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


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


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



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.