Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry Thing

Merry Christmas Mrs Trellis. And to anyone else who stumbles in here...
I'll be among luddites for a few days so no new posts until next week. Who's gonna know?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Just to say Hallo

Everybody who assumed I was dead can breathe again, but the Evil Ghastliness that is C*******s has sucked away what little time, energy and imagination I had for posting here.

I'm not the only one am I?

Maybe I'll be able to regale you with my so-called thoughts on Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime have a wonderful weekend in the lovely snow with the reindeer and the mulled Fosters 'n' stuff.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Margaret Moran MP

This communication with my MP has produced no response, no acknowledgement whatsoever.

I also included some constructive criticism of her woeful website, with an implication that I might even be prepared to help improve it.

I know she's busy: it may be that my letter is only one of many on the topic and by no means the best she's had.

But...nothing? Silence? All she had to do was post a boilerplate reply to my email address - no stamp required.

She presumably wants my vote next year. As I'm a knee-jerk namby-pamby wet liberal Guardian-reading do-gooder Labour voter she can probably have it if she can prove she's alive. Hallo out there!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Greetings From Happisburgh*, or, Wilful Misspelling.

The Irish are probably the worst. Give them an alphabet of 26 letters and they run mad. This article names one "Fionn MacCumhail" for example. It took a moment or two to realise that yer man here was talking about someone I thought of as "Finn McCool" or similar. It was actually years before I twigged that "Dun Laoghaire" was the same place I'd heard spoken of as "Dunleary".
The Welsh do it like mad: for God's sake.
And how many times have I been asked by American tourists, for Lye-sester Square? (Leicester Square, pronounced "Lester").

But am I really asking for standardised phonetic spelling? No, far too dull.

More examples from around the world, please.

*pronounced "Heysburra". It's in Norfolk you know, but just barely.

Whee!

Massup & I, off to NICE with sleazyjet for the weekend. Byee!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Displacement Activity

Nothing to say? Then fanny about with your template.

Diary of Samuel Pepys: Friday 22nd November 1661.

"Within all the morning, and at noon with my wife, by appointment to dinner at the Dolphin, where Sir W. Batten, and his lady and daughter Matt, and Captain Cocke and his lady, a German lady, but a very great beauty, and we dined together. Spent all evening fannying about with my Blogger template until my eyes went runny, and so to bed."

Swift's Journal To Stella - September 2nd, 1710.

"We made our Voyage in 15 hours just; last night I came to this Town, and shall leave it I believe on Monday. Spent all night arseing about with my Blogger template and thus have written or done nothing of note since."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Quick. Get Help.

"Exit my Life, you Uninteresting and Spurious man: I want to run with the Stag and sing with the Bee."

Pausing only to give the gladsome eye to the only man on Earth less interesting and more fully egregious, she accepted a job as a croupier in an egg-box factory, and passes from our tale.

I turned away sighing, and briefly shared, with a dangerous spider from Costa Rica and a novelty Donald Duck towel hook, a penthouse barrel reachable only by ladder. On venturing out one lunar eclipse and several redolent tavernas later, I met and beloved the fabled Massup and a new beginning was begun. Forged in the thrill of an A-Frame dress and an A-team T-shirt, all was 'la' and 'hap' thereafter, as we spooned to the Goombay Dance Band and danced by the light of the moon, the moon.

That's what I tell people anyway.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Weekend Pursuits

Let's go out and Kick Some Leaves! If you can't get pleasure out of Kicking Leaves you're getting OLD!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Frightening man, RIP

Some of the scariest moments in movies occur when Howard Keel contorts his face so that his chin starts to blend into his neck and you think, "Oh God, he's going to SING! Run away!"
Man, he was in some strange stuff. Watch "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" if you don't believe me: seven men in varying stages of gingeryness and wearing colour-coded shirts kidnap and imprison equal number of women, with view to marriage. Features dancing with axes.

"Bless your beautiful hide, wherever you may be
We ain't met yet but I'm a-willing to bet
You're the gal for me."


Seriously Weird.

Then he was in "Dallas". Some career. I thought he must have died already, but he hadn't.

So, farewell then.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Anti- American? Tempting, but no.

Look back. The peoples of India (now India, Pakistan & Bangladesh) absorbed, embraced and also enhanced a great deal of British culture: cricket, railways, government, much more: there are still many people of Indian extraction both in the UK and in India who were brought up believing in and who continue to believe in Britain as, in some limited sense "the mother country", as a result of the years of British rule there. And yet ultimately the people of those countries could not bear to be ruled by Britain and there were years of violent, and famously, non-violent protest and pressure to be free of Imperial rule.
And now? The people of the world drink in the American Way with their Pepsi. We watch Buffy and West Wing and the Hollywood movies and we love it. A man will wear a T-shirt with the word "Michigan" printed on it, but wouldn't dream of wearing one that said "Gloucestershire".
The anti-Americanism only starts when we see the iron fist behind Mickey's glove. The fist was there in Carter's or Clinton's time as much as it is in Bush's. We've had US forces in the UK and Europe since WW2. But we in Europe didn't truly see the iron fist, it wasn't displayed to us. All empires have it. The stupidity of the present US administration lies in its carelessness in displaying that fist. We'll embrace so much of the culture, much as the Indians did of the British culture in the 19th and 20th Centuries. But only so much as we'll consent to.
We're belatedly starting to realise, partly thanks to the neo-cons, that the USA is a truly foreign country, just as much as The Ukraine or Uruguay, and not a powerful lost colony that will always be on our side.
We have to realise that the USA will only be our friend on its own terms, not ours, and deal with it on those terms and stop deluding ourselves about "special relationships".

Yes, still being po-faced. Perhaps a beer will help. Incidentally, my Google search for "Gloucestershire T-shirts" yielded no results at all.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Management skills

12 sales people in my company were summoned to see the man. "I'm sorry", he said, "We're going to have to make 4 of you redundant".

So far so sad, but so normal.

"We're not going to tell you which 4 until tomorrow."

Sheer class.

Casinos

I'm getting a bit po-faced here, and I'm dying to rejoin young Orlando in his pee-po-belly-bum-drawers campaign, but first here's a copy of a dull email I've just sent to my MP.

Dear Ms Moran

Casinos

I'm really bothered by the casino provisions in the proposed gambling legislation. You and the local authority may be tempted by the possible windfall that new casinos appear to represent, but I believe the cost far outweighs the benefit.

Regeneration - I don't believe it. The owners, sleazy characters and shady corporations all, will, after a "honeymoon period", do their utmost to evade any fig-leaf social obligations and will lobby hard against "unfair" or "restrictive" rules and laws. Local life will not be improved one jot by these licensed fleecing parlours and once the feet are under the table YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET RID OF THEM. Ultimately we'll just have all these ugly barns full of sad losers wasting all their money, a lot of people most of us would want to avoid meeting getting mighty rich, and nothing for Luton Borough Council or the government to show for it bar a marginally-increased tax take and a whole new species of chancers and conmen and their victims to deal with.

I don't believe there is any significant demand for this measure; in fact it appears to be highly unpopular, and not just among snobs!

Additonally, does this government really want to be chiefly remembered (pace today's Guardian (3rd November)) for making Britain the Atlantic City of Europe? I'm going to risk sounding mighty pompous and say that I'd really hope this town and this country would be a more productive and upstanding place than that.


Best Wishes

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Petition

Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

"Save The Aberfan Memorial"

hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition
service, at:

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/aberfan/

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider
signing yourself.

Best wishes,

Luton types - #1 in an occasional series

A man of average height, uncut grey hair and a bulbous red-veined nose. He fumbles for his ticket, blocking the barrier at the station. He's wearing a tweedy herringbone-patterned suit... and a lime-green baseball hat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

John Peel

I didn't have a post today. Then I found out the news when I stopped-by here. Plenty of people who know more than me will express themselves better, but I actually feel bereaved here, as if I've lost someone in the family. I'm shaking.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Dead Iraqis

I had some time to spare yesterday afternoon so went to the British Museum. Whenever I go, despite the staggering range of artefacts on display, I'm always drawn back to The Assyrians. Shunning the namby showbiz of the Egyptians and those ineffectual poseurs the Greeks, I find myself in the martial world of Ashurbanipal, Ashurnasirpal and Tiglath-pileser III. Theirs is a story of rapine and conquest: to see the reliefs depicting their kings and Gods is to feel the presence of a people who ruled through strength and fear. Their deeds are recalled in bas-reliefs of battle, siege, slavery and severed heads, yet their art has great formal and stylised beauty. In honour of the Assyrians, this weblog will in future be written entirely in cuneiform script. Anyone got a syllabic font from about 600 BC? (It's not like Comic Sans, not really, no. More like Webdings).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Not a trainspotter oh no, not me guv.

I saw my first one of these trains (picture) while playing football at Wormwood Scrubs in 1976 or '77. We all stopped playing to point at it: "ooh it's one of those new trains!"- it must have been impressive. Or we must all have been real sad-hats. I think that was also the day I scored my only goal for the work team - off my shin came the 6th goal in our 7-1 victory.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Boggins' anabasis.

Higlight of the weekend was a mass welly-boot stomp round Sharpenhoe Clappers (although I of course wore my posh Brasher walking boots).
Stop pretending you're not enjoying it! It's fun. Yes it is... you can't be cold.
Let's go home then. Wassup, you missing The Simpsons?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Elderly

"Hold on a moment, you've got a hair". Hair in question is resting on my top lip. "I'll just get it off for you". "OW!".

It's ATTACHED. It's growing from the INSIDE OF MY NOSE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Uselessnessabounds

Scientists are baffled by new figures which show an astonishing world-wide explosion in human uselessness. These figures include a staggering 300% increase in "children unable to find their own shoes", a 12.5% year-on-year inflation in the number of people unable to operate automatic ticket barriers and a 30% hike in the number of people unable to program a video recorder without accidentally taping something off Animal Planet instead.

Overall human uselessness and daily incompetence are estimated to have risen on average by at least 10% over the last decade: 8 of the last 10 years have shown the highest rises since records began in the early 18th Century. Speculation has focussed on fluoridation, Cartoon Network, multi-player role-playing games, OK magazine, Ocean Finance, or any combination thereof.

A spokesman for UNIFWIWTA (United Nations I Forgot What I Was Talking About) said today that this phenomenon could not be ascribed to natural background fluctuations alone. She would have continued but instead accidentally pulled the back off her mobile and the battery fell out.

Monday, October 11, 2004

"George" The Epilogue - I hope

A knock on the door at 10:30 Sunday morning. Boy answers door. When I see who it is I gently push past in an "I'll take over here now son, there's nothing to see" sort of way, because it's the drunken idiot from next door. Has he come to wreak terrible vengeance, because if so I'm fully prepared to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that, actually, my wife is out at the moment and would he like to call back later?

But no. He's come to apologise. He's completely bladdered and gives the kind of abject apology that only the truly drunk can - "I'm ree' ree' fxxxin' sorr' I wascompleetliootofordrr ye've gotalovelyfamily an' that". Up close you can see the mess the booze has made of him: he's as pale as the head of his pint & his face is cratered like one of the minor satellites of Jupiter. I do feel sorry for him - he'll probably not trouble the scorers much longer, and no-one will miss him when he's gone. How on earth he got to that condition I'll probably never know.

London Buses

The link in the header isn't to a new news story but I wonder how truthful the figures can be - London Buses in the central area these days work on the principle that you buy a ticket before boarding - so all the driver has to do is register people boarding and, I suppose, the type of ticket they have, on his machine..
Only 3 of us got on the 88 today at my stop and no-one got off, so why was the driver punching buttons like a man in the terminal stages of Tetris? There must have been about 400 people on that bus, so I was very lucky to bag a double seat.

Friday, October 08, 2004

POETS day

Not much in here this week. It's just been a shitty week at work and we've got a new dawg which takes up a lot of spare time with its endearing shitting and pissing agenda.

Will there be "George"ing tonight (see below) I wonder? Last post until Monday probably.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Results of "The Weekend Debate"

Results: 1 off-topic response. That's enough whoring for comments. Ed.

Monday, October 04, 2004

"George", Part 2

I drafted the entry below on Friday 1/10, but didn't post until today. That (Friday) night the whole shenanigans started again, but this time matey broke a window downstairs trying to get into "his" house. Police were called and he was arrested for criminal damage. On Saturday night there he was outside again, calling everybody in the street bastards. He doesn't know it was us who called them out...

Friday, October 01, 2004

That's your boyfriend, that is.

I live in a street which houses people from all over the world. No-one causes any problems, in fact we're all very nice to each other, except Mr E.Jitt (probably not his real name) in the Celtic shirt who lives next door, insofar as he lives at all. He comes home at about 1 a.m., any day of the week. He's so pissed he can't find his keys, or if he can, he can't find the lock. So he shouts in the street to be let in. "George!" he yells, and again "George!"."Let me f***in in". "George!". And so on. The eponymous George, another Scot, is asleep, having been on the piss all day since his Breakfast Fosters. I think it's probably our turn to call the police, 'cos Mr & Mrs Siddiqi from over the road did it last time, all of 2 days ago. Mrs Massup, a gentle soul, is contemplating, no longer whether she should commit foul murder, but has moved on to method. I favour an Animaniacs-style suspended piano/head interface, but I realise that this may be difficult to set up, and it'll be tricky hiding the evidence.

I find that Fosters is such an inelegant drink for breakfast, n'est-ce pas?

The weekend debate

In 1978, a Mr.Mercury (prompted by a Mr. May) asseverated thusly: "Fat Bottomed Girls, you make the rockin' world go round"(words). Can this be true? Given what we know of Mr. Mercury's lifestyle choices, can we give credence to such a proposition? Are YOU a fat-bottomed girl? Do you want to be? Do they make the rockin' world go round? Should they? Over to you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bulletin from the secret lair

For those of you who saw that programme on Sky One Mix last night, I would like to reassure you all that my use of the title "Owl Pellets" is in no way a coded implication that I am a member of The Illuminati.
Or is it?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Luton

I've been wearing out Google for the best link to the Luton is Crappest Town in Britain story, in which I have have a personal interest.
Luton's been banged about by factory closures - GM closed Vauxhall Motors the year before we moved there for one thing - and has quite a few middle-aged and elderly unemployed; it's also been used as a dumping ground for the inadequate and the lost, including needy asylum seekers and refugees from all over the world. I've never seen so many chavs and drunks as I have since moving back to Luton 2 years ago, the town's not respected by the people who live there and has very little attractive building - most of what there once was was bulldozed in the 60's and 70's and replaced by ugly concrete, much as in a hundred other towns. I think if you respond to the "crappest town" jibe as the mayor just did, by pointing out the new multiplex cinema with bars and amusement arcades in the town centre, you're probably actually confirming the problem.
It's a betweeny sort of town - it doesn't have that reflected imported prosperity that a London dormitory town like Watford has, but it isn't far enough away from London to really have enough sense of separateness and difference. Hence, civic pride is hard to come by, and that's reflected in the rubbish-strewn ugliness that is probably the first thing you notice, especially if you come in by train. Luton's in a really nice setting though- go 3-4 miles in any direction (make it 7 if you go in the Dunstable direction, which is that terrible thing, a seriously crap town which thinks it isn't) for some lovely downland, rolling hills, country parks, pretty villages. It has fine parks, a few good pubs and a branch of Wilkinsons, which is obviously cool. It needs skilful and sensitive long-term re-modelling (and needs HM Government's 24-hour pisshead's charter like a hole in the head, but that's another story). For all the negatives though, it's not such a bad old place. I can always think of worse, anyhow!
Incidentally I have not heard ANYONE do that old Campari advert since I've been back, so shut up at the back there!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Wifely duties

05:00 Rise with Boggins. Make tea. Feed cats, make sandwiches.
05:30 See him off to work, get out ironing board. Use it.
06:00 Children rise. Make them drinks, watch Buffy with them while ironing.
07:00 Make breakfasts. Wash up last night's dishes. Find clothes for children. Fill washing machine. Make bed.
07:15 Child A announces that Child A has homework to do, due today, which could have been done during 5-hour TV-a-thon yesterday. Help Child A find pencil. Help Child A find book. Help Child A do homework. Do homework for Child A.
08:00 Shout at children. Help them find the clothes you found for them earlier. They are where you told them they were.
08:15 Shower, dress. Feed cats again.
08:30 See off Child A. Take Child B to school, after finding Child B's missing shoes, which are where she left them. Say "duh".
09:00 Work. Go to bank, charity shop, WH Smith's and shoe-shop during half-hour lunchbreak.
17:00 Return from work via Sainsbury's, make cup of tea, empty washing machine and hang clothes. Childrens' tv-a-thon already 1 hour old.
17:30 Make supper for children - 2 different suppers. Also get 2 different drinks for children.
18:00 Water garden (seasonal). Read book for 5 minutes while on toilet, before being interrupted by child claiming that other child did something unpleasant, or by 'phone call.
19:00 Childrens' 5 hour tv-a-thon enters its final 2 hours. Boggins announces that he might quite like to watch the football tonight. Appease childish grief and woe. Go to shop to buy milk and cat food.
19:30 Boggins would rather sit on hard chair in dining room with book than watch football. No, really, it's important they see that episode of The Simpsons again; there's a bit of it they don't have by heart yet.
20:00 Adult supper started. Do some washing up. Call friend A. Friend B calls. Friend C will call back. Call back friend C while the supper is in the oven.
21:00 5-hour tv-a-thon ends. Children pretend to brush teeth, are unable to find pyjamas, cannot use a light switch, want a drink, don't want a drink, argue about which of them is the most stupid.
21:30 Children finally in bed. Supper on table. Child B reappears, unable to sleep. Unsurprising, as the attempt had been made with story tape playing loud and light on. Child B is returned to bed. Eat supper - well, it was too hot before anyway.
22:00 Retire to sofa for well-earned down-time. Child A appears 2 seconds later, claiming to be hungry.
22:08 Retire to sofa for well-earned down-time.
22:10 Former friend D calls.
22:15 Retire to sofa for well-earned down-time. Fall asleep on sofa, miss best bit of TV programme or dribble on book.
23:00 Bed

If there's anything I missed out, I'm not really surprised. All timings are approximate. All events liable to cancellation or repetition. Brownies on Tuesday.

Monday, September 20, 2004

What larks, eh Pip?

I was up and down the M1 between Junctions 5 and 10 several times this weekend in our big red car. If you were one of the many motorists amused by the childrens' "waving game" then please accept their apologies because they are very very sorry and won't do it again.

Our 4th anniversary dinner party was a more low-key affair than in previous years, but very pleasant. Let there be many many more.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

A Flanders And Swan moment

Today I travelled on a Routemaster bus - a no. 36 travelling down Vauxhall Bridge Road. Every time I get on one of these nowadays, an infrequent event, I'm aware that this may just be the last time. They're old - the one I was on was a C-reg., which dates it to the early '60s when my mum and dad were driving around in a Morris Minor or a Ford Anglia. They have that feeling of substance that you get from a vehicle whose interior is made of metal and wood and rivets and screws rather than plastic mouldings, and there is a unique pleasure in standing on the open rear platform as you wait to get off. They don't cater for the disabled, they're probably dangerous if you're completely legless, but they have a surly or cheerful or eccentric or bored but generally reassuring Bus Conductor, they don't half shift around given enough road-room, and pulling a bit of string to ring the "stop" bell is a retro joy.
I'm not one of those spotter types who resists change - I actually really like the new trains that Midland Mainline have been putting on in place of the noisy 70s stuff, for example, but the Routemaster is a classic and is not easily usurped by Bendy buses: at least not without regret.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Huzzah!

Much attention has been paid to this Batman bloke, and the shortcomings of the Met. Police in this affair. The thing is, every time I've been past Buck House there've been these soldier-boys alternately standing about in sentry boxes and marching up and down, in full uniform, with proper weapons and very shiny shoes, who are nominally supposed to be GUARDING Her Wondrous Majesty, and the property thereof. Wasn't there so much as a "Halt! Who goes there?" as a rather fat BATMAN, with LADDER, sauntered across the courtyard and climbed up to the balcony?
I'm just paying these people's wages so that Abner and Gladys can wear out the batteries of their new digital cameras at Changing the Guard time, aren't I?

Monday, September 13, 2004

It's Started

Whereveryouare starts the ball rolling: what has Santa got in his sack for you? If you complain about Christmas starting in September people think you're a Scrooge & a curmudgeon. (Of course, I am, but that's not the point). I'm going to get all my presents from Amazon straight after payday and then ignore THE WHOLE BLOODY THING until the schools break up on the 20th December - which is still MORE THAN 3 MONTHS AWAY.
Fat Chance.

Friday, September 10, 2004

London's Burning!

Franz Ferdinand won a prize. We've got their album. I've kept on trying to play it but it's bloody unbearable. Rock bands aren't supposed to be nice! They play all the right notes but it's empty EMPTY EMPTY in there. I know, I'm not supposed to like rock music any more, I'm far too old - but I'm not supposed to dislike it because it's BLAND and SAFE for God's sake! I'm not supposed to feel alienated by it because it's so NICE!!! If this is all there is then Rock is DEAD DEAD DEAD, and it stinks. My stepson, who is starting to get into music, is "reduced" to listening to 25-year-old records by The Clash for a thrill. (As for The Thrills, just StF up!). Are these people going to be a part of the soundtrack to anyone's life the way The Ramones were to mine? Poor sods if so.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Rebranding.

Rebranding.

The name "GooseGrease" has served us well. It is an internationally known brand, representing tradition and irregularly updated & poorly-written weblogs.
It's time to move on. To engage with our target audience, following our move back to Blogger, to represent the best qualities of the brand in the 21st century, with all the Flash Gordony and Thunderbirdy shiny newness that that implies, we have changed our name. Teams of highly-paid consultants (William) have scorched the midnight wossname to come up with our new name :- Owl Pellets.
Never fear! Our consistent standards of (a) irregular updates and (b) poor content will not be compromised. We do not want to alienate our regular readers (a Mrs. Trellis of North Wales) but trust that they (she) will be augmented by a swelling crowd of new admirers, to whom we say "welcome" "welkom" "bienvenue" "willkommen" "bienvenuto" "boa vinda" and "bollocks" in equal measure.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Back To School

Those three words used to give me the creeps. You'd see them almost as soon as the Summer Holiday had started; in Woolworths, in clothes shops, in W H Smith. As September drew near, a kind of low-level depression would enfold me, making a mockery of the wild enthusiasm with which I had greeted the end of the previous term.
6 weeks! All gone! Gloom and despair! New school year. New bullies, new teachers, new maths to fail.
Our kids went back to school today. I saw little gloom, no despair, no fear of failure or bullying. I'm not saying anyone was actively looking forward to going back - but compared to my memories, they went back with a song in their heart.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Avast

September 19th will soon be on us again! Yarr!

Be Loud, Be Proud! Free The Cape Town 1!

The arrest of Sir Mark Thatcher gives our friend here no pleasure. I too feel only sadness at the probable downfall of this worthy and useful citizen. Mrs Thatch today flies back ; let us join her mission of mercy.
We are DISTRESSED that he faces extradition to Equatorial Guinea, where the DEATH PENALTY is still meted out to wrongdoers. Let us march on the South African Embassy, with Lord Archer and Jim "Nick-Nick" Davidson in our vanguard, and demand the instant release of this wronged and innocent man, whose only crimes are to be A British Citizen and Son of Thatch! Let us all pull together and speak as one, echoing the Roman slaves in "Spartacus": "I am Sir Mark Thatcher!". Demand Justice for the "Cape Town 1"!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Grumpy

"Maul halten und weiter dienen"*.


Fine words to remember the day after an Annual Appraisal.


*"Grin and bear it and get on with the job" - Svejk

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Rural Economy

The recent focus on Boscastle brought back a memory of nearby "Arthurian" Tintagel which doesn't show me in my best light. Some years ago during a holiday in Devon we found ourselves in the Tintagel Gifte Shoppe, full of Lancelot lampshades, Guinevere gubbins, Gawain gewgaws, and I'd had enough (maybe I was trying to give up smoking, I don't know). I made some remark, audible to all, along the lines of "how can they bear to sell all this crap? Everyone here knows its all just some nonsense got up to fleece the tourists, etc etc". The chap behind the counter replied almost mournfully, "we're just trying to make a bit of a living", and it came to me that this was just about the only employment in town. I felt so crass and boorish I almost bought a Sir Galahad mead goblet. Only almost.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Scenes from the Sad

I just realised that I finished "Breathing Lessons" only to pick up and start "Coming Up For Air". Odd coincidence.



Bad Smell going well - 6 out of 6 and 2nd in the league. Although I'll only dislodge the first place team with a gun...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Innocence, like, retained, you know?

Just got back from a 2-week jaunt to SLOVAKIA... stuff & pictures tomorrow.


From the back seat of the SKODA, a genuine conversation - a 9-year old girl and a 7-year-old girl looking at a magazine or brochure...


9-y-o "She doesn't look like a real model, she looks more like a porn star"


7-y-o "What's a porn star?"


(2 adults in the front now agog for the reply)


9-y-o "It's, like, a model who doesn't wear a T-shirt."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Pix

My MOBLOG contains a few pictures of the Liptov region of Slovakia, where we spent a brilliant 2 weeks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Monday, July 19, 2004

The answer is probably only 42 if you can eat it.

Battersea Park looks beautiful in the sunshine. A car enters. This squeaky sound: "Drink! Chocolate!"

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Bootiful

Bernard Matthews Wafer Thin Turkey Ham
It's time to out this stuff. My stepdaughter eats it by the ton: I think it's horrible and very suspicious.
What do we know about it (for our Canadian visitors, that's "what do we know aboot it")? What does it really consist of and how is it made?
I used to be a vegetarian but I'm 'cured' - har har- now; I have a horrible feeling I could easily get un-cured by too much information, but I'll risk it. So many of us are in denial about food production because we like 'Value' products too much. Sometimes the stone is lifted and we look away before we see what's underneath.
Having opened the can of worms (BOGOF offer at ASDA this week), it's fair to point out that said stepdaughter would starve to death without Bernard Matthews Wafer Thin Turkey Ham and The Captain's Chicken Dippers, so I owe these people a great debt.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Goats, Bricks and Melinae

Do you have children? Do any of them talk, like, like this, right? It's, like, off the telly, innit, like? 'Coslike* if they like, do, you are now entitled to visit, like, reasonable chastisement upon them, right?
"I'll tidy my room tomorrow, right?" Yeah, right.
The Goat is Got. Discipline them with Bricks.


At a time like this I like to revisit old and trusted friends. Like a fine wine, or a familiar poem, this both sooths and inspires. I include this link because I suspect that somewhere on Planet Earth someone has not experienced it, and that is wrong. It improves and deepens with each visit, but nothing will match your first exhalation of joy. Ladies and Gentlemen:- Badgers. Play Loud.


*"coslike" is one word.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Why we blog, and international relations

Why we blog: Haddocktwat's angst and this piece come together nicely, and now we know part of the reason we do it.
A lot of the American citizens I come across in the streets of London and in other tourist spots are the stereotypical ignorant fat loud midwesterners in appalling red and yellow check trousers and "USS NIMITZ" baseball caps. "Where are you from?" I might ask, interested in which city or state. "Well boy", says he, winding himself up to full imperial height, "I'm from the [b]YEW - NITED STATES OF AMERICA[/b]". My God, I think, and there was me thinking you were Belgian :-). The combination of this experience and the horrorshow that is the US presidency at the moment (mis)-informs a lot of UK and European opinion of the USA. It's valuable to be in touch with normal humans who just happen to be Americans. And, of course, Yorkshire Canadians.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Hardboard

It has come to my attention that I have an irrational hatred of hardboard. There you are: I'm out. It's not like the horror I have of the squeak of Expanded Polystyrene, to which years of therapy are starting to make me resistant, it's a kind of low-level dislike which I am only now beginning to fully realise and express. Yes, I know that hardboard is both VERSATILE and USEFUL - I have a good deal of it in my house: but it has a loathsome quality, hard to put into words. I hate the smooth side, and I hate the rough side. I hate the stuff that comes off it when you saw it. I hate its unique hardboardy brownness. I hate the special hardboardy noise it makes when you tap it with your fingers. I hate the way it goes all manky when wet. Am I unique in my lonely madness?

Friday, July 09, 2004

Against Ignorance

Today I pushed a letter through a doorway. Wouldn't normally blog a thank-you letter but as there's enough ignorance and prejudice in the world (in my town, in my street), this is my (very) little stand against it.


To The Council and members

Masjid E Noor

Dear Sirs

A short note of thanks for your kind help in providing access and parking for our guests at our wedding on 26th June. It was a neighbourly act which was of great help to us. I hope all our guests treated your premises with respect.

Once again, thank you.

Regards



The " Masjid E Noor " is a little mosque 3 doors down from us. Some weeks ago a gentleman from there knocked on our door and offered access for our garden workers via their car-park, having seen that the only other access we have to the back garden is through our own front door. Our conversation led to the offer mentioned above. We are not Muslim, nor ever likely to be. We may even have issues with the Muslim world-view. That doesn't stop us looking-out for each other. "How very When Saturday Comes", to quote my brother in a different context.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Man At Work

This is a list of all the search items I've entered into Google on my work PC these last few months. At least 4 of them appear to be work-related...what on earth does it signify?

Alec Guinness
Alex W******h
Arnold Bennett
Arrow gif
Arseholes
Ascension Island
Bad Movies
Bagel toppings
Barton Rovers FC
Being Present
Belm
Bible text on-line
Bollocks
Books in 25 words
Brothers Grimm
Car hire Slovakia
Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Charles Dickens
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Chav
Clooney
Composting tips and hints
Convert fluid ounces to metric
Daily.wav
Demographics
DJDE RFORM
Duke Humphrey
Edward Lear
Elgoog
Emerson
Flan Turbot
Flash Gordon
Font-size
Framley Examiner
Free sms
Galicia
Gates MacFadden
Gif
Gmail
Grainne W*****y
Handley Page
Harry Graham
Hattrick.org
Hendon Aerodrome
Hindustan
IMDB
Index On Censorship
Italian phrases
Javascript
Jimmy Pursey
John Westlock
Journey to The Centre Of The Earth
Jules Verne etext
Lane Miller
Lemon Curry
Light switches
Lollop greaves
London Eye
Lord Godolphin
mailto:
Map Of Slovakia
Martin D***y
Menace wobble
Measurements of liquid
Midland Mainline
Mongolia
Movies
New Opportunities and Horizons
News sites
Noises
Nonsense
Nonsense poetry
Nonsense poetry Hoskyns
Old grey Poet
Ornella Muti
Passport check and send
Passport renewal
Payment buttons
Paysandu ham
Peace Hospice
Pecksniff
Peru
Posh art critic
Precious Ramotswe
Private Eye
Punch Magazine 1888 Grossmith
Purtle Sline
Quotes by Fielding
Quotes by Swift
Rtext
Samantha B*****s
Scaryduck
Siemens A60 ringtones
Simon Dupree and the Big Sound
Sounds
Spaceship 1
Spaceship One
Speedy Motors
Spire
Spizz Oil
Spong
St. Swithin
Stewart Pearson Wright
Swift, Obituary
Swift, Quotes
Swiss Centre
Terry Gilliam
Text-decoration
Thameslink
That nice Mr Pillai
The Book Of Obadiah
The Galaxy Luton
The National Gallery
The Queen
The Song Of Solomon
Tobias Smollett
Unhappiness
University League Tables
Varnish
Vicar Of Trim
Voltaire etext
Wavis
Word Games
wuti

... wuti??? wot, me sober?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Wedding Day: That Speech In Full

It was a great great day: I think everyone enjoyed it a lot. What follows is the script of my speech in the garden - I digressed a bit, but only a bit.

" Ladies and Gentlemen - this won't take long - those of you who know me well know that I don't do this.. at least 3 of the others standing to speak this afternoon speak publicly for a living whereas I avoid it like, well, the plague.
I'm just going to say a few thank-yous, which I've written down in case I get seasick here:

-1st, thanks to all our friends and relatives for coming (sorry we couldn't arrange the weather better for you). The further you've come the more impressed I am.
- personal thanks are due to my new father- mother- sister- and brother-in-law, who've unfailingly made me feel welcome to their family right from the outset.
- thanks to Tracey, my "best man" - I've said it before, but she was a tower of strength a few years ago when I needed one, and her devious machinations played a big part in bringing me to this time and place, deny it though she may.
- To Sioux and Dan, who hosted my and Sam's first sudden skirmishes - Sioux, I know, has been a stalwart and loving friend to Sam in her dark days and since, for which my thanks are due.
- I know that, strictly speaking, the best man is supposed to say this but I think the bridesmaids look gorgeous. Well done girls. (I think that's what they call a "scripted ad-lib")
- Top marks too to William for giving his mother away. Don't worry, you'll get her back...
- There's a host of people who've helped out with everything from drain rods to flowers to cars to extension cords to chairs to fridges - too many for me to name but thanks to you all, old friends and new.
- 3 more:
- To illustrate our thoroughly modern and inclusive relationship, can I say a big thank you to a lady, and she's here today, who, as well as being a fine, fine mother to Kate and Heather has been immensely supportive to us, when she really didn't have to be? Ali, please continue to accept my respect and friendship, and Thank You.
- Nearly finally, the man who stepped into the breach when others let us down, who's spent more time here than I have lately, working until dark for not much more than a can of Stella and a smelly bed to get this garden and patio area ready for today, many many thanks to Buster, who said he'd be "staying in the background today, getting slightly pissed" - you do that, 'cos you're a star.
- Finally thanks to the beautiful woman who transformed my life, whose love I breathe every day. May I make you happy for the rest of our lives - Sam.

Can I get a beer now? "

Thursday, June 24, 2004

2 Days Left

I get married the day after tomorrow. No wonder I can't get anything written down here. My Hattrick team went out of the cup 1-8 in the first round as well. They'll have to manage without me next week...

Friday, June 18, 2004

Passports And Grief

Well... the passport story is completed this morning as I pick up my new one from the UK Passport Office.
It's been a struggle and I've had stress - not to mention a 'phone bill - that I don't need, but now I can rest assured that I can go on my own honeymoon, one week on Sunday. It's another unwanted lesson to me in how well I deal with stress and "officialdom", but it's also a lesson in how that officialdom deals with the public, and how hard I'd find their job. On both my visits to the Passport Office my attention was distracted by people on either side of me who were being knocked back simply because they hadn't read the forms properly and who were becoming vilely abusive to the staff. The punter is stressed because he needs his passport: this I understand because I had that stress. I had all (and more) of the documentation required, and 2 previous UK passports to back me up: I could show that I had taken it seriously, and still it was not easy. One person next to me yesterday had had her application signed by a croupier(!) and had not had her photo signed off by anyone at all and had filled in her form in blue ink, but still claimed it was the Civil Servant's fault that she couldn't get her passport that day. The desk staff keep coming back for more, 'cos it's their job. I don't know if I could.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Aarg.

Just had to spread this squirm around.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

European vote-o

I was the only voter in the polling station. The presiding officer looked pleased to see me. The turnout's going to be pathetic isn't it?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

War On Terror Since 1972

"Will Inspector Sand please proceed to Basement n on the Kent side."

"All rail staff to maintain radio silence please."

I'm at Victoria station today waiting for the train to leave for the short hop to Battersea Park station, when these familiar harbingers of station closure due to a "suspect package" are heard. What are we on the train thinking?

(A) "Oh my God, we're all going to die."

(B) "Remember the time that guy was killed by a bomb in a waste-paper basket outside Smith's? How long ago was that?"

(C) "Get this bloody train out, it's late already".

If you answered (C) you're probably closest to the mark.

At the time of writing nothing untoward seems to have happened.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Site I Like, and other matters

How nice to appear, however briefly, on the Old Grey Poet's blogroll.
In some ways I don't know why I enjoy the site so much because nothing much ever really happens - they move house, they go to Starbucks, they go to B & Q, legs ache and photos are taken. In most hands this would be a dull and self-centred affair, but it is written so well that it's always a pleasure. (Better than this rubbish anyhow! - ed.) It went "off-air" for a long time after being 'flamed' by some idiot or idiots, and it was with joy that I found it had returned.
If I were attempt something in a similar vein - I certainly have the family for it! - I know I'd never be able to sustain it.
Worry: I'm going to Capri on my honeymoon in 3 weeks and I'm still on the 'phone to people about the documents I need for my new passport, all because I stupidly allowed a name-change when I married the first time. Respect due to to Sheila at Redbridge Register Office for her fine efforts this week!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Nothing

No post for over a week. Bad Boggins. Brother from NZ, wedding plans, guests, carnivals, broken systems. 23 days left!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Republican News

Today I was in Whitehall, waiting for a bus to take me to work when the street suddenly filled with Police motorcycles whistling and beeping, stopping traffic right and left. For what?
A black limousine sleeks past all the stalled traffic, big flag on the bonnet, elderly lady on the back seat. Age has its privileges but they wouldn't stop the West End traffic for my mum or for auntie Jean.
They're not The Queen, you see.
Queens, Princesses, Duchesses, Lord High Groom of The Royal Stool... can't we at last GROW UP as a society and send these people back where they belong?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

38 Days To Go!

Feeding my inner nerd - hattrick.org

The Geek Inside told me to sign-up to hattrick.org, and at the end of last week I got a team. I've called it "Bad Smells"(#7536), 'we' play at "The Drains", and so far we've played 1, lost 1.
I am very excited about my new Greek striker (good grief man, listen to yourself!). We've a friendly against a French team tonight and the Greek is on the bench.
If any other "HatTrickers" out there fancy a morale-boosting friendly win, come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.
I am not sad.

Pevsner (o.g.): 1

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I Am A Bad Man

I am "the worst step-dad in the world". I also stink, apparently. And all because while we're still debating whether we should walk her to school (see below) or let her go by herself, I insist on walking with her.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I Know What I Like, etc.

Today's Guardian article about a new exhibition touches on old prejudices and insecurities about what constitutes art. (BTW, I seem to be turning into a bit of a fan)!)
We're hoodwinked - "Oh! it's the Virgin Mary! And Ronald MacDonald! They're having it off! And they're made out of shit! That's really got me thinking! I'm also very shocked!" - by art that is only art because someone with whom we don't know how to argue says it is and because the artist went to the right school and "networked" with the right people. After a while, any activity undertaken by the successful "artist" is designated "art", and we all disappear up our own arses in a flurry of unmade beds. I think Picasso may have started this "everything I do is art" thing but he had talent: good luck to 'em, but don't expect me to clap like a seal.
The Being Present exhibition looks interesting. See you there, with the rest of us Philistines.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Walking To School

Today's question:

Each school day my beloved or I walk her loinfruit (8, soon 9) to school. On the way we pick up friend Latifah (OK, OK, not her). We cross one busy main road to get to Latifah, then there's another with a Zebra crossing. After that it's mainly one-way urban side streets: the whole walk takes about 10 minutes or so.

I'm under pressure from them to let them walk to school without me. I know I was doing it at that age, but times have seemingly changed. We have to let go a bit, give them the autonomy they need - but if they get run over or abducted I'll want to kill myself.

Any thoughts, anyone?

1st post after the makeover

My material is on tblog at the moment, but if I can have commenting (comments (0) as always, but it's nice to have), and a Zeldman template I'm sorely tempted... I like the redesign so far.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Why I still love football, but don't go any more...

Reading this prompted some thoughts:

I haven't been to a football game since the end of the 1999/2000 season. My marriage finally ended in summer 2000 and I was living in a little flat on my own. I woke up one morning meaning to go to a pre-season friendly - chance to check out new players, kit etc. - and found, for the first time, that I just couldn't be arsed. Soon after that I went on holiday: soon after that I met the woman I'm going to marry, and I haven't been back to Underhill since.

That season (2000/1) BFC were relegated. That felt bad, but not as bad as it would have felt if I'd been there, involved.
The next season I made plans to go a few times. I wasn't about to be one of those Fair-weather fans who only turn up when the going is good.
Never went. There was always too much on. I had the girls every other weekend; always seemed to coincide with home games. Sometimes I forgot to check the scores. I'd be sure to go next season.
Never went. We bought a house. When I didn't have the girls I was busy: repairs, decorating, blah blah. When I was free I had no money. There were fewer and fewer players whose names I knew. Still followed the scores, and the news on the websites. Maybe next season...
Never went. The Bees had a useful season, with a real goalscorer again. They reached the playoffs, and I was genuinely quite upset when they lost on penalties in the semi-final.
I miss the pre-match drink in the Queens Arms. I miss talking to people with whom I have only one interest in common. I miss being part of a disparate crowd of people with a common purpose. I miss having license to hurl abuse at someone for no good reason (referee, tubby midfielder, dodgy 'keeper). I miss buying a freshly-minted program. I miss the first day of the season when the grass is still intact and everything is possible. I even miss Enfield. Whatever happened to them?
Next season, back in the Queens with the Guardian and a pint of dodgy lager.
Promise.
Get Nicky On!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Mundanity And Crapness

I embrace it! Mundanity and crapness! Comments (0)! I agree with nearly all this (Thanks to this man for the link and the title), but I and thousands of others keep on doing it. Why? What do I expect to get out of it? Is it only somewhere to store good links? Or am I just a sad fool?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Just A Bit Of Diary

Took the kids on the London Eye on Sunday, and got really lucky on what was generally a miserable wet weekend. I highly recommend this attraction to anyone who quite likes that sort of thing. Christened the new Barbeque on Monday; no reports of any poisonings yet.
Kicked off on Martin Chuzzlewit this morning but may "shelve" it, har har, until later. Sometimes the mood's not quite there.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Art

The new portrait of Prince Philip by Stuart Pearson Wright is a joyous thing.

Misheard(?)

At the station:
"The service has been cancelled due to imaginary problems which have not been resolved".

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Quizzes. Oh Dear.


Soppy

Returning from the school run whereby I walked Ellie and friend Latifa to St. Matts on this miserable wet morning, a gust of wind covered the pavement ahead in a 'snowstorm' of pink petals. It's a memory I'll retain when today is otherwise forgotten.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Sponsor My Ex-Wife To Leap From A Tall Building

"I am seriously considering doing an abseil off the Harlequin shopping centre (Watford) to help raise money for the Peace Hospice. Before I commit to them that I will do it I wanted to find out what the level of support would likely be as I have a minimum amount of ?100 to raise to be able to do it. If you think you would like to sponsor me for this cause let me know so I can get my entry form in before I scare myself into changing my mind !!

Yours..shaking in my boots already..

Ali"


The Peace Hospice is in Watford, Hertfordshire, UK and is a thoroughly good thing.
If you'd like to sponsor her, leave a comment below with suitably disguised-to-prevent-spam email address or other contact method and I'll reply with PayPal details or whatever is needed.

She may be my ex, but I really don't want her to fall off.
It all happens on June 20th.

I know, 0 comments as usual...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Peter Cook

Picked up 2nd-hand in St Martins Lane 'Tragically I was an Only Twin - The Complete Peter Cook" . This will be among the best ?2 ever spent as I bore everyone into submission with quotes and role-play...
"I've got a viper in this box, you know"

Friday, April 23, 2004

Ambulance Chasers

My personal "filter" is that I don't usually visit blogs whose self-descriptions contain any of the following words: "musings" "random" "boring"(!) "rants" "rubbish" or "ramblings" (let alone combinations of 2 or more of those). The following is a RANT, which may or may not be boring.
Bloody Ocean Bloody Finance and all the other leech bloodsucky ambulance chasers on cable TV.
You sit down at a nicely decadent mid-morning time. You've done the school run, all the house stuff is done: you're on the evening shift so you've got an hour before you go. "Oh Good", you say, Ironside's on the TV, I'll sit down and watch that". (You might settle for "Murder She Wrote", but Ironside is pure gold). Now bloody ruin it for me. Every 5. "Credit Cards Out of Control?" "Had an accident in the last 2 years that you can screw out some money for?" "Have you considered a plan for Those Final Expenses?" "CCJs? Bad Credit History?: we'll lend you money, our rates start at just xx%!". "Free DVD player!" "Guaranteed acceptance, no medicals"! "No salesman will call"! Quite the most scandalous are the ones that promise to "unlock" your pension, as if you wouldn't need it later.
Without these crooks I suppose there is no Ironside. I'll read my book instead.
I'll stop now.
Ocean Finance die die die.

Daughter #1

Happy Birthday and all my love to Heather - 12 today.

Semantics

Overheard in IT support: "What's happened is that either the hard drive or the motherboard overheated and the whole thing's just frozen up."
Well, you know what he meant.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A loss

R.I.P. "Hazel" - a rat: after a short illness, passed away on Tuesday aged 3 and a bit.

He'll be asking himself a few questions

So.
Farewell then Big Ron.
You set your stall out early doors for the big lad on the back stick.
That was your
catchphrase.

EJ Boggins aged old and a half.

Irreplaceable.
Idiot.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Yellow Car

Will the inventor of the childrens' travel game "Yellow Car" please report to my office for a right thrashing?
The rules of the game "Yellow Car" are as follows: when travelling with one's sibling or friend in the back of parents' car, the first to spot a yellow car shouts "YELLOW CAR!" very loudly and punches said sibling or friend in that tender spot on the arm just below the shoulder. Game continues until parent pulls over into layby and refuses to continue journey and/or has nervous breakdown.
Thank You.

Friday, April 16, 2004

This is hardly a novel thought but...

...when did "liberal" become a dirty word? I've been reading a lot of US-based weblogs these last few days and it struck me that the word "liberal" is now often used with the same tolerance as are the words "paedophile", "pervert", "Man. U supporter", i.e. with contempt. I had a quick look at Dictionary.com's definition, and it basically says "good, well-meaning, humanitarian person". When did that become a bad thing? And is the opposite of "liberal" therefore a good thing?
But I suppose I'm just a wishy-washy fellow-travelling do-gooder who has no desire to bomb anyone back into the stone age. I'll never be a Man. U supporter though.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

My Favourite Poem

Even as the waves of brainless butter'd fish,
With bugle horne writ in the Hebrew tongue,
Fuming up flounders like a chafing-dish,
That looks asquint upon a Three-mans song:
Or as your equinoctiall pasticrust
Projecting out a purple chariot wheele,
Doth squeeze the spheares, and intimate the dust,
The dust which force of argument doth feele:
Even so this Author, this Gymnosophist,
Whom no delight of travels toyle dismaies,
Shall sympathize (thinke reader what thou list)
Crownd with a quinsill tipt with marble praise.


Cabalistical Verses

John Hoskyns (c17)

I've lost the link, because I found this long ago and saved it as text, but thanks, whoever you are....

I wanted to put this on the company intranet but bottled it...

Longest-serving Employee

Mrs Hetty Bimthwot joined HMSO "ooh,ever such a long time ago". She began as a Lubrication Assistant in the now-defunct Trouser Press: no-one really knows what she does now. She last received a pay rise in 1964, still receiving a once-adequate wage of £ 3/8s/6d per week, and a further Disfigurement Allowance of 4 shillings each quarter-day. She has several memories, some fond: "that nice Mr Pillai would come round and sell us home-made bread and butter fingers on his birthday - before the accident".
Her most vivid memory is of a Prime-Ministerial visit. "Mr Attlee didn't actually speak to me but he was ever so nice", she reminisces, "and Mr Pillai brought in some of his lemon-curd barmcakes. They was disgusting".
Hetty has one surviving son, Geoffrey, who manages a retail loofah outlet in Penge and who calls her every fifth Christmas or so. "Everyone's been very kind", she remarks, idiotically. When asked what she'll do with the money raised in her collection she's in no doubt: "I think I'll just drink myself absolutely bandy".

Gary Baker is 103.