Monday, December 31, 2012

Per fregir el Xanguet

I felt bad telling about the xanguetes without giving you further details. Here's a Catalan recipe for those of you who haven't had enough of Yuletide gorging. Before you try cooking this dish, study the photograph carefully, and if that doesn't put you off, you are seriously in need of help.
Per fregir el Xanguet
paella o fregidora
farina blanca bona
col-lador o sedas

Agafar uns quants banquets i posar-hi sal , posar-ho amb molta farina , i després amb un colador o sedas treure tota la farina i ja veureu que os quedaran un a un.
Tenir preparat el oli ven calent i ja es pot fregir al gust de cada un.
i també podeu fer una truita:
Agafeu el xanguet i el poseu a fregir amb una mica d'oli i sal , quan estigui una mica fet , ja si poden posar els ous que calguin , depèn del peix que feu servir .Això va amb el gust de cada un.

Aquí .. a Catalunya tenim la Llengueta ..és molt assemblat al xanguet , però més pla .
També és transparent..

Origin of scrotes

I continue to be haunted by memories of my boyhood. Images come unbidden, as they say, and I don't know why. Hadley was an ordinary village, not much happened there, and I can't remember feeling sorry when I eventually left it to go up to university at the age of eighteen. Not just images of place - the High Street, the lane past Benbow's Farm, the wilderness of the old pit workings - but people too. Mr Potter, the butcher, fat and redfaced, like a character from Happy Families: Mrs Beecham, who was best known for the smell of the suppurating ulcers on her legs; Mrs Quinn, whose haberdashery was definitely out of bounds to a scruffy street urchin like me; Rowley. pronounced "roll-ee" and if he had another name I never heard it, whose sole occupation seemed to be loitering in the village newsagent's pining over the girl who served in there, a little ferret of a girl with shiny black eyes and tiny tomato breasts. Still, it was love as far as Rowley was concerned, even if he was three times her age.
Now I admit I am not painting the sort of travelogue picture that will cause you to jump into your car and go roaring off to Shropshire, but that was not my intention. Actually, if you do decide to roar, go visit Shrewsbury or the Severn Gorge at Ironbridge or the Long Mynd, but give Hadley a miss. Most of it has gone anyway, destroyed to make way for a bypass to get you quicker from the great wen of Birmingham to the soulless carbuncle of Telford. I'd like to say in its defence that Hadley formed my character, but then I don't want to blame an obscure little Shropshire village for the villainy that was my childhood. And adolescence. And a good chunk of my adult life, now I come to think of it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Menidia shmenidia, you eat them!

Wind back to the mid-80s. It is a lovely September evening in Barcelona, and I am peckish. Not hungry, just peckish, for I have had several days of gourmet living. So I pop into a Catalan restaurant called Can Chicoa and scan the menu for something simple. "Truita" sounds about right - it means omelette in Catalan. I go down the list, understanding most things till I get to "Truita amb xanguetes". No idea what xanguetes are, so I order it adventurously.
When I open it up, a sight meets my eyes that can still haunt me in the wee cow'ring hours. Xanguete is a tiny tiny fish, so tiny that the omelette was packed tight with them. Scores of them. When cooked, they become translucent and this serves to accentuate their little jet-black eyes. Imagine: dozens of pairs of pretty black eyes looking up at you pleadingly from the plate. The omelette was okay, but I hadn't the heart - or the stomach - to eat the poor wee cow'ring timourous beasties.
I believe xanguetes are, or are related to, a fish called "silverside", Menidia menidia. Long may they thrive, bless them, but not on my plate.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas spirit a la Trellis

Mrs Trellis, as ever, shoots from the hip.
Dear Emily, she writes, I am sorry I didn't send you a Christmas card this year, but you didn't send me one last year, so I thought, what's goose for the sauce - or whatever the expression is. Mind you, you're not the only one: the people who haven't sent me a card, you wouldn't believe! Still, it's the season of goodwill, etc, so I won't go on about it. Bastards.

It's all in the mind

Thinks: "I wonder what she'd look like on a tractor....."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Go for it, girl!

A 98 year old woman wrote this to her bank.


Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three 'nanoseconds' must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for ONLY eight years.You are to be commended for seizing that brief  window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to re-think my errant financial  ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.  My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete.  I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.  I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1: To make an appointment to see me.

2: To query a missing payment.

3: To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

4: To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

5: To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

6: To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

7: To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required.  A password will be  communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)

8: To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 8

9: To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


At the end of November,we went to the Natural History Museum in London at the invitation of my old mucker Roger Booth. Roger is resident coleopterist, and a world authority on beetles. Nature is wonderful, Nature is amazing, Nature is breathtaking, etc, but nothing prepared me for the stunning variety of beetles we saw in the museum collection. Every shape size and colour you can imagine, and then some. And, according to Roger, it is estimated that there are still zillions of species waiting to be discovered. 

Particularly fascinating for me was his work on identifying and cataloguing the myriad insects in old collections that are only now being sifted through. In order to do this work, he has to consult really ancient books and documents, you know, the kind with blotting-paper pages and where the s's look like f's. On top of that, most of the descriptions are in Latin. Furthermore, the old entomologists delighted in naming species after characters from Greek mythology, so Dr Booth also keeps a copy of Lempriere's Classical Dictionary by his side.
Great stuff!

Friday, December 07, 2012



What follows is true, and in no way exaggerated. 
Ikey Lee, the ancient village roadsweeper, touched me up when I was about eight years old. When I was about twelve, a married woman at the local shop where I helped out at weekends talked dirty to me and even rubbed herself against my genitals, causing a sensation that surprised me. When I was about thirteen, the projectionist in our local picture house showed me his erect penis. When I was at summer camp, again aged about thirteen, an older boy, "Flog" Ferrington, invited me to masturbate him, which I did with great interest. When I was fifteen I worked the summer at a bottling plant, where some of the women - the married ones - liked to make coarse suggestions and grab at my genitals as I passed. All of the children I grew up with will remember Uncle Albert, who seemed to get a kick out of leaving the door of the outside privy open when he was at his business. And I have already told you about wheelchair-bound Jack Lockley, who used to play absentmindedly with his penis, until his sister would come out and tell him to put it away.
I am not innocent either. When I was about fifteen, I made a grab for Cynthia Brown's breasts, a brief encounter that I deemed worth the pain of the punch she gave me in response. I remember, in the same era, helping Melva Davies, who was about ten, to climb down from a wall, and got a stiffy from the pressure of her bottom against my bundle as she slid down. On another occasion, I persuaded Melva to show me hers if I showed her mine.
That is the sum total of what I can remember about childhood sexual abuse, received or dished out. In case the grundies of Scotland Yard are reading this, I wish to make it clear that I do not intend to make any accusations or bring charges against any of the above "child abusers", living or dead, and I am pretty sure that Cynthia B and Melva D bear no malice for the incidents when I was naughty, if indeed they can even remember them. My guess is that ALL of you reading this have similar stories to tell. My guess, too, is you were not scarred for life by such incidents; they were just part of growing up.
Envoi: Will the coppers PLEASE stop going for the easy targets, and start going after the seriously evil bastards who really did sexually abuse young children, above all, those who exploited their positions of authority and trust in order to satisfy their lusts. And leave the other ninety-something percent of us alone?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

I promise, moreorless

The Scout Promise reads: "On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law." There are variants to accommodate other faiths, so, for instance, Muslims say "Allah" for "God". In countries where the Queen is not head of state, the oath is changed to "...and to the country in which I am living".
Now, according to Sky News, there is a move afoot to accommodate atheists. In a spirit of helpfulness, I propose the Scout Promise be simplified so that it fits our modern age more exactly:
"On my honour, whatever that is, I promise, if it's not inconvenient, to do my best to do my duty, whatever that is, to nobody in particular and to keep the Scout Law as long as it doesn't interfere with my personal life. And if you give me grief, I'll say you touched me bum and then you'll be for it."

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Beating the system

A farmer, who had been refused planning permission to build a shelter for his horses, got round the prohibition by erecting this table-and-chairs set, which didn't need planning permission. You gotta love it. My thanks to Claudia G for this.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The unspeakable Ms Thacker

News report:
A council is investigating a decision to remove three children from the care of foster parents because they are members of the UK Independence Party.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council sparked outrage when it removed the children because the couple's political affiliation was seen as being at odds with the youngsters' European backgrounds. By the council's own admission the youngsters were happy and there was no question mark over the foster parents' provision of care.
Joyce Thacker, the council's strategic director of children and young people's services, said the decision to remove the children was taken after consultation with lawyers. Asked what the specific problem was with the couple being Ukip members, Mrs Thacker told BBC Breakfast: "These children are from EU migrant backgrounds and Ukip has very clear statements on ending multiculturalism, not having that going forward, and I have to think about how sensitive I am being to those children."

I am so outraged by Thackerism that for once I am at a loss for words.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


There's a moral here somewhere....

A sad September story

One morning, during my Aegean sojourn, neighbours turned up with a cardboard box and a story. They had come across a large bird being bullied by some crows. The bird couldn't fly, so it was trying to hide itself in a crevice in some rocks. Imagine my surprise when I lifted the bird out of the box and saw the bird above.
What a magnificent specimen, made more striking because of the extensive apricot coloration and the spotting on its front. A closer examination revealed that it was extemely thin, clearly hadn't eaten for several days, and that it had a badly injured "hip" rendering it incapable of lift-off or flight. Sadly, there being no veterinary service locally capable of dealing with birds, I had no choice in the end but to put it out of its misery, a melancholy task that I would not wish on anyone.
So, what kind of a Barn Owl was it? Seeing all that colour and spotting, I thought at first that it might be of the race guttata, but subsequent investigation of the literature - and a chat with my guru Barn Owl colleague P - confirmed that it was not dark enough, and in any case, the guttata range does not include that part of Europe. So, it was a variant of the nominate race alba ("our" Barn Owl). The lack of pectination on the third toe and the lack of moult suggested it was a young bird, and the extensive spotting on the underwing coverts (and perhaps the very dark facial "ruff") suggested that it was female. As to how it got its injuries, I can only guess. Unfortunately, this part of the Aegean has a shooting culture: anything that moves is game for the guns.
One good thing that comes out of all this is the fact that the neighbours who brought the bird to me cared enough to do so, and were as sad as I was when they finally heard that the bird had "not survived".

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Defined as "brazen effrontery". My favourite example concerns a young actor in Hollywood, who was having dinner with friends when he noticed the legendary producer, Sam Goldwyn, sitting at a table on the other side of the restaurant.
The young actor discreetly went across to the great man and said:" I know this is outrageous, sir, but I wonder if you could acknowledge me when you pass my table as you leave. It would so impress the people I am with."
Sam Goldwyn said "I admire your chutzpah, kid. Sure I'll do that for you. What's your name?"
And sure enough, as the producer passed the young actor's table, he slapped him on the back and said: "Oh hi, Charlie, good to see you again How're you doing?"
Charlie looked up and replied curtly: . "Piss off, Sam, can't you see I'm busy?"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Percy Morgan

I can't believe I haven't told you about Percy Morgan. A pillar of the community where I grew up, a pillar partly because he had a good suit and a motor car, but mostly because he was the choirmaster at the Methodist Chapel in Hadley High Street.
A remote figure for me, Percy Morgan was celebrated in our family because, after the service on a Sunday evening, he could be seen slipping into the Green Dragon by the back entrance, and the back entrance was visible to us from our front room window. No reason, of course, why he shouldn't wet his whistle after a vigorous bout of singing, except, again of course, because as a Methodist he had taken the pledge, ie, sworn off the demon drink.
This apparent hypocrisy delighted my atheist father, but it didn't mean a lot to me. In fact the limit of my interest in Percy Morgan were his two daughters, smashers both of them, but way above my station, they having a dad with a good suit and a motor car.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gangnam workout

I still haven't started my Phoenix Exercise Programme (lack of time? no, lack of enthusiasm), but I am now considering taking up Gangnam-style dancing. It could be the making of me. Either that or I will dislocate every joint in my body in the first ten seconds.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Watch out, they're everywhere!

I am deeply worried about the state of the nation. I have seen a certain famous personality on TV a number of times. I cannot name her, of course, but I will call her Jean Road-Carrier. From her physical appearance, her outlandish way of dressing and her vitriolic language, it is clear to me that Jean R-C is a witch. Appearances with other females on such dangerous programmes as Loose Women (the title itself is a giveaway!) lead me to the inevitable conclusion that the nation is at peril from a resurgence of witchcraft.
 Investigations into this evil phenomenon - and there have been precious few - are either ignored or suppressed by the powers-that-be, though whether through fear or collusion, I cannot say.
It is time to set up a special court to deal with these evil females, to bring them to justice and so protect the good citizens of this realm from the Powers of Darkness.
After all, it's a shame to have only one Bonfire Night a year......

Monday, November 05, 2012

Bird table, Florida style

After England's wettest summer in a hundred years, and with my fenland garden devoid of birds at the moment (not sure why), it was poignant to receive the above photograph from my Floridan grandson, Deniz. He and his father knocked the birdtable up from scrap wood, and in less than the time it takes to say "Cyanocitta cristata" - or "Cardinalis cardinalis" for that matter - they had birds feeding on it.
I say "poignant", but there are more brutal adjectives I could use....

Monday, October 29, 2012

It gets scarier

The furore surrounding the Savile affair shows no signs of abating. According to the media, some "showbiz" people, contemporaries of Savile, are now running scared that they will be dragged into the mire because of their sexual encounters with, let us call them their fans, which in the case of pop music, probably means adolescent girls, age indeterminate. We are talking about the "Swinging Sixties", the decade when sex suddenly became easy and available, the era of the Pill, no inhibitions, no risk of getting pregnant, no AIDS, just mini skirts and fun and hanging loose. I got married, started a family and was building my career in that decade so I was just an observer, though my eyes regularly popped at the sight of a pelmet miniskirt (up to C level as someone called it). TV pop progammes showed screaming teenagers, mostly but not exclusively girls, going wild for their favourite pop idols. It was not uncommon for discarded panties to be thrown on the stage. I suppose this sort of harmless hysteria reached its apogee in Beatlemania. Now, I would be very surprised if no member of a pop group EVER took advantage of the situation - all that pulchritude, all that adulation, all that easily available sex.
Now, before you get out the tar and feathers or start pushing dog turds through my letterbox, let me say I am not condoning or approving this behaviour, but I am at least trying to understand the fears of those old showbiz guys who are now expecting the copper's knock on their front door any minute. And also, before you get out the tar etc etc, I am not ignoring the genuine victims of genuine sexual abuse. Vulnerable people betrayed by others put in a position of trust over them deserve our total protection, and the law should be brought to bear on those betraying that trust. At the moment, I am just trying to put some perspective into the situation that obtained in the sixties. From a legalistic point of view, it might be helpful to define a "child".

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nasser speech, 1953

Nasser is reporting on a meeting he had with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, who wanted him to make the wearing of the veil compulsory. This was in 1953. Scary to think how different the situation is in Egypt today.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The egoistical pillock: envoi

The evidence is piling up that Jimmy Saville was a dirty old man, and that those employing him turned a blind eye to his groping activities. And now, apart from the enquiries and threats of prosecution, the politicians are muttering about taking away his knighthood. He was Sir Jimmy Saville, in recognition of his services to showbiz, charity work, etc. It seems, then, that he did "abuse minors" (not sure what the words "abuse" and "minors" mean in his case). But I am still distressed at the way everyone from the Prime Minister down is eagerly giving the man a kicking when he's on the canvas. Well, he's more than down: he's dead. Why not go the whole hog and have a mass pissing on his grave? That would surely make the world a better place....

Wisdom for free

That's me, folks!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Silent Autumn

Every day I read on the Cambirds yahoo group about gardens heaving with birdlife. Tits and finches and thrushes everywhere chomping at the feeders and splashing in the baths. And overhead, squadrons of tasties like Siskin and Redpoll and Brambling on their way to somewhere or other.
But the somewhere or other they are on their way to is definitely not my garden. This morning - and this morning is typical - I had one myxied rabbit, one Starling with a funny leg and an ugly cat with attitude.
Birds are not eating me out of house and home, birds are not costing me a fortune. In fact I can't remember an October when my bank balance was so healthy.
I am at my wits' end. Should I keep staring at an empty garden through my binoculars? Or should I just spend my days looking at my unspent money through a loupe?
It will make no difference, I know, but I think I'll go outside and throw something at that bloody cat.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't do that!

If you are thinking of going to Kowloon, you should be aware that the only thing you can do in the Park there is to throw things into a litter bin (Sign 11). If you are interpreting the various signs, can you let me know what you find?
My take is  that you are not allowed to
1 take into or use nuclear submarines in the park
2 dispense justice impartially
3 use deodorants on mats or carpets
4 put a collar on your dog
5 release injured birds
6 put out your cigarette by urinating on it
7 leave your wife naked on a bench
8 get pregnant
9 ride a bike without a saddle
10 administer corporal punishment
12 throw luggage at passing cars

Of course I could be wrong: they're an inscrutable lot, the Kowloonigans.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Baying for blood

A dead Disk Jockey, who for decades was very popular and who was renowned for his charitable activities, is now under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of minors, some sixty victims according to latest police information.  I always thought he was an egoistical pillock, and it seems very likely that he would be tempted to take advantage of the adoring teenage girls flocking round him, though whether "sexual abuse" covers everything from a pat on the bottom to a full-blown night of flagrante, I don't know.
What I do know, and find very distasteful, is the sight of the great British public, encouraged by our salacious media,.baying for blood and waiting eagerly for all the prurient details to be published. And of course there is an exhibition of that distasteful trait whereby we take pleasure when the mighty fall, when our idols prove to have feet of clay, when, in other words, they are just like the rest of us.
As to the politicians trying to make capital for themselves by braying moral indignation at every opportunity, they are lucky that they are already so far beneath my contempt that I have no venom left to spit at them.
I am also very uneasy that the DJ, being dead, has no chance to defend himself. One consequence of this is that the media are already treating him as guilty before any evidence has been produced. It really is sickening, and the fact that he was an egoistical pillock should not prevent him from being treated with proper respect and due process of law.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


There's nothing more tedious than grandparents singing the praises of their grandchildren, is there? So anyway:
According to my son, his youngest boy, Alfie, who is four or five (I ought to know but I don't) came into the kitchen the other morning with his little suitcase all packed and announced to the family: "I want to go to see Big Grandad." Dad replied "That could be difficult. We are in New Zealand and Big Grandad is in England."  Alfie stood his ground and repeated his request. A lad who knows what he wants, obviously.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The eye of the beholder

The photo shows Arı the Bee-eater being fed shortly before it was released. The ingenious feeding device is a cut-off toothpaste tube and a plastic nozzle.
The room you see in the photo was dedicated to the bird once it was well enough to be taken out of its original home in a box. The room was in a house that was otherwise unoccupied. After the bird was released, the lovely Kurdish woman, Ferah, who looks after various houses in the vicinity cleaned up the room. When I arrived, a couple of weeks after all these events, I asked Ferah if she had seen the Bee-eater when it was in captivity. She replied with an obvious lack of enthusiasm:  'I saw its shit.'

Trellis talks medical

Dear Mrs Scrote, she writes, I understand you have gone foreign again, Do be careful, dear, it's like being in England only smellier and the men pinch your bum. Did I hear that you went to a doctor and he told you you have a low hemagoblin count? I hope you get a high one back soon.
My jee pee - a lovely man with soft hands and a prickly beard - told me I had a cute angina, but at my age a bit of flattery is welcome. Not sure how he knows, though, because I am always careful how I dress.
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happiness is tulip-shaped

The Old Scrote sippıng tea from a tulip glass, Mount Ida ın the background (moreorless). Mount Ida ıs the spot from where Zeus and the other gods watched the Trojan Wars. That was in the days before television.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Bugger buntings

This species would be a good one to see (a Cinereous Bunting, photo courtesy of Mark Jobling), but it's rare and local in these parts. Still it might be worth a climb up Mount Ida on the off chance. The trouble with even the common buntings is that once they are out of their breeding plumage and all muxed ip wıth females and juveniles they all turn into plump little brown jobs. The Cinereous Bunting in breeding plumage is described as dull or undistinguished, so goodness knows what it is like at this time of year.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Raptorous moment

Another visit to the farmer's land this morning and this was the reward. The only raptor seen hitherto has been Common Buzzard so to see an eagle soarıng overhead was a real thrill. The Turkish name, YILAN KARTALI, like the German Schlangenadler, translates as 'Snake Eagle', which seems to me much better than the daft English name 'short-toed eagle'. Hands up all those who have seen the short toe.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Birds can be confusing

Once again I am paddling in the Aegean. September is the time for adult male birds out of their breeding plumage, and lots of confusing juveniles about. Females confuse me too but I am too much of a gentleman to say so. Anyway, I saw this little beauty yesterday - a juvenile - and invite you to ponder it. I saw the adult male version ın May and it looked completely different. PS This is not my photo, so I apologise to and thank the owner of it. I think it was taken when this bird wandered to England by mistake.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mystery object

A lady friend of mine worked for a Cambridge company that specialised in the design and manufacture of bespoke artefacts. One day she brought a prototype, the one you see in the picture, for my enlightenment, or rather puzzlement. I finally blundered my way to a partially-correct identification of its nature, but its exact purpose escaped me. I will give you one clue (the one she gave me): it has a connection with the Antarctic.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birds of Conservation Concern, and I've got two of them!

The most serious category is the Red List, for which the criteria are one or more of the following:
  • Globally threatened
  • Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995
  • Severe (at least 50%) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years, or longer-term period (the entire period used for assessments since the first BoCC review, starting in 1969).
It is with great pride, therefore, that I can announce that two Red List species are currently making great use of the food and water that I put out for birds in my garden.
My pride is somewhat tempered by the fact that the two species in question are House Sparrow and Starling. I would have preferred, say, Spotted Flycatcher or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, two species that have in their time visited my garden and, let's face it, are a lot prettier.

What a liberty!

I went to see my rehabber friend, Deborah, yesterday, lured by the prospect of seeing a brood of three Corn Bunting nestlings that had been rescued from the plough. 

No sooner had I sat down than this cheeky fellow came and perched on my head. He's in fine condition and should be ready for release very soon.

But before I left, I decided to give him a good talking-to: landing on an old scrote's head causes a serious loss of dignity. I don't think he was really listening, or, if he was, he showed no sign of giving a damn::

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fancy a nibble?

My young farmer friend, David H, asked me if I would like some mushrooms. Apparently they have a couple of grass fields on the farm that have yielded a bumper crop this year. He gave me a bagful. The photo shows just some of the mushrooms I managed to squeeze into the top of the refrigerator. I have already eaten several, and given four big ones to the family next door, so you will agree that this is one serious shitload of mushrooms. They are delicious, quite unlke the anaemic cellophane-wrapped apologies you buy in the supermarket. I would appreciate it very much if you would turn green with envy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A dog's dinner it is, then

There are many odd expressions in English that we use unthinkingly, and if you have a mind like mine, you are constantly fretting about their origin. "He's a dab hand at....", for instance. Why "dab"?  I don't know. "Not by a long chalk" - what's chalk got to do with it? And so on.
Some explanations of origins are too bizarre for words. A well-known English expression arose, they say, when Napoleon was at Calais waiting for the weather to improve in readiness for the invasion of England. When the wind dropped and the sea became calm, he turned to his admiral and said "A l'eau, c'est l'heure!"  No way.
But I am taken with the explanation of the origin of one phrase which arose when an orthopaedic surgeon found himself in Soho with a thirst. He went into the nearest tavern, which turned out to be very seedy indeed. As he supped his beer, a painted lady came up and started to proposition him. He ignored her at first, then suddenly took her arm, examined her elbow carefully and said: "What's a nice joint like you doing in a girl like this?"
Take a deep breath, mes potes, I haven't finished yet - not by a long chalk.

Look at what I didn't just see!

My list of birds that I almost saw but didn't is growing nicely.
It's a most impressive list, one a chap can be proud of. There are some cracking birds on my not-yet-seen list, and here is one of them. It's a bird that everyone and his Auntie Mary has seen at some time, but not I, not yet.
Baird's Sandpiper is another; I can't wait not to see one of those too!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Watch out, mozzie!

Once you admit to yourself that you are a "heavy drinker", it's time to review your relationship with alcohol, and in particular, to ask who's really wearing the pants. For this and a couple of other reasons, I gave up the booze totally three years ago. Apart from a sip of champagne at my friend's seventieth birthday party last Saturday, I haven't had a drop since. Nor have I had any craving for alcohol.
So what I would like to know  is why this evening I wish I was drunk. I had a good day today, I had the company of a good friend for a couple of hours, I had a nice cuppa tea and a long sit down in the garden on this balmy Friday evening, and I have the prospect of seeing more good friends tomorrow. Something is missing, but I don't know what it is. Unfortunately I ate my last bar of chocolate last night, so not sure what to do now to comfort myself.
Maybe I should get the can of Raid and go round the house killing mosquitoes.
That's it, that'll cheer me up!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


The book of which this is a sample page is known as Voynich-6 after the man who last owned it. It's hundreds of years old, authentic, and nobody has yet been able to read it. The book is full of illustrations of flowers and other plants and of astronomical data, none of which relates to anything known to our science. I just thought you ought to know.

Monday, August 13, 2012

You did good, Harry!

Events like the Olympic Games are not to my taste. It's not the events themselves, it's the hullaballoo - all the commentaries, interviews, predictions, postmortems, statistical comparisons, ageing pop stars, etc - that give me the Friday grump. By the way, I am not sure about that word "hullaballoo". According to Graham Garden, it means "how to greet a bear".
Anyway, I just checked to see how GB got on and we seem to have done very well indeed. See here
I missed most of the opening ceremony, and all of the closing ceremony, but I understand that both were well received by most people and most critics. Oh, ok then, I promise to be more participative in 2016 for the Rio Olympics. Judging by the way they do Carnival, it should be a really erotic affair. Sorry, exotic affair. Oh, I don't know, though, maybe I was right first time.


On Saturday afternoon, Angit and friends took the Bee-eater to a suitable spot with scattered trees and a nearby olive-grove. Angit put the bird on a branch. It shook its feathers, looked around and then flew a short distance to a higher branch. It then, did some more feather-shaking, cleaned its beak on the branch, and then, according to Angit (why should I doubt the word of such a dedicated rehabber?!), looked back at her before taking off again. It flew strongly in the direction of the olive-grove. It landed again, but this time out of sight.
Anyone who has nursed a bird back to health and then seen it successfully released knows the emotion it causes. As Chief Dan George said in Little Big Man "My heart soars like a hawk!". We hope, of course, that there are no hawks in the vicinity where Ari was released.
Well done, Angit, you are a star!

Thursday, August 09, 2012


Sevin, a Turkish friend of mine, had a real scare the other day, when a bomb went off no more than 100m from where she lives.
It reminded me of the only time in my life when I was close to a bomb explosion. I was on an assignment in Angola and had returned to the capital, Luanda. Walking along the Avenue Lenin, I passed the TAP (Portuguese Airlines) shop - closed, of course, like all the other shops in the city at that time.
I then crossed the road to the hotel where I was staying, moreorless opposite the TAP offices. I was in the foyer when there was an explosion outside. I had heard a bomb explosion before, so immediately ran to the back of the foyer, ie, away from the source of the blast, and took refuge behind a large marble pillar against the possibility of further explosions.
To my amazement, almost everyone else in the hotel foyer ran outside TOWARDS the blast, either out of curiosity, or because they didn't realise it was a bomb going off. It turned out that the bomb had been planted in the doorway of the TAP offices.
But for a few lucky minutes, I could have been passing at the exact moment of the explosion, in which case I wouldn't be here now to write this.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Lost and found - a reply

A short but useful note from Mrs Trellis.
Dear Mrs Scrote, she writes, I mentioned the boson thing to my neighbour, Pegi Prytherch, and she seemed to know all about it. She says they found it in a Large Hardon Collider. Not something of which I ever had much experience to be honest.
Hope this helps.
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

We're just wild about Ari...

Ari, the rescued Bee-eater, is doing well. hamd olsun. He has been moved to more spacious accommodation, and is adjusting to a more varied diet (Apparently, his dedicated rehabber, Angit, catches bees by hitting them with a shovel, thus stunning but not killing them). She took Ari to the local grocer's shop to get him weighed. He is at 48gm, which is minimum weight for a Bee-eater, so he has a way to go yet.
The best news, though, is that he has started to take short flights, horizontal or even with slight lift. As to what's wrong with him, the consensus is that he has a punctured air sac, which should repair itself in due course.
So, all in all, it's good news about Ari. I have heard nothing further about the opera singer, but it looks as though we won't be needing an Ari aria now anyway. Inshallah.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Lost and found

I quote The Economist, July 7ty 2012, page 14:"On July 4th, physicists working in Geneva at CERN....announced that they had found the Higgs Boson." At school, I was no more than average at Physics. I think I understood refraction, the moment of a couple, the effect of a magnet on iron filings and a few other things, and I can remember being thrilled to realise that, because light travels faster than sound, it was possible to work out how far away a thunderstorm was by counting the gap between the lightning flash and the clap of thunder. After that, it all got rather hazy. A lot has happened since then. In physics, I mean. So, when I read that they'd found the Higgs Boson, a number of questions formed in my mind. If any of you have the answers, please write them down on a piece of paper before you forget them, or lose interest, whichever is sooner.
1 Who lost the Higgs Boson in the first place?
2 Did YOU know it was missing?
3 Who is/was Higgs?
4 What's his first name? (this question is optional, but credit will be given for a plausible answer).
5 Does anyone else have a Boson, or is it only Higgs who has/had one?
And the clincher for first prize:
6 What is it?

It is said that in the first post-war Parliament, among the many new MPs making their maiden speech was a young Labour MP called "Bossom". Churchill is reported to have muttered: "Bossom? Funny name: neither one thing nor the other." That's a little bit how I feel about old Higgsy's "boson".

Admin Notice

Comments to this blog are moderated to avoid spam, of which there is a disturbing amount, most of it gobbledygook. Until now, I have been more tolerant of anonymous comments, ie, taking the time to read them and deciding whether to publish them. But most of those are gibberish too, so I hereby give notice that in future all anon comments will automatically be sent to the spam bin for deletion without being read.
Anyone feeling aggrieved should start his/her own blog, but please don't tell me about it.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Goldie Sayers

As you know, I am as interested in the Olympics as much as I am interested in the Eurovision Song Contest, East Enders and the sex life of brussel sprouts. But I would like to make an exception and ask your prayers for Goldie Sayers, the daughter of a friend of mine. Goldie has torn a ligament in her elbow, but intends to compete in the javelin anyway, fighting her way, so to speak, through the pain. That takes guts, but she's a gutsy lady, so let's wish her well.

Mrs T is concerned

Ever tender-hearted , my North Wales correspondent offers her sage advice.

Dear Mrs Scrote, she writes, you DO seem to get involuted with a lot of different aminals and no mistake! I know they are God's creatures and all, but I have kept clear of beasts ever since my husband, the late Mr Trellis, was dramatised by a jerbil - it almost took his ear off.
If I were you, I'd take up a different hobby before you get ravished too.
Yours etc
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd

Thursday, August 02, 2012

And on the same day.....

....that the Bee-eater was picked up, a neighbour found this little fellow abandoned. Much easier to rehab, eating voraciously, and should be releasable any day now. At least you don't have to launch it into the air, just point it at the shrubbery.

And you thought Swifts were difficult

My dearest Angit finds herself trying to nurse a bee-eater back to health. We're not sure what's wrong with it, except that it was underweight when it was picked up by a passing opera singer. Based on meagre advice (who knows what to give a hungry bee-eater, and please don't say bees?), Angit is getting food into it, though it isn't easy to get past that loooong beak. The bird is becoming more active now and maybe, just maybe, it will eventually be strong enough to fly.
By the way, the fact that the finder was an opera singer is irrelevant, but you know what they say "It isn't over till the fat lady sings". If dogfood and scrambled egg and ants don't do the trick, maybe a quick burst of La Donna e Mobile might get the bird back into the air.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What the fork?!!

I would like to welcome overseas visitors who are in Britain for the Olympics, or who are following the games on TV. I would also like to dissociate myself completely from the image of Britain projected by the opening ceremony. Despite appearances, our Head of State does not leap out of helicopters, cockneys, whether lovable or not, do not all wear suits covered with pearl buttons, we have many other singers than just one geriatric beatle, and, not least, the typical Englishman is not at all like Mr Bloody Bean.
What really pisses me off, though, is that the proposal to build a Swift Tower (they got as far as a shortlist of five submitted designs, and beautiful they were too) was axed on grounds of cost. Kenneth Branagh's fee alone would have paid for it. Grrrrr.
Have a nice day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Radish and diesel flavour, sir?

It can't wait till Friday, I need to get a grump off my chest right now. I like an occasional packet of crisps. The shelves are filled with crisps of all flavours, rat and smegma, spit and polish, radish and diesel, but it's almost impossible to find crisps which are potato-flavoured. I like an occasional croissant with my coffee. The shelves have chocolate croissants, almond croissants and for all I know rat and smegma flavoured croisssants, but it's very hard to find a plain honest straightforward croissant which is croissant-flavoured. I am sure you can multiply the examples of simple products that are flavoured to taste of something other than what they are made of. Why? What's the point or purpose? If I want cheese and onion flavour, I will eat a slice of cheese and an onion. The moment when I had to restrain myself from burning the shop to the ground was when I looked for coffee, and found that I could have vanilla-flavoured and another three thousand variety of flavoured coffee. Doesn't anyone drink coffee any more that has the taste of coffee? To avoid my arson urge, I left the shop, making sure I didn't look at the tea section on the way out.... I knew only too well what I would find there.