Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Hospital corners...


Back in the old school days, one of the first tasks a small chap had to learn, was how to make his own bed.

Up to then, Mothers used to make beds at home, deal with the untidiness etc., and generally make the bedroom tidier than an eleven-year-old would leave it, so it was a bit of a shock to be told how to make my bed on the first morning away from home!

Apart from disentangling various sheets and blankets, rugs and sometimes slippers, socks etc., the job was a necessity, as the tidiest dormitory each term was rewarded with a special tea - including sanwiches made with the delicacy if the year, sandwich spread!

So the Hospital Corner was geometrically engineered to the Nth degree, with an angle of exactly 45 degrees at each bottom corner. The counterpane, (Bill Bryson's nemesis), was then left to hang loosely along each side of the bed, until it reached the pillow, where it was folded neatly down.

This ritual stayed with us all in each dormitory for several years, until emigration to another place at thirteen years of age meant that all those skills were lost forever, as the new regime demanded a full side tuck-in, and the elegance was lost forever!

 

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Grieve...

 


So how do you grieve?

Senora O'Blene and I were just discussing this. One needs to grieve a real person's passing, but without the dross of all the hangers-on being exemplified by the awful BBC and other channels.

We don't need to hear about what the peripherals get up to, our late Queen is the star of the show!

We wonder where her statue will be situated? Outside Buck House maybe?


Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Rain at last...


Remarkable likeness to Ron Groat...

 

Friday, 2 September 2022

Old Nick on the grasp...


It's been quite a good year for blackberries, despite the hot weather and very little rain, and I've picked around six pounds and they're being carefully fermented in the time-honoured way!

There is a downside to these 'profits a prendre', as on the first foray into a new area covered in brambles, I crashed my bike on the rough track, and received several cuts and bruises for my trouble, but the effort was worth it, and only the mental scars remain...

At the end of the season, the berries start to fade and drop off, and it's the time when my mum used to say, 'The Devil's got them'! So we're about there now!



 

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Tools for comestibles...

 


About this time of year, the hop industry gets into top gear, and arrangements for the harvest are pretty frenetic!

When dad was engineer for a huge hop farm there were several other managers going about their various tasks, and one of these chaps, Ernie G, was in charge of providing everything needed for the various hop-pickers' camps dotted around the countryside, and there was a lot of catering eqipment needed for the hundreds of people who were bringing in the harvest.

Ernie and dad were special friends, and could banter away for ages, and I have an abiding memory of him telling dad that he was currently working on sourcing the 'Crockerware and Cuttleware', which made for much jollity all round!

And he gave me this serviette ring for my christening, so that was a nice thought wasn't it!

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Covers unavailable...


There's some sort of pop festival going on near here, with names of bands I've never heard of, but the kids might have...

After three days, I've only recognised one song, 'Pinball wizard', and that was pretty dire, and it struck me that the sort of music I enjoy is never covered by any of the squealing/yelling lot, as : -

1) I like proper pomp rock played by real pros like Rick Wakeman or Steve Hackett!

and 

2) they couldn't play it or sing it...

As we've had to have the windows open because of the heat, we've had the full nine yards of rubbish, so I can't wait until 8.30 tonight when they all bugger off home.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Hats...

 


Apart from this being a damned good album, the current hat is becoming very useful as the hot weather continues!

My favourite is a straw trilby, which I bought in the US several years ago, and is styled in Australia but manufactired in China - so work that one out!

As the top foliage becomes sparser, a decent 'titfer' is a must these days, but I don't want to think about the tweed winter cap at this moment...

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

All those questions from the committee...

 


So the grilling continues...

Ron Groat and Amelia Newt are in constant battle with the members of the committee, and the pressure just doesn't let up!

Scrobs is reminded of the delicacy shown above, and remembers quite clearly how delicious it all was, especially after six pints of Young's Best Bitter! Nowadays, kids and some odd people choose a kebab or other such stuff which resembles an elephant's leg, to soak up the residue of cheap lager but the West End Grill was just fabulous!

When Liz Truss is crowned, I may well try and emulate the concoction - I tried to do this when Pan Yan Pickle was discontinued, and made up a batch of chutney using the exact proportions shown on the label, but it didn't taste anything like the real thing!

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Battle for the keys to the broom cupboard...

 

So it's official!

The race to become Chairman of Sodden Prickney Parish Council has begun in earnest! In a few week's time, Norman Wibble and Cynthia Molestrangler will know who gets the keys to the village hall, well, in fact so will everyone else, as the final two Councillors in the vote are Ron Groat and Amelia Newt!

It's been a dirty campaign so far, partly due to the lack of cleaners in the village, and Dr Norbert Iodine's dog continuing to bring his collection of fleas into the committee room! But apart from that, the dramatic exit of Edwina Baggage, who played a blinder in the run-up to the debate by appearing in a German uniform and slapping her jackboot with a swagger-stick, and Len Belch, who forgot to turn up for the public debate (attended by seven villagers), with the chairman, PC Lumbersnatch, it looks as though there's a possibility that Basil Kalashnikov will lock himself in the broom-cupboard and refuse to come out!

There is evidence of this, by virtue of an electric bull-horn being attached to the 13amp plug by the water dispenser, through which the standard bellowed recourse of "Sod everybody", will be heard before the door is smashed down by PC Lumbersnatch and his Sergeant, and the offending machine, plus Mr Kalashnikov will be admitted to cell No 4 down at the station!

It's all slightly worrying for the village, as up to now, bugger-all has been done about anything, and if Ron and Ms Newt (Ron's Sunday squeeze) have to battle it out, one of them is certainly going to withdraw those special favours until the next chairman has to be appointed, probably in a few week's time!

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Birthday Honours...



Scrobs has just discovered that his birthday (today) is shared with David Lammy and Nicola Sturgeon, as well as PC Lumbersnatch and Illie Nastase!

I don't mind Brian May as we're exactly the same age and I still wish I could play guitar like he does, and I also wish Simon Cadell was still around as we liked him a lot in 'Hi de Hi'!

Platinum, schlatinum, who cares if you'll never see 74 again...

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Contrivative Condidates...


  • Amelia Newt
  • Cynthia Molestrangler
  • Norman Wibble
  • PC Lumbersnatch
  • Pastor Gilbert Flange
  • Elder Lungeburt
  • Toniatteline Sagtrouser
  • Len Belch
  • Frambreline Gruntrasher
  • Prunella Lunge-Dachsund
  • Brunhilde Gunke
  • Countess Wilbertine-Starkers
  • Nurse Fabriola Cruntstable
  • Lady ffiona Horseperson
  • Wimbert Lump
  • Edwina Baggage
  • Basil Kalashnikov
  • Ron Groat
  • Dr. Norbert Iodine
Hondootedly, the door below will belong to one of the aboves...





Friday, 8 July 2022

Goolies...

 For a regular laugh, we always click on this clip...



It surfaced again only yesterday...

BBC humour was so good back then, useless nowadays of course!

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Robbery assault and battery...



I don't know why, but this track seems to occur every time I get into the shed for some serious 'work'...

I have a tape player Sellotaped to the ceiling, and my collection of favourite music is stored in an old briefcase nearby. This song is still a firm favourite after all these years - Elder Daught bought it for me for Christmas ages ago!

Although there's some confusion as to who played what in the final takes, Bill Bruford and Chester Thompson were still in the arena, and Phil Collins was helping out as well, but his singing was magical!

I love the synthesizer break from 4.10, and wonder if Steve Hacket really did contribute as much, or maybe was sounded out, but he certainly does cut the mustard these days - my doctor saw him a few months ago, and he was just fabulous!

A 'Trick of the Tail' is still a seminal album and deserves a listen from start to finish!





Monday, 20 June 2022

Turning point...

Back in the sixties, when I was living in London, I sometimes got a lift into Westminster with my flatmate,who would drive up Fulham Road at a terrifying rate of knots, and we'd arrive in Buckingham Gate about three minutes later, as he was indeed a speedy driver...

One part of the journey, at the end, has always intrigued me though... His office had an underground car park, and the idea was that he would drive down the ramp at roughly the same speed as he'd been doing on the way in, and hit the bottom with a screech of brakes. 

And then, the car began to turn sideways all on its own! It took me some time to appreciate how all this was happening, as I'd be holding my face in my hands, and had both feet jammed in the front of the foot well!

It was one of these...




There was no effort involved, as the momentum of the car arriving on the plate at around 100mph was enough to twist it so that it was easy to drive off to the right without fiddling about with a three-point turn!

Nifty eh?

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Thought...

 


I was sent this by an old school friend from years ago. I knew his brother much better, as he was the same age as me, and we were in the same form and dormitory, so I suppose that means we always got on well - which we did!

As Scrobs approaches the Platinum Years next month, it seems right to let the writings of others articulate a few sentiments, and for me to do a bit of listening for a change.

Here's the piece: - 

What Will Matter? (by Michael Josephson)

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten
will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought
but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success
but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned
but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity,
compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence
but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.


Tuesday, 7 June 2022

That vote on a knife-edge...

 



As was to be expected, there was uproar at the Extraparochial (don't you mean Extraordinary - Ed), (No I don't, mind your own business - Scrobs) meeting of Sodden Prickney's Council, when Dr Norbert Iodine decided that enough was enough, and Clr Basil Kalashnikov just had to go!

A vote was taken on exactly where Mr Kalashnikov was meant to go, and a secret ballot, witnessed by just about everybody in the village, as it was taken on the hottest day of the year so far, and everyone was out and about, enjoying the sunshine and several tinctures in 'The Bells', showed that there were plenty of suggestions, most of them from Norman Wibble, that indeed, he should go somewhere else, which was particularly unhelpful under the circumstances!

Normally, Ms Edwina Baggage would conduct the ballot count in the cupboard next to the coffee machine, and in close contact with whichever gentleman was ready to avail himself of her presence, (PC Lumbersnatch was the latest, (three times), but on this occasion, Ms Cynthia Molestrangler was not to be outdone, well, undone maybe, but she inserted her largish frame behind the small desk and pronounced that she was 'Bloody well going to count the bastards')!

The vote mainly concluded that Clr Kalashnikov would be given 50 lines, and told to do better next time, and he surprisingly took this as a vote of confidence in his ability to muck everything up, and anyway, he wasn't going to take any notice of the stupid vote anyway!

So, after Miss Newt admitted that she had lost the envelope containing the votes, and PC Lumbersnatch was rushed to hospital with a suspected sprained groin, the decision to pack up and go home was made, and everybody forgot about the issues for the nineteenth time this year!

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Measure for measure...

 


Scrrobs has chatted about pounds and ounces several times now, and the revelation that we might be able to revert to Imperial measures is a great idea!

For years, there's been a whole building-full of government employees and their under-managers, managers, secretaries, cleaners, tea-ladies, light-bulb-changers etc., 'working' away at continuing the dreaded metric system of measurement under the dead hand of some plonker in Brussels, the identification of which I still cannot equate to (or is it with?),!

At last, Joe Public will be able to see how the supermarkets are ripping everyone off with their confusion on vegetables, like so much a kilo, 'each' or still in pounds and ounces!

I for one will cheer the day of reckoning from the rooftops!

And my pint of Shep's 'Old Grumbler' (7.6%) really will become a pint again!

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Here we bloody go again...

All set to bugger up Her Maj's big days...

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Edwina makes vino history...

 



The cultural exchange between Sodden Prickney and the Chilean village of Nargsville, had a shaky start, as Edwina Baggage, in her position as an advocate of Bicyclism, began to expound the base elements of the craft with Dr Norbert Iodine almost as soon as the plane left the runway, and the air hostess had to provide a blanket!

The various receptions given by Senor Shamus O'Blene, (no relation), in Nargsville prompted several impromptu outbursts of the niceties because Ms Cynthia Molestrangler decided to try and espouse the craft under the influence of several bottles of the rough, local wine (above), and nothing was going to stop her!

Councillor Basil Kalashnikov managed to down four bottles of the stuff before collapsing mid 'Sod everybo...' and had to be carried to his boarding house on a door, appropriated from the men's convenience in the village hall.

It was agreed that although the twinning visit was a great idea for cultural acclaim, the bicycling escapades were much more rewarding, and in future, when the Mayor of Nargsville was due to arrive, a special reception was to be provided by first, Miss Amelia Newt, followed by Ms Cynthia Molestrangler, and finally, Edwina Baggage, and a photographer from The Bugle.

Norman Wibble was not consulted.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Last man Standing...




Oh bugger...

Gerry...

Senora O'Blene and I have been immersed in the third or fourth series of 'New Tricks' this week, and to learn of this is so sad!

We remember 'The Sweeny' from a way back, and also bought the set of 'Minder' with just him as 'Arfur's' mate, so tonight we'll raise a glass to a great bloke!

I had a chance to meet him about fifteen years ago, when I was working on an event at a golf club with a few well-known names and also clients of the firm! The day was a hoot, and I can still remember him, sitting at a table on his own with a pint, and he winked as though a chat should be in order, and because I really had to keep the buzz going with the event, all I managed was a wave back and I never made proper contact!

Oh bollocks, I really wish I had...

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Teacher in the cells...



Scrobs had an email recently, from the Secretary of his Old Boys Membership Group at his old school.

It was an obituary for a master, who was a Housemaster when I was there in the sixties, and although he never taught me, of course, I remember him well! He taught maths mainly, but some other peripheral subjects, and also was in charge of the Naval Section of the CCF, so was quite a busy bloke.

I didn't go to the memorial service, as it was a day's drive away, but on reading the eulogy, I was surprised to find out that after retiring, he spent about ten years working with young lads in prisons, to teach them to read and write!

To me, this was an admirable consequence to a life in academia, and I hope that those who managed to learn the basic skills have managed to improve their lives.

I was discussing this with Senora O'Blene, and she, as a retired teacher, mentioned that it must have been an incredibly challenging occupation, as there's a vast difference in teaching young children to read and write, with books and coloured pictures and trying to do the same with adults, who have already become weary with new tech, TV, films and worse.

Of course, I'll never know how he managed to keep all this going, but clearly he managed to get across the basics, and the lads just may have learned that there's a lot more to life than football, fags and a fight!

That's a worthwhile legacy I'd have never even thought about!

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Get yer Cuban 'eels 'ere...

 



Just the other day, the wireless in the car sounded out some spectacular drumming by Bill Bruford, who is one of the best drummers, even the best, I've ever heard! His drums with the main band members of Yes is just fabulous, and I could listen to his playing all day!

Looking at the clip above, one wonders what some of the kids actually thought drumming was way back then, it was a bit 'thick'!

Sandy Nelson's 'Let there be drums' started it all off for Scrobs...


But Tony Meehan's 'See you in my drums' was a classic which I still love...


I won a radio prize for 'knowing ' that solo once, mainly because I spent most nights in 1962 hearing it from the record player downstairs at school...

And I never had a pair of Cuban heels!







Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Potter of the Rings...


So one of the most successful authors of my generation, J.K.Rowling, is left off the BBC's list of influential books to mark our Queen's seventy years on the throne.

"Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV at the BBC said: 'Nineteen years on from the Big Read, the Queen's Platinum Jubilee feels like the perfect opportunity to foreground some of the greatest writing from across the Commonwealth in our Big Jubilee Read. 

The list of 70 books - one for each year of Elizabeth II's reign - is a real opportunity to discover stories from across continents and taking us through the decades, books that we might never have otherwise read, and reading authors whose work deserves a spotlight to be shone on it. 

'It's a really exciting way to share the love of books with readers of all ages, and to give book groups and book borrowers a plethora of great titles to try, borrow, share and discuss.' "

J.K.Rowling has done more to get children and the rest to start reading good stories, and her Harry Potter series - although I don't read that 'sort' of book, took the world by storm! I do devour her Robert Galbraith novels as they are a fabulous read, so like a lot of 'adults', I'm attracted to her style of writing, but to apply a typical BBC dictum (retranswokery), is a disgraceful insult.

She's made many film-makers, publishers, actresses and actors incredibly rich from her novels, but, like a lot of one-hit wonders, the bit parts she gave their first jobs to, just go with the flow, and I'm glad I can't be arsed even to look up their names and what they've 'done' next!

J.R. Tolkien has been treated the same way, and I well remember my dad reading all his stories!

This discrimination is all to be expected from a bloated tax-payer-funded 'broadcaster'!


Monday, 11 April 2022

Salva me...

 


The series 'Shadow of the noose', was a TV series about a barrister, Sir Edward Marshall Hall, and was broadcast in the late nineteen-eighties!

The series was pretty good and dealt with some incredible cases, but the highlight of it all was the theme song, composed by Duncan Browne and sung by Isobel Buchanan. I just love this piece, which is full of the solemn grandeur of the courtroom, and contains so many musical nuances, which some musician might understand - I'm not qualified to, but it is one of my favourite pieces of all time and I adore it!

Sunday, 3 April 2022

The Tosscars...

 



There was uproar at the Sodden Prickney Village Hall last Thursday, when the awards for the most uninteresting citizens of the village were announced.

The prize for Bicyclist of the Decade went, of course, to Ms Edwina Baggage, who has been a keen Bicyclist for some years now. It was always assumed that the school bike sheds were her starting point, and occasionally her finishing point a few minutes later, but local worthies know better than that and point with quivering fingers at the various scratches on the bac...(that's enough - Ed)!

However, when the actual ceremony began, with a trumpet voluntary played by Master Tarquin McBarquin-Madde accompanied by his music teacher, Miss Whelk, Cllr Basil Kalashnikov, the compere of the event, took a sprightly trip up to the stage, and immediately started to tell Essex girl 'jokes', and other unfunny comments about various members of the Committee. Ms Cynthia Molestrangler took exception to the story about her and Mr Norman Wibble at her home the other day as she had just finished the ironing when he had arrived, more than somewhat breathless, and stood staring at the pile of - er - Janet Regers, whereupon Ms Molestrangler aimed a punch at the unfortunate Mr Wibble for even telling everyone what he'd seen, let alone informing The Bugle, and other scurrilous rags!

Mr Wibble then took exception to everyone staring at his bruised face, so he went up to the podium and immediately landed a haymaker on Cllr Basil Kalashnikov, who had hardly started to shriek, 'Sod Everybody', which is his normal opening statement at events such as this!

Pc Lumbersnatch was busily taking notes of the commotion so he could tell the others down the station later, and was unavailable to help Cllr Kalashnikov to his feet, so Miss Amelia Newt and her very special friend and conjugal advisor, Ron Groat, started to administer first aid, with the help of Dr Norbert Iodine and Mrs Trumpet, (Sid's fourth wife this year), and while they applied a small sirloin steak to the injured eye, Ms Baggage rushed on to the stage, grabbed the prize, waved it at everyone, and said in a shrill voice, "Stuff you lot, this is my deserved prize, and I don't give a **** if anyone tries to ****ing take it away from me"!

At this outburst, the organiser of the show, Major Bumme-Whole, decided that enough was enough, and pulled the plug on the stage lighting, thereby plunging the whole area into darkness. The only sounds that could be heard above the shrieks of indignation were the grunts and moans somewhere near where Ms Molestrangler and Master Tarquin McBarquin-Madde were apparently sitting in an unusual stridal pose...

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Stone-cutters and their quirks...

 


Walking with New Dog through the churchyard the other day, not far from 'The Bells', which was closed as it was 7.00 am, it crossed Scrobs' mind that the abundance of stone everywhere, as on graves, the tower, the nave etc, must have beena monumental task when such items were being constructed.

There is one grave where the blargs are convened to a nadger in all four corners, and these are clearly replicated from the widgers which are complacent to the lunges at the perspect of the bell-tower, thus imaging some detail like the worgles on St Pauls!

It always amazes me that flungers and plindles are so relevant to 18th century stone-cutting! A well-known local historian, Dr. Norbert Sorbert-Flange, has managed to collect many examples of the mason's skills, and indexed them in order, from the Ablocidicle to the Zongular pedestal, and well worth a read at some stage preferably a year or so after death!

Meanwhile, New Dog has managed a huge packet up against the tomb of a local farmer, so I'd better continue this discussion when you have less time...

Friday, 18 March 2022

Blue Peter theme by Mike Oldfield...

 


Our family grew up with Blue Peter, when it was put out years before the BBC and others started to ruin most childrens' programmes, and certainly most adult series, so it was a delight when ED told me that the original programme about the making of the new theme by Mike Oldfield, had been published!

Here it is in all its glory!

I've always admired Mike Oldfield, and over the years bought most of his music! To Scrobs he was a perfect example of doing something 'his way', and isn't the result just marvellous!



Friday, 11 March 2022

Lorra lorra steps...

 


A few years ago, Younger Daught and SIL bought me one of these Fitbits, and as a tech addition to my menagerie of stuff, I'm still enjoying the presence of a watch which tells me how far I've walked!

Since New Dog arrived on the scene a few weeks ago, the demands on sturdy walks have become an obsession, and to beat the 10,000 steps a day is an ideal that Scrobs relishes, such that as of a minute ago, I find that today I have walked 7.21 km, burned 2,192 calories, and have walked upstairs 15 times!

I hope the weight drops off soon, as it's a bit tiring...

Friday, 4 March 2022

End of an era and a legacy...



So the title of this erudite, incisive, extremely funny, sometimes sad blog is finally losing its connection to one of the loveliest ladies on television!

In my sadness, I can only post these two pieces from all those years ago - there may be more, but suffice it to say, the idea of trawling through all the comments and posts, is a bit too much for a Scrobs who is fifteen years older than when it all started...

http://scroblene-webley-bullock.blogspot.com/2007/

http://scroblene-webley-bullock.blogspot.com/2008/01/lilith-uncovers-origin-of-scroblene.html

I will battle on, after all, the members of the Neighbours cast are still around, but a hole has appeared in my past and I must be strong...

Thursday, 24 February 2022

The humble Axolotl comes of age...

 


Many years ago, MAD Magazine used to make up manic names for people, issues, etc., and one of them was 'Axolotl'. It was an odd, but funny word in the context of everrything published in the magazine, and was added to a long list of others, some of which are still etched on my memory, like 'Grunch', potrzebie, furshlugginer, Moxie etc!  

Back in the 'nineties, Scrobs was heavily involved in the business networking scenes in London and other cities, where mainly construction and design people could mingle, get to know what work was around, and generally give thousands of pounds to Balls Brothers, Davey's and other wine bars. There were plenty of 'official' clubs for this purpose, like Placemakers, Movers and Shakers, and The Doyle Club, and Scrobs was a member of all of them! It was a great time, especially as expenses were there to be - er - expended, and in fact, a lot of business came my way for my various firms.

But one issue niggled, which was the issue of sending invitations out for a function, getting positive responses, and then getting no-shows. This is very rude and unforgiveable, except in extenuating circumstances like illness etc., so Scrobs started the Order as below!

And for most of the time, it actually worked!

The Noble and Ancient Order of Axolotls

The Noble and Ancient Order of Axolotls is one of the most recent and respected, and now, most important Orders to emerge from the Property, Agency, Consultancy and Construction forum of the last century.

The origins of The Order can even be traced, as far back as 29th May 1997 to a serious meeting of like minded Professional People who solemnly agreed, after much discussion, that they are continually faced with the serious problem of organising functions, and, consequently, once the day in question is being addressed, having to deal with the excruciating dilemma of some of the guests crying off at short notice or not bothering to turn up, even after confirming acceptance of the said invitation.

The Order was created, first, to alleviate the stress, embarrassment, discomfort, loss of privileges and extra cost which ensues from such corporate misconduct, ill-breeding and bad manners, and second, to provide an altruistic method of fulfilling the task of maintaining a full table or making up numbers at any given function, wherever that may be.

The Order is absolutely unique and bears no resemblance to any other organisation, formal or informal. The business of the Order is to improve the lot of Members in their duties to provide full tables and guest lists by which they can further their chosen course of business, either for themselves as individuals or for their employers.

Membership is strictly accorded to those who accept the criteria as set out by the acronym of the noble adopted Scandinavian amphibian –

AXOLOTL

Always Xcluded Or Last On The List

The Membership is restricted to those Members who can be contacted at absolutely minimal notice, and, without any embarrassment whatsoever on behalf of both parties, to discuss filling a place which has suddenly become available because of the potential non-appearance (for undisclosed, pathetic and possibly or probably unwarranted reasons) of a previously invited guest at any business function, in order to make up the numbers and therefore introduce a fulfilling, invigorating, and, (through the eminent quality of the Membership), a far more suitable substitute to take the place of the original invitee.

See Glossary at end of this discourse, for full description of each term (in italics).

Credentials For Membership (or alleviating the Disaster)

Members must have experienced at least two of the following potentially disastrous conditions: -

That, as Hosts, they have suffered the ignominy of being four short at a table for ten and the guest of honour is going to be late and when he/she eventually arrives, slurring feeble excuses, he/she forgets the Member’s name, knocks over the claret and nods off during the speeches.

or

That they have been contacted, at office, home, wine bar or by phone, at any time of the day or night, by a groveling and anxious Caller who has to combine an immediate hesitant, probably garbled, indubitably cringing invitation, with an urgent personal requirement to retain the original numbers on his or her guest list, together with an increasingly implausible and embarrassing explanation as to why the late invitee (Receptor) was not originally wanted or even vaguely considered as the slightest possibility for an invitation in the first place. (Now you see why the Members are Axolotls – good eh?)

or

Members have made all the arrangements for the wrong date and have to fill twenty places by eleven o'clock or lose their deposit and pay for the champagne themselves, with no chance of putting it on expenses.

or

Members have been courteous enough to accept the invitation with good grace and absolutely no display of gloating at the obvious leg-twisting gut-wrenching discomfort of the Host. (Caller )

Further Refinement for Qualification

Admissions to Membership must be resolved, to at least Two Attentive Members, with hand on heart, and after minimal alcoholic sustenance (to avoid bringing the wrong sort of people into the order), in accordance with the following declarations: -

Members have capability for displaying absolutely and unconditionally, no pride in accepting such late invitations (by being the Receptor - see later) in the hope of getting a damn good lunch with loads of drinks and a chance to meet a contact from one of those new multi-national inward-investing type institutions with more dosh than you can shake a stick at.

Members also have to admit that they don't really enjoy drinking pints of warm orange juice and eating boiled grey toast 'canap├ęs' (It's our Chef's special, Sir, sorry, Madam, EAT IT !!!) between the hours of six and ten in the evening, at boring cocktail parties and receptions, but, to maintain the spirit of The Order, they will damn well stick it out on the promise of a decent bottle of Fleurie in Balls Bros or Davy’s the following week, paid for by the Invitee, to make up for the disagreeable nature of the gathering.

or (and this is a good one)

Once an urgent Murmer has been proffered, Members have immediately cancelled a boring and possibly unnecessary business appointment in their Northern office for the same time and day in favour of this more interesting invitation to the races or a champagne opening of an expensive project in the City.

or

Members, after an urgent Murmer have actually turned round at the next motorway intersection to return to London or anywhere within shouting distance, at full speed, to attend the lunch/dinner on offer at the exclusive restaurant. In the latter case, they have retrieved their specially deposited dinner jacket/posh dress from the boot of their car and changed in the hotel loo.

or

Members have angered a business competitor to distraction (not a Founder Member, by God) by turning up at any function at the last minute, wearing a blazer or silly tie (or the Ladies' equivalent), barging in, grabbing two glasses of Moet, and, after being helped across the room, sits next to the Guest of Honour who everyone knows has an enormous contract to place and/or an appointment to confirm by the late afternoon.

or

Members have actually taken a call on their cell phone during a late morning function/business meeting with a boring client, and decided to abort the current display of dreadful futuristic interior designs (with unusual escapist and intellectual visions concomitant with the locale) in favour of a reception at Langans, and you know who will be there....

.......................................................................................................

Finally - Members will never upset other Members for any of the above reasons. All Members should already know the business of other Members eg. In order to avoid sitting at a table where everyone does the same job. If not, ask the Founding Father and Elder Axolotl in Perpetua who will provide the information for a small fee…

Modus Operandi for accomplishing the Invocation of the Spirit of The Noble and Ancient Order of Axolotls

Members have the freedom and right to call (hence the term, The Caller) any other member at any time (even minutes) before a potential Disaster (see above) and which immediately relates to an impending function, with the opening statement (The Fellowship Murmer) as follows:-

"Hello Member." (Pleasantries are allowed but not too many, after all, the Member may not immediately understand the reason for the call for personal reasons, but there again, it may be time for Wimbledon or The Varsity match and you have to be quick at this!) "I invoke the Procedures and Principles of The Noble and Ancient Order of Axolotls and invite you to (such and such event). Are you able to respond?" (The inviting Member (Caller) must not, repeat NOT say 'please' in a wheedling, whining and subservient manner. Groveling and offensive hyperbole is officially unacceptable and will call for several penalties in the customary manner). (see penalties).

To which the newly invited member (The Receptor) immediately replies:-

"I am delighted to accept or unfortunately/sadly have to decline, the kind offer by the Member with due regard to the Spirit and Principles of our Order."

Supplementary statements (not too many, there’s no time now, this is bloody urgent…!) can also be made such as:-

"Let me invoke paragraph (any number) of the credentials/ refinements and ring you back."

or

"Will so and so be there?"

Unhelpful or distressing statements.

Unhelpful, (and therefore extremely unwelcome in the associated moment of severe stress) statements such as "I'm already going with someone else" or "**** off I'm busy" or “Can’t be a**ed” will be frowned upon (The Frown) and of course, such behaviour will be subsequently relayed to other Members like wildfire and will cause grounds for Penalties in the short term or decidedly painful expulsion from The Order after the fourth offence.

Penalties

Non-invokement by the Receptor for pathetic reason - One bottle bought for the Caller by the Receptor. This will be increased if the Receptor continues to disregard the Murmer.

(Note - the Founding Father and Elder Axolotl in Perpetua never attracts penalties - such is the manner and constitution of The Order and this rule cannot be changed! Sorry!)

Real reasons, such as illness, holidays etc, will of course be accepted and will not invoke Penalties. However, the utmost courtesy must still prevail in the subsequent declining statement, and references to sun-filled beaches etc will attract the Frown, and possibly Penalties.

Meetings of Members

Meetings of Members may be called as and when the Founding Father and Elder Axolotl in Perpetua may feel fit to decide. It is his sole prerogative and may even invoke all the Procedures and Principles of The Noble and Ancient Order of Axolotls simultaneously, (try me!) depending on his current state of his mind. Titles attributed to Members are also the sole gift of The Founding Father and cannot ever be challenged or altered. However, in his wisdom, they will never be insulting or unsuitable.

Glossary of Terms associated with The Order.

Member - The Person elevated to the Order by decree, almost certainly scrutinised by the Founding Father and Elder Axolotl in Perpetua. Existing Members can nominate anyone they choose according to the Qualifications above, but remember, No roughs, unpleasant people, ignorant louts etc. This is an organisation for Professional people.

Host – The Member in turmoil. Also acknowledged as Hostess of course – no problem there!

Murmer - The actual request for assistance as described.

Frown - The response when ill-breeding becomes apparent.

Receptor - The Member contacted.


Caller - The Member in distress.

Decline – The act of declining a kind invitation

Penalties - The manner by which Members will be chastised.

Non-invokement - The unacceptable style for refusal of a Member's kind

Invitation. (possibly invoking Penalties)

Spirit - The honest and trustworthy character of the Principles of the Order or a suitably enormous alcoholic drink usually taken after all else fails.

Qualifications – The whole damn reason why we want this!

Principles - The Rules.

Rules - The Principles or a nice eating-house in Covent Garden.

Membership:-

Founding Father and Elder Axolotl in Perpetua. (Scrobs)

Examiner of the Extremities

Keeper of the Excuses

Precursor of the Origins

Sole Worker of the Ingenuity

Senior Accounter of the Pabulum

Creative Master of Contingence

Progenitor of Formality

Embracer of Rationalities

Exciter of the Pheromones

Bicameral Agnate of Primeval Un-fasting

Ithuriel Messenger of recent eons.


(Any resemblance to other simliar organisatios are purely coincidental. The original Members' names have been removed to protect the innocent).















Sunday, 13 February 2022

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Starter for ten...

 


So it's goodbye to the great man!

We used to watch University Challenge with a vengeance every week, and try to beat the students with the General Knowledge, and never did, as they always had just one genius who'd answer everything correctly!

One of our favourite TV comedies was 'Moving story', with Warren Clarke as 'Bamber', and on every trip out in the removal van, the chap, 'Adrenalin' who was always trying to sleep was tasked with asking him questions from Trivial Pursuit. One question was 'Who wrote 20,000 leagues under the sea'! Bamber (Warren), waffled as he always did, and just before being told the answer, asked 'How many leagues'?

And the cameramen had to be pretty quick to pan away from any student who mouthed 'F***' when he got an answer wrong...

RIP...

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Tete-a-tete on 2-2-22...


One of the loveliest times of the year is when these little beauties appear!

Last year, we bought a dozen or so small pots, and I saved the bulbs for this year, and they're just beginning to show outside, but the inside ones on the window sills are well away!

Daffodils are just fabulous harbingers of spring, and I've only just noticed the hedgerows coming to light as well, so all looks good again!