Sunday, December 16, 2007

Went to the butchers...

to order a free range bird for Christmas and he said "Free range, eh?"
So I said, "Yes."
And he said, "We've a new line. Very old breed of turkey. Goes way back, to the dinosaurs. Angry type. We'll need a deposit."
"Does it graze in the wild?" I said.
"It grazes anywhere it fucking well likes." He said.
So I said, "Show me a picture."
And he pulled out a police mug shot with the turkey looking mean and right into the camera.
"Will it go into an average oven?" I said.
"That depends." He said.
"On what?" I said.
"If you've an average oven." He said.
So I said, "You miss the point."
And he said "So did the turkey."
So I said, "How did you kill it?"
And he said, "With a gun."
"With a gun?" I said.
And he said, "Yes."
"What kind of gun?" I said.
"A big one." He said.
"A big one?" I said.
And he said "Yes."
So I said, "It wasn't with a spear then?"
And he said, "No."
We both paused.
"There was a spear involved." He said.
"Was there?" I said
And he said, "Yes,"
So I said, "And was this spear behind the point that was missed?"
And he said, "Yes."
So I said, "That explains the gun."
And he said, "Yes."
"Okay then, I'll have one of your turkeys. When shall I collect?" I said.
And he said, "I lied about the gun."
So I said, "You did?"
And he said, "Yes."
"It's not dead yet, is it?" I said.
And he said, "No."
So I said, "What do I get for my deposit?"
And he said, "A spear and a gun."
So I said, "A spear and a gun?"
And he said, "Yes."
So I said, "You do home delivery?"
And he said, "Sort of."
So I said, "Sort of?"
And he said "It delivers itself."
"Hence the spear and the gun?" I said.
And he said, "Yes."
"When this angry bird arrives I'll be expected to shoot it, or stick it with this spear." I said.
And he said, "You won't have to pluck it."
So I said, "Why?"
And he said, "Highly anxious type. By Christmas it'll have plucked itself."
"Well, thank heavens for small mercies."I said.
And he said. "Yes."
"All I have to do is kill it?" I said.
"Proves it's free range." He said.
"Shall I return the gun and spear after Christmas?" I said.
"No, you keep them." He said.
"Really," I said.
"Really," He said.
"And why is that?" I said.
"It's got relatives." He said.
"Fair enough." I said and left the shop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Manchester this...

evening, and heavy on the photoshop thank you very much. I've got a loverly little Canon IXUS 60 and took this handheld on ISO 800, then fiddled with photoshop and now it looks like a painting. Excellent!

Was out on my bike again, in the dark. I've bought loads of flashing lights so I wont be killed, put em on my helmet, on the bike, on the bag, on the pedals, on the spokes, on the handlebars, on the seat post, got so many lights I'm bleedin' knackered just hauling round my own weight in batteries. I'm so bright children think it's the Fair arriving and shout "Huzzah!" Birds think it's dawn and begin the morning chorus, a group of fundamentalists recently mistook me for the second coming and formed a new church and now I emit so much light I can be seen from space.

Still, if I get knocked down the buggers won't be able to claim they didn't see me.

"Your Honour, I was driving along the Queen's carriageway minding my own business when suddenly a great light appeared in the east and I thought what the fuck is that! Blinded, I ran into said light knocking (as I came to know him later) Mr Flynn into the canal where he subsequently suffered severe shocks due to an excess of voltage. M'Lud, if I'm guilty of anything it is of saving the night sky from this madman. I rest my case."


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cycling in Manchester...

yesterday I came across hundreds of Christian bikers roaring down Deansgate dressed as Father Christmas. Not wholly sure that Santa Claus would approve of such recklessness what with his carbon footprint being so low. I researched some info on the carbon footprint of cows (in the absence of info on reindeer farts) and discovered what a major hazard bovine rear-end exhalations represent.

Thank the Lord those Christians didn't pass through town riding cows or else we'd be totally fucked.

The photo below is of the Dee Estuary from West Kirby, taken last weekend. That's Wales in the distance.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Think I'm gonna receive...

a speeding ticket. Didn't see the cops until it was too late to slow down, they got me with a radar machine. Pah!

Someone at work has a great cartoon above their desk. It shows a big boss looking down on a lowly secretary and he says "Why aren't you working?" And she replies "I didn't see you coming."

Well I feel the same way about speed cops. Why was I speeding? I didn't see the cops. Doh!

Took this photo in West Kirby on Sunday eve.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Photoshop Elements 5.0

is a wonderful object though I'm not sure about the "5.0" bit. Five point oh? Whatever happened to 5, or five? And what's this "Die Hard 4.0" about? Four point oh.

Photoshop Elements plays a more positive role in my life than any Bruce Willis film, as is evidenced on the right.

The image was achieved by fiddling with Photoshop though I can't now remember precisely what I did. However, the trick has brought me joy which I suppose is the main thing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Came across this particular...

swan on the Ashton Canal, liked the cut of its jib. In the UK all swans belong to the Queen. Grrr. They seem such graceful creatures, but apparently got vicious tempers, snap a man's leg clean off with a single look. Or is that break a child's leg with one wing. Or it might have been never pull a gun on a friend. The point I'm trying to make is, don't cross a cross swan. Oh no.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Autumn is in full swing...

here in the UK. Hmmm. Although I think the place looks pretty, dressed in golds, auburns, russets, reds and yellows, it does not do for me what spring does.

However, Autumn nevertheless provides the opportunity for a bit of John Keats. The same happened last year I know but hey, why deny ourselves a bit of Keats? The photo was taken today on the Marple Canal that skirts the east of Manchester just below the Pennine foothills and above Ashton and Stockport. More pics on flickr over on't right...

Keats opens the second stanza of his poem with a question, "Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?" He then implores autumn to ignore spring and instead appreciate itself, which is a lesson for me too. Spring, perhaps I love it too much, even to the detriment of autumn and winter. Nah, sod autumn and winter, they can look after themselves. Great poem though.

To Autumn

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-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd 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'er-brimm'd 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-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd 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 cyder-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 red-breat whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

- John Keats

Monday, September 24, 2007

Was in Derbyshire yesterday...

walking up hill and down dale, testing the knee. On't right is a photo of Edale taken from the north side of Mam Tor. Mam Tor is a large pointy hill that sits astride the ridge line running from Hope in the east to Despair in the West. Actually that's not true because Derbyshire isn't remotely like any place described in The Pilgrim's Progress, though it can be spooky when there's a fog. Hope really does exist even if it has been many years since Caleb was a popular name in the village.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I notice...

it's been over a month since the op on my leg. So, here's a photo of said leg, said almost recovered leg. A fine example of leg it is I must say. This is a leg that's going places, I can tell by the look of it. And what larks me and the leg will having this winter, walking larks, cycling larks, maybe even running larks (but no running until after Christmas larks). We might even be up with the larks, though I'm not wholly sure of this as I have an idea larks bugger off to Africa every winter. Or maybe that's Africans.

In honour of this leg I've bought a winter walking coat. A posh winter walking coat for winter walking because me and the leg are again at one, in the walking sense that is. The other leg? Well, the other leg has always been a hearty soul, has always liked a drink and a laugh and even a merry old song on occasion. The other leg is as tough as old boots. No injuries for the other leg, oh no. The other leg is a sturdy leg, a brave leg, a best foot forward leg. Tough as old boots? The other legs sneers at the thought of boots, scoffs at any reference to sole sheathing, jeers when the subject of foot cover even arises. The other leg is hard, a hard leg, the other leg gets into fights in bars. In fact the other leg came home drunk one evening recently and demanded a rendition of the sea shanty 'Bill Bones Hornpipe' before it would rest. Of late the other leg has taken against the leg. I've half heard harsh whispers, threats, even mention of a knife. I worry about the other leg and am secretly glad the leg is now recovered. It's around this time that feelings of equilibrium should begin to express themselves, five or six weeks after the op the man said, a return of equilibrium, of poise. So no more frustration, no more imbalance, only harmony, sigh. Bugger, the other leg's gone out again. Damn, where is that song sheet...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bruise update...

Wow! From certain angles this bruise looks like one of those Pacific archipelagos. The sort with shallow lagoons and coral. Or maybe a stigmata that got smudged, though I think of knee stigmata as more an indication of poor aim than pentecostal fervour. But what a stigmata! It's huge, a person would have to be really holy to be visited by something of this order. Either that or my leg was in the way of a sign meant for a local saint, it could even be a multiple stigmata originally destined for the nearby elderly and infirm. Bloody hell, all that suffering concentrated in one place, no wonder it looks a mess. That said, I think it best not to dwell too much on those waiting for the message that's now caught in the Limb of Leviticus. Hmmm, I feel saved already, might apply for a shrine grant from the Vatican, become bigger than Lourdes, lay down a car park and maybe an airport like Knock in Ireland. Of course the neighbourhood would have to go, but hey, sacrifice without pain, what would be the point of that?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'm sticking with my leg theme...

for a little while longer. This morning a nurse removed the dressing exposing some fine bruises, as shown in this fetching photograph. I'm impressed with keyhole surgery, minimal damage, quick recovery and returned to bar of life in the blink of an eye. What more can a leg ask? And once again the National Health Service comes to the rescue. I didn't agree that they hired a South African firm to do the job rather than it be done in house because I see this as part of the creeping privatisation of a trusted service, however, the job's done and I'm glad about that.

Wey hey!

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm having a mid...

summer clear out and decided to start with changing the colours on my blog. Hmmm, not sure about the yellow even though it gives the ol' place a summery feel. The leg on the right, by the way, belongs to me and the bandage covers surgical injuries because on Saturday I let a Hungarian rummage around in my knee. Actually, his actions were a little more focused than rummaging and he did a good job because, hurrah, he sorted out my cartilage problem. Or rather he repaired a tear in the meniscus via a procedure called an arthroscopy. I was very impressed though it all felt a little strange at the time.

The procedure started when a Scottish anaesthetist injected a drug into my spine that numbed everything below the waist. Now that felt really weird because it became as if my legs were no longer part of me even though I could see them. When I touched them they didn't feel like me and this was hard to realise because the evidence of my eyes was contradicted by the experience of my hands. Very odd indeed. I suppose it must have been a similar experience to those who suffer from paraplegia.

I didn't like it.

Initially I was offered a sedative, but scoffed, "Sedatives are for wimps" as they wheeled me into theatre. And lo, there I was, ringside seat whilst my Hungarian began to wrench around the table this leg that so clearly had very little to do with me. He cast a professional eye over the leg whilst I cast a sceptical eye over the same object and wondered what it was that had come between us. Just above me and to the left was a flat screen TV showing a knee that was strangely familiar. I liked the cut of its jib, I was amused by its form, I was taken by its sturdy, nay manly pose. That, I said to myself, is some knee. Whoever possesses such a knee must be successful in life and is no doubt a fellow well met, he may even have a girlfriend.

It was around this point that I asked for the sedative.

The remaining time went smoothly. I sang sea shanties and kept a weather eye on the TV which showed round things in liquid and instruments snipping and pushing and pulling and bits floating and other things that had so much and yet so little to do with me. Having exhausted sea shanties and about to move onto songs about herring they suddenly declared it was all over. I was whipped away to the recovery room where a nice chap called Mark checked my vitals before dispatching me to my room where I then lay for four and half hours until my legs returned once more to the fold. I was pleased to see them, would normally have partied but decided that such a thing may have been a touch too prodigal for the poor blighters so we had a cup of tea and some toast instead.

So, there you go. And my knee? Oh it's fine. A lot more subdued which is good because of late it had been getting above it's station, mocking the other one, not pulling its weight. Hah! Well no more. Fetch me the rubbing alcohol mother, the double K's back in town and it's dancing time again!!! Yee Haw!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Festival at The Edge which began on Friday was so deluged the Sunday bit was cancelled. However, I drank beer which more than made up for the disappointment.

I'd like to say I drank beer to compensate for the poor weather but why tell a lie, I drank beer because it was there. And such beer! The beer tent was organised by CAMRA (the campaign for real ale) and there were approximately 30 or 40 different beers, ales and stouts with exotic names too. For instance a pint of Old Gussett is a positive start to any evening, followed of course by a gill of Worker's Mange to be then chased below with a shot of Damp Merkin. Behind the bar were burly men who knew a thing or two about beer, the brewery, name of thebrewer, the particular condition of his weeping skin complaint and why his wife sued for divorce. Yes, real ale can tell a story though it's important not to lose a sense of perspective, it's important not to overstretch, it's important (unless one has simply stopped caring) to avoid drinks named Evacuated Colon and Surge because you never really know what's coming. Believe me, it's best to stay away from them. So I safely remained with the middle range beers drinking pint after pint of Minor Complaint, Enraged Anus and Throb. It was a good night from what I remember though strangely I was unable to sit down for the whole of Saturday. Sigh.

On Sunday In Manchester it was...

briefly sunny. Huzzah!

The UK weather continues, on the whole, to be shit. Lots of floods and worry and misery. However, I spent the weekend, well, Friday and Saturday (Sunday was rained off) at FATE (The Festival at The Edge) in darkest Shropshire where I drank loads of beer and listened to some first class storytelling on the basis that FATE is a storytelling festival. Absolutely wonderful experience and I didn't mind the rain. In fact, being under canvas and listening the rain pitter patter, actually it was more like a heavy train passing, did not phase me one jot. Beer can be a wonderful soporific.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The River Mersey...

on Saturday. Note how grey it is, so grey even photoshop couldn't improve matters. Pah!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Athough I was happy a couple...

of weeks ago this rain is now getting me down. I've become seasonally affected, that is to say, I am SAD.

The Eastern Med is enjoying record temperatures whereas we in Western Europe are mired in bloody miserable rain and dullness.

Headline: Atlantic seaboard of Europe mired in miserable rain and dullness. Dan Flynn, a resident of Manchester spoke for most Western Europeans when he said, "We're mired in miserable rain and dullness."

And another thing, why is the Eastern Med stealing our sun ration? And why are we currently receiving more than our fair share of rain? And will the weather turn before I go camping this weekend at The Festival at the Edge, in Shropshire? And shall I take my wellies? And shall I take a hat, or a brolly or maybe both? I know I won't need a boat because the festival is up on an edge. Wenlock Edge is an escarpment which to me always sounds a risky place to hang around. I read somewhere about people plunging from escarpments, as if escarpments are places to be plunged from, then again it might have been peasants plunging from battlements so what do I know? Either way this coming weekend I intend to not plunge from anything.

And that's exactly how it should be.

The photo is of the River Mersey at Jackson's Boat in Chorlton yesterday.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Piranhas suffer from nerves...

shock. Honest. All that guff about piranhas being the type of fish that would eat it's own mother, and it's mother's mother, and anyone elses mother turns out to be not true. In reality it seems the piranha is a fairly cuddly type, in fact the sort one might invite to babysit should they become neighbours. And all this pack stuff? Well solitude makes 'em anxious so naturally they're drawn to groups. And the teeth thing? A piranha spokesfish interviewed by Associated Press was quoted as saying, "We think this latest research might be a turning point. Yes, yes we know about the eyes and the teeth and the blood and the gore and the evisceration but you know, we're really just guys. Hey, some of us even have families. What's that Julian? Oh sorry, yes, some of us even had families."

Quite touching really.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bones of giant penguin found...

shock. It seems this penguin was running door security at some bar in Peru 36 million years ago. The penguin's remains, plus jacket were discovered when someone noticed he'd gone missing. By all accounts the 5 foot bird was particularly unpopular at cocaine parties. It's modern descendant survived Darwinian selection by developing more modest drugs practices and moving south where it winters on the frozen tundra of Antarctica. It is also notable that the modern penguin's 5ft forebear was unable to turn it's head without putting someone's eye out, and we are talking serious hazard here.

I mentioned recently Michio Kaku's Parallel Worlds and how modern physics posits a view of the universe that is profoundly strange. For instance rather than there being only one universe there may in fact be as many possible universes as there are possibilities. To quote from the text, "If this interpretation is correct, then at this very instant your body coexists with the wave functions of dinosaurs engaged in mortal combat. Coexisting in the room you are in is the wave function of a world where the Germans won World War II, where aliens from outer space roam, where you were never born and where a 5 ft penguin might be waiting to put your eye out..." (2005: p169)

Now, is that spooky or what? I don't mind Dirk, I named him Dirk as a friendly gesture, in Peru 36 million years ago but in my bedroom? Hmmm. I know, I know, call me old fashioned but I really do think a penguin's place is somewhere else. And besides, if my coke dealer ever catches a glimpse of that bird's conk then its beak won't be the only thing that's inflated. Jeeze, I'm paying through the nose as it is. Urf urf.

Bloody universes, grrrr.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It has poured with rain...

in the UK for a week or so now. I discovered this photo in a rural paper that covers the quaint Cheshire village of Huge Injection. Cats and dogs have been replaced by elephants, so it was some downpour. Many locals, mostly named Jethro and Caleb were swept away. In my opinion this is no bad thing for they were hirsute, and most probably cousins which I thought added a Darwinian aspect to the tragedy. Mention of this to the grieving families seemed not to help.

In the meanwhile fear stalks Manchester with the first diagnosis of trench head. Now it moves easily among the city, ebbing and flowing, like Poe's Red Death. Excepting it's more fungal. A bit of a worry nevertheless.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I've been looking for...

a summer poem to post because I'm happy. Happy at the summer, even though it has rained, nay, it has pissed down on the UK for a good week or so now. Am I downhearted? I am not!

Here's a bit of Bill Shakespeare. Although the sonnet compares youth to summer and in the comparison finds summer wanting, I like it all the same. Off we go then...

Sonnet XVIII 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day'

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

Bloody marvelous. Just like summer in fact.

Oh yeah, and here's Pablo Neruda on wine...

Ode To Wine

"Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we're speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine."

For wine drinkers this represents a call to arms. Cheers!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Currently I'm reading...

Michio Kaku's Parallel Worlds (more of which in a mo), William Gay's new novel Twilight, and Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy.

Prof Kaku, a physicist and leading adherent of string theory proposes that there's more to the universe than meets the eye, as I too have noticed. However, string theory also allows for not one universe, i.e. this dusty ol' place of ours but loads of universes and some in which we might even also exist. Now, in purely practical terms I like the idea of also existing elsewhere because at the very least I can read more books and at the very most this multi-verse provides a top excuse to not turn up for things that will be boring.

"Oh, sorry to have missed your party last night but I was elsewhere." Fantastic, and it's not even a lie.

Hmmm, there's a catch though, some of these universes are not like ours. Some are tiny, so tiny they make tiny look the sort that might cause trouble in bars, and some look downright uncomfortable. Indeed, this Calebi-Yau universe appears no fun at all. It's either a tiny place, i.e. the sort that might get caught in your bum when you sit down, or it's huge and the equivalent of existing on a black run at one of those expensive ski resorts.

Now, there's a troubled thought.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The weather...

a British obsession, granted, has been good. So yesterday morning I was up and early for a cycle down't Bridgewater Canal. This photo was taken at approx 8.15 am and I'm facing west so the sun is rising behind me. Hurrah!

In the early hours of this morning some people chose to have an argument in the street below my open bedroom window. Grrrr.

My hanging baskets are coming along beautifully, thank you all for asking.

I'm still working my way through Paul Auster's A New York Trilogy.

I'm gearing up for a a serious return to more regular blogging after a busy time in my life.

Last night I watched, for the umpteenth time Quentin Tarantino's movie Pulp Fiction, which remains rather excellent and in which John Travolta excels.

Being still knackered from broken sleep it is now my intention have a lie down, on my sofa of course and not on the floor, which would be too hard.

Friday's news was full

of stuff about the artist Damien Hirst's latest work, a £50 million diamond encrusted skull. Not so much art as an another example of how obscene wealth can sometimes be. Mind you I think the work reflects very well the political and economic moment of its creation and provides yet another example of art gone to waste. Grrrr.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Salford City Council...

it of the head cameras is about to pilot a new generation of ticket machines. The latest electronic warden, still at the teething stage, not only issues penalties but can actually hunt down miscreants who seek to avoid paying. Deaths so far fall well within the design quotient though the trampling problem was, to say the least, unexpected. But hey, if people won't stop when commanded then be it upon their own head, or what's left of it after apprehension. Okay, some tragedies were unfortunate, especially those involving children but a manufacturer's statement indicates numbers are expected to decline with the installation of gamma scanners. A spokesperson for the Council said "Our aim is to drive crime off the streets and back into the home where it belongs."

I think we can all say amen to that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I want to say...

something about Salford City Council who have attached cameras to the heads of their traffic wardens but will have to save it for tomorrow. Mind you they're a tad slow compared to traffic wardens in Manchester.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dark matter found...

shock. Dark Matter which by all accounts is dark has been found by astronomers using the Hubble Telescope. Apparently dark matter constitutes approx 85% of the universe which probably means it's even in tea. Meanwhile Dark Energy makes up the bulk of what's remaining of the universe. Being Dark energy I assume it's part of what helps keep the dark tea hot. Buy hey, what do I know?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Was cycling...

yes cycling down the Bridgewater canal this morning and came across these little ducklings swimming in a row. They were happily twittering along and I thought would soon be large enough to grace any Sunday table.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Whilst mooching..

through Guyana Gyal's blog I see mentioned in the comments an insect called The Blandford Fly.

Although G's post is about more serious biting insects, she does live in Guyana after all, I'm much taken by the quaintly named Blandford Fly. Of course the good folk of Blandford in Dorset seem to view this fly with less enthusiasm, however, in fly naming circles I think The Blandford Fly has done very well indeed. After all it could have been called The Ugly Hook Fly of Blandford Drain or some such thing but nope, in the name stakes it hit bulls eye first time.

The Blandford Fly reminds me of those 60's TV series such as The Persuaders, or Jason King, where chaps might wear a frilly shirt and sleep with lots of women to save them from surly types who were also thin. Indeed, I'm almost certain the original Blandford Fly was some TV fop who drove fast cars and knew the importance of washing colours separately. The Blandford Fly, a modern hero, brave, sensitive, and not at all afraid of using the delicate cycle on silk. Whadda guy!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I lost the comment facility on yesterday's post below.

Bugger. I've no idea where it went. I hate this technical stuff. I am to technical stuff what the rain was to Noah's ark. Of absolutely no use whatsoever, in fact even a little dangerous.

Hey! I found it again. Am I not a genius?

Phew. Well, that's another life crisis dealt with. Dusts off hands and moves on purposefully.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hot news...

on Herod. Archeologists have found his tomb. Having broken through a wall and down some steps the diggers discovered a huge throne constructed entirely from the bones of little children and situated beneath two murals. The first shows a hung over Herod at a large window outside of which children are playing. The caption says 'Herod demands someone silence the children.' The second mural shows a post slaughter Herod asking 'Was that too harsh? Anyone?'

Not a nice man, though I understand that apart from being king he was also a regular slaughterer of folk so the kids thing was nothing new. Well, okay, even by his standards it was over the top but what else can one expect from a friend of the Romans?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Today Sean and I...

have been planting and pruning and propagating in my back yard. Sean was spurned by his lover last night and so arrived at my front door, 11am on this bank holiday morning filled with verve and displacement energy. Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I let him loose and lo we cleaned out all the pots before planting trailing lobelia, marigolds, snapdragons and lots of other wonderful flowers whose names are too many for me to remember. I will post photos once they bloom.

Sean left around 2pm, declaring ended his relationship with P whom he's known for three weeks. I firmly believe my little yard, like a phoenix, has risen from the ashes of Sean's relationship with P. Given the amount of decorating I need doing indoors it's a shame he doesn't split up more often.

But then again three weeks is a record for him so I might get the decorating done after all. Wey hey! Hmmm, I sense a business opportunity. By synchronising with neighbourhood decorating or odd job rhythms, his relationship rhythms, a fortune might be earned. Could design a flier "SEAN 'O' JOB" GET HIM WHILE HE'S HOT! will deliver to door. Very low maintenance - All that's required is cups of tea and a fake interest in his problems. WORK GUARANTEED. (UNTIL HE MEETS SOMEONE ELSE THAT IS). SEAN 'O' JOB - available every three weeks. (SEAN 'O' JOB is a company limited only by his lust)

Right, that's being posted to the printers first thing on the morrow.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ahhh, bliss...

on a Wednesday eve in spring as the sun goes down.

Monday, April 30, 2007

So I've got a new

bike. So I've been out cycling. So I've taken some photos. So here's one of a footbridge at Castlefield in Manchester. Sometime prior to Castlefield becoming a canal basin it was a favourite hangout of the Romans. And those of you who've read any Roman history will know what a bunch of bad bastards them ancient Romans were.

Romans are no longer a worry in Castlefield so all in all I had a good day out. Thank you for asking.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's raining in Manchester...

again! Over the past few weeks it's hardly rained at all but hey, when there's bike riding to be done the weather must be fine, ipso facto. I'm not advocating drought, or global warming but since purchasing my new bike (hmmm, and just who is that handsome stranger...) I prefer drier weather.

Indeed had the weather not been loverly, and had I not been out cycling this here image might never have been recorded.

In term of choices I'm ready to admit my passion for cycling might have been total had I first considered a machine that would fit through a front door, or perhaps chosen a model to mount rather than ascend, and then there's the nose bleeds. But what is pleasure without sacrifice? What is indulgence without pain? What is enjoyment without a rat gnawing at the innards, tearing and ripping and slashing and the blood and the gore and the mess, the stinking slippery mess...

Oops, suddenly came over all Mel Gibson... maybe need to lie down a moment... sip camomile tea...

Jeeze, and all I did was buy a bike...

How hard is that?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Here's a photo...

of my yard that I'm preparing for the summer. Wey hey!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I read the other day...

in Hayden's blog that meat producers in the US feed arsenic to chickens as an approved additive. Arsenic promotes growth, kills parasites and improves pigmentation, indeed it is the next miracle food. I said it to my broker only the other day, Tarquin I said, the future's in arsenic so buy arsenic futures. My friends say, Dan, much more of this and you'll have no future, but what do they know, the fools 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 also discovered that tincture of arsenic taken before breakfast can settle the bowels and calm the innards. Can prepare a person for the day, even if it might be their last.

Of course the food industry in Europe is not beyond reproach in this regard. A recent Food Safety Agency investigation showed 25% of chicken flocks in the EU were infected with salmonella. And doesn't this just demonstrate the yawning gap between the US and Europe? Amerca, bold, brash believes in poisoning its customers directly whereas European food manufacturers prefer more indirect means. Why kill em stone dead when you can make them linger? Linger longer spenda casha. Hmmm, might sell that slogan, make some dosh, buy more futures before what's left of mine runs out.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rome Adventures II...

To walk through the Roman Forum and touch the brickwork and marbled masonry, to stand next to the cremation place of Julius Caesar was quite the experience. Within the Forum are triumphal arches, basilicas, the Rostra where speeches were declaimed and the Curia wherein the Senate met and plotted. Along the Via Sacra, ancient Rome's most important street I too walked as had Pompey, Cicero and others before me, not that I'm comparing myself, for a start I'm not that big a bastard. Being so close to history can make a person thoughtful and it was impossible to mistake how grand the place originally had been. Tom Holland in his book Rubicon quotes Plutarch who records that to achieve Caesar's conquest of Gaul 1 million people were killed, 1 million were enslaved and 800 cities were taken by storm. Rome's dominance lasted for hundreds of years and the conquest of Gaul was only one campaign, little wonder therefore it produced an architecture of equal magnificence to its power.

Would I go back, you bet your sweet boo boo I bloody well would. For a start we barely scratched the surface, barely tasted the food, barely drank the wine (Sean's teetotal anyway) barely heard enough sublime opera, barely walked those wonderful streets, barely sat in those wonderful gardens, barely drank enough espresso and I certainly wasn't rude enough about the Catholic Church.

The oranges, by the way, are from The Palatine Hill where the posh, powerful and super rich of Rome used to live. 2000 years ago my ancestors, who were mainly blue due to an excess of woad will probably have encountered the Romans. Glad I missed that one...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A post for...

Guyana Gyal.

Arriving in Rome, Sean (that's him on the right, a too flattering photo to my mind) and I disembarked from our train at the San Pietro station and walked to St Peter's Square. The square itself is a fairly grand affair demonstrating as much the wealth and power of the Catholic church as the Glory of God. To be honest its grandeur was the only thing I found interesting and the layer upon layer of statuary and symbolism too crowded and too overwhelming. The square is situated in the centre of huge columned curves topped off with numerous statues of those the church wish to honour.

Grandeur though, was the common denominator in Rome and grandeur linked St Peter's Square, the Colosseum, The Pantheon and all the other places we experienced. Rome is a city of grandeur, of magnificence, of great beauty and to be honest I fell in love and dream of returning. Given I'm from a cold and wet Manchester it was a pleasure to sit in pavement cafes drinking aromatic espresso coffee and watch the world go by. For holiday reading I took with me Tom Holland's Rubicon, his very fine narrative history of Rome from it's origins in 753BC until the death of Caesar Augustus in AD14. Holland mainly concentrates his energies on the period of dynastic and internecine struggles that characterised Rome from the end of the wars with Carthage to the more stable government established by Augustus.

Rome's many baroque attractions were impressive by any standards and I was particularly taken by the Trevi Fountain and Castel Sant'Angelo, However in terms of jaw dropping impressiveness the infinitely older Pantheon and The Colosseum stood out particularly. The Pantheon is a circular building 43 metres in diameter and 43 metres in height with a roof span of 43 metres unsupported by columns or external buttressing. That is to say the roof is totally supported by the walls and there are no buttresses on the outside. Durham Cathedral in the UK is one of my favourite buildings but the weight of its height requires huge flying buttresses to stop the walls from bulging outwards. The Pantheon although a fraction the size of Durham nevertheless presented similar architectural problems for supporting a single span roof. Roman architects and engineers, expert concreters that they were, solved the weight problem by using pumice in the roof concrete to make it light and rigid. Clever stuff, especially given another 900 years were to pass before thoughts as grand as Cathedrals in Durham was even pondered.

Ah, GG has set me going now and I want to describe the Roman Forum and our visit to the opera where we heard a wonderful Tosca at the tiny Teatro Flaiano sung by Olga Kotlyarova. I was also excited by the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, the gardens in the Villa Borghese, and to be frank, the literally hundreds of places we did not see. Plus, I'm unable to leave Rome alone until I've mentioned the sheer brutality of those early times that Tom Holland so ably describes in Rubicon. Cruelty, sacrifice and suffering were the foundations of ancient Rome and whilst it's monuments are astonishing in their beauty and scope I could not enjoy them without also reflecting on the human cost of that Imperial vision.

More of this later...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


what a stunning city. Words can't do the place justice so I've posted some photos on Flickr, to't right.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Here's a photo...

of some stairs in The Lowry Theatre, Salford, Greater Manchester.

Tomorrow I'm orf to Rome and will return next Tuesday. Wey hey!!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Last night...

I caught up with an old buddy who invited me to meet her horse. I'd forgotten what huge beasts they are and not for the first time stood in silent wonder at how the French manage to get them into a can.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yesterday's radio...

for some reason mentioned that Jesus only fed the five thousand after the original caterers had pulled out. When the crowd left he ordered a clean up (the original cleaners had pulled out) and dispatched apostles, John, Peter and the hirsute one, Matty. They collected so much food that Jesus ordered the crowd back and remonstrated with them for being ungrateful. He said.

"Verily, thee are so ungrateful no one is leaving until all your plates are clean."

The crowd, by this time again hungry nodded in agreement for there was amongst them not one who would turn down a free meal.

Having eaten their fill they buggered off.

Jesus, who clearly hated a mess called again on the apostles to tidy up, this time however the piles of wasted food were higher so he ordered everyone back. The returning crowd, knowing a good thing when they see it brought friends and relatives who set about the mountains of food with some abandon. Having filled their stomachs those who could departed. Some from the previous occasions lay about groaning.

And lo, Jesus eyed the mess and said to his apostles clean that up. Using brooms Gerry, Francine and the gang collected all the food into a mound whose size was greater than the great pyramid at Giza and Jesus said, fetch the crowd back. By now word was getting around and the crowd had grown to over 50,000, not including the bloated and the infirm.

Jesus, for it was he said "Verily, no one is leaving until all this food is gone. And I mean it this time."

"Wey hey!" Roared the crowd and proceeded to scoff to their hearts content. Eventually they dispersed excepting those who could not move or were dead.

Jesus's order to his apostles to break out the bin bags provoked Darren 'the mild mannered' to exclaim,

"For fucks sake,"

But they did as they were bid.

After one week had passed the apostles stood before a pile of leftovers so high it blotted out the sun. And Jesus said,

"This isn't working is it?"

Apostle Jeanette cried, "No lord."

Jesus slapped his forehead and said, "Why have I not thought of this before? Fetch all the goats in Galilee for they shall clean up the mess."

And lo, all the goats in Galilee were fetched and beheld this mighty Eiger and knew it was good, for they were goats. And thus did an Alp become low as food became shit. For this is the goat way. And only afterward did Jesus address his disciples thus,

"What a shit heap. Get tidying."

And lo, they did.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For some reason...

phantom limbs have been at the forefront of my mind this week. I think the right knee is sending a message. I think the right knee, currently knackered, pretends not to be. I think my right knee seeks to persuade me it is a phantom knee and therefore functions properly like a proper knee.

But I am not persuaded. I am wise to its tricks. My knee is knackered and no amount of tomfoolery will stop it being put in a huge magnet and scanned. Nothing will stop it being resonated. Nothing will stop it being imaged.

The right knee had better watch it, had better get with the programme or become an ex knee. Which is tantamount to moving out, making space or a lee where even a phantom knee might find a berth.

My right knee better get a fucking grip. Cos there's gonna be trouble in kneesville. Believe me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The wind...

is moaning in my eaves. Today strong westerlies are blowing, I can hear them, not whispering but moaning. Oh woe they're saying, what a crap loft. I've shouted up a couple of times, told em to mind their own business, told em to keep the moaning down but they've not taken the hint.

Problem with my house is its situation. West facing, takes those winds head on, then they get in to root around, to mooch about, to moan. For me as a child moaning in the eaves conjured up images of elderly folk with chest problems (I was raised in a mining village) or little children lost. Of course I was too small to consider the absurdity of chesty pensioners or tiny kids hanging from the guttering outside my bedroom window but so what? Instead I was a romantic child who preferred an ambiance of suffering and death, in fact I distinctly recall the disappointment on learning there was a vaccine for TB. Nothing brought me greater comfort than black and white movies wherein some blond waif wasted away before our eyes. I was consumed with consumption and often wondered where I might get some. Not that I wished to die, I merely wished to be consumed for a satisfying period and bound beneath starched white sheets my thinning frame examined by an aged physician who was very wise. I can still hear the sob of a young nurse as the good doctor whispers "I'm not sure he'll make it through the night."

That line used to send me straight off.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

As part of my...

new get fit routine I went cycling this lunch time on the Fallowfield Loop and was promptly set upon by some let loose ponies, of which there were three. Interestingly, they seemed of a particularly small breed, each measuring only two foot tall, or in horse parlance half a wrist. Pursued by a band of boys running in a stylised manner the horses were making progress in their escape when they arrived at me.

The first horse said, "If you don't give us your bike you're DEAD!"
The second horse said, "Yeah, dead."
The third horse said, "Oh Brian you promised there'd be no rough stuff."
The first horse said, "You fool. You said my name. I told you not to say my name."
The second horse said, "Yeah, you said Brian's name and he told you not to."
The first horse cuffed the second horse and said, "You've done it now. I said no names. Is that clear?" And he turned to the third horse "John?" and then he turned to the second horse, "Harry? Right?"
The second horse said, "Er I'm not clear about somefing."
The third horse said, "Yes, I'm not clear about something either."
The first horse shrugged and said gruffly, "What's not clear?" He waited a moment, "Okay, you first Harry. Oh bugger, I'm doing it now." Then he turned to me and said, "Right lets start again. I don't know these two, nor do I know their names. In fact they are utter strangers to me and I never met them before today."
The second horse, who was still mulling over something said, "Why can't we say our names?"
The third horse said, "Yes Brian, it's not as if we're going to be remembered for our names. I suspect the horse thing will be the real giveaway."
Brian jumped as if he'd been stung, "Horses, where?"
The third horse said, "For God's sake..."
The second horse said to no one in particular, "I always liked Pauline as a name."

Setting off again on my bike I passed the stylised boys who had stopped for a preen and said, "You needn't hurry, I think they'll be there some time."

Red nose day...

yesterday and to help with proceedings 'Shaggy Blog Stories' have been published and hey, there's even a contribution from me in the book.

Copies can be purchased from Lulu. All profits to Comic Relief.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This knee business...

is disconcerting because I've remembered last Thursday the man said, amongst other things, that they'd probably replace the fluid in my knee. With what? I forgot to ask. Looking for clues in google I found this. It's listed as a knee brace. I'm not being picky but even my untrained eye can see it'll never fit. And shouldn't there be two bolts? A top one and a bottom one, and some nuts? As a child who was beaten regularly by my catholic teachers, including the metal work teacher, I'm only too aware that on items jointy my knowledge is lacking but look at the size of that thing, it's bigger than my head. The complete absence of 'kneeness' in the object's form is also a concern and were I a Platonist the surgery would definitely be off. However, I'm a materialist and will not deny an object simply because its origins lie in a shipyard. Might drop the surgeon a line tho, suggest extra nuts, can never have too many nuts.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A tale of...


The other week I was returning, drunk, from a friend's house when my right knee, which has been causing problems since September, went. When I say went I don't mean it actually went, that would be difficult given I'm as attached to it as it is to me. I could say the knee gave but that would make it seem philanthropic and it is not, unless it's a secret philanthropist giving my money away. No, I'd notice. Either way, the knee's now gonna get it. Went to see the man on Thursday and the man said MRI. Apparently, you stick your leg in this machine and if it likes the cut of your jib it'll take photos of your insides. DO YOU HEAR THAT KNEE!

To teach the knee who's master I bought a bike. Oh yes. Lately though I've been woken at night by the knees arguing. The left knee, which attends mass every Sunday and prays to the holy saints, remonstrates with the errant knee for not pulling its weight, for not doing it's Christian duty. The right knee drinks at weekends and smokes cheroots. The right knee is a bad sort.

Today I biked approximately 10 miles. The left knee crossed itself at every church we passed, the right knee who now knows what's coming, was in a huff. Currently the right knee is aching, as I am.

On Thursday the man said they'd probably use a keyhole for the surgery, I'd have preferred a scalpel. Now I'm as worried as the knee but I'm not letting on.

Ahhh, more daffs...

who can resist? I've bought a bike so went out cycling today along the River Mersey into Stockport. Hey, fitness and aesthetics, and all on one riverbank. Manchester, whaddatown! There's more photos on Flickr, over on't right.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yesterday was sunny...

today is overcast. Yesterday was a working day. Today is not. Hmmm, something not quite right here. The weather should get its shit together, should get with the programme. Off work sunny, at work miserable. How hard is that to understand?


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One more...

crocus, only one more crocus (sung to the tune of Guantanamera) one more crooooocusss, only one more crooouuucuuuus.

These were seen today in Salford, Manchester's western suburb.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I can't resist it...

but here's a few more daffs accompanied this time by the most famous poem about daffodils there is in the English language.

And as an extra treat here's some photos of last year's blooms.

"Daffodils" (1804)

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I'll post one more photo of crocuses later in the week then that will be that for this Spring. Or will it?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Here's a spring poem by...

John Clare. But first some crocuses in Crowcroft Park today.

Young Lambs - John Clare

The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two - till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill, and wags his tail to meet the yoe;
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead - and lets me go
Close by, and never stirs, but basking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Been for a walk...

in Derbyshire with my mate Sean. I was very brave given my knee is knackered from a running injury. It will require surgery but until then remains painful. Sean reckons the pain is guilt collecting all in one place.

After last weekend's trip to Wales I lamented how not being near the sea was the only disadvantage of Manchester's locale and he said global warming would soon sort that out.

And my knee? It's not guilt it's cartilage. As we walked Sean recommended the pain be offered up for the holy souls in Purgatory. When reminded how Vatican II did away with Purgatory he said in that case I should stop whingeing.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Here's a photo I took...

last weekend on Angelsey. The photoshop problem is solved. The problem was me not it. I should have read the manual. Actually I did read the manual and didn't understand it so became exhausted, took to drink, had to lie down. We're friends again, me and photoshop, though the gloss has gone from the relationship.

Will it ever return?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Took photoshop...

to see the man. The man said the problem was me. Said I should read the manual. Cost me £10 to be told that. Oh woe. But of course he's right. This evening I've been reading the manual and remain unenlightened. Read the bloody manual indeed. Has anyone seen the manual? Hmm? Hmm? It's got 'User Guide' on the front, top right corner, in red. Not sure to whom it's referring.

On Saturday I shall buy another book, see if there's a Photoshop for Dummies or the like.

My bedroom walls are covered in bookshelves that groan with books, moan with books. Whenever I buy a new book they say, "For fucks sake. Give it rest will ya! Too much work here." But I'm ruthless, I say "Shelves, shut the fuck up. You have only one purpose and communicating with me is not it. Have another book." I've this dreadful thought of all my books being replaced, perhaps imperceptibly by volumes on Photoshop and the shelves whingeing about titles like "PHOTOSHOP DOH!" or "PHOTOSHOP! YES YOU! PAY ATTENTION. NO DON'T FALL ASLEEP IT'S STILL ONLY PAGE ONE. JESUS H CHRIST HE'S NODDED OFF" or "PHOTOSHOP! IF 6 MONTHS ACTIVE SERVICE DON'T BRING HIM ROUND NOTHING WILL" or "YOU WEED, CALL YOURSELF A MAN?"

Feel the Company might have lost their way in those later volumes.

Maybe I should look to see if they do something on A4, laminated, single sheet, printed one side only...

Might suggest it to them in a letter.

Monday, February 12, 2007

In Raymond Carver's short...

story 'The Hair' a man is bothered to such an extent by a tiny hair caught in his teeth he feels unwell, leaves work, travels home, falls asleep and has nightmares. What begins as a small irritant by the day's end achieves proportions that affect his sense of self, his sense of wellbeing, indeed the very foundations of whom he actually is. Adobe Photoshop 5 is currently achieving the same results with me. I know, I know, in the past I've loved AP5 with a passion bordering on the indecent and have blogged to that effect, however it's now playing me up and so my patience is wearing thin. Newspapers can be read through my patience so thin has it become, indeed street urchins have noticed and shout "Look at that man's patience. It is so thin. Ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha" then they throw old cabbage until today that is when one threw a fridge door. And to think I only used to wonder where they got the cabbage.

That crack in my bathroom wall has shifted again and the stair carpet is fraying near the top where I could slip, plunge down the stairs, maybe to land on this cup or this trap.

Tomorrow I'm gonna take my pc to the menders, get bloody photoshop mended. Just got to find a safe way out of the house, past creaky radiators and laughing mice. Might creep out, could pretend to be only visiting, perhaps reading a meter. How much gas? And he lives alone? That's not a carbon footprint it's a bloody indentation...

Bollocks, think I'll stay in bed...

Friday, February 09, 2007

It has snowed in

the UK. Hurrah!

All Wednesday tv and radio warned of snow throughout the UK, loads of snow, blizzards even, near death experiences, ice, freezing temperatures, danger, fear, keep family at home, indeed lock family in home, dust off sofa duvets, get guns, move endowments into candle futures.

I was excited, I had expectations. Sod guns, bugger death, stuff danger, to hell with shame (sorry, wrong post), spit on tallow, for I was... prepared.

On Thursday morning as if a gazelle I sprang from bed and rushed to the window, but in Manchester it had rained. And it's still fucking raining.


Tomorrow I'm gonna drive to where there is snow. I will not be denied. Oh no.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dark Matter...

is once again in the news. This afternoon on Radio 4's PM programme a scientist said they have now measured the temperature of Dark Matter and found it warm. I missed the bit when he said what is was warm compared to.

Dark Matter it seems is what stops us flying off. Not us off planets so much as planets off stars, stars off galaxies and galaxies off, well, just off. Being dark it can't be seen but being matter it's definitely there. How do they know? Apparently galaxies spin really fast, indeed so fast that if our universe was the Tuesday wash we'd all now be lying in next door's front garden. However, despite a universal spin cycle that only runs on max we nevertheless cling together. Today's radio scientist said Dark Matter can be likened to conker string, spin the conker and though a centrifugal force propels it outwards the string stops it flying off. I'm comforted by this as I've never liked the idea we might be prone to flying off.

On a note of caution this hidden matter thing is further complicated by a larger hidden energy thing, so it may turn out we're the flying off types anyway.

In as much as scientists struggle to put their finger on Dark Matter then so they also struggle to obtain proof of Dark Energy, although only a year ago I suggested a place where they might take that first peek.

I only hope it's all solved before the neighbours notice what's coming their way and start to complain.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


viagra joke heard on Radio 2.

Man goes into Doctor's and says,
"Doctor, I've got a problem, in the sexual department."
Doctor says, "I've got just the cure, blue pills, called Viagra."
Man looks down and says, "Will I be able to get it over the counter."
Doctor says, "Not with this treatment, no."

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

Monday, February 05, 2007

My mate D is...

attracted to unusual wrist watches. That is until he bought this one and now he has no wrists.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


is a marketable commodity. In a dark part of town next to the trotter emporium there's a store that sells superstition from a jar. I was mooching midweek around Amulets, for that is its name when I lingered too long beneath a dreamcatcher that dripped on my head. One moment it's copper bangles the next I'm pursued by four monsters with foul breath through a really long launderette. I was hampered in my escape by having to put money in every tenth washer. Breathlessly I ran, stopped, put in money, moved wash cycles on, folded towels, was pursued. The monsters I saw stopped at every eighth machine and folded sheets, however sheets need more folding than towels so they started to fall behind. I slowed, because when they stopped they gossiped, about family, about friends, about who was having an affair with whom, who'd been recently eaten by whom. Next thing I'm opposite a monster folding a beautifully white cotton bed sheet and we were stepping inward and outward like old time dancers. Stepping and folding the monster politely asked how my family was, I replied fine except for uncle Billy who lost his head whilst making soup, fell right off his shoulders and into the pot. The monster frowned and said the same thing happened to him once. Then a voice said,

"Excuse me." It was the shop owner.

I woke up. "Er sorry," I said

"Would you mind not draining the dream catchers they're expensive."
I said "No they aren't."
And he said, "Oh alright, they don't cost that much but I like to keep them fresh. And them bangles too." He nodded at the three copper bands that were turning my skin green.
"Looks like these are draining too, some sort of green." I said.
"Hey you." He shouted over my shoulder to another customer who blinked back to reality. "No lingering under the dream catchers, pulleese."
She said "Bloody hell, I was suddenly in this launderette being pursued by monsters..."
I said to the shop owner, "You cheapskate, they all have the same dream. The launderette dream."

He apologised by explaining how they came to him as a job lot, sort of fell off the back of a lorry. For keeping his secret he presented us both with a free bag of superstition. Outside the store I said to my fellow customer.
"What you going to do with your bag?"
She replied, "I'm going to sprinkle it on my husband's food to dilute his hyper-rationalism because it's driving me mad."
"Hey," I said, " You have a reason to use some unreason." And we both laughed.

I'm not sure what to do with my bag, I'll probably feed it to the alley cats who live out back as they'll eat anything.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sunset over...


My dad (who sometime ago passed on to to that great offal stall in the sky) used to eat tripe. To the uninitiated tripe is sheep's stomach that can be eaten uncooked with vinegar or cooked with milk and onions. Tripe is flobbery to touch and tastes like, well, stomach. As a child I did not like tripe or pig's trotters. Pig's trotters were another delicacy enjoyed by dad.

Pig's trotters are boiled (he used a pressure cooker) and when cooked look what they are, containers of pig fat. On Saturday afternoons at the kitchen table he sucked chewed and licked this compacted fat from delicate pig foot bones. All grease would be gleaned, it was a matter of honour, almost cosa nostra, and in the deepening gloom dad smacked sticky satisfied lips, 'mmmming' until no morsel of goo remained.

I believe this dish to be still popular in some catholic countries.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I'm currently stuck on a...

nautical theme, well, nautical and biscuit, so here we go.

Hard tack, the biscuit of choice in Nelson's Navy is a well documented comestible made entirely from daub, cement, egg white and absinthe (to drive away the senses). Hard tack is what helped make the Royal Navy, Royal, and don't just take my word for it, Jack Nastyface writing in the 1830's or 1805 depending on whom you rely for your history states more than once,

"Hmmm hard tack, for making men hard. Oops, bugger, that's another tooth gone."

This rock like substance, originally designed as paving was as popular with 18th Century Navies as it had been with the Romans before. What other product was of such versatility it could provide nutrition and be solid underfoot? In 1799 the Royal Navy secretly baked a hard tack Frigate named HMS Troubled Colon that was unfortunately lost one night whilst tied up in London's East End near Limehouse. Many rumours circulated but crumb trails showed it was eaten by urchins. The Reverend N. Strokeboy, Rector of Thrashem Orphanage faithfully recorded for some years afterwards how many of his boys unaccountably continued to gain weight. What became of the ships crew is a matter of some speculation though contemporary paintings of the local scene do show children's faces to be particularly ruddy, though that could equally have been the tuberculosis.

Jack Nastyface wrote two books in the first 40 years of 19th Century, his first and most famous 'Memoirs of an English Seaman' was popular until the turn of the 20th century when it was superseded by that more modern book of seafaring manners, 'Throw another Boy on the Boiler Lads, First Class 'Ave Rung Down Again' and incidentally whose Japanese version was subtitled 'Lets All Have a Jaunty Song.'

Jack Nastyface was close to Nelson at Trafalgar, so close in fact that every night he was able to steal sips from the brandy barrel within which pickled the great man on his long journey home. Life in the navy took it's toll of old Jack and when finally retired in 1838 he was minus the right hand, left leg and right eye that had accompanied him when originally pressed to service in 1791. At his passing out ceremony it was observed that Jack for some time had been retiring in sections and therefore what now stood before the crowd must be the final installment. Even Jack nodded at this sensible statement but then he was drunk and his one good eye was filled with a huge tear.

In retirement Jack Nastyface turned his attention from naval to childhood matters and particularly the subject of his beloved mother whose image he'd carved as the knee piece on his wooden leg. Throughout his life Jack sang in praise of this saint who both bore and named him. However, those early literary skills deserted Jack and his second book 'At Least She Never Called me Shitface Like She did our Barry.' failed to find a publisher.

Monday, January 22, 2007


snow last night, seizure of booty on beach today, hey it's just like old times. By old times I mean ages ago, or yore.

A ship has run aground on the Devon coast depositing containers packed with BMW bikes, nappies, wine and tons of other stuff. Not surprisingly the good folk of Devon have been on the beach helping themselves. Wey hey! Of course some Devonians a couple hundred years ago made a living wrecking ships, fortunately in no great numbers, but wages were shite in those days so one can perhaps understand wrecking ships to make ends meet. Your modern Devonian is much more sophisticated, as amply demonstrated on the BBC. Customs and Excise has moved on since those days too. Customs staff were out in numbers issuing forms for people to complete. Good advice, complete the form and your bounty is not theft but salvage. Of course salvage can be reclaimed by the true owners but apparently that's an expensive and lengthy business. I suspect the cargo owners will claim off the insurance and no doubt fiddle the manifest.

"No governor, there was the Gucci watches, all 10,000 of em. Oh yeah and big Geoff lost his levver jacket, well, when I say levver jacket I mean he's got more than one. Bish bosh just sign here, fank you verrrry much."

Oh to live in Devon on this bright winter morn. Sigh.

My mention of snow is also a reference to yore, when weather was rugged and winter always bitter. Wikipedia report the River Thames freezing over in 250AD, 923AD and 23 times between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. Ah, proper centuries with proper weather. Secretly I'm pleased not to have lived in yore, especially after learning of weevils in the biscuits. Couldn't be doing with weevils in me biscuits.

Snow, shipwrecks, salvage, and all on one day too, just like old times. Sigh.

Damn, where's that biscuit gone. It was there a second ago... why, it's moving, OHMIGOD they're all moving...noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Sunday, January 21, 2007


snow in Manchester on this Sunday eve. There's more photos on flickr, to the right>

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Oh yes...

and another thing, I got a bloody parking ticket for being 15 minutes late. Grrr.

On a lighter note, I've finally completed John Banville's novel The Sea. It took some time with many breaks but, well, it's pretty damn good. Next up is Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White.

Here's a view of some novels I received for Christmas. Lucky old me. They'll be a distraction from my parking ticket woes.