Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Diversion Therapy

I haven't the time to sit down and carefully craft a piece of prose worthy of attention. I have dishes to wash, clothes to launder, cupboards to scrub, floors to sweep, furniture to polish, beds to strip, wardrobes to organise, lawns to mow, cars to valet, freezers to fill, in fact just about anything to take my mind off the fact that I waved goodbye to Jack and 65 of his close friends just under 4 hours ago. He'll be arriving at Heathrow shortly, airborne, destined for Oz before the sun sets. He'll celebrate his 16th birthday by captaining the squad at the Southern Skies Tournament in Brisbane. I hope he remembers to take photos.

So while I'm preoccupied, I'll share this comment that I received 2 years ago. It came to my private email so it's never been seen by anyone else, but it was wonderful to receive. The genuinely lovely guy that sent it is having a bit of a tricky time currently although his incurable optimism is already showing signs of a recurrence. If you like his sentiments, go tell him.

I like to browse a few blogs and give a little encouragement where due because I know myself it's nice to receive a compliment on what you've written. The only trouble is you have to trawl through endless reams of dross to find one little diamond. If only I could somehow filter out all the teenage angst stuff, the people with political chips on their shoulders, the websites featuring fluffy animals, and all those sites where people whinge on about how awful their lives are because someone has left them and they're heartbroken.

Hmmm what's left? OK take away the sites dedicated to Jesus Christ their saviour and all the other religious fanatics and all those that I can't understand because they're written in arabic or something, then we can filter out the adverts telling us how to save millions or get rich quick.Then and only then I might get a chance to read something that is actually humourous and interesting. Yours was one of those worth reading. I love it when people can make a joke of their own misadventures. It's a more positive attitude. And we need more positive attitude in this world.Thank you for making the effort. Keep up the good work.

No, Mike. Thank you x

Sunday, June 25, 2006

School's Out!

We thought we were really stylish when we left school, 19 years ago, going to The Italian Gardens, the poshest restaurant in town, for a pizza without our parents. Proms were something that only ever happened in American movies. A Piledriver disco at Winterton Rangers football club, little better than a wooden hut with some staging, supervised by an assortment of teachers, was probably the best we could hope for as an organised event.

Today, you are nobody if you don't arrive at your Prom chauffeur-driven. There were no less than 6 local schools all holding their celebration on Friday night. Every other car on the road was a stretch limo. I'm not sure which school picked this venue but I'm guessing it wasn't a Grammar.
Jack's own Prom was at Normanby Hall, the ancestral seat of David Cameron's father-in-law and the most impressive setting for miles around.

There had been some discussion about the travel arrangements, the general consensus being that limos were 'naff'. Something bolder was needed to deliver the right impact. One of the parents was even dispatched to check out helicopters. The cheapest she found was 900 quid but it wouldn't have had enough room for them all. The stretch Hummer, the bright yellow one, might not have been the most discreet vehicle on the road that night but it was cheaper than a chopper.

Apparently, it is now also traditional to have a post-prom party, a riotous, alcohol-fuelled, debauched debacle, usually at the home of some poor unsuspecting numbskull parent. Guess where Jack's was!

It was fine. The 30 local cretins that tried to gatecrash at the start eventually got bored of sitting on a neighbour's wall waiting for Moustache Mark, my personal bouncer, to drop his guard on the gates and drifted off by about 00.30am. I got to bed by 05.35 and even managed some sleep after a few hours. It took only 2 trips to the tip to dispose of 20 black bin bags, one double futon mattress and a single one, both soaked through with vomit ( fortunately not Jack's, he'd given up on the stress and gone to bed at 3am). I'm sure the smell of cider will eventually fade in the gym. I'm just thankful that I discovered and confiscated the 2ls of vodka and the full bottle of Absinthe before the party started. We only had to return one complete dinner suit, 3 tee-shirts, a pair of earrings, a stereo, a tie, a trilby and a stick-on bra!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Cherry Pip

I was curious whether there was any resemblance. I still can't see it. Although we both look a bit gormless.

PS. It's dark, I know, even at the age of 5 I couldn't stand up to the scrutiny of harsh lighting, and when I used the flash I had a strange halo effect. I really must work out how to use the scanner.

It seems like only yesterday

This sweet little boy started school a matter of a few short months ago.

Today he left school for the last time looking like this

Here he is saying 'Goodbye' to his Head Girl counterpart

Please talk amongst yourselves whilst I take a moment to compose myself.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Work-Time Continuum

I feel like I have fallen off the blogging planet. I turn my back for a few days and so much has happened. Tom has had issue. Andrea is on the brink of becoming the next Stubbs. And everybody else ( there are too many to mention individually but know that you are all equally loved and afflicted) have been so wonderfully prolific that I have spent the best part of 4 hours indulging in your delights.

Where have I been? What was I doing?

I want to surprise and delight you, maybe bring a tear to the odd beady eye ( you know who you are) and tell you that I was, indeed, whisked away by a witty, interesting, hygienic* cyber-turned-tonguetastic-top-of-the-foodchain chap.

The reality is far more distressing. Of the last 120 hours I have

  • spent 55 in the office, despite which it is barely possible to see where I have been and completely impossible to see my desk
  • 14 on my feet, in 2 seperate stints, both immediately after a 10-hour stretch at the office , on consecutive nights, behind the bar at the local football club
  • 10 in my car going to or from one or other engagement
  • 4 attending a charity AGM at which I had intended to resign but instead roped Darbster into joining the management committee whilst I serve my 5th term
  • 2 sitting on a Housing committee
  • 7 ( with my Dad) listening to assorted speakers with varying levels of attention on topics relating to our estuary, it's history, management, bio-diversity, but sadly not archeaology as the Prof had stayed up in the Orkneys
  • 1 following a local fount of wildlife wisdom around a country park, it should have been 2 hours but my tolerance levels were low and I couldn't cope with some of my fellow attendees ( eg. pompous bearded twit: " What's that brown stripey bird? I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that before. Is it rare?" -it was a Mallard)
  • approximately 3 showering
  • remarkably little time eating but try telling that to my bathroom scales
  • 3 watering my plants and tubs ( with a watering can even though we have lashings and lashings of water up here in the North and no need for a hose-pipe ban)
  • at least 2 each night tossing and turning in the heat, worrying about how I might best make an impression on my over-burdened desk the next day
  • 1 in a bird hide ( with my dad this afternoon)
  • 4 catching up on all your derry-doing
  • leaving 6 hours for sleep

It would be just my luck for that clever, articulate, twinkly-eyed, guitar-playing, foot-rubbing, lightly tanned historian/ linguist/ chef to turn up right now when I am sporting Grandma's eyebags and a nightie of which she'd definitely have approved, come to think of it, she probably bought it for me together with the matching padded coat-hanger.

*my wish list is growing more realistic - it's only a matter of time before a compromise on the hygiene might also be required

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Romeos' Fossil Heart Wares

Popular ads would suggest that the mere sight of a beautiful woman leads some men to impromptu purchases of posies of flowers and ponderances on whether she is wearing hairspray/ perfume/ under-wiring.

I have experienced similar phenomena.

A couple of months ago a very friendly, though odd-looking ( think Stig of the Dump meets Hobbit) chap, felt compelled to give me these.

They are a form of micro-fossil. These particular ones being sea urchin spines. This sweet guy had sifted them from the quarry where he was/ is foreman. The quarry covers 4 acres and is 40ft deep, and growing. The sample shown in the poor photo would fill less than a quarter of a teaspoon. They barely skim the floor of the plastic 35mm film case that is their home and care must be taken not to observe them when suffering from the common cold or any other illness likely to produce sudden and insistent sneezes.

He suggested a tentative second meeting at a Rocks and Gems Fair the following weekend ( we met on a geology course and shared a biscuit over a margarine tub of ammonites). His eagerness and my innate phobia of anything brilliantine cut caused me to inadvertently forget to turn up.

The gift of a fossil, or many of them albeit tiny ones, is an unlikely and quite rare event for most women, one would assume. A quick census of my friends would suggest that it is unique to me in our locality. I find that unusually satisfying and, even more unusually, thought myself sated of such an unexpected delight.

Today I was presented with this >>

It is a fossilised sea urchin, the type from which the desiccated spines would have erstwhile wafted.
I had known the donor less than 2 hours and had spent most of that time glued to my binoculars looking at a hungry Little Egret whilst maintaining a steady and pleasant conversation in a bird hide with the former owner and discoverer of the 50,000 years dead creature ( 1 or 2 of which are reported to turn up every 50 years or so). I also received an open invitation to join him for lingering walks along Spurn Point, where he can be found fossil hunting most Saturdays. He was very impressed that I have my own, still virgin, hammer.

Who needs hay-fever inducing flowers, glass-scratching diamonds or knee-trembling clinches when you are handed such enduring displays of devotion! I'm sold to the first ( fully-toothed, clean-shaven, pre-retirement, Scrabble-playing) man that can bring me a Belomnite bigger than my big toe.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

URGENT: OED needs help

News Flash: The blogging phenomenon has reached such a peak that those cerebral folk at the Oxford University Press have just days to come up with a collective noun to describe a group of bloggers, an atypical example of which can be seen above. They need your help as the best that they have managed to muster are " a Broadband of Bloggers", a Post of..." etc

The picture shown above has only one non-blogger in it, but he is exempt from scorn as he already sports a pony-tail and shorts ( enough to contend with let alone being dubbed a blogger).

Please help. All comments will be considered and ridicule will be managed appropriately.

PS. The babe with the infectious grin in the middle is Digi-birder and her husband is not far out of shot

Friday, June 09, 2006

Nice place, shame about the Name

I've often wondered from where my surname derives; never for very long nor with much conscious effort, the possibilities are not actually that flattering and probably better forgotten. There's always the chance that it referred to some particular talent, long-forgotten but remarkable in its day, or a bent towards a particular skill, perhaps of a literary or academic nature. Discovering that I am descended from a long line of lop-sided people, or lazy loiterers wouldn't exactly enhance my CV or self-esteem. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to check out the UCL Surname Profiler which I discovered over at Pete's earlier tonight though.

It's quite compelling. I'd recommend you take a look if you've a spare couple of minutes ( and chances are, if you've got time for this drivel, you're hardly CEO of NASA or B&Q).

Anyway, I now know I am probably named after an English Settlement ( I have made a mental note to seek out my ancestral seat one of these fine days - 'til now I'd assumed it was Pisa). It must be a pretty exclusive place as there are only 3% of the population with a more rural surname than mine. I like that. It appeals to my elitist nature. It's not quite in the top 2% where I am more used to finding myself in league tables, but I'm sufficiently content with it.

I've also learned that the town ( I'd have called it a village) from which my father ( and John Harrison, inventor of the chronometer and general good bloke for the British maritime and empire-building industry) hail, is the top place in Britain to find our rare, fine pedigree, has been since 1881 and there is a 3245% greater chance of finding one or other of my relatives there ( and most of them are married to each other - cousins - easily recognised, the ones with the webbed feet and shoulder humps) than anywhere else in the country. The only other stronghold appearing to be New Zealand.

What I am more puzzled about is the Social Demographic profiling of our genus. Rustbelt Resilience! What type of category is that, for goodness sake? Rustbelt Resilience? It might be suitable for your common or garden rose bush, but not your Specimen Cherry.

It doesn't stop there. It then tells me that 93% of the population have a more high-status name. Well, they are welcome to them, cramped together in their New Urban Colonies and Dinky Developments Caring For their Elders. I won't be downtrodden, I shall not tarnish and wither under their scorn. This Cherrypie of Pisa stands proud, just ever so slightly to the left, may occasionally threaten to wobble to the right a bit, but resolutely proud to bear the name of her forefathers.

The Cat, Rat and Fused Light Fright ( a true story)

'Twas the night after Christmas, darkness still reigned
Little Sister heard noises, high-pitched, strange and pained
She lay in her guest bed, alert in a trice
What was it? A parrot? Cyber-pet? Mice?
With horror she saw near the door by the mat
Nigel the Cat in battle with Rat
Panicked, she acted, the first thing that gripped her
Aaaarggh! Oh my God! Call Fearless Sister!

Magnificent in boots and tucked-in pyjamas
Fearless Sister strode down with frying-pan armour
But just as she trod the penultimate stair
Nearly-Dead Rat gave Fearless Sister a scare.
Blood-curdling screams stretched from Thealby to Flixborough
Whilst Very-Alive Rat dashed behind living room fixture.

Rationale out the window, now Shit-Scared Sibling
Dialled 999, hysterical, blithering:
"We don't do animals, unless they're alight"
Then Rate-Paying Sister remembered her rights
" Hello. Pest Control? I have a worry
Fucking HUGE Rat - I'd rather you hurry!"
"We've no-one on call for 3 days, love, I'm sorry."

Added words of "husband" and "cope" no assistance
Two girls and small child made plans of resistance.
Escape overrode other thoughts in their heads
As they huddled together- group hug on a bed.
But how? As hostage the doorkeys were held
By Dirty Great Rat beneath living room shelves.

With Courage Supreme into unwelcoming dark lounge
Little Sister ventured, despite threat of rat pounce,
Thoughts for her safety to the back of her mind
Her burning obsession those house keys to find.
Blindly she grabbed them, at last she exhaled.
Too hasty was she, her mission had failed.
What she held in her hands would not get them far
Unless the front door had a lock like the car.

So again she returned to that verminous lair
For their prospects of liberty lay somewhere in there.
She found them, she used them, fled back to her bed,
Her pants faintly smelly, palms sweaty, face red.

Then in came Step Father, with torch and a spade
To brighten the shadows the broken light made
But all that he found were cobwebs, cat spew
Where was That Rat? Not one of them knew.

Enter Graeme, a neighbour, a stranger to all
Introductions were brief and done in the Hall.
"Have a weapon! Be Careful!" Hostess gave him her Pan
Then she turned in her boots and pyjamas, and ran.

Some pulling, some pushing, fall of kitchen utensil
That Ugly Rat's skull snapped like lead in weak pencil.
Stunned, still twitching, it was finally taken
Outdoors, where by shovel, 'twas dispatched on the pavement.

Their agony over, recalling those squeaks
Both Sisters were able to dine out for weeks.

Thanks to Fronty and his pet possums for reminding me of this

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Warning! Women of A Certain Age Only

The content of this post will not appeal to any persons of a male, squeamish or sensitive persuasion. Please take careful heed of the signposts conscientiously deployed along the path. No liability is admitted to any persons failing to take appropriate avoidance procedures. Be warned. Be afraid. Be patient, usual service will be resumed shortly.

  1. Are you female? If so, go immediately to Q. 4. If not, please continue to the next question
  2. Are you male? If so go here, here or here. DO NOT COME BACK HERE! If not, please continue to the next question
  3. Are you undecided? Go here, resume questionairre at Q. 4 if Profile suggests surgery. If not, please go back to your own planet or contact our leader here
  4. Are you under the age of 25? If so, go here. Do not return to this page for at least another 10 years. If over the age of 25, you may continue to Q.5
  5. Are you of a nervous, squeamish or over-sensitive disposition? If so, go here
  6. If you have answered YES to all the relevant questions please scroll down to access today's post whilst carefully navigating the Lift Music ( note, proper Music, not inferior Musak)) which was required to provide sufficient seperation from those not qualified to view the content of this post

Geez! Did you ever have one of those Periods where you felt like you were haemorraging your own liver?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whisky GaLorelie

Something caused me to remember my first independent foreign holiday to the Moselle valley in Germany recently. It wasn't entirely independent. I was accompanied by about 29 other 3rd and 4th Years and a handful of teachers. It was probably 1985.

I am surprised at how little I remember of it. I know we watched a movie on the Dover-Bologne ferry and I wasn't very impressed with it so I spent most of the time out on the deck undoubtedly inspiring a more well-known scene involving Kate Winslet. The drive through France and Belgium was punctuated with a stop-off at a service station where I bought a Mars Bar, my only nourishment at the time, for 5 quid 'cos I didn't have the proper currency. I do remember lots of candles burning in the pre-dawn gardens that we passed and imagined them to be dual-purpose shrines and vampire deterrents. I've always been a bit wary of garden flares ever since.

We had a week in a hotel in a hamlet ( more like a country lane with nothing but the hotel and the owners' chalet) just outside Traban-Trarbach, Bad Wildstein. I've scoured through my chestful of photos and all I can find are numerous snaps of the Lorelei Rock ( see above). Loads of 'em. All incredibly poor, amazingly boring and almost identical.

The boat trip down to Koblenz might have been monotonous were it not for the fact that we had discovered that the small kiosk on board sold miniature bottles of whisky for 1 Mark each. I was the maturest looking and soon had a steady trade going buying bottles for the younger and more cautious of our party. I also bought cigarettes in Trier ( the only other thing I recall about that place was a magnificent Roman Gatehouse and they had an amphitheatre too but no-one would go look at it with me so we congregated round the Tabac). Vikki Clover handed them in to a teacher when Nick Denton said he wanted to go out with me and not her on the way back.

I know I spent a lot of time on my own at the hotel due to my "bad knees" ( which miraculously righted themselves as soon as P.E. and the encumbent awful showers were no longer on my timetable) because otherwise, Marko, the hotel proprietors' 15yr old son, would not have been loudly and proudly declaring his liebst for me every night beneath our penthouse cell window, the window ledge of which was groaning with tiny bottles of spirit hastily bestowed back into my care for fear of a teacher inspection by the scared 3rd Years. I think I've still got a couple kicking around somewhere.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to Bonn. I bought my first Fischer-Z album which years later impressed Mrs Roger and can still take me back to mid-80's Germany ( I went back a couple of years later and did it justice) and gravity-defying, fire-hazard hairstyles.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Links Effect

I know everybody has experienced the mildly amusing phenomena of Google search results. I've had some bizarre vagrant visitors vainly searching for " Morocco Homo Boys", various methods of popping their cherries ( rather too frequently with family members) and a regular and steady stream of foot fetishists excitedly hoping to see pictures of bare feet seductively stepping into puddles ( and I bet they found their way here single-handedly if you know what I mean). I'm rather flattered when they check out a page or two, only starting to get nervous when they come back more than once. Fortunately, they've yet to start commenting, although I'm still not entirely sure how Fronty ( Lor' love 'im) got here.

I wasn't going to say anything about it because others have far more unusual experiences which they relate in a much more eloquent manner than I ever could ( check out Viccus and Kate for starters).

But tonight I got this

I clicked on it and found myself listed on some sort of Blog Market. Apparently this blog, listed under its (un)original title, Bridget Jones Stole My Knickers is currently valued at B$6,671.40.

How did it get there? What does it mean? More importantly, will it pay the funeral costs for Nora The Nissan?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dinner Dreams

I'll be confined to barracks this weekend as my MOT runs out tomorrow and Gordon, my friendly mechanic, can't fit me in until Monday morning. I've got no plans to see anybody or do anything in particular ( other than getting thoroughly acquainted with Bertha the Earthtruck) and with Jack away, I'll be craving company. I've agreed to help out behind the bar at the football club on Saturday night. There's a 40th birthday party so at least the music is likely to be decent and it beats spending another night sitting in the Shed.

What I'd really like to do would be to host a fabulous dinner party. I'm not entirely sure what would be on the menu but chances are it would be a slow-roasting dish, probably lamb, followed by a chocolate pudding covered in coronary cream. I've also been wondering who I might invite.

I'd love Queen Elizabeth I to come over so we could chat in assorted languages, mainly about boys and how hard it is to find a good one, but she'd have to dress in something more practical or else there'd be no room for Alexander The Great. Now there's a man I could marry. A natural born leader, decisive, determined, handsome, away for long periods of time, likes libraries. 'Course, I'd have him well insured. Shame about the homosexuality and shortness but it's something I'm beginning to think I might have to compromise on ( and if he came in the form of Colin Farrell, I might just be able to manage that). He'd likely have some interesting views on how to resolve the current Middle East problems.

Bess of Hardwick would tell us all how she managed to find and marry 4 eligible men, each one progressively wealthier than the last enabling her to become the first lady of Chatsworth, grandmother to a legitimate claimant to the throne and the richest woman in Britain at the time of her death. I imagine her and Queenie might need sitting at opposite ends of the table though.

It would be great to hear first hand about Ibn Battuta's 14th century travels and his opinion on whether to take travellers' cheques or use plastic. Vita Sackville-West could give me tips on how to maximise my herbaceous borders and Oscar Wilde would discuss the current state of the prison system with me and ask for some grammatical help on his latest manuscript.

I'd revel in hearing Maria Callas' stories of Aristotle and whether the bar stools on the yacht Christina really were covered in sperm whale foreskin. I could tell her all about the time I once swam in the harbour at Skorpios and pretended I was her. Oh, how we'd laugh. I'd have to watch she didn't overdo the wine though. I wouldn't want any ouzo-soaked weeping or wailing to spoil the atmosphere.

I'd sit Elvis, the young leather-clad one, between me and Mata Hari, who'd have called round earlier to run through a quick after-dinner dance routine with me to surprise and delight the other guests, so he could compare her flat chest to my ample bosom. He's a greedy boy so unlikely to go for the waif look.

Leonardo da Vinci would add some gravitas to the proceedings, and maybe even paint a fresco of it later to grace my bare Shed walls. It would mean making him a seperate vegetarian dish but there's always at least one faddy eater.

"Course, you'll have guessed by now who the 12th diner would be. I couldn't not invite Michael Owen. I doubt he'd have the slightest thing in common with me or any of the other guests nor us any interest in anything he might want to talk about, which probably wouldn't amount to much more than football and the time he broke Grandad Arthur's ankle on the Ewloe Village Green, but at least it might shut the Quasis up at Christmas.

Who would you want to cook for?