Friday, 29 April 2011

Nice Day For A Church Wedding Do.

What a day this has been. Full of sentiment and emotion for this particular old reprobate. There has been a royal wedding you see. What! You didn't know! I can't believe that! I'm sure it was advertised.
It's quite strange really, but I only seem to remember just how jingoistic I am when an event like this happens. Watching all that pomp and ceremony causes my aged, and probably cholesterol filled heart, to swell almost to bursting point, with pride. Are we the best at pomp and circumstance? I think we are. Who else is better?
Our American friends may know how to do a parade, letting their hair down, uninhibited, and really going for it. But we British, with our stiff upper lipped reserve. Well, we know how to do a cavalcade, a procession, an equitation, and a fanfare of trumpets without parallel. I may be a tiny bit biased of course. But what wonderful stuff. Full of history and tradition. Doesn't it give you hope for the future of our Great Britain?
Losing our heritage? Our culture? No way. Not if today is anything to go by. As for that minority of British folk who like to rubbish the whole event. Those who have the brass necked effrontery to malign our Royal family. Well. I do believe treason is still a capital offence. Hang 'em from the tower I say!
When the weather is fine. As it has been for some weeks, my television refuses to work. I think it is caused by atmospherics, and all the trees I have planted over the years. This is not normally much of a concern for me. But today, The Royal Wedding day. Well a bit of a disaster. So I went to watch it with Tricia and my son George, at their house.
Tricia is my ex partner and George's Mum. Her and I are still the best of friends, and the three of us are still able to do family things together, which works out very well.  All in all a very fine arrangement. I thought I would just share that with you. In line with my policy of keeping you informed as we move through my everyday musings.
Well, all the trees around here might spoil my television viewing, but I am nevertheless, extremely fond of them. I would like to question however, whether trees are actually needed inside Westminster Abbey. Isn't the building itself enough of an attractive thing to look at? This is just an observation on my part, not a criticism. But I was not consulted on the matter, so how were they to know?
I fear the arboreal overload was the doing of our 'Charlie'. Perhaps with his penchant for talking to plants he thought he might need something to share his thoughts with, during the quieter moments of the wedding. Or maybe the Queen requested them to keep the Corgi's happy. Before she realised that dogs wouldn't be allowed in anyway.
Her Majesty looked lovely, don't you think? Like a sweet little yellow canary. She always looks so well turned out. You have to wonder how she does it on her pension.
Prince Philip, still a handsome man at ninety years old. Seems that he has still got a twinkle in his eye for the ladies. The old devil.
Catherine's sister, I've forgotten her name for the moment, and I can't be bothered to look it up. What an absolute cracker she is. Prince Harry thought so too. I know its part of the best mans duties to look after the chief bridesmaid, but blimey, he was attentive, didn't you think?
William looked quite nice in his fancy Irish Guards uniform. How did he get to be a Colonel at his age? I bet there was a bit of favouritism there. Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge. Probably knows someone high up at the Ministry of Defence. I'm saying nothing.
The bride, Catherine, a stunningly beautiful young woman. What can I say? You are a lucky young man William. But of course you already know it. What with being a member of the Royal family, and all that.
Now here comes a criticism. Only a minor one though. It's just that I thought the Archbishop should have had a haircut and a beard trim. OK, I can forgive him the haircut bit. Though he did look as though he had been a bit over enthusiastic with the 'head and shoulders' shampoo. His hair looked as though it might fly away at any moment. Perhaps he forgot that he might have to take his hat off occasionally. Really Rowan, I know you favour the bohemian look, but this was a Royal wedding. Everyone else made a bit of an effort. A beard trim wouldn't have gone amiss. The eyebrows too. Crikey! How long have you been cultivating those beauties? Be honest now Rowan. How would you have felt, if the Queen had turned up looking like she had been dragged through a hedge backwards? Eh? Think about it Rowan. A bit more respect next time. The Queen is your boss, don't forget. I'll leave that little rant there. Don't want to spoil a nice day.
The wedding vows themselves seemed to pass off all right. Though I did feel that William rather rushed and mumbled his way through the bit, where he promises to share all his worldly goods. Probably he was trying to remember what he had said in the pre nuptial agreement.
That's about it then. Royal wedding accomplished. No apparent mishaps. I wish the happy couple a long and happy marriage. Let's hope it lasts. I won't be putting any of my money on it though.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sadie The German Shepherd, Takes The Lead.

How long is he going to be? He says we're going for a walk and then he disappears. It's not fair! He has said the magic words, "Where's your lead? Find it. Find your lead". I know where my lead is, and so does he. It's hanging in the tractor shed. But he always has to say the words. Words that cause me to go into a paroxysm of delight. Words that cause me to run about like a maniac, making those strange whining noises I just can't help, and him to stand grinning inanely at me. Until he starts to worry that I'll jump up at him. Then he raises his voice. "CALM DOWN SADIE. CALM DOWN". I've been through all that, and now he's not here. Incidentally, did you notice the use of the word paroxysm? We are intelligent us German Shepherds.
I know where he is. I saw him going through the gate into Tricia's garden. He's gone to see the puppies. I know about the puppies, I can smell them on him. He's keeping an eye on them while she is out. I wish he would hurry up. I want my walk.
Here he comes at last. He'll now do that daft thing of trying to get back through the gate without me hearing him. John! I'm a German Shepherd. I've got ears like a.. Like a.. Well, like a German Shepherd actually. I hear you. I could hear you even when you were in the house.
Is he going to the tractor shed? Yes! This could be it! Don't say it John. Please don't. But he does say it.
"Where's your lead? Find it. Find your lead".
Which means that I have to go through the whole excited, going for a walk, rigmorale again. I wish I could stop myself, but I can't. I'm a creature of habit and so is he. Except he would never admit it.
We go through the back gate into the big field. It has just been ridged and planted with potatoes, so the going is a bit tricky for a few hundred yards until we get to the footpath proper. It's on occasions like this, that I am reminded that John used to be a merchant seaman. The language! You wouldn't believe it.
The farmer has reinstated the footpath by flattening the ridges, and we cut across this bit of the field without too much trouble for his old legs. It's a quick bit of walk and quite boring. Even so I manage to almost trip him a couple of times when I stop suddenly to investigate a smelly bit. He reminds me what my name is. "SADIE!"
Now we reach the road. I always stop here, because I know he will want to put my lead on. He tells me what a good girl I am. I love it when he says that, and we cross safely.
This is my favourite bit of the walk. He lets me off the lead and I love to run ahead. There are lots of rabbit holes to investigate, and little piles of stuff, and the smells! Well the smells are to die for, they really are. One day there was a decomposing hedgehog. Exquisite! I just had to roll in it. John was not pleased with me that day I can tell you. I had to suffer the dreaded hosepipe wash down. It was worth it though. I'd do it again.
Too soon we are in the twitten next to the Church, and it is onto the lead again for the short stretch of road to the park. Oh no! Here comes a young mum pushing a pram. We will have to stop and say hallo. He says hallo to everyone we meet. It's not a normal thing in these parts, but it's a habit he picked up when he lived in a remote part of Scotland. It was all right up there, people were few and far between. But here in the south there are lots of people. On a busy day he can take hours to get anywhere. He does smile and say hallo this time. Luckily for me she is not too responsive and we make it to the park, without me having to sit impatiently while he rattles on about something or other. These days it's usually the royal wedding. He can't wait to see 'the dress'. I made that bit up. Nothing flakey about our John.
In the park John watches me like a hawk. He gets worried you see. He thinks I am going to poop on the grass. Actually I have already 'left a message' in the other field, but he doesn't trust me not to do it again. Sometimes, just for a bit of fun I pretend I'm getting ready to 'go'. "Don't you daaaarrre", he'll say in a stern voice, keeping it low in case anyone thinks he's a wicked dog owner. Honestly, he is hilarious.
This is nice. I think while he's watching I'll just bury my nose into this. He's getting worried. I recognise the signs. Tense shoulders, slight frown. I'll just squat down. Give him a bit of a scare. He is rummaging frantically in his pockets for a poop bag. "Don't you daaaarrre". Hilarious!
I am tied to a railing outside the shop, while he is buying a newspaper. The window cleaner wants to get this window next to me cleaned but he is frightened of me. I can always tell. You are going to have to wait Mate. If I know John, he is going to be chatting away in the the shop for flipping ages. That's it. Just work around me. Keep just outside my reach. I'm really vicious I am. I'm a German Shepherd.
What's this? How odd. A bloke in a kilt! Don't see many of those in Sussex. Hope he doesn't stand around for too long. If John sees him, he will be bound to want to talk. He likes people who are a bit different.
Too late! He's been noticed. Off they go. Natter, natter, natter. Blimey, and he says women talk too much! I may as well have a lay down.
The Scotsman has gone at last. John probably wore him out. They were talking for ages trying to outdo each other on who's legs are the weakest. It's a bit like young men comparing tattoos, only it's for older people, whose tattoos have faded.
We will soon be home. I need a drink of water and he looks like he could do with a cup of tea. I hope he gets the biscuits out too.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Men. Are We Really All Alike?

If I had a pound coin, for every time I have heard a woman utter the pitiable phrase "Men! They're all the same", or variations on that theme, I would probably have loads of money, and very heavy pockets. Carrying all those coins around would, in all likelihood, make holes in my pockets. But that'll be no problem. I happen to know that women are very handy with a needle and thread. What a thing to say! I don't know. Honestly us men, what are we like eh?
So many coins though. I'd be able to invite a woman out for a meal in a posh restaurant, with wine, and stuff. Like those fancy little flat after eight mints, they charge you a fortune for, just because they've got their own little envelope. Oh, and a finger bowl so that we could clean our fingers after the chocolates. Women love all that sort of thing. They love to be cared for like the delicate little flowers they are. Luckily us men always, have total respect, and know how to treat our lady friends. Oops! Shouldn't really be talking like this. Men! What are we like?
After the posh meal, she will no doubt be in a hurry to get you back to her place for "coffee". Yeah right! We know what "coffee" means, don't we guys? We know. Oh no! What am I saying? What am I like? Men!
It's only right though, don't you think? That a chap should get some reward, after treating her to such a romantic evening out, and spending all that money. Personally, I am always ready to allow a lady to cook me a full English breakfast after a night of strenuous, and, though I say it myself, expert love making. Mmm, maybe I shouldn't be saying these things. Men! What are we like?
You probably realise by now that this is all tongue in cheek stuff, and I've only made these stupid sexist remarks in order to illustrate my point. Such point being, that there is no way us men are all the same. To bluntly say we are, in the categoric way that women tend to do, is far too much of a sweeping generalisation.
Take me for example. I am totally unlike other men. For a start, I am extremely humble. I am, naturally, all too aware, that many men have not been blessed with my good looks or my intelligence. Women find me irresistible. I can tell just by the way they look at me. The only reason I haven't had a girlfriend for years, is because I would hate to hurt the feelings of so many of them. Like most men, but obviously not all of them, because we are all different, I am very thoughtful like that.
My ex wife was very wrong to say all those nasty things at the divorce hearing. Obviously her emotional state must have got the better of her. Probably a touch of PMT. As for what my former mother-in-law said. All that nonsense, about how she knew straight off that I'd never amount to anything. Well, the reason I didn't amount to anything, was because I didn't want to disappoint the old bat. I was being thoughtful, you see. A lesser man would have sued. Not me though, I understand women. I'm just not the same as other men. Well not all other men. Some of us do. Some of us don't.
Here's yet another prime example of why I'm not the same as other men. Not all of them anyway. I don't wear shorts in public when the sun comes out. Most men of a certain age look hideous in shorts. Think about it. Khaki shorts, long socks, and sandals. Ugh! There's the beer belly as well. All extremely disrespectful of women. This doesn't apply to me obviously. I'm lucky. In that I still have very attractive legs, and abdominal muscles to make many a younger fellow green with envy.
However, as I say, I'm not exactly like other men. At least not all of them. I do realise that some men are boastful. Not me though. No way would I spout off about how desirable women find me. Even though it is true. I know a lot of men think they're wonderful. I know for a certain fact that I am. I've seen how the opposite sex react to me. The wistful yearning glance. The shy smile, held just that fraction too long. Watching me, through the cunningly placed hand mirror, as more lipstick is hastily applied. Well sorry ladies. Dream on. I'm not that shallow that I would take advantage of my very obvious attributes. Just to have my wicked way. As I say, I am not like 'all' men. Please feel free to send me your phone number though. Just in case you're feeling lucky.
Should I go on? I don't think I need to. My point has been established, if not entirely proven. You womenfolk are probably nodding sagely and thinking to yourselves; he could be right, men are not necessarily all the same.
I expect lots of you will be thinking of setting up discussion groups on this very subject. You girls are good at that.
Not like us men. All we're good for is laying about, watching football and having a laugh with the lads, down the pub. Men eh!

Why is my finger hovering so nervously above the publish button? I can't understand it. I shan't press it. Oh, what the hell! I'll be a man about it.

Good Morning To You

It is early morning. The sun is about to take a look over the horizon, and the 'Wing Commander' my handsome cockerel, in glad expectation of another fine day, has begun to crow.
The reason I am sitting here at my keyboard so early, is that last night as I composed my blog, the computer crashed. I think it's called a crash. What happened was that the screen froze, and I was unable to continue writing. Which is a shame, because it was going to be a masterly diatribe about how women think all men are the same.
It happened once before this frozen screen business. Fortunately my long suffering friend and neighbour Steve was able to help me recover what I had written that time. But when it happened last night it was near midnight, and I thought he might not be best pleased at being dragged out of bed to help me at that hour.
However, all is not quite lost. Using the knowledge gained from Steve last time, I was able to save my masterpiece to a file, and there it sits. I can't recall how he showed me to bring it back. So I will have to wait until he returns from work this evening. When hopefully, he will once again come to my rescue.
Now I can hear a rooks harsh call, and yes, there they go, the cooing of the collared doves. Not to be outdone a wood pigeons deeper note is quickly added. 'Lucky' the tame rescued crow is awake now, and caws a greeting.
The 'Wing Commander' has reached full throttle. I must go and open the hen house door so that he can perform his early morning nuptials. He is always up for it in the mornings. Takes me back to when I was a young man. No! I never used to chase hens around the paddock. You know what I mean.
Here is the sun now. Casting a red light through the window. Oh dear! Red sky in the morning. Shepherds warning. There is a bit of a breeze today after many days of warm stillness. I am being gently showered with petals from the cherry tree as it blows through the mollicroft windows. Mollicroft. Do you know that word? I'm going to leave you wondering.
Chaffinches have a monotonous one note call. But now it combines with the robins happy sound and becomes part of the ever rising dawn chorus. The wren is so loud for such a small bird, and here comes a blackbird,or is it a song thrush? It is both. I love this early morning orchestration.
There is a railway track at the bottom of the field, and a train has just fled past. I do not envy those early morning commuters. An empty tipper truck has just rumbled noisily over the level crossing.
Bonnie the cat is seeking my attention. I shall stroke her lovely head. Scratch her ears. She likes that. What she is really after though, is her breakfast. So am I.
I will have a couple of slices of buttered toast and marmalade. No I wont! I will have an egg on toast, and another cup of tea. Then Sadie, the German Shepherd and I, shall have a nice walk across the back field, where she will unsuccessfully chase rabbits.
Then I shall take up my easel and go into town.Where I will hopefully make lots of money drawing portraits. Ha!
The world is waking up.

A mollicroft is a raised roof on a wagon or caravan, Which gives extra headroom.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A Very Painful Truth. Mr Boswell Is A Pseudonym.

We all like to paint ourselves in a good light, don't we? But if I'm to continue to use this blog as a cathartic exercise as well as entertaining people with a hopefully interesting read, then I have to be truthful in what I write.
This is the reason I'm admitting today, that I was an horrible attention seeking little so and so when I was a teenager. A reaction perhaps to the fact that I didn't get a lot of attention -at least not of the positive kind- during my early formative years. Not that I realised this at the time of course. I thought I was perfect.
My decline from a fairly promising and somewhat placid child, albeit one with a temper apparently, to loud, rebellious teenager, started almost as soon as I began living with my Mother, after many years of being under the care of the London County Council children's department. Allowing me to live with my extremely volatile Mother, turned out to be a big mistake on the part of the authorities. But this is a part of my life which I will bore you with another time.
Going to school in Scotland was something I found very difficult. Actually I found it difficult in England too if I'm honest about it. But in Scotland I had to contend with, not only the perplexing local dialect, but also the fact that I spoke with a broad London accent. Combine these two things, and you come up with a way of speaking that caused a lot of amusement to my peers, and which almost inevitably led to bullying from some of them.
Now I didn't spend years in children's homes and foster care, without learning how to take care of myself in these kind of circumstances, and I was able to quickly show these village school upstarts, exactly how a tough London kid could stick up for himself. Unfortunately, in doing so, I gained as they say, a bit of a reputation. Not just amongst the kids but the teachers also.
The science teacher Mr Boswell didn't like me. He wasn't used to kids that talked back. I didn't like him either. So in that respect we were on a fairly even level. However, Mr Boswell had somewhat of an advantage in our mutual hatred. Mr Boswell had the tawse. The tawse was the favoured method of corporal punishment in Scottish schools. It was a vicious two thonged hard leather strap. Usually applied to the palm of the hand, but sometimes, in the case of certain, to my mind, suspect teachers, the buttocks. It hurt like hell! Mr Boswell was fond of applying the tawse.
All right, I know that I should not have done it. But it should be borne in mind that I was a 13 year old boy in the grip of some gruesomely nasty hormonal changes, and also carrying an enormous chip on my shoulder about the way life had treated me so far. Anyway, that apart, looking back on it now, even from an adult standpoint it seems a relatively minor misdemeanour.
What I had done was to make a poster during art class. Even though I do say so myself, it was a beautiful piece of artwork. I thought I had got the colours spot on, and the lettering, which had taken some considerable time and diligence on my part, spelled out in large and beautifully constructed format, the words, 'MR BOSWELL IS A BIG FAT B-----D'.
Not wanting to waste this magnificent piece of work, I waited until the class was empty and pinned it to the wall. Then went off home for the weekend.
For some odd reason, I can recall the following Monday morning with great clarity. It began normally enough with a maths lesson, but it wasn't long before a strange thing started happening. One by one my classmates were called out of the room, only to return a few seconds later. This went on and on. Until there were just a few of us boys left. George went out, and returned seconds later. I looked at him. Was he avoiding my gaze? Gavin, my best friend, went out and duly returned a few seconds later. I was the only one left to go. I tried to get Gavin's attention but he was definitely not going to look at me. Of course, by this time I knew something was up. The whole class was quiet. Everyone had their head down, seemingly lost in concentration.
It was my turn and nervously curious I went into the classroom next door. The headmaster, or as he was known in the local dialect the 'Dominee', was standing there with my nemesis Mr Boswell. I also could not fail to notice that my colourful poster was pinned slap bang in the middle of the blackboard. The Dominee was wearing his black gown and mortarboard cap. They take education seriously in Scotland. It was a forbidding sight.
Now I ask you what was the point of such a long protracted process? Why would two grown, and supposedly intelligent men, go through all this rigmorale? I was obviously the culprit. Look, there is my signature in the bottom right hand corner. Even today forty years later I am beginning to get my dander up. The only answer I can come up with is that they enjoyed the whole process. Hey! Who are the kids here?
Mr Boswell opened the desk drawer and took out the tawse. The usual punishment for misdemeanours was one stinging blow to each hand. On this occasion he had other intentions. My hands and wrists -he wasn't very accurate- were subjected to six, increasingly painful blows. It was an excruciating punishment to inflict on anyone, let alone a child. Thank God that common sense finally prevailed and corporal punishment was abolished.
After I had numbed the pain somewhat under the cold tap, I returned to the classroom. It wasn't only my hands that hurt, it was my pride. How were my classmates to know that my tears were caused by rage, and not because I wasn't tough enough to take the pain. I swore that when I grew up I would make Mr Boswell suffer.
That day at the age of 13 heralded the end of my school life. I hardly ever went back except when the school board forced me to. Although I was expected to do well, I never took any exams, and my leaving certificate may as well have been a blank piece of paper, for all it was worth.
All my own fault? Perhaps, but I was only a child and knew no better. We expect too much of kids sometimes. It is easy to forget that the young brain is still growing and needs time to mature.
My word! I have gone on a bit today. Sorry to take up your time. I would just like to finish by saying that I met Mr Boswell in a pub many years later. We had a pint together. I felt no malice towards him. I had it seems, grown up.
Today if I were to make a poster about him, I would leave out the word fat. I think that was what upset him!

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Pipe Smoker.

Funny the things that can set me off at a tangent. No wonder I'm so hopeless at getting things done. Today my mission in life was to get my lawn mower working. I was out there in the shed fiddling about with spanners and screw drivers, pretending I knew what I was doing, when I really do not have a clue about things mechanical.
I have a comprehensive list of what could possibly be wrong with the lawnmower because I googled the not working symptoms and I now have an encyclopedic knowledge of my particular make, the Countax K14. Unfortunately, even if I possessed a first class honours degree in lawnmowing machinery from Oxbridge university I would still lack the mechanical skills to turn theory into fact.
So I did what I usually do when I am stuck with a problem. I turned to Buddhist philosophy. The one I most like is this. If a problem can be solved it is not a problem, and if it can't be solved it is not worth worrying about. I decided to put aside my mechanical aspirations, and threw the spanners back into their box.
Now what to do next. Obviously the grass wasn't going to get cut. But there is still the driveway to be tidied, and I need to make a nesting box for the broody hen. Sadie's kennel requires a bit of attention, and definitely, I must sort out the studio. There is still a lot of painting to be done on my wagon and... Oh what the hell! Lets go for a nice walk.
It was still quite early, so not too hot, and the sun was warm and pleasant on my back. I called Sadie, the German Shepherd, who being the loyal and faithful hound that she is, was indoors sleeping on my favourite chair.
Our regular and familiar walk, is a circuitous route, part of which takes us through the local park. It was here that I noticed the elderly man sitting on a bench, smoking a pipe. He had removed his jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, and looked so relaxed, and delightfully old fashioned as he puffed away.
Seemingly lost in thought, he appeared to be unaware of our presence as we passed by. The scent of tobacco was wafted towards me and the pleasing aroma brought to mind memories of my childhood, when pipe smoking was a perfectly normal and acceptable practice.
It is a long time since I gave up smoking, but I remembered as we walked home, Sadie and I, that I had a pipe of my own somewhere in the back of a cupboard. I decided to look it out. Not to smoke of course, but just for the nostalgic pleasure.
Now look here, I may be getting on a bit, but sometimes I still get a childish pleasure out of things. Which is how I came to be posing in front of the mirror, pipe between my teeth, deciding what angle I looked best at. Yes indeed , after careful consideration, I have decided that my pipe lends me an air of intelligence. A contemplative sophistication. A look of distinction. In short, I think I look good with a pipe. What do you think?
Hmmm.. Perhaps I should take up smoking again? Can't quite make my mind up. Hmmm...
Thinking about it, I don't have to actually light it. Perhaps I'll just suck on it for a while, as I intelligently contemplate what to do about the damn lawnmower!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Oi Ginger! You Are Beautiful.

As a portrait artist I have, over the years, had the great privilege, to paint and draw the features of many people. Making peoples portraits is something I really enjoy. I have to make a living at it, so of course, I have to charge a fee for my time and endeavour. However there are some portraits I will gladly do without charge, purely for the pleasure of it. Sometimes a beautiful child's face will catch my ever searching eye, or it might be an elderly person with the wonderful wrinkles of time etched upon them. It could be the sharp angular shape of a nose or chin. It could be many things. But the thing about a person that is guaranteed to grab my attention and get my artistic juices flowing, is red hair. Commonly referred to as ginger hair.

Unfortunately to call someone 'ginger' is usually these days, in its mildest form teasing, and in its harshest form bullying.

I am on the subject of ginger hair for a reason today.

A friend of mine has a daughter with beautiful hair, which is the colour of burnished copper. I say is, the colour of burnished copper. I should say was, the colour of burnished copper. It is now jet black.
Why has she dyed her lovely hair black? A colour which is totally unsuited to her complexion. The answer is, too many teasing comments, too many harsh remarks. It is bullying. Nasty, and thoughtless criticisms, with a total and reckless disregard, for a young girls sensitivities.

It is not the done thing in these so called enlightened days to make cruel remarks about a persons race, colour, or creed. People with disabilities, or anyone who is slightly different to the so called 'norm', are no longer mocked as they sadly once were.

So why is it still alright for a person to be bullied because of the colour of their hair? I don't know the answer. What I do know, is that discrimination in any form is wrong. It should not be tolerated and society is rightly fighting against it, in all it's forms.

Crikey! I think I'm making myself sound like a flipping saint. Sorry I don't mean to. I am as bad as many others, but the thing is, I do try to understand things, and if we all just tried to think a bit more, before we make our opinions known, then surely the world would be a better place.

The Oxford English dictionary describes 'ginger' as making something, or someone, more lively and exciting. I think they have got it right!

I have just noticed that all my pets are 'ginger'? Apart from 'Lucky' the crow, who would probably like to be, so that he could sneak in, and steal the hens food without getting picked on.

Artists have always been drawn to the redhead. (Accidental pun there). The 16th century Venetian artist Titian, arguably the worlds finest, was a prolific painter of ladies with red hair. Even lending his name to the genre. The reason being of course that he saw red hair, not as ginger, but for what it truly is. A natural palette of delicious warm colours. From deep burgundy through to bright copper and orange.

Here is an admission. Well over forty years as an artist, and I have just had to look in the dictionary, for how to spell palette. Disgraceful!

The next time you have the pleasure of seeing, or being in the company of, someone you would normally describe as 'ginger', take a closer look. Perhaps offer them a compliment on it. You are in the presence of great beauty.

Just a thought to end on. If it happens to be a bloke, over six feet tall, and built like the proverbial brick outhouse, who has the red hair, it would perhaps be wise not to look too closely. Also probably safer to forget the compliment. Anyway, you know what I mean.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

'The Whispering Soldiers' Sad Demise.

Before the nanny state took them by the throat, and gave them a totally unnecessary throttling, the good old British pub was a great place to meet all sorts of different types of humanity.
Nowadays, what with the high price of a pint (mostly tax) and the smoking ban, people are staying at home more in the evenings. Every day more of our pubs are closing their doors, and not bothering to open them again. It's a lot cheaper to buy your alcohol in the supermarket, and that is what more and more of the great British public are doing. Then all you have to do, is sit in your favourite chair at home. A six pack of beer at your side, and spend the next several hours viewing a load of complete garbage on the television. Whilst at the same time you are completely free -provided you have not been brainwashed about the effects of passive smoking on your offspring- to clog your lungs, with a thick, glutinous mixture of nicotine and tar, dispensed from the tobacco of your choice.
It is quite likely too, that what you are smoking, has been smuggled into Britain on a ferry from France. Thereby evading the duty, and in the process of buying your cheap tobacco, you have deprived your local corner shop of much needed income. The British corner shop is vanishing also.
Don't worry it isn't just your fault. I blame the government for all our woes. The government and the bloody supermarkets. Well, someone has to take the blame, and it ain't going to be me. Although I have deprived the government of some revenue, by giving up smoking. I'm sorry about that, but I thought I would try and gain a few more years of not breathing through a piece of plastic tubing.
I am drifting right away from the point of this item. I wanted to share with you my sadness at what looks likely to be the end of the British pub as we know and love it. But also, and very importantly. What is to become of that other great British tradition, the pub character, the bar stool eccentric? Someone like Norman, for instance.

Norman belongs to that fairly ubiquitous type of bar stool drunk. The kind that likes to regale the hapless pub goer with imagined stories of their heroism in the field of conflict. The pseudo SAS soldier. Usually they are tolerated for what they are, bullshitters, and become the butt of the pub comedians jokes. The pub comedian incidentally, is not usually very funny. But his alcohol intake gives him the confidence to tell his, usually racist jokes with impunity. He thinks people are laughing at his wit, when in reality they are laughing about him.
Norman was different from the usual bar stool soldier, in that he was not a braggart. At least not in the sense of the normal pub boaster. Norman thrived on keeping his imaginings close to his chest. He liked to draw the unwary listener close. Norman liked to reveal his SAS secrets very quietly. Those of us in the know, referred to Norman as 'the whispering soldier'.

"Good evening Landlord," said the thirsty stranger. "A pint of your finest ale. If I may." He didn't really say this. but I thought it gave better dramatic effect. He probably just said. "Pint of bitter please mate."
While the stranger supped his pint, Norman will have been observing him surreptitously for a few minutes. Before moving in for the kill.
"Hunc mmmnum," Norman would mumble. "Hnnn na mmmnn."
"Sorry mate,what was that?"
"Nnnnam em nannam Korea war ."
"Oh right Korean war, Yeah."
"fiddy fo serrrrnn SAS."
"SAS, you were SAS?"

Hearing this loud utterance Norman would glance quickly and furtively over his shoulder, and put a cautionery boney finger to his lips, before raising his pint glass and noticing theatrically that it was empty.
At this point the stranger would invariably ask. "Fancy another?"

Normans glass was in the Landlords hand, and the pump handle already in a downward trajectory, almost but not quite, before the question had been asked. Honed by years of practice, Normans free drink routine was masterful, and almost never failed.
"Mumble mutter mumble," Norman would whisper, as his victim strained to listen.
"Mumble middle east. Desert."
"Arabs, mumble sand dune."
"Rifle mumble took 'is 'ed off. Mumble whisper."
"All mumble mutter kill mutter mutter."
"Machine gun, whisper mutter mumble."
"Dead mumble, all of 'em whisper."

After several ear straining minutes of this the stranger would gulp his beer down, say an urgent goodbye and head swiftly for the exit.
This moment was the only time anyone ever heard Norman raise his voice above a whisper.
"You never heard it from me!" He would exclaim loudly, sitting bolt upright and squaring his thin shoulders. "Official secrets act. I never said nothin'."
At that he would slump back into his bar stool, a quiet satisfied smile playing on his lips.

If the pub does disappear, where will Norman and his like go? Where will they find an outlet for their eccentricities? I tell you, it's never going to be the same. Why do we let these things happen? Why?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Sorry Ladies Mr Perfect Has Been Taken.

It is quite amazing, the number of women out there in small ad lonely heart land. A heck of a lot of them list among their interests, theatre, travel and dining out.
Come on now ladies. You are advertising in the free ads. Be honest. When did you last dine out and go to the theatre? Let alone take a flight to gay Paree to do so. I think, and I admit that I am no expert in these matters, but I think what you really mean is, that, theatre, travel, and dining out are the things you dream about doing when Mr Perfect, also known as Mr Right comes along. Well I'm sorry about this, but it has to be said. If he is out there, this perfect man. It is an almost odds on racing certainty that he has already been spoken for. There is no way that Mr Perfect or Mr Right, if indeed such a man exists, is sitting at home alone, in his wood panel lined study, in his grand mansion house, thinking despondently to himself. 'She must be out there somewhere, the woman of my dreams. She must be'. As he sobs, and flicks wistfully through the lonely heart ads, in the free local newspaper, which is pushed through his ornate brass letter box, every Wednesday morning.
Sad as I am to say it ladies. Maybe it is time to think again. Perhaps lower your sights just a little. Why not look for an ordinary bloke? The type of man who is happy to go out to work every day. Who brings home an average working mans wage. The kind of man who, although he can't afford to wine and dine you every day, and most definitely can't afford to take you to exotic destinations, nevertheless, loves you, and treats you with the respect you deserve.
What's that you say? He sounds a lot like the boring bloke you just divorced. Oh dear! That is bad news. Because he is exactly the same person that is reading your lonely heart ad right now. It could be your ex husband, sitting in his lonely bedsit. Which is all the poor devil can afford these days. Eating a can of beans which he has tried to heat, unsuccessfully, on a warm radiator, who is reading your ad and trying to pluck up the courage to call your box number. Doesn't your heart just bleed for him? He is probably thinking about taking out a bank loan so that he can fulfil your wishes, and meet your criteria to be wined and dined.
You are thinking such a thing is unlikely to happen. Your ex husband answering your lonely heart appeal. Well yes, it does sound unlikely. But it is not impossible. I know a couple who it happened to. I won't give their names so as not to embarrass them. Roger and Jill. They did meet up in these same circumstances. They fell in love all over again and remarried. At first, they would go out every week for a meal in a nice restaurant. But she got bored with that. So now they just have the occasional night out and a holiday abroad a couple of times a year. They are very happy.
You may be wondering, what I am doing, looking through the lonely hearts adverts? Am I lonely? Am I, as it says in the ads, looking for companionship, maybe more? Has my eye been caught by tall, leggy lady, curvy, caring and genuine, solvent with own home?
Well, perhaps I do get a little lonely sometimes. Yearn for some feminine comfort. But the truth is, I was just idly glancing through the ads as I ate my burnt toast this morning. No seriously I was. Oh all right then, I'll admit it. I wasn't just glancing through. I was looking for a woman. There! Happy now? Luckily for me I soon came to my senses and got a grip of myself. No! Not like that. For heavens sake! Anyway, it got me thinking, and this little article is the result of those thoughts. But, the fact is, that even if I were seriously seeking a mate, I have grave doubts as to whether I could meet the criteria demanded by some of these ladies.
Take this one for example: Voluptuous attractive tanned, well groomed blonde, looking for good times, seeks tall, well built guy, for pampering, massages and discreet friendship. Any age/looks.
That rules me right out. How can I be discreet? I need stuff to put in my blog. Besides which, I have my suspicions that the word voluptuous could be a euphemism for, 'extremely large'.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Thoughtless Act Gets Me Thinking.

This morning quite early I was standing before the toilet bowl. I don't remember why. Oh yes, that's it, I was having a pee! Anyway, that's not important. Actually I say that's not important, but when you get to my age, it does take on a greater importance than it used to in my youth. Well, for a start, you have to stand there a lot longer just waiting for things to happen. Even if you are almost bursting it seems that nature likes to play its little jokes on us older folk and restrict the flow until the pain is almost, but not quite, unbearable. Then a bit of relief, then a break, then a bit more relief. The whole rigmorale takes ages and on a cold morning is not even slightly amusing. Although I will admit that it might amuse any onlookers. Not that I have any onlookers. Of course when I was a boy there were onlookers. Me and my mates used to have competitions to see who could pee the highest. I am proud to say that I did win occasionally. Today? I doubt if I could win a dribbling contest! But hey! Enough! Let me move on from this unsavoury subject.
As I was saying before I went off on my revelry. As I stood there beside the porcelain borehole, I noticed an earwig trying to clamber from the water and attempt to scale the slippery side of the bowl. He was of course unsuccessful. I'm sure me giving him an extra little sprinkling didn't help either, and after observing his valiant efforts for a minute or two, I flushed the toilet and watched him spiral to his death. After washing my hands, which apparently one should always do after using the facilities, I left the bathroom and decided to have some breakfast.
The guilt set in as I waited for the toast to burn. Why did I flush the earwig away? Why did that poor earwig have to die? If it had been a butterfly struggling in the water I would have rescued it, or a ladybird, or a bumble bee, or even a spider. There is no doubt that I would have come to it's aid. No doubt at all.
I am ashamed of myself. I will tell you why as I dry my tears, and scrape the carbon from my toast.
That earwig had to die, because, and here I try to hold back my self loathing. It had to die because it was ugly! There! I've said it! I have admitted here in black and white -all right then, brown and white- that I make decisions, based on looks. Not just on insects either. I do it with people too. Good job the toilet isn't a bit bigger. I might be tempted to flush away a few. But wait! Isn't that true of us all? Or at least a whole lot of us. Aren't most of us guilty of being judgemental about appearances sometimes? Who would you be attracted to first? Would it be the person with the happy smiling open countenance, or the surly downcast looks of another? Human nature provides the answer. We cannot help but respond to the happy smile and we instinctively neglect the frown. But we do this at our peril, and should remember that the evil assassin easily hides his true intent with a smile.
That earwig has given me food for thought. From this day on, I shall take time to get to know those who may not conform to the "norm". I will base my opinions, not on the shape of a persons face or the contours of their body, but on the content of their heart. Or at least I will try to. Can't really do better than that. I am only human after all is said and done.
Did you know that the earwig is a very beneficial insect to have in the garden? It's true. Go and google earwig. You'll be impressed.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and inspect the manhole. With a bit of luck, that earwig might have managed to hang on to something. I may be able to save him. Give him a hot bath and a bit of burnt toast. Who knows we might even become good friends. Unlikely though, no one likes to be pissed on. That is unforgiveable.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Introducing Sadie. A Female Shepherd of my acquaintance.

Sadie is the German Shepherd who lives with me, here on my little patch. No I haven't got any sheep! Sadie is a German Shepherd of the canine variety. Although if I am honest with you, I would not be too upset if a beautiful blonde haired German woman with plaited hair, turned up at the door, begging me to let her move in and take care of me. They usually have plaits don't they? Well they do in my fantasies. I am joking here. I don't have fantasies about German women. OK, perhaps just this once.
I refer to Sadie as the German Shepherd, because I really don't like to just call her the dog. She deserves better than that! I find it a comfort to have her around. She looks after security around here and she does a good job of deterring any unwanted visitor. By unwanted visitor I am not talking about the Mother-in-Law. Oh yes I am! Wait a minute, I don't have a Mother-in -Law any more. That joke is void. I mean anyone who is skulking around trying to see if I have anything worth pinching. Might as well tell them right now. I haven't. Actually as my friends (I do have a couple) will tell you, Sadie is not in the slightest bit aggressive once she has got to know them, and will allow them  to come in without hindrance. But luckily for me, she does have a very loud bark and lets me know in good time if strangers are about.
Sadie is not a house dog. She lives outside where she has her own kennel or the choice of many sheds in which she is free to take up residence. She prefers her own kennel though because it is right outside the door and she can keep a close eye on me and prevent me sneaking out on my own. Some people think Sadie should live indoors with me, but this little wagon does not have the space for a German Shepherd. Unless of course, as already mentioned above, the German Shepherd was a blonde Fraulein of the two legged human type. Under those circumstances I am sure I could fit her in somewhere.
Anyway, as I was saying, Sadie lives outside and it is a good job that she does. Unwanted visitors do not only come in human form. The local foxes are extremely partial to a chicken takeaway and are regular visitors. She is excellent at making them feel that her patch is not a good place to be. Also Sadie does not like Magpies or Crows, and will not tolerate their presence. She must instinctively know that they steal eggs and kill and eat young chicks. Strangely enough, she never chases Lucky. Lucky is the tame Crow who was raised by my Son, and who has decided that she likes it here so much, that she is never going to leave. I will tell you the story of Lucky the Crow another time.
The reason I am talking about Sadie here, is that something crossed my mind today. The something is this. How is it that Sadie, who as I say is an outside dog, and has her own kennel? How is it, that, whenever I decide that I shall go and have a bit of a rest? A sit down and a read of the newspaper. How is it that Sadie is always sitting in my favourite chair?

Friday, 8 April 2011

I'm just a young man stolen by time.

Mirrors! I don't like 'em. They always tell the most awful, painful and obviously blatant lies. Whenever I look into a mirror, I see this really ancient and decrepit old bloke looking back at me. Wrinkled as an old walnut and hairier than a bill posters glue brush.
These ugly features taunt me mercilessly. "Who are you looking for John? Who did you expect to see? Don't tell me you expected to see a young John. Well I've got news for you mate. He is gone, and he ain't never coming back. In fact, I have to tell you, things are only going to get worse"!
It's not a lie though is it? It's the plain, simple and sadly unvarnished truth. I'm not going to come back. The young, and dare I say it, handsome young John, has gone forever. Replaced by a rough and ever increasingly baggier and saggier old man. There is nothing to be done. It has to be accepted, because it is the inevitable consequence of getting old. Of course some people, those with perhaps more money than sense, resort to plastic surgery in an effort to stave off the ravages of time. That is not for me though, and not just because I don't have the money. From what I have seen of those who do take the surgery option, it just doesn't work. They tend to end up looking like grotesque parodies of their former selves.
I suppose one option open to me is to avoid mirrors but that is easier said than done. Besides, there are always other ways that you can be caught out. Shop windows for example. I keep on getting unexpected and unpleasant  glimpses of the truth as I pass by. Also, in nearly every shop you go into these days there are the ubiquitous closed circuit TV camera's, with their nosy little lenses attempting to pry into our every little unguarded moment. They have the cheek to ask us to smile because we are on camera. Well I don't want to smile thank you very much. Smiling just makes me look worse than ever. Anyway I find it hard to smile when I am concentrating on trying to remember not to scratch my backside, or pick my nose. Because I know some pimply youth in a back room somewhere is watching my every move.
Now just suppose that I was looking for a woman to share my life with. The thought does occasionally pass through my mind. Usually when I am looking at a pile of washing up or notice the build up of dust on various shelves about the place. Well, how am I to meet the woman of my yearning dreams? The answer is of course that I am not. Unless I join a dating agency that caters for sad old men. Not that I would join such an agency. I have my pride you know. But let us suppose, purely for the purpose of writing this article, that I have joined such an agency, and I have to write an honest description. It would have to go like this. Short, fat, balding, old bloke, with fading eyesight, rheumatic joints and no money would like to meet...
Pretty hopeless isn't it? What chance have I got? None at all.
So here is what I intend to do. Try extra hard in future to avoid mirrors and all those other niggling, everyday reminders of  my inevitable decline, and concentrate instead, on the fact that I have been blessed with a fantastic libido, yes ladies it's true, and that I am still, in my imagination, possessed of the good looks of my youth.

In conclusion. I would like to point out, that the chauvinistic remarks, about washing up and dusting, which I referred to earlier, are only there for comic effect. They in no way reflect my true thoughts on the role of women in society. But if anyone is interested...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Other Mans Grass Is Always Noisier.

Weatherwise it has been a beautiful, warm, sunny day. It's not even summer yet but the temperature must have been up in the seventies. It gets us British folk up and about doesn't it? We love to make the most of these first warm days. Get out in the sun. Absolute bliss. Get the sun lounger out, and settle back. Maybe have a book with you, in case you can summon up enough strength to turn a few pages. Have a bit of a read. Lovely stuff. Why not doze off for a bit? Have a bit of a kip. Go on. Why not?
Why not, why not? I'll tell you why not. Lawn mowers. That's why not. First bit of decent sunny weather and out they come, to irritate and annoy. Screeching, whining, buzzing and incessant lawn mowers. Loud lawn mowers, irritating switch on switch off electric lawn mowers, strimmers, brush cutters, chainsaws, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers. That's why flipping not!
It is difficult if not impossible, to get away from the noise we all seem so intent on making. Even in the so called dead of night there will be someone or something intent on disturbing the peace. There is always the distant drone of moving traffic. Be it road, rail, air or sea. Here it is now, just after midnight and a motorcyclist has decided to take advantage of the relatively empty roads and go for a high speed tear up. Ripping past the houses full of sleeping humanity, with a complete disregard for their need of a peaceful nights sleep. A couple of goods trains have just sauntered past. On their way to who knows where. Strangely enough the sound of a train at night, is to me a comforting one. Can't imagine why that should be. Nothing primordial about trains. So it can't hark back to a basic instinct. Can it? Difficult one to work out. Don't think I will bother.
Sometimes I like to imagine how quiet life was before the invention of the infernal combustion engine or the electric motor. I said infernal combustion engine just then. It wasn't a slip of the pen. But quietness is something it is very hard to imagine. Besides I have an awful feeling that perhaps complete and utter silence would drive us all crazy. After all isn't sound deprivation used as a form of torture?
I imagine that the towns and cities of the old days were quite noisy places.Where even the hustle and bustle of every day life could generate quite a bit of noise. But in the countryside, surely it must have been blissfully quiet. Nothing to disturb the peace except birdsong and the occasional lowing of cattle or bleating of sheep. Truth is if course, that we will never know.
 Oh well, back to reality and the cacophony of sound that is our modern life. It might not be the peace and quiet we hoped for when we unfolded the sun lounger, but at least the sun is warm on our pale, light deprived bodies. So lets ignore the noise as best we can and have a nice little forty winks.
Oh for heavens sake! Who's lit that bloody bonfire?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bigotry, Prejudice, Sexism. With Chips.

Bigotry and prejudice. I am guilty of both these things on occasion but I always do my best to keep such things in check. Because I am aware that they are wrong. Of course they are. I hate the term political correctness but I suppose it does have it's uses. Especially if it causes you to stop and think. It certainly thrives on issues such as these. Indeed, in todays world political correctness just thrives. But, and yes I do know it's politically incorrect to say so, sometimes bigotry and prejudice can make me smile and even laugh out loud.
Take today for example. Sadie the German Shepherd and I decided we would take a walk to work up an appetite for lunch. When I say that we decided, I suppose what I really mean is that I decided. Whoever heard of a dog making a decision on whether we go for a walk or not? No. Hang on a minute! Actually it was Sadie that decided on the walk. The more I think about it the clearer it becomes to me. Yes it was Sadie.What happens is that she takes to following me like a shadow. Whenever I move she is there, getting under my feet and sometimes even causing me to stumble. Even actually tripping me on occasion. But it's the eyes that really get to me. Great big soulful eyes, looking up at me, or down if I've fallen over. Sad eyes imploring me to take pity on her and take her for a walk. I give in, I always do, and she knows even before I utter the words, "lets go for a walk", that I have given in to her. Off she goes, frolicking and vocalising in the way that German Shepherds do when they have browbeaten you into submission and bent you to their will. So I will amend what I said before, and state categorically that Sadie decides. Now then, where was I before getting sidetracked? Oh yeah! Bigotry and prejudice made me laugh today. Perhaps it shouldn't have, but I'm afraid it did.
The smell of chips is sometimes hard to resist and today my resistance was low enough that I found myself buying a bag. A large bag that I would be able to share with Sadie. I know I shouldn't share with her but it's her eyes you know. Those big soulful eyes... Hold on, I'm not going there again.
We sat at a park bench, alongside an elderly chap who had the same idea as me and was eating a bag of chips.
"Alsation", he said suddenly, pointing at Sadie. I wasn't sure whether he was asking me or telling me.
"Yeah". I said, "German Shepherd".
"No", he said. "That is an Alsation".
I tried to put him right. "They used to be called Alsations, now they are called German Shepherds".
" Yeah still an Alsation though. Vicious bastards I 'ate em, I 'ate all bleeding Germans".
I rose to my best friends defence. "She wouldn't hurt a fly", I protested, momentarily forgetting Sadie's hatred of wasps, bees, and bluebottles. I gave her another chip to distract her in case she wanted to rip his throat out.
He wasn't finished. "I seen a programme about 'em. They was training 'em to be vicious. It was on tele. What was it called"? He asked himself. "Sumfing abart dogs. What was it"? He looked at me quizzically.
"I don't know. I don't watch a lot of television". I answered, lying through my teeth. I had gone off him.
"You don't watch tele". He was actually sneering. "You don't watch tele?" He turned it into a question.
"I said I don't watch a lot of television. I like to watch wildlife programmes and I like quizzes". I really disliked him now.
"Countdown. Do you like countdown"?
"I used to like it. I've gone off it a bit now."
"Yeah. I bet you went off it when Carol left didn't ya? She's got a lovely bum, ain't she?" I never answered him. I didn't like to admit he was right. On both counts. "What's your favourite thing on tele?" He asked.
I swallowed a mouthful of chips before answering. "I like Stephen Fry. Anything with Stephen Fry in it."
"Stephen Fry! Stephen Fry! He's a bleeding poof!"
"Yeah he is Gay". I said, adding."But he's none practicing".
"None practicing! None practicing!" He was indignant. "'E don't need to bloody practice. 'E's been at it for years! 'Ear you're not a gay boy are yeh?"
Sadie and me, having finished our chips, got up and went on our way. Hopefully leaving the miserable old git wondering what it was I found so funny.
So there you have it. Prejudice, sexism and bigotry, all in one short conversation. Political correctness. It don't always get its message across. You've got to laugh!

Monday, 4 April 2011

'She Could Be A Bit Of A Goer'

It's no good I've got writers cramp. Don't know quite what to do about it. I have tried slapping myself around the face in the hope that something will loosen in my brain and allow me to carry on writing. So far it hasn't worked. Seems that my brain already has too many loose bits rattling around in there. Oops' hang on. Did I say writers cramp? Sorry. I meant writers block!
The problem is that it has been a quiet kind of a day. Uneventful. Nothing to hang my hat on. I did get invited to dinner this evening by an old flame, but nothing happened there unfortunately. The meal was delicious though. Roast chicken with all the trimmings, followed by rhubarb and plum crumble with custard. But you don't want to hear about that,do you? No, I thought not.
I think what you are supposed to do in these circumstances is just to carry on writing any old nonsense. But that's not going to work, I write a lot of nonsense as it is. What I'm going to do is have another look in my notebook. See if I can find some inspiration there.
No, nothing there just random notes. Nothing happening in there to give my limited amount of grey matter a bit of a kickstart. Hold on a minute! I think we're off!
When I was a youngster I was the proud owner of a Triumph Tiger Cub motorbike. It was completely unreliable and often used to let me down just when I needed it most. In fact, it could be described as reliably unreliable. This little motorbike was at it's most unreliable, at those times, when I had somehow persuaded one of the young ladies of the village, we called them young ladies in those days. They had to behave like ladies. The pill hadn't been invented yet! To join me for a romantic trip into the surrounding countryside. "I'll be there" I would promise in a foolhardy manner, adding hopefully. "Don't forget to bring a blanket".
Of course, knowing what a pig it was to get started I would allow myself plenty of time to accomplish this. Now this is the bit where I begin to tell you about the Tiger Cubs kickstart pedal. The bit which has been inspired by me using the word kickstart towards the end of the third paragraph. Clever eh!
The kickstart pedal frightened me! It frightened me because I knew that it could kick back violently. It was devious too and would often lull me into a false sense of security by starting on the first attempt. As soon as I heard it fire up I would turn the twistgrip frantically, revving the engine madly, desperately hoping that it would warm up and keeping running. My hopes building, rev rev, building rev rev dwindling rev gone. Phut!
Another half hour or so of fruitless painful attempts at kickstarting her -it had to be a her - and I would give up in despair. No romantic trip, no young lady, no blanket on the ground. Just two very painful ankles and bruised shins. Both ankles and both shins because I didn't give in easily. When one leg was knackered I would switch to the other one.
But I tell you what. I loved that little motor bike. I loved how she looked and I loved how she smelled, and when she did go, I loved how she went. No need for crash helmets in those days. You could feel the wind on your face and in your hair. The miles I rode her were worth all the miles I had to push her home. They were great days.
Just to finish on this bit. If you ever get the chance to ride a Tiger Cub just remember, if it doesn't start, It will be either; you haven't turned the ignition key, or you have forgotten to turn the petrol on! That's a bit of advice that was hard learnt and hard earn't.
The young lady? She went off with my mate Spud. He had a Norton Commando!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A bit of a meander about.

Today I thought I'd pay a surprise visit to my friend Glenn. I didn't phone him to let him know I was on my way, because usually when I do that he gets called out on some errand or other. It's uncanny the number of times that has happened in the past. I can't remember the number of times his old Granny has died, suddenly, just after I have phoned to say I'm on my way. Anyway he was there today, and he did look pleasantly surprised to see me. Or maybe he just looked surprised, I don't really remember. It's been several hours since it happened, and I am getting on a bit now. In this photo -scroll down to see it- it almost looks as though he is scurrying away to avoid me, but Glenn assures me he was rushing off because he thought he heard the phone ringing.
Glenn is the lead singer with the group 'Meander Lane'. A lot of people haven't heard of this group. Very many people. Lots and lots of people. A hell of a lot of people. Have you heard of them? No. I thought you wouldn't have done. I'm not surprised. Most of the population of the world haven't. But Glenn is a brilliant vocalist. He'll tell you that himself. Repeatedly. On and on, until you run away!
One of the best things about visiting Glenn is that he has his own 'state of the art' recording studio. If you are lucky you might not get invited to listen to his latest song. If you are unlucky you will have to endure, sorry did I say endure? I meant listen to. Did I say unlucky? Oh dear! I am a bit confused today. It's an age thing you know. What I'm trying to say is; he will invite you to 'have a listen'. It goes on and on for ages. You can't not listen because he always stands blocking the door. When the music stops, all you have to do, is tell him how good it sounds. You have to tell him several times though, and he will eventually let you go.
I was allowed to take the next photo, on condition that I wouldn't show the one of him scurrying away like a little frightened bunny. Naturally I promised not to. But then, what is a promise anyway? Yes, just empty words. He likes this photo because he seriously thinks he looks like a rock star. He poses for this. Which is not a difficult thing for him to do. He does it a lot. I've heard him called a poser lots of times. Not to his face though. He is after all a very big geezer. I had to take several photo's before he was satisfied.
He is an ex soldier and used to work as a night club bouncer. Six foot six he stands on the ground and he weighs two hundred and thirty five pounds. Hey! Didn't Johnny Cash used to sing that? But I think it is the fact that he is such a big bloke, which allows my mate Glenn to wear the kind of outfit he was wearing today. He's not that tough though. Have you noticed he's wearing a vest? His Mum makes him wear that. Don't you think he looks a bit like Jeremy Clarkson's older sister?
Seriously though. Which I always am. Glenn is a smashing bloke. Straight as a die. He has women falling at his feet. I know this for a fact, because he has told me himself. Several times.
Just to finish off this little article I mustn't forget to mention them again. 'Meander Lane' have just cut their first album. I was able to find it on Spotify by typing in the name. I'll say it again 'Meander Lane'. Go on. Google it. You know you want to.
I almost forgot. You can purchase the outfit Glenn is wearing at Dorothy Perkins.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Golden Cockerel's clock repair. Resisting an urge.

I mentioned the other day about the very early morning routine of the Wing Commander, my very handsome golden Cockerel. I am referring to him as a Cockerel from now on because some of you, I will mention no names here, seemed to get a bit over excited when I, in my total innocence, let me hasten to add, used the short and very proper old English word 'cock'.
What had been happening with the Wing Commander was that his internal clock had, for some reason unknown to me, become out of sync'. This had led to him rising very early in the mornings whilst it was still dark in fact, and proclaiming loudly, also very wrongly that it was dawn. When I say very early I am actually talking between one and two o'clock in the wee small hours. Really annoying. How I never got any complaints from the neighbours I just don't know.
But the problem has been solved. The wayward Cockerels clock has adjusted itself. I say the problem has been solved. What I should say, is that the problem has solved itself. Nature has come to the rescue, and indeed to the Wing Commanders rescue. Well, lets be honest here. He was in serious danger of having his neck stretched.
How has this miraculous inner clock adjustment been made? I shall tell you. Do you remember me telling you that two new young hens had arrived last week? Well it turns out that the Wing Commander has been tutoring his new young ladies in the arts of love. Sadly, I have to inform you, that he has bespoiled them both. He has acted like an utter cad. Their virtue is no more. Their cherries have been taken. In short and putting it bluntly. The Wing Commander has shagged them both! The ladies themselves are not without fault. After their initial reluctance they are now willing partners in this debauchery. Giving themselves to him, without hesitation, in return for a worm or two. Of course it should not be forgotten that the Wing Commander also has conjugal obligations to his other wives, and he does his utmost to fulfill those duties with vigour.
The result? Absolute blissful peace and quiet in the mornings. Actually the Wing Commander has been having a bit of a lay in these last few mornings. Poor thing. He really is completely shagged out!
If there is such a thing as reincarnation I wouldn't mind coming back as a Cockerel. Better that, than being a complete and utter 'cock'!

Sadie the German Shepherd - I don't like to just refer to her as 'the dog'. She deserves her full title - and I, happened to pass the local fish and chip shop today on our walk. As we passed by I noticed a very big woman coming out. She was carrying a large bag of chips. Have you ever experienced that weird sensation where you want to say something to a complete stranger but you know you mustn't? Well it happened to me then. I know it's none of my business but I wanted to tell her to take the chips back. I wanted to tell her she didn't need them. Thankfully I managed to resist the urge, and Sadie and I walked swiftly past.

Our walking route also took us past the village Church. I couldn't help noticing, that the yellow no parking lines have been almost completely worn away. Where the cars have been parking on them!