Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday grump

Yippee, it's Friday! Farewell serenity, hello grumpiness!
Today, it's pharmacies.

Thinks: Deep breath, lad. Here we go. Says: "Good morning, paracetamol, please. Capsules, if you have them."
"Are they for yourself?"
Thinks: No, they're for my pet alligator, he's got toothache. Says:"Yes."
"Have you taken them before?"
Thinks: No, I have always paid for them, but you've given me an idea. . Says:"Yes."
"Are you on any other medication?"
Thinks: Only bromide in my tea to counter my raging sex-drive. Says: "No."
"Don't take them for more than three days."
Thinks: What if the pain lasts more than three days? Says: "Of course."

By this time, I am spitting, and the fact that the salesgirl at the counter is as pretty as Jane Fonda does not diminish my irritation. I am not irritated at her, nor would I be even if she was as ugly as Peter Mandelson. No, I am irritated at the nannies in authority who no longer trust us to do anything right - if they ever did. Any day now, I expect an edict from the Ministry of Dowhatnannysays with instructions on how to hold one's member during an act of micturition. In my day, the advice was simple "Shake it more than twice and you're playing with it."
Common sense, you say. Ah yes, there's the rub. We don't do "common sense" any more; we do regulatory overkill. If you don't believe me, look at the little leaflet that comes with your medication - it's so full of portents and warnings and exhortations and, indeed, THREATS, that you are almost persuaded it would be better to die than to take the stuff. The only consolation is that this rigmarole is printed in several languages, so you should avoid the English and read the version in, say, Latvian or Finnish, languages that were obviously made for spouting gobbledygook.
Makes a lot more sense.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Medical update

It's time to face facts, fellers. I saw my doctor this afternoon. Do you want the good news or the bad news? OK, the good news first: my doctor is in excellent health. Now for the other news. It's not just the knee, it's not even the knee, it's the whole fricking leg from hip joint via the groin down the shinbone to the ankle. My left leg is more fragmented than the Kingdom of Lothar.
At first, I fought back, telling the doctor about the unguents I was applying to my skin - Ibuprofen gel, Glucosamine gel, etc. His reaction: "They don't work, do they? You might as well rub salad cream into your legs." He did mention something about osteoarthritis and having to live with it, or go for a hip replacement, but I think he was only trying to console me, to make up for his cavalier salad-cream remark.
So that's it, it's all over. I am doomed.
Well, not quite, I am thinking of buying myself a tricorn hat, an eyepatch and a parrot and getting work in a Christmas pantomime. It would have to be Treasure Island, of course. Ah, Jim lad!

Mrs Trellis gets the point

Dear Ban Ki Moon, she writes, I had NO idea you were Jewish! For a start you don't look jewish, although with peyes and tefillin, you could pass for an oriental hebrew on a dark night
Thank you for the New Year greetings, I shall pass them on to my friend Gwenddydd Goldfarb, as she is part jewish, not sure which part, though. Possibly her bum.
By the way, do your lot sing "Oyld Lang Zeyn" like we do?

Yours kosherly
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd, Primitive Methodist.

שנה טובה

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Verhältnismäßig Nebelfrei

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that da de da de da

That's right, the bloody fogs are on us again. This morning I couldn't see beyond the bottom hedge, and even now, mid-morning, I can only just make out the horses' arses in the field below mine.
When I started teaching at the Bournemouth Eurocentre (significantly a Swiss organisation with a preponderance of Swiss students), I was disturbed to see the description of the lovely seaside town of Bournemouth included the phrase verhältnismäßig Nebelfrei. Talk about damning with faint praise! Mind you, I quite like it as a way of describing my brain - "relatively fog-free". Well, it WAS true once upon a time....

Bobby Mcferrin - Don't Worry, Be Happy

According to CS Lewis, Old Screwtape loves worriers, because worrying distracts from what we ought to be thinking about!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Well I never!

It's "well-I-never" time again, folks.

Complete the following sentence ad lib:
 I have never seen     so many/ so few __________________ !
A few suggestions for the gaps: butterflies, hedgehogs, wood mice, ladybirds, velociraptors

Answer the following question:
Where have all the ______________ gone?
A few suggestions for the gaps: greenfinches, moths, frogs, velociraptors.

What follows statements and questions like the above is a rash of amateur theorising. Probably explanations for abundance/scarcity include: too much wet/dry weather, global warming, viral infections, sunspots, meteor impacts, Stephen Spielberg.

The great thing about it is that the details vary from year to year, eg, next year it will be sparrows, wasps and iguanadons, but the game remains the same. I am, as you know, immune to this kind of flimflammery, but I must say that my pyrocantha has never had such an abundant crop of succulent fire-red berries. Wanna know why?  Wanna know what I think? It's because, erm, oh, sorry, gotta go, the kettle's boiling.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Trellis gets romantic

Dear Mrs Scrote, she writes, for once I am happy for you, I do hope you and Mr Norman can "get it up together", as the late Mr Trellis used to say (He was always careless with prepositions). There's nothing wrong with late-flowering lust, imho. Even I am not immune. I dreamt the other night that I was being groped in the ashram by Mohandas K Gandhi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was spoiled a bit by me laughing at his bandy gandhi legs, but you can't have everything, can you?
By the way, are you ever irritated by people who have two Christian names, eg Robert Norman, or people who have two surnames, eg Somerset Maugham? I think there ought to be a govt dept to re-assign them, eg, Norman Maugham and Robert Somerset. I appreciate this has got nothing to do with love.

Yours romantically
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd, open to offers.

Phatically speaking

Robert Norman has got a girl friend.
Consider the above statement. I can tell you that it is true, or at least I trust Audrey, the person who vouchsafed this piece of information to me at lunch the other day. She said it a propos of nothing, just one of those phatic "Plums are dear" kind of utterances, something said to fill a gap in the conversation.
Yes, it seems that Robert Norman has got a girl friend. I have the advantage over you in that I know who Robert Norman is. I suppose the noteworthy element of this piece of news is that Robert Norman is well into his eighties. But beyond that, I have no particular edge on anyone else hearing the statement.
The Turkish for elephant is FIL, the Russian for elephant is SLON.
I don't see why my friend Audrey should be the only one to come up with exciting conversation fillers.

"Knees up, Mother Brown!" If only I could..

I think my knees, especially the left one, are finally giving up on me. They hurt and the keep going snap, crackle and pop like some demented breakfast cereal. I am going to the doc next Wednesday, and will inform a waiting world of the outcome.
Note "especially the left one", and I think I know why it is so. Decades ago, I was in the Highlands with a colleague, who persuaded me to tackle a Munro. We finally got to the top, he with ease and I with a great deal of panting. I placed the obligatory rock on the obligatory cairn.
Then I asked my colleague what was the technique for going DOWN a mountain. He said "make like a goat" or words to the effect, ie, zoom down in a series of short, rapid jumps. So I did make like a goat, and for the next six months, my left knee was strapped up and I had to walk with a stick. And now, I suspect, my sins have come back to haunt me. If I ever meet that colleague again, I will make like a goat and butt him in the trossachs.

Monday, September 19, 2011


(This is scurrilous so those of a sensitive and retiring nature should defintely read on)

A GI is referred to the Army Psychiatrist. After some preliminary questions, the psychiatrist comes to the heart of the matter.
"Do you masturbate?"
"What's that, doc?"
"Do you ever use your hand to, erm, excite yourself?"
"Oh, pull my putz! Sure."
"How often?"
"Oh, I dunno, two-three times a week, I guess."
The psychiatrist makes a note and then continues.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Storks on migration

Many years ago, I was privileged to spend time on the Camlica Hills watching the autumn migration of raptors and other species of birds across the Bosporus. Storks are particularly spectacular, especially in numbers. Enjoy this clip of migrating storks over Israel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Falcon and the Hawk

If you are lucky enough to have access to BBC iPlayer, do listen to this 45-minute radio play. ** It is written by "pluvialis" of fretmarks, the wonderfully multi-talented woman who first inspired me to start this blog. She is an academic, a falconer and an all-round good egg. Her book "Falcon" has become a classic, and we are all waiting for her next opus "Goshawk". In the meantime, she has worked on JA Baker's classic, and somewhat erratic, book "The Peregrine" in order to produce this play for radio. Enjoy.

** Available until 22 September 2011

Trellis on gates

Mrs T, observant and trenchant as ever. She writes:
 Dear Angela, or may I call you Mrs Merkel?, reading about you and your gate, my mind went blank.
I mean, your lot were SO good at building walls to keep people out ( or was it "in"?), I am astoundished you couldn't cope with one measly little gate. To be charitable, I have to say it doesn't look too bad if you scraunch your eyes up. And at least it doesn't have an arch over the top with "Arbeit macht frei" written on it.
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd, still spitting

A sab and a rope

Quiz time, folks! What is the connection between a rare gull and a roped plum tree? I don't know why I bother. You already know, don't you? And wondering whether to read on....
[SIGH].I'll give you the answer anyway as I have nothing better to do.
Every time there's a tornado along the east coast of the United States, Britain gets really strong winds a week or so later. And these strong winds can blow interesting birds off-course. Typical is the Sabine's Gull currently causing some serious twitching around Grafham Water. I haven't been to see it, partly out of laziness, and partly because I can't take seriously any bird that doesn't come into my garden and feed on my peanuts. The really strong winds also caused a threat to my old plum tree, so I had to rope it for fear of losing a limb or two. That would be a real shame, because then I would have nowhere to hang my nuts and therefore no chance of getting a Sabine's Gull in the garden.
So there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


This is a photo of the Osborne Hotel in Oswestry. It was taken in the 60's and, as far as I know, the hotel no longer exists. I have never been there, but I have an interest in it. I have a bone-handled table knife inherited, if that is the word, from my mother. It has "Osborne Hotel, Oswestry" stamped on it. I had no idea why this knife had come into the possession of the Allsop family, but now I know. You will notice the sign "Wrekin Ales" at the left-hand end of the fascia board. My father worked for the maintenance department of the Wrekin Brewery, and a large part of his work involved the renovation or refurbishment of properties bought by the brewery over the years. No doubt he was involved in work on the Osborne Hotel and found the knife to be a useful trifle to add to the family goods and chattels.
It wasn't thieving, honest, it was just an early example of recycling, or maybe downsizing. Good old dad, you were a bit of a Jack-the-Lad sometimes. My mother told me the story of the neighbour who came into our house one day, saw the new wallpaper in the living room and commented: "It's much nicer than the wallpaper you buy." Just recycling, making the best use of the leftovers. Good old dad, definitely a bit of a Jack-the-Lad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guess whose day it is today!

For the spiritually-starved among you, here is a tasty saint of the day. St. John, named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence, came into the world of Christian parents, about the year 344, in the city of Antioch. His mother, at the age of 20, was a model of virtue. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, a pagan, the most famous orator of the age. In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.
The rest of his life is a bit sad, so I will stop here. By the way,I wish people would call me "Chrysostom" - sounds much better than "Scrote".

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gotta getta gate

One day when my ship comes in, I will have a fancy gate erected on the north side of the house. In the meantime, I decided to make do with the old one: replace the rotted posts and rehang the existing gate. My good mate David H came round and wielded the sledge hammer to drive the metal post wedges in. Bless him, he went home exhausted and dissatisfied that the wedges were not completely upright.
I decided to use them anyway, and, as you can see, the result is not very pretty, but serviceable for a while. No, let's be honest, it's bloody ugly. Anyone seen a ship coming in?

A new organ for the old scrote

When I was fifteen I told my mother that I wanted to learn to play the piano. Bless her, she bought me a second-hand upright and taught me to play. Well, she got me started, but I was soon improvising rather than sticking to the dots. When I was in my twenties, I worked with a man called Roy K, who was an enthusiastic player of jazz. He was a good teacher. Thanks to him, I developed my knowledge and my digital dexterity. When I moved to my present home, some twenty-five years ago, I bought a Roland electronic keyboard. It and I over the years have slowly worn out together. In fact, because of arthritic-type stiffening of my fingers, I stopped playing about two years ago.
But, you know me, a typical case of optimism-over-experience, I have bought a new keyboard, a Yamaha. Talk about bells and whistles, it does everything except make coffee! It even has a 5/4 time signature, so I can once again mangle Dave Brubeck's Take Five and that catchy tune from Jesus Christ Superstar that I can't remember the name of.
You also know about me that I am a considerate man. I love my neighbours, so I am getting the house soundproofed right away.

Monday, September 05, 2011


Nothing unusual about this dog, you might think. But a few days ago, it was found in a very poor condition, with its back legs tied together and the rope round its neck. God bless my friend, S, who took it into care; It is the third such dog that she has rescued. And may God judge the people who tied the animal so cruelly and left it to its fate.
The dog now has a name as cute as its face: "Çekirdek", Turkish for "pip". Let's wish Pip a long and happy life.