Friday 28 December 2007

The making of 'Scroblene'

There is a certain amount of pressure being applied from The Honorable Member for Tuscany, to reveal the origin of the name ‘Scroblene’.

I have thought long and hard as to how to respond, and agree that some explanation is appropriate, even if yet another layer of my privacy is exposed to the world, along with all my NI records which are on one of those CDs lost in transit, and, the small matter of certain 'evidence' (pah!) now in the possession of Tunbridge Wells CID...

The name evolved from a bastardised version of similar names, which circulate inside a confused mind…

Rene Blosc was the owner of a small Pernod cafĂ© on the Caen Canal. (not the one by Pegasus Bridge, but on the other side). Rene had a daughter, Giselle-Dubonnet, who looked after the customers, sometimes many times… When the old bridge was demolished in 1994, the contractors actually managed to disturb the foundations to such an extent that the whole building slid slowly into the water and was never seen again! Rene Blosc lives on under an ‘assumed’ name*, but Giselle-Dubonnet married a passing quantity surveyor, and now lives near Droitwich with eight children and a brindle spaniel called Collette.

S.R.Benecol was a part-time margerine futures broker, who spent most of his life being hounded by large corporations to give his name to a new type of health food. He surrendered eventually, taking temporarily, the name S.R.Beconase – (not to be sniffed at); but was again badgered by large firms until his untimely death in suspicious circumstances not unconnected with a toasting fork and a small nasal inhaler.

Senor Compadrione Ricardo O’Blene, was a monk from the fifteenth century, who is believed to have been the role model for a traditional rugby ditty, concerning a foray into the less salubrious parts of London town, and, it’s dire consequences. He is buried somewhere, but nobody actually knows where, and most people aren’t really that bothered…

We are getting there though aren’t we? Lilith was once so close, she was breathing down my neck; which is a uniquely pleasant experience from which I have not totally recovered…


Friday 21 December 2007

Shutting up shop for t'festivities...

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone - and thanks so much for all the good chat!

The Twelve Days of Christmas.(Traditional – well nearly)

On the first day of Christmas my Client sent to me.....One vague letter of appointment on a laughably insignificant, suspicious and possibly illegal industrial whale blubber smelters descaling and rendering-down plant on a waste tip in Nottingham.

On the second day of Christmas my Client’s solicitor delivered to me.....Two photocopies of our fee agreement with a pencil note in my client's accountant’s spidery scrawl still attached, reducing the percentage by a third. (the reference to ‘bloody liar’ was nearly rubbed out).

On the third day of Christmas my Client left (just after lunch at 3.45 pm) on my mobile ..... Three tired, emotional and totally slanderous messages about the goings on at the planning committee.

On the fourth day of Christmas my Client couriered (unpaid) to me......Four photocopies of an article showing him doing the twist (!) with a glamorous local councillor at a charity function at The Ritz.

On the fifth day of Christmas my bank sent first class registered mail to me .........Five red letters!

On the sixth day of Christmas my Client's long-suffering wife biked (c.o.d) to me.......A list of six contractors to tender, one with a golf invitation still attached, and also an extra one from her local builder who has been putting up a few things in her en-suite recently...

On the seventh day of Christmas my stupid nephew, who's training to be a Chartered Surveyor, sent to me ........A bill for seventy quid for a few grey pictures of the site taken in the rain during the evening, and seven of the inside of his car while trying to work out how the camera worked.

On the eighth day of Christmas my Client wrongly faxed to me......Eight grovelling pages of pathetic mumbling gibberish about his delay in the deal, all of which should have gone to the equity fund.

On the ninth day of Christmas my Client's agent emailed to me.......Some very nasty notices from a Mr Hideous-Ache (sounds like), Environmental Health Officer, with the intimation of impending messy legal action.

On the tenth day of Christmas my Client's idiot assistant wrongly dropped off at my neighbour's home (who eventually passed them on to me just as I was going to bed)......Eleven (he never could count) pages of queries connected with the colaterel (he never could spell either) warranties.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my Client forwarded to me..........Eleven holiday snaps from Bermuda (with the glamorous councillor in a ridiculous gold lame bikini) and a new mobile number, (the other one had fallen from his Bermuda shorts pocket into the crystal-clear waters…….(so it said on the insurance form – next to the Rolex Oyster claim……..)

On the twelfth day of Christmas my Client ordered, for me to collect from Threshers.......A dozen bottles of cheap Bratislavian (country peasant blended and unfiltered) red wine to celebrate the fact that he had sold on the development at 200% profit and was cancelling our agreement.

Friday 14 December 2007

Until sanity returns...

It's been an utter bugger of a week, so can I suggest that you just talk amongst yourselves until I can get around to writing something...?

Thanks so much...!

Update...following day...

Er; sorry about that; very rude...

...well you know how it is when things seem to be getting better at work, then everything suddenly deteriorates, and then turns even more terminally disastrous, and you tell yourself to cheer up because things could be worse, and sure enough, they do get worse, then just one phone call turns everything round in an instant, and you're so relieved that you have a couple of drinks and fall asleep in front of the fire, and wake up in the early hours with a conking headache, and JRT needs to go out for a last wee, and you get to bed feeling tired but so relieved, and are so exited that you can't sleep for hours, and then the little doubt creeps in to why it may not all be so fantastic, and you spend the rest of the night on the worry cycle again.

Well that's my week anyway, and no different from most people's I guess! If I had ten hours sleep this week, that left plenty of time to thank my lucky stars that I met Mrs S. over forty years ago...

Monday 10 December 2007

Go on, go on, go on, go on GO ON!!!

Two priests decided to go to Hawaii on vacation.

They were determined to make this a real vacation by not wearing anything that would identify them as clergy. As soon as the plane landed they headed for a store and bought some really outrageous shorts, shirts, sandals, sunglasses, etc.

The next morning they went to the beach dressed in their 'tourist' garb. They were sitting on beach chairs, enjoying a drink, the sunshine and the scenery when a 'drop dead gorgeous' blonde in a topless bikini came walking straight towards them. They couldn't help but stare. As the blonde passed them she smiled and said 'Good Morning, Father ~ Good Morning, Father,' nodding and addressing each of them individually, then she passed on by.

They were both stunned. How in the world did she know they were priests? So the next day, they went back to the store and bought even more outrageous outfits.

These were so loud you could hear them before you even saw them! Once again, in their new attire, they settled down in their chairs to enjoy the sunshine. After a little while, the same gorgeous blonde, wearing a different coloured topless bikini, taking her sweet time, came walking toward them.

Again she nodded at each of them, said 'Good morning, Father ~ Good morning, Father,' and started to walk away.

One of the priests couldn't stand it any longer and said,
'Just a minute, young lady.'
'Yes, Father?'
'We are priests and proud of it, but I have to know, how in the world do you know we are priests, dressed as we are?'

She replied,'Father, it's me, Sister Kathleen.'

Friday 7 December 2007

For Piglet... (and Mutley)

JRT often sits with me (sometimes on my knees, wich mokies tyippimg defecuult), and as she jumps up unawares on several times a day, she knows roughly what's going on in my field of commerce...

Here she is checking my expenses, and disbelieving every entry... and also staring down her nose at the bank manager...
When I got home last night after the Varsity match, JRT and I shared a large glass of Beaujolais to celebrate Cambridge doing the right thing - as expected! (She doesn't rate the Gamay grape luckily...)! Mrs S also supports Cambridge, otherwise JRT's leapings, ears-backings and boundings would have been less than appreciated.
It usually takes me five minutes to get in the door when she's on guard, (JRT, not Mrs S...), luckily, I wasn't too late back, and still capable of a conversation...

Saturday 1 December 2007

The road to ExCel...

During several days this week, I’ve had to spend quite a few long hours in the company of 7,000 or so good citizens at a property investment forum in London. You see; I have to talk with people to tease out opportunities for our company, and many of these were assembled under the same roof. So I was there.

I’ve always been an inveterate networker – even won a prize for it once; you've got to like people from the start. But the buzz of talking with anyone, keeping it nice, looking for clues, laughing a bit, is still a happy occupation which demands one result – a potential opportunity to earn a crust. Sometimes I even start networking to myself (“Hi Scrobs…Oh, Hi there Scrobs!…How are things?…Oh pretty good thanks…How are you keeping now…Why are we talking like this; we are me aren’t we…)! Surreal eh?

Some conversations on public services stands are stilted, the other chap or girl is sometimes shy, possibly well qualified but unsure, or maybe just bored. On the other hand, there will always be the bright spark who livens up the moment, and appreciates that the reason for being there is that at some stage, we may do some work and get paid. I enjoy those chats, and when eventually the magic business opportunity is realised, I can hear the triumphant love theme from ‘Back to the future’, echoing down the spine…

These stands contrast with – say - one full of commercial agents or lawyers, where there will be quite a lot of finger-flicking and plenty of ‘OK yah, for sure’ attitude, but as my business partner often says, there are many people out there who know a hundred ways of having sex, but don’t know any women!

I always avoid the speeches, as I don’t need to listen to politicians who understand very little about anything except spending other people’s money, and this year I made a point of being as far away as possible from the droning, and used the time to work. When I mentioned to one (public service) lady who was chained to her desk, that I wanted to drown out Yvette Cooper, I could see her eyes glaze over with fear of Stalinist retribution for talking while the ‘leaders’ pronounced…! Rude man…me?

So, I’ve got stupidly lost on the tube twice, walked several times round the hall (and it’s big; really big…), collected a fistful of business cards which all require following up, arranged several days of new meetings, met some stunningly attractive ladies who make me feel eight feet tall, discussed about a hundred schemes, of which I can only work on sixteen, and been tempted (several times an hour), by the inevitable nemesis to good behaviour; the champagne pop…! Many times. Many, many times..

I’ve fallen off a stool (got my leg tangled like Inspector Clouseau in ‘The Pink Panther’), answered the phone in the gents – yes exactly then, lost several cloakroom tickets, been spun round like a top by a gorgeous lady who was helping me take off my coat while I was gabbling on the phone, listened with interest to a man yelling ‘F***’ when he went to sleep on the train and missed his station, tripped over every single step which manufacturers cleverly build into stands for that purpose, eaten something beige, and hopefully won a bicycle!

But the best phone call however, was to Younger Daught, so we could meet up and go home together on the train. That’s more important.

Thursday 22 November 2007

'Tis nearly the season...

About now, there is a myriad of events to celebrate the festive season, and I’ve already done a few evenings, shaking hands (the active tense, not getting them…) eating lumps of unidentifiable pastry shaped like ear-plugs and loads of those miniature sausages, which are about the size of a baked bean. Also there are the drinks, which are pouring from huge industrial buckets suspended from the ceiling, and channelled constantly through the little hands of frighteningly young and very pretty attendants, with names which include at least three ‘Z’s and a couple of ‘XC’s.

So far, I’ve trodden on a very tall blond lady, so tall and lissom, that I couldn’t quite focus on her face! … Nobody knows I’ve been to a party, unless I’ve sent a tray of drinks crashing over the balcony rails at least once, or upset a pile of peculiar looking sushi all over the floor (best place for it at these events…or any other time for that matter…). Conversation goes something like ‘Oh Hi, …(Stamp) … Aaaaargh …Oh, I’m so sorry…What do you do…. Fantastic … Give me a call…etc etc… (Crash) ...Oooops... No problem; SIR...’

I’ve even spent a pleasant half hour discussing terrorism with a senior guy from the Met. (Why is it impossible not to keep on getting refills when talking with an officer of the law? I had about three more, and every tip I gave him, like getting nerds to screen world-wide emails for hidden clues on attacks, was pleasantly responded with a concise term, usually ending in ‘ics’, and a patient explanation as to how they do it. It was a fascinating chat, and of absolutely no use to me in my business.)

Luckily I’ve bumped into many old chums, and we’ve compared injuries, and promised to meet again next year; just like we said in 1987. Yesterday, I think I went to sleep listening to someone explaining Spanish pensions, which again was useless for me.

When I used to organise these bashes, I invented the ‘Three Pace Rule’. This involves making lapel badges with printing which is large enough to be able to read from ten feet. That way, you can cruise through the crowd, and approach the people you want to meet, like attractive ladies from investment banks or names from respected property organisations, but better, you can also avoid the ones with a company name like ‘Septic Drains’, which will not really do very much for one in the short term.

I do try and stick to the adage that I must be judged as capable of talking to anyone, irrespective of the value of the conversation, but when I’m only at an event for an couple of hours, I really must work the floor, and listening to someone describing a ‘soil back outflow’ he installed in 1990 is – well – not a good accompaniment to a wisp of smoked salmon and a chilled Sauvignon.

Another problem is that most of these parties are going on in almost complete darkness! I can’t even see where I’m going let alone read someone’s card, and if some girl band is shrieking rubbish from a speaker close by, it’s practically impossible to say or do anything except yell your name, completely misunderstand what the other person is saying, and wander off with a vague expression of ‘who the f*** was that?’

Actually, the evening parties have been enjoyable and useful for good business, but getting home late is not really what I like doing, and it begins to make the system creak when they’re back to back. Tonight, I have yet another binge to attend, but I’ve decided that I’d rather sit comfortably at home with Mrs S, than discuss bridge construction in The Andes with some wild-haired engineer waving his arms all over the place and dribbling design calculations and orange juice...

There’s just no contest!

Sunday 18 November 2007

Smug gits...

What really pisses me off these days is the smug glee with which the BBC is thriving on bad news. Why do I have to endure a grinning presenter glittering out of the TV screen at 7.00am with the news that more houses will be repossessed this year, and more families will have no credit to rely on?

It seems to me that they love reporting bad news. Presenters wriggle and squirm with delight at a tragic story while trying to put a concerned face on for the cameras. The BBC had a reporter in Great Yarmouth during the recent flood surge worry, and she was nearly wetting herself and dribbling with expectation while trying to make a catastrophic disaster out of what turned out to be a non-event to most people. Back in the studio, the ‘presenters’ were looking on with ‘concern’, and grilling the weatherman on the likelihood of the equivalent to a tsunami all over Norfolk. They were scrabbling after a disaster story which never happened.

The recent headlines on Radio 4 also included items about why we mustn’t drink so much, eat too much, use our cars so much, live too long, be ill etc.


This isn’t news; it’s re-peddling a few ‘government facts’ cobbled together to scare the shit out of most families, who are already only too aware that their homes and lives are at risk from far too many factors which are out of their control. Joe Public just doesn’t need reminding he’s in debt and will stay that way for years to come, he already knows. Still, he can be comforted that the top dozen or so people at Ofcom are taking home around £3m, so it’s not all bad is it?

And what is the really good news?

The Spice Girls had a reunion!


Thursday 15 November 2007

Lighten up now...

A man and his wife are awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning by a loud pounding on the door.

The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push."Not a chance," says the husband, "It is three o'clock in the morning"!

He slams the door and returns to bed.

"Who was that"? asked his wife.
"Just some drunk guy asking for a push"! he answers.
"Did you help him"? she asks.
"No. I did not. It is three o'clock in the morning and it is pouring with rain outside"!
His wife said, "Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him,and you should be ashamed of yourself"!

The man does as he is told (of course!), gets dressed and goes out into the pouring rain. He calls out into the dark, "Hello! Are you still there"?
"Yes," comes back the answer.
"Do you still need a push"? calls out the husband.
"Yes! Please"! comes the reply from the darkness.
"Where are you"? asks the husband.
"Over here.... on the swing"! replies the drunk....

Monday 12 November 2007

Gorecki 3rd Symphony

Probably the most brutal depiction I have ever seen.


You may have to be enlightened by another part.

Sunday 11 November 2007

Odds on...

Iain Dale posted a nice story yesterday, about a chap in New York finding a girl he’d seen on the subway, by setting up a website. Link here :

Iain Dale's Diary: Warming the Cockles#links

Some years ago, I was working away from home in The Midlands during the week, and driving home through London (pre M25), every Friday evening.

Somewhere round The Aldwych, (I’d taken a different route through, and got slightly lost…), I was driving in the wrong lane to turn South, and found myself out in the middle of the junction with about nine thousand cars bearing down on me.

So I put my foot down, and tried to escape…

Even back then, cyclists were trying their luck everywhere, and a chap poked his front wheel out just a few seconds before everyone else drove forward, and I hit him, knocking him off his bike and damaging his wheel.

I stopped and went back to help, and immediately recognised him as a guy I knew well as I’d been working with him on a project just a few weeks before! So I had to say sorry; he accepted that; and I piled his bike in the boot and took him home to Kentish Town, where I bought him a new wheel.

What are the odds on that happening for God’s sake! In London; in rush hour too! Anyway, he was happy, I was relieved, and now, if anyone ever says to me that winning the lottery on the day the big Premium Bond pays out is never going to happen; I don’t believe them!

Thursday 8 November 2007

Tubular bells.

Because the sound system in the Scrobsmobile is a state of the art tape player and radio, (cds weren't invented when they built this car...), I have a lot of pleasure in grabbing a handful of tapes, and playing them when I get fed up with Radio 4.

The latest batch included Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. I always like it - loved it even, from the very beginning, and may have mentioned before here, that I stayed up one night in 1973 to watch Melvyn Bragg introduce the music being played live by Mike Oldfield and friends. I was hooked thereafter.

Mrs S gave me a real copy soon after I had failed miserably to get a proper reel-to-reel tape made from a friend's album - well you did didn't you, microphone dangling from the curtain rail, tiptoing everywhere for an hour, no swearing!

On the Sevenoaks bypass yesterday, the whole piece thundered out and contentment was the norm, especially the thought that it was twenty-five years old! What a time; loads of years had gone by since we all listened in awe at one chap playing all those instruments. Even Viv Stanshall sounded quaint!

It took me a long, long time to realise, while mistily musing on the five-and-twenty years time warp, that it was in fact not 25 years but 35 years since we all gasped!

How long?

Thursday 1 November 2007

A place fit for...expenses...

Yesterday was a particularly fine day for getting around London on foot. I had a meeting in Cavendish Square, and another in Victoria, but some time in between when I had several phone calls to make and nowhere to prop up the briefcase. So I walked, and headed for park benches wherever I could, and felt pretty good.

It was heart-raising to see the milling crowds after the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards ceremony at Clarence House. Good Kids those, and the glowing faces and flashing cameras all around exuded well deserved acclaim.

Later on, the walk back to Trafalgar Square took me up Whitehall, away from the House of Expenses. Just before The Cenotaph, everyone was directed by the Long Arm of the Law to the east side, and I saw quite a few workmen preparing The Cenotaph for Remembrance Day. It seemed a bit over the top (wrong expression, but meaningful), that we all had to trudge around, but the real reason was that Downing Street was under siege...from visitors!

There must have been at least fifty policeman watching the crowd, presumably more milling around unannounced, a huge gaggle of senior figures just outside the gates, even more inside, plenty of blue lights, lots of very, very busy politicians urgently looking at their watches and about 200 spectators. I sat on the low wall opposite, made a few more calls, and waited.

Around 3.00pm, the gates were swung wide and a flotilla of big black staff cars carrying King Abdullah and the rest, came out and swooped north towards the Rich Precinct. There was not a sound from anyone, and within minutes, the area was back to normal. What an expensive fuss about coming to meet Ed Balls! I reckon that half hour cost around £60,000 in time spent, organisation, expenses for politicians, and more police than you can shake a stick at – well, not shake a stick at under the circumstances...

Meanwhile, the workmen putting up the barriers at The Cenotaph toiled on quietly and efficiently, preparing a place where real Heroes are remembered.

Saturday 27 October 2007

It is Saturday after all...

I've just got to share this with everyone!

After reading Ed's, Herc's, Tusc's and Hitch's blogs, and Elec's comments, somehow, I thought this link could lighten their hearts just a little...

It won't make things any better, but somehow, it seems to hit the spot!

Friday 26 October 2007

To the woods...

Some of the trees round here are pretty impressive, and although we're not 'huggers', they do have some great character!
The top one we call 'Raging insect', and it really is quite frightening when you first see it.
The second one is called 'Moose', and he really is an old softy...

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Farewell Angelina, the night is on fire... (Bob Dylan)

Tuscs has posted a brilliant sunset pic taken from his terrace...and I'm envious – very envious!

Occasionally, we get a late glimmer in Kent which looks quite nice, so I grab the 'Boer War Correspondent Waterproof Bellows Picture Reproducer’, (with adjustable plunger leggings, sanitised tripod and trouser guard), and scramble all over the graveyard near S.R.Benecol Turrets to get a shot in before it goes completely dark, and I continue to fall over the various stones and brambles which habitually grow there.

The first was taken a couple of weeks ago, but the second one was the best sunset I’ve ever seen and happened a year or so ago.

The main problem with being an aging War Correspondent with my kit, is that by the time I’ve got the glass plates back from Kodak, (by The Post Office), the damn skirmish has been over about three months, and everyone’s packing up to go home and write their memoirs!

I bet Don McCullin never had this problem, but he really is a hero.

Sunday 21 October 2007

Paris 2007

'You can't fault the effort, can't fault the heart'. (Martin Corry).
Amen to that.

Saturday 20 October 2007

England 11 South Africa 8

I was there...
Come on 'History', repeat yourself...!

Tuesday 16 October 2007

The final straw...

Back around 1974, we went to live in a rented farm cottage near Rye in Sussex. Elder Daught had just been born, and money was tight – so no change there!

I did a few hours work in our local pub to keep the cash coming in, and Mrs S was admirable at bringing said Elder Daught into this world as all good Mums do. Younger Daught was maybe on the horizon, but as anyone knows; it's the planning that counts...many, many times...;0)

We didn't have a television, and one day the landlord of the pub I worked in gave us one of his! Just like that! (Alec, you were a Saint). So I took the thing back to the cottage, and then realised that TVs need aerials. One trip to Rye meant we had several yards of the dreaded coaxial stuff, and off we went.

Or did we? The blasted thing only worked when the aerial cable (no roof aerial here, bugger me, do you expect me to crawl all over the tiles...I didn't have a ladder...), was hung from hooks in the lounge ceiling. Festooned you might say...

So we watched all the progs sitting either side by side, or, more comfortably, behind each other on the settee. Sounds great, (Watch it...) but a necessity because we had to plant the TV in a cupboard by the fire as there wasn't any room anywhere else in the little front room.

One TV series stood out beyond everything else – The Hanged Man! It was a riveting story; we actually relived each of the the episodes. We would plan the meals, Daught's bath, everything; just to see each episode! The series is well documented elsewhere, but Michael Williams was superb, and we loved the star; Colin Blakely.

Until the final episode...

Daught's in bed fast asleep; home-made wine in the jar; Mr and Mrs S one behind the other on the settee, TV on, sitting in the cupboard. Cables stuck all over the ceiling. Fantastic final episode, so much excitement that the home-made (gallon) seemed sunk to the dregs.

And so did the blasted aerial...right at the last minute, just before the ending, there was a sigh, and the whole bloody lot of the cables, strings, TV etc, crashed to the floor and we missed the whole bloody finale!

So if anyone is old enough to know what happened when the helicopter crashed, please let us know, as we are still in shock...

Saturday 13 October 2007

Pinetum stories...

A few miles from here is one of the most delightful places we've ever visited. At this time of year the colours are stunning, and we try and get there as much as possible to walk JR Terrier on one of those extending leads.
Actually she runs rings round us and we reckon because she's always mucking about under trees, running sideways and chasing rabbits and squirrels, she probably does about six or seven miles to our three!
Over the years, there have been lots of changes, many of which were forced on the place after the 1987 storm. But now, the trees they planted after the big shake-out are nigh on 20 years old and beginning to make a presence.

If you're ever anywhere nearby, it's well worth a visit.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Wind in the willows...

When the Daughts were very small, Sunday afternoons were often a bit dull for them, and with the evenings drawing in, the television was usually on, fire lit, curtains drawn.

The Girls would sit and watch the early evening programmes, often with Mrs S, and I would be mucking about somewhere in the house, but usually within earshot. One particular theme song from that time has always stayed with me, and thanks to Lilith's ability to find bits on 'Youtube', and a long discussion over several pre-Sunday lunch tinctures, we've had some real success today!

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame starred Michael Hordern, David Jason, Peter Sallis and even a name from my own kid-hood, Daphne Oxenford!

I always loved the theme music, beautifully sung by Ralph McTell, and I rated it probably my number one theme ever! Until today, I've never heard it in twenty five years or so. I couldn't find a copy anywhere, but, within seconds, after instructions from Mrs S, 'Youtube' hit the spot!

Here's the link - just enjoy, and especially linger on the final few words and notes; they are absolute magic!

Thursday 4 October 2007

His Hitchness...

Its all very well Hitch telling everyone he's blogging again, but all I get is a list of links to other destinations, which I can't be arsed to click!

If he's making a few folding coloured pictures of Elgar from the links, then fine, he's good at that; but let's have some real vintage Hitch as well please!

I thank you.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Old/new ones are best department...

A Polish chap went to apply for a driving licence.

First, of course, he had to take an eye sight test. The optician showed him a card with the letters:

'C Z W I X N O S T A C Z.'

"Can you read this?" the optician asked.

"Read it?" the Polish chap replied, "I know the guy."

Thursday 27 September 2007

The drains...the drains...

I knew it couldn't last! I bloody knew it!

The curse of the electric windows on Mrs S's Ferrari-Royce-Standard.Ten-Punto has spread like a lava stream to the infrastructure of Scroblene Turrets!

Blasted drains and I have a chequered history, they get in the way, they block, they hurt me seriously. (I once dropped a heavy concrete block in the manhole, which fortunately didn't break, because my finger luckily cushioned it against the internal brick chamber. It was the closest to fainting I've ever been, and even Mrs S was a bit concerned...)

Anyhow, as I mentioned only a few days ago, a damn good talking to does the trick to car windows. And now it does to drains!

Serious blockment of turdal channels caused me to truncate (What! Editor.), a business trip today, to sort it all out. So I marched into B and Q and bought a set of drain rods for less than £18, which I though was a fair bargain.

When I got home, (truncated by now), I donned the lead lined sterile suit, sprayed Dettol everywhere, and arranged all the tools and rods where I could grab them and attack the monster, go for the throat, strangle the life from the gremlins lurking among the detritus, break the hold on water-borne disease for ever and save the world.

And it was ever thus.

Just a few signs of the problem this morning were there! All clear! All clean! All gone!

I bet this is the first blog post ever, where the Blogmeister explains how to clear drain blockages by just a few well chosen words, and a threatened visit with some shiny new drain rods...

And I missed a damn good piss-up in London! Bugger!

Wednesday 26 September 2007

The world is falling around my ears...

Lilith seems to have vanished from my screen, and presumably my life, and now The Hitch has vanished up into the choir invisibule! Tuscan Tones is obviously busy making another million squiddles, and should be on air soon, that is if he wants any encouragement.

This is a sad day for all of us, and I need rest and a huge glass of Merlot to raise my flagging soul from the depths of the septic tank residual effluent drainage spigot coupling

Herc, Ed, Kev...we're on our own here...

I am lost...

But, the horizon beckons with the return of Oliver Gosling! What a man! What a redeemer! What a ......person.....


OK now! Someone has upset Lilith!

If the culprit(s) will leave their names here I can assure them of complete world-wide exposure, and also ensure that they have several good friends and relations of the Scroblene Estate Management 'Committee' to deal with in the meantime.

Benecol R.S.

Saturday 22 September 2007

Blasted electric windows

As some friends will recall, Mrs S drives a 17 Litre Ferrari Super Bastard Fiat Punto. It is a great car, and we love twirling it round the lanes as it is green, small, and incredibly light to drive. She is a good driver, and considerate to all but the slack-jawed gormless rock-apes who try and kill everyone, but aren’t we all!

Like all cars, the little car needs some TLC now and then, and after the debacle with the MOT, (which was eventually solved by me wrenching the bits apart, and putting them back together, roughly in the same order), we thought a quick visit to Bill’s garage would be a good idea.

Now, electric windows are buggers. Bring back handles I say; you can make them work by applying gentle pressure here and there, and if they stop working, you can undo all the doors and mend them with strips of Meccano, or the occasional coat hanger.

Some time ago, the electric windows refused to work on the driver’s side. Mrs S is a patient lady, well versed in using several colourful expletives when she arrives at a parking ticket machine in the rain, and has to get out of a three inch gap to pick up the soggy ticket.

So we eventually took it to a garage and they fixed it. Then the same thing happened and it stopped working again, and I mucked around in the electrics, but this time with no magic touch.

So we told ‘Fi-bloody-at Pun-sodding-to’ that we were taking it back for a total electricectomy without anaeshetic – and the window started working again! Just like that!

During one hot spell, Mrs S decided we needed more tyres, and the window was back in hump mode again. But when we picked up the car at Quickfit, - it was working! This has happened twice more since! With the threat of the garage hanging over it, Super Ferrari Armstrong Siddeley Fiat Punto behaves itself.

And blow me down but it happened again yesterday! The moment we booked it in to Bill’s, the window opened for the first time in three months!

I really want to know who’s looking out for us up there, because he or she must be a damn fine mechanic!

Monday 17 September 2007

Not a nice place to be in 1828...

Frances STEPHENSON, aged 21, singlewoman, was charged with stealing a bay mare the property of Edward LINDSAY, at Raithby, on the 10th June (1828).

The novelty of this case excited considerable attention, which was not at all diminished by the appearance of the prisoner, who was neatly dressed, and rather of an interesting appearance, but the strange situation in which she was placed seemed to excite no terrors in her, she gazed around with a considerable portion of effrontery, although the eyes of every person in the court were fixed with earnest curiosity upon her.

The evidence for the prosecution, which was of considerable length, but not requiring a detailed notice, went plainly to prove that shortly after the robbery, the female had the mare in her possession, and employed a person to dispose of it, under the pretence that her master, the prosecutor, was distressed in his circumstances, and that he had commissioned her to dispose of the mare. - The Counsel for the prisoner insinuated that the mare had been given to her by Mr LINDSAY for certain favours which had been allowed by her.

The prosecutor, in reply to a severe cross-examination upon this point, steadfastly denied that any thing of the kind had occurred. In her defence, the prisoner admitted taking the mare from the prosecutor´s stable, but asserted that it was with his license, as he resorted to this mode of requiting her for the favours already alluded to, and in consequence of which she declared that she was at that time far advanced in pregnancy. -

Guilty, sentence of death recorded.

Thursday 13 September 2007

That time of year...

In October, 1987, I’d started driving to my work in Tonbridge, Kent, UK, 20 odd miles away from our house.

I had started a new career, it was difficult, I was unhappy, I didn’t like what I was doing very much, and needed some new energy to make the thing work. I used to hire cassettes from my local library to listen to, and, as an old friend had played some early Pat Metheny, I obtained a whole bunch of titles to play at home and in the car.

‘Wichita Falls’ leapt out as a stunning, magical piece. It was immediately memorable, with moody keyboards, skilful guitar, symbolic Oriental tangents, but, the music had a real feeling of something deep and fearful – even a premonition of a disaster. I’m sure Viet Nam was there, and many other troubled spots. It hurt to listen to, and troubled me somewhat. I really couldn’t fathom what he was trying to do.

On the night of Thursday, 16th Ocober, 1987, the southern half of the UK experienced a huge storm – some say a hurricane, but it was very noisy and we were very worried for our property. My car was flattened by a falling wall, everywhere was disrupted, and I couldn’t get to work.

Trees were down everywhere. Some roads were totally impassable, and, buildings had collapsed with awful consequences. Electricity was lost in many places, and we had to rely on good neighbours for power where we could. We ate our meals in the green house, using a makeshift barbecue!

The next week, I started going back to work in Tonbridge. My new hire car had a cassette player, and I started to listen regularly to this track again, while driving through roads, which, frankly, I hardly recognised.

One particular stretch, which was normally bordered by several hundred yards of majestic Scotch pines, was unrecognisable, because the trees were nearly all lying on their sides, just like a row of pencils. It was an incredibly sad sight. The general buzz of chainsaws was everywhere and our intimate family of old trees, on our comfortable driving routes, had gone forever.

But, the music from this recording is etched in me like nothing else. I still cannot go by certain stretches of road without remembering the fallen oaks and Scotch pines, the disaster of the other supporting trees, the sawdust, the chaos of driving round the huge tree trunks in the roads. ‘Wichita’s’ sad mysticism follows every bend.

Of course, that was nearly twenty years ago. Things have moved on, but this music, with its haunting difference of style, will always be right up there when I have to point out things I’ve listened to, which are so deeply emotional.

I still cannot fathom what Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays were thinking about on the track, but the shining comment on the composition is that the music has an enchanting finale with the best instrument ever invented.

Children’s laughter!

Thursday 6 September 2007

Upbuggerance of Alldis lamp...

Total embashment and terminal up-buggerance of the laptop occurred around lunchtime yesterday. The squeaks and bangs and pinking noises, plus some blue (fatal) gibberish about kernels and geeky stuff on ‘error messages’ decided my next move – to PC World. I was sentenced to Tunbridge Wells.

God, my feet ache, and so does my wallet!

Now, I don’t really want to praise them too highly, after all, they’re there to sell computers to L.M-A.I.s like me, but they were pretty helpful yesterday. When I think that our first PC in 1994 had the same amount of hard disc as a mobile phone nowadays, and it cost a fortune too; the kit on show in modern stores seems impressive enough to me, but it takes an age to look over and decide.

Its going to be a hard slog this weekend, poking around in the dark, plugging things in unusual places, saying ‘sod it’ several times an hour. And that’s just getting out of bed!

As they used to say ‘jeurring ve woorrer’, I’m sending this important message via a colleague’s PC, (Admiral Honeysuckle Scroblenette), and hope to resume normal communication procedures soon.

I may be some time…

Saturday 1 September 2007

Back to the past...

Aunt Basil - Sarnie prompted me to record a fascinating detour I made one afternoon last year.

My Dad was a builder through and through. And so was his Dad. And so were my two Uncles. My Grandfather built all over Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire in the nineteen twenties and thirties, and did some superb buildings, most of which still stand today. Dad and my two Uncles also worked in the family firm.

While clearing out the old house years ago, I found the family photographs, and as is usual, there were the old favourites I recognised from when I was a tot, but there were also many I couldn’t place, because I hadn’t been born (or even thought about) when they were taken!

The piles of photographs included several pictures of old building sites, and most of them were unidentifiable. But I kept them, as somehow, they seemed to represent some of my history, but I secretly wanted to find out where they were taken, and whether the buildings were still there.

Cut to earlier this year. I had a meeting with a property man from the area who knew Hertfordshire incredibly well. So well in fact, that when we met to discuss a scheme I was involved in, I showed him the photos, and he immediately came up with several places where he thought they were taken. These pictures were taken in the early 1930’s, so they weren’t that brilliant, but there were several defining images and details of design, which would have been instantly recognisable – if I’d known where they were! It could have been anywhere!

I was finally given two towns to look in – Welwyn Garden City, and Letchworth.

A few weeks later, I was driving back from a meeting, and on a whim, found I was actually driving through Letchworth (which always gives me a warm feeling of ‘Deja-vu’, as the old family firm was based there in the twenties, and, drifting along in some slow traffic, I just casually looked to my left and saw the name of one of the roads, which my chum had described.

The Scrob-mobile reversed like a rocket, and like a nosing Jack Russell, ears back, I drove down a beautiful leafy avenue, which is what Letchworth’s all about – the First Garden City!

You cannot believe the utmost joy I felt when, suddenly, there, right in front, was the actual building! A huge building! Built in the early 1930s as a College for Girls, and looking just as it had been in the old grainy black and white photos. And it was some of my own history.

It was a magic moment – the world stood still, and there was a lump in the aging throat dear readers…

No stopping me now! I called in and met the Librarian, and she was also overjoyed to see her College in pictures never ever seen before, and with some provenance and proper credentials from an aging idiot, who was reeling about, standing on one leg and all excited at having tracked down the elusive building site!

It really means something to me, all this. You can’t make it up can you.

Saturday 25 August 2007

Inter-County Semantics - Round 2...

As Ed and Electro have launched into Inter-County Semantics, Rumours, Myths and Damn Bloody Lies, I’m getting my retaliation in first by copying a method of counting sheep, which originated in Sussex.

The shepherd would let two sheep through at a time, and when he’d reached ‘Den’ (ten), he would cut a notch on a stick to denote a ‘score’, i.e. twenty.

I was given a book on very important things like this when I was twenty-one, and in a fit of generosity once, gave it to my local pub, where there were still some locals who remembered the rhyme! Sometimes they'd all sit there chanting it over pints of Old and Mild...!



Quaint isn’t it?

And if anyone as much as breathes anything about kilts, zips, wellingtons, mountains etc., there are still plenty of pictures of the war wound which will arrive in a plain brown envelope and with a sickening thud...

Monday 20 August 2007

Return to the past...

I went to Colchester today, to look at some development sites and get used to the town again after many years. (One of the biggest building jobs I ever did happened there at the R.E.M.E., and my bonus commission was £350). That was in 1983 before everyone chortles with mirth… (WATCH IT…the war wound pictures still have a few pixels to daunt the fearless – even you Kevin…)!

What a place! Buzzing with good friendly people, and at last I managed to appreciate a Local Authority actually taking charge of the change from enforced garrison town and leading the redevelopment process into respectable residential/university/retail/business oriented development. The sort we all like.

The High Street was impeccable, and although I did all of the regeneration areas to the South on foot – both feet actually – I felt the place really deserves some recognition and a few folding pictures of Elgar! Worn out streets attract investors, and these places are ripe for new growth.

Also, as a bonus and on a whim, I’d rung an old work colleague and good friend from the seventies on the train up from Liverpool Street, and we had a glorious reunion and lots of old fart’s chats about who’s retired, gone, missed-out etc.

I really rate the place, and expect to go back if the investors say so. Even if they don’t, I’ll bash them to submission…

There is so much to do there, and there is a collective will to contribute to a huge hearted city, some splendid old buildings and a bucket load of history.

And it only cost me way under twenty quid to get there with my ‘Old Tarfs Card’!

Thursday 16 August 2007

Soaring like an eagle...Grounding completed...

Daaaah, dah dah dah dah-de dah dah,
Daaaah, dah dah dah dah-de dah dah,
Daaaah, de-dah dah, daaaah, dee daaah;
Dah dah dah-dah; de daaaaah......!

Wednesday 15 August 2007

Inner sedentary fenestrated situation…

This evening, I experienced a new sensation!

Yup! A new one,,, No, don’t laugh…Noooooooh…it’s not that funny… yet…

Would you believe your correspondent, (I like this hackneyed term and may well use it again – well; it’s my blog…), had to go to London Bridge station for the start of the trek back to Scroblene Turrets.

Although grounded still, the train and bus service is OK, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, Corney and Barrow are better off for me finding reasons for not driving!

I hate London Bridge Station, because many of the trains cruise through with their destination terminus mentioned on the front; but, I get off before then, and they don’t really need me at all, as I am an intermediate person. Even not ‘The Vagrant’!

So I wait for the next one.

Anyhow, we all crowded on, me with sad southpaw held aloft for sympathy (bugger all received), and a queue for the last remaining seats. (We’d sunk a few reds previously at the development meeting and a miniature snooze was an important requirement at this stage).

Your Correspondent (nice isn’t it...), had a small glance to the right, paniced, looked to the left of the queue, and just saw, from the corner of a tired eye, that another passenger was sitting ON AN AISLE SEAT!

With an authoritative, quivering finger pointing to the window seat, he immediately acquiesced, bowed down, smiled, gave me an OBE for good measure, and ‘Your Correspondent’ had the best seat on the journey! Window leaning, glazed expression, Chislehurst was a blur, Peter Gabriel on the new!

Still had to catch the bus home though, and it’s a twenty minute walk uphill to the Estate…

Small items of good news like this become very important for 'CORRESPONDENTS' who have to have their stitches out tomorrow!

Bloody well laugh, or else, I’ll publish a photograph of my massive wound!

Friday 10 August 2007


As 'anyone who is anyone' knows, I'm grounded and can't drive at the moment.

So just when I thought it was safe, we checked the date of Mrs S's MOT on her Ferrari GT Monaco Continental Super Doris.

Bugger, it's due on Monday, so we scoop off to the garage to get the sodding documents done. All a pain in the arse, as we missed the post prandial 13% infusion - but there you are, Ferraris don't last for ever!

After leaving it with 'Mick', we offed to do some post prandial shopping, and bought sod all. Back to Garage, they said the MOT had failed because the plingerment-grounding-on-the-gudgeon-lunge-flange had gone green, so we needed to get another one - sodding quick like!

Now Ferraris don't have 'B and Q' on their spares list, and three-hundred odd calls on the mobile couldn't trace the bleeder at all. We were all in a humph on the way home. I stared out of the window and felt guilty about upsetting Mrs S; after all I am Vice-President - Vehicles; She is President - Lady of the Manor and superb at it.

Got home and all went quiet. I sat on the phone and worried like hell as you do. Nobody there to help!

And, an inner voice shrieked 'BOLLOCKS'! Do it yourself you stupid arse!

So with Black and Decker's favourite screwdriver in hand, your correspondent took the whole bloody lot apart, found the offending part, and got the toy drill-set in the shed going, found the old ring spanners, shouted to the sun, laughed at the £1,000,000.00 bill facing us if I failed, cleaned it all up and turned on...

Mrs S sat in the driver's seat, and on turning the computer key (they are on Fiat Punto 65s-Ferraris...), the whole bloody lot came on as it should!

Well you could have knocked medown with a glass of red! I'd had every bloody garage telling me it was serious dosh and more notes just to get an order in, and that was money I've kept that for Mrs S's new hat.

Sometimes I listen to the vibes my Dad and Mum send in these circumstances - they'd have done that.

Thursday 9 August 2007


Both Hatfield Girl and Tuscan Tony have got me up on my hind legs tonight.

They quite rightly berate the timid failure of UK politicians, and commentators.
I’ll leave it to them – they’ve got good posts going!

Tuesday 7 August 2007


I went to my GP yesterday, to have the elephant's leg bandage removed - (Hell, it really did look like one of these steamy beige smelly things in a kebab shop window...the bandage, not the southpaw), and the Nurse, who is an absolute sweetie, had an 'Assessment Supervisor' in attendance.

Now I'm all for getting value for NHS dosh, but my Doc is great (he is a Genesis fan too), and has several good colleagues including a rota of nurses, who bandage eldely idiots like me, and take readings from the others...!

The Nurse, (Sweetie), did everything right as usual, but had to keep asking Cruella De Ville, if the procedures were acceptable. Well, of course they were, but Nursie's been doing this sort of stuff for years, and knows her customers very well. (If I said intimately at this point, there could be a sharp intake of breath from certain readers, but I can safely say here that she is Mrs S's favourite Nurse too, so any surreptitious injections wouldn't get past the 200 yard exclusion zone would they...)!

After a clean up rather like Pirbright is going through now, (No 3 sandpaper, industrial disinfectant etc); I vaguely referred to the fact that I had work to do next week, and was immediately stamped on by C de V!

'Oooooh no! You can't drive for two weeks and your insurance would be invalid if you crashed; you've still got stitches man! You can't drive at all; DO YOU UNDERSTAND'!

So there we have it; Mrs S has offered to drive me to the station each day, (which will help Balls Brothers at lunchtime), and my business partner will be taking the reins on all the site visits that I have lined up! It's Chester next Thursday...

Bugger for some isn't it!

Friday 3 August 2007


Thanks so much to everyone for all those comments yesterday, and please forgive the 'blanket' (ha, ha, ha), 'cover note' (ha ha hah) to show my appreciation for everyone's concern!

As usual, the Girls showed concern, compassion and just a tinge of worry across those little brows, and the Blokes just got worse and worse with all their various minor-to-major wounds until Kev mentioned the snip!

Then everyone piled in; so no change there!

It was so easy! Mrs S driving the ambulance, the best NHS care one could wish for, and in and out in a few hours! The Staff at Crowborough are a lovely group, their kindness just heals by itself, and Sister Carole got a peck on the cheek, just because I felt like thanking her like I would anyone else, for her goodwill and highly respected skills!

The south-paw has a bandage the size of an elephant's foot with an industrial boiler insulation jacket on, and I'm back home for a few days hols until I can drive, and then will be as fit as a fit person' s fit bits!

(presses wrong button on laptop...deletes all...says 'bugger'... starts again...)

Thursday 2 August 2007

Old git's digit...

Mrs S is carting me off to the surgery today, to have an op on my left hand.

Somehow, the powers of the Dupuytren's Membership Society have blessed me with a life subscription, and having had the right hand chopped open and mended last year, the other one needs a service as well. It will be interesting which limb will be affected next...

So if the next post has a few spelling mistakes, it'll be because there'll be blood all over the keyboard, and excessive hand shakes because I'm not allowed to eat or drink today...

Saturday 28 July 2007

Bigger birthday!

It's Tuscan Tony's birthday on Sunday, and I want to be one of the first to wish him and all the Tuscan hordes a very happy day!

He has said somewhere how old he is, but who cares; he's always there, in the thick of it, and the man still needs to run a business in his spare time!

He also used to live in one of my favourite parts of the country, and therefore belongs to the elite crew of Scroblene Turrets Good Guys!

I know how you feel Chum, and have a large red on me!

Then another...

Thursday 26 July 2007

One man and his dog...

These mornings, when it isn’t raining of course, I usually get the pupling out for an early walkabout, and we venture across the local fields for a stroll in the sunrise. (If it is raining we do the same, but I tend to groan a bit, and somehow the walks last that little bit less; like half…)

I sometimes take the old 'Box Brownie', and caught this pic, which sums it all up really.

Sunday 22 July 2007

Aftermath of birthday...

Elder Daught added to the present list with a huge box of balloons, and a cake and sweeties! Plus a load of music to listen to when I'm feeling good. We still chat regularly about the 'Big Concert'!

Younger Daught also gave me three big presents.

She'd got together with Mrs S and collated a huge album of 'This is your Life', and it is an absolute treasure! Slight moistening of the aging Scroblene eyes there...

Also, I'd always wanted to relive my growing days with my old Meccano set, and had mentioned this once or twice in casual discussion. So, I'm now the proud owner of Sets 2 and 4! Plus some goodies! I've already got the the Magic motor to drive the steam engine., and will attempt the Telpher Span when Mrs S isn't looking!

Younger Daught also gave me a CD of the music we both love. I'm listening to this now, and there are serious tracks I remember hearing all those years ago when her bedroom door was closed, and she had her own world to start living for.


Wednesday 18 July 2007

Home by the sea...(Who me)?

(Relevance to subject matter will only be recognised by those who know the song…sorry…)!

Still reeling from the Great Concert at HQ, I now realise that the ‘Big 60’ occurs tomorrow, and I am celebrating for the next few days with Mrs S, our two girls and their men folk.

In an episode of Father Ted it is suggested that July 19th is the day that the Ice Age ended. I rather like that…(Mrs Doyle, thanks for the hat tip and the sandwiches…’They’re egg aren’t they…’)

I share my birthday with A.J.Cronin, who wrote the classic story ‘The Citadel’, (I used to go to a pub in Acton, - regularly - and once met John Welsh, who played Merriman in The Duchess of Duke St., and he was rehearsing a part in the play of the book. We had a long friendly chat, and he was a charming, quiet man. We had to watch the play of course, and it was especially good).

Also born on the 19th July are Ilie Nastase, (who shrieked at everyone long before Connors or McEnroe), Vicki Carr, (who used to bear a striking resemblance to Mrs S), and my guitar hero, Brian May of Queen - we are the same age to the day. It was he who started the ‘Electro-K Bass’ desire for stardom and his playing astounds me every time I hear that Red Special’ guitar.

So, to change the words of Auden’s poem a little…

Restart all the atomic clocks, connect the new BT Internet telephone,
Get the dog barking and prancing around with a juicy bone,
Turn up the keyboards and with Phil Collins on drums
Bring out the bottles, let the Family come!

And it will be a great day!

PS. I already have my Senior Rail Card, will get my eyes tested next week, and the next lot of pills are buckshee…!

PPS. The morning after I got home from Twickenham, I got a letter saying I would soon be eligible for a winter fuel allowance too…

Friday 13 July 2007

Lost Prophet...

Electro-Kevin (? - 2007)

Where have all the flowers gone? (Pete Seeger)
Where are the Good Guys? (Senor Coriolanus Rickadene O’ Blene)
Where are the Prophets? (Fish)

Lilith is most upset about Electro Kevin hanging up his router. I have to agree. A.A.Ayscoughe-Hussey was in (temporary) mourning for the sad loss of Marmaduke, and Babel now requires a passport and an inside leg measurement before you can log on to be told you can’t!

Oliver Gosling retired to Market Harborough, PC Coker is now retired and living near Bognor Regis, and we’ll never hear Legge ring the bells again. The place is becoming quieter; the walls whisper and shuffle from room to room…

So, Lilith, Auntie, Tony, Skyce, Hitch et al, I reckon we need to do something…
But whither...?

Monday 9 July 2007

As the sun beat down...

‘As the sun beat down’…

Genesis, at Twickenham – Giants in The Cathedral!

What a day!

A long boiling traffic crawl through Wandsworth,
2 enormous Smolensky’s burgers,
Several cooling drinks, and another one…
85,000 aging (and not so aging) enthusiasts,
170,000 arms waving, pointing and clapping,
No rain (under cover in West stand – well planned that Girl),
5 fabulous musicians, giving their all…
A multitude of grey hairs raising on the back of the neck during ‘Cinema show’, (Not as many as Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and definitely more luxuriant than Phil Collins; and we all loved them for being there still…)
800million decibels of pure pomp rock power spreading so much goodwill everywhere,
4 very sore hands from all that clapping; two sore throats from knowing lots of the words, four sore feet from stamping and all the walking to and from the town;


One late middle-aged idiot scrabbling around on his hands and knees after breaking his glasses during the customary overhead clapping in ‘Invisible touch’. Did anyone spot someone having an utter panic moment in Block 15? I found the lens a yard away when all the lights went up for a split second…(Jesus he loves me)!

Thank you so much M, it was a fabulous day; you did your Dad proud! This is the picture I promised you! You’re now a blog star!

Update…Glasses mended free – couple of notes to charity!
Another update…If you think this picture was taken yesterday, think again…!

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Turn it on again...again...

This Sunday, Elder Daught is treating me to a trip to Twickenham to see the best band ever! It’s for my 60th Birthday, later this month.

I was quite a late convert to Genesis; not really buying anything until ‘Duke’ came out in 1978, but I still remember going into the record shop in Hastings in 1973, and asking them if I could buy a record called ‘I know what I like’. The young chap kindly showed me the album ‘Selling England by the pound’, but sadly, £3.50 was beyond our newly-wed’s budget, and I couldn’t afford it!

Since then I reckon between us, we’ve amassed most of their tracks in some form or other. Elder Daught actually wrote and produced a half-hour radio programme on seminal Genesis works like ‘The Lamb lies down on Broadway’ as part of her degree. We still rave over Youtube showing ‘Cinema show’. Our favourite is ‘Vancouver’, but I will always play ‘Duke’s end’ at full blast in the car, and feel drained as always!

Their big stuff which was originally recorded with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett is bound to raise the roof. The real visual one is ‘I know what I like in your wardrobe’, and they can reel that one out for ages and ages…(I only wish they would do ‘Lilith’; then life would be complete…)!

We both went to Knebworth in 1992, and it was so well attended that it took us five hours to get out of the car park! Earls Court a few years later was easier; but as there were only two members of the original line-up, we didn’t really rate the evening.

Elder Daught emailed me the news of the Twickenham bash within hours of it being announced. She sat on the phone for half an hour when they went on sale, and got the best seats in the house. The rest sold out in an hour!

What a fabulous way to celebrate the big 60! Sorry to all you younger brigade who don’t want to spend five hours in the company of a boring old fart though…

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Rant result...

Since my last post, when I began to get cross about our local playing fields being used just for growing grass, something's happened...

On a day last week, I saw two lads chipping golf balls from one side to the other, which is an encouraging sign, and just now, there was a older lad, (older than me actually, which is saying something), doing the same thing!


Now all I have to do is work out how to retrieve a Dunlop 65 from a small dog's bum.

But it's a start!

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Lost opportunity...

While walking little dog on the playing fields early one morning, it struck me that when the football season has finished, and during the nano second before it starts again, there is a quiet time of inactivity on the sward.

We used to have a cricket team here, but the square was deemed too dangerous, and all matches were stopped. Very occasionally there are a few kids playing in an organised junior games session, but little else happens in summer now.

Several years ago, when the square was usable, the football pitch was in regular use on one side, and there was also a big area of spare ground where nobody played anything. I was Chairman of our village Rugby Club then; we barely had enough players for one team, but as is usual in clubs like this, the spirit was great, and we enjoyed the camaraderie and the occasional win. We decided to try and get our home matches played there.

No chance said the Parish council; (although our club sponsored the village fete several times, and spread the money round the local charities). We asked them if we could use other open fields in the village. Ooooh no, they said, we may want them one day; (still taking the cash). We tried for planning permission on a private field next to a lively pub; (we paid for that). Application voted down by the same council; (inappropriate use, could turn into a sports stadium one day)!

This self-interested, small-minded, inward-looking bunch of sad individuals effectively caused the club to wither and eventually disband, and stunted the growth of another national sport in the village. And so there are the groups of fat, idle kids wandering around the playing field now, leaving the usual collection of sicky drink bottles and crisp packets. What a legacy!

So the current Government betrayal of sports organisations and facilities began long ago, when MPs were just narrow-minded Parish Councillors.

Thursday 14 June 2007

Electro K Bass 2...

Electro Kevin kindly asked for a few more pics...

Of course, I'm a shy and retiring man, and not looking for acclaim. I only spent four months making this in the shed, where there is now about three inches of sawdust all over the place, so I'm not proud...

Oh alright then! Just this once...

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Rhythm stick...

Electric bass.

Veneers – old MFI chest circa 1969
Body – old kitchen worktop
Tail and cross bridge – piece of oak from Dad’s greenhouse
Strings – old redundant stock from brother-in-law’s shop in 1971
Original neck, held in place by pieces of beech from a 1920’s wardrobe.
Knobs – same beech wardrobe


Electrical kit – from old left handed bass, found forgotten in younger Daught’s chum’s flat ten years ago.

Design and manufacture – Scroblene Enterprises Inc.

And I wish I could play it like Norman Watt-Roy, in Ian Dury’s ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’. (Mrs S might also hit me with it if I leave it hanging around, cluttering up the place and gathering dust…)!

Friday 8 June 2007

Working on Saturdays...

I was sending a reply to Electrokevin just now, in response to his post saying he had to work on Saturdays.

Somehow, this has triggered a warm feeling of companionship, and while Mrs S is reading the paper (she's had a crap day and deserves a break from me and reality), I thought, that this response may make others feel better, and hopefully not worse.

Here's the note: -


Sorry you have to work the weekend.

I haven't had to work on Saturdays since the 60s, when we had to do alternate Saturday mornings at the estate agents (don't you love 'em...) where I was based. As junior, I had to operate one of those awful office telephone exchanges, and regularly squirted the noise of the ringing bells down the ears of the partners, by putting the keys in the wrong holes!

After all the bollocking, I really said 'Sod it', and went on to better things.

I must say, however, that now I am continually involved, night and day, seven days a week, in our development business, which takes up every waking hour; I really enjoy talking to good guys like you, and Tuscan, and Hitch, Lilith and Hatfield Girl, and even Guido and Iain Dale, when I'm feeling vociferous... and occasionally a chap called O. Gosling Esq - or whoever he is this month...(Sometimes I even pretend to be a Lt.Col. with an errant sister, an estate)!

So that, in a nutshell, is what I'm doing at the moment, and life ain't as bad as it's cracked up to be. Have some good moments on me this w/e anyway; we've mostly all been there anyway!

Thursday 7 June 2007

Cassettes are best...

I read this week, that very soon there won’t be any music cassettes in production, as they have been superseded by MP3 players, Ipods and the like.

So what the hell do I do with the three hundred odd music cassettes that I’ve got stashed away then? Also, there’s a two-foot high pile of LPs in the roof, and also a box of 78s (cost me ten bob in 1968). I do have quite a few CDs as well, but they don’t count here.

I don’t hoard these things as I still like playing the cassettes in the car, (they are the only things that play in a cassette player, funnily enough; CDs were hardly invented when my car was made…). I can still get the guitar solo from ‘Cinema Show’ from ‘Selling England by the pound – Live’ at full decibels, and even the traffic in the other lane on the M25 slows down thinking they’re going to be treated to yet another prang…!

So presumably, I’ve either got to buy them all again, or download them, or borrow them and copy them, beg them from Daughts, or spend ninemonths putting them on my PC with a new record player (more cost).

Or say ‘Sod it’!

I’m going to use younger Daught’s old ghetto blaster in the shed, keep the car forever, and use the portable CD (£9.99 from the supermarket), on the train in front of every MP3/Mobilephone/DVD playing owner, and watch their faces as I extract the machine gently from my battered briefcase, place the rechargeables softly in the slot, and turn up the volume to maximum so everyone can hear me enjoy ‘Owner of a lonely heart’ at 8 million decibels!

That’ll show ‘em!

Wednesday 30 May 2007

Holidays - and children...

When our girls were very little, we would, like most families, try and go on holiday in the summer.

Once, we started the holiday a bit before the end of term (this is going back a bit, before education bureaucrats became the harbingers of authority, knowing what they ‘do’ – bugger me, they’re really clever these people aren’t they!), and we got away earlier with a letter to their Headmaster, saying the girls would record in a diary, all the days they had away from school, and draw pictures etc. He liked that, and so we wrote the ‘Holiday diary’, with grave importance. It was read out to the class when they got back.

We still have all these diaries; some are really battered and show stains ranging from egg and orange juice in the earlier ones, down (or up) to red wine, beer and Calvados, in the later years.

I love these precious books.

We always laughed, each year, when I bought a new notebook to write down all the things that would make me, and hopefully the others, happy, and bring something to enjoy when we were much older. I usually filled in the days, filling in the pages with gibberish and sometimes ‘pissed talk’, but there are also so many paragraphs and hand drawn pictures, written by our two girls, and Mrs S herself!

These records of all we did when we were younger, more carefree, more responsible, and easier to talk with, are still carefully stored – and often looked at when we can’t agree where we saw etc etc...

And they are treasures.

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Reading gravestones.

While walking small dog around the church yard early one morning, I found myself reading a gravestone of an eminent gentleman, who is mentioned in all our local history books.

As it was early morning, the sun didn't pick out the words well, as it was shining directly on the stone. So, I'm going to have to wait until just before midday, when the carved letters are in 'relief', and, with a little shadow, I'll be able to read everything.

It's only just occurred to me that this phenomenom must apply to every gravestone in the country, as all churches are built east/west, and burials were made with the headstones facing east. The vicars were faced the other way, as if facing their flocks.

The dog didn't take much notice though, as she can't read!

Friday 25 May 2007

In sickness and in time...

I’ve just seen an item on the BBC’s evening news, about pregnant women being advised not to drink.

So here we go with more of the usual mind-boggling and confusing ‘guidance’. I think any news about the NHS actually doing something ‘positive’, by being mentioned on the news, several times a week, doing ‘research’, or ‘learning lessons’, is a huge astroturfing exercise. The constant drip-drip of ‘news’ items deflects criticism of the current disregard for sick patients who actually hope a doctor will see them, and they can get better. We have to visit a District Nurse with Mrs S’s Mum on Bank holiday Monday, because the local surgery is closed for three days!

By the way, Mrs S. actually didn’t touch a drop when she was having our two girls, mainly because she just couldn’t stand the taste during pregnancy! This was an unusual situation for me to appreciate for some time, but I learnt eventually! I made up for the deficiency of course, and there is still a smouldering, doubtful understanding of the foibles of the rugby club while making sure I turned up at the hospital…

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Talking to plants

Hatfield Girl has given me an idea, which I'm going to post right away, before I have time to forget it!

She is going to photograph her plants and vegetables and hopefully post the results.

The first joke I ever remember about getting close to nature, was a Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stevenson sketch: -

Rowan - (leaning out of a window and bellowing) 'Why don't you just grow up, you bastards'!

Pamela - 'What's wrong dear'?

Rowan - (normal voice) 'Oh, nothing... just talking to the plants'!

Ho Ho Ho...

What on earth can you say to a tomato eh? How do you sing to a lettuce? What does a radish know about life on Mars?

Monday 21 May 2007

Sad old git...

I really am becoming a sad old git.

No, I really mean it!

Today, I caught a train after 9.00am, as it saves my old firm money, and, by then, I’ve already done a couple of hours work at home, (which we all do in our incredibly successful enterprise - I wish...).

Now, I’m with the majority of normal people, that hates other people eating crisps with their mouths open, gabbling into mobiles incessantly (I do make the odd call, but I promise, I speak softly), shouting stupid rock-ape statements to their mates etc. We’ve all had to put up with this.

But today, I discovered a new disturbance - or even unpleasantness. For years, Southern Rail, (or whatever they call themselves now), had those awful trains, which used to leak water/draft/smell, and, at long last, they’ve replaced them with some quite nice new carriages. The usual yobs have stuck chewing gum in awkward places, and scratched names (those who can write that is), on some windows, but generally, things are nicer now, and the trip is reasonably pleasant.

But today, I became unreasonably pissed off by the most ridiculous action even I could dream up!

A lad got on the train at the station after me. I was sitting in one of the pairs of seats, which are built like those in buses; i.e. all point forward, and you don’t need to sit opposite a gorgeous blonde (help...), or a Stella drinking crisp crunching oaf.

The lad chose a seat to my left, on the other side of the central reservation.


But he sat sideways, so he was facing me all the time!

Now, to those who know me, I only get cross when provoked beyond 32 alcoholic units, but this journey was uncomfortable, irritating, mildly paranoid, and, to be frank, I wanted to yell at him to sit straight and behave.

The lad carefully bought his ticket from the guard, he didn’t talk on his mobile phone, he sometimes even turned round in his seat the proper way! Then turned round and sat facing me…sideways again! I became incandescent and began early palpitations - well slight twinges from the gussett...

When we got off at London Bridge, the lad was also getting off there, and I began to fume again, expecting a charge in front of me. As we queued to get to the doors, he incredibly politely, smilingly indicated for me to get off before him.

Oh bugger, I am getting so old…

Friday 18 May 2007

Sensible idea...

This must be the innovation of the century!

Where can you buy these things?

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Veg Wars.

What with Mr D.C.Warmington’s discussion regarding the pain inflicted on vegetables when they are picked – one correspondent even referred to the ‘Silence of the lettuce’ - and our own situation with considering growing cucumbers and courgettes from hanging baskets, (a practice Mrs S has strongly forbidden), I have been devastated to see Mutley’s picture of his salsify from last November.

This is a superb vegetable. Mutley did splendidly, as it is very difficult to grow well. The soil has to be in perfect un-manured condition, before the little blighters care to germinate in their own time and grow in a straight line both vertically, and horizontally!

The most horrific element of eating salsify, is that however tenderly it is pulled from the soil, it ‘bleeds’, and immediately turns black! I have seen wizened gardeners weep deluges of tears as their treasured crops become readers of The Sun, and ‘phew’ everywhere!

So now we have ‘The Great Lettuce Carnage’, ‘Potato Slaughter on 10th allotment’, and now ‘Salsify Massacre – a suitable case for treatment’.