Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas lights...


garlanding my mate Amanda's olde worlde fireplace.

Amanda lives in Old Town which is a tiny hamlet perched above Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.

Unfortunately for the world of photography I forgot my tripod and so couldn't both widen the depth of field and keep the wonderful Nikon steady. The compromise means only a few centre inches are in focus. Ah well, at least the colours are pretty.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Karen's fish...






whom for the purposes of this blog we shall call Fish, admiring my Ford Focus.














Fish, disappointed on learning of three second mem...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pre Christmas photo...










of Manchester looking its most European. Not a bad effort, if you ask me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ha ha...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I've finally managed to post both my Flickr badge and the site meter feed. Once again I am whole, like a conquerer, like a real man.

Hot milk now cools on the bedside table, chapter two of 'Rupert and the Stern Mistress' rests open on the pillow and my newly pressed jim jams are toasty warm. What more could a boy ask for on this blessed Boxing Day, hmmm, hmmm?

Well...

my old template's been changed using this latest blogger beta thang. Unfortunately, I'm so far unable save my flickr badge or site meter. Adding extras to these improved templates seems not straightforward but then exploration of new worlds never is. However, to see further requires we stand on the shoulders of past pioneers and I include here those small furry ancestors after the great wipe out who spent millenia in burrows wondering if the silence was another dinosaur trick. Are we so far removed from those times? To see the stars don't we too only have to look up?

With this ray of hope I will stride forth and solve the issue of adding flickr and other tit bits to my new layout. Therefore, I've only one more thing to say...

"Yeeehaw! Saddle up the wagon Ma, we're off to the badlands."

PS, any helpful suggestions will be most gratefully received for I'm sure those distant hills are in Mordor plus the horse hasn't been well and me leg's been playing me up and most folk really have no sense how tough it is to survive only on beans...

PPS,

where can one obtain a bespoke blog? I asked in a nearby town but an unshaven type spat tobacco juice on Ma...

bugger blogging...

Ah'm gonna git mahself a gun.

Clean up this town.

Starting with Ma's apron.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I drank wine...

last night but not much. Feel side may have been let down. Will redouble efforts this evening. Got to pull my weight, have reputation to maintain. Hey, am in the groove...

Can't remember the name of that winter sport where folk dressed like fat seals speed down iced track balanced on a tiny sledge, might be called loooooooge. Come 4.30pm this afternoon I intend to zip tight rubber suit, rest carcass on said sledge and similar to lump of shuddering blubber push off on mindless ride of drink and debauchery. And to life's great barman these following words, "Hey dude, easy on the debauchery. Jeeze man, trying to show restraint here!" will remain unspoken.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

OHMIGOD...

this evening I've been drinking wine and am slipping into the Christmas drinking zone... help meeeee, help meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

No, don't help meeeeeeee, don't help meeeeeeeeeeeeee... I really like itttttttttttttt... hur, hur, hur...

Now, where's that other bottle...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Here's a photo...

of my hand holding one of those round things that get filled with soap and put in washing machines.

The photo is courtesy of a dinky little canon IXUS 60 that I bought because my darling Nikon is too large and valuable to leave in the car.

I recently discussed with Annie Slaminsky my need to name things. It must be a blokey thing because women seem impervious, plus I've absolutely no idea what most of these actual names mean. For instance what is IXUS, hmmm? Or for that matter the 60 it is meant to be a model of? And though I try really hard to keep abreast of names and meanings, pourqoi?

I experience the naming thing in DIY shops too. For me, 4" dowelling is not a good enough description, oh no, I must know the wood type, sap quotient, run of the grain, country of origin, season of felling, was the feller sleeping with anyone interesting, maybe a cousin, were they church attendees, were they good at school, who sat with them in class, were they good at maths, was there scandal involving the local priest? I'm not speaking embezzlement here. Maybe their father ran off with the local priest? Maybe, OHMIGOD, their father was the priest.

Generally by this stage I find it best to leave the wood section and lie down, maybe on a bed, maybe on a Luxurydown Masterest, with quilted headboard and orthapaedic cushioning, bespoke design, from Somerset, from hamlet, from recent scandal... priest on foot across field... dogs... arrests... brother of Chief Constable... cover up... hush hush... medal from Pope...

Bollocks! I'm not resting on a bed steeped in scandal.

I shall sit instead in a darkened room. Let me adjust the blinds... what's this? By Lust Bros of Darkening Crevice?

Is there no end to the torment...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Recently I've been sooooo...

ooooo tired.

In the olden days one could visit their GP for a pick me up, or visit their drug dealer for a pep me up. My GP no longer issues pick me ups and I owe the drug dealer money.

Guess I'm to stay sooooooooooooooooo tired. At least for a while longer.

Red meat, maybe the answer's in red meat. Got to get myself some red meat. Of course could cut out red meat and go straight for the iron supplement. As a child elderly folk would recommend I suck on a piece of coal. In the pit villages of Northern England coal could cure most things, including lassitude. Or so the elderly said though I also recall the place scored consistently above national average for choking deaths. Not the fault of coal though, never the fault of coal. Choking deaths as the elderly were want to say, are caused by a failure of the will to live. Although as a small child I never sucked a piece of coal, small I may have been but stupid I was not. Besides, the Sunday stroll from church to home over the prone bodies of elderly folk, some with hands still clutching throats in my opinion was always a bit of a giveaway. Requiem, the only service that priest ever knew, indeed Father O'Strokechild could conduct a requiem mass with one hand tied behind his back and often did, though only on becoming an adult would I learn bondage is not a stage on the journey to heaven.

So, just as then, coal is not the cure.

Nevertheless I'm soooooooooo tired.

Could suck on a piece of iron, maybe that'll do the trick. As a child I swallowed a ball bearing. Between our house and school lay a scrap yard with one of those huge electro-magnets used for picking up metal. For months I passed that place on the other side of the street, I walked with fear and in response mocking children would daily crowd the opposite pavement, many made crane gestures. It was a time of shame.

Perhaps I need more sleep but then the nightmares come. Twisted metal, screeching, drawn, wrenched, suspended, and through the tangled steel always drops a single piece of coal, dancing and jinking before popping into the mouth of some old crone who was collapsed beneath. And the laughter of children would drown out her choking, then the children would choke, then I choke...

My home is converted to central heating. It's a comfort. That little blue flame, so far removed from...c...c... so far removed.

Some think I should be removed...

but what do they know...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We've been having...

gales in Manchester.

High winds certainly make it hard work for birds. This morning I watched some starlings or thrushes or sparrows or blackbirds (they were mainly medium size and brown) flying backwards, the giveaway being that though moving backwards they were pointing forwards.

As usual, adolescent birds were showing off, doing pretend backstroke, flying vertical with head down, trailing pooh streams, that sort of thing. Other immature ones flew with the wind, really fast, but Manchester's a compact town with tall buildings and vortexes and on those bends many a coot came a cropper. Lots of cats were about, mainly sitting, mainly looking up, mainly looking pleased, mainly licking their lips. Of course older birds just tightened their mufflers, sighed, condemned the folly of youth and struggled on.

It's tough being a bird in a gale. Lucky I was driving a car then, and am not a bird. Hey, evolution, let's hear it for the big E.

(Sound of applause)

No sound of applause? Must be the wind...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Let me just say...

I love photoshop Elements 5.0

I know, I know, it's only software, it has no sentience, indeed it has no personality, but, well, it's a damn good thing.

There, no more will be said.

Actually I will say more for tonight it found 100 photos that I thought had been dispatched, mistakenly, by me into the outer darkness of my huge (by my standards) 140gb G drive that pc world put in the other week.

The G drive is like having a mansion attached to something very tiny. It's large and dark and at the end of a long drive with overhanging trees and gravel underfoot. However, it comes with no above stairs staff. Whilst fiddling with said photos last week, trying them in different rooms, moving them from floor to floor they were suddenly gone. Luckily I'd tied string to the front door and could reverse my steps but what should have been familiar no longer seemed so. That G drive is big and eerie and I thought, bugger, not going in there again.

This week whilst idly fiddling with Photoshop E 5.0 it asked if I wished to back something up (it would be so much easier just to read the bloody User Guide) so the appropriate button was duly pressed and off it bounded like a terrier, tongue lolling, saliva dripping, skittering over marble then up the grand staircase. Bugger me if a short while later it didn't return with my lost photos.

Honest, I shed a tear.

And if the above makes me seem like some trainspotting saddo, well...

Hang on, is that the 5.36 twin carriage chaser to Huge Thigh, calling at Mendacious, Pustule and Birch? Why I think it is...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

As a child I was particularly bad at...

skipping. Especially skipping with a long rope that you were supposed to run through to the other side. Sometimes two ropes turned in opposite direction were used. I was no good at that either, often became caught. Indeed my cheek still bears the lash mark from that second rope. Now looks like a duelling scar and in other circumstances might be rather fetching. To children it's the mark of an idiot, to adults the mark of an Action Man. It'd be nice to declare I'm sometimes mistaken for Action Man but with me at five foot eight and him at only eight it just doesn't happen. Instead, on seeing my scar people mostly say,

Nice scar. Were you ever the model for Action Man?

and I always reply "No"

then, in a disappointed manner they say,

Skipping injury huh? Still living alone?

and I always say Fuck Off.

It's worse in supermarket queues.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A golden sun...

rose over fair Manchester this morning. This evening rain from dark rain clouds fell. Thus did fickle winter trickle on our good town.

We've had gales too.

I'm not a lover of dark nights or dark mornings, though it's better here than somewhere even further north where it might be dark all the time.

A Norwegian friend tells of really dark winters and of vague mid morning light before the darkness comes again.

Vague Light, great name for a band. 'Node', their difficult second album was short listed for last year's Mercury Prize but pipped at the post by Shallow Desire's 'Only One Lung.'

I too bought SD's single 'Cough your guts up' and played it all the time.

'Cough your guts up
Cough your guts up
Cough your guts up
For the lads.'

Classic.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wey Hey...

cracked Flickr and am now "On top of the world, Ma!"

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Me and my mate Sean...


in Barcelona, that's me taking the photo.

I have not superlatives enough (though here's a few) to describe Barcelona. Top city, fantastic food, wonderful folk, stunning architecture, good beer, incredible vistas, world class art and a history of fighting the good fight, of fighting the fascists. Whaddatown!

Bugger Frisco, I left my heart in Barcelona.

Oh yeah, and another thing. I'm gonna crack Flickr cos this old blog of mine just don't do justice to a good photey.

Mind you, as is evidenced, I've solved my earlier photos posting problem. Might have something to do with buying an edition of Photoshop 5.

And whilst I'm going on about Spain and fascism, this afternoon I went to see Guillermo Del Toro's film Pan's Labyrinth which is set in the 1930's after the victory of Franco's fascists. The story is of a young girl whose mother weds a fascist officer stationed in the mountains to fight communist and leftist revolutionaries. Whilst in this unhappy place she is drawn to a fairy underworld where dangerous tasks are set for her by a fawn. The story switches therefore between the menace of the real world and the menace of this underworld. A great movie.

Once again to paraphrase Homer, "Hmmmm Spain..."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Off to Barcelona...

this afternoon. Yippee! Am flying there and no doubt will leave carbon footprint. Take a 7 in shoe size so not expecting footprint to cause much bother. Been wondering if some future archaeologist using a small trowel might dig out my carbon footprint and conclude I was a sociable sort of guy. Maybe end up in museum, have PhD theses written about me. Might even produce artistic renditions of fashionably unshaven hunk with deer over shoulder, faraway look in eye and tight animal skins to show off manly chest.

A square jaw would be nice too...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's a funny business...

driving through autumn leaves. They lie in the road and under hedges waiting for the wind until without warning are up and away, dancing higgledy piggledy like mad things. At this time of year there's a lot about, it can make a person nervous. For instance what if one gets caught in your eye, maybe just under the eyelid and not the whole way in? A person might crash. Autumn then, a dangerous season if ever there was one.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Been thinking today about...

The Mighty Wurlitzer.

Blackpool's Mighty Wurlitzer is situated in the Tower Ballroom and plays the jauntiest of tunes whilst rising from beneath its stage. The average Wurlitzer has over 2000 keys including pedals. Players are secured to the machine by a series of leather straps that take over an hour to undo. To assist in manipulating the many pedals teak blocks polished by the sweat of selected orphans are attached to the organists feet with velcro. A story denied by Wurlitzer suggests the famously smooth keyboard action is achieved only via the regular application of tears stolen in times of hardship from widows.

One can perhaps see why they might wish to keep that fact secret.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Grrrr, grrrr...

and bloody damn well grrr again. Still can't sort out the photo problem. So, no more photos from the Flynn album until I can persuade my computer whizz kid mate Clare to come and have a look at what's gone wrong. In a nutshell, the blogger photo posting gadget (above) won't open Picasa, it just fills the little box with the Picasa 'C' drive address and... zzzzzzzzzzzz, hhhhrmph, urrrrgghhh. Oops, sorry, nodded off.

Bloody hell, there's dribble down me front now.

Speaking of dribble makes me think of vomit so here's an old vomit joke.

Really drunk guy swaying in street feels sick and throws up on a passing dog. He peers down and says, "I don't remember eating that."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

This next one I posted ages ago but here's the joke again because I like it so much.

Old guy visits Dr who says "Mr Johnson I'm afraid it's bad news. You've got bronchitis and dementia." And the old guy replies "Thank God it's not bronchitis."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, ha, ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I've gone dizzy...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Once more...

I can't seem to post photos. Took some good ones this afternoon too. Grrrrrrr.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It is my submission that...

gin and tonic is one of the world's finest drinks. A tall glass, ice so cold it steams, gin from the freezer, a generous slice of zesty lemon, tonic water from the fridge and none of your slimline variety either. I consider slimline tonic to be an abomination, the work of Beelzibub, a condition of unhappiness. No bottle of slimline tonic has ever crossed or will ever cross into the Flynn household. Indeed, so poor in gin is slimline tonic that a person might also stab themselves in the neck repeatedly with a huge knife (possibly the same one used on the lemon) and fail to distinguish the two experiences.

As Homer might say, "Hmmmmmmmmmmmm gin... and tonic"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, Mancunian Way....

7.50am and stationary in westbound traffic. Eastbound is moving, cars, lorries, bikes. The bright red of a burning cigarette tumbles over the central reservation and lands beside an upright tyranosaurus rex who collects it, takes a drag and declares Mondays are alright by him. Granted the TR was only 10 inches tall and had most likely been abandoned by a child, or thrown from a car, or both. His fate nevertheless intrigues me so I wind the window open and shout,

"Hey you, T Rex!"
He was American and inquired, "Yeah?"
"Whatchadoin there?"
"Bub," He said, "It's a long story."
"Well?" I said.
And he replied, "I was owned by this kid with a permanent cold. Snot everywhere, alway snot and when not runny it was crusty..."

Ahead of me a lorry's engine rumbled as the driver began to creep forward. So I said,

"What?" And found second gear.

Little forearms pumped like pistons as the Rex began to run alongside, grasping his cigarette, gasping for breath.

"...snot," He said.

"Yeah snot snot, got that." I said and reached for third gear.

He upped his pace, little forearms now a blur, shanks pedalling with speed until he tripped under the wheels of a following refuse and was squashed flat.

Pulling away I thought 'Bugger, there's nothing worse than a tale half told.'

Then I cheered up because he was wrong about Mondays.

Mondays are shite.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Here's...











an aspect of my bathroom. Sans crack. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh how the wind blew...

early last Monday morn. During the summer Sean (as mentioned passim) helped transform my yard from a sterile place without hope into a garden of happiness and abundance. We hung wind chimes that tingled and tangled and rang with mellow vibes. However, last Monday at four am a wind rose up, a strong wind, a biblical wind, a wind of vengeance and wrath. This wrathful wind swirled and cantered and brushed and beat and wrenched and rang changes through those summer chimes that were particularly annoying because I never shut my bedroom door and rarely shut the bathroom window located as it is above the yard.

The previous evening I watched 'Manon des sources' a film about betrayal and revenge in rural France.

Nevertheless triumph also visited my home in those early hours with my partner in the female ice doubles when arms raised and bodies extended we skated with grace and poise, spinning once, spinning twice, spinning three and then four times through a faultless loop that reversed into the centre of a barn filled with grain dryers. We held the position... we held the audience... we waited for the... applause, but instead of bliss we got bells and I woke up.

Currently the chimes are in my kitchen where I suspect they'll remain until next summer.

Damn, and we were looking at Gold too.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Crosby Beach.

Posted by Picasa

Been to Crosby Beach again today. I took loads of photos but unfortunately can't seem to upload them more than one at a time. So, here's one to wet the appetite whilst I try and sort out the problem.

I went with a mate Vanessa and we walked virtually the full exhibition length (approximately two K by the way). The beach was wonderful, the exhibition superb, the weather loverly and the public loos grim. About that I'll say no more.

It was impressive to see so many children, adults, even dogs enjoying the statues. On statue 99 there was dog pee which I thought typical. You expose them to a bit of culture and if they can't eat it, fuck it or wee on it then no meaning is possible. Dogs, can't live with them... er, can't live with them.

The Mersey was busy with big ships coming and going, most probably related to the high tide that occured as we arrived. Not that I'm implying the tide had anything to do with us, oh no.

Back in Manchester I now think of that tide carrying ships into port, its steady swell easing ships out of port, it's gentle waves washing the feet of statue 99...





Thursday, October 26, 2006

Today a structural engineer...

visited my little home to look at a wall crack. Five years ago the gable end to my house was becoming detached and had to be re-pinned. These blokes came round with a van and lifted floorboards, drilled holes, poked things through, twisted metal into brick, secured rods onto joists, one per metre front to back on the first and second elevations. They had certificates and letters after their names, were members of guilds and stuff. One of them arrived today (fulfilling his obligation to their 25 year guarantee of workmanship) and declared my wall unmoved. Said he thought the crack (to describe it as .5mm would be generous) was a bit of shrinkage on some duff plastering I did a couple of years ago. Hey, the man's in a guild, he speaks the truth. It was a relief.

I called the engineers originally after becoming worried the gable end might fall away when I was on the loo. Think of how distressing that would be. A double whammy, house wrecked and eternal shame in one fell swoop. Sod those crushed under falling masonry. People might see me doing my business.

The current crack is situated opposite the loo in the bathroom. I sometimes worry that I'm being watched, maybe through the crack. I tried explaining this to the engineer but he said it was unlikely. Unlikely? I took comfort from the fact he might be an expert on gables but knew bugger all about ga ga.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sanity has temporarily prevailed...

in Liverpool as the burghers of Sefton vote to reprieve Anthony Gormley's exhibition Another Place on Crosby Beach. Hurrah! I'm going on Sunday to look at it once more but this time with my new Nikon D50 camera that I've finally purchased to replace the one stolen. Boooooo! So I'm happy. Hurrah and a downright almighty Huzzah too!

Not that I wish to appear materialistic but as mentioned passim I loved that camera more than life itself and once stolen it was as if a limb had been lopped from my withered frame. Now I am restored and once again photographs shall grace this old blog of mine. That is, as soon as I can learn again how to use the damn thing.

Mini huzzah!

It's really complicated...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I returned to work...

with a song in my heart. Of course the innards are not quite right but that's innards for you. In my experience innards can be tricky so it's best to take care of them. Take care of your innards and they'll take care of you I'm sure someone once said. Amen to that.

In Catholicism the Sacred Heart is an important icon with which I was often confronted as a small child. Bluntly put, the image is of Jesus chest cracked open to reveal his glowing heart. The holy organ exposed not for gory but glory. One shudders to think of how they'd represent the sacred colon. Some might declare it sacriligous to raise such an issue but pourquoi? Doth the scriptures not proclaim, "No blessed innard shall be higher than another. And thrice nay?"

Or as John Wayne so wisely observed in The Greatest Story Ever Told, "This colon truly was the sump of God."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm feeling...

better today. Remarkably, despite being as sick as the proverbial mutt I've not been drawn to daytime tv. Phew, at least the power to live has not yet fled, which probably means I'll be okay and am through the worst. I posted this last year and really haven't changed my opinion regarding the mindnumbing banality daytime television represents. D/tv reminds me of those straws used by ancient Egyptian embalmers to suck brain from the skulls of dead Pharoahs.

Don't get me wrong my criticism is not of the audience, it's of the producers for making this crap.

I'm going to lie down.

Grrrr.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Since Friday...

I've been a sick as a dog. Bleurgh!

Monday, October 09, 2006

I really like beetroot...

pickled or otherwise. I'm a lover of all things pickled except sparrows. Once in Cyprus I happened upon a shop with jars of what I took to be misshapen pickled eggs. The owner said they were pickled sparrows. Returning to the UK I feverishly sought out pickling books but found no mention of the humble sparrow. Recently sparrows in the UK have been in decline, much to the puzzlement of scientists. Hmmm. Might be time to look once more in the pickling section of my local bookshop. Might find an answer, save sparrows, maybe win a prize. Become known as Sparrow Dan.

Maybe not.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My mate...

Jo's cellar is flooded. Me and Sean are going for a tattoo each next Saturday. At a works do on Friday night I told another friend I had the hots for her

I'm currently reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss because I was struggling to get into John Banville's The Sea. Not sure what the Banville problem is but I'm on page 43 and still haven't got the novel's rhythm. Most frustrating. On the other hand the Krauss caught me on the first page.

Yada yada yada.



Just come across this. Earlier last week Government Minister Jack Straw (one of the architects of Britain's disastrous involvement in Iraq) made a statement saying Muslim women should not wear the chador or full veil. He insists such women who attend his surgery remove their headwear.

I like this response from the Respect Party.


Straw should hide his face in shame
A woman's right to choose. Defend diversity.

Anti-war campaigners will be amongst those protesting outside Jack Straw's office in Blackburn tomorrow (Sat).

And Stop The War founder and, longtime womens rights campaigner, Lindsey German, believes Jack Straw's remarks will do nothing to serve the cause of community relations in Britain. "Nobody could see Mr Straw's face when he chose to "communicate" his views in a newspaper column or again on the Today programme, a radio programme, this morning," said Lindsey.

"He knew perfectly well that we did not see his eyes, ears, nose, mouth or indeed any part of his body to make his uncomfortable views plain. "To expect some Muslim women to make him feel more comfortable by disrobing is both a sleezy and racist attack.

"His own, less than sartorial, dress code does not appear the epitome of good manners to victims of the illegal war in Iraq to which he was so central.

"Britain would be alot better off if Jack Straw were to hide his face in shame!"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some autumn poems to set the post summer mood...

Autumn by William Carlos Williams

A stand of people
by an open

grave underneath
the heavy leaves

celebrates
the cut and fill

for the new road
where

an old man
on his knees

reaps a basket-
ful of

matted grasses for
his goats.

This is a wintry one by Seamus Heaney but I like it for the mood

Sloe Gin by Seamus Heaney

The clear weather of juniper
darkened into winter.
She fed gin to sloes
and sealed the glass container.

When I unscrewed it
I smelled the disturbed
tart stillness of a bush
rising through the pantry.

When I poured it
it had a cutting edge
and flamed
like Betelgeuse.

I drink to you
in smoke-mirled, blue-
black sloes, bitter
and dependable.


Burning the Small Dead by Gary Snyder

Burning the small dead
branches
broke from beneath
thick spreading
whitebark pine.
A hundred summers
snowmelt rock and air
hiss in a twisted bough.

And of course the great Matsuo Basho

Autumn moonlight

Autumn moonlight--
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Yesterday, driving...

home from work eastbound on the elevated Mancunian Way a black van with black windows harassed me. In the outside lane of busy traffic I drifted past slower vehicles watching for my exit. From the rear I saw a black van jinking between lanes, undertaking and overtaking until it was so close the wasp insignia on its bonnet filled my mirror and I thought, hmmm. Cool was my name calm was my disposition as I mooched at 40mph toward the exit. Waspy van meanwhile exuded irritation, bobbing a bit this way drifting a bit that way, not easy in the two eastward lanes that trapped us both. Seeing a space I moved to let it pass and once alongside its passenger window descended showing the driver to be a huge wasp giving me the V. Such rudeness.

"Fuck you too wasp!' I shouted "And it's autumn, not much time remaining for your kind. Yeah!"

But she was gone.

Whilst descending from the M way I noticed a squirrel truck pass in the opposite direction loaded with acorns. The driver seemed exhausted and smiled weakly, at least I thought it was a smile but it might have been a grimace because with squirrels it's sometimes hard to gauge. Recently I gave wide berth to a squirrel whose grimace reminded me of Humphrey Bogart, he was sipping bourbon from an acorn cup in Crowcroft Park. Later beneath his home tree I declaimed Ode to Autumn by John Keats hoping it might raise a cheer but on verse two he hiccuped out of his hole and told me to fuck off.

So for the rest of you

Ode to Autumn, by John Keats.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It occurs to me...

and not for the first time that dogs are astonishingly dim. This afternoon in Salford I followed a white van from whose passenger window poked the head of a small dog with tufty hair and lolling tongue. There are those for whom such a sight might indicate intelligence or even higher cerebral function like a thought, say...

"Hmmm it's too hot. I know, I'll lean out of this window. Yup, that's done the trick."

Except it didn't calculate the lampost that whacked the fucker's head right off. Bounced straight over the bonnet of my car and into the road behind where it was crushed by a lorry. The dog didn't even notice. Now how thick is that?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This evening's golden sunset...

was pressed beneath the weight of a stupendous maroon sky.

John Wayne's 1968 film 'The Green Berets' concludes on Danang beach where he too gazed at a wondrous sunset though one dipping eastward over the South China Sea. If Mr Wayne wanted a sunset he got one, no matter what the geography. I'm not keen on eastward setting suns because the view from the rear of my house is not so good.

Reflecting on this I thanked the heavens (literally) that JW is no longer with us.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

As a matter of principle...

whenever in France I make an effort to eat horse.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In the part of Manchester where...

I work is a shop that sells pig snouts. I noticed it the other day whilst window shopping at 'Hooves'. 'Hooves' is a specialist emporium devoted to all things hoovey. Arranged in the window are hooves for every ocassion. Horses hooves (of course) cows hooves, the hooves of goats, gazelle, sheep, you name it they've got it. Some of the hooves were fashioned into tasteful ornaments that would grace any living room. Others were formed into vessels for the safe soaking of things such as false teeth overnight, or say in a matching pair of fawn's hooves, contact lenses. I understand an attempt was made to hollow out an unusual casserole dish from the hoof of a waterbuffalo but apparently it melted and stuck the oven door shut. That particular line failed shortly before the Hooves stock exchange disaster when gum futures went belly up. Thankfully the business survived, as does the shop motto, 'Your never alone with a hoof.'

The pig snout thing is curious though so I went in and was confronted with an embarrassment of riches, in the pig snout arena that is. There were toffee pig snouts on sticks, frozen pig snouts dipped in flavoured yoghurt. Pig snout shavings soaked in maple syrup. Pig snout glace for the decoration of cakes. Candied piglet snouts arranged as necklaces that children could wear and eat at the same time. Two pig snouts tied fashionably with silk proved popular with ten pin bowlers as a means of keeping fingers toasty. Behind the counter stood glass jars bulging with pig snout joy but my eye was drawn to the caramelled pig snout brittle as I'm particularly fond of brittle. I purchased half a pound of this pig snout heaven, this dialectic of deliciousness, for everyone knows once the brittle is gone the chewing goes on. Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmmmmmmmmm...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Everyday since...

I saw the physio last Wednesday at his insistence I've been putting a hot gel pack on my injured knee to promote healing and ease pain. Amazingly the knee pain has gone, completely eclipsed by huge burn on leg pain. Well, it's a solution of sorts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Went to see...

a physiotherapist this early evening. He worked on my knee for an hour, squeezing, pressing, kneeding, pushing, working his fingers into that damaged ligament. Then he got hot gel packs and did some more business. Me? I groaned and moaned and cursed and winced and cried and begged, I even offered my PIN number to make him stop but there was no mercy in his dark professional heart. I was reminded of those westerns when the wounded gunslinger gets a piece of wood to bite on while they dig the bullet out of his gut. I would have killed for a piece of wood.

And he laughed, oh how he laughed, all the way through. He told me I was a bad boy, that I required punishment,that I must be punished, that I deserve the cane... no, sorry, that was another therapist...

Hmmm, note to self. Must not mix up therapists.

Anyway it bloody hurt.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Went out jogging in...

Crowcroft Park last night and blew a ligament in my knee. Said knee currently looks like a balloon in middle of leg. Indeed I've hired Lilliputians to tie the thing down so I can get a good night's sleep. Were it not for the Lilliputians being up all night drinking and afornicating I'd be having a good night's sleep.

Never let Lilliputians in your bed. They're worse than crumbs.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

There's this mad idea...

that fortunes can be read in the leaves of tea. I'm a tea-bag person and resultingly always thought my future would remain a secret. Dropping a tea box this morning I swear the liberated bags fell into the winning sequence for tonight's national lottery.

I'm sceptical. A number of the smaller bags had arranged themselves into lawyerspeak declaring that the fortune hereto produced was subject to errors depending on whether they were opened for morning tea or evening tea and therefore any fortune could be deemed invalid if the correct conditions were not met. Unfortunately the correct condions had fallen under the washer so I've no idea what they were. By now the shebang had become so stressfull I got the hoover out.

And it wasn't even lunchtime.

So I went back to bed.

With a coffee.

A less malign drink.

I find.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Even though the funfair...

has gone Crowcroft Park remains unsettled. The field arena is scarred with deep gouges made by heavy machinery, huge grooves filled with rainwater criss cross the area. Yellowed templates mark the grass where rides such as The Vomitarium, Sick Your Guts Up and the crude but effective Heave! temporarily stood. It was really no surprise that anything by Barf Bros might feature spinning as the central entertainment feature. Incidentally the entrance was indicated by a huge open mouthed neon head that in green and yellow lines sprayed the letters Barf Bros in an arc under which patrons passed. Nice touch I remember thinking, the whole event begins with someone being sick on your head. I'm not going to go on an on about this (see 21/8 blog for that) except to say that the experience of being washed, sprayed, sluiced, and flooded by the gallons of sick thrown from the rides left my skin wrinkly for days. For those who can't be bothered reading the previous blog I'll give you a taste, urf urf. One ride popular with the local youth was simply called 'Bucket'. It entailed being spun round in a large wooden bucket (plus handle) until your stomach was empty. When the exit sluices opened patrons not removed on the swell were flushed from the machine by rough types wielding high pressure hoses, so no matter how badly you might feel it really was in your interest to get up. Some laughing youth deliberately held on for the hosing, but hey, folly is youth's middle name.

However, the purpose of this post is to record how odd the park remains. Yesterday I kept glimsping things whilst jogging around the inner perimeter, movements that drew my eye, strange objects that were there and then gone. I'm sure I saw groaning bodies and other detritus caught against the parks railings as if a great tide had passed but when I looked directly all was normal. A gnarled oak that used to lean east-west now leans west-east and the line of old bench seats popular with the elderly have begun nipping wildly aside just as people are about to sit. Of course the elderly blame the youth except there no longer seems to be much youth. At the park entrance some families have put up posters asking have you seen this young person or that young person but no one really knows.

It's as if the fair left holes in the grass and holes in the neighbourhood.

Funny, I now recall reading in large copperplate letters on the padlocked doors of their final lorry as it pulled away, Barf Bros of Hamelin.

Hmmmm...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

It has rained so much today...

huge puddles have occured in interesting places. Now, I'm not one of those pedestrian splasher types who deliberately drive through said pools. This is not my thing, in such circumstances I slow right down or move to the other side. However, it has really, and I mean really pissed down today. Some puddles have stretched the road's width, some have proved deep enough to reach the wheel arches and some have been so deep lost villages, church bells atolling could be seen in their murkey depths. On a stretch of road in Salford that runs parallel to the River Irwell I stopped to consider how safe it would be to continue when Poseidon himself rose out of the waters to declare he was lost. I observed that 40 miles from the sea certainly constituted being lost and he responded by telling me to get fucked. Hmm, seems I wasn't the only one grumpy today.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Over this last weekend...

a traveling fair has occupied a big chunk of Crowcroft Park. Had my beautiful Nikon D50 (a camera I loved more than life itself) not been stolen I might have posted some pictures. Unfortunately the software for my posh Nokia megazillion pixellated phonotron has also ceased to function so no pics via that means either.

On Thursday afternoon the park gates were opened to a convoy of heavy lorries that given the recent rain reduced the grass to a brown paste of Paschendale consistency. Once the rides were constructed I was struck by a common feature, all relied for their thrill to a greater or lesser extent on spinning. Names like The Vomitarium and warnings such as 'Bowel Discipline Required at all Times on this Ride' gave the unwary at least a heads up on what to expect. Indeed one machine was so violent and gallons of sick spewed forth with such force Christian fundamentalists in the crowd assumed it was the second flood. Being swept away obviously encouraged mobile phone dealing as many could be heard shouting at their brokers to buy boats.

It eventually struck me that a fair proportion of the crowd were in sowesters. In fact the spray was such they would not have looked out of place aboard a deep sea trawler fighting to maintain a headway. Thank fuck for the handy ropes as everyone slipped and slid between whirling devices, flashing lights, screams, groans and garish music. Every now and then sluice doors on one apparatus or another parted releasing a deluge of grey exhausted patrons to surge tumbling flopping and foaming into the darkness beyond. Man, all that bile rotted the stitching in my shoes and forced me to walk home unshod, plus I went all wrinkly from the wet and it turned me a shade of yellow. Overall though it was fun.

As per the typical funfair I departed laden with crust some of which set so hard in my hair it took two hours with the wallpaper steamer just get the carrots out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

So I went...

to Wales with my mate Bindy, we looked at the sea and the mountains and the tiny little specks at the top which were sheep. Had coffee and cake and more cake, and coffee, and chips (French fries to my American friends) with vinegar and salt. At one point I was leaning over Llandudno Pier looking down at the waves when an enormous seagull swooped and snatched some chips right out of my hand! It had a gun so what's a person to do?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Today...

I am going to Llandudno in North Wales with a friend who is up from London.

I shall return inspired.

Watch this space.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The cake gremlins....

that recently plagued my pc appear to have gone. A souvenir photograph was left on the door of my fridge. It's a group photo and all are giving me the finger except one that's showing off its bottom. Makes a lovely memoriam given Fat Trev ate the lot as they attempted to make good their escape. By all accounts his attack was silent swift and deadly. None survived. Problem is they'd become infused with RAM and now Fat Trev burps the noise of fax machines and modems. When he farts bubbles of algorithm shush by. And his shit, man! You could say that of late my business has becomes Fat Trev's business but that wouldn't be funny. One disconcerting phenomena is the recurrent synthesis of humidity and harmonics, particularly troublesome on warm still nights. These are strange nights when it's not equations but the eerie sound of my privacy that often whispers through the bins out back. Voices half heard on the drift, fading like old radio signals. Trouble is the embarrassing stuff has started leaking most. Notes to old girlfriends, begging letters to old friends, things I've ordered in plastic, the burro (hey, it was on offer). I'm hoping to be around when Trev farts out my e-mail address book, I've even boiled a jar to catch it in. Well, I actually boiled 10 jars and offered the local tots £5 for whoever can capture the most. Yesterday morning I occasioned on two of them squeezing Trev like a toothpaste tube but nothing of use emerged. A third tot suggested to the other two that they jump on him a few times to loosen up the innards but they relaxed their grip and he escaped. 3 inches of runny msdos doth not a summer make I later lamented pressing a penny into three small palms latticed with base configurations. They seemed happy but that's six year olds for you, no sense of what things are worth.

Not seen Trev since yesterday.

The tots liked my joke about the constipated mathematician who worked it out with a pencil.

Funny, not seen them since that joke.

Hmmmm.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I mentioned a couple of blogs ago...



that I had goldfish in my yard pond. Well, not anymore. They are kaput. I think they pooed themselves to death. I got some plants instead, much less maintenance required and they don't give you any lip.

I read a book that said fish poo was the enemy of your pond fish and it recommended filtration as a means of keeping the pond, well, shit free. These filtration systems were not only expensive but also huge. A system to serve my tiny pond came with its own barn and outhouses and drew so much power it required a small nuclear boiler (not included) to keep the uv strips aglo. To assist the water's ambient temparature and establish green credentials coolant discharged directly into the pond. Superficially a clever idea until the next generation of fish arrive. Two streets from where I live someone bought a similar system that leaked and literally within a couple of Koi generations (Naples Koi that is) most of the fish were practicing law. Shortly afterwards the owners were evicted and driven into bankrupcy, it was blunt brutal and to the point. Harry High Hat, the top cat in my alley told this to me over a glass of laudanum one evening so it must be true. Ergo, because I like my house no filtration was purchased. Tough on the fish but hey, it was either them or me.

(photo courtesy of my mobile phone)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My pc...

has gremlins. None of my software glitch fixers seem able to stop the system being really, really, really slow. And I mean snail pace here. At night I sometimes hear muffled singing dancing and laughter coming from the hardrive casing. I suspect there's agambling adrinking and afornicating going on as well. Comes to something when the innards of my computer lead a more exciting life than me. Well, I'm gonna put a stop to it. Gonna take the machine and get it fixed. Then it's either back to he grindstone for those lazy electronic fuckwits or the scrapheap.

There will be no mercy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Apparently...

some students in Vietnam are wearing wigs as a means of cheating exams. Said wigs are reported to be stuffed with electronic hardware so associates can forward correct answers to examinees. Teachers became suspicious when students wearing 18th Century North European headgear began arriving for an important matriculation. Unfortunately heavy horsehair and South East Asian temperatures mix not and a number of sweating students short circuited and therefore, in more ways than one, failed. Some were mortified to discover they could only receive the BBC's South Asia Service and one became linked to a passing NSA satellite that insisted his name was Dominique. Missiles were prepared on the US Indian Ocean fleet until someone established that phrases such as,

"Well it was on page bloody 23 last night,"

and,

"The answer's pi r squared dammit. Bollocks, your doing literature? I thought it was physics!" Who is this? Get off the line."

were not Al Qaeda attack codes.

Expect arrests and renditions soon.

On a separate wig issue, the true story of their demise has a connection to those modern student japes reported above. As the 17th Century drew to a close wigs developed an ostentation not previously seen. With the expansion of cities and particularly London land prices put the promise of a country home beyond the reach of those previously considered wealthy. For a short period during the 1750's a number of wigs were marketed with smallholdings knitted into the thatch. The idea was stunning in it's brilliance and would have worked but for a series of highly publicised deaths by conflagration. The foppish rich (and isn't it always them) seeking to make savings through reduced staff numbers were unaware that at night fire requires careful husbandry, or at the very least to be put out. At nightfall throughout London sightings were reported of a phenomenon initially thought to be huge horizontal matches with brightly burning heads. Only on closer examination was it discovered they were in fact rich people with brightly burning heads. Many of these heads were stolen by urchins to the East End where a spattering skull properly maintained could provide heat to a poor family for months.

Smallholding and country house wigs soon fell from fashion though one concomitant fact did not escape rationalists of the time. The 10 years during which these rich fools fought to establish this ridiculous fashion and during which many fell foul of their own foolishness was also the only decade in that century when syphilis showed a decline.

There's something poetic about that, dontchathink?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Last week I had cause...

to remember the story of the Princess and the Pea. It ends when the princess is finally proved to be royal by suffering a disturbed night atop 16 or so mattresses beneath which hides a single pea. Is that spoilt, or what?

Many years ago I discovered a sleepless night often follows the eating of toast in bed. Not sure if that proves anything, other than foolishness.

Someone once told me of this woman who took to her bed and stayed there for 30 years, wees and poos aside that is. By all accounts she liked to chop wood in bed, with an axe, for the fire. As the years passed and her eyesight weakened she took to lopping not just wood but also bits of leg as well. Slowly, almost imperceptibly she chopped her way upwards until only the arms, shoulders and head remained. She convinced her children it was the right thing to do by claiming it would make for a cheaper funeral. Finally the day arrived when she was reduced to one arm and a head. The children, by then tired of their mother's eccentricity but inspired by her thrift decided not to wait for death. Instead they turned what was left upside down and made a nice hanging basket for the garden.

The moral of this story is: don't piss your children off by chopping wood in bed.



Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My mate Sean...

has insisted I buy goldfish for my little pond. Under other circumstances I would have posted a photo of said pond but being sans posh camera that's no longer an option.

In the local pet shop I was told that herons sometimes eat pond fish. Now that did impress me, not that herons eat fish but that anything as gracious as a heron should knock around these parts. I've never seen one in the neighbourhood but Big Trev the halitotic alley cat who lives out back has. Last week whilst changing the battery of my super duper electronic cat scarer/stabber/boiler of feline eyer I noticed Trev lurking.

Trev, "Was admiring your fish the other day when I saw an eagle."
"An eagle?" I said.
"An eagle." He said.
"What did it look like?" I said.
"An eagle," He said.
"Are you sure?" I said.
So he said, "Yes."
I said, "Have you ever seen an eagle before?"
He said, "No."
"Then how did you know it was an eagle?" I said.
"I just assumed." He said.
Give me some details." I said.
So he said, "It was tall with beady eyes and thin legs and a long beak. Oh yeah, and beady eyes."
"I think that was a heron." I said.
"A heron?" He said.
So I said "Yes."
"Have you ever seen a heron before?" He said.
"No." I said.
"Then how did you know it was a heron, you weren't even there."
"The pet shop man said there were herons about,"
Shading his eyes with a paw Big Trev looked skywards.
"He didn't mention eagles then?"
"No," I said.
"Thank fuck for that." He said.
"Why?"I said.
"I saw on the telly that eagles can carry off a whole sheep in one swoop. Was worried."
"About sheep?" I said.
"No, about swooping and things being carried off." He said.
I said, "Apparently herons don't swoop, they stab."
"Stab?" He said.
"Stab." I said.
"It had very beady eyes." He said.
"All the better to see you with." I said.
"And a very beaky beak." He said.
"All the better to stab you with." I said.
"Bloody hell." He said and proceeded to slink away then he hesitated and said, "I read somewhere that herons only eat fish."
"You're thinking of catholics." I said.
"Bugger," He said and continued the slink, ducking and weaving down the alley, dodging imaginary herons.
"Look out!" I shouted and with a screeching miaooowwwwww he skittered through the bins and disappeared.

Ah were reet cheered up.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

In the press...

this week I was reminded of that great joke about a horse on entering a bar being asked by the steward 'Why the long face?'

Watching one of the many re-runs of Jurassic Park on the telly last night there was the bit where a corrupt employee is killed by these small spitting dinosaurs that also have this expanding neck flange arrangement. I was really impressed with them. You can keep your T-Rex and your velociraptors they've always seemed a bit too one trick for my liking. Even if important body parts can be severed with one snap of their mighty jaws, so what. Your gobbing dinosaur, now that's an entirely different kettle of history.

Imagine how cool it would be to have one of them as a constant companion. How useful in a bar, say when someone is being boorish or too loud. With a spitting reptile on the next seat, maybe nursing a Jim Beam and eyeing up the custom it wouldn't take much for it to hock a post Cambrian loogie of astonishing proportions across the bar and knock that fucker right off his stool. And, should some student then decide to barf their liquid lunch in your direction would that umbrellic throat feature not provide the perfect splash guard? Finally, strolling alongside such a buddy what encountered horse could escape the observation, "Long face? You should get a load of his neck."

It's a shit that Evolution has denied us those pleasures.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I mentioned...

to a few blog friends that only my early death would prevent tonight's publication of Pt II. I never thought for a moment my server software would stop working. Maybe it was the burden of anticipation. Trouble is I'm too busy tomorrow night to blog so Wednesday is the next chance I get.

Until Wednesday then.

Sigh.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Unfortunately...

Pt II of my little tale will not be ready until tomorrow. Today I pointed the bricks that make up half the floor area of my yard. It took twice as long as I'd planned, six hours instead of three. It was so hot even the alley cats were catching rays, lounging atop various walls and when they could summon the energy shouting advice on sand cement ratios. Of course they know nothing about cement, four sand to one cement, pssht. The local tiny tots were shouting eight sand to half cement but given they're all convinced nothing comes after the number two I wasn't taking any notice of them. A green budgerigar flew by breathlessly declaring his name to be Billy, he also declared his heart to be so full of love it was his intention to shake everyone's hand as a means of proving it. Even the smallest of tots couldn't resist watching this. So we waited and watched, some sat and some stood and some were even a little awed as Billy landed neatly beside Big Trev a fat alley cat with halitosis. Billy proffered a wing but big Trev wanted a breast and a leg, in fact both legs plus the head. One of the tots spelled out in the bluntest of fashion what we all were thinking. "Fucking idiot." She said. And everyone nodded in agreement except Big Trev who just burped.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Right then...

I am over the theft of my camera. Been thinking of blogs. So, from tomorrow a Frankenstein tale in three parts. It will have monsters (maybe more than one), supermarkets (only one), bottle and paper banks (one of each), little children (of course), redemption for the righteous and ridicule for the er, unrighteous.

Until tomorrow then. Hi ho Silver and awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Boo hoo...

my beautiful camera that I loved more than life itself has been stolen. On Friday my car was broken into and the camera taken from the boot. Je suis desole.

It was a hot day, the merciless sun beat down on dry earth, flitting flies licked salt from parched skin. My heart tripped to the beat of Friday's song, a freedom song, an anticipatory song, a weekend song. Music by Sergio Leone infused the shimmering landscape and at every corner sat unshaven men on dusty burros furtively watching from beneath wide brimmed hats. Streams of brown gob streaked the pavement and frightened children hid in their mother's skirts. It was going to be a top weekend, I could tell. Then tragedy struck.

Whilst visiting a house someone broke into my car and rifled the boot; camera gone, mobile phone gone. The weekend suddenly cloudy.

Je suis tres desole.

In consolation my friend Karen fed me gin and tonic with ice and lemon. It helped.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There's been snippets...


in the news that wild boars are once again roaming the land, eating sheep and stealing small children, at night, from their beds, using hankies to muffle the tiny cries.

In reply a boar spokesboar (pictured) said "Darling, none of this is true. We're dealing with a witch-hunt here, pure and simple."

In Sussex and Kent gin sodden huntsmen, coats as red as their faces and veins as blue as their politics were seen saddling up for the chase. A boar spokesboar (pictured) said "Darling, these people are savages."

Someone speaking for the Department of the Environment Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) said, "Only guns and a tremendous amount of bloodshed will sort this problem out."

A boar spokesboar (pictured) said "Darling, I am fucking right off."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Here's some views...








from the Headland across Hartlepool Bay in the North East of England. The view looks south towards the steel works at Redcar. Hartlepool Bay must be four or five miles across and is dominated by steel, oil and chemical production plus a nuclear power station to drive the whole affair. The bayside therefore is one huge factory.





















At sea tankers and container ships queue to enter Teesport. I've always thought of Hartlepool Bay as both majestic and bleak.








Sunday, May 21, 2006

Me and my mate Sean...






have been transforming my little yard. It has rained so much today that we didn't manage to complete it. I'm seeking that Babylon look, sort of abundance without the ostentation. Ha ha. The photo was taken by me hanging out of the bathroom window.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Da Vinci Code...

has upset the Catholic Church. Astonishingly they are complaining the film is not an accurate representation of history. Now, I've seen Da Vinci's The Last Supper (TLS) and apart from the goat it seems a fair representation of that fateful night. At Christ's feet lie a pair of samsonite suitcases (to symbolise leaving) leaning against the wall some ladders (to symbolise upwards) and finally there's a man with a hammer (to symbolise hammering). Christ is reaching for another drink, a taxi is idling outside and Peter is arguing with John over who ordered the creme brulee. Early drafts of TLS, now lost in time showed the work to be populated with not 12 apostles but 26 plus local boy band 'The Huge Dumplings'. Indeed more than once over the evening an intoxicated Jesus remarks on how much the drummer reminds him of his dog Herod. A fight is only averted when Jesus apologises for observing rather too loudly that both Herod and the hapless percussionist seem to share the same grin. Police are called but leave when reassured he intended no insult.

As the door closed Jesus was heard to mutter, 'He's the fucking spit of Herod, I'm telling you." A comment it was fortunate for history the officer ignored.

It is a little known Galilean fact that around the time of Jesus's death it became fashionable amongst young musicians to replace their teeth with canine dentures. In public health terms this led to a decrease in rabies infections not because the carriers could no longer bite their victims but rather because dogs with no teeth whistle and this became a warning to everyone that trouble was near. Sadly there was also a concomitant increase in the shooting of delivery people.

At this juncture I must mention the body of Caleb slumped just behind Jesus and whose unconscious hand is pointing at Judas. The symbolism here may seem straightforward, a drunk, someone who might aptly be described as poisoned with excess has fallen to the ground and fatefully points a finger of responsibility. Judas can be seen recoiling as if struck. Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists Caleb was a notorious drinker who suffered a significant childhood trauma that froze his hand into an accusing posture. What we really see therefore is simply a consequence of the way he fell. Incidentally, the childhood trauma from which he never recovered happened when as a three year old he was set upon by an early whistling dog.

One final point about TLS that is worth remembering when listening to the attacks made by the Catholic Church on 'The Da Vinci Code'. Sporting an engagement ring and beaming smile the person sitting in Jesus's lap is Mary Magdalene.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Multi-storey...








car park on a sunny day in Manchester. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Only recently I've discovered...

fire pits . Prior to this I'd blithely assumed that if folk wanted a fire in the open air they dug a hole or pit. I am just sooooooo last century. Like, uh, get with the programme Dan, yah! To cut a long story short I have a friend who enjoys setting fire to stuff and it was her birthday party this weekend. So my mate Sean, he of the decorating bent suggested as a present we purchase a fire pit. Oddly, over the past weeks fire pits were mentioned somewhere in the press then suddenly here was Sean talking about the very same item. Spooky or what? The article I read stated that on many camp sites in the UK if folk wanted a fire they were now expected to bring their own pit. Whatever happened to bringing your own spade? Now a person is expected to bring their own hole, how can this be? The Net is a funny place and whilst looking for fire pit links I stumbled across a Guide to Wilderness Sanitation that went on about managing pooh in't country. It suggests the model ramblers might follow to keep the wilderness sanitised is that of the cat. To quote, "Cats are very particular and clean creatures, especially with regards to their toilet practices. With the small trowel you now carry it is easy to copy the cat and dig a small scrape for your toilet. Choose a secluded spot..." Model of good fucking behaviour? The bastard cats who live around here (and seem unable to crap anywhere but my yard) are not discreet, or neat, or leave no mark. Oh no. In my alleyway the cats are dangerous, untidy, have scarring and names like Potted Meat, Septic Cleaver, Exposed Bone. Nor do the bastards believe in replacing that which they have moved. Dig hole, shit, leave shit AND hole. Cheeky gets. I've bought a sonic cat scarer and disposer. Apparently it works using one of those Passive Infra Red (PIR) sensors. Any cat exposed to its remit is impaled on an enormous barbed spike that springs forward and then hauls the twitching corpse into the machine through a bloodied door. At the same time as with cuckoo clocks a plastic man leans from an upper window shouting "Turn the gas up Mabel there's meat for't bairns tonight." I think it's manufactured in Berne.

Mention of 'scraping' in the wilderness guide above has given me the idea of a yearly 'cat scrape', maybe in the form of a festival where cats can be scraped off things. I see prizes being awarded for the most imaginative feature from which a cat might be scraped, for instance wheel arches, paving, truck radiator grills, the elderly. Or the most imaginative tool by which a cat might be scraped, a pressure spray for instance, pneumatic drill, spoon, lathe.

One more thing. Whilst looking for info on fire pits I came across this site that declared King Tutankhamen had no willy . One possible explanation for its absence is that in the poor light tomb raiders mistook it for a panatella. Believe me stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Haiku

Cherry blossom joy
Pink petals one spring morn fall
Like flecks of heaven




Spring is well and truly underway. Rhododendron, tulips, and wonderful white and pink cherry blossom. Manchester has the look of Japan about it. Not that I've ever been to Japan but I understand Japanese folk love cherry blossom, and so do I.

Another pic of

the exhibition with some added friends. Posted by Picasa





God! With this groovy new camera I can take loads of pics. However I need to get a copy of fotoshop so I can produce loverly pictures. At moment am stuck with Nikon's Picture Project which fairly basic. Yada yada yada yada, yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnn, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.



















Just think what it's gonna be like once I get the proper software!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Been to Liverpool...




today and took these photos of Anthony Gormley's incredible exhibition titled 'Another Place' on Formby beach.








There are 100 of these lifesize figures stretching 3K up the beach.


















And 1k out into the surf. It's an astonishing sculpture that changes as the tides ebb and flow and as the seasons alter.







The weather was crap.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

It seems the Pope...

was due to attend a gathering in the Vatican Square this week. He planned to tell catholics they could now use condoms as a means of contraception however at the last minute he changed his mind and pulled out.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

That was my mate Sean's joke.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I am not much of a...

painter. This is a bit of my yard wall painted on Saturday. Sean, who did most of the other bits was frustrated by my inability to keep it neat. The blame for this lies with a catholic education that (when I were a lad) believed the only way to develop a child's practical skills was via the lash. Result? I learned nothing except to fear paint and going over lines. In adulthood I've overcome that fear and now paint over lines just because I can. In fact it has become a principle, see a line paint over it, see another line step over it.

In metalwork there were T squares (?) which we used to establish 90 degree angles. I was bloody rubbish at that, could manage 89 degrees and even a wavy line but never ever in 5 years of high school a single 90 degree angle, no siree not one. The only exciting thing I ever remember from those lessons was some boy with an oxy/acetyline torch turning round and sweeping it across chest of innocent boy standing behind. The smell of that burning pullover/flesh combo has remained with me to this very day. I'm almost sure I was thrashed for that as well, but wait, could that boy with the blue flame have been me? Hang on, a mist is lifting, OHMIGOD IT WAS ME! AND WHAT'S THAT THERE, SMOULDERING IN THE YARD, BY THE BIN? IT LOOKS LIKE OLD RAGS. OHMIGOD!!!!! WHERE'S SEAN?

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A view...





from a window at my little South Manchester street on this glorious spring morn. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A bright sunny day...




in Manchester. For some reason this shot makes me think of the 1950's and hardboiled tales of menace and intrigue in the concrete jungle. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dontcha...

think Misplaced Anger would be a great name for a band?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Here's another photo of that...

Posted by Picasa

castle in East Yorkshire. The tower shown here was sans roof. Shoddy workmanship is probably the main cause, well that and the English Revolution. There were also a number of stone canon balls lying around, sort of thing a person might stub their toe on. These ancient types had no sense of health and safety what with all their garroting and slaughter and torture and gutting and gizzards and innards. Life in those days was a messy business and sticky too what with all that blood lying around.

I was in an old castle...

in East Yorkshire the other weekend and noticed this very thin door. I'd previously assumed medieval folk to be sturdy because of all the meat they ate, however this door might prove othewise, methinks. Posted by Picasa

I read somewhere that the rich, ie the type who owned castles didn't think much of vegetables and believed meat was the only food worth eating. I also read that they regularly suffered from chronic constipation. Serves em right. This doorway therefore was clearly designed for the non meat eaters, or thin folk, then again it might have been an arrow slit. Built just in case the non meat eaters ever acquired a taste for meat, sort of as a means of keeping them from the high table. In those times it was also a capital crime to poach deer though personally I've always preferred it roasted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

North York Moors Pt II: The storm passed as quickly as it arrived and...

sunshine made diamonds of every drop of water that collected on the tips of grass, or atop walls or dripped from the country bumkin who was lingering when the car stopped. His badge said Country Bumkin *Third Class* and he'd been left outside as a test, the test being to notice the rain and come in. He failed yet didn't seem unhappy which I suppose is the main thing. I asked for a spade so the cat could be scraped from the front wheel and he observed.

"Take more'n a spade to put that right."
"Put what right?" I said
"That'm cat." He said nodding at the whiskered face peaking from under the same front wheel that hid the rest of its flat carcass.
"It's dead, I'm not trying to put it right."
"Ah," He said and wandered indoors.

I began to work the feline flesh from between the tyre treads, once unpeeled it retained a half moon shape. Later, a clever razor lamb slung beneath the cat's curved corpse cheerfully demonstrated paragliding to her mates. I remember thinking what a rare example of the virtuous circle, well, half circle.

Public houses on the North Yorkshire Moors have penchants for Toby Jugs. I'd noticed this previously in The Cracked Mind where a high shelf was lined with jugs representing famous breakdowns, pride of place went to a Norman Bates jug whose handle was a carving knife twisted through a shower curtain. Only The Slaughtered Lamb was without a display however on reflection I'm almost sure its high shelf was populated with grotesque enamel faces that made lewd suggestions throughout the time we were there.

Above this pub door creaked a wooden sign that carried neither name nor picture. I pondered the heavy board as it swung slowly one way then the other. The brickwork similarly carried no name and the unimaginative beer advert didn't help stating only "Beer, get it here." Unlike the other establishments we visited this pub had only one room with a rough bench laid over wooden barrels and rather than a high shelf populated by thematic jugs there was instead a low shelf upon which rested a single jug of enormous size. A further striking feature of the jug was it's resemblance to one of the villainous sheep we had passed earlier. I mentioned this to the barman who unabashed told me it was modelled on his cousin.

After this there seemed little point in asking for the menu.

Descending from the Moors we paused to watch another storm as it broke. A large bird circled casually on the updraft. Then driven toward us on a powerful squall the following words lashed our car with a ratatat of manic diction, "Cats!... dontcha just love em... Ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... "

It might not have been a bird.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

Last Sunday I was driving...

across the North Yorkshire Moors with two friends looking for somewhere to have lunch. Beautiful countryside but no sense of how to feed hungry travellers. In Manchester pubs that serve food, SERVE FOOD! Not on the North Yorkshire Moors though. We visited a number of pubs that advertised food but did not serve it. Pubs in North Yorkshire only serve food between 12 noon and 2pm, not a moment before, nor a moment after. In our first pub The Cracked Mind, the waitress who took our order became distracted by a spider and never spoke to us again. We were shown the door by a cackling old crone with a single tooth who whistled about it being 31 years since she had last seen a dentist. Opposite lay The Dripping Innard which looked promising but for a scarred crone who wouldn't let us in. In the nearby hamlet of Much Weeing we found a hostelry called 'A Rotted Stump' apparently owned by MacDonalds so we gave it a miss. Some miles on we reached the ancient settlement of Jutting Mandible wherein was situated, 'The Slaughtered Lamb'. A place eerily familiar, more so when everyone stopped talking as we entered. Being only midday the locals soon ignored us and returned to their business. I remember the landlord as a strikingly hirsute man who responded to our order with growls and that pained look one gets when troubled with excess acid. Shaking his head and grasping in his paw a lump of chalk he scrawled across the bar, 'It's gone two'. Disappointed we drove away just as a mist rolled over the village until it seemed as if nothing had ever existed in that blasted place. Our Ordinance Survey parchment indicated a crossroads four miles further and we set off just as it began to rain. The high moorland was suddenly cut with jagged shadows as lightning flashed and thunder boomed. We drove on, following that crooked track past terrified faces of sheep that loomed then were gone, their fearful eyes bulging with every roar of the storm. We saw many stoats and some criminal sheep who were laughing just because they could. A group of razor lambs kicked down a section of dry stone wall for pleasure. Suddenly the narrow path gave way to a flat open area where centuries earlier a tavern and assorted buildings were built to serve what back then must have been an important junction. The road was very slippy but the pub cat provided extra traction when it became stuck under the front wheels, indeed were it not for that cat's sacrifice we might have carried right on through.

More of this in the next post.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Not quite a haiku...











a dark finger fell
high above Grassington one
late spring afternoon.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What the world...


looks like when April showers have passed.


















Is it becoming obvious I've got a digital camera?

Monday, April 03, 2006

I remain to be convinced...

that Lourdes will be saved as the Catholic Church's premier attraction in France. Miracle Lite cannot be the solution, whereas a massive theme park can. With each ride designed to bring the average visitor closer to God could anywhere be more religious than the apex of a 500 metre high roller coaster just before the dip? Or anything so moving as the scream of pilgrims plunging headlong toward a pool of water that's been blessed?















When I was a child people would return from Lourdes with plastic Virgin Mary shaped bottles whose blue crown was the screw lid. Once I was given a tiny shrine with two lead doors that opened to expose a glow in the dark Sacred Heart. It disappeared around the same time the dog's teeth fell out.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April showers...


yesterday in Crowcroft Park. The light was incredible changing from bright sunlight to dark and overcast in a matter of moments. A few minutes before this photo hailstones rattled down and a gale whipped across the park. The winter moment passed as quickly as it arrived until once again the sun shone.













5 minutes on and the light has become watery with no loss of contrast. I hear people whingeing about April's unpredictability but this is the very feature that most excites me. Spring is so dramatic, what other season can deliver winter energy and summer calm one after the other? Ah spring, washing Crowcroft Park, preparing it for the summer.









On a less cerebral note I understand from today's papers that the catholic church is changing the method by which miracles are classified. I gather it's something to do with competition between Lourdes and Eurodisney for tourists. Tomorrow I intend to say a little more about this because I think both attractions have something to learn from each other. For instance just as children are assailed by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in Eurodisney why not offer pilgrims similar opportunities as they promenade toward the blessed shrine but this time using oversize Madonnas and maybe a few saints? It's a definite money spinner, more of which tomorrow.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Similar to the squirrel issue...

mentioned yesterday, in the UK we also have a badger issue. It appears that badgers are carriers of TB and can pass it on to other animals, wouldn't be an issue if the other animals were anything but cows. Badgers therefore represent a huge economic problem, solution, kill badger. Not quite the twee outcome described so movingly in Kenneth Graham's timeless trilogy, 'Badger Gets It In The Chest.'; 'Poor Badger.' and 'Put A Brick On That Lid Mother, This One's Not Going Quietly.'

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Squirrels and badgers...

have been receiving a poor press in the UK this past week. Grey squirrels originally from the US have almost driven out the native red squirrel though I'm not sure how. One news bulletin said the greys were aggressive, smoked short stubby cigars and referred to everyone as Bud. Red squirrels on the other hand organise village fetes and drink weak tea. I've been unable to ascertain how the grey squirrel first arrived on these shores but I presume it was with a visa, or shipwrecked and clinging to a spar. Squirrels are expert clingers, maybe the first one arrived clinging to someone's hat. Victorian Customs and Excise were not as versed as we are today on American hat couture so it would be an easy thing to miss. Hat clinging as a means by which animals might avoid detection of course ended when it became policy in this country to x-ray everyone's head. Concern visited one hat owner when a feature she thought an example of avant garde styling was shown to be a moose.

Red squirrels strike me as a pretty feeble bunch and with names such as Tarquin and Algy it's easy to see why. I can imagine them simpering on some beach when the first grey washed up.

"I agree Tarquin, a fine spar indeed but what pray might be clinging to it"?
Tarquin waves his nosegay in merriment, "I do declare it is a squirrel, a huge grey squirrel. Ha ha ha".

Both Tarquin and Algy titter for some time each hoping the other would make a useful suggestion. The grey squirrel meanwhile opens a weather eye and pulls from his rusted thermidor a stubby cigar.

"Got a light Bud.".

In response Algy laughs, "Ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha". And fingers his ruff.

"Are you a... squirrel"? Asks Tarquin who offers the grey his flint and cotton.

"That I am. New Jersey born and bred."

"And in this New Jersey are all squirrels large and grey?"

"They are."

Algy flourishing a handkerchief wipes his little red brow before asking, "But, ah... you're the only one here... in the country... yes? "

"For the moment."

"For the moment?"

"I got a brudder coming in on the nine o'clock hat."

Tarquin and Algy both say,"Oh".

Red squirrels, they had it coming the wimps. Tomorrow I'll say a little about badgers.

This is my mate Rachel...


currently touring India. I promised her a mention so here it is, though that desert could be anywhere. North of Liverpool is a 10 mile or so stretch of shallow coastline that has sandunes and sand. To the best of my knowledge it doesn't have camels so I suspect she really is in India.