Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Subterranean homesick blues………..

The old adage that, ‘home is where the heart is,’ is universally held to be a self evident truth. Certainly, if home and heart are separated, then homesickness is inevitable. It can be an insidious malaise at the best of times. It can sneak up upon you when least unexpected and departs leaving you with an empty gnawing feeling. To go looking for it is a certain guarantee of impending melancholy. Last week I opened an old shoebox and found a pile of old negatives. Anxious that the colours were beginning to fade I began to digitise them. I soon abandoned the idea and instead went and stood by the window, with what was once known as the thousand yard stare. I knew what it was I was suffering from. I hadn’t heard a curlew for ages. A bird I always associate with home, well curlews and the carpet mill to be precise.
Home for me is in Yorkshire. A county that big, it almost defies description. In my case the source of my anguish lies far from Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, the cathedral town of York or the bleak east coast blanketed in sea frets. It lies in what I’ve always considered to be ‘real’ Yorkshire. An area that lies north of the M62 and east of the A1. A land where sheep rule, of limestone walls, waterfalls, rowan and ash where the curlew trill incessantly in season and peregrines hold sway from the louring crags…… oops I nearly forgot the wagtails that nest under the bridge.

[Please note the photos are many years old and not up to digital standards]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Sixties – arguably to the best chat-up line in the world.

In the distance, a muffled, comforting, almost foetal throb, as the jukebox pushes out The Stones. Swirling lazily amidst my dreams, a familiar aromatic aroma from The Atlas. Closer to, an irritated voice, albeit with a plumy elocution, abruptly disturbs my slumbers.
‘This isn’t very flattering! I’ve never had anyone go to sleep on me before.’
‘I’m sorry! I’ve been working nights all this week,’ I mumble frantically trying to clear my head.
Across the table an earnest, auburn-haired, young lady, who looks as though she’s just been voted Daddy’s Darling of the month, sits with arms folded in mock, middle-class indignation.
‘You’ve not even bothered to ask my name,’ she complains peevishly.
‘I’m sorry! What’s your name?’ I enquire obligingly still rubbing my eyes.
Leaning forward and smiling, she whispers, ‘you can call me Lifthrasir.’
‘Lifthrasir!! That must make this Ragnarök. A good name for a place with live music. However, if I’m Lif, I hope you’re not looking to repopulate the planet.’
Briefly, she frowns and screws up her nose before laughing.
‘And I thought you were just a hairy-arsed tunneller who was too quick with his fists! Aren’t you full of surprises!’
‘What makes you think I’m on the tunnel?’ I bluster checking the state of my jeans.
‘It’s your big boots – you fool.’ She giggles and puts her hand to her mouth.
I toy with trotting out the big feet routine, then just as quickly abandon the idea.
‘So what’s your real name?’ I enquire giving a passable impression of interest.
‘You’re a long way from home Eibhlís, although I must say your accent has nearly gone.’
‘I went to school here…’ Her voices tails away and she sucks an impaled cherry off her cocktail stick, in what has to be said a most unseemly manner.
‘Not far from Brighton would be my best guess and now you’re at King’s College.’
She turns slightly to improve her profile and raises an eyebrow.
‘Are those your friends the far side of the bar?’ She gestures with a refined flick of the wrist. Then proving that women always answer their own questions, she adds. ‘Who is the red-haired one with the Mohican?’
‘That’s Reg! He’s a de-frocked priest and the other one is Macbeth. He’s a horse-doctor from Wicklow. Fancy a Boar’s Head?’ I slide my tin across the table.
Ignoring it, she looks coyly at her friend who is giving a passable impression of not listening to our conversation. ‘We’re having a party later, if you and your mates would like to come….. Are you really Russian?’
‘Of course Tovarishch!’ Setting down my pint, I whistle a few bars of the Russian national anthem. ‘My family farm yaks in Novosibirsk. ….’
She shrugs. ‘So what about the party?’
‘I’d love to, but after six, twelve-hour, night shifts back to back I’m cream-crackered. After I’ve finished this stout I’m heading back to our drum to rake in some kip.’
She readjusts her legs, largely I suspect for my benefit. Despite a mini-skirt of lampshade proportions, she’s a non starter. I wouldn’t have the energy to get through the heats…
‘What if I said please very nicely,’ Eibhlís offers trying to look like some femme fatale from the movies.
‘The answer would still be the same. I’m in desperate need of some Egyptian Gymnastics. Besides Reg is talking about slipping up town later. The Bluesbreakers are on at The Flamingo.’
Eibhlís pouts and shrugs her shoulders. ‘So there’s nothing I can say…..’ she adds looking genuinely crestfallen.
Across the far side of the bar, McBreath is waving me across. I finish my stout, wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and scoop up my Boar’s Head. As I start to stand, Eibhlís looks up and examines me carefully head on one side.
‘What if I was to tell you that I’ve got something you’d really like,’ she offers managing to look exceedingly saucy.
‘I’d say your mother needs to give you a good talking to. That might be alright for The Auld Sod, but this is a God-fearing Protestant country. You just can’t say that sort of thing over here.’
Eibhlís laughs and something in her green eyes twinkles. Briefly her tongue emerges to wet her upper lip. ‘You still haven’t asked me what I’ve got,’ she taunts resting one hand coquettishly on her hip.
‘I’ve a fair idea,’ I mumble, briefly responding to the new profile of her chest. Then succumbing to her hurt, little girl look, I shrug and oblige. ‘OK Eibhlís. So what have you got?’ I’m tempted to add – that I haven’t seen before - but decide that might be a trifle vulgar.
I watch with alarm as she plunges her hands between her legs ……and as just as quickly my anxiety gives way to unbridled relief as she hauls out a handbag from underneath the seat.
‘There!’ She exclaims triumphantly, as she rummages inside and lays two pieces of thin card on the table. ‘Two tickets for Jimi Hendrix on Saturday. What do you say to that!!!!’
An unconditional reflex kicks in and I sit down with a bump. I’m almost lost for words.
‘I’d say you’re a woman of rare beauty Eibhlís,’ I stutter putting my Boar’s Head tin back on the table with a clatter.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's (well...maybe tomorrow's) giggle

A guy is driving around the back woods of Tennessee and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: "Talking Dog for Sale"

He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the back yard and sees a nice looking dog sitting there. "You talk?" he asks.

"Yep," he replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says "So, what's your story?"

He looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA and they had me sworn into the toughest branch of the armed services...the United States Marines. You know one of their nicknames is "The Devil Dogs."

In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders; because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running, but the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger. So, I decided to settle down.

I retired from the Corps (8 dog years is 56 Corps years) and signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the guy says.

"Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

"Because he's such a bullshitter ... He never did any of that crap! He was in the Navy!"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Australia Day

G'day. The lucky country is 220 years old today, so its more beers and fireworks all round. And just because it falls on a Saturday this year, we get Monday off too. For those of you who can't make it, no worries - I'll have a beer for each of you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

memory lane etc

4 more for your consideration. Top left, Drake football supporters. Emilio is 3rd from left, I think. Top right, junior common room- names that recall: Michael Howes, Willie Hernandez ( a good boxer ) and a junior Chadwick or Tomlinson Bottom left Guard of Honour for Sir Christopher Steel,British Ambassador to Germany ( how do I remember all this detail )!! I am second left in the front row.Behind me is J. Bennie. Other names I recall are I. Stewart, David Howells, ? Windle, ? Gardner(RAF cadets in back row, Army in front. Bottom right, outside Hannover station on way back from CCF Easter cadre course with the SCLI in Osnabruck.The chap 2nd right wes not a PRS man. There are more to follow !

Another triumph for technology!

I have a T-Mobile Dash cell phone.

This device is WAY to complicated for my simple brain but it does receive emails, allow Yahoo conversations and so on - which gives me flexibility.....when it works.

It recently developed an annoying propensity to just shut down - half way through a conversation. Yesterday, it happened while I was heading back to the office after lunch so, I hooked a left and went to the T-Mobile store.

"Hi there. Can I help you?" Asked Joe the young Asian lad.
"Yes please", Said I, handing him the phone, "You can get this to work for me".
He took the phone, pressed the 'on-off' button and, sure enough, up came the screen.
"There you are, Sir", Said he, making to hand the phone back.
"Hang on to it while I count to 30." I said.
He did, and obligingly right at 29, the screen went blank again.
"Aha!" I exclaimed triumphantly, "You see?"

He opened the back of the phone and removed the battery and the SIM-card, examined them and replaced them. Then he plugged a USB chord to it and brought up the screen again. Because it was by now 'hard wired' the screen stayed up.
"Well, it's not the battery" Joe said authoritatively.
"I don't know.............." Said I.
"It's showing a full charge here" Said Joe.

Joe then started rummaging around in the 'phone's software and, after a couple of minutes, announced that I needed to upgrade the software package to the latest version.
"Fine," I said, "And how do I do that?"
"Do you still have the USB cable that came with the phone?"
"Well, you plug that into the phone and connect to a PC and bring up our website on the.............."
"That's all well and good, but HOW do I do that?"
"I'm trying to tell you!"

"Anyway," I said, "I really don't think the version of software is an inhibitor to the telephone remaining live, do you?"
"Probably not"
"Then, what does THAT suggest?"
"Maybe the battery?"
"BINGO! You know, T-Mobile talked me into a two year service agreement when this 'new technology' telephone arrived. Surely there's some compunction on you guys to ensure the equipment can stand the course?"
"I'm sorry, Sir, I didn't understand you"
(Apparently 'compunction' was not a familiar word)
"Oh, never mind......can you test the battery or, better still, put another battery in it and see if that does the trick?"
"Yes, Sir"
He found another battery in another Dash and, wonder of wonders, my Dash was immediately healed. Needless to say, the battery is not covered by the warranty.
"Good" Said I, "Now, how much is the battery?"
"Oh, I can't sell you that - we don't have batteries for have to order them on line."
", let me get this clear. My cellphone will be unable to access the service - for which I'm paying, too - until I receive a new battery which I must first order on line.....right?
"Yes Sir!"
"I'll tell you what. Why don't YOU order the battery using MY credit card and have it delivered to YOU in the store. I'll simply take the battery you've just put in my phone and you'll get a brand new one to replace it with - then I will still have SERVICE?"
"Mmmmmmmmmmmm......well, I don't know about that..........."
"Well........OK then!"

And so this episode concludes.

PS. The last time I upgraded the software in my Dash, I was off air for DAYS and spoke to most of the people in Bombay (or, thanks to an unfortunate speech impediment, Mumbai) in my attempts to reconnect. This time, I called first. The software in my Dash is bang up to date.

Poor Joe. VERY polite and a really nice kid - but really not smart enough to reproduce.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A fine body of

You may have seen this photo before and I think back row second from left if Trefor Williams. I cannot think of the missing name although I should be able to.
Kind regards to all

Justification ?

A Kansas farm wife called the local phone company to report her telephone failed to ring when her friends called - and that on the few occasions, when it did ring, her dog always moaned right before the phone rang.

The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see this psychic dog or senile lady. He climbed a telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and dialed the subscriber's house.

The phone didn't ring right away, but then the dog moaned and the telephone began to ring.

Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:

1. The dog was tied to the telephone system's ground wire with a steel chain and collar.

2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose ..

3. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current when the number was called.

4. After a couple of jolts, the dog would start moaning and then urinate.

5. The wet ground would complete the circuit, thus causing the phone to ring.

Which demonstrates that some problems CAN be fixed by pissing and moaning.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Trip down memory lane

Here are the photos I promised. Anything familiar ? It's Rob Walker leading the cross country at the Sportplatz.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Be Careful Out There:

We had to have the garage door repaired. The Sears repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a "large" enough motor on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, "Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower." I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, "NO, it's not." Four is larger than two.."

We haven't used Sears repair since.


My daughter and I went through the McDonald's take-out window and I gave the clerk a $5 bill. Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter. She said, "you gave me too much money." I said, "Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar bill back." She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request. I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, and said "We're sorry but they could not do that kind of thing." The clerk then proceeded to give me back $1 and 75 cents in change.

Do not confuse the clerks at McD's.


I live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road. The reason: "Too many deer are being hit by cars out here! I don't think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore."

From Kingman , KS


My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for "minimal lettuce." He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg lettuce.

>From Kansas City


I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" To which I replied, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?" He smiled knowingly and nodded,
"That's why we ask."

Happened in Birmingham , Ala.


The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it's safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged coworker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?!"

She was a probation officer in Wichita , KS


At a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear coworker. She was leaving the company due to "downsizing." Our manager commented cheerfully, "This is fun. We should do this more often." Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare.

This was a lunch at Texas Instruments.


I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the sake of her life, couldn't understand why her system would not turn on.

A deputy with the Dallas County Sheriffs office, no less.

When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the drivers side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and di scovered that it was unlocked. "Hey," I announced to the technician, "its open!" His reply, "I know. I already got that side."

This was at the Ford dealership in Canton , Mississippi


They walk among us... and the scary part is that they VOTE and they REPRODUCE !

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Talking of toilets and computers.

Ladies! This is a boy’s own story- you have been warned!!!

I first used computer technology in 1968 and have had cause to hate it every day since. At the time, I had a complex set of calculations to perform that were literally taking me over a week to complete, before repeating them again with different values. Somebody showed me how to translate my calculations into an arcane language called FORTRAN. Each instruction to the computer was entered carefully on a special typewriter, which then punched holes in a card. By the time I had finished I had enough cards to fill a shoebox. Having finished, I dutifully took them to the air-conditioned and hermetically sealed computer centre. I pressed the buzzer and the receptionist let me in. As I was explaining what I wanted doing, I noticed she had one too many blouse buttons undone. In the resultant confusion I dropped my shoebox. It took another week to get all my cards in order again.
I returned a week later and was told I had missed my computer slot and that my run would take place in ten days time. Ten days later I returned and was presented with my shoebox, around which was wrapped a large sheet of paper with perforated edges held in place by an elastic band. Outside, I unwrapped the paper on which was inscribed some general gobbledegook about IBM and the single piece of advice ‘ERROR ON LINE 4’ . Nearly in tears, I took my cards back the lab and two days later somebody was able to borrow an optical card reader. Four days later, I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a young lady who could read the f***ing things. After countless Babychams and the promise of access to my body she agreed to help. The ‘error in line 4’ was discovered, a new card punched and a week later when my next slot became available I returned to the computer centre. I duly handed in my box and again returned a week later. This time the piece of paper said ‘ERROR IN LINE 35!’ By now my wallet was running low and the young lady seemed less interested in abusing my body. By all accounts she had found somebody with a bigger buffer capacity. After nearly fifteen weeks, I finally received the results of my first calculation. Fifteen times longer than doing it by hand is sadly pretty efficient compared with the ineptitude of PCs running XP that can destroy a lifetime's work in seconds!!
Toilets. I nearly forgot the toilets. In those early days air-con was incredibly expensive and little understood. Design expertise was virtually non-existent and a suite of rooms was frequently made part of a loop, where air-conditioned air was swept from one room to the next before being vented as a means of keeping down costs. As a regular client for ‘computer time’ Monday morning was my slot for delivering cards. One week, the previous Sunday night had been a ‘lad’s only do.’ Abandoned by the pretty programmer I’d resorted to an obscenely large curry and a shed load of Guinness. On the Monday, a small queue had formed at reception, so clutching a copy of the Guardian I headed for the gents. When I exited ten minutes later, there was mayhem. The receptionist looking several shades of green was urgently trying to get a plumber to come and look at the drains and several people had handkerchiefs tied around their faces. It took a full day for them to discover that the air conditioning loop for the newly built computer centre began in the gents! Terry and Bob I have every sympathy.

My hardware hurts

I broke my thumb drive. It has a busted USB connector and a bunch of small wires all bent out of shape. It broke when I dropped my laptop on the floor - the thumb drive was sticking out the back and took the fall.
I was shifting the laptop and only dropped it when I tried to save my external hard drive from falling off the table after the laptop's power cable dragged it over the edge. The external drive landed on its USB plug and destroyed the socket. It’s now a 160GB paperweight.
The broken thumb drive shorted out the laptop and replaced my holiday photographs with a dead screen. After a few hours of profanities and a small hammer, the laptop finally began its start cycle. Repeatedly. Every 30 seconds.
Enter the recovery disc. My laptop now works. Just Windows - no programs or files or photos. At least I had everything backed up. On the external drive. And the thumb drive.
I'm back in Canberra now, ready to start work tomorrow.
I'm going to have a drink. I may be some time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Technology - and being unprepared.

Soon after we arrived in USA in 1986, a restaurant called Classics After Six opened in Houston. It offered silver service, white table cloths, a sophisticated menu, a five or six piece ensemble discreetly playing classical music and, as we were to later discover, electronic high-tech loos. My wife Jen and I went with Jeff and Marie, our neighbours. The ambience was pleasing, the service attentive and the menu really quite sophisticated for an area of Houston at the time more used to barbecue and burgers.

Several cocktails into the evening, the ladies excused themselves. Moments later, Jen returned to the table in high dudgeon, waving a sheet of paper and wearing an expression of utter disdain. She cast the sheet of paper onto the table and announced indignantly, “I’ve been peeing quite successfully for a good many years…….and this is the first time anyone’s seen fit to give me instructions on how to do it!”. She didn’t actually stamp her foot with a petulant twitch of the head - but this was the only piece of drama the occasion lacked! Leaving the document for Jeff and I to peruse, the ladies strode off with renewed purpose to the task at hand. They had no idea what they were heading into.

The sheet of paper was actually detailed instruction in how to use the high-tech loos the restaurant had chosen to have installed and, although now almost de rigeur in public facilities, we had not encountered them previously. It said in large letters at the top, “PLEASE DON’T USE ANY OF THE CONTROLS IN THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU HAVE READ THIS NOTICE”. Jeff and I read the instructions and started to grin.

It was several minutes later that the ladies returned. Jen was rather obviously trying hard to suppress laughter and Marie, quite clearly, was VERY pissed off.

It transpired that the loos in the ladies room each had a control panel attached to one side of them. There was a large sign on the back of each cubicle door urging those now seated to “READ THIS FIRST”, then repeating the instructions on the piece of paper that Jeff and I now had. The delightfully inquisitive Marie had taken her seat and then either eschewed the warning notice or been drawn inexorably to the flashing lights on the control panel. She started to experiment with the controls. From somewhere in the toilet beneath her a jet of searing hot water was suddenly released. As this scythed across her tender regions, she shrieked and simultaneously stood up. The jet of hot water was now unimpeded and shot over the front of the bowl, filling her underwear with hot water and pouring onto her shoes. In addition to shrieking, Marie was now executing a vigorous, high stepping form of primitive dance in the confined space of the cubicle, trying desperately to prevent her feet from being scalded while at the same time wrestling with the toilet controls.

Needless to say, as this story unfolded at the table, Jeff and I dissolved into uncontrollable laughter. Eventually, inquisitiveness overcame us and we men headed off to our loo. Gentlemanly relief is achieved in rather more public circumstances and there was quite a crowd in there, laughing and joking at the self-flushing urinals, the taps which turned on in response to movement and the paper towel dispensers which seemed to anticipate one’s need and automatically push out sheets of paper. None of us had seen anything like it at the time. Neither Jeff nor I was brave enough to experiment with the ‘sit-upons’ however.

In spite of the variety of entertainment, the restaurant didn’t stay open for long. It may have been that the excellent food just didn’t draw sufficient customers from the barbecue and burger brigade or that the classical music just didn’t appeal in a city where country music was then more the mark. Then again, the choice of knives, forks and spoons was overwhelming for anyone more used to eating everything with a single fork. However, we think there was possibly a slew of law suits served by indignant ladies with scalded privates and that the ensuing litigation proved too great a financial burden.

Better than your normal e-mail

1. GO TO THE FOLLOWING SITE : < 2. TYPE YOUR FIRST NAME ON THE 1st LINE. 3. TYPE YOUR LAST NAME ON THE 2nd LINE. (Skip your e.mail address.) 4. Click on vizualizar and watch what happens. Just checking in before we check out and take the brother in laws big rig south to a warm golf course,wherever that may end up.If it is Florida i will be sure and try and get some polar bear shots for you Dmitri.Trusting you to hold up our end ,seem to be too many nice guys about and not a Rasputin fan among them ?.ALL THE BEAST FREDDIECAKES.

Friday, January 18, 2008

For Babs for never believes me.

Clearly the boys never took you on walks out of bounds to the Raeder Schleuse. There you would have found some U boat pens and a nice private place for ….. whatever grabbed you at the time.

Wilhelmshaven finds solution….

…for unsightly U-boat pens!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Re Teaser below:

Of course, it would have helped if the ruddy thing had lined up as I had it in the 'posting' section. CROSS should be directly above ROADS and the ANGER of DANGER should be directly beneath ROADS - the plus sign is just that; if you add the numerical values for the letters in CROSS to those of the letters in ROADS, it will give you the numerical values for DANGER. Hell's teeth that lloks impossibly complicated but honestly, it's not. It's simply an exercise in deduction.

A teaser

Have I posted this before? Apologies if I have but anyway, here goes:

+ R O A D S

Given that S = 3, and that each different letter has a different numerical value, substitute numerical values for each of the nine different letters in the sum.

Solvers, please just publish the values you got for D A N G E R because there's only one solution and the right values here will show you got it right.


A PS to Paul's daily diary

Today, I caught an item on TV news. The cheery, smiling news-person said, "The bulldog is among the ten most popular breeds in America for the first time in 175 years............" (she might have said 125 years but, even so.......)

So, I'm thinking: the country's at war in two theatres; the economy is going down the afore-mentioned crapper; the lights are on at the White House but apparently nobody's home..........and, since there was no information about 'the MOST popular breed in America, I wonder who has a long position in bulldogs?

GIVE ME A BREAK! ......................(still no emoticons!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The boys are dreaming wicked…….

Her hair was cut short. Almost boyish. Hardly glamorous in the accepted sense. And yet, thanks to her vivacious personality, it somehow managed to convey a delightful sense of the butch. Unlike other PRS staff she always managed to give the impression that she still had a pulse. When she walked, she did so with a decided bounce with caused her skirt to precess about her calves in most alluring manner. In fact legs were Miss P’s best feature.
This year, she was both our history teacher and our form mistress and this morning she had set us one of her interminable tests. I hadn’t a cat in hells chance of passing and was gazing out onto the ground between Drake and Rodney girls. From the people scurrying by some lucky sods had already been released early for lunch.

Everybody else had their heads down. Something caught my eye and I watched as she came from behind her desk and sat on it facing us. She often did this when we were having a test. She leant forward and stretched languidly running her hands down her legs to her ankles. A simple and yet to me unmistakably erotic action - on her face a far away look that suggested her mind was elsewhere. As it was summer, she had eschewed stockings and her legs were a haunting alabaster white. The more I thought about it, they were bloody gorgeous and decided there and then that whenever I escaped this boot camp for the lobotomised I would dedicate my life to older women. She shifted slightly and suddenly my breath caught in my throat. I tried to look away but couldn’t. I realised that next to me RAK had also put his pencil down. I knew instinctively the vision was about to haunt me for weeks. Could I be in love I mused? Was it the same as animal lust?

‘That’s it,’ she called, breaking the spell. ‘Put your pens down and somebody collect the papers. You can go for lunch.’ Momentarily she raised her voice to overcome the scraping of desks and chairs. ‘You can stay behind,’ she snapped nodding in my direction.
‘Doesn’t sound good,’ RAK murmured as he gathered his books up.
She waited until everyone else had left and then walked towards me. ‘You’ve done it this time,’ she snapped.
‘I have?’ was all I could manage. I could see this being bloody embarrassing. The ignominy of it all. Her bloody fault. She shouldn’t sit like that.
‘Yes! The headmaster wants you demoted from the grammar school stream. He thinks you don’t deserve it. If that happens, it will be a real tragedy….’
I tried to say something, but the words wouldn’t come. In part, it was unbridled relief. Mostly though, it was because Miss P. had a mind like quicksilver. She was probably brighter than the rest of the staff put together. Several times she tried for eye contact, but there was no way I was going to let her read my mind.
Finally, she eased up. ‘You can go,’ she murmured with a sigh of exasperation.

As I bundled outside two Rodney girls were leaning from the window of their room. One shouted across, ‘There’s a request on the radio for you.’
‘Who is it from?’ I replied.
‘It’s JM!’ they called back unnecessarily loudly. JM had left PRS hurriedly last week and currently was the number one topic of gossip and speculation. Even I didn’t know exactly what it was he had done. I could hear Alan Grace’s voice in the background. The bastard would be down at BFN helping himself to my records.
‘Who is it?’ A voice behind me. It was Miss. P. Realising I was going to pretend I didn’t know, she added, ‘It’s JM isn’t it?’ Why is it that women always answer their own questions? Christ! Surely, they can’t blame me for this!
The girls angled their radio towards the window so I could hear better. The unmistakeable strains of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers singing: ‘I’m not a juvenile delinquent.’
My heart sank. There was going to be hell to pay for this. The Mekon would go bloody multitudinous.
Miss P. snorted. Then began to laugh and finally began to giggle like a schoolgirl.
‘You’re incorrigible,’ she spluttered reaching for her handkerchief and winking before walking away.
I headed for the bus with a new spring in my stride. I had no idea what incorrigible meant, but it was clearly something to do with her fancying me.

enough of 'ageing' already!...

George Carlin's Views on Aging
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids?
If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions."How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five!
That's the key.
You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead."How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16!
And then the greatest day of your life...You become 21!!!...
Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30.
Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40.
Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away.
Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.
But wait!!!
You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!
So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.
You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70!
After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT !
You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime And it doesn't end there.
Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!" ...

Monday, January 14, 2008

A brief lesson in campanology

Damned if I know how to post stuff from you-tube so here's the URL - whatever that means! You may have to cut and paste it.......or so I'm told..........


I hef a kveshun for ze Herr Blogmeister! Paul, is there any way to have the pics carry over to the comment posting page? For someone challenged in the face-to-name department (MOI!) this would REALLY be a boon. I'm seeing faces I know and names I remember but by the time I've flashed from one to the other, the big brain bird has suddenly flown out of the window with my memory!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More from Newbury 1995..

I'm embarassed to post these, but I said I'd do it. Why I get caught making ridiculous faces is beyond me! And I dont know who the gentleman is! Drinking with strangers!
As for this one, I think the girl next to me is sister to a girl called Patsy who was in Howe at the same time as me. Sadly, Patsy had died some time before Newbury. Does anyone recognise any person in the pictures. Except for me of course! I know somewhere there are at least 2 more, one of the cake, but I cant find them. Sorry. Its amazing, I still have all the receipts from the Newbury Hilton where we stayed etc.

An ‘on theme’ posting.

Some of you may have seen one or more of the above photos sent to me this week by Roger Hall, although I don’t think they have appeared on the Blog before. They are of Drake Boys circa 1959-1960.

Roger tells me that minutes after the first photo was taken we were sent down to the housemaster’s office and flogged. I have no recollection of this, but that’s probably because I was flogged so often. The second shot shows Drake Boys at prep. Paul will doubtless be able to identify many of the faces. The individual offering the twin fingers of scorn is Johnny ‘Contro’ Johnson. Sat in front of him is Ian ‘Guff’ Stewart. I’m unable to share some of the other nicknames as I may give serious offence. Happy Days!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In troubled times.......

…when the waters get rough and dangerous…

… and the frenzy starts…..

…and folk start getting out of their depth….

… I’ve always found it pays to keep your feet firmly on dry land..

….I mean, who cares a duck?

… on the other hand…….sometimes you just have to add your two pennorth.

In my very humble view, the more hot air there is, the more it is likely to arise from simple, unintended misunderstandings and is of little consequence. In 1914 it was all down to train timetables…. that’s for you Blogmaster, as I know you like history. As you said yesterday….. Happy Birthday everyone, may your God go with you and have a peaceful weekend.

Spare a thought for Herr Blogmeister

It struck me as I re-read yesterday's marathon item that somebody has been both mean spirited and cowardly. I know not who, nor do I care but I defend absolutely the right to free speech. This blog is a forum which our Blogmeister created for the free exchange - and I emphasize most vehemently EXCHANGE - of ideas.

Anybody can view our often erratic verbal meanderings and anybody can form opinions based upon them, either as a collection or individually. However, the right to comment, augment, digress from or, dare I say it, criticize comes only through contribution. Complaining to Paul is absolutely unacceptable. It puts him in an invidious position and leaves the rest of us with no idea what the problem is. Voyeurism is not a platform from which to opine!

Please, if anyone has a problem with anything that's said here - and, quite clearly, those of us who participate do not - then have the good grace to join the club and voice it, otherwise, here forever after hold your peace!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Where are my marbles?

I'm happy to announce that Elvis has well and truly left the building!

I went home at lunch time today and Jen had gone out. I called her cell phone.............and I could hear it ringing. I hung on, thinking to myself, "Why doesn't she answer the wretched telephone?".

Why could I hear it ringing? It was in the next room! Jen had left it behind. that you? Can I have my marbles back, please?

Wet and windy here

A bonus for those with bird books - a very small bird to identify.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A little limerick

There once was a fellow from Ryde,
Who fell down a toilet and died.
His brother, next day,
Went the very same way
And now, they're interred....side by side.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sit silently and listen to the words.

This morning I’ve decided to offer another of my book reviews. Not that I’ve had much encouragement in the past you understand – my strategy is more related to the fact that I haven’t any photographs to Blog. I thought of doing a review of ‘Prince Rupert School – Wilhelmshaven 1947-1972’, but one of the co-authors took the vapours at the notion ( it was the pretty one). So, I’ve decided instead to review Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas, which I guess isn’t much different – but more of that later. This is not so much a book, as a play for voices, but either way it’s a good read or a good listen, which is nice as you have a choice, depending on whether your eyesight, or hearing is failing. Furthermore, you have the added bonus that this is also poetry.

Much of Thomas’s poetry tends to be private, introspective and tightly constructed. Under Milkwood however was designed from the outset to be broadly humorous and have lots of colour to appeal to a wider audience via the radio. Like most Celts Thomas savoured the sound of words and picked them like one would a ripe plum. Not like the English, who it seems have consigned their language to a utilitarian means of communication. Dylan frequently chose words because he simply liked the sound of them, or because combinations of them complemented each together. Consequently, those who like to get uptight by examining the meaning of everything have become increasingly frustrated over the years. The man who borrowed his name has had a similar problem, albeit multiplied a thousand fold – literally millions of interpretations have been applied to Tambourine Man. Although, the man himself insists that there is no particular meaning there. ‘Circled by the circus sands’ just sounds good. Some people’s interpretations of just those few words border on the bizarre. But I digress. Back to Milkwood.

Dylan Thomas invites us to listen in on the dreams of the fictional Welsh village of Llareggub (the name is "bugger all" spelt backwards, but it originally appeared in print as Llaregyb so as not to offend), and in doing so their innermost thoughts and dreams are laid bare to us. Read it to yourself (in your best Welsh accent) and savour the lovely alliteration:

‘[Silence], FIRST VOICE [very softly]

To begin at the beginning:

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and- rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now……’

I was introduced to Under Milkwood in 1965 by a young lady from the Rhondda who used to read it to me as a reward for my labours in satisfying her multifarious needs. I loved every word of it. However, like most woman there was always a cruel twist. She loved to expose my naiveté to the variety of community dysfunction masquerading as pastoral eccentricity in the little seaside town of Llareggub . Necrophilia, bigamy, nymphomania, Satanism, the list was endless. Which I guess, doesn’t make it much different to ‘Prince Rupert School – Wilhelmshaven 1947-1972.

It took me years to find it on CD. I’m afraid only Richard Burton’s voice does it for me. Get yourself a copy. Turn off the lights and sit by the fire with a glass of wine and forget our modern uptight obsession with meaning and simply bask in the words.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Apologies to Sam Coleridge........

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a dark blue blog.......

Dallas revisited

And, while we play with light, I love the tones on the stonework here

and this is just a riot of contrasts.

Some shots taken in Dallas, Texas

Here we have the famed grassy knoll

and here, top right in the facing building, the window from which the fatal shot was allegedly fired.

Some fun with contrasting light in the Downtown area

Here we see the launching pad, prior to lift off..........

.......and.....SHE'S ON HER WAY!

Ode of the day

In 'Uddersfield, in 'Uddersfield,
There was a cow which would not yield;
The reason why it would not yield.....
It would not 'ave its udders feeled!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Birds, tits and all

Now herein lies a little challenge. You see, She Who Must be Obeyed has a mortal fear of things with feathers. It's irrational - and she freely admits it - but it has to do with the possibility waking to find a bird in her mouth. Lord knows how this arose. Anyway, some years ago we had a boiler in our kitchen in UK. The casing was built to facilitate plumbing from either side. One simply removed the blanks from the side into which the flue, piping and all were to fit, leaving the blanks on the other side intact. Well, naked as a jaybird one fine morn, Jen descended to the kitchen. The next the kids and I heard was screaming. Loud? Loud enough to wake the dead! I thought she'd severed a leg at the very least. We all levitated, elevated and flew downstairs to find Jen sharing the kitchen with a rather large and by now terrified blackbird. This poor thing had somehow found its way between the flue pipe and the brick chimney down into the casing of the boiler, whence it had sought to escape by bashing about inside until one of the blanks popped open, affording egress into the kitchen. Unfortunately, the kids share my warped sense of humour. Everything is reduced to cartoon sequences. None of us could help poor Jen. There she stood - in all her glory - screaming and flapping about. The bird was also screaming and flapping about. Each was in fear of the other - and all we could do was laugh.....uncontrollably! Eventually, my son had the presence of mind and enough bodily control to open the back door. The blackbird - without so much as a 'by your leave' flew out, never to be seen again. Jen was by now a whimpering mess. The kids and I were in pain. Even now, many years later, if Mum steps out of line, the kids will flap their arms and screech, evoking in Jen instant recall.

I'm afraid I don't photograph birds!

Indian (mis)usage in English

So, there we were, Jen and I, being shown around a plantation home in Louisiana now owned and maintained by the Louisiana version of the National Trust. Louisiana is hot and steamy and this house was built by ex-pat Brits in the late 1790s, way before air conditioning. it has many characteristics in common with Caribbean homes of the period - broad, airy porches with louvred shutters and curved, tall ceilings, large, airy rooms and, on the lower floor, rooms with brick walls instead of the more normal wood. One of the brick rooms was the dining room and, suspended above the dining table, was a large, single sail, 'sweep' fan. Our guide, with great authority announced that this fan was known as a punkah wallah. Lord knows how many others had been thus mis-informed. I couldn't resist it. I had to rain on her parade and correct this little blunder - nicely, of course.

I’ve always found small tits exquisite.

Damp and misty yesterday with poor light, not ideal for photography, particularly through double-glazing, but there’s something irresistible about small tits.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The King

We would be remiss in letting the day go by without noting that Elvis would have been 73 today. Few people can be said to have so profoundly affected our youth and our music. The photo is from the time when he truly was King, before he became the bloated caricature of himself playing to middle-aged women in Las Vegas.

Weekend Quiz

To win the quiz you must be able to name this object precisely, explain who it was given to and describe what it used to contain.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Floating stuff........AVRORA notwithstanding

Thought this might interest you Dmitri. This is USS TEXAS, the oldest battleship still afloat to have served in both World Wars. Maintained in superb condition, she languishes in fresh water at San Jacinto State Park in Texas. Laid down in 1911, launched in 1912 and commissioned in 1914, she saw action in Europe as part of the British Navy during WW1 and in both Europe and the Far East in WW2 in her rightful role as part of the US Navy.

While we are playing with light......

Here are a few shots taken with my trusty Brownie Box of Norfolk, Virginia.

His is the Western side of the Downtown area - the colours fascinated me.

This is the yacht marina on the Elizabeth River

And here we have a view from Downtown across the Elizabeth River at dusk...

....and in the early morning.

For all those trapped in the maw of winter.

Shut your eyes and feel the last of the sun’s languid warmth on your skin. With an ice-cold cocktail, listen to the soft, slithering of the waves as they push up the beach and let the aroma of barbecued fish drift over you ………..Perhaps open one eye, in case the woman in the ridiculously small bikini walks by again. Other than that, try to forget New Labour is in power and that winter has still a long, long way to go……..