Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Presents past

My father was contemplating his socks. Ordinary, bright orange socks. The small niece child had been interrogating him on the subject.

"Who bought you those socks? They don't go with anything you wear."
At the time she was wearing something floral in pink winceyette and lemon yellow leggings.

In the end she concluded that I must have bought them. I get the blame for all things because I'm "weird." Any conversation I have with her must include the following exchange:
"You bought me rhino poo for Christmas!"
"It had a banana seed in it. Have you sown it yet?"
"You bought me rhino poo for Christmas!"
"It makes the banana grow better."
"I'm not eating bananas that are made out of rhino poo. Rhino poo!"

Monday, June 24, 2013

Present tense

It's coming up to my brother's birthday. He's a bugger to buy presents for. In the end, I nipped into Cats @ Home on my way home from work to see about buying some cat tokens. They're down to just the six cats now and they're suffering a bit from empty nest syndrome.

I was disappointed. The lady behind the counter was quite adamant that there is no such thing as cat tokens and please would I go away.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Черная дама

I was the only one in my year doing Russian for General Studies A-Level. Two lessons a week. In the second year of it I started boycotting these lessons. Not because I was bunking off or doing anything especially political: I was dead bored with them so I'd spend my time in the library or in a corridor working on the other stuff. One day the teacher, a dead nice bloke who's name I have shamefully forgotten, bumped into me.

"Can you come along to one of your Russian lessons? I've been telling the Lower Sixth that you exist and they don't believe me."
We got to talking about why I wasn't turning up. I had a bit of a rant:
"I've done five years of Longmans Russian. I'm fed up of Seryozha and Natasha and their jolly Uncle Vanya and his hedgehog joke. I'm sick of Grigor and Tanya and their holidays in Tbilisi and their stopping off at Gum to get half a kilo of sausages and two apples. I can't be doing with it." 
"So you want to read something real then?" 
"You like reading crime stories, don't you?" 
Which is how we got to reading Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades." And even though we struggled a bit with the rules of Faro (we should have watched the film as well) it was a pretty good experience. Sadly, my Russian's rusty beyond measure these days  (I can just about pick out what the Russian characters are saying in the Swedish detective programmes before reading the subtitles).


Apologies to anyone receiving spam from my email address. Yahoo Mail password change *again.* Grr.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Garden news

The garden's full of baby magpies and singing robins and twice a day a huge troupe of spadgers descent on the feeders and bounce their way around the gooseberry bush.

Lysimachia Firecracker Having hacked down the boysenberries to a manageable size they've taken advantage of the warm wet past couple of months to regroup and repopulate the borders. As, indeed, has the dog rose by the blackcurrant bush: the two of these have conspired to take over those bits of the path that haven't been obliterated by geraniums and Lysimachia "Firecracker." This last is a rather thug in my garden. The idea had been for it to be the under-story of the bed in front of the living room window, its dark red leaves providing a backdrop to the orange standard Azalea in late Spring and the vivid red Crocosmia "Lucifer" in the Summer. It had other plans, leaving the border and scampering its way across the path. Early each Spring I dig it out of the path and plonk it back into the border. Each Summer that stretch of path becomes obliterated yet again.

This border's getting a bit lank and there's a bit too much grass in there so I'm inclined to dig the whole thing over again this Winter. When I first planned this garden (it was planned, I promise you) the idea was this this border would be dark and bright: reds and golds and purples. Most of the garden was to be yellows and pinks and whites with the bottom end being blues and purples (I was trying to do an aerial perspective thing there). It didn't all work the way as planned but it's OK.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Curtain calls

There's a rich seam of drivel to be mined from the conversations people have at the end of the day when they're too tired to talk but still insist on having conversations. Actually, this is a good description of virtually any conversation between myself and The Small Object of Desire at any time of day or night but we could just be tired.

Anyway, this is how we became entertained by a children's television series called "Bladderpuss," the everyday adventures of a cat full of piss.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The truth is out there

It's true! 99% of gargoyles really do look like Bob Todd!

Bob Todd and a gargoyle

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Love is…

Love is…

Explaining "The Double Deckers" to a loved one while she is having a shower.

And doing the little dance.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Frozen Muzak

Imagine our delight when we discovered that there was a sculpture trail in The World of Pies (not to be confused with Wigan, which is a very inferior land of pastry). We were underwhelmed when we discovered that two of the crap local objects of mystery are part of the collection. Neither the neon lights at the railway station saying: "And there was light," nor the graffiti on the canal bridge saying: "And water made it wet" exactly enthused us. The sort of thing that proliferated when Lottery money was young and spent by people whose bicycle clips were too tight.

We wandered over to the parkland where the old paper mill used to be and had a wander round while it was still not raining. About half a mile along the trail to the main road we encountered a dirty great big block of concrete.

"And what's this supposed to be?" asked The Small Object of Desire, who's even less Avante Garde than I am.

"It's a fucking big lump of concrete," I explained.

"It can't just be a fucking big lump of concrete," she protested.

"Might be," I muttered.

"So what do you think it is?" she persisted.

"Dunno. I expect it signifies something or other."

"Look: there's a plaque at the top up there. What does it say?"

I wandered over, read the inscription on the plaque and wandered back.


"It says it's a fucking big lump of concrete."

Monday, June 10, 2013

What quills mute

"Don't you ever read any books by authors who are still alive?" asked The Small Object of Desire.

"They were still alive when I started reading them," I explained.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Nail clippings

Every so often a bit of stray verbiage will float into my head unbidden and I try to remember to make a note of it for one or other of the books I'll never get round to. Here are a few waifs and strays from the commonplace books...

  • He was one of those tall men of indeterminate age and character who populate the middle reaches of the professions.
  • Almost at once he had concluded that the visitor was entirely inconsequential and he spent the next hour doing everything humanly possible to make himself stupidly beholden to him.
  • It was an old-fashioned door that looked impossibly flimsy but had rattled in the merest breeze for the past thirty-seven years without ever actually blowing open.
  • He was tending his vegetable plot. Late Winter had passed into the thin pickings of early Spring: the last of the Brussels sprout tops and savoy cabbages and whatever carrots and parsnips were left in the store. It had been a bad few weeks, what with the cold nights and colder rains, and he was torn between keeping the cloche over the beans in the hopes of a half-decent harvest and taking the cloches off in the near-certainty of wood pigeon for supper.
  • It's a good thing to be underestimated in high places. 
  • "Every generation sees its economic crash as The Great Depression. The difference this time is that it'll be the harder for the men as write history to forget what it really meant."
  • The train was on time. The train was always on time. They changed the station clock religiously to make sure that it was so.
  • The two men at the bar spoke French. They spoke French abysmally, as only the French are allowed to do.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Paper wonder

I can only marvel at the skill of people who can do stuff like this:

One of a bunch of astonishing bits of origami on Robert J Lang's site.

Friday, June 07, 2013


So there we were: silver jubilee year and all stood standing in the pissing rain. One or other dignitary — we never found out which — was going to Pigham town hall and we were being lined up against the railings on the other side of the cricket pitch to provide an audience backdrop. The school had special procedures in the event of a royal visit. Not that we ever had a royal visit. Not so much as a diadem since the place was opened 56 years previously, so they reckoned it must be their turn soon. So we were all stood there in the pissing rain staring at the traffic on Talbot Road. 

The instructions were that we were to shout gladly and wave our flags when the cavalcade rode by. None of us had flags so they gave us each a tin of corned beef. Eventually we caught sight of a big black Daimler. We started waving our tins of corned beef and shouting: "God save the Queen!" The Deputy Headmaster ran over. "Pack it in!" he shouted, "It's a bloody funeral!"

So we waited a bit more then the word came: "Here they come!" We waved our tins and gave patriotic cry. "You wouldn't have thought the Queen would have a white Ford Cortina estate would you?" asked wee Paulie Camcraft. Kenny Fletcher wasn't impressed: "If she's going to have a nodding dog on the back shelf you'd have thought she'd have got a corgi, special like," he said. One of the teachers noticed that Michael Donelly wasn't waving his tin of corned beef. "Have you lobbed it at a passing car?" he asked him. "No sir, I've put it down the front of my trousers to keep warm." "You pillock. What do you want to do that for?" "If the Queen turns shirty and starts kicking everyone in the nuts I'll be safe and laughing, sir," he replied.

The teachers kept an eye on Michael Donelly's trousers because they were objects of subversive rebellion. There was a strict uniform code: we were to wear black flannel trousers and flares were absolutely forbidden. Michael Donelly didn't wear flares. Michael Donelly was a mad fan of Northern Soul. Michael Donelly had a pair of black flannel trousers with seventy-two inch bottoms. The teachers regarded them with impotent fury. They had seventy-two inch bottoms *but they weren't flares*. The legs were dead straight; erupting in their full glory straight from the hip. We discovered that he could hide a full set of the text books off the geography teacher's desk balanced on his foot and completely hidden from view for, oooh, hours. Much to the geography teacher's irritation. A tin of corned beef was child's play in comparison.  

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Coffee break

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Watching the detectives

We've been watching a lot of Scandinavian police procedurals lately...

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Still having problems with this sodding network.

Here's a picture of a sausage to be getting on with...

a sausage

Monday, June 03, 2013


I'd post all sorts of stuff today but my mobile network's data coverage appears to have gone the way of the great wardrobe spider...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

I saw the news today, oh boy...

Littleshire Echo news hoarding: Brave gran attacked by eyebrows

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Saturday singalong

You all know the words...