Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I am hugely amused by the following article:

Caine to Release "chill-out" Album

At first I thought Caine was one of those artistes that you only ever hear about on Glastonbury reviews when they talk about the running order for the Toyota Prius Trance Yurt. I envisioned some pasty faced 20 year old with poor communication skills who's spent the last three years in his bedroom in Bristol playing with Apple's GarageBand to produce a Mercury nominated "masterpiece". It's actually Michael Caine. I suspect quite a few of you know that. Each to their own; he knows more about it than I do and why shouldn't he, he's 28 years older than me.

I am now awaiting similar releases. Ruth Kelly's Norwegian Satanic Death Metal Collection perhaps. Lemmy out of Motorhead sings the Internationale maybe. Baroness Thatcher's Best of Toots and The Maytals. I'm sure you have even better ideas.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I was listening to the wireless earlier and heard about this. It has made me very angry indeed. I would hope that these affronts to all that is decent will eventually be corralled and made a public spectacle of. If ITV12 or BShiteB wants the subject matter for a new reality programme, I can't think of anything more satisfying for the general public than the visible slow humiliation of these creatures. The fact that this murder - for that is what it is - happened in the same week that the new Prime Minister stated that the honours system was going to be revamped in favour of those who care selflessly and whose altruism isn't of the calculated kind, is all the more galling. Why do I have to share my planet with these things? I expect they had nothing to do.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I haven't done one of these for ages but since Dave and myself seem to be the only current readers of these pages, the source material has been a little thin on the ground. I am though indebted to the casual browser from Singapore for nearly causing me to choke on my frozen imitation Tunnocks caramel wafer by revealing that he or she arrived by here through me being the world's second-most authority on

what vegetable used as windscreen

It's a little known fact that I am indeed one of the few people to have made academic study of the suitability of leguminous plants and root vegetables as alternatives to toughened glass in motor vehicles. I secured a £17,000 grant from the GLC's alternative vegetable resource unit in 1982 to carry out the study. I conducted extensive research in Lewisham Market and also managed to secure a decent table every Sunday morning in a local research establishment of note, the Fox and Firkin, on which to read the papers write up my findings. I can honestly say that my research was exhaustive; I chose at least two vegetables per week to to assess and of course, SE13 being a haven of multiculturalism even a quarter of a century ago, there was a healthy supply of exotic flora requiring investigation. I have to say that without a doubt, vegetables proved wholly unsuitable to the task although FSO were vaguely interested in installing quarter lights made from runner beans in the Polonez.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Yesterday I was in Middlewich. Today by the magic of the internal combustion engine, I am in Kent. I don't know for how long but it's not going to be a permanent arrangement. The great thing about a peripatetic lifestyle, deliberate or, as in my case not, is that every now and then one comes across something unusual. So, while the gaps between the rivers in the rest of the country were being filled in, my little corner of the kingdom actually experienced summer. It rained before I got up but by the time I came to hang my washing out, it was blazing sunshine. Come 4pm it was positively scorching and I was forced to remove my t-shirt, albeit fleetingly. I even have evidence:

I thought I ought to take even further advantage of the fine weather and go for a stroll. So I did, along the Royal Military Canal. Students of history will know that this is not a canal in the navigation sense. It is a fortification, designed to keep out the expansionist Frenchies in the early part of the 19th century. Yes yes, go on. How was a ditch across the top of the Romney Marsh, itself fringed on the marine side by shallow mud beaches or vicious tidal rips around Dungeness, neither of which would form ideal beacheads, supposed to prevent us from becoming a nation of shrugging Renault drivers with nary a clue about rock music and gravy? Don't ask me. I can only assume it was a cunning plan, the rest of the coastline being rather less hospitable and strongly fortified and 120 sq miles of sparsely populated flatlands quite an invitation to the invader. Achlly, it is quite clever. It's meant as a hindrance, you see. The design, a series of stepped straight lines with no curves meaning there was a clean line of fire along the enemy bank from the opposite side, was a top piece of engineering. No blue on blue here. Obviously it was never tested. More useless triva: Hamstreet, where these pictures were taken and where I went to primary school, was the first place to be mapped by the Ordnance Survey, around the time the canal was built. Not a coincidence, for what is ordnance? Artillery. The things we take for granted.

Nowadays, the canal is nothing more than a semi-stagnant 20 mile pond with a few decent fish in. It also helps to drain the marsh as many of the drainage dykes pump into it. Indeed today, a pumphouse started up and emptied a few thousand gallons into the canal as I passed by. Sadly, the run-off from the copious amounts of dung is presumably responsible for increasing the weed growth in the water to the point where in many places it's actually difficult to see the surface at all. More useless marsh trivia: in some of the dykes one can catch flounder. The canal joins the River Rother at Iden Lock near Rye. The river here is tidal and brackish and bass (not the fish Americans know as bass), grey mullet and flounder, three species of fish known to favour brackish water have all been caught in it and the bottom hugging flounder have occasionally found their way into the dykes that drain into the river.

Look, you can just see my shadow. I am directing the cows further down the canal. I am telling them that if they carry on in that direction they will reach Peasemarsh, where major cow enemy No 1 lives. I am also telling them that they can also shit all over his lawn for releasing "C Moon", a song that briefly made my life a nickname nightmare in 1972. I'm not sure they fully understood so on leaving, I said I would have to eat one of their number as a punishment. It's OK, they're all vegetarians and their packaging is 100% biodegradable.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


It is with very deep regret that I have to announce that myself and the Eclectic Landlady have once again parted company. She is still a very dear friend and will always be a profound influence on my life. That's all you need to know on that score. Except please don't read anything into any over-familiarity that may occur between us in the comments. Your best wishes didn't work last time and there's absolutely no reason why they would this time either.

I am, as they say, currently between homes and consequently between ISPs. I am working on trying to sort something out on that score. This is being posted from the library. I do have access to webmail but goodness knows when I'll get a chance to use that.

So I'll see you when I see you.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Remember all the "old" jokes about Microsoft? You know, the ones like "It's a good job Microsoft don't make cars because every time you used the windscreen wipers you'd have to pull over and start the thing up again." Here:

Saturday, July 07, 2007


This week I have been working. I did some good honest graft for real money. My muscles ached but it was the ache of the just. Even the co-author of Amazon's 969,000th most successful title this week (currently discounted) needs to pay the bills occasionally. Have I been milking cattle? Dry-stone-walling? Building a solar power station? No, I've been sticking little orange labels saying £2.99 onto infant girls' clothing in a warehouse in Winsford. I did the same job two weeks ago (and some order picking as well, your correspondent ending his week walking around with a handful of leopard skin print thongs) and apparently I was so good at it, they wanted me back this week. I'm so honoured.

In fact, they wanted me back to correct the mistakes made two weeks ago by stupid people. Mistakes? Well yes because sadly what was quite the most straightforward and simple task, i.e. getting a box of clothes off a shelf, getting a roll of sticky price reduction labels and sticking one over the bar code on the existing tag as per the very simple verbal instruction and demonstration we were all given, proved to be beyond the mental and physical capacity of the pride of South Cheshire's youth and all 150,000 reductions from the previous week had to be checked and re-reduced.

I know I'm sounding a little self-righteous but I do feel justified. Whereas I, a couple more from my generation plus a few Slovaks and Poles, shut up, accepted our lot, got our heads down and got on with it, the British kids (for very few were over 20) showed everyone why we're so well-respected in the world today. They subjected everyone to a continuous display of their boorish humour, foul language, casual racism and and even more casual sexism. I dare say that a young man's primary objectives haven't changed much over the years but today's young British male seems to be uncannily focussed. All he appears to be able to do is talk about going out and getting wrecked on alcopops or off his head on medicinal herbs. Even more amazingly, all these intentions seem to communicated to his peers solely by using various intonations of the word "fuck".

It would also be easy to blame the large number of foreign nationals or weak English speakers (yes, even weaker than the natives) for the mistakes but on Friday, I was one one of only 3 native English speakers out of a dozen bodies called in at 7 am to rectify the mistakes made on Wednesday and Thursday. I am still struggling to come to terms with how unbelievably stupid some of these people are; unable to perform the most basic and straightforward of tasks, even for money. There comes a point where it's very difficult to make excuses for them.

Maybe I'm being a bit too judgmental on the poor maligned poppets. Maybe it was too boring for them; maybe they wanted a bit more of a challenge out of life. But I was doing it and not complaining (except about my aching arse from sitting on a tote crate all day) and I was doing it for exactly the same reason they were: money. But it seriously begs the question what on earth have we taught our children? Or rather, what haven't we taught them. No respect or pride. No respect for the fact that had they done the task properly in the first place, everything that followed would have had a better chance of working properly.

This was all rather apposite as this week the new government announced a £14million package to help schools teach manners, respect and the kind of social skills I've always assumed were learned in the bosom of the family. But of course, there is no family anymore. Our insatiable desire for disposable stuff and the fear of losing face because someone else's kid has better stuff, has meant the old values of thrift and caution have been sacrificed to the god of easy credit. Easy come, easy go but we'll both be out at work paying for it so grab a pizza out of the freezer and we'll see you at the weekend if we're lucky.

I'll shut up before I sound like a Sunday Express leader.