25 December 2007

Mr Micawber

Mr Micawber, our Muscovy drake is enjoying his Christmas spread while giving thanks that we had goose for ours this year. Oh, I really should become vegetarian again shouldn't I.

Mr Micawber has had an air of sadness about him for a while now; I don't know if this is because his two companions have gone or because his owner has died recently. We comfort him as best we can.

Since I have to be at work tomorrow at 7am I thought I would say a little prayer for all the stressed out people that have to work in the hospitals and the fire stations and the coastguard and the police stations and the DFS and the B and Q and wherever else.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I had to kill today because they got on my nerves. And also, help me to be careful of the toes I step on today as they may be connected to the feet I may have to kiss tomorrow. Help me always to give 100% at work...
12% on Monday
23% on Tuesday
40% on Wednesday
20% on Thursday
and 5% on Friday
And help me to remember...
When I am having a bad day and it seems that people are trying to wind me up, it takes 42 muscles to frown, 28 to smile and only 4 to extend my arm and smack someone in the mouth.

Yuletide Waltz

A Merry Christmas to all who pop in to read my witterings from time to time. I hope you all have a happy and peaceful break from the Grindlestone of daily life.
SWMBO has written a Yuletide Waltz to share and she assures me there is a mistake in the writing out; but I confess I have not played it yet so I've no idea where the mistake is.
I am going to get my own back with a New Year Jig.
I've a mind to cook some porridge for Spiller and Chirpy as a Christmas treat. They love the stuff.

09 December 2007

bit iffy samaritan

The truth about my back injury must be told..........

As I walked through town on the way to work, my eye fell upon one of those unfortunate, homeless vagabonds that are found in every city these days.

Wearing what can only be describes as rags, carrying every worldly possession in two plastic bags, my heart was touched by this person's condition.

Some people turned to stare. Others quickly looked away as if the sight would somehow contaminate them .

Recalling some long ago priest who made an admonition to "care for the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked," I was moved by some powerful inner urge to reach out to this unfortunate person.

Yes, where some people saw only rags, I saw a hidden beauty. A small voice inside my head called out, "Reach out, reach out!"

so I did!

Serves me right I suppose :-(

29 November 2007

back in business?

Haven't posted for a while: all my low back muscles went into meltdown and I couldn't move. I would love to tell you all it was while I was lifting a 3cwt fence section into place up on the allotment but I'd be lying through my fingers. The totally embarrasing truth is that I bent down to pick up a pair of knickers from the washing basket (well, they we're heavy knickers), to put up on the line and WHAM! Total back lockdown and agonising pain. But hey, it only took the Doc 4hrs to arrive so that's allright then. I can sort of move now and even type; you might empathise with the first and regret the second. Who knows? Mmmmm....more Diazepam please.

04 November 2007

Branson Pickle

As promised, here is the evidence that Richard Branson, was/is one of the three wise men and finds himself immortalised in stone on the front portal of the Sagrada Familia.

It should therefore come as no surprise, given his background, that he has grouped his capitalist enterprises under the title of the 'Virgin Group'.

The urn, contrary to popular belief, contains two return tickets to London on the Virgin Pendelino train which, let's face it, as well as providing an exciting tilting experience, costs a crock of gold anyhow. Messiahs go free....up to a point.

02 November 2007

Gaudi's Audi

We decamped to Barcelona for a week and gorged on Gaudi, of which more later. I took this picture to show that his designs owe everything to nature and nothing to supernature; though I suppose if any building in the world was going to convince you of His/Her existence, then the Sagrada Familia might just do the job. We also discovered that Richard Branson is not only a business mogul, but is also a very wise man. I will prove this over the weekend.

18 October 2007

elementary Dr Watson

It is very impertinent and presumtuous of a self-confessed bumpkin to assert that one of the unravellers of the DNA double helix is just a bit thick, but I'm going to.

Now Dr James Watson has once again demonstrated his social ineptness (and had his lecture at the science museum cancelled), for his recent comments (in The Sunday Times) that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

I submit that it is a scientists duty to DEMONSTRATE reality to us regardless of notions of political correctness but Dr Watson here is not demonstrating anything at all; he's just shooting his mouth off (again). He has previously claimed that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would great."

QED. The man's stupid. Come back Holmes. All is forgiven.

17 October 2007

Obe Wan Bacon Butty

Isn't it great? Every day the media comes up with something else I've got to worry about. Now I've got to fret about obesity costing the NHS circa 7 billious pounds now and around 46 billious pounds (is that every year?) in about 40 years or so. A looming catastrophe, I am informed, potentially as great as global warming. Smeg - just when I was beginning to relax a bit too. OK, I know I can gaze gloomily at the digital readout on my bathroom scales which just sais 'to be continued' and yes, I know my body mass index is a bit on the high side but dammit, I am a middle aged man, we are supposed to be a bit pear shaped and anyway, shagging a skeleton (size zero I think they call it), holds no prospect of pneumatic bliss.

Also, my bony readers, when the Atlantic Conveyor turns off the gulf stream and Britains temperature plummets, you will not survive the bitter cold of winter as you will have no reserves of fat to call on and will be unable to make the necessary climatic adaptations required because you will be dead already, and in the meantime, we fatties are getting valuable fitness training carrying an extra 30 pounds of fat around all day long. Ergo, natural selection will kick in, and we will get shorter, fatter and happier. It is well known that fat people are just more smiley, happy go lucky, kinder, more forgiving, relaxed, gentle, better lovers.... and we don't get Anorexia either. It will be clear to my readers by now that I regard allotments as the solution to just about every evil from rap music to global terrorism. So if the govenment would care to throw some of that money my way, I will gladly give up my job sitting in front of a stupid computer in a stupid office all day and go and work up on the allotment more, thus lessening the risk of me making it all the way into the obese category.

I thinks it's called progress or something. I'll pass on that for the time being.

16 October 2007

7 minutes to midnight

Martin Amis (Independant - Fri Oct 12), thinks there is something wrong with the Islamic clock. Of course, we all know to what he refers: that they have become stuck in a Koranic mindset that is antithetical to such wooly notions as freedom, democracy, equal rights, progress etc etc. Their clock has stopped at 00:00, at eternity, the martyrs fast tracked eternity in paradise, the infidels guaranteed eternity in hell.

He has a point but it needs to be taken further. Sure, there is something wrong with the Islamic clock, but it needs to be said that our clock is equally fucked up. Our clock has been hijacked by the corporate AGM, the FT index and the Dow Jones. By the spring sales and the summer sales and the autumn sales. By the 5.9% APR and the DFS sofa on interest free credit (offer ends monday by the way!) and sit on your arse and pay nothing for two years. By the e-mail that demands an instant response. By the celebrites preening their feathers in Heat magazine and by our bad, sad, fat, gadget obsessed, anxious, depressed and over-stressed children who are being tested to death.

My point? My point is that there is (or was anyway), once a natural clock. By it, we felt it time to sow the seed and water it. To tend the delicate seedlings with patience and love and in due course to give them their place in the sun. By it, we felt the pulse of the earth quicken in spring. We watched the birds return from their over wintering, or we felt the chill in the air as we watched them depart again. By it, we plucked the rosy apples and the humble blackberry and roasted the sweet chestnuts over the fire. By it we watched our children damn the stream and climb the tree and romp in the meadow while they worried about precisely nothing.

So Messrs Brown/Bush and Bin Muppet - plough up all yer Guantanamos and yer jihadi suicide training camps and turn them into allotments and lets get the clock ticking again shall we?

Marcus Brigstock sais it better than me and what's more, he's funny too. (scroll down to the u-tube version - priceless)

12 October 2007

big nips

Look at that monster! And it wasn't at all woody. We experimented with making some parsnip chips and it worked sort of allright but you wouldn't want too many of them and they're better roasted really. We also made a parsnip soup....I like lots of pepper on it me.

"Spiller, call security at once! There is a strange man in our shed."

We have harvested the remaining sweetcorn because of the increased risk of frost damage now. Some have gone in the freezer and the rest have gone in our tummies. SWMBO refuses to believe me when I say a cob is ready to eat after only 3 minutes boiling. Will anyone back me up? How long do you boil yours for?

26 September 2007

chez clodhoppers

tonight is sweetcorn, runners, spuds and tomatoes.

The spuds (sante main) were grown in a rubble sack. You just pop the tubers in and pack up with more soil as they grow. I'm not sure it's worth repeating it on an allotment really, but if you're short of space it's not a bad technique.
The corn cobs are just amazingly sweet and delicious though some of them are only 50% formed. These are better at about 90%. We grew a larger stand of them this year and if I had my way I'd give over half a plot to sweetcorn I love it so much.

The tomatoes look so vibrant in the fall sunshine, it's hard to resist just gobbling them up.

19 September 2007

conference season

"As elected spokesperson for the National Union of Chickens (NUC), I must let it be known that our members have voted on composite 419 placed before conference and having passed said resolution am obliged to inform employers that upon the ambient temperature falling below ten celcius between the hours of 5pm and 8am, that all members shall receive not less than 800 extra calories in their rations during the proceeding 24hrs pecking period and that should the employer fail to provide such rations then sisters may lay to rule and ballot members for the consideration of an escalation to full scale industrial action."


Blimey! Tagliatelli........ that will do nicely.

14 September 2007

opportunity box

Ben made this nesting box which I tied up in the tree at the bottom of our garden in early spring this year. I wondered why no little family of blue tits had snapped up this des res.

Should I put it higher up the tree or have strong words with the cat, or both?

11 September 2007

for madeline

I love Portugal lots. We go and play music there fairly often and always have a great time and enjoy being there. At the festival we play at up near Sao Pedro do Sul, we lost Ben once when he was about 3 or 4 I think. He'd just wandered off and in a matter of seconds was lost. Within five minutes I was frantic and went to artists reception and told the young girl what the problem was. She didn't seem to understand; maybe I wasn't making much sense to her, so I went to find one of the festival organisers who spoke good English and explained the situation. Being a mum herself, she immediately understood and contacted all the festival workers by radio with a description and to keep an eye out for him. We're fifteen minutes into lostness by now. Serious, stomach churning, sweaty, anxious panic is not far away and I am desperately struggling to remain calm and logical. We wait. I'd already done the 100yd dash between the office and festival site twice, the craft and food stalls a blur of meaningless colour when all I wanted was to see one fair head and one pair of blue eyes, eyes like Madeline's really tho hers aren't blue, innocent, unworried, trusting. 30 or 40 minutes into lostness a lovely Portugeuse mama from the village comes walking into the festival site with Ben walking happily by her side holding her hand. He'd just wandered into her house and explained that he was lost and she didn't understand a single word he said; but she knew he'd be one of the gringo's children from the festival and walked him back up. The relief was indescribable. I'd hoped against hope that something like this would happen for the McCanns but I knew it wasn't going to. If Ben had stayed lost I swear I would've torn that country apart looking for him.

I've been trying to remember if we ever left Ben alone ever at a similar sort of age. I can only think of once when we'd gone for a family get together dinner at a hotel somewhere and gone downstairs for a meal with everyone, leaving Ben asleep in the room. He was a baby then really and we'd put a monitor in the room and had the other one with us. We've never left him alone as a toddler, not anywhere, not without a sitter anyway. You just don't, do you? Not if you're not in the same building anyway.

I've seen it in other countries amongst continental officialdom. You push and you push and eventually they lose patience with you and snap. Specially if you're making them lose face and look incompetent or worse. It's a tough line to walk. I don't really believe they had anything to do with it; it just doesn't add up. I don't know though, how can any of us know? I don't know how they can bear what they're going through. I just hope against hope that that beautiful little girl is still alive somewhere and can one day be reunited with her family.

07 September 2007


I've always admired Shikuyo's plot a few up from ours. She works her oriental magic in a quiet indomitable way and the results are always stunning. I've seen blokes 3 times her size take on a plot and attack it with manic energy only to give it all up defeated 3 months later. She does it all on her own, apparantly effortlessly though I'm sure that's just a cunning illusion.

She does a nice line in onions and pop bottles too.

06 September 2007


The small patch at the front of the greenhouse used to be a mess of metal poles, tin sheeting, carpet and seemed to have been used to dump just about anything that wasn't wanted and all covered by a dense layer of nettle and weed. It's much better now having been cleared and levelled and planted out with a few courgette plants and a bit of french lavender. The spare bit to the left of the path has been planted up with a few rocks, heathers and primrose. It would be nice to go up today but I have to go to work boo hoo.

05 September 2007

the muck in my garden is now this high

I have no idea how we are going to get rid of this lot. The only clauses in the agreement between the council and the allotment association relating to garbage disposal refer to unlet plots, where it is clearly the responsibility of the committee to clear the site. When it comes to a let plot, it is the responsibility of the plot holder to clear it. But how does this cover taking on a derelict plot and turning it into a little piece of eden but in the process turning up this half a ton of shite? Gnn!

As for the asbestos, the council cleansing dept helpfully suggest that they will collect it at a cost of £58.95 for the first bag and £12.60 for each bag thereafter. They can offer no suggestions for the disposal of the rest. I am not willing to pay costs like this for clearing garbage I did not create.

This is the only interesting thing I found in a months worth of work. Its pretty rusted up allright but it can be yours for.....er £150?......ono

03 September 2007


Strange weekend. Some years ago, the guy who produced my first solo album, came round to my house and offloaded some software on me and asked me to sing a few songs from the album for him and next day committed suicide. Bloody cheek if you ask me. The songs weren't that bad!

Then on my doorstep appears this guy who says he is dave's son that nobody knew he even had. One look into the eyes is enough to know that he is who he says he is and thereafter we get on like a house on fire and I tell him as much as I can about his dad and we go out and get drunk together and hug each other. It feels like the hug I would've given his dad if he'd only bloody well asked me to and he could've offloaded whatever shit was going on inside his head that weekend and not some bloody useless software. That guy is gonna get thumped if there turns out to be life after death which there won't. Anyway R.....if you get to read this....you're welcome back anytime, there's a place here for you and by all the Harry's.....isn't english beer just tops?

29 August 2007

fecund greenhouse

We got the second plot fairly well into the season and by the time the derelict greenhouse had been brought back to life it was really a bit late to be planting stuff. Never mind, ever the optimists we bunged in some tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and they are doing well. The cucumbers are lovely but there may not be enough hot sunshine left to ripen the tomotoes up; it may have to be another batch of green tomato chutney.

28 August 2007


It's been a bit of a funny growing season to say the least. It hasn't all been doom and gloom up on clodhoppers by a long stretch but I confess to a nagging sense of dissatisfaction and unease about the year.

I'm sure a lot of plotholders have had it much worse in other parts of the country and I really feel for them, specially if they are gardening alone without much support which makes it so much harder to take the knocks.

27 August 2007

home sweet home

Spiller and Chirpy's 3* mobile home up on the allotment. But they've also now got a 4* shed with built in nesting boxes and enclosure with hot and cold running.

15 August 2007

ark ark

Spiller and Chirpy have grown so much now they are beginning to make a mess of the flower beds so we have started to build them a moveable ark ready to transfer them up to plot no2 on the allotments. We will re-jig the run so that it attaches on to the end of the ark so they can come and go as they please. While we were away they escaped for a few hours and were found in a neighbours garden surrounded by 3 cats but Spiller and Chirpy were holding their own in true teenage mutant ninja chicken fashion. But all in all, it will be better once they are ensconced in their new home up on the plots.

14 August 2007


We decamped to Jersey to escape the interminable rain and it almost worked. Well, there was less off it anyway. I'd always suspected that I would find the channel islands rather insular and self obsessed and was not wrong. Some sort of victim mentality seems to have lodged in their souls, but dammit, it was NOT their fault that that shit-head hitler occupied them for five years was it?

Anyway, the two things I liked best about the Island in no particular order were Gerald Durrell's wildlife conservation centre and the remarkable Neolithic dolmen at La Hogue Bie.

I remember two thoughts when I first read Gerald's 'My Family and Other Animals' - lets just call it donkeys years ago - first was...You Lucky Lucky Sod! and the second was.... my mum's almost as mad as that, so why can't we go to Corfu too? But you can see why he devoted the rest of his life to wildlife conservation after a such a childhood can't you?
La Hougue Bie is one of those eerie places. Whoever the Neolithic bigwig was that built this one was definately bigger than my neolithic ancestor who built the one in our family name in Zennor in Cornwall which looks like a toilet by comparison. This one is 4 star bleedin luxury. 'Look at my Neolithic wad...losers.....all offshore dosh mateys!'

After the rather too tidy entrance, you have to lumber forward nervously and awkwardly into the darkness fighting off the claustrophobia and the oppressive weight of 5000 years of time and as many tons of stone, earth and rubble above your head, hoping the neolithic architects knew their stuff.

When you eventually reach the end chamber and can stand up straight once more and look back towards the light of the entrance you begin to get an inkling of just what a stupendous piece of work this is. The two side chambers when excavated in 1924/5 contained the remains of three women and five men along with some pottery fragments. There are some better pictures of the interior stonework here.

And a last one of the end chamber.

Slowly your eyes adjust more and more to the gloom but after a while, in the silence and the darkness, you start to feel a bit dreamy, a bit sleepy, and you're eyelids droop heavily and you think 'Wouldn't it be nice just to have a little lie down, just 40 little neolithic winks!'