Archive for ‘Asides’

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…

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 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…

January 20, 2012

Toilet Seats and Splash Effect











Toilet seats UP or DOWN and ‘Splash Effect’

These two contentious subjects are high on the female agenda and need some research (Splash Effect being the effect when a male uses the toilet to pee) This subject is now such a cause for concern that some states in the US are trying to get men to pee SITTING DOWN!

Some of the chaps and me decided that we would do some research into these perplexing questions and attempt to arrive at a solution. Sadly, our attempt to resolve the question of whether or not a toilet seat should be left in the up or down position met with, what can only be described as, a full measure of female hostility. Health and safety became a problem when more than one of our researchers was threatened with bodily harm – the attempt had to be abandoned. We believe this to be a temporary set back and will return to the subject at a later date.

On the subject of ‘Splash Effect’, for this it became apparent that we would need the assistance of a Mathematician as several or our, all male, research team, especially Ron, can count to 21 but only if they remove their shoes and socks and others items of apparel.

Unfortunately the only mathematician that I know also happens to be my daughter and her response to the request for help was to mutter the term ‘Men’ with more than a warranted amount of derision and disgust.

It would be interesting to know just when the term ‘Men’ became an expletive – as that it surely is. I can distinctly remember my daughter uttering the word (in innocence) when she was small and my wife telling her to, ‘Go and wash her mouth out’.

To return to the other part of our research – ‘Splash Effect’.

We do not pretend that we have discovered a permanent cure but we do suggest that with a little effort the effect can be reduced.

A simple triangle is involved here that is based on the toilet bowl.

First, the base line, or horizontal axis.

This is equivalent to the distance from the centre of the base of the toilet bowl to the heel of the man; shoe. It can readily be seen that determining factors are shoe size and stance. Size is a factor because a large shoe will mean the heel is further from the bowl. Stance affects the distance because some men stand with the heels fairly close together and the toes angled out to accommodate the bowl; others stand feet together with toes touching the bowl. For the purpose of this equation the latter is taken as the norm.

So, for this part of the problem we need to know shoe size.

Second, the Vertical axis.

This is equivalent to the distance from the base of the heel to a point roughly four inches below the hip.

For this part of the problem we need to know the inside leg.

From the two factors above we can arrive at the length of the hypotenuse, this being the primary factor in ‘Splash Effect’.

Experimentation has allowed us to determine that the length of the hypotenuse becomes a problem when the shoe size exceeds: size 11 and inside leg exceeds 32 inches.

Another factor that has to be taken into account is whether or not the gentleman has been, for want of a better word or phrase ‘Visited by the Rabbi’. I refer of course to the procedure carried out on boys of the Jewish, and other faiths when they are very small. This has to be taken into account as in cases where this procedure has been carried out the force of the torrent is de-restricted and much greater.

Beer also has a major effect and can increase the force and volume of the torrent – also has a major effect on aim!

So what can we determine from our research?

If you have a male guest in your home, you need to know his shoe size, inside leg length and whether or not he has been ‘Visited by the Rabbi’.

If the shoe size is greater than 11, the inside leg greater than 32 inches and he has been visited by the Rabbi – don’t give him any beer!