Sunday, December 30, 2007

That's Sir to you...

Today is my 74th birthday. This makes me older than my mother. Happy birthday to me.

I haven't been able to say anything until now but I was lucky enough to be rewarded in the New Year's Honours List. I am now KGOQSC (Knight Grand Order Queen's Shower Curtain). This little-known but relatively modern order dates back to Ramsay MacDonald's first audience with George V in 1923 when the first Labour Prime Minister inadvertently took a wrong turn into a public washroom believing it to be an ante-room to the royal apartments. Having been insufficiently briefed on the correct protocol, the premier waited for 15 minutes believing His Majesty to be the other side of a drawn gilded curtain. The word "Golden" was removed from the honour in 1983 after the Duke of Edinburgh made an inappropriate comment during an award ceremony in 1982. It is awarded in recognition of a lifetime spent waiting for something to happen without complaint. I shall bear the honour with pride.

I was given a fiendishly difficult puzzle by my sister. On the side of the box is the following legend:

Work it out.


Nobody worked it out. How can there be any incorrect solutions, let alone 250,000 (or even 250.000). Surely any solution to a puzzle is, by definition, correct.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Good Christmas Jobs

As all good followers of these pages know, I am currently staying with my parents. This location is pretty rural and, as with all such locations there is an ever present threat of property redistribution, with the protagonists being neither of the Robin of Loxley nor Marxist-Leninist bent. In an effort to steal a march on these n'er do wells, Dad has installed several security devices, the most efficient of which is an ever-on hi-tec listening device, much like Jack Duckworth employed to keep a check on the ailing Vera while he had a bevvy in the Rovers. One end of it is somewhere outside, the other in their bedroom, from where the machine-guns can be remotely controlled.

Usually someone wakes up to the sound of divers wild animals scrabbling around on the drive killing something. This morning the alarm was a rhythmic crunch as somebody strode purposefully up the drive at about 2.30am. All the lights were activated and a very short while after Mum stuck her head out from their bedroom window and asked a man walking up the road what his business was. "Southern Water" he said, shining his torch on his hi-viz and waving his paperwork. "OK. Merry Christmas."

A little over 20 years ago main drainage was installed along this road, with part of the route being through the three fields that make up this property. There's a vent, a valve and a sump here and occasionally a visit from the water board is necessary to check their equipment and they can arrive at any time. Even so, when he re-appeared at 10.30 this morning it was a trifle surprising. I went out and asked him whether he'd like a coffee and what the problem was. He told me that the vacuum system was losing pressure and that the fault was somewhere along our section of roughly about 3/4 mile. It would only take him 2 minutes to fix it but he couldn't find it an he'd been walking the route since 12.30 am. Of course, you can imagine what would happen if he'd been unable to locate the fault. Luckily, the only standing water around here today has arrived in a descending fashion rather than the opposite.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What I want from Santa

Above all else, amid all the strife of modern living, the constant stream of bad news from around the world, the spectre of a fearsome never-ending debt, a shit job, dealing with foreign call centres, global warming, boredom, depression, things that don't work very well, BSkyB and any other modern day plague you can think of, the gift that would make all these things easier to bear would be the singular ability to eat a tremendous amount of Maynards Wine Gums without going into sugar shock, my teeth dissolving or wanting to walk on the ceiling. Simple pleasures. Actually there is something else but let's not get too sentimental.

Whatever you chose to celebrate at this time of year, may it be happy and peaceful.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

National Treasure

Tonight sees the last ever Parkinson show. Students of the chatshow genre will mourn the passing of what used to be the only genuine talk show left on the telly. Not before time in my view as he'd become exactly what he hated. The reason he moved to ITV wasn't because of the money as he's as rich as Croesus but because the BBC were putting him on after Match of the Day and he couldn't stand being on the plugging circuit. He always said he let the guests run the show but recently, and despite most guests saying that they still feel they've made it by being on, the major topics revolved around a latest film, book or record. And my Mum, who loves him, complains because she's invariably fallen asleep on the couch while waiting up for the show to start. Everyone has their own favourite Parky moments and these are my personal highlights of over 35 years of watching the nation's favourite:

1 - The fight with Russell Harty after Russell touched Parky's knee. They never made up.

2 - Mao Tse-Tung doing a hilarious softshoe with Lauren Bacall to "Cheek to Cheek". What a mover!

3 - John Lennon breaking down and admitting that it was actually Ringo who wrote all his stuff.

4 - Princess Anne desperately trying to hide her raging drunkenness but still managing to call Parky a northern tosser.

5 - Tony Benn and Robert Mitchum discovering a mutual love for poteen and naturist holidays.

6 - Pam Ayres admitting she'd once auditioned for the Raymond Revuebar

7 - Parky's clipboard sliding off his lap to reveal a more than embarrassing bulge while discussing Don't Look Now with Julie Christie.

He'll be greatly missed.