Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Headcorn in the news...


Headcorn, gateway to the South East!

Just a few notes on the place...

  • Two lovely chums moved there when they sold their house here, and couldn't find anywhere to live in our village.
  • I had my first building project there in 1989.
  • The big pub on the corner is now an Indian joint, so of course, we won't go there again.
  • My dad bought me an ice cream there around 1960 when we were visiting a Guinness farm in Teynham.
  • Our favoured charity, The Kent Air Ambulance used to be based there.
  • We had our  jabs for the covids at Headcorn Aerodrome (yes, there really is one).
  • I finished up there late one night when I went to sleep on the train and missed my station.
  • I was involved with the first local Sainsbury's there, and the agent never gave me a penny for my trouble. (We don't go to them any more as they wrote to us and suggested that if we didn't like their 'woke' ideas we could shop elsewhere, so we do)!
  • I often went to work in Canterbury that way, as I like the route and it's one of the prettiest roads around here.
  • A lovely lady chum works in the hairdressers there.
  • Four chaps sadly died in a crash there a couple of days ago, The national rags did the story, the local rag hardly mentioned it at all...

Headcorn 1972

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Would this be an ecumenical question...?

Dave Allen was required watching when he was in his heyday. My mum and dad adored his humour back then, his delivery was superb, and though he seemed to become more raucous and vocal later on, this clip sent by a chum is still as vibrant as it was back then!

Senora O'Blene and I still become helpless with laughter whenever we either see or even talk about this little gem!

This was the sort of comedy which made TV so enjoyable back then, the 'modern' lot with very few exceptions just don't get it!


Saturday, 2 October 2021

Never underestimate Elias...

Scrobs was in 'The Bells', enjoying a pint of Shep's 'Autumn Bastard' 8.9% (a dark, hoppy ale with qualities enabling much more than immediate refreshment), when an approach was made to the saloon door by none other than his old friend Elias Sagtrouser, accompanied by his fragrant wife, Gloriette!

'Hey you two, come here and sample this exquisite draught with me', I simpered, and Elias smiled, positioned his trilby hat to starboard and agreed to the requirement, while Gloriette demurred in preference to a large G and T.

'You are indeed a welcome sight, Scrobs', mentioned my friend, 'as we have a short story to tell you, which will lighten up your day, and even your evening, when you tell Senora O'Blene what we've just seen'!

Now Elias has a knack of telling yarns which can sometimes last several hours, and in fact, he still hasn't finished one he started back in July, so even his mates don't know what eventually occurred, but that is by-the-by for the moment.

'We have just been to see our old friend, Sid Niblett, who is, as you know, the estate agent we use for all our various yards, houses etc.' he started. 'Sid is one of the shrewdest surveyors I've ever had the pleasure to meet, and while there are always going to be cowboys around in that particular business, Sid is the man to do the works; aren't I right Gloriette'?

Gloriette fluttered her eyelashes at both of us at the same time, as Sid is quite a man of the world, and Elias has been known to cast a special stare at him if Gloriette so much as crosses her handsome legs when in his office! But in fact, Sid's loving wife also casts a similar look in his direction if he even considers wandering anywhere, so a sort of balance is preserved whenever they meet, which is quite often, as Elias has ideas of expansion, now the covids are becoming a thing of the past, and he always needs professional advice. His normal advice with the help of a baseball bat doesn't really work with the simple minds of solicitors or architects, so Sid does the negotiation, and Elias hands him a cheque every now and then.

'Sid is sitting in his open plan office with two clients when we arrived today, and we decided to wait in reception for a few minutes, and chat to his secretary, who is in fact his niece, Samantha', started Elias, 'and we suddenly heard a commotion coming from his work area, and we could see that some sort of unpleasantness was beginning to occur'!

'So we listened in! Samantha told us in a whisper that the two people in there with Sid, were prospective buyers of a large house a few miles out of the nearby town, and the price being asked was around a mill and a half, which is quite a large wedge in my book'!

'The negotiations seemed to have stalled for some reason, and even reached such a low ebb, that one of the visitors had got up as if he was going to leave! At last, we understood the reason for the unusual attitude by hearing the way things were going. The visitor, a rather unpleasant looking individual, was staring at Sid, and exclaimed in a rather nasal voice 'Yes, we have decided to go ahead now that your client has agreed to deal with us, but the price we are now prepared to put on the table is reduced by 10%,and not the original offer we made'!

Elias stared at me with an odd glance at the clock over the bar.

'What the bloke was doing was effectively cheating the owner out of £150 thou, and fully expecting him to accept at the very last moment, as solicitors, surveyors, engineers and the whole lot of planners had been on the case for God knows how long, he was expected to roll over'!

Now I know Sid well, and saw him make a note on his pad, and say slowly to the man, 'So that is your full and final offer then'? The pair of them sort of grunted and looked very smug, and said yes, take it or leave it'! 

'Fine said Sid, and called over to Samantha for a copy of a standard offer letter, which she took over. The couple both signed the note, and handed it to Sid with a triumphant yawn of boredom'.

'Sid nodded and just said 'I need to make a couple of calls, please stay while I confer', and the two prospective buyers smirked at each other while they sat holding a cheque book, open at a new page'.

'We heard Sid say a few words on the dog and bone, and saw him make a few notes. He then made another call, and again, jotted down some figures, so we expected that the owner was going to have to accept the reduced offer'!

'Well', Sid started, 'It seems that the deal is on...' the couple smirked again, '...but not with you I'm afraid, my client has accepted another offer, which is the current value! You're now the underbidder, and my client has instructed me to accept the new valuation and take the property off the market'!

'The woman shrieked some very unpleasant words, the bloke went very red, and they stormed out shouting something about legal action, the police, and all sorts of rubbish'!

Elias tapped the side of his nose and began to laugh!

'Actually, Sid was talking to our accountant; the price is now exactly what we all agreed to pay in the first place'...

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Collis Browne's is no more...


The most efficacious Chlorodyne is no more!

It has been a staple in the Scrobs household since we spliced the mainbrace, or nipped over the sticks, or did whatever marriage was called in 1972...

We are heartbroken, and now, every stomachial twinge will have to be dealt with by a darkened room and three Ibuprophen...

Friday, 24 September 2021

The Singer not the song...

Our dear elderly neighbour has moved away, and we're helping clear her home.

Among her bits and pieces is a gorgeous old Singer sewing machine, which is in perfect working order! She told me that her father had given it to her for her 18th birthday, which would have been around January 1953. She used it for lots of her clothes, and such items were commonplace in most homes too! My mum had one just like it, and so did Senora O'Blene - a Christmas present soon after we were married!

But trying to move it on is just about impossible now! Nobody wants one! I had to give the Senora's away to an actual Singer shop in Canterbury, getting a small battery powered stitcher instead, which turned out to be useless - it's still in the roof...

These machines were beautifully made, some had gorgeous metal effects on the panels and of course, the gold print was unmistakeable!

If anyone wants it, just call out!


Friday, 17 September 2021

Sir Clive Sinclair - R.I.P...

Some years ago, Scrobs decided to do something with two items which had been lurking in the shed for many years!

Senora O'Blene and Scrobs had been given a generous present by her beloved mum, and as we had a couple of decent mountain bikes on which we would scoot around various forests and lanes, some of the hills were getting a bit steeper, so we invested in a couple of Sinclair Zeta 3 motors...

They took a bit of time to fit and were heavy and ungainly, but on the level, riding on a perfectly dry road, you could achieve some sort of momentum, and get along without pedalling! The eventual demise started on a trip to a pub a few miles away on a very, very hot day, and the long hill we were both relishing turned out to be a total failure for the motors, and we both arrived, utterly exhausted, having pushed the bloody bikes for miles!

After that, I used mine on several occasions, but eventually gave up, and we sold the Senora's bike! The motors stayed somewhere at the back of the shed for years afterwards, and while they rejoiced in a new venture a long time later - as seen in the pic at the top - they really didn't do much more than screech a bit and make for a very heavy ride so I eventually chucked them about a year ago!

(Editor's note...)

Those very motors became the subject of one of the funniest Dad's Army scripts ever written, and I'm proud to say that my grateful letter (and large cheque) from Sir Clive, appreciating the fabulous story of Sergaeant Wilson's motorbike became the touchstone for further innovative, hilarious and inspiring writing for television! Sir Clive and Scrobs met on several occasions after that, but on most opportunities to discuss their future inventions, the great man's attention was usually averted by his love for his latest squeeze, and soon-to-be-wife - the Bicycling Correspondent of The Sodden Prickney Bugle, Ms. Edwina Baggage...

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Autostereograms and the USD Index...

A few years ago, these were all the rage, and I was even bought a book of them as a present, and 'saw' them all! They were great fun, harmless, and I had a sneaking, smug feeling that my eyesight was pretty damn good for that!

Nowadays, wearing glasses with all sorts of lens strengths in odd places, and a price tag of £400 a pop every couple of years, I've lost all that - until now...

(With grateful thanks to Theo Spark)

Now I really can 'see' something here, I suppose it's a basic primary colour refraction element (what on earth are you on about Scrobs - Ed)? But the blue background with the red lines are definitely in 3D...

Or are they... 

Monday, 6 September 2021

Small hole in trousers...


A few years ago, this weekend in 1965, I crashed one of these by running into the back of a parked van in nasty wet weather...

I was only a few yards from home, and my goggles were very misty from the rain, and I just didn't see the van until it was too late! I got chucked over the handlebars, and finished up on the other side of the road, very much unconscious, and as a chum who lived opposite exclaimed later, looked a bit 'deadish'!

In fact, it was only a spell of concussion, plus bashed up knees, which funnily enough only tore a tiny bit of trouser on one side, but it turned out that the kneecap had chipped, and a few stitches later in St Helen's Hospital in Hastings, I settled in for the statutory ten days recovery!

What was odd, was that with a chum we had been right across Belgium only a few weeks before, and the only mishap then, was going over a pothole near Brussels, and the handlebar cover shot up in the air, breaking the screw which held it all together!

The scooter was a write off, but dad persuaded the engineers at the farms where he worked to straighten it all up, and with a new frame (£5.0.0), I rebuilt the whole thing, and used it for ages! It used to go like the clappers, and was a great little scooter, but like all things, it had to go, and was last seen dumped in a hedge not far away...

Saturday, 28 August 2021

The Otter...


We knew David Sharp well - he's mentioned here... When Senora O'Blene's parents eventually retired from the pub where we usually met David, they bought several of his creations, some of which we still have, and treasure!

When her parents left us all alone, The Otter stayed with us, and has pride of place on a central shelf, as he really is a masterpiece, and we love him! Various other items in that genre followed over the years, and only recently, we've bought several more, and have now run out of shelf-room...

They don't have huge value, just enough to make their lovely faces and shapes a comforting recall of a pretty good bloke, and we even saw his wife Dot a few years ago, and had a lovely chat!

Our own otter has much bigger eyes than the pic, and therefore is even more appealing, but you can see that David was pretty damn good with his kilns and painting!

Sunday, 22 August 2021

'Bye Don...

And one of my favourite singers has just popped off…


I bought a whole album by The Everly Brothers, just because of five fabulous guitar chords at the start of ‘So sad’

RIP great man.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

What the Dickens...

A dear, elderly neighbour has left the area to live nearer to her sons in Oxford, and we miss her!

Because she lived next door, we feel responsible for her cottage, and are keeping an eye on the place for her, until it's sold.

She has generously offered any of her fixtures and fittings for us to have if we want them, and apart from a couple of things, there's not much to want, or take now.

Except a complete set of Charles Dickens...

I must confess to be a bloke who has only ever read one Charles Dickes novel, and have long wondered if I could summon the desire to read them all at some stage. My old business partner did exactly that, and as there are only about fifteen novels, give or take the odd pamphlet, I should really give it a try, shouldn't I?

Friday, 13 August 2021

Friday, 30 July 2021

Well, well, well - part 2...

Well, the well cover manufacture and fitting and fixing went well! The owner of said well was well-pleased, and his neighbour, who used to be supplied by the well, took a well-arranged picture (slightly wellered to the right), of a filthy, disorientated Scrobs, in well-worn trousers and in a well-deserved relaxed attitude after lying on the wet grass, trying to fix the well-sawn decking to the well-surrounds, which were well-rotted...

I did the whole job without having to look down inside at all, by changing each rotted board for a new one, and working across in stages! I was absolutely knackered the first day, and it took several tinctures to let me enjoy life again! Yesterday was easier, such that we decided to re-cover a rotten table top with the spare boards and offcuts, so I have a well-happy friend and his wife!


Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Shades of 'Zulu'...

This is just gorgeous!

The way the Welsh harp comes in, then the organ, is spine-tingling...

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

The penalty backlash...

There was upraor at the Sodden Prickney Sports and Leisure club extravaganza a week or so ago, when the players extended the game beyond extra time and sort of flopped into a penalty shoot-out.

The game had been dead boring anyway, with several of the Wibble kids playing at various positions, and Ron Groat's stepson doing something or other out on the wing, but the few spectators became aghast - some say enigmatic, when Ms Edwina Baggage suddenly stripped down to her Janet Regers and ran onto the pitch! The football was immediately forgotten when P.C.Lumbersnatch immediately divested himself of his uniform, either in sympathy, or to relieve himself of the weight of the accoutrements of the law, and, to the baying of the crowd, gave chase.

The roar from the several men in the crowd, as well as Ms Cynthia Molestrangler, who for some reason was almost sober that afternoon, reached a crescendo when our intrepid policeman executed a superb diving rugby tackle, and brought the lady to the ground, close to another nephew of Mr Norman Wibble. As the Wibble family are known to be of a nervous disposition, the small nephew (Gilbert Wibble), began to go very red and seemed to suffer an embolism or something similar, as the said Janet Regers had ridden high up the almond curves of an interesting leg!

Of course, while this was going on, the football became even more boring and eventually forgotten, as Ms Molestrangler decided in a stentorian voice that "She was going to have some of that", and began to unbutton her voluminous Dior blouse. The match referee, Cllr Basil Kalashnikov, who has watched that particular spectacle on many occasions, began to feel weak at the knees, but managed the almost impossible act of blowing his whistle and yelling "Sod everyone", which is his normal mode of disrespect to everyone he dislikes, or even likes for that matter!

The crowd reformed with certain Members of the Council, (Mr Norbert Iodine, Ms Hillary Billary, Miss Agatha Newt, Cllr Ron Groat and Cllr Sid Trumpet), all stamping their feet, booing or cheering, and demanding a replay as a passing pikey had pinched the goasl posts, and left a couple of anoraks in their place!

The F.A. are going to be consulted, but as nobody has a clue where their office is, the issue is in abeyance as we go to press. In fact three members of the committee thought the letters 'FA' meant something else, but this was discounted by a rather manic referee as he urgently sought yet another consultation with Ms Molestrangler, before she got her kit back on!



Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Well, well, well...


I've got a small job to do for a great chum of senior years. He wants a new lid built on his well. I've measured up and find that he'll need around twenty-five yards of decking to cover the six ft hole.

And I'm not looking forward to it, because I'll be working at the edge all the time, looking down...

Some years ago, I worked with a lovely chap, who was a services engineer. He was a great consultant, well-liked and respected, and lived in a delightful old cottage not far from 'The Turrets'. We'll call him Dick, as funnily enough, that was his name!

Dick's house was old enough to have its own well in his garden, and he was very proud of it, especially as the design of the building was quintessentially 'middle 17th century Kent', and very well kept. Dick liked his garden, and was often out there, seeing to his plants etc., and also mowing his pleasant lawns.

One day, Dick wasn't there when his wife called out for him. Everyone searched everywhere, his car was still parked, and he was nowhere to be seen. The poor man had fallen down into his well, and of course was trapped, and drowned. His mower was seen nearby, and apparently, he'd tripped back and fallen in. It was an awful, tragic end to a life, and I've never forgotten what happened.

I heard that there is some sort of syndrome where, like vertigo, one is drawn to experience serious circumstances - a good chum even had to have counselling, because he once felt something about jumping off escalators, and indeed, nearly did at Guangzhou airport! Another time, we were on holiday in Bedfordshire, and sitting in the garden of a pub close to the airship hangars at Cardington. There was one up in the sky, tethered nearby, and the same sort of feeling happened! I nearly didn't finish my  pint!

So, just to say, if anyone notices a dearth of posts over the next week or so, you'll know I ran out of decking...

Friday, 9 July 2021

Wasn't she a lucky dog...

Our local Tesco, with the gorgeous Shirley, Anita and Mary getting my corpuscles up to break-neck speed, had these on offer a few weeks ago...

I bought the lot and JRT has just started on the last packet!

They're a Polish smoked sausage, and actually taste quite nice, so why cannot our best chum have a treat as well?

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Funk to 'eh what...


Elder Daught has lent me the three seies of this fabulous programme, and I have just loved it all!

We were also afficionados of 'Life on Mars' as well, and she bought me that series for my birthday last year, but this 'sequel has been great fun and hugely watchable!

I have had to watch the final episode four times, and still have some queries, so it may be a very, very long phone discussion tonight...

W.M., if you see this, get a few more shillings for the meter will you.;0)

Monday, 28 June 2021

Bicyclism emerges as a religion...

There was uproar at the start of the Sodden Prickney Parish Council meeting held in the spacious, but empty, new sports emporium, just along from Aldi, on Thursday last week. To maintain social distancing, all members sat on chairs 6'0" apart, around the outside of the half-acre £3.5million Splenderama, shouting at each other continuously, or using tin cans and string to communicate.

The Member for Drains and Waste, Cllr Basil Kalshnikov, surprised the meeting with a sudden shriek of pain, followed by a whimper of agony as a bonus, as it had emerged during the day, that he had received a serious cranial contusion from his squeeze, Ms Edwina Baggage. It emerged that while he had been grasping Ms Baggage in the broom cupboard - a regular occurence, a small urchin from the local orphanage had popped his head round the door, and taken several pictures of the amorous embrace with an iPhone the size of a television set! Ms Baggage has been an exponent of Bicyclism for many years, and has made her religion well known to just about every red-blooded gentleman in the village, and nearby townships,who earns more that £30,000.

The Chairman, Cllr Ron Groat, decided to hold an enquiry into the incident, and called for a vote. The commotion began to reach a crescendo, when all twenty-seven members demanded copies of the photographs, and without consulting the Chairman, the Secretary, Miss Amelia Newt, forwarded the said pictures to everyone's mobile phone. She hadn't realised, in her disturbed state of eight vodka-tonics, that the list of members included a member of the press, Gina Lollalollers, who also had a second cousin who 'worked' an autocue-reader on the local BBC radio.

The commotion decibel count increased as Cllr Norman Wibble screamed that he thought he was the only member allowed to use the broom cupboard for such purposes, and demanded an adjunct to the enquiry. Matters were made worse when thirteen more councillors also began to express dismay, as they also thought that Ms Baggage had confined her lust to their sole presence! One councillor was in fact Ms Cynthia Molestrangler, who had been forced to use an even smaller broom cupboard in the old council offices near Tesco, which were pulled down for the 564,000 s.f. retail extravaganza all those years ago. But she maintained that she had never realised that both of them had been in there at the same time as someone had pinched the light bulb!

After several hours of constant yelling, cries of 'sod everybody', mainly from Cllr Kalashnikov, who was Polish once, the lights all went out in the normal 10.00pm power cut, and only the ocasional grunt from any councillor who had missed out on the opportunity for more action with Ms Baggage, was heard in the gloom of the dull, wet, June evening.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Birdsong and 'The Supernatural Anaesthetist'...

Elder Daught (ED), came up with an interesting theory over the weekend.

I asked her why I keep hearing - in my head - the seminal song from 'The Lamb lies down on Broadway', 'The Supernatural Anaesthetist'!

Now ED knows a fair bit about this fabulous album; she actually made a professional study/programme about the story, while at college, and that was from a copy of a copy of a tired old cassette tape I had given her! I still love the introduction chords, and still can't play them like Steve Hackett...

But she suggested that the 'earworm' I am getting constantly, is because of Summer birdsong! Now this is interesting, because around here at any rate, the birdsong about now is terrific, with young birds and exhausted parents (feathered), rushing about everywhere, and she may well be right! But I've yet to identify which bird it it's coming from, so may have to ask Bill Oddie!

An interesting take on all this, is that from December onwards, the earworm is in fact a short guitar riff by Sparks, around 60 seconds in...

It's a Coaltit!


Monday, 14 June 2021

Go - Brillo...

GB News                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
What a great new place to go for unbiased news!


When so many citizens in Great Britain are just fed up with most of the dross the BBC is churning out - paid for by the iniquitous TV tax, it was bound to happen that a proper alternative would arrive sooner or later, and here it is!

The website is on 'favourites' chez Scrobs, and will be the normal spot for unfaked news from now on!

Go Brillo et al!

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Strawberry Fields forever...

The other night, somewhat sleepless but looking forward to the day ahead, Scrobs turned on a small wireless and caught one of the most enlightening snippets heard in a long time!

It was Colin Murray having a chat with one of the team at Strawberry Field, where John Lennon used to visit sometimes, and become involved with the place. Sadly, I can't remember the lady in question, but to listen to her kindness, dedication and general humility was moving and enlightening. The site is here.

Back in the 1960s, when I was a surveyor in London, one of our clients was the Salvation Army - or 'Sally-Anne' as we called them, and they really did do some fabulous buildings. Their professional teams were superb,  and we all rather liked the normality and quiet business-like manner of the work. Of course they paid well and promptly too!

Although I've never visited Liverpool, I reckon that the first visit I might make would be to this lovely place - then I'd drive over and buy Thud a huge drink!

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Technicolour yawn...

I think for the first time in many years, Senora O'Blene and I have caught the lurgy associated with a dodgy bottle of wine...

We were given a case of a decent Cotes de Rhone about 18 months ago, and just one bottle remained until yesterday. It seems to have really upset the whole system, and the coincidence is too clear!

Question, do bottles still deteriorate when stood up, and are not left on their sides? This bottle had a real cork, not a screwtop!

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Anyone 'ere know Tony...

Does anyone know what happened to Tuscan Tony, who used to blog in the UK for a few years? I occasionally emailed him back and forth, but never actually met the chap, which was a shame as there was a chance we could have got him interested in an investment deal we had going at the time!

Some good chums here have just up-sticked and gone to live in Tuscany, and while I've never been that far down there, Senora O'Blene and I love Northern Italy more than any other place we've been to on the continent, 

So Tuscs, if you're listening, I hope all is well with you, and I still remember that little bottle of olive oil you sent me as a prize for something or other!

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Incident at Cow Palace...

Keith Moon passed out on stage here, and Pete Townshend asked the crowd if there was a drummer in the house!

Step up Scot Halpin - the rest is history!

Scrobs has known a few drummers in the past, Nick Monnas was a great guy who always considered that drumsticks had to be held in a certain way, and this is certainly the case with Gene Krupa for another one!

The last time I ever took up the sticks was around 1966, at a barn-dance near Rye, so that's well-remembered isn't it!

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Wartime fish...

Scrobs is reading the book about 'Dad's Army', by Graham McCann, as we've been watching the whole series - again, recently.

One of the passages discussed in the book, is where Capt. Mainwaring gets riled at Sergeant Wilson being a member of the golf club, where he had some smoked salmon for lunch, and Mainwaring shrieks that he's been trying to get membership there for years and that he only had a snoek fishcake at 'The British Restaurant' in Walmington-on-sea!

Now, being somewhat inquisitive (even at 10.00pm), I realised I hadn't a clue what 'snoek' was, and imagined it to be some sort of mishmash of plankton, whelks and some sort of vegan slop, so looked it up!

What a great fish it is! It's a delicacy in South Africa, and I hope you won't mind me posting a link to a  fabulous culinary website from a lady who really knows these things! She also gets a lot of the history of the fish into her post, which seems to ring true with our way of life these days!


I've never had snoek - has anyone here?

(I recommend the book too - it's well written, and very informative)!

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The Tea Tray...

Some years ago, Scrobs had an idea...

Skate boards were in their infancy, and while I'd grown up with 'go-carts', (not the powered ones, just the set of pram wheels nailed onto a wooden frame), and had enjoyed hours of immense fun racing down the hills near our home, I'd seen an article about a 'Gyrobus' in a magazine, which sparked something in the Meccano-riddled brain which inhabits this ol' head!

The concept is explained here

I wondered if the principle could be applied to a much smaller piece of equipment, and started to put together some ideas on paper, with absolutely no knowledge of what I was doing at all! Like many young boys, I'd had several of those toys which had a tiny flywheel driving the wheels, so you pushed the car along the floor, let go, and it would travel onwards for a few yards. I loved these models, and cherished their simplicity, as wind-up toys invariably broke when the spring got too tired!

The flywheel concept developed into these sketches...

Again, knowing absolutely nothing about the technology, as this was occurring way before the internet, I still felt that 'The Tea Tray' would work! I reckoned that the flywheel could be made from concrete set in a mould, with small indentations to fill with lead for perfect balance, and the flywheel boss connected to the rear wheels via a belt (not a chain), to drive the thing. 

One would sit on the machine, rather like you would on a small snow-sleigh, and you would start the fly wheel going with a pedal and ratchet. The clutch was a simple release device, which disengaged the axle at the rear with a bicycle brake lever attached to the side. Braking was by virtue of disengaging the flywheel, and sticking one's legs out as one always did on the go cart! If one kept the wheel engaged, going downhill would keep the motion going for longer.

Steering was an issue which was resolved by having a 'v' shaped rocker on the front wheels, so that if one leaned to the right, it would turn the wheels which were built onto a simple rack and pinion system. It all seemed to work - but in this ol' head only!

The Gyrobus didn't last either...

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Used all my options, worked off my dues...

In line with our normal viewing on TV, our total avoidance of the tiresome dross the BBC churns out continues.

Just the other day, Senora O'Blene suggested that we should watch 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' again, as we easily remember it all starting back in the early eighties - and it was ever thus! The first two programmes of the first series are still classics, and hugely enjoyable!

But at some stage, the ferry bits took me back to all those booze-cruises we used to do, and it seems amazing now, that back then, if you joined the Dover Travel Club for a subscription of a few splonders, you could get a return car ticket plus four passengers to Calais for £6.00, with no questions asked!

We used to go over around every six/eight weeks, and our favourite beer at the time was the strong version of Kronenberg 1664 (the white label), as it really did pack a punch! (The modern English version is only OK, but that's neither here or there really, we just don't need the quantity like back then...)! Another joy was buying those plastic 'cubis', which held half a gallon of a 'draught' claret or similar, and we'd get the back wheels down quite easily with a few dozen of those little chaps plonked on the rear shelf!

But one trip was a hoot! Scrobs and Co. love gardening, and we're always buying stuff at our favourite garden centre up the road! So we booked the car on the P&O ferry, arrived in good time at the port, and as is the habit of the ferry boys, you join a queue and they get you aboard with hardly any concern about your time slot ! We'd usually buy a Club Class ticket to go up top, as you got a couple of glasses of bubbly, coffee and a free paper, plus a few bits and pieces, and it kept you away from the cattle class below! For another £6.00 a head it was a good deal!

There used to be some terrible French outlets back then, some even flogging stuff from road containers, and for tobacco addicts, a further trip into Belgium saved a lot more duty as well, but as we'd shed that habit long before, it was the 'Call of Le Caves', and we had one particular favourite...

Staggering out with two trollies, fully topped up with about £150.00 a load, Scrobs opened the boot! There nestling inside, as clean as a whistle, was the whole summer supply of compost, neatly arranged in plastic bags, and taking up all the space!

With a long prayer to the Goddess of Axles and Differentials, we still managed to get the whole lot stashed away, but I do remember Senora O'Blene having to sit with her knees up at dashboard level and that driving over that small eigth-inch lip on the ferry ramp needed a nervous double-de-clutch into first gear - just to be on the safe side...

Tuesday, 20 April 2021


A dear, close neighbour will be moving away from here in a month or so. She is getting on in years, and has struggled a bit since her husband died a couple of years ago. She had to get over a disgraceful burglary last year, and now has a distinct fear for her future in her delightful cottage, as her diagnosis of dementia (over the bloody phone, for God's sake), has made her need more help than she would ordinarily wish for.

Her three sons all live in other parts of the country, all in the South, so she is looking at a retirement village complex where she will have security, friendship from close neighbours, a church and above all, someone to keep a closer eye on her. She'll be near one of the sons, who lives roughly in the middle of the three, so she'll see her grandchildren more often as well. 

Just yesterday, Senora O'Blene and Scrobs were partaking of a post-prandial tincture, and discussing what they'd do under the circumstances. The upshot is that we are firmly in the 'remain' camp here, as we have lived here for thirty-two years, and in the village for another twelve before that, so at last, we think we're accepted!

When we were first married, we lived in a flat in Hastings, as we both worked of course. When the children came along, we moved to a farm cottage way out in the countryside, and then finished up here, so that wasn't very adventurous, but it suited us well. My company actually wanted me to move nearer to London, but that was never on the cards, and they backed down immediately after a serious telephone call!

Senora O'Blene had spent much of her childhood in various forces accommodation, and is always of the opinion that she will damn well stay in one place from now on, and I feel the same! There was an uncomfortable time several years ago when Brown and Blair were bankrupting the country and also my company, which meant we might have to move, but we got over that, and the latest idea is that we're thinking we'll use what space we have at 'The Turrets', which is a decent space for a state of the art shower, and possibly a stair lift! (We don't need either - yet...)!

We know so many people who have decided to up-sticks every few years, gone to far-off places, sometimes hated it and returned, or became distant Christmas card addresses. A good chum is caught up in an immoveable property chain where he is desperate to move back to his roots area, and cannot, while another mate just decided to move the family two-hundred miles away, almost on a whim! My dear sister moved away some years ago, but at least we can chat over the phone occasionally!

So it's another thirty odd years of these tulips and bluebells, which have come out every year we have been here, they're persistent little chaps, and possibly about my age...

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

'That'll eat well...'


About forty years ago, the Scrobs Family moved to their first house in our village. It wasn't a huge place, but was semi-detached, had a decent garden, and, because it had been 'unattended' for several years, needed some desperate TLC.

Of course, it was a labour of love; the girls were still quite small; I would be up in London most days, and we worked our socks off each evening to decorate, mend, build and tincturise as we've always done before and afterwards!

When we'd moved here, Senora O'Blene knew more of the village than I did, as she'd worked as a teacher here for some time, and had lived in various 'digs' locally. We just loved the place. It was in a quiet lane, the car was safe outside, and we could just afford the mortgage, so all was well.

After a few days, we started to venture forth to visit the various local shops, as we were in need of such items as bread, ham, beer etc. The first place we went to, was rather quaint. It was the local butcher, and being somewhat suspicious of 'country' shops, I wasn't over-happy about going there, but as they were near neighbours, I entered the shop with nerves a-tingling...

How wrong could I have been! The family there were an absolute delight! We got to know them all personally, and whenever I went in for the Sunday joint, David (the butcher), would wink and suggest a beef cut, which he 'knew', would meet our money, and the one I best remember, was a 'Leg of mutton', joint. It is as the pic above, and while it definitely isn't 'yer actual' sirloin or fillet, it was a fabulous joint to roast and carve!

One abiding memory of David was his habit slapping his huge knife down on the joint while he called to his wife, Margaret, who sat in a glass cupboard nearby and took the money, 'That'll eat well'! We knew he always gave us a discount, as the price list above the chopping blocks was totally incoherent!

We miss him dreadfully...

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Is that sacred music?...

Scrobs is interested to read that Vaughan Williams' 'The Lark Ascending', has been voted by Classic FM, as the most popular piece of music played here.

I'm not surprised, as it is indeed a beautiful masterpiece, and such a lovely way to use a few spare minutes to hear the joy of aliveness and country.

Ralph Vaughan Williams has for most of my life, been a favourite composer because one day, I was in the car with my dad, and a bit of 'The Sea Symphony' came on, and we were both lost for words! We talked about the music for ages afterwards, and I bought him the record at the following Christmas. I just love the whole lot of it, from start to finish, and because the record he had was this version, I always preferred the soloists' ways of putting the music across!

In the Classic FM list, are several other pieces which are favourites, and quite rightly played regularly because people like them. A sure way to get interest is to pop in a few 'In Paradisums', and of course, everyone knows and loves the Gabriel Faure version, and so do I. My dad was actually listening to this one November night and it was some sort of premonition for him as he had a heart attack a few minutes afterwards, and was very poorly for a few weeks, but recovered to get a good Christmas party going a bit later!

I don't really rate some of the very modern versions of 'In Paradisum', some of which are mentioned by Classic FM, as anyone can knock out few notes on Garage Band and get a result, but as it's twenty-eight years today since we finally said goodbye to the old chap, I'd like to copy my absolute favourite composition of 'In Paradisum'. It is by Maurice Durufle, and to me, is the most thoughtful, meaningful, hopeful composition I think I've ever heard, with a final few notes which are as exquisite as you'll ever hear!

(I'm in several comments on the post too, but don't let that put you off)!

And to enlighten you on the title of the post, some (many years) time ago, at school, a friend was learning to play the organ. He was pretty good, and as I've always loved keyboards in some shape or form, but been pretty useless at making them work well, I used to sit with him and turn the pages. On one occasion, the chapel was empty, and WDW was banging away at his practice pieces, and then drifted off into 'Hearts of Oak', which received an immediate ticking-off from the Chaplain, who poked his head round the door and enquired in his lovely, stern, Welsh ring 'Is that sacred music'? which reduced my friend to all sorts of emotions - mainly laughter, but much later on!

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Ha ha ha - funny...

Man gets sent to prison, come the first meal break some one says "142" and everybody laughs.  Soon after, another bloke says "19" and everybody laughs again. 

This goes on for a while and the new inmate turns to the man beside him and says "What's going on?  Why is everybody laughing at numbers?"

His fellow inmate says "Oh that?  They're jokes.  It's just that we've all been her so long that we numbered them instead of telling the whole thing to save time."

"Oh, right.  Would anybody mind if I joined in?"

"No not all.  Go right ahead".

So our friend takes a deep breath and says "259".  To his great surprise, the whole table falls about laughing harder than ever. 

So he says "Well, that went down well".

"Yes" came the reply.  "We hadn't heard that one before..."


Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Paint your wagon...

Over the recent years, Scrobs has hankered after a three-wheel car!

The interest started in the 1990s when I went to an OB's event and a chum had renovated a Morgan 3 wheeler to immaculate condition. I'd often researched the mechanical attributes of a chain-driven rear wheel, which was an appreciation of all the power from the for'ard engine going straight to one source of traction on the road surface, and making such a direct and forceful connection for a relatively small engine.

Some years ago, The Daily Telegraph ran an article on a gentleman by the name of Bob Curl. Bob had been a 'driving force' in car design and manufacture in his earlier years. and if you have a subscription, it's here!

One small line jumped out, as I realised I knew exactly where he was making these cars, as it was my home village a few miles from here! After little thought, I sent off an email to the DT, expecting very little, but a short while after, the phone rang, and there was the great man chatting away to a very bewildered Scrobs!The car was still in its early stages, and a recent fall-out with Piaggio meant that he wouldn't be able to acquire the 200cc engines he wanted for his design! Of course, I didn't have the wherewithal to help fund anything like this, as... 

  1. I didn't have any spare cash, and 
  2. An old friend had told me a story of a chap who'd sold a lucrative estate agency business for squillions and wasted the lot on a failed Formula Three ownership disaster.
We had a lovely long chat and Bob even offered me a drive, but I was still in two minds, but because it didn't seem right that I should swanee all over the county while we were nearly penniless, due to the disastrous Gordon Brown policies of ruining our country, I sadly had to pass up the offer.

I read recently that he is seeking ways to make the Dolphin concept car an electric machine, and THAT  would be a huge boost to a great-looking car! And then I WILL take him up on his offer, as I can just get there and back on my electric bike...

More info below by 'Maxmatic' ...

Dolphin, 2000

Andrew G. of Newcastle Upon Tyne sent me notice of this interesting trike, along with the text of an article from the February 2000 edition of CAR Magazine introducing it. (See below.) Google doesn't find anything on it anymore. Woe.

Title: STUDLY DUCKING [Nope, I don't understand that either]

Sub-title: You'll raise smiles rather than scowls with the Dolphin, a
105mpg car that won't hold up traffic.

>From the front it looks like something you'd find chocolate buttons inside
on Easter Sunday (that eye-searing yellow, incidentally, is the same paint
code used for Ferraris and TVRs). But take a look at that profile. It's
streamlined, like a Spitfire canopy grafted onto a Fiat Barchetta, or even
a Porsche that someone left on an element.

It's the Dolphin and it does 105mpg and 65mpg. Okay, it's often hard to
know how seriously to take these enviro-hero cars. Usually it's quite safe
to deposit them in the wicker rare-groove file. Aside from its quite sporty
looks, however, the Dolphin has a real design pedigree. It's the work of
Bob Curl, who - together with McLaren F1 mastermind and CAR columnist
Gordon Murray - was responsible for the 1992 Rocket (150mph and 35mpg).
Curl has also designed F3 and Le Mans cars - the 1982 Dome car and 1978 I
Bec entrant - and all Lord Hesketh's Formula One cars between 1973 and

Nine years ago, Curl started thinking about what advantages the streamlined
technology used for racing cars could bring to a fuel-efficient personal
transport vehicle, and how to pitch it so it would sell. 'The secret of
these sorts of cars is that you have to want to get into them to have a
go,' Curl says. 'And, once you're in and driving it, you shouldn't feel
like you're holding people up.'

The former was the reason behind the striking blue interior. It actually
seats two, with the rear passenger's legs going either side of the driver's
seat. It IS attractive and, weighing 215kg, quite quick enough with its
200cc two-stroke Piaggio scooter engine. The steering is pin-sharp and even
the four-speed manual gearbox is enjoyable slotty. There's no reverse, but
Curl says that would be corrected for production versions.

It's a lot of fun to drive, and the one-wheeled rear end is surprisingly
stable, although it'll entertain with a bit of speed up and some lock on.

Ready for the road, Curl says it would sell for between GBP 3000 and 5000
[USD 4800 and 8000] and cost about GBP 1000 [USD 1600] per year to run.


(For more information, call Bob Curl on +44 1424 882 358)


(Copied with thanks to Maxmatic https://www.maxmatic.com/threes/rtw_index.htm).

(...and apologies for the formatting, there's only so much an ageing Scrobs can do to get the colours right - it's bad enough working in the dark in black and white...)!

Thursday, 18 March 2021

D-d-d-don't p-p-p-panic...

As chums here know, Senora O'Blene and I very rarely watch any live television, especially the awful BBC, and we haven't been 'swayed' by any adverts on the other channels either!

Comedy seems just about dead nowadays, with reliance on government-bashing, 'wet' ideas, weak, unfunny, rude delivery and general acceptance of bad manners and needless violence, so our shelves of DVDs have doubled in the last year!

The latest collection is the whole set of 'Dad's Army', with the original cast of course, and we started at the beginning, which is in black and white! The humour is still as fresh today as it was all those years ago! Last evening's showing was 'The armoured might of Lance Corporal Jones', and the scene of Jonesy with Private Walker, in the butcher's freezer discussing petrol coupons, caused total loss of vision and aching sides from absolute joy at the hugely funny excerpt, which is at around 10.50 on this clip!


Most citizens here will have watched this at some stage, but the short piece is still as hilarious now as it always was!

(Many thanks to Daily Motion for this clip  - may more people subscribe)!

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Lazy river...


It's almost exactly sixty years since this song was so popular!

A young Scrobs was heading west to a new school, already homesick, and this song kept coming on the wireless about now...

I found myself whistling the tune the other day, and didn't put two and two together for a while so I suppose it's the combination of a little more daylight, daffodils, fresher air and the possibility of all this covid stuff nearing its end, which reminds me of back then!

I didn't know that Bobby Darin was only thirty-seven when he died; he was a fabulous singer, and seeing his notes, a superb instrumentalist as well! One of his backing band was Roger McGuinn, who founded The Byrds, who are another band I doted on in later years!

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

'Woof'; 'sod off', 'WOOF'; ouch...

I am barkless...!

...and here's another I was sent earlier!

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Battle of Wounded Knee...


Scrobs was going to do another musical post next, but time at a desk has been reduced as the knee is hurting more than somewhat!

It's no real big thing, but the smallest jobs take a lot more thinking don't they, so as it's on the mend, I'll start again!

I was going to make some reference to the real Massacre at Wounded Knee, but reading the Wikipedia section has further affected my dislike for the way that so many Indians were treated back then, (see Scrobs Passim - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_Massacre the illustration seems to have gone, but it's just a stock pic so not important), and my fat joint is not worthy of a comparison!

But anyway, the dog's been walked, the fire cleared and all is on the mend as expected!

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Chapel in the valley...

Back in 1965, a teenaged Scrobs was on a short holiday with his family in Wales, and we stayed in a converted chapel miles away from anywhere! It really was very bleak, and why such a fervent place of worship should be so far from the flock it was meant to administer, I've never understood! But anyway, I remember it clearly as quite a pleasant place, and incredibly quiet and peaceful.

My dad took a few photos, and when we cleared out their house back in the nineties, I kept them, as one does!

The tree line to the left is actually the River Severn, but merely a stream at that point!

Dad's Vauxhall VX490 TDY 175 parked further along.

Scrobs at seventeen...

It had a huge fireplace, and my mum had come equipped with several packets of John Player Mild fags, and dad had brought several of the new style Ind Coope beer cans - the sort you opened with a sort of triangular spanner! So all was well with the world!

Scrobs back then carried fewer ounces of course, and that was possibly going to change, but of course, he didn't know that back then, fifty-five years ago...

But...I could never remember the address of the place! I knew roughly the area (most of South Wales), and that was it!

Fast forward to the recent lockdown times - Scrobs is in the roof, clearing some of the usual dross which has accumulated over the years, and his old writing case appears from nowhere! A quick shufti through the contents brought forward some old letters, and lo and behold, a couple of these missives were from a certain holiday home to the west of Llanidloes! An internet search, however, came to nought, and I spent ages poking around country lanes, 'driving' past all sorts of barren landscapes, and getting nowhere!

Cue a chum here, Mr MC, (Morbid Curiosity - on the right), who immediately found a list of all the redundant chapels in Wales, and their locations! Superb deduction!

The rest is history, and here is the exact chapel, modified a bit around the front door, and clearly a happy home in the hills for someone who treasures such idyllic surroundings!