Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
With the morning given over to nostalgic images, here are some more. This artist is a great favourite of mine and I’m sure you will have seen his work before. The question is: who is he, what was he famous for, what is the scene depicted in the first painting and who inspired the painter to paint it? There may be a prize if all parts are answered correctly.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
Day One. The start of a new year. People mill excitedly outside Churchill waiting to enter assembly. ‘In here,’ Bob mutters and we sidestep into the toilet. ‘Now we’re in the fifth it means we can go in last,’ he adds. After much hair combing we finally enter. There’s not another fifth year in sight. Then it dawns on me that they’ve parked themselves at the end of each row in anticipation of their likely elevation. Bob shakes his head and motions to the back row. We eject a couple of fourth years and slump in the furthest corner.
The Mekon gets to his feet, his gargantuan head slumped incongruously on top of his be-gowned body. Without a flicker of emotion he welcomes us back, his voice like someone sawing wet wood. It’s always more interesting when his deputies take assembly, at least there’s the odd smile or touch of humour.
‘I’m going to go out with CP this year’, Bob whispers.
‘Really? Does she know yet? She’s a bit skinny,’ I add without giving the matter much thought.
‘She’s more spark than the rest of the fifth put together, Bob responds. He’s right - as usual.
‘Vivacious might be the word you’re looking for. I thought you Collingwood morons were sniffing around that new femme fatale from Howe.
‘That’s Dedge you’re thinking about…..
‘Shut up you pair!’ barks the head boy having returned from taking the reading. ‘Once more and you’re in detention.’ BD’s bark is worse than his bite, nevertheless we’re not going to tempt providence…………
Quadratic equations…. a silken whisper and I’m in time to see our maths mistress slowly cross and uncross her legs. Conscious of my gaze she smiles fleetingly, then thinking better of it frowns. ‘Have you ever thought we might be beasts,’ Bob whispers. ‘All the time!’ I reply.
Back at Drake the startling news is that the first two new monitors are to be D and me. I’m speechless. Housemaster says he has every faith in me - time to show the world what I’m made of etc. Not sure I want to join the forces of oppression…. although I do get an armchair to sit in.
Day Two I’m woken by a bang on the door. A queue of juniors who want to fag for me. ‘Sod off and clean your up own mess,’ I tell them………..
Day Three Disaster! D and I have been demoted for fighting and I’ve been moved in with Johnny Contro and Tampo. I’m stopped in the corridor by two juniors who still want to fag for me. I tell them to sod off again. This time I’m deeply touched, although I’ve no intention of showing it……
English with Mr Gilman - Prisoner of Chillon. ‘How’s the Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind? enquires Bob grinning.’
‘You mean the one day monitor,’ adds Derek with a consoling smile…………
Lunchtime. My girlfriend is waiting for me. Steering me by the elbow we head for the far side of the gym. Looking left and right, she quickly kisses me.
‘You silly bugger,’ she giggles. ‘Never mind! You wouldn’t have liked it,’ she adds sagely before heading off to lunch…………
Sunday, January 21, 2007
My contribution to the woofer theme. This is Scoobie Doo! Imagine what it's like standing at the back door everynight shouting "Scoobie, Scoobie get your ........ in here now" or words to that effect. That aside, he was the worlds best, a great companion and guardian of his human brother and sister.
Snoopie and the Red Baron have nothing on Scoobie, UN chopper pilot extraordinaire. This was taken in Cyprus around in 1980. He was quite renowned as he was the only dog on the patch. He had his ID card posted in the Military Police post. This was in case he strayed and was mistaken for a wild dog and shot! The closest he got to an untimely end was on one of his daily visits to the ice cream van when the ice cream vendor had to kill a viper that was threatening him.
Friday, January 19, 2007
...a cross 'twixt a longhaired retriever, a sheepdog, a wolf and an opera singer, he sez hello to all, and to Woofie in particular! :) He is three and a half, (24 or so in doggie time!), and narrowly escaped an early demise when his previous owners marched him along to the vet, when he was less than a year old, to be 'put down' :( ...his only crime, I suspect, was to have outgrown his welcome!...He joined our family when he was 14 months old and shall stay with my daughter whilst we are out in Oz...(See ya soon, B!)...
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
With Tony Blair and Gordon Brown getting muscular over Big Brother, your Russian correspondent decided to get away from it all with an afternoon’s duck shooting. As Stoke is an increasing preoccupation for some readers, it seemed an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to those not familiar with area that it is not solely a blighted landscape of pot banks and tyre factories. Some birds were too quick and nimble for Dmitri but with goose stroganoff and duck soup on the menu tomorrow, the last picture is presented to see if you can identify the bird that ultimately proved quick…
Monday, January 15, 2007
The train releases a sinister hiss of steam, briefly startling me as it swirls around our ankles. Recovering, I return to the milling sea of strange faces. People who have been apart over Easter greet each other excitedly. Girls, giggling in small groups. Boys, admiring new cricket bats. Younger boys, running up and down and pausing to pick their noses. All I can do is stand and watch, consumed by a feeling I don’t belong here. There must be over a hundred people, parents with a miscellany of offspring, all wearing the same uniform. Sapientia ex igne, with luck I’ll be able to avoid Latin at this new school. Scattered across the platform a sea of suitcases carefully labelled, each carrying a coloured tag. Mine has a yellow triangle and a number ‘H24’ – I hope it doesn’t mean I’m going to a death camp. Loud, condescending English voices, you could be in Charing Cross or Paddington instead of the Köln Hauptbahnhof. A girl redolent of a Moroccan puff adder announces she’s a prefect and pushing out her chest, starts to harass the young boys who have begun a high jump competition with the suitcases. Overhead the sun filters through the glass canopy and you can see the twin-fingered outline of the Dom. Someone in an army uniform issues instructions and we are ushered onto the train. We hang out the window, but it’s clear my old man wants to get back to work. More steam, the doors slam, the train shudders and accompanied by much waving we pull slowly away. More steam and the sweet smell of sulphur. Suddenly, I feel very alone. Two people in my carriage briefly adopt me and tell me what to do. They’re in the lower sixth. But they’re at pains to explain they’re in a different house. I’m in 3B. We have nothing in common so I stare at my feet. It’s not as though I’ve got a window seat. The train trundles on across Germany for the best part of an hour. It’s like watching paint dry. God knows why they couldn’t have left me in England. I think of Sandra. Most of the girls I’ve seen so far make the notion of plain seem deliriously exciting.
Unexpectedly, the door opens with a crash and someone my age shakes my shoulder. He’s in my house and invites me to join him. Grateful to abandon the Collingwood lower sixth I follow him down the corridor. In the new carriage, everyone wants to look at my guitar. Someone produces a packet of johnnies. Apparently in Germany they’re called gummi something or other. There’s much laughter and we head down to the toilet. Three of us manage to pack in and we begin to fill the gummis with water. Soon they’re the size of a small pig and it takes two of us to control the wobbling mass. ‘We’re passing through a station,’ someone shouts. The train hurtles through at sixty miles an hour. We heave the giant water bomb out the window. It explodes in a mass of spray drowning the startled faces. Laughing, we rush back to our compartment. As we pass the girls in the next carriage, I notice some of them look low light passable...... on second thoughts, one of them is as fit as a butcher’s dog.
Suddenly, PRS doesn’t look too bad.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Rain and gales lash Britain. Rivers and interest rates are rising…. while in London, self-serving, Home Office Civil-Servants once more show their contempt for the interests of the beleaguered public…………..hence a little tranquillity to help see you through the day, courtesy of Mrs D’s collection of house plants. [I had hoped to publish a photo of a young Dmitri wearing a ‘Mary Poppins is a Junkie’ ‘T’ shirt, but alas couldn’t find it]
Thursday, January 11, 2007
In April 1958 a young man spent his birthday being sick just off the Hook of Holland. Three days later, still recovering, he arrived in a very alien world.
Week Two: Monday ‘Someone in Drake has a crush on you.’
‘Crush? What does that mean? Now who have I upset Ian?’
‘It’s a girl stupid – it means she fancies you. She’s in 3A.’
‘So she’s an intellectual! I like them. It means they’re more creative. ‘Ere how do you know she fancies me?’
‘Her friends told me and besides she’s wearing a yellow crush pin.’
‘A crush pin! What’s that? Sounds bloody dangerous to me.’
‘People think she’s very pretty. There’s also a girl in Howe has a crush on you.’
‘Wow! I get a choice then?’
‘Not really! It would go against house spirit.’
Wednesday afternoon. Ian surrounded by a group of giggling girls. Further back a lone girl stands staring into the distance. They’re looking in my direction. Ian approaches. ‘That’s it! You’re fixed up!’
‘Fixed up? What’s fixed? What are you talking about?’
‘It means you’re going out with Christine.’
‘Going where….’ Exit Ian stage left. The lone girl approaches, hands held self consciously in front of her. Short blonde hair, pretty smile, large, chunky-knit, yellow pullover and hockey skirt…. trifle pink around the gills…… nice……… mustn’t stare - casual at all costs.
‘You’re new! Ian says you play guitar!’
Do I look that green? Why is it girls are so self assured? She looks into my eyes to check I haven’t gone comatose. Five minutes later the interrogation ends.
‘That’s your bus’ another sweet smile. ‘You’re going to the Sportsplatz.’
‘I’m going where?’
Thursday morning ‘There’s a letter here for you from Christine.’
‘Really? What’s this SWALK on the back?’
‘They always write that; when you write back you put EGYPT on your envelope – that’s what we do. And don’t forget she’ll be waiting outside Drake Girls at lunchtime. If you don’t see her she’ll pack you in.’
‘Pack me in what? I don’t understand. Why’s she writing to me Ian?’
‘To make arrangements for the pictures. Just make sure you don’t get gated! If you’re lucky she’ll hold your hand, but don’t expect any snogging …and watch out for Miss Tebbs.’
‘Why? Does she fancy me?’
‘No wonder people say you’re a slicker. And before I forget, remember to ask her about Deich walks!’
‘Dyke walks?’ Gordon Bennett! Thank God I’ve been spared any sense of prescience …!!!
‘And don’t leave it until we have an easy weekend!’
‘You mean they have a special weekend………?.’
‘No! You daft sod! Listen! Third form privileges mean you can walk around the Deich together. It’s a long way around, but don’t worry, you don’t have to go all the way.’
‘Thank God for that Ian!!!!!!!!!!!!’
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
[This carefully crafted picture of a rainy, Fliegerdeich night, which is bound to become a collector’s item, is sponsored by the PRS Nocturnal Ramblers Association.]
Paul, many thanks for the inspiration, perseverance, sheer hard work and in my case tolerance that you have demonstrated in making this Blog such a success.