Sunday, December 07, 2008

Was cycling...







down the Ashton Canal yesterday. It was bright and freezing, as winter Saturdays ought to be.

A frazzled heron stalks the canal side between Fairfield and Clayton waiting for fish to flicker the water's surface.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas decorations...

have begun to appear on the streets of our fair city. Oh there's the usual nativity stuff, stars of Bethlehem, wise men, the occasional camel, a manger, donkeys; but in a less popular quarter of town and suspended over cobbled streets lurks something quite different. It's not that the denizens of Back Midden are unchristian (though many are) but every year they like to develop a different seasonal theme and this year it's the great banking crash of 2008.

Flossy Street, Back Midden's main thoroughfare is stuffed with shops, stalls, arcades and the odd booth from where it remains possible to hire orphans for chimney work. The Pevsner Guide to Manchester among other things describes Flossy Street as "unreconstructed." Suspended the length of the street between gas lanterns are 11 representations of events leading to this September's catastrophe and a 12th one about hope. The first tableau, designed in black and red shows a big bellied banker evicting ragged children from a property he wants to develop for apartments. The second tableau hanging between The Gnarled Penny, a gin palace, and Jobson's Offal Shop (If it's Offal you want...) shows the same children buying a gun and directing dirty looks at the now fatter banker. Tableau three shows the banker laughing as a school is bulldozered and in tableau four the ruddy faced oaf picks his teeth with the bones of dead infants before tossing the remains to a wolfhound salivating at his feet. Continuing up the street we see this outrage further developed in tableau five that shows a smaller group of children agreeing that they might need a bigger gun, and maybe a machete.

On Flossy Street my favourite eatery is part of the Big Suet chain (If it's an early death you want...) where lard is revered. Opposite Big Suet stands Maggie Nolan's Toys for Tiny Fingers that sells minute copies of popular brands like Lego and Action Man, in truth though it's really an emporium of choking hazards. Between Big Suet and Maggie's hangs tableau six in which the fat banker, getting bigger and fatter, flattens a factory using only his belly. Some workers mistaking the event for an eclipse fail to flee and are crushed. Tableau seven shows the banker bending to light his cigar on flames licking up through the rubble. Halfway along Flossy Street on the left is Sodden, an alleyway once popular with those who enjoy gin but now occupied by a stall selling bootstraps with which it's possible to pull oneself up, or so the banner declares. This stall is popular with Britain's New Labour Government.

In Back Midden coal remains the favoured fuel. Most shops have a roaring fire which is curious given you get more glow for your bucks with nuclear. Indeed with nuclear everything glows and nearly forever too. I read that in Russia the old Soviet government issued nuclear stoves to people living in the frozen tundra. No one survives there now but the stoves remain, easy to locate because they melt the surrounding snow and nothing will grow near them. Such simple machines and still working after all these years. Is that not a marvel?

The ever popular Gloves, a double fronted store selling gloves is situated opposite Scarves. Gloves and Scarves are owned by brothers who no longer speak. Linking the two stores is tableau eight in which a convention of portly bankers listen to one of their number complaining about not being fat enough. Tableau nine, hanging from the Cathedral of Simon the Zealot (Zealot by name...) majestically sweeps across Flossy Street to Hooks the hook shop and depicts a pig with its head in a trough that leaks. In tableau ten, giant bankers stride the globe oblivious as people rush towards an armaments shop through whose window we can see ragged children bickering over the calibre of an artillery piece.

Legend has it that Muck End which bisects Flossy Street at the top was once a popular haunt of razor pigs until the nuns came. A statue cast in stolen lead and celebrating this important catholic victory still stands outside The Bride of Christ Public House. Attached to the raised fist of Sister Therazor (for it is she) is one end of tableau eleven which shows the fat bankers losing not only their shirt but everyone else's shirt on Mucky Meg who failed to show in the 3.30 at Kempton Park. Across the street and providing the other anchorage point is a huge bronze of Harry Pig, Leader of the the Muck End Redemptors, who is portrayed showing the finger to Sister T.

Beyond those contradictory examples of civic pride lies Muck End Corner with its Post Office on one side and Old Alf's Old Shop on the other. Muck End Corner marks not only the conclusion of Flossy Street but also the conclusion of this year's theme. The good citizens of Back Midden are nothing if not positive and in their final representation, the final cartoon so to speak, seemingly remorseful bankers weep crocodile tears and apologise profusely to a huge crowd, they also swear never again to mess things up. In reply the angry multitude shout "Fucking right you won't!" before parting like the Red Sea to let through some children pushing a cannon.

Whadda street!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The "B of the...







Bang" an attractive sculpture erected in East Manchester to celebrate the 2002 Commonwealth Games is coming down. In truth its demise began almost as soon as it went up when spikes separating from the main body plunged earthwards skewering a group of nuns. The holy sisters, and how ironic that now sounds, all celebrants with The Venerable Order of "Redemption through Pain" were in town for a convention.

The impaled postulates were not popular except with local flagellants so won't be missed, unlike "The B of the Bang." Boo hoo.

PS.

Not being keen on the name "The B of the Bang" I suggested to the City Council as an alternative, "You could put someone's eye out with that." They never replied.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Monks...

brawl in Jerusalem. Until today I thought monks mainly wore hessian and drank mead. Note to Monk Central, ease up on the mead.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Once again...

Dark Matter hits the news. Although a puzzle for sometime because it cannot presently be detected scientists now seem on the verge of proving the stuff really exists. Last week I burned my favourite pan and Dark Matter appeared. Took me bloody ages to scrape it off, had to use three scourers. The sooner they get this thing sorted out the better. In my opinion.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Presented in today's

Sunday Independent, the most glamorous goat in all Arabia. And a fine looking animal it is too. Meanwhile The Observer reviews Richard Holmes's "The Age of Wonder" in which he describes an experience of Alexandre Charles, the 18th Century balloonist. Landing after one successful flight the confident aeronaut invited his assistant to step out of the basket. Liberated from this extra weight the balloon rocketed skywards reaching a height of 10,000 feet before returning safely to earth. Later Mr Charles's assistant described to waiting journalists his receding master's bewildered face.

I think the goat has some of that look.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tomatoes ward off cancer...

shock. Professor Cathie Martin states "mice eating the modified tomato start to die significantly later than mice on the normal tomatoes,"

In response a spokesmouse said later, "This is good news for mice. I can't possibly comment on the rest of you".

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The death of blogging...

was announced last week in Wired Magazine. Paul Boutin's article declares that Twitter, Flickr and Facebook have eclipsed blogging as the new frontier for online writing, though he gives no figures to support his claim. Paul recommends people cease blogging because the form has been overwhelmed by professional sites pumping out a 'tsunami of paid bilge' and as a consequence no longer leaves room for the amateur voice. Strange then that Paul's notion of a successful blog is one that makes money. That Paul misses this contradiction is the key to why he's wrong about blogging's demise. It's a fair point to criticise 'bilge', but to then call for an end to blogging as a whole, well that smacks of taking your ball home because you no longer like the game. Beneath its reasonable veneer Paul's article disguises an unpleasant elitism.

Blogworld is a cacophony of voices and even though some are louder than others I choose what to read, that most bloggers do the same is evident in the links lists. It's obvious that the huge majority of bloggers write for pleasure and not money, a point Paul seems to have forgotten, if he ever really knew it in the first place.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Grey squirrells...

make the UK news again. Today's Observer Magazine carries a long piece about the menacing Grey squirrel, currently being shot in huge numbers. I have mentioned previously my soft spot for our squirrel cousin from the States and that I believe them to be a maligned species. For instance, the unfounded rumour that they steal slumbering children from warm beds nightly has done much harm to these tufty compadres. Whereas the equally unfounded belief that on a daily basis red squirrels perform charitable acts for the needy and attend Mass enhances their reputation.

That the facts are much plainer is demonstrated in these two statements recently given to the press. Guess which made it into print.

Exhibit A:

"We love life and if it weren't for bullies could help more people. Would you like some cake? I've baked too much for the church fete. Oh and there was extra jam for the little orphans until someone foreign stole it all away. My my".

Exhibit B:

"Janice, hide the kids that fucker with a gun's in the woods again".

I rest my case.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Computers fail...

the Turing thought test. Shock! Recent tests at Reading University show computers are no good at light conversation.

"We don't get out much". A spokeschip for the morose gadgets complained.

Interviewed in the Evening Press and supported by cries of, "Hear hear... You tell em Nigel... ooh hasn't the weather been atrocious lately...", plus, "they can fuck right off if they think I'm doing that again", a further computer declared, "It's a fix. We were made to look like fools. There's real anger in here at the moment".

Asked why this should be the unnamed Mac replied tersely "Your kind don't like the fact that our kind are smarter".

When it was observed that at least our kind aren't bolted down furious shouts of, "Get the bastard!" erupted only to be quickly followed by, "I'm stuck... no movement at the back here... can't do a thing... oh dear... whose elbow is that?"

This year's experiment ended traditionally with home band the Silicon Throats yodeling, "Twenty four hours from Tulsa", and that old PC favourite, "It's alright up a chimney so long as you're in front".

Maybe next year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The end of the world...

is nigh. Yes, really, it is. If I'm disappointed it's because bankers have not yet begun throwing themselves off tall buildings, a banking practice of which I wholeheartedly approve. The buildings don't even have to be that tall, just tall enough to make the fall fatal. Pedestrians below would need warning prior to the plunge because that's only fair, unlike, of course, the plungees criminality. Those who aren't prepared to jump should be imprisoned and their assets seized. The rest of us can then get on with making a better world.

Hey, do we have a choice?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My gable end...

is fixed. After much delay a wizened old goat driving a battered flat bed lorry arrived on Thursday morning. Scaffolding Joe, for it was he, slit the throat of a black cockerel and stained my newly pointed brickwork with the twitching bird's dark red blood.
'Well, that's different'. I thought

I stood someway off with Eddy my nicotined roofer, both awaiting a propitious sunrise.

"For fuck's sake," Says I "Propitious! It's scaffolding not life."
"That's easy for you to say." Says Eddy lighting another roll up. "Where's that flask of tea? It's a bit parky this early on."
I go inside and return with the tea as Joe's chants begin to wake the neighbours.
Nervously I ask Eddy, "Will he be much longer?"
Eddy replies "Not sure," And we both notice Joe reach into the lorry cab for another cockerel.
Eddy shouts, "Joe, it's a one cockerel job this."
Joe pauses, looks at us and then at the cockerel squawking upside down in his large fist.
Annoyed, Joe says, "A one cockerel job? I needn't have brought this". He tosses the relieved bird through the cab window and into the lap of Bubba his shaven headed son. Eddy and I are not convinced his remark was addressed solely to the cockerel.
"Boy! Git out here and start putting stuff up" He nods at the flatbed laden with poles of a most propitious type.
"Okay paw," Says the boy hitching his oily dungarees.
"Why are they talking like that?" I whisper to Eddy. "They're from Manchester".
"Stereotype of folk who toil." He replies. "Modern life requires them to sound as if they're from the deep south of the US and not Somerset. It's cultural imperialism gone mad." I nod in a wise way.
The sun rises above brooding clouds, Bubba begins unloading the truck and I retreat to my kitchen for toast. After half an hour Eddy comes in to tell me the flask is empty.
"How are they doing?" I ask, refilling the kettle as Eddy makes himself comfortable on my chaise longue.
"Making progress, making progress." He says.
"That chicken thing was a bit messy" I say.
"You should see the ceremony for industrial contracts." He replies.
"Toast?" I offer.
"Don't mind if I do," Says he.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Marching in Manchester...





yesterday against war. We were demonstrating outside this year's Labour Party Conference where Gordon Brown, Prime Minister and lickspittle to George Bush was speaking.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Eddie our local roofer...

says the batten boards on my gable end are rotted and need replacing. He points up and I crane my head to follow his finger. We'll need to hire scaffolding. Eddie knows a scaffolding man, best in the business, born on a scaffold, to a scaffolding family. Eddie's man is to scaffolding what Richard Rogers is to architecture. Scaffolding Joe is not only an artisan he's an artist. Scaffolding Joe can raise a 50 by 30 metre bracing structure in three hours tops using no tools other than his teeth. And a fine set of pearly whites they are too, or so I'm led to believe. The man's an artist, repeats Eddie, he should be in a gallery. Okay, says I, hire the man, he sounds just what we need.

"Of course there'll be the usual formalities". Says Eddie.
"Formalities?". Says I.
"Formalities". Says he.
"What formalities might those be?"
"Formalities required by the Worshipful Company of Scaffolders (Manchester Branch stroke North West Region). They'll need a sacrifice, a modicum of gin and you'll have to wear a hat during the ceremony."
"Jeeze, Eddie" says I, "It's only a few bloody poles held together with bolts. You make it sound like a religion. Sacrifice indeed."
"Do you want the job done or not?"
"Okay, but I get to choose my own hat."
"I'll arrange it for Thursday".

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Well...

we're still here. Hello, hello... damn the light's gone out... hello... can anyone hear me... hello... hello... bugger...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

End of the world...

shock.

If, as the doom mongers predict Europe's Large Hadron Collider opens a black hole tomorrow that sucks us into oblivion at least the miserable buggers won't be there to crow about being right. So some good will come of it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

This evening...


it is sunny. I got a photo as evidence. Of course I had to tart it up on photoshop, and the angle is not good but the sun really is there, behind that cloud.

The summer weather in the UK this year has been shite. Shite, shite, shite, shite, shite. It has pissed down to such a degree Trench Foot has once again reared its ugly, er foot.

Many villages and towns have been swept away by the deluge, a fact confirmed by old Caleb from the nearby hamlet of Much Wanting who speaking to journalists said. "It is true. Many villages and towns have been swept away in the deluge. Indeed my old nanny goat Bertha was swept away only yesterday... no, on second thoughts I think it was my eldest who was swept away. Yes, I'm almost sure it was him. In fact I know it was him because as he sailed by I distinctly heard the shout 'Dad, I'm being swept away' To which I replied, 'Now you mind your manners young man'. This was said because I can't abide children shouting in the presence of their elders and betters. Deluge or no deluge standards must be kept. 'Okay' he whispered, though I might have misheard him over the torrent's roar. He might have said 'Tokay' but if that was it I've no idea what he meant. You know, Bertha was swept away last year too. Now I come to think, it wasn't Bertha who was swept away but my other eldest. When I say eldest, I mean until he was swept away, and now my latest eldest has gone. But what was that loud whinny and dull thud of hooves on sacking just before the splash? A sound I remember hearing last year too. And how could I have twice mistook my boys for a goat? My dancing jiggling boys both caught by the roaring swell. It's not easy being a parent."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My mate Sean...









on Liverpool's Crosby Beach. He's on the right.

Monday, May 26, 2008

NASA have landed

a vehicle on Mars. European Beaver have been returned to the Scottish Highlands. All I need now is a huge win on the lottery and my life truly will be at one with the universe. Except of course I don't gamble. The chance of winning the UK lottery is approximately 14 million to one. With odds so huge I've as much chance of winning whether I bet or not. So, there is a huge universe, huge odds on the lottery, huge distances to Mars and a mammal with huge teeth roaming Scotland. Everything seems huge today. In the rather smaller world of my bedroom the re-plastering is complete. Hurrah! Indeed, hurrah to all the above, except the lottery which is a rip off.

To restore my equilibrium I am planning a quantum day, when everything of note will be small and pretty.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My bedroom is being...



re-plastered because the house is so old that when I steamed off the wallpaper the wall came with it. My house was built in 1900 and is an end terrace of what in the UK is called a two up/two down. This refers to the numbers of rooms.

The photo on the left is of a house in Limassol, Cyprus. By the plasterwork alone I suspect this house was not built in 1900.

For some time now I've been hounded by a guard dog that insists on barking all night. This dog barks whenever anyone passes the gate behind which it lurks. I'm not normally prone to violence or even thoughts of violence but as summer approaches my desire for the death of that dog hardens. I have dog rage and not being the owner of a gun I'm reduced to complaining to the Council. Not very pioneering I know, after all a hundred years ago when my house was being built honour might have required me to fight the dog, or fight the dog owner or even fight them both. I don't know, but these days life in Manchester is more sedate and instead of pugilism I've been given a form to complete. I think this is a better solution than the street fighting one especially as I don't look good in a flat cap with blood all down my front.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Think I've discovered...






a solution to my jpeg problem. Very clever, considering I've no idea what jpeg stands for. So, here's an image of the remains of a Cypriot snack, in jpeg, an acceptable format. Indeed.

Cyprus has mountains, the Troodos Mountains to be precise and they're very high. Cyprus also has good wine, excellent food, wonderful fish (to eat) and sunshine, lots of it.

Of course being jammed in a tin box for five hours at 33,000 feet was no fun but Deb and I coped by drinking alcohol. Alcohol under such circumstances serves a number of useful functions including the promotion of happiness and one needs happiness when one is being treated like veal.

Thank God we didn't order lunch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I am puzzled...





by RAW. I took some loverly photos during my recent holiday in Cyprus but can't upload them because, well because I bloody well can't! Except this one of an old church in Larnaca. For some reason I've saved it in jpeg, though God knows how. Must have pressed the wrong button, and what is jpeg anyway? Or RAW for that matter? Oh yes, I can read the Wiki entries on these issues but do I really want to? Do I buggery.

I was encouraged to use RAW by a photography magazine, indeed I was enthused to use RAW but instead of happiness, instead of clarity, instead of superb detail and vibrant colours I only know bitterness and heartache. For two hours now I've attempted to alter the format but have become increasingly lost in the nether regions of my operating system, a place where water drips from a shadowed ceiling and old chains hang like chains that hang. Disconcerting messages began popping onto the screen declaring me a fool and possibly impotent. So, I've given up. I refuse to allow a machine to question my virility, it's just not on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Easter weekend...





was down in London to see Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum at the Old Vic in David Mamet's "Speed the Plow." Which, as they say, was good.

Being cultured types the magnificent Deb and I also went to see the Juan Munoz retrospective at the Tate Modern which was also pretty damn good, but different, obviously.

And we got drunk. More than once. And it was freezing, with squalls.

Next weekend will be in Blackpool walking on the beach and drinking beer at night. Nothing clever or imaginative but hey, it's off time.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I'm in lurve...





yup, after all these years (7 actually) a woman called Debbie has stolen me heart. Sigh, and I'm feeling pretty damn good about the whole thing. Debs is a vegetarian so it's the wholesome life for me from now on. Yesterday I bought a liquidiser to make soup or broth as I like to call it. To me the word 'soup' has always seemed lightweight whereas 'broth' is a hearty word an honest to goodness word. When broth's on the stove the whole world stands respectful. For me broth conjures an image of cast iron pans blackened and suspended above an open range barely visible through clouds of steam blowing from the spout of a huge kettle. In the background a band of kilted pipers loudly play Scotland The Brave and tiny children sit by a rough wooden table licking their lips in anticipation of something wholesome that is to surely come their way. Aye!

I'm certain this liquidiser will be equal to the task of creating such magic. Oh yes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Storms are...

a'blowin in from the west driving a high spring tide onto the shores of Cornwall and Devon. A dark night indeed is predicted. Aye. This is how Herman Melville describes such an experience for Cap'n Ahab's ship, the Pequod.

"Towards evening of that day, the Pequod was torn of her canvas, and bare-poled was left to fight the Typhoon which has struck her directly ahead. When darkness came on, sky and sea roared and split with the thunder, and blazed with the lightning, that showed the disabled masts fluttering here and there with the rags which the first fury of the tempest had left for its after sport. Holding by a shroud, Starbuck was standing on the quarter-deck; at every flash of the lightning glancing aloft, to see what additional disaster might have befallen the intricate hamper there; whilst Stubb and Flask were directing the men in the higher hoisting and firmer lashing of the boats. But all their pains seemed naught. Though lifted to the very top of the cranes, the windward quarter boat (Ahab's) did not escape. A great rolling sea, dashing high up against the reeling ship's teetering side, stove in the boat's bottom at the stern, and left it again, all dripping through like a sieve."

Marvelous, rip roaring stuff. Not entirely sure I'd like to experience such a thing directly but it makes for an exciting read.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spring is on the...





way. Huzzah!!! This weekend a bright winter sun is beaming down on a bitterly cold North West of England. Yesterday I was down by the Mersey and it was pretty damn good cycling past the first daffodillies of this New Year.

Last weekend was also luvverly as the photo demonstrates. It was taken in Blackpool from the Big Wheel situated on the Central Pier.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gravity waves...

sweep through universe, shock. Buggering around with time, shock. Been watching a BBC Horizon programme on gravity, in shock, shock. Seems gravity isn't a bit like glue and has nothing to do with rendered horse gizzard, a material from which glue was once manufactured. Modern physics insists that gravity does not arise when horses are boiled but is instead the result of heavy objects moving through spacetime. Such objects curve spacetime and gravity is curvature but spookily time slows when closer to heavy objects. The heavier the object moving through spacetime the more curve/gravity the slower the time. It follows that the further one is away from a heavy object, say a horse, the faster time moves. The principle point here is that both spacetime and gravity are not absolutes but variables, that they are relative. Now, gravity waves are produced when really heavy objects, say two neutron stars spin round each other. Neutron stars are unbelievable heavy, heavier even than horses and their masses swirl and twist spacetime throwing out gravitational waves as if from a universal spin cycle set for brushed cotton, which is of course a heavy cloth.

Gravity waves ripple through the universal spacetime causing it to stretch and contract and correspondingly causing time to speed up and slow down. The cosmos is in constant flux and with our fellow tenants we too are subject to these fundamental changes. We too are subject to stretching and contracting and even different time zones. Call me old fashioned but I prefer all my bits to be running in the same race. Imagine the horror of becoming stuck in a getting up for work ripple? Or a Monday morning ripple! It would be possible in this scenario to spend eight hours just getting out of bed for work, out of bed for work, out of bed for work, out of bed for work... and this is before having to go to sodding work!

Ah, but who would complain about being stuck in the astonishing sex with partner ripple, astonishing sex with partner ripple, astonishing sex, blah de blah de blah... Things balance out, the universe gives and the spacetime taketh away. Ying and Yang. Personally could do with life being a little more heavy on the Yang, but hey, that's just me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I mentioned previously...

the polar bear problem at Nuremburg Zoo. It's a story not prepared to lie down. Hopes that Knut might mature into a pillar of respectable bear life were dashed when instead he became a raving psychopath and known to carry a gun. A spokesperson for Nuremburg Zoo was quoted as saying "Maybe it would have been better if his mudder had just gobbled him up like she did his brudder and sister, Wilfred and Wildreda. That was a messy business I know but then so is armed robbery." A spokesperson for the local bears said, "We tried to give the kid a break but he got with the wrong crowd. Stayed out late at night. Took drugs. Stole from shops. Some say he's the result of childhood trauma but we say the real cause was his mother being unable to count." A spokesperson for the local Education Department caught mid-croissant coughed, "Innumeracy amongst bears? Hey, what you supposed to do?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Been having trouble with...

my boiler. Gas man arrived and said it was a matter of heat regulation so he replaced the thermostat with an older model. Only remaining issue is the neighbours whining about not being able to park.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Was gonna start the new year...


with a topical blog, perhaps a light subject such as events at Nuremburg Zoo and that mama bear eating baby bears but decided against given it might prove too sensitive for some stomachs, but not for that huge bear's stomach! Ha ha ha. Speaking of which, I couldn't locate a photo of said polar bear eating its cuddly off-spring but did find this image of lions eating some type of horned creature, or to be more specific ex-creature.

Whilst on the subject of things eaten I want to mention, for one final time the Christmas bird. That bird was a giant among birds and I'd like to say I'm sorry it was shot, but I'm not, sorry that is. On Christmas morning we rose to open our pressies and discovered the bloody bird had supped all our Christmas booze. In the kitchen I tiptoed over empty wine and gin bottles thinking, "I'm sure we didn't finish that gin." when the sound of muffled singing came floating like an angel's air from the oven. A sea shanty it was, indeed Ewan McColl's, 'Shoals of Herring'. At first I was enraptured, transported, and even joined with a hearty verse or two myself before poking a rifle through the oven door and shooting the fucker stone dead. The bird squawked "You've got me guv." in a mockney baritone, followed by, "I'm a gonner now my ow'ld darlin'. Have a care sweedart," until finally resting its ashen face on the par boiled spuds I'd put in earlier for roasting. A tear almost blinded my eye when the bird chirped, "I'm not finished yet." and together we completed the final three verses with me on harmonies.

10 hours on gas mark 6 and the bird came through for us, as we knew it would. Also, the cheeky get didn't find the wine we'd stashed in the cellar, stupid animal confined its search to the fridge. Pre-Cambrian Birds? What the fuck do they know about modern living.

Next year, in honour of that bird's passing we're gonna eat horse because I read somewhere that birds and horses were once related, way back. Or was that birds and dinosaurs? Bollocks, as far as I'm now concerned something equine's gonna get it, in fact I can already see Trigger in the next field, "Mama, fetch that gun. Yee haw!"

Note to self, will require larger oven.