Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Czech this out.

Boggins, in massy company, will be in your area next August - provided your area is North-Eastern Bohemia. In a hintellectual hendeavour to ingratiate himself with the locals he has identified some authors with whose works he plans to become familiar.

  • Josef Skvorecky
  • Bohumil Hrabal
  • Ivan Klima
  • Karel Capek

... will do for starters. Mr Hrabal, it is said, was a Prague "defenestree" in 1997:
According to some sources, he was trying to feed the pigeons, according to others he commited suicide.

Plenty there to get me going. Any suggestions or comments gladly received, as ever, apart from the usual one.

Dám si jedno pivo prosím.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Space Is Dark. It Is Cold.

Boggins is at a funny age. This is the trite but only possible reason that he finds himself listening to old Hawkwind records, and re-reading Michael Moorcock potboilers like "The Warlord Of The Air" and thoroughly enjoying both.

Here's a lovely lyric, Hawkfans:

Lives of great men all remind us we may make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us footprints in the sands of time

so far, so Longfellow. We continue:
Of hewn stones the sacred circle where the wizened sages sat
Let us try to remember all the times where they were at.

- pure Dave Brock.

So your thoughts they were expecting
assault and battery on the human anatomy
Assault and battery on the human anatomy, man.

Ah, those ear-splitting nights at the long-gone Queensway Hall, Dunstable. The acoustics were immense. Pardon?

I am indebted to Betty for getting me going down this particular memory-lane again.
Lyrics purloined from here. Hope they don't mind.

Next week: Trumpton, probably.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Not Dead Yet

... just haven't got any words in my head. I'll be back, but not for a while. Happy Christmas !!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Great Books on-line

Where do the Google Book-Scan scheme and Yahoo's similar-sounding idea leave Project Gutenburg, one of my original "10 reasons to get on the web" (the others were probably either salacious or plain stupid)?
For years, Project Gutenburg has provided, free, out-of-copyright classic material, including many good things not provided by the mighty Penguin Classics. The great thing about PG is that it provides all its texts in .txt format, a simple, if limited, plain ascii-text format that's been around for ever, and as far as one can see will always be readable whether you're using the simplest text editor or the flashiest WP, no matter what the operating system. No need for special software, continuous upgrades to readers or to imaging products, just download and read. I really hope Project Gutenburg doesn't get buried under all the Flash generated by the others.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


The unruly people at VillagePhotos disabled my (free) account, and the very attractive photo in my Blogger profile disappeared. I cock my snoot at them. The very attractive photo is now hosted by the lovely people at PhotoBucket, with whom I anticipate a long and frabjous free-account relationship. Perhaps I should start by uploading an even-more attractive photo.

Today is a sad day as I bow to the inevitable and logoff my HATTRICK account for the last time. I put Gundolf Wimberwepper up for sale, fired my longest-serving player and will let the rest of the "players" play out their time without me. It's been fun and I recommend Hattrick to anyone who quite likes that kind of thing, but I just don't have the TIME.

Anyone for winky-kinkies?

Monday, September 19, 2005


B & Q own-brand Lemon Ice (Silk).

Friday, September 09, 2005

Three things

Here are three things I want to see, all utterly different, all available to me, all proof that the ice is still thick enough, for now:

* The Persians at the British Museum.

* Henri Rousseau at Tate Britain.

* "Howl's Moving Castle", a new film by Hayao Miyazaki who made "Spirited Away", one of my All-Time Favourite Films.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thin Ice

We're all skaters on the pond-ice that is civilisation. For most of us in the West it feels solid and good beneath the feet.
When did you last feel the ice cracking? Was it during a power-cut? Was it while you were in a queue on a motorway, unable to move? On a train or waiting for one that didn't come? In the airport or on a 'plane? In a crowd of people, stuck, powerless? These things are trivial, but through them you can sometimes feel or intuit the terror of the cold water beneath, and this piece by Timothy Garton Ash says a lot about the world to come.

Greatest Painting Vote

In fine Boggins loser tradition, my preference, for which I voted at least 01 (one) times, came last. (If you don't know what I'm on about click the heading to this post).
My and everyone's personal favourite - if they are being truly honest with themselves - was scandalously not shortlisted due to snobbery and malice.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Traditional Christmas Message...

Last year my this fine gentleman got in a Traditional Christmas Rant on September 12th. This year I intend to prove him a rank amateur.

Any minute now. Plastic Santas. Bunting. "Seasonal" goods. You can feel it.

They're "gearing up".

Have you bought all your presents yet? Better hurry.

This year, mine will all be wrapped in brown paper and hairy string.

Can you still get hairy string? Will someone please hold onto my sanity until January?

Monday, August 22, 2005


See what I did there?

[If you are as gripped by the Schleswig-Holstein question as I and all my readers (I'm afraid Lord Luvaduck's Mrs Trellis has been sojourning in Baluchistan and has been replaced by an animatronic doppelganger), drop me a comment and I'll make sure that the whole boiling is placed somewhere where you can reach it. In doing so you agree that you are part and parcel of the whole copyright infringement, and that you started it.]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Schleswig- Holstein Question: Part 3

The Napoleonic Wars had awakened German national feeling, and the political bonds that had historically existed between Schleswig and Holstein suggested that the two regions should form a single country within a united Germany. A countermovement developed among the Danish population in northern, or North, Schleswig and from 1838 in Denmark itself, where the Liberals insisted that Schleswig had belonged to Denmark for centuries and that the frontier between Germany and Denmark must be the Eider River (which had historically marked the border between Schleswig and Holstein). The Danish nationalists thus aspired to incorporate Schlweswig into Denmark, in the process detaching it from Holstein. German nationalists conversely sought to confirm Schleswig's association with Holstein, in the process detaching the former from Denmark. These differences led in March 1848 to an open uprising by Schleswig-Holstein's German majority in support of independence from Denmark and close association with the German Confederation. The rising was helped by the military intervention of Prussia, whose army drove Denmark's troops from Schleswig-Holstein. This war between Denmark and Prussia lasted three years (1848 -50) and only ended when the Great Powers pressured Prussia into accepting the London Convention of 1852. Under the terms of this peace agreement, the German Confederation returned Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark. In an agreement with Prussia under the London Protocol of 1852, the Danish government in return undertook not to tie Schleswig more closely to Denmark than to its sister duchy of Holstein.

Down Memory Lane, with Clement Ader

nicked from here

He said it flew. Who are we to argue?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Schleswig Holstein question. Part 2

Favourite TV programme: Bananas In Pyjamas
In the 12th century Schleswig became a dukedom, and it remained a fief associated (but not without dispute) with Denmark until 1864. Holstein developed somewhat more independently; it was ruled for centuries as a duchy by the kings of Denmark, but, at the same time, remained a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. After 1815 Holstein was incorporated in the newly formed German Federation.

During the 1840s, issues relating to the rights of Schleswig's and Holstein's respective German- and Danish-speaking minorities, to the succession rights of the Danish royal family, and to Denmark's interests in the two duchies resulted in the duchies' becoming a bone of contention between Denmark and Prussia and then among Denmark, Prussia, and Austria. At this time the population of Schleswig was Danish in its northern portion, German in the south, and mixed in the northern towns and centre. The population of Holstein was almost entirely German.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Schleswig- Holstein Question: Part 1

Favourite Food: sun-dried hagfish
Schleswig lies directly north of Holstein. Both Schleswig and Holstein have at times been subject to the claims and counterclaims of Denmark, Sweden, the Holy Roman Empire, Prussia, and Austria. The region has had Danish minorities in predominantly German areas and German minorities surrounded by Danes, and consequently its history has been one of border and sovereignty disputes and, more recently, accommodations. A prolonged controversy between Denmark and Prussia over Schleswig-Holstein in the 19th century became known as the Schleswig-Holstein question. The historical region of Schleswig-Holstein was long a part of Denmark, and the northernmost portion of Schleswig in fact still belongs to Denmark.

More soon!

Monday, August 15, 2005


Our glamorous model in Ireland
Some photos of our recent trip to Ireland on Flickr - see right panel.
They don't blow up too well: I think I got a bit over-enthusiastic with the resizing tool.

Hallo world!

Monday, August 08, 2005



Friday, August 05, 2005

Post for Broomhilda

Picture lifted without permission from
this site. You crossed a continent just to supply a crappy joke? Thanks!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Untitled Post

On Kitchens: we shall remain silent. We are (almost) content. We (I) forgot to retrieve the front-door key from Alan: but that is as much my fault as his. It is done. Let us hear no more.

To: Mrs Haveyouhadherdoneyet & Mr Mywifewouldloveyou: greetings from Lily. Despite appearances, she is an extremely dangerous attack-dog who will have your hand off and bury it under the nettles as soon as look at you. This was your last warning.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


An enforced, slightly convoluted trip to work gives me a doubledeckerview of a premises named "Bierodrome". A more enticing name I cannot conceive: The Boggins Temperance League review team will undoubtedly be in your area before long.

We are instituting a Word Of The Week herewith: GALLIMAUFRY. Only because, however, the even-better word in my head yesterday has escaped. For those of you who are Shamed By Their Mistakes In English, I should point out that "gallimaufry" is a tiny Joel-sized penguin found in the vicinity of Ushuaia. Oh yes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Only me.

Whereas I have nothing to say, here I am not saying it.

I am tempted into a post regarding a certain nameless kitchen company, but I shall hold fire until Friday: in the event of continued dissatisfaction there will be an annotated list of misdemeanours and shortcomings to warn, enlighten & delight you. Elsewise, we are Ryanairing to Ireland on Sunday, for a week; there will be photos. You lucky people.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Boggins & Bob Dylan

Boggins has always had a bit of a blind spot for Bob Dylan. I've known & loved lots of his songs - who hasn't? - covered by various artists (I bought Hendrix's version of "All Along The Watchtower" with pocket-money), but I've never really "got" Bob. I remember going to cousin Graham's house when a mere youngster, and being told of the Greatness of Bob: on the same day however I was told by the same person of the coming greatness of Nottingham Forest, and never truly believed in either; this pre-dated Forest's Cloughie-led glory days.
Then I was bought a Dylan compilation for my birthday. I've even rescued my dust-encrusted CD Walkman from the dust-encrusted drawer so I can keep listening. It's been a revelation - such lyrics, such tunes - I obviously haven't been paying attention all my life. Even a hoary old number you'd think you had by heart, like "Mr Tambourine Man" has been revealed anew, as if I'd never heard it before.
After 45 years in the trade he just got a new source of income...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Old Now.

It's been and gone.

There will be some photos but I need to think about some privacy issues first.


CATH - £100 in untraceable notes by Wednesday means I won't publish that photo of you. £200 gets it off my hard drive for good. :-)

ETHAN - send all your pocket money or you're on the Internet.

I'll remember Saturday. I hope I thanked people properly in person for what they did: I was truly touched by your gifts and your affection.

Thanks are due to:

The Bushey crowd for "Boggins' Thoughtful Spot". Mainly I'll be thinking "what lovely people". Blub.

"Unky Al" for poo-patrol and inflation.

Bradshaw. For the 2nd year running you didn't get me a new bra. Sort it out. Also: Happy Birthday.

Jackie next door for quiche and not minding getting wet.

Barbara. Big Gold Star. So much; too much to list.

Ali for getting all that family tree material organised. Could you tell I was a bit stunned?

Venus Williams & Lindsay Davenport for distracting my guests with a 3-set classic instead of the usual 6-2 6-0. Kept the booze consumption down for a bit.

Sir Bob Geldof for arranging his stupid little knees-up for the same day. Frankly, it was in my OUTLOOK first. Cheers. Just check next time, OK?

G & J for good thoughts.

Everyone else who helped. Or just came. Or who would have come if they could have.

Above all, the Best Girl In The World. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I'll probably think of other people the second I upload this. Thanks to all.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Elderly Boggins very excited

on becoming the owner of a Dutch, or scuffle, Hoe.

If you follow the link it explains that a Dutch Hoe is one you push rather than pull.
Feel free to fill up my comments box with a lot of silly hip-hop puns.

There will be a paddling pool and a bouncy castle on Saturday for my half-century bash. No-one who puts silly hip-hop puns in my comments box can come.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Grainne & Jeremy

Originally uploaded by Boggins.

...were married on 18/6 at the 291 Gallery, Hackney.

A groovy time was had by all!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Middle Ages

Boggins is understandably rather preoccupied with the ageing process, as he makes his final approach to another birthday ending in "0".

The following is a quote from yesterday's paper. See if you can guess who said it.

"I gotta keep in shape now. Age man, it's so stupid. It's like this obsequious weasel that creeps upon you."

Was it:

a) Sylvester Stallone
b) Jerome K Jerome
c) Morrissey

Someone who reads this knows already. Anyone else can probably get it through Google, but should resist.

I am not referring to this, which is the first thing that comes up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


A hiatus for a few days, while I move house.

Meanwhile, enjoy a new Gerald Durrell book, long thought lost. Following the success of "The Bafut Beagles", "My Family And Other Animals" and "A Zoo In My Luggage", follow his further amusing adventures in "A Lamprey in the Undercroft", a collection of drunken maunderings captured on tape during his brief visit in the early 80's to The White Hart Tap in St. Albans.

A very small part of the above story is true.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Originally uploaded by Boggins.

It's under the house... only 2 people know how to get in there - let's keep it that way.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Originally uploaded by Boggins.

Heather receiving her 5th place award for 200m competition at the weekend.

Heather said it was the hardest thing she had ever done.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

That "Oh ****" moment

Tobias Smollett (1721 - 1771) was probably the first person to articulate the words Boggins spoke yesterday when, while retrieving old paint and other noxious substances from his cellar, he realised that he had dripped PAINT, of a colour enigmatically named "Sexy Pink", all over the dining room carpet, across the floor, up the patio doors and along the patio.
The words, for which overhaul your copy of "Ferdinand Count Fathom" , and, when found, make a note of, were as follows:

"Oh Fuck."*

*it may be that your copy of Ferdinand Count Fathom (you do have a copy??) does not contain these words. For this you can probably thank generations of pusillanimous editors.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ellie with Author

Ellie with Author
Originally uploaded by Boggins.

Lifted from Luton News of 4th May 2005. In true colour: these people really are blue.
By the way, why has Melissa brought a toaster to school? Don't they feed her at home?

Hunstanton Beach

Hunstanton Beach
Originally uploaded by Boggins.

on May-day Bank Holiday Weekend 2005.

And see the moblog too.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Buddhist joke.

Dead funny, I like. I share it with you. Joke here.
Well done.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

In my INBOX today

Dear Boggins,

Thanks for your email, a very interesting blog indeed. We will take
your suggestions into account for future additions to the site.
In the meantime, you might like to see what our messageboard community

Best wishes,

BBC Food Team

Referring page:


Throdkins! . Soon please.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The template: arses.

The other one just didn't work properly: too much javascript I reckon. You could only view it properly in fullscreen, and I had to take so many bits out and move stuff around so much to make it even half-work it was ridiculous. So I'm back with web-standards guru Mr Zeldman's classic template, and here I'll stay. Probably.

Hunstanton pictures to look at soon! Mrs Trellis is champing at the bit, I can tell!

In other news, Owl Pellets is, at the time of writing, the 2nd-ranked search return on Google for "airtight inspection cover". What a let-down that must be.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Jolly Campers

The family and I (the BogMob?) in the car, with tenty things, to Hunstanton for the weekend. If anyone has any old 'fridges, mattresses, car tyres, used motor oil or the like that they'd like thrown away in a SSSI by The Wash, please bring them round to my house by 9:30 tonight.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

A General Election Communication

It has come to our notice via Mr Gamon that a General Election is to be fought next week. Readers will have been waiting for the Owl Pellets "take" on this issue before committing themselves to a Party or individual candidate.

We note with disappointment the lack of a certifiable berk or jerk candidate in our constituency. Where are the successors to Commander Boaks or Jules Nim Bard of yesteryear?

We note with dismay too, the non-appearance this time of the Natural Law Party, who have presumably bounced themselves onto a higher plane.

Here are the talented and interesting individuals hoping to represent our constituency : <linky>.

Boggins will be voting, as usual, for all of them.



Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Not worth buying, really

Some extracts from the Restrictive Covenants on my new house:

2. THE Purchaser will not erect on the said piece
of land any public house beerhouse or house for the
sale of intoxicating liquors or club house where intoxicating
liquors are sold or distributed amongst members or permit
any building to be used for any such purpose or for the
carrying on of any trade or business other than that of a
Solicitor Physician or Surgeon.

4. THE Purchaser will not erect or allow to be erected or
placed upon the said piece of land any hut shed caravan
house on wheels or other chattel intended to be used as
a dwelling or sleeping apartment nor any advertisement
hoarding booth show swing or roundabout.

7. THE purchaser shall within three calendar months from
the date hereof erect a good and sufficient close boarded
fence not less than five feet high along the side or sides
of the said piece or parcel of land hereby conveyed as are
marked 'T' on the said plan and if the Purchaser fail to
erect any such fence within three calendar months from the
date hereof then the Vendor shall have the power to erect
every such fence which ought to have been erected by the
Purchaser or cause the same to be erected and shall be
repaid by or may recover from the Purchaser the cost
of erecting the same. No fence shall be painted or tarred
with any black colouring or tar.

8. PROVIDED always that if any erection or thing shall be
erected upon the said piece of land in contravention of
any of the said covenants the Vendor may break fences and
forcibly enter into the said piece of land and remove such
erection or thing and shall not be responsible for the
safe keeping of anything so removed or for the loss thereof
or any damage thereto.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Arsing about

You've caught me arsing about* with the template again. I obviously have too much time on my hands but, strangely, not enough time today to mend all the things that are now wrong with it.
* "Arsing About" is a technical term we use in the IT community: you will embarrass yourself if you use this expression without being fully aware of all its meanings.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Dr Homewyze is IN

Dear Dr Homewyze

Is it true that the more you pick your nose, the more bogey is created? What is the bodily mechanism behind this, and what evolutionary advantages does my large bogey-count give me?

Biologist, Cambs.

Dr Homewyze replies:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834) adds:

"How like herrings and onions our vices are in the morning after we have committed them."

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Sometimes my family makes The Waltons seem like The Osbournes.
Sometimes they make The Osbournes seem like The Waltons. Is public drunkenness such a crime?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lambeth Bridge

Lambeth Bridge
Originally uploaded by Boggins.

One of a few Thames photos taken yesterday.

Monday, April 11, 2005

On Crisps

Crisps. You, young Hilda, will call them CHIPS, which is your prerogative.
I have asked Mr Google if crisps were taken on board the Marie Celeste, but he does not know.
We have been looking after the children this last week: we have taken them swimming, we have taken them to the Natural History Museum. We have given them crisps. We are a Good Parent. We are glad it has stopped.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Gone away

I will have nothing to say to the world until 11/4, if then. Have a nice week.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

In /Out

Q. When did we stop filling in forms, and start filling them out?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Your Mother on an Elephant

Your Mother on an Elephant
Originally uploaded by Boggins.

Obviously not YOUR mother, unless you know different. This photo being the first fruit of my new Flickr account. Flickr is way bonzer, as Dr Johnson would have said.

Dr. Homewyze is IN

Our newly-resident home-move expert Dr. Homewyze ® is here to help you! He is the guru of all things "moving house"! Send him your questions now!

Some of our postbag so far:

Dear Dr. Homewyze,

Someone (me) has accidentally painted the word "KNOB" on the front of my house in 4ft high letters.
Is this liable to make it more or less attractive to the first-time buyer?

Concerned homeowner


Dear Dr. Homewyze,

Someone (also me) has inadvertently scratched the word "PILES" on next-door's front door with a screwdriver. Is their litigious demeanour justified, and is their purchaser likely to want to renegotiate?

Concerned homeowner


Answers next week.

The Boy

Happy 13th birthday to Ludwig, aka Algy Putto. He's survived this long through no fault of my own, and is now a teenager with all the Licence to Destroy that that status confers.
Bloody Hell.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sunny Jim

Back to work this morning, walked past a black wheelybinthing, overflowing, rubbish on top & around, not emptied for days. Some sort of evil back-handed tribute to the late Jim Callaghan, I thought.

However, as JS says, "censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent". What a sad last two weeks he must have had.

Monday, March 21, 2005


I'm off to Limerick tomorrow for a brief visit - out morning, back Wednesday morning. This will double the time I have spent in the Republic, bringing it up to nearly 48 hours.
Lily is doing well ta; new bandages today, and still wearing nasty lampshade thing to stop her eating them.
House purchase/ sale progressing as well as can be expected. The chain is now complete but no-one has signed anything yet.

Oh God. I refer you to this.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Effusive birthday greetings

It's not only 'diddly diddly bejasus & begorrah mine's a pint of what he's having' day but more importantly my brother's birthday. This in lieu of a birthday card. No no, nothing to click, just this. This blog entry. You don't need a clue. This is it. Happy birthday.

Sentimental twaddle.

There will be Those Among You - pardon me once more while I populate an Imaginary Readership with readers beyond the legendary Trellis - I repeat, there will be those among you who visit us, even upon recommendation, in search of Swiftian aperçus & tales of Roadway Ironmongery, and who will RECOIL from today's actual offering, a sentimental tale of a dog, and a picturesque injury thereto.
A dog, moreover, not named, as are proper dogs, Towser, Bonzo or even Fido but LILY, forsooth, an auburn (ginger) Cocker Spaniel.
Last Sunday, this idiot dog, spurning the acres of woodland and park around her, approached and crossed at high speed a busy road. Delighted with her success, she turned around and came back.
This time she was struck by a blue People Carrier like this one.
She was lucky. Both her back legs were hurt, but neither proved to be broken, goodness knows how.
I am now some £320 out of pocket as a result, but our gratitude for her light let-off makes that seem cheap(ish).
Before and after pix here(There is no blood to be seen, ladies).

Monday, March 07, 2005

A Voyage To Blefuscu

I opened TextPad and began a piece for this journal or "heap of old rubbish" as we old hands call it, as follows:
In 1965, Diana Ross & The Supremes, while recording would-be million- seller "Lamprey Love"...

...but got no further.

I look around me and what do I see? I see people who'd much rather read about how my house is for sale, about my wife's virulent PLANS for our putative NEW HOUSE, and all the jolly mortgagey shenanigans that are about to be unleashed upon us once more. Innit?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Shortest Way with Dissenters

When Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) sat down to write what we would come to know as "Pingu's Drunken Moomintroll Sledge Adventure", he can scarcely have imagined that barely 300 years later. Frankly, neither can I.

Your search - Pingu's Drunken Moomintroll Sledge Adventure - did not match any documents.

Monday, February 28, 2005

On Manhole Covers - (iv)

The reason I started on bloody manhole covers is thus:

A couple of weeks ago I left the office and was on my way to the tube station, a short walk I must have made a thousand times.

My attention was caught by, yes, a manhole cover, or more accurately, an inspection cover. Quite a big one: embossed on it were the words "London County Council Tramways". I thought, knowing that the last tram ran in the early Fifties, that this curiosity will interest one or two of those London Transport geek people, so I'd take a photo and stick it on my moblog. So, I packed my camera and the next afternoon had it at the ready.

No cover.



Perhaps I'd mis-remembered: maybe I'd crossed the road and it had been on the other side.

So I crossed the road the next day. Ridiculous: this is all new development that wasn't even there in 1952.

The next day (Thursday) finds me walking up the road, head bent. All the usuals are there: BT, Fire Hydrant etc etc. Not mine. I repeated the exercise on the Friday. And all last week.

I am now reluctantly forced to believe one of 3 things:

1) It was there and someone moved it at night, repairing the pavement invisibly. This was probably done by Wandsworth Borough Council for the sole purpose of making me look like an idiot;

2) I am going mad: I hallucinated a London County Council Tramways inspection cover;

3) I am going mad: I dream about inspection and manhole covers and then believe my dreams to be real. In many ways this is the most disturbing scenario. I would not like to be thought of as the kind of person who dreams about manhole covers when I could be dreaming of more manly things, such as former Blue Peter presenters or important sporting institutions.

What do you think, readers?

Jonathan Swift tells us that "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he
was never reasoned into". Ca Va.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Jonathan Swift writes exclusively for you.

"I had that Celestine Babayaro in the back of the cab once."

(c) Jonathan Swift, 1715.

Monday, February 21, 2005

On Manhole Covers: (II)

Apologies for the interruption: Uma Thurman at the door, trying to sell me life cover. Anyway...

Was it not SWIFT who told us that a good manhole cover is like an honest maidservant? It appears not! It...

Friday, February 18, 2005

On Manhole Covers.

No of course dear I don't actually collect them - I fear that would be against the spirit of good citizenship, I...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

For Vicus

FAO Mr Scurra: I have just switched to Haloscan commenting and have thereby lost, irritatingly enough, all my old comments. BE IT KNOWN however that prior to that own-goal I read & inwardly DIGESTED your recent admonishment. You should know that my forthcoming topic is set in the engrossing milieu of AIRTIGHT INSPECTION COVERS rather than simply manholes, and thus should be a real hit magnet, and one in the eye for JEREMIAHS.
As for Mr Swift, well, it's houyhnhms for courses, innit?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Nothing. A howling void of nothing since the 21st of January.

I do have an entertaining piece on manhole covers "in the pipeline". Tonight I'm going to see The Magic Roundabout which should suit my (and your) level of comprehension better than the other little piece I have in preparation, on the merits of Jonathan Swift's poetry.

Friday, January 21, 2005

How Raymond Baxter ruined my life.

This morning, after a nourishing breakfast containing all my nutritional requirements in one handy cracker, I travelled to work on Thameslink's fast new monorail service to the centre of London. In the bad old days of rail this would have taken 40 minutes or so on a good day but of course now it takes only 10.

What used to be a short windy walk to the office is now a leisurely glide on a moving walkway enclosed in a perspex tube.

My miracle-fibre silver self-cleaning suit has meant that Mrs Massup's washing machine will soon go the way of her electric iron - to The Science Museum !!

Leisure time is transformed - neither of us has to work for more than 4 hours a day thanks to computers! Last night was particularly rewarding, as I learnt some basic XML by means of a painless cerebral implant. Last year I finally managed to read A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu in the original French in all that lovely spare time!

Where shall we go on holiday this year? Frankly, when you've been to The Moon once you've done it to death - perhaps we'll do something retro like the south of France. After all, you can get there on Fireflash in about 20 minutes, and the kids do love the seaside, though after the first couple of weeks they're starting to get a bit restless.

When I was at school, Raymond Baxter, James Burke and Gerry Anderson all TOLD ME it would be like this. I worked out how old I'd be in 2000 and thought I'd be just the right age to enjoy it. How lucky we all are.


I finally got a reply: (see this). It's no great shakes as a reply, being pure government boilerplate rather than something into which she(Margaret Moran)'s put much work: but it proves she's alive at least.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I'm under no illusion that this is of any interest to anyone but myself. I'm a bit of a bookworm, and hawkeyed readers (bear with me while I claim to have readers) may have seen my reading list down the right-hand side. The first thing it revealed was that in 2004 I read 47 books. By "books" I mean leisure reading, not manuals, leaflets, pamplets, printouts, web pages or newspapers. So, a little less than 1 a week. I may have to give up newspapers.

It breaks down like this:
47 Books

44 were fiction,
3 non-fiction, of which 2 biography
No. of unique author names 31,
of which 25 were men.
No of living authors (as of today's date) : 21, so 10 were authors now dead.
Authors named George: 3*

The big new thing for me was Alexander McCall Smith's lovely sequence of books beginning with "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency". Easy to read but beautifully written and with a real way of making you care for the people and the place. Thoroughly recommended, & if I were as good a man as Mr JLB Matekoni I'd have something to be proud of. Although if I was him, I wouldn't be so vain as to be proud of it. Er.

The best new book was probably the Louis de Bernieres. He is the genuine article & I don't think he's written his masterpiece yet.

Continuing pleasures: I always enjoy the Lindsey Davis detective stories set in Vespasian's Rome, and I never let a year go by without at least one Dickens: I thoroughly enjoyed Chuzzlewit again. It's not one of his best-known books and I do find the heavy-handed satire of the American section rather hard going but it's a fine book nonetheless, containing some of his most memorable characters, including a psychologically quite complex "baddy". Terry Pratchett continues to entertain mightiliy, though we were overdue some wizards until his latest came out.

The full list for 2004:

  • The Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens
  • Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett
  • No1 Ladies' Detective Agency - A. McCall Smith
  • Poachers - Jim Franklin
  • Emotionally Weird - Kate Atkinson
  • Tears Of The Giraffe - A. McCall Smith
  • Scenes From Clerical Life - G. Eliot
  • The Mulberry Empire - P. Hensher
  • The Mauritius Command - P. O'Brian
  • Three Hands In The Fountain - Lindsey Davis
  • The Card - A. Bennett
  • Morality For Beautiful Girls - A. McCall Smith
  • The Hotel New Hampshire - J.Irving
  • Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - M Vargas Llosa
  • Two For The Lions - Lindsey Davis
  • Tragically I was an Only Twin - The Complete Peter Cook, Ed. William Cook
  • The Kalahari Typing School For Men - A. McCall Smith
  • Martin Chuzzlewit - Charles Dickens
  • The Full Cupboard Of Life - A. McCall Smith
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time - Mark Haddon
  • The Course Of Honour - Lindsey Davis
  • Flashman and The Tiger - George MacDonald Fraser
  • The Emperor's Tomb - Joseph Roth
  • The Accidental Tourist -Anne Tyler
  • Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen
  • The Children of Dynmouth - William Trevor
  • August - Gerard Woodward (couldn't finish it)
  • General Gordon's Khartoum Diary - ed. Lord Elton
  • Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler
  • Coming Up For Air - George Orwell
  • The Good Soldier Svejk - Jaroslav Hasek
  • In The Company Of Cheerful Ladies - A. McCall Smith
  • The Grenadillo Box - Janet Gleeson
  • Birds without Wings - Louis De Bernieres
  • The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett
  • One Virgin Too Many - Lindsey Davis

*Eliot, Orwell, MacDonald Fraser

Friday, January 14, 2005

A new Word

I learned a new word yesterday. The word was "Putto". If it is new to you too, click the title to go to

If you already knew my new word then you are probably an art historian, or a nerdy know-it-all, or both.

Shall I call him "Algy the Putto"? (see below).

Thursday, January 13, 2005


I got so cross with him this morning that I was maniacally scratching around for something to compare him with. "You're about as useful algae!"

Well, he just lies there blocking out the light, he turns water a funny colour when he lies in it, and how strenuous can photosynthesis be, once you've got the knack?.

So I'll call him Algy from now on.

A snip

The recent dearth of entries on here is due to lack of what B3TA people would call "hummus". This and the fact that I've been almost entirely sober for the last fortnight. And then last Friday I became a jaffa.
Go for it chaps.
I turn up early, which may be a mistake, because it allows time to think, and to imagine the torments of the man before me.
I lie on the table with the bits out. I incongruously recall singing, long ago, as part of a deluded crowd, "we'll be running round Wembley with our willies hanging out". Nurse slips a needle in the arm, and after that it's a Walk in the Park, a veritable Vicarage Tea Party. I'm aware of a certain amount of fiddling about down there: I may have felt a nick once. Nurse and doctor keep up a continuous banter about bloody Emma Bunton (Bunton Banter?).
Is that it? They seem to have finished. "Keep it dry for 2 days, have your stitches out in a week or so, take these pills until they've all gone".
Finished. Bloody hell. A bit woozy from the local. Home. Watch Kill Bill 1 AND 2. Next day, TV, books; sore but not painful. Sunday ditto. Monday, walk dog, back to work.
Wednesday - mad itching as the hair you shaved off starts to come back. You know that feeling, ladies.