March 24, 2012

Telephone Conversation with Fred






Conversation this morning with an old family friend called Fred who is having a large garage built onto his house. 

‘Morning, Fred, how’s the work going?’ 

‘It’s not at the moment, everything has come to a grinding halt.’ 

‘Oh, sorry to hear that, pal, what’s gone wrong?’ 

‘Owww, they’ve dragged the builder off to court.’

‘That’s bad news, what’s the plan now?’ 

‘No plan, just a delay, a long one by the look of it.’ 

‘What’s he bein’ done for?’ 

‘What are you talking about?’ 

‘What’s he up in court for, what’s he done?’ 

‘He hasn’t done anything, you evil minded ba*****, he’s on jury service! 

‘Come on, it’s a reasonable assumption, if he’s a friend of yours he’s bound to be bent, a little iffy, a bit off the straight and narrow.’ 



‘Weather’s not too good, Fred, d’ya think we’ll have rain…

March 17, 2012

Trials of an (almost) Honest Soul







Writing about boats recently (in another forum) brought to mind an incident involving a canal boat some time ago. An incident that was at the time witnessed by the-blonde-with-the-legs. An incident, the memory of which, sent her off into hysterical giggles on the one occasion when she let me get close enough to nibble her ear and harbour thoughts of Percy Filth without her clobbering me and going off home in a huff.

I don’t know if you are aware of it, but here in England we have the same problem with travellers (or tinkers) on the canals as we have on land – fortune telling, scrap metal, etcetera – basically they make a bloody mess where ever they go. Now I know that it was not so long ago that I was singing the praises of ‘Jess Smith’ and her wonderful poem ‘The Scotia Bairn’ and there are, without doubt good and bad in any society – Jess Smith left the travelling life a long time ago.

 It all started in a pub down on the canal, where some of the locals, so called friends of mine, decided that it would be a good idea to put one over on me…

 A guy had been in the pub asking if anybody knew anything about diesels as the engine on his canal boat was running rough and had taken to giving up the ghost at awkward moments. Anyway, to cut to the chase, I ended up one morning bright and early on the canal bank with my toolkit and a look of despair on my face as I realized what they had set me up for. The boat was a seventy-footer, six feet six inches in the beam with a family living onboard that consisted of grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, five kids, a dog and a cat.

The-blonde-with-the-legs, Samantha, had graciously consented to have lunch with me and we were due to meet up at the pub when I had finished.

The problem was that the grandfather and grandmother were the only adults onboard at that moment and unfortunately both of them had dentures. The National Health Service had issued the said dentures back in the days when they were called false teeth, this was about the time when the old king was a lad and in both cases the teeth no longer fitted.

 I tried to ask what was wrong with the engine and all that I got in reply was ‘gumph umph click whistle, click click mumph whistle.’ The kids were also onboard and they ranged in age from about twelve down to about three – so I got the oldest one to translate.

 Now aware of the symptoms, I got to work in the confined space of the companionway to the tiny aft deck and quickly stripped the top off the engine and removed the injectors and the pump. The injectors were send off by fast child to a local garage to be blasted while I cleaned the filters and replaced a couple of seals on the pump. I wanted the job done as quickly as possible as it was abundantly clear that both me and the garage were working for free – and I had a very important date.

 The injectors were back in, the pump fitted and bled in record time and I was ready to begin trials. During the time I had been working the cat had hissed at me, the dog barked at me and the kids had done their very best to get their thievin’ flamin’ hands on me tools.

I finished off putting it all back together and informed Fagin and his gang that I was ready to fire it up – it was 1140 am. The key was turned, the button pressed and the engine coughed, blew out a puff of smoke and started. I got hold of the tiller and shouted for the lines holding the boat alongside to be let go.

 There are no side decks on a canal boat and it is difficult to see over the cabin roof to the small fore deck and that is where grandfather and grandmother where. Four of the kids were in the cabin creating havoc in the living area, the three years-old was standing by me with a comforter in her mouth making sucking noises, the cat was on the cabin roof hissing and spitting at me and the dog was at the bottom of the cabins steps barking its head off after skilfully dodging me boot – it was 1145 and the exact moment when I saw Samantha approaching along the toe path. I cast off the aft line myself, leaned on the tiller, saw a hand raised on the fore deck so opened the throttle. The engine was quite powerful and was singing like a bird and the many tons of steel boat pulled away at a reasonable pace and headed off down the canal.

 Now, what I didn’t know at this stage was that it was the custom for the old boy (grandpa)  to let go the line then push the boat off the bank before jumping onboard. When I opened the throttle he had his feet on the towpath and his hands on the grab rail on the cabin roof – you’ve guessed it. The hand in the air was, in fact, his wife trying to signal me to stop as she held on to her husband with the other, and not as I thought a signal that they had let go the line.

The three years-old was able to see down the length of the boat from where she was standing and could see her grandpa, hanging on for grim death with his lower half in the drink.

‘gluggle, guggle suck suck gubble’ she said, just then the old woman’s head appeared over the cabin roof, ‘mumph, click click mumph grumph whistle click’, she said.

 The kid next to me took the comforter out of her mouth and gesticulating with it said ‘glug guggle guggle goodgy goo goo.’ By now I was convinced that she was trying to sell me the bloody comforter and I wasn’t buying – besides which she looked a bit shifty so I nudged her with me knee and told her to bugger off.

 Somewhere in the next few yards or so the old guy lost his grip and slipped into the canal and his wife stood up on a locker and ‘mumph, whistled and clicked at me at the top of her voice.

The engine was going like a song and I was feeling pleased with myself when I spotted the mother and father stood on the canal bank at a point avout a hundred yards ahead waiting for me.

 At this point I caught sight of the old boy in the water and the-blonde-with-the-legs rushing to pull him out.

So, I had: the cat hissing at me, the dog barking at me, granny ‘mumph and whistling at me, the kid bawling and the old boy doing a fair impression of someone drowning while doing the backstroke. On the bank was the mother and father, she looked like a Russian tractor driver on leave from a Siberian collective and he looked like something dark that I had once seen on a dockside in Marseille – smelled much the same too.

 They were not looking pleased with yours truly so I grabbed me tools, closed the throttle, put the boat into the bank and jumped ashore. Being fairly nibble, I had it away on me toes while they were trying to stop the boat drifting back out again.

 It ruined my lunch date, of course, The-blonde-with-the-legs couldn’t look at me without bursting into giggles and spilling her drinks.

Never saw that boat again, never got paid and to top it all they pinched me compression tester!

Soctia Bairn

March 1, 2012

Had enough, I’m going!








It was my birthday today and I do not want congratulations, good wishes or any of that rubbish. The truth is, that I am a year older, broke, no better looking and still sexless. 

The day started and will end like any other. I got up, had a good scratch, wandered down stairs to get a cup of coffee, toyed with the idea of not bothering to shower, then had a good sniff and decided that I had better. 

I ambled into the garden to see what sort of birds the spring had brought to the table, aimed a kick at a passing cat and missed.

I then spilled hot coffee down my front and damn near sterilized my important bits when next doors dog barked at me, tripped over the clothes prop and nearly strangled myself on a slack clothes line, then slipped off the line and got mud all over my dressing gown. 

My son had put a load in the washing machine before he went to work and halfway through my shower the damn washing machine went into a rinse cycle. This caused a drop in pressure in the rising main and a corresponding drop in the shower. In a safety move designed to prevent anyone in the shower from getting scalded when the flow is lessened or interrupted the shower heater turned itself off. 

Suddenly I was doused in freezing-cold water which caused me to utter a sort of strangled scream, the like of which I don’t think I have ever uttered before. 

I decided to have cereal for breakfast then realized that I had no milk left.

I then decided to have bacon and eggs – but I had no eggs and the bacon was a funny green colour. 

I phoned the blonde-with-the-legs to see if she fancied treating me to breakfast. She totally got hold of the wrong end of the stick and told me that the breakfast wasn’t a problem, it was what was expected during the night preceding it that she was having no truck with then put down the phone before I had chance to explain. 

Having breakfasted on toast and black coffee, I threw the dishes in the sink, turned the tap on to fill the sink, added washing-up liquid then muttered ‘to hell with that’ put my coat on and collected the car keys from the hook by the kitchen door. 

I was about to go out of the front door when I realised that I had left the tap running. Keys in hand, I went to turn the tap off and dropped the keys in the sink full of soapy water. I fished around in the water for a few minutes, whilst muttering phrases such as ‘oh gosh’ and ‘drat it’. 

The electronic part of the keys, which operate the central locking system, refused to work so I went back into the house to get the spare set. I emptied a dozen drawers, three cupboards and several boxes in different parts of the house before I found the blasted keys on the same hook where the others are kept. 

I am depressed, bored, fed up and sick to the back teeth, I would end it all but I can’t be bothered.

If the blonde-with-the-legs won’t do it at night, I wonder if she’ll do it during the day…

February 24, 2012

A Brief Encounter, under the bed!









Those of you who are familiar with my posts will know of my devotion to duty in my continuous assaults on the virtue of ‘The Blonde With The Legs’, but more of that later!

I have many things to tell you, there is for example a family trip to the theatre which was, as you may well have expected, a total shambles – but that story is for another day. I must first tell you about today…  No, on second thoughts I will start with last night.

11pm and I am about to get ready for bed – and my well-earned rest. My ankle (operated leg) had been playing up all day and was rather sore, in fact it was quite painful. Now, I put this down to my using it a lot more than it has been used for some time and the joints being a little stiff.

My first indication that all was not well was when I had difficulty getting my shoe off, then I struggled to get the sock off. When I did, I noticed instantly (I’m very quick) that my ankle and lower leg were swollen to the size of a Goodyear Blimp.

A little concerned at the sight of my swollen limb, I looked around for reassurance and heard the television in my son’s room. Knowing, therefore, that he must still be awake, and finding myself in a bit of a panic, I staggered into his room, waving my leg furiously in front of me.

‘Look at the size of that’, I said, making my way to his bedside. It’s okay, dad, I can see it from here, that’s a fair old size!’

‘It’s bloody sore too’, I said, what do you think caused that?’

Bye the way, I was now limping badly on a leg that had, up until I had seen the size of it, been working perfectly!”

‘Don’t worry too much about it, dad, it’s probably just a clot or something,’ he said very thoughtfully – and seriously.

‘Oh, goody, I thought, It’s only thrombosis, what the hell am I worrying about.’

I immediately went back to my room, lay on my bed and waited for death. At 7am I woke myself up with my snoring and realized that, not only was I still alive but the swelling had gone down.

Which brings me back to my original and favourite theme, The Blonde With The Legs.

Sometime after lunch, in bright, warm sunshine, I meandered out into the front garden to lean on the gate, gaze at the Rowan tree and make a daily wish.

Two seconds later my wish was answered at what can only be described as high speed because the ‘The Blonde With The Legs’ came flying at me, pushed me out of the way, ran into the house and shot up the stairs.

Bye God, I thought, the old girl’s keen, that’s what I call wish fulfilment and I took off after her!

I tell you, folks, I was like a sixteen year old who thought the chance to lose his virginity had finally arrived – I went up those damn stairs two at a time WHILST TRYING TO GET ME SWEATER  OFF!

I saw her disappear into the spare bedroom and in my haste to follow, tripped over the final stair, staggered two steps across the carpet and went head-first into the linen cupboard door. Aware that a chance like this, provided by the gods, may never come again, I quickly recovered and dived into the spare room in time to see a pair of nylon-clad and very shapely legs sticking out from under the bed.

A tad kinky, I though, but ‘what the hell’ whatever floats her boat is okay by me! I was about to dive into action when the siren voice of my beloved arose from the dust-laden, stygian blackness under the bed.

‘KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! Put your grubby paws anywhere near me and I will wring your neck.’ The lady has a way with words – pure poetry…

A few seconds later, a tousled, blonde head appeared from beneath the bed along with two arms that held, lovingly, her flamin’ cat!

‘There, mummy, saved you from the nasty man,’ she said, tickling the thing under the chin.

Turns out, that she had seen her cat take a fledgling blackbird chick from the garden and suspecting that, if I saw it first, I would be less than kind, she rushed to get to it before I did. The cat had bolted into our house and she had followed in hot pursuit.

So, there was a moment in that bedroom when me and that moggy stared at each other and I could see that the cat understood that its one-eyed rear end is well overdue an appointment with a large boot!

But, ‘The Blonde With The Legs… She has the poise, the speed and the grace of a dancer, and a heart of pure granite – what a woman!




February 19, 2012

A Really Bad Day



0800. Gave: phone, computer, desk and printout of partial-manuscript a cup of coffee.

Phone and computer did not want coffee so refused to work; desk and partial-manuscript did not indicate a preference either way.

Unable to adequately express my frustration in English so resorted to Anglo Saxon, my command of which is second to none.

0805. Phone continues to refuse to work despite vigorous shaking.

Warm day, window open, threw phone through window narrowly missing wood pigeon who was roosting in cherry tree and idly defecating on garden furniture below.

0806. Computer still not working. Due to pain from fall while climbing, cannot lift same to chuck it through window.

Many birds now in trees – familiar as they are with my little ways – eagerly waiting to see if next object through window will hit cat sneaking through blackcurrant bushes.

0806 and a bit. Threw dictionary at cat.

0815. Struggled downstairs with computer and managed to get it to car.

0930. At shop where longhaired youth, with acne cropping at several bushels to the acre, sucked his teeth and announced that CPU and Motherboard were blown – but as they were older than his granny and long overdue for replacement that was no bad thing.

0932. Resisted temptation to punch youth and contented myself with casting doubts on his parentage.

Bought new phone – cost £29

Bought new computer – cost £300.

1030. Tried to reprint partial manuscript, – printer out of black ink.

Bought new cartridge and reprinted partial.

Total cost of morning coffee – £335

1120 – decided to moan in blog.

I will probably kill myself


February 16, 2012

Legendary Haggis Hawk












Above you will see a copy of a photo taken some time ago in the West of Scotland. The image is, of course, of the petrified remains of a Haggis Hawk and is the only known representation of the Hawk which became extinct in June 1706 – on a Wednesday.

These monsters grew to an enormous size with a wingspan in excess of 8 feet (imperial) and a beak that would make your mother-in-law jealous. They were trained by the crofters in the highlands to fly from the wrist and were more than capable of taking a Haggis in full-flight without damaging the tasty bits.

The clan chiefs and associated barons became rather angry with the peasants as the chiefs were breeding the haggis for sale to posh restaurants in Edinburgh and Sterling but there was a growing fondness amongst the upper crust for the wild variety as they were more tender and did not require National Health Teeth, so more and more business was going to the clansmen.

Things came to a head in 1687 when the barons tried to ban the sale of wild haggis, claiming that it contravened European Union food and hygiene regulations but the clansmen were having none of it and so the inevitable happened and unrest led to the Jacobite uprising of 1689.

(Jacobite is something of a misnomer as Jacob wasn’t there at the time as he was working for Cohen’s Deli in Auchterarder on the day)

A government clampdown followed pretty soon after this and only peasants of over six feet tall and holding a valid equity card were allowed to sell the wild haggis. This, of course, was grossly unfair as the peasants never grew any taller than four feet seven inches and Will Shakespeare wouldn’t let them in to Equity.

The whole fiasco and general government overreaction meant the first attempt at an act of Union between England and Scotland in 1705 failed because, although the baron’s union accepted it: the crofters union (Crofters, Reevers And Peasants) who represented the crofters, reevers, drovers, wheel-tappers and carriage-lamp wick trimmers, didn’t.

CRAP, on behalf of the clansmen in the Scottish Army demanded, fewer away fixtures, six extra points added to the season total and entry to the Tote.

An act of Union was only possible in 1707 because the last Haggis Hawk was by then dead and nobody could remember what they had been fighting about.

For those of you who saw Mel Gibson in Braveheart – I’m sorry.

February 13, 2012

The Bells, The Bells









The bells, the bells!

There are those who would claim that most of my little stories lack a certain leaning toward the truth; I would take exception to that and accept only that they may contain an element of exaggeration. They are all based on the truth – however loosely.

This little story, anecdote is not quite the right word, is very much the truth.

It is a story about a friend called Fred. Now Fred has been a friend for many years and I have never said anything about him to anyone that I have not said first to him.

Fred is a hoarder, he comes from a long line of hoarders and his home is totally cluttered. Not dirty I would hasten to add! You would not object to having a cup of coffee in his home or a plate of sandwiches – everything would be scrupulously clean, you would not, however, be able to find anywhere to sit to eat, despite the fact that he owns a reasonably large, four-bed roomed house.

Fred is also a full-blown, fully qualified idiot.

An example: He wanted to clean the fishpond in his garden, which has a lot soil in the bottom. To empty it he bought a pump. This was one of those small things, about the size of a washing-machine pump that you attach to a Black and Decker drill. I told him that he would need a filter between the pond and the pump or the grit would destroy the pump. ‘Nahh’, he said, it won’t take long, it’ll be fine ————- the pump lasted about five minutes.

Convinced that the size of the pump was the problem, he bought a larger one. This one was green in colour with cooling fins around the barrel and had to be mounted on a block of wood and driven by a separate motor ————– lasted about ten minutes.

Still convinced that all he needed was more power, the other day he showed me his latest acquisition…

This one is a serious piece of kit. Large, with a powerful motor and all mounted in a tubular-steel frame, it looks very impressive. He stuck some armoured hose on it, put the hose into the pond, still without a filter, and started the pump. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to remove the Koi Carp from the pond first…

I do tend to ramble I know, but Fred is a wonderful friend to visit and a delight to discuss with others as the stories about him are legion. Anyway, to get back to the bells, I am talking doorbells here as over the last couple of years Fred has bought about eight of them. He loves all of the different tones and tunes and can often be seen fitting a new one to his door. In fact, up until two days ago he had two on his door – which tended to make things a little confusing for visitors.

I arrived at his home the other day having been out to buy some new jeans and I found his brother Mike there with him – both, of course, old friends of mine. Mike had the parts of one of the bell pushes from the door in his hand and was asking Fred what had gone wrong with it. The doorbells are wireless and it transpired that Fred had been working at his pond with the doorbell unit in his pocket. Unfortunately, someone had come to the front door and pressed the bell. At the time, he was balanced on the edge of the pond and had such a shock when the doorbell went off that in his efforts to get it out of his pocket – he dropped it in the pond.

‘You dropped it in the pond?’ Said Mike.

‘Yes’, Said Fred.

‘And you are surprised that it doesn’t work anymore?’ Asked Mike to his puzzled looking brother.

Now, Mike is a big man and younger than Fred but some years ago he suffered a stroke so I was a little worried by the obvious signs of frustration that were showing on his face.

The bell unit, water sloshing around in it, was on the table and he glanced at it then at the bell push in his hand.

‘Is this the one that operates it? Did you take the right one off the door’? He asked, while pushing hard on the bell push and getting no response. ‘I suppose I had better check the one on the door just in case…’

He went to the open front door, stepped outside and pressed the bell push that was still there. The bright and breezy sound of ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ filled the ground floor of the house.

‘That’s one hell of a bell’. Said Mike. ‘It’s all over the house – where’s the unit?’

‘I think it’s somewhere around here.’ Said Fred, pointing at his desk.

I think I should mention that Fred made his own desk out of Contiboard and it is LARGE! Measuring six feet long by 35 inches deep and five-feet-six-inches high with pigeonholes on the backboard, it took him an age to make. It holds a huge amount of stuff: computers, printers, scanners, loudspeakers, disks, books, reams of paper, pens, markers, cups, glasses, screwdrivers, pruning shears, an electric food processor, monitor, radio…

‘What do you mean, somewhere around here?’ Asked Mike. ‘Don’t you even know where the bloody thing is?’

‘It’s here somewhere.’ Said his brother.

‘Dave, I’ll press the bell again, can you stand in the hall and at least see if you can work out which room it’s in?’

‘Okay’. I said, delighted with the prospect of what I knew was to come.

Mike pressed the bell on the door and once more the tune echoed around the house.

‘I think it came from the kitchen, Mike, I’ll have a look.’

‘No, it definitely came from in here.’ Said Fred from the living room.

‘You must know where you put the damn thing.’ Said Mike.

‘Erm… I think it’s coming from me computer.’ Said Fred.

‘How, the bloody hell can it be coming from your computer.’ Said Mike.

‘Dunno.’ Said Fred.

By this time, I had moved some of the mountain of stuff on the kitchen worktops and discovered a bell unit with its own plug shoved into a socket in the kitchen and it was the same colour scheme as the bell push on the door.

‘Found it, Mike.’ I shouted proudly.

‘Switch it off, Dave, while I try it again.’ He called back to me.

I switched the unit off and signalled to Mike that I had done so – he pressed the bell push on the door…

Once again the sound of the ‘Teddy Bear’s picnic flooded the house.

‘I asked you to turn it off.’ Said Mike, his frustration rising.

‘I did.’ I said, yanking the bell unit from the plug socket.

‘Then where the hell is it coming from?’

‘It’s coming from me computer.’ Said Fred, a puzzled expression now permanently plastered to his face.


‘Wait a minute, Mike, he’s using a wireless broadband system, maybe it’s picking it up. Let’s turn the speakers and computer off and try again.’

The push was pushed and once more the ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ sounded around the house.

‘Where in the name of God, is it coming from?’ Said Mike – frustration now getting the better of him.

‘Err, me telephone is cordless.’ Said Fred, trying to be helpful.

‘Turn the phones off, Dave, and let’s try again.’

This latest move worried me a little as I am well aware the Fred is also partial to cordless phones and has bought several sets over the last year or two. Anyway, I turned the phones off and we tried again. Once more the tune filled the house – much to Mike’s frustration, Fred’s puzzlement and my delight – I was going to dine out on this for many a long winter’s evening!

‘Dave, Dave, please pal – the phones have batteries in ‘em, put them somewhere out of the house, please.’ He was begging now – not pretty in such a big man. So, I collected up the phones and put them in the garden. The bell was pressed with more than a little trepidation…

‘Where, where, I don’t get it, where…’ Mike was babbling now and close to breakdown.

‘Dave, the radios, maybe they’re picking it up. Take the one off his desk out of here, along with the Ghetto-Blaster in the kitchen, I’ll disconnect the Hi Fi…’

‘Don’t forget the one in the toilet in the hall.’ Said Fred.

‘What.’ Said Mike. ‘You’ve got a bloody radio in the loo?’

‘I get bored, said Fred.

‘God, ‘elp us.’ Said Mike.

The radios were removed to the garden and Mike prepared to press the bell push…

‘Are you sure that there are no more radios and no more phones?’ He asked.

‘Fairly sure…’ Murmured fred.

‘FAIRLY SURE, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN BY “FAIRLY SURE”. Said Mike, his finger falling away from the bell push.

‘Yerr, know. Said Fred shrugging his shoulders.

‘No, I don’t bloody know you moron – what’cha mean?

‘I think there’s one in me coat pocket.’ Whispered Fred.

I got the little Digital Radio out of his pocket along with the cordless phone and told Mike we were now ready.

‘No, I can’t do it anymore, Dave.’ He said, almost in tears. ‘It was bad enough when we were kids, I can’t take it now I’m not up to it.’

‘Fred, please, phone Joan for me and tell her that I’m on my way home.’ Mike murmured sadly as he was putting his coat on.

‘Can’t do that, all the phones are in the garden.’ Said Fred

‘Use your cell phone.’ Said Mike. ‘Mine’s in the car.’

‘Can’t.’ Said Fred. ‘Mine’s in the pond.’

I left the brothers, to have some time alone together while I went into the garden and gave in to a fit of hysterics before collecting the phones.

My sides sore, my facial muscles only just under control, I was about to go back into the house when I heard the sounds of the ‘Teddy Bear’s picnic’ followed by a raised and angry voice.

Rushing in, I was faced by the sight of Mike with his hands around his brother’s neck.


I tore his fingers loose from Fred’s neck just in time. ‘Mike, I think it’s coming form under the desk.’

‘Do you think so?’ He muttered. ‘ I do hope so…’

He got down on his knees and started to work his way under the desk. Two-computer base units came out, then three scanners in a stack. A laser printer that had never worked, followed, then by the head off a Becks Bissell carpet sweeper, a washing up bowl, a car from a scalectrix set, a cookery book, a fish slice, a filter from a Dyson vacuum cleaner, a box of wine glasses, two pairs of spectacles, a half-empty tin of sweeties, a potato peeler stuck in a potato. ‘I’ve been looking for that everywhere.’ Said Fred, picking it up and blowing the dust off it.

Finally, Mike came out with a doorbell unit in his hand – a look on his face of pure triumph.

‘It was plugged in under there at the back, I’ve turned It off.’ He said, puffing.

I strolled to the front door, my fingers tingling, my lips twitching, laughter beginning to rumble somewhere in my chest – and pressed the bell…

I doubled up on the floor, no longer able to contain myself as the sound of ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ filled the ground floor…

February 7, 2012

Researching A Book – in late summer








Now that both of my offsprings are in gainful employment and my life is once again mine own, I got up one morning with the intention of bothering the The-blonde-with-the-legs for an hour or two. However, when I arrived at her home, freshly bathed and shaved with a glint in my eye and the sap rising, she wasn’t there!

As there was no future for me lurking around an empty house – the neighbours were watching me – I decided to take myself off into the countryside for the day. I have been researching material for a book that I am about to start writing  and a small part of the story (fiction) is concerned with the post roman period in Britain, primarily Wales. There is a hilltop settlement and chapel in North Wales that I have been planning to visit for some time and this seemed like a good opportunity. So I packed a bag with: lunch, lots of water, camera equipment, Sat Nav (Garmin Etrek Summit) Maps, waterproof clothing (just in case) and lots of spare batteries.

I arrived at the base of what turned out to be a mountain at about 10 am just as the sun was beginning to warm up. The road (forestry road) led up through thick woodland and I knew that the road petered out into a track half way up and my car would not get all of the way. I carried on and drove as far as I possibly could but the car is not four-wheel-drive and I eventually had to pull over and park up. I put the pack on my back and set off with the warmth of the sun just getting through the trees and the road and forest floor steaming.

Going up hill is bad enough, but going up hill with a heavy pack on your back on a hot day is murder. I was hot and exhausted within a couple of miles and the local mosquitoes were shouting ‘Oh goody, lunch’, all over the damn forest.

With several miles and about a thousand feet still to go, I broke out of the trees into a clearing alongside the road where a group of builders where converting an old farm building into a holiday home. They had added an extra floor and they were working on the roof with the whole thing surrounded by scaffolding.

By this time I had stopped thinking that I was going to die, because by now I knew that I was going to die. I had already sent a ‘goodbye’ text to my son and daughter that would have frightened the flamin’ life out of them if they had been at all interested. As it was I got one back from my son asking if my insurance documents were still in my old briefcase and one from my daughter asking if she could have power of attorney over my bank account.

As I approached the building I noticed that there were a couple of four-wheel-drive pickups in front of the house and three guys working up on the roof. Working is something of a misnomer for what they were doing. Two of them were leaning on the scaffolding watching me with scornful grins showing between curled lips, while the other was bent away from me showing half a hairy backside between dungarees and tee shirt.

‘Having a hard time of it’, shouted the one with black, curly hair and a tattoo.

‘Yes’, I shouted back, ‘I’m trying to get up to the old chapel, don’t suppose there’s any chance of a helping hand,’ I said, glancing, pointedly, at the four-wheel-drives.

‘None at all’ said the one with the crew-cut hair. Just then the hairy backside turned around with a trowel in his hand.

‘Any chance of you two doing a bit of work, then,’ he said.

‘Hang on, boss, we’re watching this twit trying to get up the hill,’ said the one with the curly, black hair.

‘No good you looking at them like that,’ said hairy backside to me, ‘I can’t get them to work, so there’s no chance of them driving you up the hill.’

‘I’m not watching in the hope of them driving me up the hill,’ I said. ‘I’m watching in the hope of seeing them fall off the bloody scaffold.

Over an hour and a half later, having drunk a litre and a half of water and having lost several pints of blood to the mosquitoes I arrived at the chapel to find it closed. I dumped the pack and staggered around for a minute muttering curses, before aiming several kicks at the door – during the course of which I saw the notice asking visitors to call at the nearby hill-farm for the key!

The farm was the other side of the track and it was immediately apparent that the only signs of life currently in residence were two mangy old cats with two-and-a-half ears between them and an old mongrel that growled low down and dribbled over its chin every time it looked at my ankles. Further over, down the other side of the mountain lay lush, green fields with tractor and farmer and a perfectly good road that led all the way up to the farm and chapel.

Full of disappointment, cameras unused and the pack on my back, I set off back down the hill. I got to the building under conversion and all three builders stopped to gaze idly at me while smoking and drinking beer.

‘Beats me why you didn’t just drive up the other side of the hill’, said the one with the black curly hair.

‘*** ******* ******** *** **** ***’, I said, and carried on down to the car!

The above image, taken by me at St David’s Head in high summer, has the first stanza of Sally Odgers lovely poem.

February 5, 2012

A Morning Shoot









Let me tell you what happened to me a few weeks ago!

Knowing that I was not able to do much because of my shoulders a very kind friend, name of George, dropped in and asked if I would like to go shooting.

‘Shooting,’ I said, ‘how the hell am I supposed to go shooting? The state my flamin’ shoulders are in I couldn’t fire an employee never mind a bloody shotgun (I have a disease – the result of diving that affects my major joints)!’

‘Don’t get yer knickers in a twist,’ he said, ‘you can come along and just watch, just come for the walk – it’s not far. Tony, a friend of mine, has the farm down by the lighthouse and he has that small wood there. He breeds a few pheasants and things and restricts the shooting to family and friends – well, do you want to go or not?’

‘Okay,’ I said, rather stupidly and on the Wednesday morning at six o’clock – pitch dark – I had a cup of coffee, bacon and eggs and waited for George to pick me up.

Now, the wood, is about a quarter of a mile back from the edge of the cliffs with nought but open fields to break the wind coming in from the east and it was the start of the big freeze. Ten below on the morning in question with a wind coming in off the estuary that could cut through bone.

I got out of the Land Rover and instantly regretted getting out of bed that morning, Tony passed round a flask of something with a kick and we went into the wood. Incidentally, both George and Tony carried shotguns, I did me best to carry me.

I know the wood quite well as it has been on the route of a walk that has been a favourite of mine for a number of years and there are a few places in there that you need to watch out for. I have, in fact done the walk with George on a number of occasions so he knew that I was familiar with it.

We started well enough, the going was hard because of the overnight frost and so was easy on the trail shoes I was wearing instead of boots.  Several unfortunate beasts including a rabbit or two fell to the guns within the hour and everybody was in good humour.

At about this time, I suddenly realized that I was dying to pee! This was very awkward as it was bloody freezing and I had no wish to stagger home with icicles hanging off the end of  The-right-honourable-member.

We got to a stream that has a log over it as a crossing and I have to confess it is a spot where I have fallen in on several occasions. Unfortunately, one of the things that I am famous for with family and friends is ‘falling in’, usually streams and rivers but I have also fallen overboard from boats once or twice.

‘You go first, Les, George said, its best you find out how slippery it is, you’ve fallen in here before, – silly bugger that I am, I agreed. The thing is, I got over it without a problem, the log was slippery but the trail shoes did their job and I arrived safely on the other side.

There is a holly bush on the other side and I thought ‘this is as good a place as any’ and so within seconds Percy was pointing at the bush and relief was nearly mine.

In the meantime, the other two began their crossing of the log. George made it and stood next to me checking his gun. Tony did not; he got halfway across and slipped. As he fell backwards into the mud, rotten vegetation and freezing water, the gun went off – immediately behind me!

I damn near jumped out of my skin, staggered forward, sprayed the bush, two voles, a squirrel, a passing sparrow and my trail shoes before lacerating me nether regions on the holly. Tony, got himself upright in the stream and had begun to climb out when I turned to him and gave vent to my feelings with a stream of Anglo Saxon, a language in which many years in the Navy has made me proficient.

‘You ******* half wit, what are you doing crossing a log with a gun cocked…

I had reached the stage were I had begun to move toward him with the intention of taking the gun off him and shoving it somewhere dark and musty, when he backed off and said.

‘I refuse to fight you while that thing is dangling there – it’s too distracting and gives you an unfair advantage!’

I realized then that George was already quietly coming apart at the seams and shaking with laughter because Percy was still unfettered and enjoying the fresh air.

‘Bugger’, was all I could say, I put Percy away and stormed off to the sound of hysterical laughing as my face turned bright red. I haven’t been invited for a return visit…..

January 29, 2012

Imminent Insanity











My car is six months old and has done around 20000 miles, it is known as the ‘Marie Celeste’ and is almost legendary where I live. People say that they have seen it pass their window in the dead of night without a driver at the wheel. I tell them, no, that’s not true, it is just that I have fallen asleep and slid so far down the flamin’ driving seat they can no longer see me.

I am in a routine now, where I drop my daughter off at the interview, park the car, then read a book or sleep for the one and a half to two hours that it takes. This does sometimes have to be modified as in a recent example that comes to mind. We arrived at the headquarters of a large, internationally known company, and I stopped in the car park directly opposite the security guard’s booth.

My daughter went over to speak to the guard who raised his head up from his newspaper long enough to tell her how to find reception. At reception the smartly dressed girl told her to take the lift to the fourth floor and the concierge would show her to the office of the director who she was to meet with.

She entered the lift thinking that the concierge would meet her, and with London in mind, imagined a straight-backed ex-military man with a smartly pressed uniform and a row of medal ribbons. At the fourth floor she hunted around until she found an eighteen-years-old girl in a crumpled blouse and skirt, with a row of used tissues and a bad cold, slumped over a desk.

‘Can you tell me where I can find the office of the projects director please,’ she asked.

‘gruffle, sniffle, snort, glumph, me dose, der, downd der,’ the girl said through a snotty tissue as she pointed down the corridor.

Meanwhile, in the car park, half an hour had gone by and the security guard, having finished his newspaper, was staring at me. Being obviously very bored, he thought that he would amuse himself for a few moments by making my life difficult. He got up out of his seat, hoisted his belly up to where it would not interfere with the movement of his knees, opened the door of the booth and headed over to me.

Giving me the very best of his famous ‘Dirty Harry’- ‘Clint Eastwood’ impression, he leaned on the car and muttered through the corner of his mouth, ‘you’re not planning on staying there; are you, sir?’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘as my daughter is only going to be about an hour or so, I didn’t think it worth my while to book into an hotel.’

‘Very funny sir, I’m sure. No, I’m afraid you can’t stay there.’

‘Who says?’ I asked, naively.

He sucked his teeth and pressed more heavily on the car as he leaned down to bring his face level with the window.

I must admit that at this point I was expecting him to say something along the lines of  ‘are you feeling lucky, punk?’ However, he didn’t. What he did say was…

‘I’m the head of security for this building and car park and I make the rules – I say you can’t stay there.’

‘So despite this letter saying that we can park in the company car park; you are saying that I can’t park here?’

‘No, I am not saying that you can’t park here, I’m saying that you can’t stay here.’

‘Let me get this right – the car can stay here in the car park but I can’t stay in the car?’

‘That’s right, sir. ‘It’s a question of security.

‘*******, I said, ‘it’s a question of boredom, your boredom. You have bugger all better to do.’

‘Bad language isn’t going to help, sir. I can always call the police, you know.’

Knowing how quickly the police were likely to respond to that particular request for assistance, I invited him to do just that.

To cut a long story short – some time later, after much argy-bargy, my daughter interrupted us as I was about to get out of the car and introduce myself properly. She jumped in alongside of me, looked hard for a couple of seconds and said.

‘What’s wrong with you, why are you in a temper.’

‘Not in a temper.’

‘Yes you are, that little nerve in your face is twitching.’

‘That fat, lazy, jobs-worth of a guard was being a prat.’ I said.

‘Oh, so while I am trying to get these jobs, you are in the car parks trying to lose them for me..?’

I have decided now to call it quits, give up and finally go nuts.

I could use the company, so, if any of you chaps feel like joining me, just put a pair of your wife’s, or girlfriend’s, pants on your head, stick a couple of drinking straws up your nose, put a feather in your ear and roll up one leg of your trousers. I will be waiting for you out at the egg-custard fountain under the purple onion tree. That’s the one on the trail that leads up to the old Molasses mines…