Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Woman In The Hat.

My interest in dating sites ended quite some time ago. Some of you might remember me talking about my decision not to keep going with them. This thoroughly unselfish action of mine, was based entirely on my reluctance to cause any jealousy among the many women who were so desperate to date me.

It may have been cruel of me to destroy the hopes and aspirations of those discerning ladies, but I sincerely thought it was for the best.

With all that in mind, it was such a surprise when I received an email yesterday from one of the dating sites, telling me that a woman was keen to meet me.

There was a photo of the lady in question. She looked quite attractive, but it was only a head shot, so I did not have much to go on. Was she fat? Thin? Tall? Short? Curvaceous?

Not that I would ever judge a woman on her looks of course. That would be wrong. No way would I be that shallow. Who me? No never! That is definitely not the kind of male chauvinistic thing I would ever dream of doing. As long as she is truly beautiful to look at, and has the type of figure, to drive men crazy, she will do for me.

Although one does have standards. She would need to be generously wealthy. I like to buy my women nice gifts.

Not that any of this matters. As I say, I have given up on dating sites. The lonely ladies will just have to dream on. The email has been deleted.
Matisse: Woman in a hat.
The woman in the photo, was wearing a hat. The hat has intrigued me. Played on my mind a bit. I heard myself humming a tune. What is that tune? Suddenly it came to me. I realised the song was called, 'You can leave your hat on'. Joe Cocker sang it, and Tom Jones I think

I'm not too sure what the song is getting at, but it sounds a bit naughty. No, worse than that, it sounds raunchy. Probably because it is. My fertile imagination went into overdrive as I recalled some of the lyrics.

                   Baby take off your coat,
                   Real slow,
                   Take off your shoes,
                   Baby take off your dress,
                   Yes, yes, yes,
                   You can leave your hat on.
                   Baby stand on that chair,
                   Raise your arms in the air,
                   Now shake 'em,
                   You can leave your hat on.

Yes it's a sweet little number. Nothing sexist about it at all. A bit like me really.

Why did I delete that email? I should have agreed to meet her. I bet she was really interesting.

It wasn't a very big hat, but it looked classy. I liked it. I wouldn't have had a problem with it at all.

She could have left it on.

Monday, 28 November 2011

It's Not Only The Heat From The Fire That Keeps Me Warm.

After the nice mild spell of weather we have just had, it was a bit of a shock to the old system, when the winter finally decided to take a grip on things last night.

Brrr, it was cold this morning when Sadie the German Shepherd, managed to coerce me into going for a walk. Guilt. It is guilt she uses. My own guilty feelings. She uses them against me. I can't quite explain how her technique gets to me, only that it always does.

I can be sat reading the newspaper, nicely relaxed, when all of a sudden she will give a little whine. Not very loud. Just enough to make me aware of her presence. I do my best to ignore her. There will be another whine, just a bit longer. I shake the paper a bit, and might give out a hurrumph noise, to signify my annoyance. That is a mistake. She knows now, that I am aware. This is her cue for a particularly long whine, more of a low howl in fact. This is when my second mistake invariably happens. I talk to her.

"Shut up Sadie, I'm reading."

She knows now that she has my attention, and whines at me again. It is a more hopeful whine, but I am not ready to give in.

"SHUT UP SADIE! I'm not listening."

She rests a paw on my knee. Her tail sweeps the floor vigorously. Whine, whine, whine.


She lies down. The whines have stopped now, only to be replaced with deep sighs. I risk a peek over my newspaper. This is mistake number three. Her big, brown, soulful, liquid, eyes are looking up at me. She manages the loudest, most heart rending sigh, in the history of dogkind.



It's nice walking with my lovely dog. I'm so glad I thought of it. It is very cold, but walking briskly gets the blood flowing through my veins, and soon warms me up.

On the homeward journey I find a fallen branch, and sling it across my shoulder to take back for firewood. It is not too heavy, but just enough to make me sweat a bit with the effort. I am not feeling the cold at all now.

Back home at last, I saw the branch up into logs small enough to fit into my old stove. It is quite strenuous work sawing logs, and soon I am feeling really warm and have to take my jacket off. It is worth all the effort. This pile of logs will keep me warm tonight, and will even provide the heat to cook my evening meal. There will also be a big kettle full of hot water. I will fill a hot water bottle with that, and I shall be warm and cosy in my bed tonight.

So there you have it. How to keep warm on a cold day, and all for free. I like that feeling.

I am so pleased I decided to take Sadie the German Shepherd for a walk today.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Problems Big, Problems Small, They All Need Sorting.

The Arab spring rolls on. Governments are shooting their own people on the streets. Iran is on the verge, apparently, of building a nuclear bomb. Israel threatens to strike the first blow. In Africa, whole populations are starving. Afghanistan, is still a war zone. Several countries in Europe are completely bankrupt. Britain, struggling with a recession, has a general strike planned for next Wednesday. In Tricia's bathroom, a tap is leaking under the basin.

Can things get any worse? The answer, I am sorry to say, is yes they can. The leaking water has made it's way into the next door property. Which is bad enough. But just to make things even more complicated, it has found it's way to their electricity meter,and blown the fuses.

The emergency, 24 hour call out, no job too small, plumber, has been and assessed the work required. This entailed sticking his head into the cupboard under the basin. As he bends down his arse does it's best to escape from the dark confines of his trousers. I wince at this revolting image, and look away.
He reappears, and, grunting with the effort, gets painfully to his feet. There is the sound of sharp intakes of breath and tutting noises, combined with head shaking and teeth sucking. He has noticed the lead piping.

"That's not good. That is bleeding ancient mate. I'm gonna 'ave to cut into that. What you need is a lead lock mate. Not easy to find, lead locks. Dunno if you can get 'em. Your plumbing is bleeding prehistoric mate."

Doing my best to ignore his gloomy prognosis I ask if he can do the job. This sets him off again. The teeth sucking gets louder. I worry for his gums.

"Those taps are gonna need changing," he says sucking rapidly, "they came outta the bleeding ark they did. Ain't seen taps like that for bleeding donkeys years. Gonna be a bastard to get 'em off, without cracking the basin, mate. Might 'ave to 'ave a new basin. Might as well do. Get the job done proper. Them bath taps is gonna go soon by the look of 'em. I could do 'em at the same time, save you a bit of money there. You got any more old taps need sorting out? Alright if I smoke mate? I'll 'ave to find a lead lock somewhere, to stop that leak. Gaw'd knows where. Can't do it this week anyway, mate, I'm bleeding snowed under wiv work."

While he fills his lungs with tobacco smoke, I take the opportunity to point out that he advertises himself as a 24 hour emergency call out plumber.

"I'm 'ere ain't I mate. It ain't leaking no more is it? 'mergency bleeding sorted, right?"

I then point out that the leak has stopped because I turned the main stopcock off myself, before he arrived.

"Yes mate, I know that, but you did call me out on a 'mergency, didn't you, and I came didn't I? I am 'ere ain't I? Stood in your bleeding bathroom."

Normally, I am an easy going chap, but his condescending attitude has got me riled, and I have decided he will not be getting the job. I show him to the door, telling him I'll let him know. I think he gets the message.

He has a parting shot, "What about my call out charge?"

I tell him to send me the bill.

The next plumber I call, is here, and gone, within a couple of hours, having fixed the leak.

The worlds problems go on, but Tricia's leaking tap is one less to worry about.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Salvador Dali, Eat Your Heart Out.

Today I thought I should get on with some work. There are bills to pay, materials to buy. The road tax runs out at the end of this month too. I tell you this frugal living can get expensive at times.

Anyway it's getting near, dare I say it, Christmas. People like having portraits done around this time, and I have a few to do. Mainly drawings or pastels. I enjoy doing pastel portraits because they are quick and easy.
I will qualify that last remark. Sometimes, they are quick and easy.

My latest effort would not go right. Which is a bit of a shame because I wanted to share the different stages of it with you, right through to the finished article. I have decided to show you anyway. Just to demonstrate that I am not really as talented as some of you so kindly say I am. Sometimes it just goes wrong.

My first mistake was not sticking to the normal way I do things. Normally I would use a tinted paper. Today I used a white paper and applied a watercolour wash. I suppose I just wanted to do things differently for a change. I should really have known better.
Now where has it gone? It was here a moment ago. How can a photo just vanish? I'll try and upload it again. So you can see the sequence of events. Here it is.
I applied a light wash.
Then I started sketching in. Very soon I knew it wasn't going as I wanted, but for some odd reason I kept going.

Started sketching in.
After a while it looked like this. No sorry, it didn't look like this. It was this. I gave up trying at this stage
Time to give up.
But I didn't give up entirely. I decided to turn it into a surreal picture of a baby.

So all is not lost after all. I shall put it in my ramshackle gallery. Someone will buy it. Got to be worth a couple of hundred quid, I would think. I might settle for ten though. No point in being greedy.
I wouldn't buy it though. Not even for a tenner. Would you?
One day when I am long dead. I fully expect this picture to be declared a surrealist masterpiece. People will talk about the artist, that's me, in hushed reverential tones. Or they may just be whispering.

They may be describing me as a genius,but more likely I expect the word they will use most will be,'weirdo'.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Oh, The Trauma, The Misery, The Pain.

There is a mouldy dump,
Down Shirley way.
Where we get bread and cheese,
Three times a day.
Eggs and bacon we don't see,
We get sawdust in our tea.
That's why we're gradually,
Fading away.

Me age 5. Already two years into my sentence.
This was a song we sang in the children's home in the 1950's. Flipping heck! That is a hell of a long time ago. Halfway through last century. I must be bloody ancient. Happily I don't feel it though. Or look it come to that. Young genes. That's what I've been blessed with. Along with a large helping of modesty.

It could be said that I was dealt a bad hand in childhood. But when I think about it, I was born just after the 2nd world war. The suffering and degradation that some kids went through in those times, doesn't bear thinking about.

No, being brought up in care, may not have been wonderful. It came with many trauma's for young minds. But at least we were safe, and sheltered. We had three meals a day, every day. Many kids in the 'real world' would have given anything for a decent meal once in a while.

When Mum would visit and take me out for the weekend, we stayed in some terrible hovels. That didn't bother me, because I would suffer any hardship just to spend time with her. But I saw the street children, with their dirty clothes, and no shoes on their feet.

Of course I was just a boy. I didn't question things then, because I didn't think along those lines. Well I mean, what child does?

Today I think about it though, and if on the odd occasion I begin to bemoan my childhood lot, I soon turn it around and count the blessings I had as a child.

In fact the words of the song are untrue. Shirley Residential Home was not a mouldy dump. We didn't get much bread and cheese, but when we did, I loved it. On rare occasions we even had egg and bacon. None of us got fat in those austere days of food rationing, but we were not fading away.

So, all things considered, my childhood may have been sad at times, but I was not left wanting. Except perhaps emotionally.

However, this does not mean that I won't still be trying to tug at your heartstrings sometimes. I think I have a few stories of childhood deprivation left to tell you.

I was brought up in a children's home. It was horrible there. Really, it was, Really, really, horrible. Sometimes we kids got beaten. I don't know how I survived. Honestly I don't! They made us have a bath. Every week! Wicked, wicked people. I don't really like to talk about it. We had to make our own beds!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Whisk The Batter In A Bowl, Add A Few Tears.

What you do is, you take a spoonful of batter - please don't ask me how to prepare the batter, I have no idea - and drop it onto a really hot flat piece of metal. Perhaps the bottom of an upside down frying pan. What you get when you do this is a scotch pancake. If you then spread butter on it and add a dollop of jam, mmmm..delicious!

That's not what I did today. What I did was, I went to the local shop. I should really say, one of the local shops. I've been told that the one I referred to in another post is not the local shop. Bilsham Stores is the original local shop in this village.

The other, larger shop is the Co-op. I always, if possible, give my custom to Bilsham Stores. I believe it is important to support small shops. Besides which I fancy one of the women who works there. Very attractive she is. Her name is..... Oh, would you listen to me, getting away from the subject matter again.

Anyway, to get back to what I was saying. I went to the local shop and there on the shelf, I saw a packet of scotch pancakes. Immediately I saw them, memories came flooding back to me. I bought a packet. I should just mention at this point that I bought them in the Co-op. Bilsham Stores don't stock them. What is a man to do? I have to eat!

Mum used to make scotch pancakes, although I think she called them drop scones. Which is the same thing. They tasted best when she cooked them over a camp fire, beside a bender tent in the woods. Me and Fergie were both very fond of them.

Years later, when she had married Jimmy, and lived in a real house with a kitchen. She had a proper griddle to cook them on. She didn't call it a griddle though. She called it a girdle. They were still tasty, even though they were cooked indoors. Jimmy would always spoil the eating of them for me though, by insisting that I could have butter, or jam, on them, but not both at the same time. Some people are strange!

Mum solved this minor problem by cooking some when Jimmy was not around. It was nice to get one over on him. It was nice to be in cahoots with Mum. I remember once, in a moment of rampant overindulgence, I spread one so thick with butter and jam, that when I bit into it, most of it fell on the floor, and got snaffled by Scampi the little sheepdog. Jimmy would have had a blue fit if he'd seen that happen.

But back to today. I got home with my packet of scotch pancakes, and put the kettle on to make a nice cup of tea to have with them. I buttered them quite thickly. Unfortunately, what I thought was a jar of jam in the fridge, turned out to be a jar of pickle. So I ate them, all of them, with just butter. Jimmy would have been pleased! That jar of pickle has been in the fridge for months. I could have sworn it was jam! Someone needs to sort that fridge out.

The upshot of all this is that I didn't really enjoy today's scotch pancakes. They tasted nothing like my Mum's. Also it wasn't the same sitting here eating them on my own. Sadness overcame me. I am an emotional person. I cried today. In a manly way, obviously.

Mum died when she was eighty four. If I was to work it out, she was probably only a part of my childhood, on and off, for maybe three years, if that. I got to see more of her as I grew older of course. But those fleeting childhood memories of her are so precious.

She could be a cantankerous old so and so at times, but I loved her. She was my Mother, even when she wasn't there. I never forgot that.

Enough of this maudlin introspection! Off you go now, and dry those tears, and if you are thinking of buying scotch pancakes from the shop, don't bother. They are rubbish. Make your own! The way my Mum did.  

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Eats, Shoots And Leaves.

My conscience has been pricking me. Something serious is on my mind. I have a confession to make. All is not as it should be. Eventually I shall have to come clean, so, no time like the present. I think it might as well be now. Here goes. I have to tell you that I....I.... No! I can't do it!

Oh dear God! This is not going to be easy. Please, just give me a moment or two to compose myself. I need a little more time to think this through.

Really, I thought I would be able to come out with this secret. My loins have been girded ready for the moment of revelation. But now that the actual moment has arrived I find myself hesitating. I am so sorry. Please bear with me for a moment longer.

Oh my goodness, my heart is pounding! A cold sweat is upon me. I am going to tell you. I absolutely am. Just as soon as I am able to control my rapid breathing. I need a brown paper bag to breathe into. That is supposed to help.

For pity's sake! Why is it so impossible to find a brown paper bag when you need one? This empty crisp packet will have to do. Mmm.. that's a bit better. Breathing slower. Heart rate decreasing. Calm John, calm. Control the panic.. that's it, well done.

Sorry about that. Terribly embarrassing. I was talking myself out of a potentially serious panic attack. Things should be all right now.

To hell with it! I am going to tell you my sordid little secret. Even if it means, you never look on me in the same light again. Are you sitting down? Are you? If not please do so now before you read on. OK everybody, here comes the confession. I am going to say it loudly.


Yes, you heard me right. Not only can I not conjugate a verb, I don't even know what conjugating a verb means. I have always thought that conjugating was something people did on their wedding night. I do know that a verb is a doing word, but I can't for the life of me, figure out what doing it on your wedding night, has to do with writing.

While I'm at it, you may as well also know that I have not the faintest idea what a split infinitive is either. In fact I don't even know what an infinitive is, so I couldn't split one even if I wanted to. Also I have to tell you that I often put i before e, or is it e before i? See, I don't know. It is only the spellchecker thing that saves me from embarrassment.

Unbelievable! I hear you exclaim. Calls himself a writer! I can almost hear your sharp intake of breath. I do not blame you for being shocked by this revelation. I thoroughly deserve any scorn you may heap upon me. After all I have been masquerading as a writer for months now.

Please, please dear friends, forgive me for this despicable deception. How can I make things up to you? Well firstly, and most obviously, this blog should come to an end. After all I am not a real writer.

Secondly I want to share the earnings from my blog with all my followers. Yes you loyal followers, that I have deceived so outrageously. To date, over the eight months that I have been writing, I have managed to earn the sum of £5.31p from advertising revenue. Actually, sharing this sum among my 47 followers is good for me. I have been agonising over what to spend the money on. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to work out how much each person gets. I am also hopeless at doing sums.

So that is it then. Now you know the truth. Once again, my heartfelt apologies. No more blog from me. Goodbye dear friends.

Unless I hear from you in the comments section of course. You may have it in your hearts to forgive me. I throw myself on your mercy.

I shall be watching the comments section like a hawk. Crikey! I might have shot myself in the foot here.  

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Lady Luck Does Fergie A Good Turn.

Alan was my Mother's fourth husband, or was it fifth? No, I can't remember. I'm going back a long way. Late 60's. Anyway Alan, wasn't around anymore, he had gone the way of all her other husbands. Dead.

Mother was completely grief stricken, but fortunately, the large amount of money he left, helped ease her terrible sadness, after a few minutes.

He had also left her a large farm. She was ecstatic. She always loved playing the lady, and now she had land, she felt she was landed gentry. She loved putting on all the airs and graces. Pretending she was posh, and trying to talk 'proper'. She took to traveling everywhere in taxi's and saying the driver was her chauffeur. Totally deluded but it made her happy.

It was while Fergie, his drinking friend American Alex, and myself, were clearing an old barn that the incident occurred. When I say we were clearing the barn, what I really mean is that we were having a nose around while Mum was in town, dealing with her profound grief, by spending lots of money on herself. I was keen to share her burden, so in fairness I ought to point out that she had promised to buy me a motorbike.

It was me who discovered the wooden box. It was riddled with woodworm, and fell to pieces as I dragged it out of the corner, spilling it's contents.

"What's that you found John boy," drawled American Alex, the psuedo cowboy, in his fake accent.

"I don't know," I answered, picking up a small cylindrical package, and tossing it to him.

He caught it deftly in both hands, "Oh Jesus, it's sticky! Look at my hands. What the hell is it?"

I picked one up carefully, and peeled back the greaseproof paper from it. It was wet and leaking. Ugh! Laughing I threw it at him, "catch!" It hit him on his shoulder and fell to the floor.

"You little bastard!" he shouted, and as I ran from the barn, he picked up several of the sticky packets and began throwing them at me. One hit me square in the back. I picked it up and began chasing him with it, intent on getting him back.

Fergie was now looking into the broken box. Suddenly he shouted my name so loud, "JOHN!" that I stopped in my tracks. "Put that down NOW! Slowly."

I looked at American Alex. He was putting a handful of the packages carefully back into the box. I put my package down at my feet.

Fergie's face had turned white, "Move towards the door," he instructed.

"What's wrong Fergie, what's the matter?" I was worried.

We all got to the barn door together. Fergie started to run, I had never seen him running before, "IT'S FUCKING DYNAMITE!" he screamed. American Alex and I soon overtook him.

The police were called, and a lone bobby turned up in his panda car. He was too scared to go into the barn, but made himself useful by getting on the radio and calling for help. The bomb squad were called.

We all sat in a field at what we hoped was a safe distance from the barn. As we waited Fergie explained that when dynamite is wet and weeping, it is highly volatile and liable to explode at any moment.

When Mum arrived home and found us in the field, she thought we were having a picnic, "why have you invited the bobby?"

We had just finished explaining the situation, when the bomb squad turned up in their covered army truck.

Mum momentarily forgot her status as a lady, "here come the fucking boy scouts," she said.

They took the dynamite to a local quarry, and set it off in a controlled explosion. Apparently you could hear the bang more than ten miles away.

The incident made front page news in the local paper. Actually it was on quite a few of the inside pages too. Nothing much happened in that neck of the woods.

We had been extremely lucky the three of us. Fergie considered himself the luckiest though. It totally cured his constipation!

You can learn more about American Alex by reading 'The sailmakers needle and an ear for trouble'. From Friday 30th September.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I'm Not Made Of Wood And I Don't Have A Wooden Heart.

I'm trying not to get too excited, but there is a good chance that at long last, things are looking up on the dating front.

She is a good deal younger than me, but I don't see that as too much of a problem. In fact I see it as a positive thing for her. She could be the lucky recipient of my many years of experience in the game of love.

I should be able to teach her a few things. She has probably only been dating young men so far. I don't expect that she has any idea of the pleasure an older man can bring to her humdrum love life. If she agrees to come on a date with me, her life would be utterly transformed.

As I say, I don't want to get too carried away. I only met her earlier this evening at a friends house. In the past I have been accused of rushing things too much in the initial stages of a romance. This has had the effect of putting women off.  Which of course is very sad for them. They have missed out on such a great deal of mind blowing lovemaking.

Not this time though. I have learnt a valuable lesson. This one will not be getting away. This time things will progress slowly. She is a very lucky lady.

We haven't really spoken yet, at least not in a conversational way. I did spend a bit of time with her though, and took the opportunity to tell her about myself. She appears to be extremely shy, and gives the impression of being rather aloof, and somewhat reluctant to talk, but I don't see that as a problem. I enjoy a challenge! I have to say though , that she did seem like a good listener.

Actually, and I do hope this does not sound to immodest, I got the distinct impression that she found me fascinating. I have noticed in the past, that women find me rather irresistible. I don't know why. All I can think of is that some men have sex appeal built in. Obviously I am in that category.

Still, these are early days, and as I say, I don't want to push her into anything too quickly, so I haven't asked her out yet. However my friends tell me she will be at their house tomorrow, so I will pop in. Make it look like a casual visit, and ask her then.

I know a lovely little Italian restaurant, that I am sure she will love. A nice romantic meal, a bottle or two of Chianti. She is going to find that hard to say no to.

I can hardly wait to see her again. I know I said I would not get too excited, and I am doing my best not to, but tomorrow can't come soon enough for me.

Yes, I will call round to my friends house. That is going to be my first stop.

Right after my appointment at the opticians.

It was obvious that she found me hard to resist.

She was a bit standoffish, but she didn't fool me. I could sense her interest.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

There Was A Soldier, Hopefully A Scottish Soldier.

Hark when the night is falling,
Hear! Hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling,
Down thro' the glen.

The bagpipes. I love the sound of them. It always evokes a feeling of pride. A sense that things are good with me. That I belong somewhere. That I am part of a proud race. The haunting beauty of a pipers lament can make a grown man cry. A march can raise the spirits like nothing else.

These strong emotions are really all I have left of my Scottish heritage. For I was born in England. Mother was a Scot, and I presume my Father was too.

I never knew my Father, and it was difficult to get anyone in my dysfunctional family to talk about him. My sister told me he came from Bedford, which is in England, but I don't think he originated there.

The only photo I have of him, is a faded one of him and Mother on their wedding day. He is wearing his army uniform. He was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He is wearing tartan trews. All these facts lead me to strongly suspect that he too was a Scot. I am happy to leave my investigations there. I want to be a Scot.

He chose not to be part of my life. That was his decision freely made. As far as I know, nobody forced him to make it. For my part, when I was a child growing up, I cannot recall one instance when I wished he was there for me. Although there were men that I wished could be my Father.

When I became a Father myself I underwent a short period of wondering about him, but it quickly passed. It was not an urgent need. My Sister who was much older than me, told me a few things about him. But she was disparaging, and in view of the fact he chose to abandon me, I was inclined to believe her negative assessment of him. He did however leave me one important legacy. He made me determine to be the best Dad I could be.

I am upset with both my parents that they chose to live in England when I was born. That decision of theirs, coupled with the fact that I was then brought up in a children's home in England, makes me feel unable to declare myself a true Scotsman. Also I do not have the beautiful highland brogue of my Mother. Instead I speak without an accent at all. Someone, in a fit of anger, once called me a "posh English bastard." How hurtful, and how bloody ironic was that?

I started off by talking about my love of the bagpipes. This love could be explained by a conversation I had with my Sister in which she cast doubt on my legitimacy. She thought perhaps that she and I did not have the same Father. The conversation went something like this...

"Mum told me she had an affair, before you were born. When Dad was away in the army."
"What are you implying?"
"That you are not Dad's son."
"So who is my Dad?"
"The Inverness pipe band!"

Honestly, my Sister. Such a joker. At least I think she was joking. But I do love the bagpipes!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Stuck For Words. That's Not Like Me.

I am absolutely serious when I tell you that today I am completely stuck for anything to write about. There is nothing there. The grey matter is empty. So what I am going to do is just keep on writing away and see what, if anything develops. I suppose it is inevitable that occasionally this will happen.

Sometimes I think that in order to keep the blog going I ought to just write a very short post, saying something about my day, but today nothing much of note happened.

George, my extremely handsome son and I watched the England  v Spain friendly match on the television. I have to confess that neither of us expected England to win. Spain are a fantastic team, after all. But England did win. The score: 1-0. A lucky goal for England, but I suppose a win is a win.

Yesterday I happened to notice that my hair is thinning on top. Actually I have noticed this before, but this time I caught an unfortunate glimpse in the mirror, with the light directly above my head. Horrendous sight. No wonder I can't find a girlfriend. Who would want me looking like this? Really? How very kind of you. Oh thank you! That is so sweet of you to say so.

Well anyway, I went to see Yola, my next door neighbour, and asked her if she would shave my head. This is not such a strange request to ask her, because she is, or was, a hairdresser. She thought that a shaved head was a bit drastic, but agreed to a grade 2, which is very short indeed. I have had it even shorter, but for some strange reason, even the barber tries to talk me out of it. So grade 2 it is.  I feel much better for it, and think it looks better too. However I suspect that my woolly hat will get plenty of use, now that it is getting colder.
Why does hair always grow everywhere but the top of my head?

It is 8-30 pm now. I have just been outside with my camera, because I remembered something else I did today, and thought I might share with you. It is very dark out there, and my torch batteries are fading, but I did my best. I was literally shooting the pictures in the dark. It really was pitch black. Until the flash went off of course.

The pictures are taken in and around my outdoor gallery, which is still under construction. I call it the 'Ramshackle Gallery' because it is cobbled together from any old bits of construction materials I can find. This is intentional.

As you can see, Bonnie the cat, was curious about what I was doing out there in the dark. As, I think were the new neighbours. They probably wondered what I was doing flashing away in the dark. When I say I was flashing, I do mean the camera. There is nothing weird about me. Although when you see the pictures you might wonder.
I am having the usual problems getting the photos in the right places. I give up!

Anyway this is stuff that is going to be part of the gallery display eventually, along with my paintings.

That red box thingy on wheels is the easel which I work on, when I go out and do my street portraiture. It's design and bright colours, reflects the Gypsy in me. The painting of the old man on it, is one I copied from a Van Gogh. I think if you click on the pictures you might make them easier to see. But I am not sure about that.

The chair with the OXO sign is my attempt at recreating an advertising chair, which were common in shops when I was a boy. In those days people had to wait to be served, and a chair was handy to have. It needs some more work on it. I will make it look older.

That's about it then. I don't want to bore you, so I will stop wittering on. So you see, this is what happens when my brain refuses to give me any help.

Good night, God bless.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mummy Cat Has Kittens. What Irony In Her Name.

The straw was new, it was uncomfortable and too scratchy. Knowing that he might have a long wait ahead of him, and already feeling the cold night air, the young boy, crept back into the house, and by the light of his torch, took Jimmy's old army greatcoat from its peg behind the scullery door. He was being very careful not to make a sound.

In the silence, with the heavy coat across his shoulder, disturbed only by the rasp of Jimmy's snoring and the wind in the eaves, he carefully poured some milk into an enamel mug, and left the house as quietly as he had entered.

Mummy Cat, was in the barn, up on the straw bales. There were now three kittens. She was licking the latest born, clean, but stopped briefly when the boy arrived, looking at him in alarm for a second, before resuming her task, purring with loud contentment.

Laying the coat on the scratchy straw the boy sat down and wrapped it around himself. Mummy Cat refused the milk he offered her, and continued ministering to her babies. The boy watched her by the light of his torch for a while, before succumbing to the warmth of the old army coat, and drifting into sleep.

He was woken abruptly by Scampy the little sheep dog, licking his face, and whimpering excitedly. The boy saw that there were now six little black and white kittens.  They were clean and dry, wriggling and suckling strongly. Mummy Cat lapped at the proffered milk this time. He thought that she had finished giving birth now.

The boy scooped the newborns up. Holding them firmly but gently against his chest, he climbed down from the straw bales. The kittens squirmed and protested loudly. Mummy Cat meowed frantically. She followed the boy as he ran from the barn, struggling to hold on to the wriggling kittens.

On the croft next door was a derelict tumbledown shed, the boy had a secret den there. In it he had arranged a bed for Mummy Cat and her babies. He placed the kittens into it, and they were quickly followed by their distressed mother.

After watching for a while to see them all settled safely, the boy returned to the house, crept upstairs and went to bed. He smiled as he snuggled down, cuddling Scampy. Names, he would have to think of names for them. The kittens were safe. Jimmy would never find them there.

The clanking of the water pump, and the rattling of a bucket, woke him. It was light. A bright morning. The boy jumped from his bed, opened the skylight window and looked out. Jimmy was filling a bucket with water. Swallows were swooping. Across on next doors land a flock of rooks were greeting the day raucously. His Mum already had washing on the line. Why was Jimmy filling that bucket with water? NO...! NO...!

By the time the boy had made it downstairs, the kittens were already in the hessian bag, and in the water. There was movement. They were alive! The distraught boy pulled the bag from the bucket. As he struggled to untie the string, Jimmy grabbed him, threw the kittens back into the bucket, and carried him from the barn, kicking and screaming. The boys mother appeared. She tried to placate him, but his anguish was too deep.

In his fury the boy picked up rocks, hurling them at Jimmy, who took refuge in the house. The rocks shattered the house windows. His mother screamed. Jimmy shouted. The boy sobbed loudly, uncontrollably. The violent spasms racked his body.

The kittens were dead.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

I'm Sorry, But This Is A Load Of Absolute Garbage.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I had a little business clearing rubbish, and other unwanted stuff from peoples homes and gardens. It was something I used to do part time, and I really enjoyed doing it. Mostly it was rubbish, and debris from renovations, but just occasionally I would pick up something of worth. For instance: a decent piece of furniture, or some brass, copper, or other scrap metal. It was a useful addition to the family income, and also made good use of the small truck I owned at that time. The good stuff I would sell on to second hand shops, and the scrap metal would be weighed in at the local scrap yard.

Sadly this little business came to a halt, when the local council began to charge a fee to dispose of stuff at the local tip. This forced me to increase my prices, and customers became reluctant to use my services. Who can blame them. The council charges added 100% to the bill.

It was in the 70's that charges were first introduced. The council saw it as a way of increasing their revenue, conveniently forgetting that most people had already paid for the service as part of their rates bill.

Around about the same time as the council began charging, there suddenly occurred a huge increase in fly tipping, which is the term used for illegal disposal of rubbish. Unscrupulous persons would clear rubbish, but instead of paying to off load at the council tip, they would dispose of it at any quiet location they could find. Where are the quiet places? In the countryside of course. Illegal dumping places were everywhere. An absolute blot on the landscape.

Who paid for these illegal sites to be cleaned up? The council. With the ratepayers money! That is you and I. Not only did we now have to pay to tip rubbish, we had to pay to clear the illegal tips.

The council never learned from this. They didn't decide to reinstate the free tipping that had worked so well for years. What they did was, increased their fees, yet again, to pay for the illegal sites to be cleared.
Which of course only served to make things even worse.

The illegal tipping still goes on. The photos accompanying these words of mine, were all taken today, as Sadie the German Shepherd and I went for a walk. They were all taken within less than a mile of home

Some of the rubbish has been around for a while, and has been hidden by undergrowth. The onset of winter, and the subsequent loss of foliage, serving to reveal the ugliness. Some of the rubbish is newly dumped. I have not even shown you all of it. It is depressing taking photos of this awful blight.

Forgive me for subjecting you to it, but I know you care, and I needed to get this off my chest. How does the saying go? A burden shared.....

Tomorrow hopefully, I shall be back to my usual happy self, but I think I shall walk in the other direction. My eyes looking upwards, to the tree tops and beyond. Beyond. Where we have not done any damage. No damage? What am I saying?