24 April 2007

primaeval grind

On reflection I think the required collective noun should be a 'grind' of gurdies.

The local EHO (environmental health Office) issued no health warnings and imposed no exclusion zone round the city and the whole weekend was a great success on lots of levels.

There is possibly a tendency towards anorakishness amongst the elder statesmen/women of the gurdy affliction but perhaps not much more so than for any other instrument. Anyway, it was nicely balanced by some highly frivolous and hugely enjoyable dancing during the evening concerts.

I drank far too much of this.

Cliff's band stopped with us and seemed totally unfazed by our degree of decorative disorder and domestic chaos and our only regret is that they couldn't stay long enough for us to get stuck into a session with them which we would love to have done. C'est la vie, tant pis, domage, ect ect......maybe next time. If they come round your way then go see them andro the night away. 'Primaeval' = Cliff Stapleton, gurdy: Sunny Davidson, guitar, accordeon, percussion: Jonathan Shoreland, pipes, flutes ect ect.

And best of all....it rained too......fantastic!

20 April 2007


This weekend sees our beloved city hosting the UK's first Hurdy Gurdy festival. That should clear the decks a bit!

I have mixed feelings about the hurdy gurdy because although one of my all time favourite records** is by gilles chabenat (the best gurdy player ever), playing alongside frederick paris (one of the best clarinet players ever), and is a record I have fond memories of rocking ben off to sleep with when he was a babe in arms. That's right, I did say rocking a baby off to sleep to a hurdy gurdy record! Unbelievable no? It IS that good.

On the other hand, and after a while, (gilles excepting), listening to a gurdy can be like having someone slowly saw your neck off with a dado rail. The thought of a (insert preferred collective noun for a bunch of amateur gurdyists), churning away all weekend in my favourite pub may see me having to hack of some limbs and crawl to the door in order to escape.

Anyway, my job this weekend is to finish the wallpapering and put up the dado rail, not saw my neck off with one.

Unlike SWMBO, who is teaching some french dance workshops, I do not have any duties at this festival so I could probably ignore it but for the fact that we are putting up an unknown number of gurdyists in our house. I may be forced to take the air bed up to the allotment shed and hide!

One of them, however, will be the delightful Cliff Stapleton and it will be nice to see him again. Last time he stayed,we spent an entertaining and fairly surreal evening discussing the idiotsyncracies of a bunch of Steiner theatrical types with whom he toured for a while. If I remember rightly, there was much hilarity and drinking of red wine and I swear blind he said he was jacking it all in after that to go and become a spud farmer in New Zealand. Perhaps that's what everyone sais after spending time with Steiner type people.

Talking of allotments, which I wasn't, the ground is so dry now it looks like it does in July/August after a long heatwave; all cracked and parched. I can't remember when we last had a drop of rain here and it will be refreshing when if finally arrives. I've drained all the barrels dry already and we're having to make four or five trips up to water every week.

Maybe I could take all the hudygurdyists up to the allotment pretending it's a workshop venue and there surreptitiously turn all their instruments into serial water pumps which will not only water the garden but entertain the plants as well as driving off any Steinerists lurking locally *sighs* See how green one can be with a little imagination?

*picture of cliff stapleton eating a banana after eating a hurdygurdy which caused flatulence. ~They do that.

De l'Eau et des Amandes (1995)

06 April 2007


So after work I go up to water all the seedlings in the greenhouse and contemplate planting out some of the lettuce in the cold frame. I have to stop because I notice a label stuck into the soil indicating that there might be carrots present. I am dubious but still it is a possibility as SWMBO was up yesterday and might just have planted some carrots in there. I go into the shed and sit on the chair to muse about this possibility and other things. A female blackbird hops on top of the shed door and looks in at me inquisitively. 'Hello', I say, 'what do you want?', and start chatting to her. I tell her all about my day and ask her if she is hungry. She hops down from the door and stands in the entrance to the shed. 'Look,' I say, 'I have nothing for you, all the hobnobs have gone.' She hops up onto a fork and then up onto the potting bench where she is now at eye level a few feet from me and better placed to interpret what this obvious nutter is trying to say. I continue to tell her the list of things we no longer have like cream crackers, bread crumbs, crisps ect ect. She is long and elegant and bright eyed and I think if I was a male blackbird I would fancy her like mad. She turns her head from side to side, evidently listening intently to what I have to say. I love her for this, even my own son will not do this for me. 'Look,' I say, 'the only thing we have that might conceivably interest you are some packets of seeds in the tray up on that top shelf.' She at once flies up to the top shelf and starts rootling around. I begin to wonder if I am speaking the ornithological equivalent of parceltounge. I am so enamoured of her I am prepared to let her peck away at our seed packets. My downfall is that I want to take her picture but the camera is outside in my coat pocket hung up on the greenhouse. 'Look, I'm just going to move a bit and I don't mean you any harm, I'm just going to get the camera and if you don't mind take a picture of you.' I hope the ornytounge is still working. She let's me too and stays on the shelf when I come back in with the camera. Oh, I knew it was a mistake, I would have to raise my arms to bring the camera up to her level to get the picture and it was just a little too threatening for her - sorry. She jumped off and flew out the door but not far away though, looking at me as if to say 'you blew it', as if I didn't know. I hope you'll come back, I'll be looking out for you.

05 April 2007


After work I often sink into a semi-comatose state for an hour or so and yesterday it happened to be while GQT was on the radio. When I came to I could've sworn I heard Bob Flowerpower advising us to dibble a hole and put a pilchard in it prior to planting our sunflowers out. I wasn't sure if I had dreamt this or if it was a product of my sick imagination so this morning I had to go to Radio 4's listen again just to check it out. Seems I didn't dream it and the man really meant it. Waste of a pilchard if you ask me.

Talking of pilchard's,

I got a letter back from Clarence House thanking me for "bringing the plight (of Manor Garden Allotments) to Hrh's attention", written doubtless by a minion and more than likely consigned to the trash recycling bin shortly thereafter.

However, I note with great satisfaction that the matter is now going to court in a legal action supported by Friends of the Earth and that the closure date has been postponed until July and hopefully it will be put off forever and ever and ever, amen.

04 April 2007

april come she will

We fell off the end of our assorted paint brushes, scrapers and plastering trowels long enough to get some serious seed sowing and bed preparation done at last.

It was a joy to be out in the fresh air, tilling this beautiful earth once more instead of breathing in wood dust, paint and varnish fumes.

The end of all that is hopefully not too far off now....well, maybe the end of this month will see it finished.

The seedlings all seem to be thriving and we've potted on all the tomatoes and have started giving them away as I don't see any reasonable way of fitting 60 plants in an 8x6 greenhouse.

01 April 2007


I now realise it is better not to fart while wearing a wetsuit