years. The bird she nominated does not breed in our part of the country, but it has an extremely rare and similar-looking cousin that very occasionally does, though never recorded in that particular area. Baffling.
Maybe I really SHOULD take up a new hobby, Like, say, stamp-collecting. But I know what will happen: "Oh, yes, you're a philatelist, aren't you? Well, I found this amazing stamp on a postcard the other day. It was one of those, you know, "penny blacks"...............
Yeah, sure. Pass the headache powder.
Monday, January 28, 2008
So, methought, I will fill the feeders to the brim and do my count on Sunday morning. And yes - I hate how you guys are always ahead of me - on Sunday, zilch. One robin after fifteen minutes. Is it any wonder I plunge so easily into deep melancholy?
This morning, Monday, as I was preparing my usual breakfast of paracetamol on toast with a side of bicarb of soda, I looked out and the feeders were festooned again, positively INFESTED with birds.
What am I doing wrong? Whatever it is, it's the RSPB Garden Birdwatch that will suffer.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I am grateful to regular readers of this blog (I love you both!) for providing examples of the UBD insanity: an expiry date on a packet of Saxa salt, superannuated Marmite, defunct paprika. What happens? Do they undergo some chemical transmutation and become dangerous? Explosive? Do terrorists know about this? Is there a website devoted to telling you how to make bombs out of superannuated Marmite mixed with defunct paprika?
Sorry, I am rambling, but this whole business unnerves me. I have become paranoid to the extent that I fully expect anything I have put into my shopping cart from the supermarket shelf to be out of date by the time I get it to the checkout.
OK, I accept there is a difference between USE BY and BEST BEFORE. If they labelled people this way, I like to think I would have the latter stamped on my bum, but no doubt OFPRAT have already catalogued me as all used up and are working on a way to recycle me even as we speak. Don't laugh, I could be an ingredient in your next instant meal. For god's sake, eat it before the expiry date: I am not getting any fresher.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Because I belong to the other lot, the ones who buy it in black plastic trays with a film lid that you pierce before popping the whatever into the microwave, or which you remove before putting into a preheated oven.
On a baking tray.
The baking tray itself to be preheated.
And you put the tout ensemble in the middle of the oven.
Or in the top.
And if your instant gourmanderie is frozen, you cook it straight from frozen.
Or you don't.
In the latter case you defrost it thoroughly for a minimum of twelve hours. I like that "thoroughly". Is there a way of defrosting that is merely approximate?
My beef is this: I can see no rhyme or reason in this preheated/not-preheated, middle/top,
defrost/not defrost dichotomy. And no-bloody-where, if you will pardon the tmesis, can I find an explanation for these variations on a theme. Not even in Wikipedia, heaven help us.
I will leave you to digest this before I come on to my next mystery tour: use-by dates.
Monday, January 21, 2008
My pondering has also extended to the naming of children. In Catholic countries, you have to give your children Catholic names. Similarly in Muslim countries, only Koranic names are halal. Given the paucity of available names in the Koran, it is not surprising that most Muslims have a name based on the triliteral root h-m-d - Mohammed, Ahmed, Abdulhamid, etc.
But in the good old godless (or at best lapsed Protestant) Anglo-Saxon countries, you can call a baby whatever takes your fancy: Dale, Clint, Chipolata, Yggdrasil or whatever. It's very fashionable in our dumbed-down soap-opera pop-celeb age to name your bairns after "stars". Pity today's Kylies, who will be tomorrow's laughing stock. I am just grateful that my parents stuck to a simple name like "Jack", although they might have called me Cary (after Grant) or Orson (after Welles) or Veronica (after Lake) if they'd been cinema buffs. And drunk.
And if you can make a link between organic vegetables and decent names for our children, please let me have it, because I am really stuck for a succinct way to finish this piece. The thought has just struck me, though: surely Parsnip is not a suitable name for a baby, organic or not.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
What I mean is, it has taken me till now to question so many things that I took for granted simply because of where they came from ("the fallacy of origins", as the logicians call it). Let me take an example before you lose interest in this piece:
"Coelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt."
Why have I accepted that dictum uncritically till now? First, of course, because it's in Latin and anything in Latin MUST be both true and profound, right? Secondly, because I absorbed it during my Sixth Form years, along with lots of impressive polysyllables like "hegemony" and ponderous phrases like "the Serbonian bog of politics"( see pic!), acres of verbiage which I have never actually USED outside of tutorials and examinations. Back to the Latin tag: sure we are the same person wherever we travel to on the planet, but spending time under different skies can make you a different person, or at least change the way you think and feel.
So, what I am saying is that my late adolescent rebellion is only just now getting underway. I am going to challenge every dictum, axiom and aphorism, I am going to question the teachings of every tutor, pundit and guru. Problem is, I probably won't have anything to put in their place.
By the way, I wrote this after a few glasses of wine. In vino veritas. as you might say.
Friday, January 18, 2008
So, Alfred it is, or maybe Alfie, or maybe Alf - it is one of those disappearing kind of names - and if he chooses to posh it up to Alph later on, well, nothing wrong with being named after a sacred river.
So, if you love me, will you just cast your eye over the following, which is the entry I propose to insert in the next "MyDate". Let me know if you think I have exaggerated or if I have missed out anything important.
"Old Scrote, 71 but looks older, tall broad-shouldered and pot-bellied, unfit with bad knees but refusing to give up, financially afloat (just), own house, car, moth traps and zimmer frame, wine buff, moth catcher and bosom-n-tractor watcher, great SOH when not melancholic, seeks any female still breathing, preferably short-sighted and forgetful, for friendship and maybe more, given proper notice."
Apparently, the hit rate on MyDate is as high as 7%, not that all contacts lead to lasting relationships, but, you know me, always with the positive vibes. I might even attract the last Old Scrotess in Cambridgeshire, who knows?
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
It is simply not true, for example, that the Duke of Marlborough came home from the War of the Spanish Succession, grabbed the Duchess by the cheeks of her arse, slid her on like an old sea boot and charvered her on the spot. Apparently he was still in a state of deep melancholy and far too preocuupied trying to work out the grammaticality of "Malbrouk s'en va t'en guerre" to think of ducal nooky.
Nor is it the case, god wot, that King John lost his luggage in the Wash. Recent research revealed that it is still in lost luggage at Luton Airport, along with the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail and bits of Lord Lucan. I mean, if you can't be BOTHERED to claim what is rightfully yours....
"Nemo me impune lacessit"? Nah. King James I of England may have said that. but, coming, as he did from Scotland, where he was already five Jameses ahead of the game as James VI, what he actually meant was "Nobody serves me shit like this and gets away with it", referring of course to his first lunch of Toad in the Hole and Spotted Dick So unlike the Neeps and Tatties and RolyPoly Pudding of his childhood.
Come on, guys, do you really believe that Lord Nelson, already lacking an arm and an eye and other bits discreetly unrecorded, actually looked up as he lay dying and said to his first officer: "Kiss me, Hardy"? No, what he actually said, desperately, was: "It IS me, Hardy!" referring to his concern that, with so many bits missing, nobody would recognise him.
Now, about Robin Hood, I don't want to shatter the illusion of generations of schoolboys who have grown up idealistically on tales of swinging acrobatically through the Greenwood, robbing the rich to give to the poor, and getting a just reward of a tavern feast in the evening, followed by a night of legover bliss with Maid Marian (the last a bit abstract anyway until your voice breaks). So, I will only say that wearing crutch-hugging green tights and wearing your hair in long ringlets was as dodgy then as it is now, unless you happen to live in Brighton. If you get my drift.
No, when you have been to Oxford College and passed all your degrees as I have, you develop an unshakeable respect for the truth.
"Alfred! The grate!!"
And he thought: "Yeah! Cool! Alfred the Great! Good karma! With a moniker like that, I could even wear purple."
And with that, children, he soddedeth off and set up the Danelaw. That is how it all came about. Listen, I went to Oxford College and passed all me degrees (in History, as it happens), I wouldn't kid about a thing like this.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Dear Kofi Annan, she writes, sorry, I thought you were dead, and here you are, senile but still fertile, but then it's well known that your kind go on breeding long after it would be decent to stop.
Don't misunderstand me, I am overjoyed that you are going to Nairobi to sort out the Kikuyu, Luo, etc, despite being needed at home on nappy patrol and such, but in the end, it comes to much the same thing.doesn't it? - sorting out other people's sh*t.
Did I wish you a "Nappy New Year"? Ha ha! Sorry! It's just my Welsh sense of humour, except when it comes to the English.
Anyway, without being too personal, I think you and Mrs A should practise contravention from now on, and maybe also introduce the Kikuyu etc to the notion of prophyrelaxation. Either that, or get them all jumping up and down like the Masai to take their minds off it.
Right, that's as far as his parents will read into this blog. So now, the truth: he is gorgeous, wonderful, amazing, the most amazing baby in the history of the entire universe - with the possible exception of all the other babies in the history etc etc.
In fact, he's got a choochy face, doesn't look like Winston Churchill, and has a head of dark hair which immediately gave me a twinge of envy. I bet he can't conjugate Latin verbs, though, so I don't regard him as a serious threat.
His name is Edward. Apparently he was born Edward, unlike my third Kiwi grandson who, after four weeks, is still referred to as "him".
Well, you know me, I did the business. A bouquet of flowers and congratulations for the mother (Alison), a bottle of bubbly and best wishes for the father (Andy) and a promise to help whenever I was needed (Mercifully refused so far. Little boys are much harder to clean up and change than little girls).
Then I came home and thought "Bodily waste products! (I am trying to clean up my language), which is it: congratulations to mum and best wishes to dad, or the other way round? And then I thought, "Reckless copulation! (still in Bowdler mode, you see), they are so shagged by sleep deprivation, they won't even have noticed.
And now, my beloveds, I am into a serious celebration of new life. In fact I might even open another bottle later on to underline my commitment....
PS That is NOT me in the photo.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Dear Hirrally Clitton, she writes, I suppose congratifications are in order, you having beaten the darkie in New Hampshire, but I have to tell you that I am a little irritated with you banging on about childbirth. It's not because I never had children (the late Mr Trellis, bless him, suffered from premature evacuation). Oh no, nothing like that. It's just that children get born all over all the time - too many if you ask me - and it's "no big deal", as you Armenians would say, so why make a fuss? I mean, you don't crow every time you have a bowel movement, do you? And anyway, look what happened to you! You daughter grows up to be a lebanese!
Well, I don't want to seem ungraceless, so I will wish you well in your campaign to become President of the Untied States. A word of advice from an older woman (well, not MUCH older): if you win, keep that hubby of yours out of the White House or he'll be going down on every secretary in sight, and claiming it isn't sex, if you catch my drift.
You and your daughter are very welcome to call in for tea if you are ever in Llanfairpg to dip your tongues into my honeypot. No, I really shouldn't!
And then, blessed moment, as I was back at my breakfast bar ingesting fibre-laden beans, the phone rang. Proud father Andy telling me mother and baby are fine and will probably be back this evening. Thank God.
Andy also said something about "getting home and back to normal." Normal? This is his first baby. "Normal" don't come into it, bro. Well, he can find out about sleep deprivation in his own good time.
As for me, I will send the usual congratulations and presents, but I will also try to get out and do some birding for the next few days, anything to stave off postnatal depression.
I'm not sure I can cope with another pregnancy.
While having my calorie-conscious lunch of taramasalata and pita bread with a side of Callow Crossing Shiraz Rose, I watched a rerun of Top of the Pops on Channel 12. Damn. The combination of "Without You", all about loss (been there, done that, didn't like it), and Pan's People (never been there, always wanted to - along with a zillion other men from the wicked seventies) was enough to have me sneezing into my napkin.
But, having overcome the tears of nostalgia for lost love and lost youth, I became aware of a serious truth: the music then was musical, melodious, harmonious; the lyrics were comprehensible, meaningful, touching; and the musicians were musicians, well-groomed and they even smiled sometimes.
Daddy Allsop is a lost cause! Fancy drooling over the Supremes! By the way, if you ever fancied licking Diana Ross, now's your chance: Jamaica has just issued a series of stamps...........
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Hell, it was only mid-December that I had the last one.
You will appreciate that this is a very emotional time for me. Goddammit, I've got a man coming to the house tomorrow about the double glazing, and there's me in Addenbrooke's Hospital, in the Rosie Maternity Wing no less, bringing new life into the world.
Well, not actually me, of course. My job is to feed the cats and keep an eye on the house while Alison does the business. But we all make our contribution any way we can.
D-tilde, you are right I am a poor deluded man, but even dweebs like me have our moments, and tomorrow is one such.
Also, don't mock, someone has to get the cork out of the champagne bottle, and my guess is that Alison's hubby might be a little too preoccupied to get it quite right. So, in addition to cats and security lights, I will be on booze patrol.
Chacun a son metier, as you might say.
Monday, January 07, 2008
4-3 : caar-ı se
4-2 : caar-ı dü
4-1 : caar-ı yek
4 : caar
5-4 : penc caar
6-5 şeş beş
6-4 şeş car
6-3 şeş se
6-2 şeşi dü
6-1 şeşi yek
5-4 pencü car
5-3 pencü se
5-2 pencü dü
5-1 pencü yek
4-4 dört car
4-3 carü se
4-2 carü dü
4-1 carü yek
3-2 sebai dü
3-1 se yek
1-1 hep yek
Dear Barack Obama Bin Laden, she writes, I just saw a picture of you with your beard shaved off, and I must say you look much nicer and not quite so evil.
Also, you not wearing a towel on your head any more, you could be mistaken for a human being (Just my little joke!).
I was surprised to see you had moved to Iowa, but you're probably as safe there as anywhere, and much more comfortable than living in a cave where a person can get spiders in their couscous and haerremoids from sitting on cold rocks.
One thing: you look much more like a darkie than an arab in your picture. Is this a disguise, or did you rub Camp Coffee into your skin thinking it was aftershave?
Anyway, I can't invite you to tea in my little Welsh village, sorry, but the neighbours are funny about foreigners, specially dusky ones. Cardiff wouldn't mind you, though, being a very cosmological city, as long as you didn't go round blowing things up.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I am grateful to the Siren of Ankara for the following little gems, although I am not sure why blondes are picked out for ridicule. Maybe they are all Appenzellers or Laz. Kim bilir?
Deux blondes sous la douche:
- Prête-moi le shampooing.
- T'en as un à côté de toi...
- Je sais, mais celui là c'est pour cheveux secs et j'ai les cheveux mouillés.
Deux blondes regardent la lune et une intriguée demande:
- Tu crois qu'il y a de la vie là-haut ?
- Évidemment, il y a de la lumière !
Une blonde est sur l'autoroute en train de pousser avec grand peine Une superbe Porche 911. Un motard de la police l'aperçoit et lui propose son aide:
- Bonjour, vous êtes en panne ?
- Non, non, tout va bien, elle est toute neuve !
- Alors, pourquoi vous poussez votre voiture comme ça ?
- C'est le concessionnaire, il m'a dit : 50 en ville maximum et toutes les semaines, vous la poussez un peu sur l'autoroute...
Deux blondes en voiture, un oiseau chie sur le pare-brise. L'une dit:
- Va falloir l'essuyer.
L'autre rétorque :
- Il est déjà trop loin.
Oh my badness! I've been SO busy since the New Year began!
To start with, the assassination I orchestrated in Pakistan (A country I LOVE, it's SO easy to create chaos there) has led to some delicious bitterness and recriminations. I will be honest with you (not a trait that I usually exhibit, I grant you), I sometimes think that Allah is on my side, he has this amazing way of turning people into murderous fanatics, bless him!
And, I think you will agree that we - my cohorts and I - have excelled ourselves in Kenya, not, to be frank, that it is difficult to stir up tribal strife there. I have no idea what a Luo is, or a Kikuyu for that matter - they are all blackamoors to me - but it takes SO little to get them at each other's throats! But I mustn't gloat. After all, so far the death toll has been disappointingly low, even allowing for some church-burning and a little creative infanticide.
Darfur is coming on nicely, and I am particularly proud of our success there given that it is Religion against Religion. I wonder sometimes, though, if my Celestial Adversary is still on the case. Or has He given up? I do hope not. It's not much fun creating Infernal Chaos if you don't get a Divine Reaction from a Worthy Opponent.
Well, that's all for now. I have got my people out practising on some small stuff, eg a fire in the Cancer Hospital in Chelsea, just to keep their hands in till we are ready for the next Big One. Wouldn't you like to know what it is?! >tease< . Whatever it is, it will spread gloom and despondency, I promise you that: just watch BBC or CNN. I really ought to put those media guys on the payroll.
Have an Infernal New Year!
Roamin' in the gloamin' with a lassie by ma side!
When the sun has gone to rest,
That's the time that I love best.
Oh, it's lovely roamin' in the gloa-o-o-omin'!
One of the songs made popular by the late - very very late - music hall artist, Harry Lauder (after whom, they named the post lauder). They're not writing songs like that any more. Thank god.
Why this stagger down memory lane, I hear you ask. No idea, mes potes. It just "stepped into my mind", as my old Swiss boss, Erhardt J C Waespi used to say (One of his many contributions to English idiom, along with an exhortation not to "sit on our laurels" and if we had to, to start again "from the scratch"). It came to me as I poured bleach down the sink to get rid of the drain smell.
I think it's time I got a life.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Dear Carol Vorderman, she writes, I notice you have taken to writing things in foreign lately. Personally I don't mind as I never take any notice of anything you say anyway, but it does seem a bit like showing off to me. After all, how many people do you know who understand Latvian? I rest my case.
Now, listen to the words of wisdom of an older woman: you've got a degree in mathematics and a nice bum, isn't that enough for you? But in this season of goodwill to all persons, I will not eradicate you further. I wish you a Happy New Year and lots of luck. By the way, I don't know who chooses your clothes, but whoever it is you should get rid of them. Talk about dowdy!
So, let's get all the old jokes out of the way, like "isn't this year dragging?!" and "only 295 more shopping days to Christmas", and concentrate instead on the realities, namely, it's a Leap Year, which means all us mere males are vulnerable to proposals of marriage from predatory females eager for our hot little bodies and our stack of Premium Bonds.
Well, ladies, there is nothing mere about this male, I am impervious to your siren charms.
Unless, of course, you happen to have an enormous pair of wheels on your tractor........
Happy New Year Everyone