Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Maple leaves

Another shit day on the trains. Ascribed, as per, to leaves on the line and frozen signal points. Amongst the merry throng kicking their heels on the icy planks of out station is a Canadian lady who's been with us for the past year. She breaks into our collective whinge:

"I guess I'm being too hard on your train companies. It's not fair to compare them to ours: we don't have frost and trees like you guys do."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Six Random Things

I've been tagged by Scarlet-Blue, who decided I needed cheering up. To play the game I have to reveal six random things about myself. As somebody who is 'obsessively secretive' I find this a challenge, but here goes...

  1. Back in the old days when I was a Museums Cataloguer I literally found a mummy's hand in a box of candles. It was relict of one of the Flinders Petrie collections that had been swapped around the museums of Metropolitan Lancashire in the inter-war years. A colleague went to see a brown friend off to the sea, heard a clunking in the cistern when he pulled the chain and found a burlap sack full of Napoleonic War bayonets (mostly English). This is one of the reasons why I laugh when Museums Professionals get all Vanessa about their professionalism.

  2. My parents tell me that the first famous person I ever saw was Yuri Gagarin, when he visited Metro-Vics in Trafford Park.

  3. When I was little I really did believe that sterilised milk warded off the lightning. Now that I'm older and, perhaps, wiser I really don't want to know why my granny took so many milk bottles to bed during thunderstorms.

  4. I have been teetotal for twenty-six years, two months, five days and something like sixteen hours. Not that I'm keeping tabs on it, of course.

  5. I'm doing a fairly mediocre job of being responsible for two of the one-mile tetrads in the British Bird Atlas Survey. They're two urban survey areas but even so the breeding birds survey this year was profoundly disappointing.

  6. Looking about my living room at the moment, the set dressings include a digeridoo, a unicycle, a cast-iron winged lion, a smoke machine, a stuffed scorpion, a life-size rubber duck and a chocolate reindeer. All have been presents from family.

Tag rules: Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Write 6 random things about yourself. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted...

I shall tag: Mr. Gadjo, Lizzie, Ms. Cow, Papercuts, Lavinia and Fairy Hedgehog.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I don't know when I fell out of love with autumn.

I mean to say, I don't remember waking up one day and thinking to myself "oh dear, autumn's shit isn't it?" or somesuch. I can still appreciate the rich, warm modelling lights that the sun provides us when it bothers to show itself. And I still like the smell of the bright yellow hazel leaves and the crunch of beech mast underfoot. And I'm still chuffed when the bare patch under the rowan trees suddenly becomes a sea of lilac autumn crocuses.

But I've fallen out of love with autumn. All I can think about is the gyppy knee. And the stuffy, damp bus journeys in the dark. And the Woolworths Christmas adverts. It'll soon be slush and sleet and bloody Dickens.

Perhaps it's my age. Perhaps it's my temperment. Perhaps this year's ten long months of October has gotten me down a bit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ray Lowry

We have lost another of our great cartoonists and artists with the passing of Ray Lowry the other day. Just thought I'd mention it.

Tempus thingy

I don't know why this is but it came as a bit of a surprise the other day to realise that Cyndi Lauper, in concert locally, is 55. I've always seen her as being a good few decades younger than Mad Donna.

Nicholas Parsons was 85 last week, less of a shock but still an eye-opener. He does well for himself.

And being a gentleman I wouldn't care to say how old Joan Bakewell is but I still fancy her something rotten.

Just goes to show: there may still be hope for those of us in our dotage.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Very young children answer questions with a firmness that will brook no further discussion. Take my small niece for example:

Uncle Kevin: "Why on earth is your baby rabbit called Rupert of Hentzau?"

Niece: "Because it is."

Full stop. End of story. Let's move on now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old men forget

Talking to friends about the old days we generally drift towards the subject of our student days and inevitably we recall the time that Uncle Sean decided that James Joyce needed a birthday party and made a Guinness jelly and a cake and all the trimmings. And the Arnold Bax memorial headache. And Ingrid...

I lost track of Uncle Sean a few years back. I hope the old lad's tamed his demons and is looking after himself. Or, better still, is being looked after by someone who makes a decent cup of tea and likes draught Stravinsky.

I'm still damned if I can remember why we got into a fist-fight about the music of Georges Martinù though.


I've decided that I need to have a fetish. God knows, I'm old enough and peculiar enough for one and everyone and their dog seems to have one already and I don't see why I should miss out.

Which is great in principle, but more of a problem in practice. A quick sken of the reports in The Lancet and the Sunday red-tops confirm that there are possibiities amongst the solitary vices but I can't say that any of them appeal at all, even remotely.

I'll have to make a research project out of it. Leastways, that'll be my defence when I'm brought up in front of the Watch Committee.


I blame that Mrs. Pouncer. Actually, it's not really her fault but I'm happy to lump some of the responsibility on somebody else. But she did claim that I am of a certain age in the first place.

I went to visit one of my friends a while back. I noticed that she had lots of photos of a pretty young woman dotted all about the house. Given that she'd gone through a messy divorce and was deeply embittered about men I wondered out loud if she'd decided to dip into a different selection box for a change.

"That's my daughter!"

"Should she be wearing skirts that short at her age?"

"She's 21."

This came as a considerable shock. It's very difficult being Peter Pan when your contemporaries insist on having grown-up children.

Things got worse when one of my friends mentioned that his son was coming up to Manchester to study at university.

"He's a bit advanced educationally isn't he?" I asked.

"He's nineteen."

"Bollocks, it was only a couple of years ago he was literally knee-high."

"That was ten years ago. Face it man, you're as old as me and we're nearly fifty."

Nearly fifty? Nonsense. Lies. Not true. I have older siblings who are not yet fifty so I can't possibly be "nearly fifty". No. I am, in fact, a slip of a thing of twenty-five.

"You weren't twenty-five when you were that age," he tells me.

It's true. Some mornings I wipe the blood off my face and wonder who the old man is who's looking out of the shaving mirror. In some lights my hair looks almost grey and a day's shaving stubble makes it look like I've fallen victim to some fungal disease.

And what have I done with all that time and opportunity?

What an utter waste.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Snow joke

I noticed that HMV were displaying "Scott of the Antarctic" amongst the comedy DVDs on the grounds that it was an Ealing film. I'd just done that touch-think-to-move-it-and-change-your-mind thing when a chap next to me asked:

"Is it any good?"

"You will soil yourself with laughter," I replied.

He asked me for more so I gave him a brief plot synopsis.

"You sick bastard!" he said.

"But it's a classic!" I protested.