- It takes two ticks from the grand A6 or whichever one suits you; the A53 or the A54 or the A5002.
- Second-rate Les in his Burberry fez
Monday, December 31, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
One of the natural advantages of being English is our reputation for dissimulation and hypocrisy, which means that most anything we say may have whichever interpretation we choose at any given moment. This in turn means that the merest thing can be turned into the most outrageous innuendo with barely an ounce of effort.
A demonstration: see what happens when you add the coda "that is not an innuendo" to any phrase. Such as...
"I've just put a load of washing in the tumble drier. That is not an innuendo."No wonder the well-oiled grannies of the shires are banging away on the cottage upright in celebration of the wonderful tongue of old England.
"Downloads of The Bottom Line are available on-line. That is not an innuendo."
"There'll be a substantial bit of spotted dick in it for you. That is not an innuendo."
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Place-Names of China
Written by Alan Bennett
Bolding Vedas! Shanks New Nisa!
Trusty Lichfield swirls it down
To filter beds on Ruislip Marshes
From my lav in Kentish Town
The Burlington! The Rocheter!
Oh those names of childhood loos -
Nursie rattling at the door knob:
'Have you done your Number Twos?'
Lady typist - office party -
Golly! All that gassy beer!
Tripping home down Hendon Parkway
To her improved Windemere.
Here I sit, alone at sixty,
Bald and fat and full of sin,
Cold the seat and loud the cistern
As I read the Harpic tin.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Concerning the vision of loveliness that walked through the door, the charitable observer could only think she had a kind heart. Many are the words defined as beyond the pale in civilised society; a good number of these could be traced in her varicose veins. Time had passed by the stains on her T-shirt and so, I think, should we.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Bud McNasty walked through the door. His name isn't really Bud McNasty but we'd been calling him that since he was five years old and we weren't stopping any time soon. Bud McNasty walked through the door, his jutting chin making him look like the truculent ape that he is. He ordered a coffee and a piece of seed cake and sat at the table near the window.
I looked at him.
Time and nature hadn't dealt him a kind hand. The shabby hems of his raincoat reflected the shabby hems of his face and his eyelids had disappointed the flies of four counties. He sat there, near the window, a picture of The Ascent Of Man.
"How's it going, Bud?" I asked him.
"Bog off fart face," he replied.
Bud only ever on his best manners when he had something big doing. This must be some quite considerable venture, then. I wasn't sure how interested I was, either scarcely bothered or not at all, so I returned to my crossword. The answer to nine across was "macaque" and I unconsciously glanced over to the window. Bud McNasty was keenly staring out of the window like a cat watching after a spider.
I returned to my crossword.
Five or ten minutes later, I'll never know which, I was conscious of a sudden increase in the nervous energy of the room. I looked up. Bud McNasty was waving. Bud McNasty was waving out of the window like some kid on the summer holiday ferry. I'll admit to have been unnerved by it.
And then she walked through the door. And Bud McNasty turned to her and smiled like a lovesick puppy.
Just when the world could hold no more fresh horrors, Bud McNasty was in love.
The answer to fourteen down was "bewildering."
Monday, September 24, 2012
The school playing field across the road from Railway Cuttings are as good an indicator of the season than many. Better, indeed, than the flowers in the local gardens (we've primroses, roses and magnolias in bloom currently). The wood pigeons are there throughout the year, I'm astonished they find enough to get by with (there's obviously enough for forty-odd of them to have littered the grass over the weekend). Black-headed gulls, starlings, rooks and goldfinches are also year-round habitués. I don't know where the mistlethrushes have disappeared to, I hope they've not been got at by something.
Autumn starts in August when the common gulls come back. They've generally made themselves scarce by the end of April, though there's generally one or two lurking about in the crowds. By mid-November they outnumber the black-headed gulls. Completing the set is the odd one or two lesser black-backs. Their arrival foretold the start of the school holidays, they'll drift off at Easter. I'm never sure why it's only ever one or two lesser black-backs; it's never three or more.
We only recently started getting jackdaws round our way. I've no idea where they're nesting but the feverish activity over the summer suggests they had plenty of mouths to feed. They move away from the field this time of year, moving on instead to the school playground and the local car parks with the pied wagtails.
Soon we'll know we're in for it: the meadow pipits will turn up and we'll have to get out the big quilts. Hey ho, soon be Christmas.
Monday, September 10, 2012
All those things I put off until I had a bit of time to do it...
- Get some sleep.
- Read some of the books in that big pile on the sofa.
- Clean the bathroom.
- Vacuum the window ledges.
- Watch The Small Object of Desire de-flea The Cat I Do Not Have.
- Chop down all those dogwood bushes that have erupted in the front garden.
- De-flea The Small Object of Desire after she's finished de-fleaing The Cat I Do Not Have.
- Do something about that back fence without hurting myself this time.
- Chop back the boysenberry jungle in the back garden.
- Write some blog posts about Julian and Sandy; the rôle of licorice allsorts in parliamentary democracy; speckled woods: bully boys of the brambles; and, perhaps Titch and Quackers.
- Do something about that pile of clothes on the spare bed.
- Take those jackets to the dry-cleaners.
- Clean that window. You know, *that* one..
- Write some posts in the serious blog about systemic failures in public library strategy; social media as stock promotion tools; and integrating back-office systems.
- Empty the cat litter tray that The Cat I Do Not Have only uses as my 4 o'clock alarm clock.
- Edit the contents of the fridge
- Find that sock that fell behind the cooker
Monday, August 27, 2012
Some of the reasons why I enjoy reading Edgar Wallace.
"…at that moment he wore the facial expression peculuar to managing editors at midnight — which may be likened to that of a man who has an engagement with the public executioner and is anxious to commit just another tiny little murder before he dies."
— from "The Caretaker In Charge," The Novel Magazine, August 1919
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Amongst my Lamentations, I expressed regrets that John Betjeman was no longer Piet Laureate, what with the Jubilee and Olympics and what not.
"John Betjeman would be very, very old," said The Small Object of Desire.And by George, she was right.
"I know, but it would have been so jolly," I replied."Think about it," she said. "If John Betjeman had been around, he'd have Alzheimer's by now. If you think of Carol Ann Duffie as John Betjeman with Alzheimer's the world is suddenly a better place."
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Well, I'm well under the cosh... (Caution: This post includes middle-aged bloke whingeing)
The Small Object of Desire is out with her mates again, having coffee and cakes and a gossip while I'm left behind cat-sitting again. Cat-sitting at Railway Cuttings mostly involves being sat on by The Cat I Do Not Have, in between its being asleep and its eating. It saves going out for a romp* in the garden for three o'clock in the morning and the moment the breakfast toast is just starting to singe. Yelling at the door for me to let her back in is saved for four o'clock in the morning and the moment we're trying to leave for work at the latest possible moment because it takes The Small Object of desire about four hours to wake up enough to be safe to drive. Tonight I had to rescue the silly pillock† from the wash-house roof (because it's raining and it didn't want to get its feet wet). Stone me, what a life...
The Small Object of desire has been abandoning me to wanton Fate quite a bit lately. The other day it was to go to a Johnny Morrissey concert, the local stop in his I Opened Chester Zoo You Know Tour. She was there amongst the crowd waving their Linda MacCartney vegetarian sausages, which he made speak a quirky commentary with a series of unlikely voices from the corner of his mouth. He's a game old bird and she came home happy with her "Surly Brute From Stretford" T-shirt so all ended well.
Me, I'm just pootling along. There's a phenomenal load of stuff going on at work at the moment, to silly deadlines, so I'm pretty much crashed and burned before I get through the doorway. Which may pass as half an excuse for the state of both house and garden. Somewhere out there there's about six pounds of boysenberries to pick, once I force my way past the roses, geraniums and boysenberry runners. Much to my surprise, and probably due to the vile weather, the gooseberry bush hasn't been ravaged by sawfly this year and we got a pound or so off safely. The downside to the sawfly leaving the leaves alone is that I forget that the bush has inch-and-a-half-long thorns (that's forty six kilometres in the new money), which gave me the opportunity to teach the new goldfinches a few new words in basic Anglo-Saxon.
And aside from all, next to nothing's been happening lately.
* "Going out for a romp." As in: "I'll just scrape my shoe on your doorstep, I trod in a romp on my way here."
† The cat, not The Small Object of Desire. She hardly ever gets stuck on rooves these days.
Saturday, July 07, 2012
I was going to write a tribute to the late, great Eric Sykes but Scaryduck has written a blinder.
One of the earliest Sykes scripts I know of was a monologue written for Frankie Howerd on "Variety Bandbox" back in the days when the Light Service ruled the wireless. In it, Howerd had got work in a zoo and the first job he was given to do was to deliver an elephant to an address across town. By bus and tube. Frankie Howerd milking the fits of giggles generated by the mental picture of his trying to coax an elephant up an escalator is a joy and I wish I could find a copy to post on here.
Instead, I'll offer up a piece of gentle silliness from the 1963 Royal Variety Performance:
I wonder if she did do that second house...
Up with the lark, tra la! -- so long as someone had coshed the lark with a sock full of wet sand -- to minister to the breakfast needs of The Small Object of Desire and The Cat I Don't Have. It is not a morning for delicate masculine sensibilities.
Looking at the state of the bath I wonder, yet again, that The Small Object isn't bald.
"You could stuff a good-sized middle-aged man with all that hair," I said.
"That had been my plan," she replied.Waving her off to work with a cheery smile (which prompted her to point out that there's nothing erotic in "a grimace and a lot of snot-filled grunting"), I turned to look at the hall. Railway Cuttings will never be an Ideal Homes photoshoot but even by my standards it's got a bit untidy so I took to giving the stairs a sweep with the hand brush. The look of disgust that The Cat gave me as she stalked out of the front door will haunt me till lunch time.
Saturday, May 05, 2012
You've got to feel sorry for them… Back in the old days, F.A. Cup day was a bit of an event. It was the last part of the Spring triptych of sport, following on from the boat race and the Grand National. Back then, telly didn't even start until after Ed Stewpot Stewart had put his socks back on and was wending his weary way away from Junior Choice and we'd all finished reading that week's editions of "The Tiger" and "The Rover" and had stopped being giddy about Splash Gorton's penguin. After dinner we'd settle down quietly — or else! — and on would come the telly. Whether it was Grandstand or World of Sport that year the festival would always start with somebody baking cakes in the team colours and an interview with a dolly bird. Then there'd be a celebrity quiz or It's A Knockout or both and there'd be a quick cut-away to see the teams in blazers getting on the coach. By three o'clock we'd have exhausted Ralph Reader leading the community singing so they'd put on a game of football to give us all a rest.
Monday, April 23, 2012
That nice Pearl periodically uses the caprices of title selection by audio shuffle to read the auguries of the day. The serendipity of this appeals to me rather so I thought I'd have a shot at it during a tram ride to the Small Object of Desire's gaff...
The songs my iPhone threw out at me were:
- Half Man Half Biscuit: "Joy Division Oven Gloves"
- Smokey Wood and the Wood Chips: "Keep on Truckin'"
- Allan Sherman: "It's a Most Unusual Play"
- Henry Hall: "Here Comes The Bogeyman"
- The Supernaturals: "The Day Before Yesterday's Man"
- Weird Al Yankowicz: "Jurassic Park"
Monday, April 16, 2012
Kevin and The Small Object of Desire cannot come to work today because
it is a nice day and they want to spend all morning in bed and then go and play out they are not well
Our Mum (Mrs.)
Friday, April 13, 2012
Sunday, April 01, 2012
The small niece-child is learning a bit of Spanish at school, which I think is no bad thing. As is the way with these things, it is the purest accident: one of the teachers happens to be Spanish, it's not in the school prospectus. The idea of a school prospectus bewilders me slightly as I'm of that age when you went to your local primary school unless your parents were particularly keen Roman Catapults in which case you went to the nearest R.C. similar. And that was the end of it, none of this trawling through prospectuses, web sites and league tables and poring one's way through the Ofsted reports. Not that I hold much faith in the latter anyway: every school I go past in the course of an ordinary week has a big banner strapped to the front boasting of its Ofsted plaudits ("Sums were enthralling" — Harold Hobsbon). It pisses me off to think that the money schools are spending on Ofsted Plaudit banners could fund a medium-sized county library service book fund for a year.
Anyway… We went to our local primary school, which was good because it was within walking distance, which was good because hardly anyone had a car and them that did only ever used it for their dads to go to and from work.
Our local school was out in the middle of a big field just by the motorway. Over the years the field got bigger and became a school playing field as the wilder edges were given over to dutifully-manicured grass. At the end of the field, behind the first houses of the estate, was a particularly wild stretch full of mustards and thistles and the occasional haunt of lizards. Through this ran the brook which started off from out of nowhere near the cornflake factory and ran for a couple of miles before trickling into the Irwell at Barton. At the school end it was a bit sluggish and fed a small pond choked with water mint. Further up you could squeeze through the railings behind the builder's yard and look for sticklebacks and stray frogs. I wonder how many kids these days get to see a stickleback; it is a concern.
Over yonder, where the shopping centre car park is now, there was a field of Friesian cows, gently a-mooing and chewing their cuds. Behind would be Barton Power Station, a miniature edition of Battersea. I miss that almost as much as the annual air show, three days of random aerospace history to-ing and fro-ing to the aerodrome for the Sunday event. Gypsy moths and a Vulcan bomber were a given. Sometimes there'd be the thrill of a Hurricane or Lockheed Lightning and, just that once, a Spitfire and a Lancaster. Sunday tea time would see everyone standing in their front gardens to watch the Red Arrows and then it was officially over.
Behind the school was the freight line that fed goods to the western half of what was then Europe's biggest industrial complex (that was the reason why we were semi-rural as far as the rates were concerned). Just the other side was a scabby field of scrubby grass, home to partridge, lapwing and many a courting couple. That's concrete now, with a warehouse stuck on it.
Now it's all cropped green fields, car parks and triple carriageways serving the shopping centre. The quiet Sunday afternoon walk behind the church and round to the main road is an expensive leisure complex. And kids trapped in the school run are taken round the shops to socialise them.
I'm under no illusions as to just how rough things were really in the sixties. But the brook at Longford, now culverted and covered over by concrete and beer cans and old mattresses was once lively with yellow flag irises and water boatmen and I don't think much of the swap.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Judging by the overgrown state of the near side of the garden we won't be short on wild garlic or boysenberries this year. The damson has just come into bloom and there's quite a lot of sturdy growth on the blackcurrants. This year I shall be paying a but more attention to the gooseberry bush; between the attentions of gooseberry sawfly and a rambling rose I thought I'd disposed of two years ago it had a fret time of it this year.
All this will no doubt be superintended by Hugh, the cat I do not have. Hugh's current sleeping quarters vary between my front doorstep, under the lilac tree and under next door's car. All this despite the fact that next door went to the trouble of buying it a covered cat bed and putting it inside their wash house doorway, well away from wind and rain. I am assured that This Is How Cats Are and it accords with all my experience of the beasts. Having been acquainted for nearly two years it surprised me that I've only just noticed that Hugh is, in fact, a little kiddie's cartoon cat. He really is a rectangle with little stubbly legs and a bit of a tail stuck on one corner.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The Small Object of Desire asked me if I was excited about a big work's project finally coming on stream. I confessed I was not. Puzzled, she asked why not. She thought I'd be relishing the challenge and the opportunities to get a pile of problems finally sorted. And so I should be.
But I'm bored with it.
It took ten years to get off the ground and this preparatory stage, which should have been two or three months tops is nearing it's first anniversary with every final end in sight being just an ephemeral dream.
If this project were Sim City I'd be at the stage now where I'd be fighting the urge to introduce an influenza epidemic to town.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Friday, March 09, 2012
As per usual, the garden is in a bit of a state. In part this is down to my lassitude; in part due to spending half of each week over at The Small Object of Desire's gaff. And then in January we decided to set to it:
- We had a go at installing the fence panels I bought last March. I might have a go at supergluing the bits together again.
- The front garden is piled knee-high with prunings of lilac, hazel, dogwood and roses. I may yet make a bonfire.
- Many of last year's cheeky lengeths of brambles have been grubbed out and chopped back...
Which is where I came a cropper. A particularly egregious bramble shoot ran from the bramble patch on the railway embankment, shot up the air, wrapped itself round a branch of the conifer about twelve feet up and then descended into my garden, rooting itself along the length of the back border. So I decided: I'm having you, you bastard.
And that's what I was doing when I fell out of the tree.
Luckily, no bones broken though quite considerable pain and a full Robert Newton Long John limp right up to the beginning of last week.
In the meantime, the garden's been full of snowdrops and crocus and a cluster of double hellebores has been doing the business since Christmas. Not one daffodil yet, dammit. The big pot that should be chock full of Salome and February Gold has been waterlogged all winter after an ants' nest clogged up the drainage holes (silly buggers). I have hopes of the venerable clump of King Alfreds under the big rose bush but I reckon I'll be doing some bulb-buying come the Autumn.
I intend filling all the gaps with foxgloves and ox-eye daisies.
When I get round to it.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Just at the point where I'd resolved to be more diligent in keeping this blog ticking over and keeping tabs on the fine folks in the blogosphere Blogger goes and changes it's configuration. Now, I'll be honest: it was a bit of a pig to do on my mobile 'phone. But not impossible. It's still a bit of a pig to update but the public front end has suddenly changed. It's quite nice really, very cleanly-presented and all that. But the mobile version strips out all the widgets: no archive list, no blogroll, Hell, I can't even log in from here any more. Very perplexing.
So whereas the plan had been to keep up with you all while I was in transit and write posts at home on the laptop I'll be reading from home and writing on the bus. Expect lots of random place names in Bohemia and mad autocorrect errors…
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
It's a cold and wet Winter's day in Helminthdale and I;m actually happy to be getting back to the workplace when I bump into Walter Brimsdyke, The Borough Environmental Health Officer. He has my sympathy already.
"It's always a bloody Friday afternoon, isn't it? And it's always when it's bloody raining isn't it?"
I strain three face muscles not smiling: I know what comes next...
"They bloody ring up and say: 'I'm very worried about that dead sheep up on the tops. It's been there all week...'"
It's always a bloody Friday afternoon...
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
An after-works drink with Ken Barmy at The Duck and Pullet.
For the past decade and a half we have shared stories of the black and bleak madnesses of the running of public libraries and laughed uproariously at the absurdity of it all.
We found nothing to laugh at in the climate of the day.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The similarities between us are sometimes alarming. At some stage in the relationship we'll be able to arrange things such that we'll be sleeping at the house where the milk, bread and breakfast cereal are (the usual trick is to have the milk at her house and the cereal at mine, twenty miles away). And our finickitiness makes cooking ia challenge: I won't eat chicken or sea-life and she won't eat beans or anything green that isn't spinach or corned beef.
But we seem to be coping…
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
We'd decided - finally! - to go on our first proper holiday, as opposed to the occasional day out and that week we spent in bed. We were a bit tentative as we're both picky sociopaths so we decided that we'd best move about a bit, just in case. So we did a lightning visit to the pointy bit at the bottom of the country. (Alas, too fleeting to give a shout to them nice Pat and Scarlet.) After a few nice days we pootled back home, taking a meandering track that would eventually get us back hereabouts...
There was a giant flea Market at Newton Poppleford. Imagine our dismay to find that they were, in fact, selling giant fleas.
The gents lavatory at Bridgewater had advertisements for Easter eggs, which is wrong on so very many levels
Egad!!! I am sure I bumped into Armand and Michaela Denis in the Book Barn at Hallatrow on the way over to Mummerset. They were filming the habits of two middle-aged ladies who were complaining that the Shell Guide to Gardening wasn't in the conchology section.
"I've never read a Jilly Cooper book, have you?"
"I don't know that I have."
Oh come now! You'd know if you had…
There were acres and acres of Thackery and Dickens and yards of Collins pocket literature. Meanwhile, as always, the collectors of detective fiction hang onto their spoils. And I really have to ask: were there really that many copies of John Halifax, Gentleman printed?
In Bath we met a chap by the river who invited us to his 53rd birthday. We were politely non-committal; as a rule we don't accept party invitation from people who are foaming at the mouth. Especially not when it's still only ten in the morning. It's a bit too much like being back at work.
Monday, January 02, 2012
You can tell it's a bank holiday Monday by the state of the programmes they put on the telly, though God knows it gets more like a perpetual bank holiday every day:
- There is, of course, no news .
- On Channel Five a bunch of oddly-wrought blokes from places you've never heard of (including Dartford) are competing for the title of "The World's Strangest Man."
- On Alibabble, Miss Marple forsakes St. Mary Mead to spend a weekend at Melchester to watch Roy of the Rovers pit his footballing skills against Billy the Fish.
- Oh goodie. A special holiday showing of " Indiana Potter and
the Eggheads of Hollyoaks."
I'm looking forward to later tonight when Tess Daley and Nick Knowles present "Zoo Time" live from the Trocadero, Southport.