Thursday, 28 March 2013

100 Things Not To Do Before You Die

(Or do again.) 
(Inspired by my sister's nut loaf recipe.)

The first twenty five:

1.      Make a nut loaf.

2.      Make a nut roast.

3.      Cook nuts in anything other than a stirfry, and then only under very precise circumstances dictated by Kenneth Lo.

4.      Drink Drambuie by the schooner.

5.      Eat tripe.

6.      Eat reduced oysters.

7.      Drink Mateus Rosé by the pint.

8.      Lose the car.

9.      Dream about losing the car.

10.  Drown your sorrows.

11.  Buy any more technology on spec.

12.  Put dead technology in the attic.

13.  Fall asleep during ‘The One Show’.

14.  Stay awake during ‘The One Show’.

15.  Try to grow parsley from seed.

16.  Poke a crumbly cork through the neck into the bottle.

17.  Go to North Africa for a relaxing holiday.

18.  See Naples (except from the sea).

19.  Fail to watch paint dry.

20.  Try to beat the T-reg BMW off the lights.

21.  Drink too much for celebration.

22.  Neglect your strengths.

23.  Walk away from situations without resolving them.

24.  Accidentally eat a whole packet of salted cashew nuts whilst not watching ‘The One Show’.

25.  Vote UKIP.




Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Visible Means of Support

On the Antiques Roadshow, someone had a collection of walking sticks.  They all seemed to be quite valuable, so I dashed out to the hall to check the two I have.  I’m fairly sure they are both worthless in money, but they’ve made me wonder, as seems to happen quite often recently about things, where they came from and what they might really be worth, in history.

The one on the right, I suspect, belonged to my maternal grandfather, Esmond Lloyd Rae.  I remember quite a lot about him, but mostly dating from his latter days when he was stroke- and bedridden, blind, and I had to kiss his stubbly cheek goodnight in his smelly room.  In earlier years he was a jolly music-loving toper who grew raspberries and kept chickens; and he played the violin well, I was often told.  I don’t think I ever heard him play, although can one ever be sure about that kind of thing? – when was the first time you ever heard the sound of a violin? 

That walking stick, with its cool black ebony finish and the firmly functional no-nonsense knob at the top, looks to me exactly like the kind of accessory a proud Yorkshireman called Esmond would brandish on a youthful promenade in Wakefield.  So that’s the imaginary story I’m assigning to that one.
The one on the left intrigues me more.  The handle is carved ivory, and looks as though it’s been well-caressed.  (The carvings round the top are quite worn.)   More importantly, although you can’t see it in the photo, the ferrule bears the inscription ‘F G L’.  Knowing what I do of my family history, the ‘F’ must stand for Frank, and the ‘L’ for Large; but what about the ‘G’?  It could only be George, couldn’t it?  But there isn’t a Frank George Large in the family tree my sister compiled, which took that side back to at least 1840. 

And off goes my imagination again.  I want to see Frank George, in the early 19th century, switching this walking stick around, sauntering along the towpath at Lechlade, just for show.  And I want to know what he was thinking about.

I never will, obviously, so I’ll have to make it up.  Meanwhile, I’ve just recently spotted someone else’s collection of shooting sticks … 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Five questions

Because my concentration levels on anything other than top-of-the-range matters seem to be more depleted than the country’s gas reserves at the moment, no brain reserves left for deeper analysis.  So:

1.      How come Cyprus needs bailing out?  It’s only little.

2.      What’s a ‘reader’, and how come I’ve never wanted one?

3.      How come my local news tells me about snowdrifts in Arran?

4.      Why doesn’t San Marino need bailing out, then?

5.      Why did the man in the VW Polo nearly kill us both this morning in order to get in front of me on the single-lane section of the A4 in order to turn left at the roundabout?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Just join the Club, silly!

“You can’t have one law for members of a club and another for non-members,” a senior executive of a newspaper group is quoted as saying, in connection with the proposed new press regulatory regime, whereby publications that decline to be regulated will be subject, in some instances, to harsher conditions than those who join.  (I simplify, of course.)

Funny, I thought the whole point of joining a club was to gain some benefit.  What else is a Tesco Clubcard for?  (From the holder’s point of view, of course – I’m sure Tesco’s get something out of it too.)  And I wouldn’t expect to be able to just swan into Boodles and help myself to the port without having joined.  But then journalists do tend, like Humpty Dumpty, to use words to suit their own purposes, don’t they?

It rather reminds me of an elderly relative of mine who regularly complains about being referred to some website, because “I’m not on the bloody internet!”  The suggestion that this could easily be remedied simply by joining up is met with no more than a shake of the head.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

goblldyeokoeb, or something

Please rearrange these letters into a meaningful sentence or phrase, or word - or letter even:

'Adaptive behavior is a type of behavior that is used to adjust to another type of behavior or situation. This is often characterized by a kind of behavior that allows an individual to change an unconstructive or disruptive behavior to something more constructive. These behaviors are most often social or personal behaviors. For example a constant repetitive action could be re-focused on something that creates or builds something. In other words the behavior can be adapted to something else.
Maladaptive behavior is a type of behavior that is often used to reduce one's anxiety, but the result is dysfunctional and non-productive. For example, avoiding situations because you have unrealistic fears may initially reduce your anxiety, but it is non-productive in alleviating the actual problem in the long term. Maladaptivity is frequently used as an indicator of abnormality or mental dysfunction, since its assessment is relatively free from subjectivity. However, many behaviors considered moral can be apparently maladaptive, such as dissent or abstinence'

OK, I'll do it for you:


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Fun with Plugholes

Today, nothing original or inspired, because I’m far too occupied with other things for creative thought.  So just a few quotes from the packaging of my brand-new bottle of Plughole Unblocker:

·         New power formula even more effective at dissolving hair and sludge.

·         Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.

·         Do not breathe fumes.

·         Wear protective eyewear, clothing and gloves.

·         If swallowed, rinse mouth.  Do NOT induce vomiting.

·         If in eyes, rinse continuously with water for several minutes.  Immediately call a POISON CENTRE or doctor.

·         Follow us on Facebook for exciting news and competitions.

·         Plugholes need love too.  

Monday, 11 March 2013


I visited a website just now which activated something called, I think, “Anti-Virus Professional”, informed me that various files were corrupted, I had 39 viruses, and invited me to buy their product for a large number of dollars.  Oh yes, and I received warnings that I needed to update Adobe Flash (even though I know I don’t).  And was warned about trojans.

I tried to run BT NetProtect (McAfee) and couldn’t.  I was told to restart my virus protection software!

I shut down the computer and restarted it, and all seems to be well.  McAfee scan gives all clear.

Just thought I’d pass this on.  Looks like a scam to me!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Crossword Poetry, anyone?

Here are some words from today’s Guardian Quick:

 Tale; antiquary; toff; itchy feet; florid; huff; still life; jute; sloppy joe; zephyr; florid; huff; urge; plight; domino; signet; bullfight; Zurich; bête noire; charm; lope …

 Come on, I know you’re out there …  Start with the tale of a florid antiquary with itchy feet who lopes off to Zurich in a huff ...

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Getting Glassed?

Interesting debate about Google’s new product, which will enable us to upload a personal Ego Log (ha!) to Big Brother in exchange for glassfuls of digital Soma (to mix my dystopias).

The worry is that, whereas it’s easy to tell when a smartphone is in use, and hence to evolve a set of behavioural etiquette, no such constraints apply to the Glass.  True, the pilot version is voice activated, but they’ll soon get round that – I bet 2.0 will let you start filming or whatever by rolling your eyes and blinking in a particular way (customisable of course).  Thus you’ll be constantly on the watch, in any social situation, for odd facial tics that might suggest that from now on whatever you do or say will end up on YouTube, and maybe at GCHQ (I exaggerate slightly), and deciding whether to retaliate by going Glass-to-Glass, start acting out of character, or walk away.  In any case, it looks like a conversation killer at the least – and I haven’t even mentioned dancing.

I haven’t seen anything about power supply or battery life yet, but in theory there’s a simple solution: a red light on the front.  This works for many domestic appliances*, and would put the device back into the same place as the phone and the camera.  It would also spoil the fun, though.  In fact it could end up being divisive, with a sub-culture (Glass Class?) of addicts huddled in modern-day equivalents of opium dens, out-glassing each other while the rest of us get on with real life.  Who knows.

One tip though: don’t use it in central Glasgow on a Friday night.  Unless you want to get glassed for real.


*Although on my iron, perversely, the red light goes out when it’s hot.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Number four from yesterday

“Do you have glis glis yet?” I was asked.  “You know, the ones Baron Rothschild brought over?”

“Keep talking,” I replied.  “This is bound to start meaning something eventually.”

When I got home I did some research.  It’s not in Chambers, even under its common name of ‘edible dormouse’, but the internet is less reticent.  These largeish rodents (by dormouse standards) were indeed brought over from Europe by the then Baron Rothschild, in 1902, and installed in his bestiary at Tring Park.  Naturally, they escaped (or were released if you believe the Daily Mail) and since then have apparently been devastating house prices across a 200 square mile of the Home Counties.   Well, you don’t want things that go bump in the night in your attic, do you?  Or that have developed the noteworthy skill of being able to gnaw through electric cables without being electrocuted.

They do have some endearing features though.  Their name, for a start.  ‘Glis glis’ must be one of the few cases of the scientific name being prefeered in the vernacular to the common one.  ‘Edible dormouse’ somehow isn’t very appealing – although they were indeed eaten in large numbers by the ancient Romans, and still are in Slovenia.  Also, they can make a noise like a lawnmower; it doesn’t say what sort, but I’m guessing not a Flymo or a sit-on diesel-engined one.  And best of all, they like to climb up window panes and then slide back down.  Aw!

If you find one, you’re not allowed to kill or release it – they’re a protected species!  You have to call your environmental health agency, who will come and take it away.  God knows what they do with it: hand it over to the present Baron Rothschild, presumably.  Or have it for supper.   

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Five minus Two

1.       I had occasion to be browsing a local paper in South Buckingham yesterday, and came across this headline on page 5: ‘Mystery Aardvark Found Dead’.  Mr Python lives!
2.      Some research has uncovered a totally forgotten track by my old band, Dave Anthony’s Moods, called ‘So Nice’.  It’s weird and, well, weird.  More later, maybe.
3.      The best joke in the Billy Elliot musical [SPOILER, but can’t resist it]: Billy receives his reply from the dancing school and reads the envelope, frowning.  “William Elliot is queer?”  His dad snatches it and reads.  “ESQUIRE!!”
4.      Will be about some strange wee beasties, and
5.      There isn’t a 5. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

What I saw in London yesterday

Well, the main thing was, of course, ‘Billy Elliot – The Musical’, of which more later.  The visit was a Christmas present from my dear relatives L and A.  Last year, seasoned readers may recall, they took me to ‘War Horse’, so my expectations weren’t high, because that show takes some beating.  I’d seen the Billy film, years ago, and cordially disliked it for its simplicity and near-mawkishness; and the music is by Sir Elton, of whom I can’t admit to being the world’s greatest admirer (or even in the top million).

Bessie, the heiress of last year’s satnav Florence, did a better job than her mother.  We were told less often not to turn prematurely off the M4, and she guided us flawlessly through the labyrinths of Knightsbridge (the only Tube station, incidentally, to contain nine consonants in a single word) and Chelsea to Victoria Coach Station.  Entering the car park, I was delighted by the message on the screen of one of the ticket dispensers: “Sorry, This Machine Is Sleeping.”  Also by the platoon of life-sized cut-out construction workers in visibility jackets and hardhats, who guided us across the roads, bearing arrowed placards saying things like “Please wait until you see the green man”, to the Victoria Palace Theatre.

I hadn’t been there before, which isn’t surprising as I’ve only been to about eight West End theatres in my life.  It’s well worth a look, a flamboyant Edwardian excess complete with red velvet and gilded frontages to the dress circle and royal box.  My only criticism is that Edwardian audiences were obviously expected to have narrower bums than us.  (Not a problem for me, but I did observe a few arriving patrons and wondering how exactly they were going to take their seats.)

Anyway, the curtain rose (or rather, didn’t quite: go see), and I was gripped.  I’m not a theatre critic, so let me just say that nearly three hours have never seemed so short.  Here’s my four word review (one of which is a direct quote from the script):  IT IS F*CKING BRILLIANT!