Monday, August 05, 2019

The waiting lounge

"You'll find that most of them are lookalikes of famous celebrities who died in aeroplane crashes," explained the receptionist. "It doesn't do to stare at them."
"No, quite," I agreed.
"The lounge is just down that corridor, straight ahead, you can't miss it."

The corridor was narrow and flatly lit. The base of the walls up to an imaginary dado were a duck egg blue, above it a yellowing shade of ivory. The walk to the end was just long enough to be uncomfortable. At the end there was large wooden door, glazed with that security glass that has a wire grid embedded in it. Faded Gill Sans lettering that may once have been painted gold announced: "LOUNGE."

The lounge was a bit poky and the lino was chipped at the edges. To the left was a long bar serving no drinks. I looked around at my fellow passengers. Over in a corner girl in a Marilyn Monroe dress chatted to a man in Roy Orbison glasses while being ogled by an old man desperately trying to look like Mickey Rooney. Over there a man in evening dress who could have been either Ethel or Lionel Barrymore. A scan of the room confirmed further unconvincing performances. It was difficult not to stare. A young man dressed as Elvis leapt onto the bar and sprawled in an arrogant pose, I don't know who for or why. I had other puzzles to consider: none of the celebrities being badly impersonated here had died in plane crashes; was I supposed to be another lookalike, if so then who? It was all very unsettling.

The cabin crew came into the lounge and greeted everybody with professional bonhomie. The captain, a tall, suave individual straight out of Central Casting, took centre stage.

"As you know," he intoned, "One of you will die in this aeroplane crash. There is no cause for alarm, nearly all of us will come to no harm."

A quiet murmur ran across the room as his audience cheerfully accepted this and speculated amongst themselves who it might be.

"Nearly everybody will live," he repeated gravely, "But in the event of any unpleasantness or hysteria I may have to forget that somebody was alive."

Monday, July 29, 2019


While people are on about maps, here's one of another place.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Village vignette

The civic hall had had better days but had only fitfully partaken of them. Once upon the time its floorboards had groaned to the foxtrot strains of Yeti Ibbotson And His Darling Tarzanettes, all teeth, Brilliantine and accidental syncopation. In later years it was the haunt of jumble sales and the village pig crayoning club. The pig crayoning craze was a nine day wonder: the pigs weren't much fond of it, the farmers didn't see a profit in it and there's not much that you can do with a pig once you've drawn a crude picture of a house on it in thick brown wax that you couldn't have done by leaving the poor beast well alone.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


I buried my mother today.

Quite literally, I buried my mother. The ceremonials had been done and dusted a few weeks ago and today I placed her ashes in the bottom of a big tub in my father's garden, covered it with compost and planted over it a rose bush that my aunt had bought as a memorial for her. I asked my father if he wanted to say a few words but he said that he'd do it as and when they came to him on his own as he pottered about the garden. Which is more than fair enough.

I'd made the mistake of telling the ex-small object of desire that both parents would probably outlive the rest of us. A couple of weeks later and both were visited upon by the nasty chest infection that was going round. My dad was laid low at home and my mum had to go into hospital. One day she was at in a ward eating cottage pie and trying to play a tune on the oxygen monitors. A couple of days later she was critical on a ventilator. On her last day she had enough strength to be fed a bowl of leek and potato soup and some grapes, and lots of cups of tea. We managed to get the immediate family round to say goodbye, which was a consolation.

When I was making the funeral arrangements I gave my brother the job of coaxing a choice of three pieces of music out of my dad. In the end the choice was good: "Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring," Mama Cass singing "Dream A Little Dream of Me," and the Beatles' "In My Life."

The other day I dreamt I was doing the reading at my own funeral. It was all rather lovely and I woke up with a tear-stained pillow. These were the three pieces of music:

Be kind to each other.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

On the twelfth day of Chrimbo…

On the twelfth day of Christmas… Oh why did I ever start this?

Fuck me sideways, it's the Easter Hamster already and we haven't even weaned the vicar off the Warninks yet.

Don't forget to put on the sprouts.

Friday, January 04, 2019

On the eleventh day of Chrimbo…

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Theresa May joining in the "Guess The Size Of The Invisble Man's Left Testicle" game at the Abattoir Road Conservative Club, Helminthdale. 

She evidently knew him well before he had the operation.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

On the tenth day of Chrimbo…

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Tickets to see Mrs Threadgold and her Brownies in their adaptation of "Moomins Winter Follies."

Never again.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

On the ninth day of Chrimbo…

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Britain's rail operators justifying yet another eye-watering rise in fares by pointing at all the investment in new rolling stock.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy Thingy Year!

Och, it's Hogmanay!


 Let's hope 2019 behaves itself. Play nice, be good, take care.

On the eighth day of Chrimbo…

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A DVD featuring Nelson Frimbley's rather disturbing impersonation of Mickey Mouse.