Friday, December 17, 2004

Ethical behaviour and the Kennedy administration.

This is a true story and also a playground fable.
A colleague and a good friend of mine who writes a blog entitled 'L*******r' but who shall remain anonymous.
I was on yard with this person and the other third grade teacher. He went into violent spasms and started grabbing his thigh. I thought he had leg cramp and wandered over to offer assistance. It wasn't leg cramp it was arse cramp or butt strain or arse strain or butt cramp or whatever the hell you want to call it. He was in real agony and was hopping about. I was laughing quite a bit. Two girls came over and asked him if he was OK. We lied and said he was. This reminded me of how the public had to be kept away from the truth regarding JFK's illnesses and adultery. We kind of lied to the kids to protect the image of "Mr X". If they knew that he suffered from arse cramp it might damage his credibility as a premium third grade teacher who used to live with Balgavy.


Sometimes I wonder if I should get out more. Sometimes I wonder if I should read fewer blogs. Recently I was in a book store , pondering the wares when I turned away. I decided that it was too close to Christmas for me to be spending money on myself but also, slightly scarily perhaps, I knew that I had not checked into the range of blogs that I usually read. This doesnt bother me. If it did I would not be here, doing this. I just found it curious. Today I was terribly busy. I wasn't even able to check any emails until 2.30pm let alone read blogs. I was only able to look at a few after I'd injured my back carrying a large Christmas tree three blocks and two flights into our apartment. I missed them. I missed the tibits of gossip and human interest that I so enjoy reading about. I missed the cultural and political viewpoints.
I was going to write about Listmaker but my back hurts and I'm going to stop now. Without wishing to turn this into a lovefest for other people's blogs Listmaker is rather marvellous.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

He's back!

A few months ago we mourned the demise of "World of Stelfox". This pre-Mondale blog from the House of Dave told us lots of things about foxes, music that we'd never heard of and recipes for a better life (nutritional and inspirational).
Dave is back! I've loved this man since he helped himself to my lunch back in 1989 and am delighted that he has returned to blogworld.
Check out Breaking Ranks. Lots of music and pictures, lovely.

Monday, December 13, 2004


And the winner is.... Jamie Paquette of Brooklyn, NY.
There's a Hershy's Goodbar on it's way to you.
I'll publish all the answers in a week or three.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Links Nouveau.

Look right and you'll see a couple of new links. 'Fightin words' is a new forum for the rambunctious opinions of messers Flood and Paquette concerning weltpolitik, ostpolitik and realpolitik. Enjoy.
I'm also attempting to link to Mr Flood's mighty fine 'Whiskey Drinker' blog. This has been proving somewhat problematic as the link I set upwent directly to a Bible studies site. I'm doing my best and I hope the irony of this is not lost on anyone (least of all, I suspect, the God fearing Mr Flood). The problem is now solved (I couldn't let it go, I thought it might be a sign).
'Unwellness' is the everyday story of Library folk and is hosted by our favourite school Librarian Ms S****. Certainly worth a good look.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Monday, December 13th, 2004.

The fantasmagorical Random Doubts of Walter Mondale Yuletide quiz 2004 will be launched on Monday, December 13th at 8.15am.
55 questions of intense mentalicity.
1 candy bar question.
5 questions to test your faith.
See you Monday!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Forthcoming attraction

Right, It's been busy here at Bowles Towers and I'm afraid to say that I haven't been paying as much attention to our favourite former Vice President/Victim of massive landslide election victory for the gipper.
Fear not, the innaugaral 'nifty fifty/some questions to make you think/the search for fifty answers/that'll be a quiz then/bumper Christmas bonanza of brainteasing knowledge and fun' quiz will be published upon these pages in the next few days.
Those of you who read these pages during the summer will recall my previous attempt at messin with your mind (July 2004).
This will be like that but bigger.
Usual rules apply, no prizes except for genuinely amusing interpretations and they get a Goodbar from Hershys in the post.

Friday, December 03, 2004


When I was growing up I sailed. Along with family and friends I raced sailing dinghys on the Norfolk Broads. This has bred in me a passion for sailing. I thirst for the water and for a 'burn'.
Sailing has taught me stuff and nearly killed me more than once. It has provided me with a collection of salty tales and ripping yarns, it has given me sunburn and backache and, perhaps most importantly it's given me loads of really top friends.
It can be quite an expensive hobby but my Dad didn't let mere economics get in the way. Just as some people look out for cheap flights to the sun or second hand cars my father spent much of the 1980's

My Boat
Originally uploaded by bowles.

scouring the small ads and boat auctions for bargains. Sometimes he'd return home with a wreck, a real heap. He'd tow it up to Tony's shed or Mr Richardson's pig barn and after a few weeks or months and some paint, varnish and love he'd brought back a little bit of dignity to an otherwise squandered boat, ready for one more summer of sailing.
I can't quite remember how or when 'Zest' came into our lives although I would hazard a guess that it was some time around 1986. Having progressed from childlike 'safe' boats my brother and I were ready for a bit of a challenge. That's where 'Zest' came in.
She was an Enterprise class sailing dinghy, about 18 feet long and made of wood. Probably about 35 years old at the time. Years before the internet revolution Enterprises were known as 'e-boxes' as a result of their hollow hull which was kept bouyant wth the use of airbags, theses inevitably deflated but this didnt matter unless you capsized, then the whole boat would sink. And you would be left regretting the fact that you hadn't blown up the bleedin airbags.
Another marvellous aspect of sailing an e-box was the "death-roll".
Not easy to explain but it's essentially thus, The wind is strong and is coming over your stern, you are running downwind when for some reason of design your e-box starts rolling violently from side to side. Instantly requiring vigorous efforts on behalf of the crew to keep the bloody thing upright.
Not many dull moments as any e-box sailor will testify.
So what made 'Zest' special?
A few things, she was a gorgeous looking boat, nice plywood varnished deck (with a "nuclear power?No thanks" sticker placed prominently on the foredeck). She gave my brother and I something in common during those awkward teenage years. She was fast. I mean fast, shit off a shovel fast.
And I loved her. Still do.

Zest represents another time, she was old when we got her so she already had a story and a past, we just added to that in our own slightly dotty (yet pretty fuckin fast) way.
Now i know that the world moves on and I'm glad it does, I'm glad I'm no longer a spotty 14 year old bickering with my brother about boatspeed or pointing. I have the fondest of memories of 'Zest' (look, we didnt choose the name but it fitted anyway, Had we chosen a name it would have been something that wouldon't have stood the test of time like 'Morrissey' or 'HMS Bill Shankley' and I wouldn't have loved the boat as much and I wouldn't be feeling like this or writing this ). Eventually , with time passing we sold her onto a good friend. He assured us that if he ever sold it on we'd get first refusal.

Today I saw this on a sailing website:
Enterprise 5563
Wood,built by Smallcraft Southampton. Danube blue outer hull. Aluminium spars, bax sails, launching trolley, cover. Contact Mark Turner on 01603 7#####. cash offers.

Mark, it's not your fault. You're a good man and you are only doing what's right. But I have to admit that a little bit of my childhood just died. I hope that someone really cool and nice and friendly gets as much fun out of 'Zest' as we did. I hope that whoever sails her has the same sideways view of the world as we have (and as Mark has) and I hope that that fabulously 1980's nuclear power sticker is still stuck to the foredeck!

nb: The picture is not 'Zest' just another boat of the same'e-box' class.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I love my job.

Do you ever goof off at work? Ever mess about and just act silly? This afternoon listmaker and I took on a bunch of third graders in an impromptu basketball game. We lost. Just goes to show that the much quoted "height advantage" mattered not when faced with 11 nine year olds screaming at you and jumping around in your face.
Just a thought.

Monday, November 29, 2004

the man.

the man.
Originally uploaded by bowles.
Maestra just taught me how to put pictures up. take a long hard look at this, it's probably going to be here for a very long time.

Monday, November 22, 2004


I guess I'm at that age where heroes should cease to exist. life has treated me well and I'm happy to be who I am and where I am but I can see the cracks and the holes and I am sad to admit that I can see that some folk have hearts blackened by hatred or despair.
But I'm an optimist.
I do still have heroes.
I dont folow them blindly but I do think about them and admire them. Some are dead. Some are still creating great music. Some are Welsh. Some are playing for Norwich City. Some are baseball players. Some are real people who I actually know. Some are politicians but i'm pretty sceptical about them. I have met one or two of them and have always been dissapointed, that's why, unless they came up to me, I would try and avoid them.
But I like the fact that there are people out there, who, by virtue of what they do, inspire me. They delight me. They provoke thought and discussion. I laugh at them and I laugh with them. Some of them are quite unusual choices. Some of them have been misunderstood by history.
But to me that's OK.
I should go now. I'll wander off along 7th Avenue and dream about bumping into Steve Earle.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

From cradle to grave.

A lot has been said over the past few weeks about the direction we need to move in, as democrats, in order to reclaim some optimism about the future.
I was recently involved in a drunken conversation with two Republican voters, their take was that they are social liberals but fiscal conservatives. I got to thinking today how that works. I came to a conclusion. It doesn't.
It's so easy to waste breath complaining that liberals raise taxes and throw money at social problems. I think it's pretty simple and I look at history for some inspiration. Laissez faire economics has led the way in creating individuals of great wealth. Now I like money and I do OK but there has to be questions asked when the weakest members of any society are left to rot. I know that there are some bums out there who bring their own decay upon themselves but I refuse to accept that the vast majority of those who remain marginalised by the material demands of modern society are at ease with their circumstances.
I come from a society that has had it's shining moment, a time just after World War Two when Clem Atlee's Labour government created the National Health Service. "To provide care fom the cradle to the grave". I am not going to claim that this creation, born out of a socialist belief in equality is a perfect system, it's got cracks and leaks and funding problems and , in it's 56th year it has an incredible task ahead of it just to tread water. The simple fact is this, it provides a level of care, free at the point of delivery for all citizens. It's not perfect and yes, Denmark has a better one, as does Holland, Sweden and any number of European countries. It's simpler to make a system work by taxing at a higher rate and when working with a smaller, more homogenous population.
My point?
The Conservatives (be they British, American or Swedish, whatever) would never have put such a system in place. It's highly doubtful that the current Labour admininstration would have done so. The late Barbara Castle, a Labour MP in 1945 said, shortly before her recent death that there was no way that a modern left wing government could afford such a measure. All I can say is that I'm proud and relieved that Atlee's historic government of 1945 found the means, both emotional and practical to engage in such a feat.
I look back even further, the New deal here in the states, embarked upon by the closest thing America has ever seen to a socialist administration. The New Deal was subsequently dimantled, piecemeal by the Administrations of Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush.
National insurance, unemployment relief, old age pensions. All brought about by Asquith's Liberal government at the beginning of the twentieth century. Opposed by conservatives across the board who still believed that government should be based upon the Protestant work ethic ,"The harder you work, the closer you are to God" accordingly, any n'er do wells or blackguard layabouts should perish in sight of God, they will not work, he will not protect them, Why should we?
These measures and others like them are now being seen as props to a lazy underclass. Stand up! Be a man! That is the mesage of conservatism, always has been, always will be.
Abortion? Let's strangle funding of this "socially liberal" measure with our fiscally conservative good sense. Trust me, Abortion is no choice or convenient way out when it comes knocking at your door (or the door of your partner or daughter). But that's OK because the time may well come when entire states block this desperate option, sure, you can travel to another state (or nation?) where you will face additional expense for your treatment.
End result? Do the math. The poor lose out.
The key point is this, we must fight to maintain a sense of progress. We must tackle the forces of conservatism at every turn and wherever we find them. Conservatives have never given anything up without a long, hard fight. If that means direct politcal action or just giving conservatives some pause for thought next time you are out drinking, do not give up . Let them know you exist, Let them know that you, and millions like you care.
Billy Bragg once sang the words "In the name of humanity, battered and torn." We are battered and torn, always have been, always will be. But we are stronger than they realise.
The struggle continues.

it's a marathon, not a sprint

Hallelujah! Saints be praised! And see, come, look upon my people and rejoice!
Norwich city have finally won a game in the Premiership!
Whilst I slept the good sleep of a man five margeritas to the worse my boys done good.
Norwich City 2. Southampton 1.
I am happy.
The future has just become a slightly better place.
Thank you.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Prince of days.

As you, my loyal reader will no doubt be aware, I, Random Doubt aka Bowles live within a mediaeval level of superstition. That's why writing this and entitling it "The prince of days " is bound to blow up in my face.
Just a couple of prompts that have made me write.
Wisdom weasel has been running a History Friday piece for a number of months. But I got him now! Today is the 88th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme, arguably the costliest encounter in British military history. After 5 months of killing, the British generals decided to call off the assault having gained about 6 feet of French mud. That's a flippant and horribly generalised summary but this is a blog. You want to understand? Read a book.
Apes (well,the shrewdness of) threw in a Bill Hicks reference. I read this earlier this morning (as part of a wider piece about drugs). My opinions regarding the late Bill Hicks are nobody's business but my own but I did laugh when I read what was written. I laughed and I felt better about the world.
Finally, Listmaker claims that only one of his co workers follows the show "The amazing race" and that she is a girl. Dude, I'm not a girl. And sometimes a show can be brilliant purely because people just run around and yell at each other.
And the anonymous who asked me to write new stuff? Feast on this.
Oh, Thursdays are , and have been for some time, my favourite day of the week. That's something for another time.

Monday, November 08, 2004

It's about time.

At last!
I've managed to negotiate the vast complexities of linking to other sites!
Please, if you're not alreday familiar with the wonderful stuff that's out there go ahead and take a look.
And big thanks to the northern Dan (Wisdom Weasel) for sending me the info.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A moderate's response.

I am proud of the previous entry. I am proud to be able to rant from time to time. However I am not going to allow the Bush/Cheney junta to give me a heart attack. I am going out tonight to meet with friends and drink far, far too much. Tomorrow i shall sit about and read a novel about fancy people doing fancy things a long time ago. I am not abdicating from the struggle, merely taking a day off.
I shall drink tea and consider giving up a number of my favourite vices. I shall play with our elderly cat and be silly and daft with my lovely wife.
The sun will shine, I will go to the Library. I will borrow Bill Clinton's memoirs (Nooo, give it up man!)

Don't push me.

This is written in response to the Bush voters.
I have a calm soul and pride myself in being a bit of a gentle spirit. I try to pass through this life with a benevolent air. This does not mean that I feel no pain, this does not mean that I am immune to anger or fierce, irrational emotions. Please, don't push me.
I cannot recall a time when I or so many of my nearest and dearest have been so upset by a man and his vision. The events of November 2nd have clarified this, there are some small, positive aspects but it's mostly worry, concern and fear. Republicans and their allies must understand this and they must understand that we will never give up our strongly held views just because "it's all over now and we should all heal and unite".
I oppose the republican agenda, pretty much always have and i hope to god (yes, look, I believe in god too, a good liberal god who cares not if you are rich, poor, gay or straight, etc , etc.) that I always will.
Yes, you're right, this is a rant. A great big , pissed off, emotional, unstable rant. I've just read so much over the past few days and have become so proud of my friends and their opinions, of so many beautiful people. It's just a shame that their eyes are clouded by sorrow right now.
Our time will come, but not without a fight.
Get to it.
My predictions? Within 2 years there will be a draft, either directly or by making a military sponsored education so damn attractive as to become the only real option for many. Nice idea, get a degree and if you live through your tour you get to use it.
When they are calling up 47 year old reservists from Brooklyn the bottom of the barrel has got to be pretty close.
That's it, i'm gone.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

say it aint so.

Or, as that other type of republican, Oliver Cromwell was once heard to utter
"I beseech you in the bowels of christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."
As we hang in limbo it may not be that easy to find a lighter note but I will try. Here is some genuine satire from a Brooklyn third grader.

"When George W. Bush became president my class went to Canada to escape him. I invited my parents and my sister. We brought our winter clothes and anti Bush signs. Bush's politics explained nothing but his love for monkeys and how he thought mice should be the congressmen. We thought a bread box would be a better president. Bush was running against the breadbox. Everyone voted for the breadbox but Bush said "recount" and stole the election. He went kind of mad so we decided to move to Canada for 4 years. We all got along so well with Michael Moore. We had to live in igloos."

Stay lucky.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A real pisser.

John Peel died today in Peru. He was with his wife. He was doing some radio or TV work. He was 65.
John Peel introduced me to all the music that was ever cool and a good deal of the music that was absolutely fucking awful. His late night BBC shows were the staple of my teenage years and beyond and in recent times if I was driving late at night in England I'd nearly always tune into his show partly out of nostalgia and partly just to see what the old nutter was playing today. (I decline to mention his Saturday morning 'Home Truths' family therapy show which had me diving across the bed to change the radio dial).
I remember hanging out with Dave Stelfox listening to the Peel show or spending an evening listening to music reccommended by or inspired by the show or the man. Then I'd drive home, listening to some amazing piece of crap that he'd dragged in from East Germany or something. Still, what can you do?
He was the cool uncle that many people didn't have. He was absent minded and friendly, plenty of friends of mine have bumped into him at obscure gigs and had a pint with him. I saw him once at a music festival in Norwich in the early 90's but didnt speak to him (my celebrityphobia was developing even then).
He was an Ipswich Town fan (which is upsetting but hey, In this moment of his death I shall absolve him). He was also only a year or two older than my father.
If I were 17 right now this would feel like the moment that Buddy Holly died. As I'm significantly older it feels sadder but perhaps less passionate. There can be a sadness when a much loved public figure dies. It's not a bad thing to stop the world for a moment and reflect in someone else's mortality.
Thanks for listening.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Curse.

I write during game 2.
On Friday the class current event discussion focused upon THE news of the week (well, if you live in New York or Boston). The children wanted to talk about one thing and one thing only, The Red Sox beating the Yankees. One of the kids asked me if I believed in 'the curse'.
I told them this, "if you believe in the curse the curse is real. If you don't it isn't."
I was reminded of the story the explorer Benedict Allen told of meeting a shaman in the Caribbean a few years ago. You can read what you want into this but I think it covers a few bases in terms of human thought and belief processes and what the hell, I like the story.
Allen was traveling the world seeking out witchdoctors and shaman, researching pre Christian belief systems and generally speaking taking quite a few mind altering substances along the way.
He had a date with this shaman fellow and duly arrived at his home to find the man having indulged in the mind altering properties of a bottle of Johnny Walker. The explorer was annoyed and tired and decided that the whole meeting was clearly a waste of time, the so called shaman could hardly stand let alone conduct any magic.
As he was leaving, Allen was called back by the 'magician'. "Listen" he said "write the name of someone, anyone, that you want dead on this paper. I will make it happen"
Allen couldn't do it. He knew he was dealing with a drunk. He knew this was ridiculous but he also knew that there was no one that he wanted dead and that the whole question of faith, belief, of what if? Was just too inexplicable, too vague, too unscientific and he was not going to take a chance on this.
What am I trying to say?
I don't quite know, are the RedSox bringing me to the point of epiphany? Will Norwich City win a game this year? I don't know those either but what I do know is that in sport as in life, you gotta believe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Game 6

I just found a kid in my third grade class twisting one of the Yankee chess characters out of shape. When I turned away from this wanton act of vandalism the boy dropped the 3 inch figure on the floor and trod on it. I turned a blind eye but before doing so asked him what he was doing. "Voodoo" came the reply.
If it doesnt work I'll call his parents.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a T shirt?
I'm going to be quite precise about this. I want one of the Tshirts that the nice folk from the DNC wear when they are out and about asking for your time "thirty seconds with me or four more years of George Bush". These shirts are red with big letters that say DNC colored liked the stars and stripes. I'm an XL.
I like the politics but perhaps more importantly I just like the shirt.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Living the dream.

"I dreamt I saw Phil Oakes last night". So sung Billy Bragg in his 1990 homage to fallen socialist idolatry "The Internationale".
I dreamt I was Johnny Damon last night. I dreamt it was the eighth inning with bases loaded. I dreamt it was postseason at Yankee stadium. I dreamt that the hopes of the good and the righteous rested upon my belocked shoulders and that
i was about to tie the game and the series. I dreamt that I dreamt about getting a haircut or shaving. The dream was good. It's the closest i'll ever come to actually playing in the postseason. I was just about to dream on when I was attacked by a mysterious killer bug inflicting it's last wish upon my sleepy flesh. I leapt out of bed, swatted about a bit, woke up Beth and eventually succumbed to a Benedryl enhanced sleep.
I was Johnny Damon, I was.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Our friends in the north

Rightyho it's that time of year again. Yankees -RedSox. This caused a mixture of delight and trauma last year and I'm sure it's going to be a similar mix in 2004. I've already yelled at the school's arch yankee (a 4th grader) and i'm gearing up for a lighter fuel send off for the jeter shirt i bought as a tourist back in 2001 (I didn't know).
The more you read the more you know. There's no hiding my support for the RedSox (certainly as far as playing the yankees goes) and i shall be avoiding certain bars which are full of pinstriped assholes getting drunk and obnoxious.
Like wisdom weasel I'm looking forward to a week of great TV and hopefully abusing/gloating over yankee fans.
( And I hate the way people assume that you're a yankee fan just cos you live here. People except my faithful B71 busdriver of course)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Mother Nature's masterpiece

I'm touched. I really am. I'm not an openly emotional sort of fellow and far less likely to fall prey to any public display of affection. This is sometimes challenged by what I have long referred to as 'mother nature's masterpeice'. A good friend.
I've talked so long about dear old Dan in Maine, up there with Jess and the dogs and I feel it's only right that I return the favour to his world of blog. He very nicely applauded this little corner of blogworld the other day and I thank him for that. Everyone should go and look at wisdomweasel. I wouldont plug him just because he's a nice man but because it's a blog I read most days and it is full of thought provoking and amusing articles.
Added to which we send each other books and stuff and share a few bizarre hobbies and argue almost as much as we laugh. He is also a fellow communist on the Huesca front. (that's to you)
I suppose I'm trying to say that good friends are fine things, Dan, feel free to slap me next time you see me for this sentimental slush what I wrote.
PS: This is not drunk blogging.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Electoral fraud

It's the day after the veep debate and I'm chatting with the third graders about the latest 'Time for kids' which has a special issue about the November election.
These kids spent much of second grade studying the fifty states so they are a wealth of information about such things. "Dick Cheney is from Wyoming. There are more sheep than people in Wyoming, that's why it has only 3 electoral college votes"
We move on, we play a math/civics game based upon the elctoral college system. One dice for George Bush, another dice for John Kerry, whoever scores highest gets the state with it's electoral vote, we add the votes up and soon we have a mock presidential race on our hands. The kids are loving this, they are bemused when California goes Republican "My aunt lives there and she's a Democrat", delighted when Texas goes Democrat "that'll NEVER happen" and appreciate that Wyoming with all it's sheep is a pretty safe bet for Mr Cheney. The tension builds as we work our way through the south, "do Florida! do Florida!"
"OK kids, Florida has 27 electoral votes because it's a densely populated state"
the dice roll, Bush takes Florida.
A voice, first just one, then a chorus.
I'm a little taken aback.
"we demand a recount"
"There was a hurricane"
"I smell foul play"
Under pressure from 15 third graders I roll again. And again. And again.
We endure five recounts before florida goes to John Kerry.
The lesson about electoral fraud is scheduled for next week.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The American pastime.

It's October and as the local news reminds us this means that there is baseball in The Bronx but not, alas in Queens.
As any regular reader will be aware this site has a connection with a certain Minnesotan politician and former Vice President.
Accordingly I need assistance from you, the reader.
Find out all you can about the 'Twins'. I need infromation, I need lots.
Could it be time to burn that Jeter shirt?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The next election.

As we near the end of the current electoral cycle I want to ponder great elections I have known. Being a 'Brit' it's going to be Anglo centric but what the heck? It'll be a trip down memory lane for those of you who have even the slightest clue what I'm on about and perhaps a small education for my American readers.
My earliest memory of an election would have to be Margaret Thatchers landslide of June 1983. Having just biffed the Argentine junta down in the South Atlantic the heroically unpopular premier of only a year or two earlier whipped the country into a frenzy of patriotic commie/foreigner bashing that would make the current Bush look like Howard Dean. The similarities don't end there, the opposition was led by the marvelous Michael Foot, well into his sixties and with flowing white hair, walking stick and duffle coat not to mention a passionate socialist agenda he was, alas an easy target for the Thatcherites. The Labour manifesto for that election has been described as "the longest suicide note in electoral history". What did Michael Foot say about his much mocked sartorial choice? "It was a cold day and I liked that coat".
As for personal memories of this time I was busy watching Manchester United beat Brighton in the FA cup final (British elections tend to be held in the spring or early summer) so the politics pretty much passed me by. I do remember my mother (daughter of a communist) being a bit pissed off.
In the autumn of 1984 a new kid started middle school. Matthew Salmon shuffled around the school hall at lunchtime looking for somewhere to sit. He set down next to me as I munched on my meat pie and chips with peas and lots of salad cream. I think I mumbled a brief hello. He asked me who I thought would win the upcoming US election, his money was on Walter Mondale. I got on pretty well with "salmon" after that.
By the time the British election of June 1987 came round I was an emerging teenage socialist in the most intensely annoying mould. I despised Thatcher (still do but at least I have some idea about why) and thought the answer lay with Neil Kinnock's modernizing Labour party. In rural Norfolk it was still a wee bit risky to be an out and out Labour supporter. To my knowledge in 1987 Norfolk had only one labour MP out of about eight constituencies and was very much in the grip of the old guard of shire conservatives. Another Thatcher landslide. Thanks for your help Bowles. The day after the election I was buying some candy in a store when the owner started raving to a friend about Thatcher. Thus begun the first in a long line of business boycotts based upon irregular political convictions or staff rudeness.
1990 doesn't really count but I can't not mention the passing of Thatcher's political career. I was in a politics A level class when fellow crypto socialist Helen Stayte burts into the class full of seventeen year olds shouting "she's resigned!!" After an impromptu chorus of "ding dong the bitch is gone" we all went off to find junior Tory Kelvin Rashbrook as there was a schoolwide rumour that he was in tears.
1992 gave me my first real experience of electoral politics. Up to this point it was all rather like self abuse. In the Abbey Hall, Wymondham, electoral constituency of South Norfolk on April 9th I lost my political virginity. Some years later I was talking to a colleague from Chile. She had fled the Pinochet regime and had married an Englishman. It was her first chance to vote, ever. She had expressed some bemusement about the stubby little pencil and the postcard sized ballot paper. It's a bit of an anti climax really.
Of course, being old enough to vote means you're old enough to get smashed while watching the results on TV. The country decides but the fucking country decided to keep the sodding Tories in power. A crushing blow, a real bucket of cold water thrown over the passions of political youth. Not only that but my desire to gather the news with fellow lefties meant that I'd gone to my sailing club with a few friends. The sailing club with NO TV! We huddled around a transistor radio into the early hours as the horrible truth of clutching defeat from the jaws of victory became apparent.
The next day came with a massive hangover of both electoral and beer induced proportions. I sat in the Thurne Lion in with Bookham (he of Wisdom weasel fame) and Milo and decide that the only sensible thing to do would be to get shitfaced.
At least America did something right (remember those days?)
In November of that year they elected Bill 'you know you want to' Clinton and we all loved him pretty much for eight years. (Hey, I didn't have to live with him).
Kinnock was replaced by John Smith as John Major's Government bumbled, groped and generally buggered everything up for the next five years. If you ever want an example of a fundamentally incompetent Government, ask anyone who live in the UK between 1992 and 1997. From April 10th 1992 it was clear that Labour would win the next election. It may sound like a glib statement full of the beauty of hindsight but it's still a reasonably accurate assessmen. By the spring of 1997 you could have put red rosette on a chimp and he would have won.
Let's look back to the spring of 1994. It was with real shock that we learned of John Smith's fatal heart attack in May 1994. A lot has been said about what kind of Prime Minister Smith would have been. Much, often in the form of thinly veiled attacks on his sucessor, Tony Blair. All I will say is that John Smith was a good man, an honourable and decent man and there are far too few such people in public life. I can't hypothesise about his stance on Iraq or his relationships with foreign leaders, all I can say that there are times when I miss him deeply and I wonder about what could have been.
Blair took the leadership of the Labour party after a deal was done (or not?) with Gordon Brown. He easily defeated John Prescott and Margaret Beckett and in July of 1994 it became apparent that the next Prime Minister was a schoolboy.
Let's fast forward to March 1997, John Major calls the election and the inevitable soon takes place. John Major is no longer Prime Minister, replaced by Blair who will take office just as soon as he's finished his homework. I recall seeing an interview with Major a few days before the election. Forget about Nixon in 1960, John Major looked absolutely shattered. I wondered how on earth the interview had been allowed to take place. The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was a living wreck. The day after the election John Major did what he loved doing most, went to a cricket match at The Oval and got a bit drunk. It was later said that the Tories had quite an easy campaign, people were reasonably friendly towards them as the public had had five years to make up it's mind and noone took them seriously anymore. It was as if the country had got drunk in 1992 and woken up with the ugly girl from the grocery store. Perhaps the memory of last time still haunted us but she had a nice personality so there's no need to be horrible about it.
It was a bloody landslide, the Tories were obliterated, reduced to a rump. It was fantastic!
The country woke to a new dawn, it was our 'velvet revolution' , the intellectual elite rather than the old money was in charge.
Much that has happened since is well documented and we can all see how office has turned Blair from the school boy into an elder statesman unrivalled in terms of global gravitas (but what about the hospitals Tony?)
So we'll be going to the polls again sometime soon, once the dust has settled from the innaugeration of rither Kerry or Bush I'll be looking east, across the Atlantic, the next one should be along soon.
I just want to mention the 2001 election. I voted Liberal. John Prescott , the deputy PM twatted a mulleted anti government protester and on election day nothing changed. I was fairly happy with that. I was especially happy that Prescott got into a fight with a right wing hill billy.
Dick Cheney's foul mouth? Give me Two jags and his left hook anytime.
Thank you for listening.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Conversations overheard by a British immigrant.

I was talking to a third grader about history.
He is a recent immigrant from India and he had a limited knowledge of American history.
I asked him if he knew anything about Indian history.
He responded that he had visited Gandhi's home when he lived in India.
An American kid next to him asked who this Gandhi guy was.
Another kid (also of Indian descent) joined in the conversation, "Gandhi got rid of the British, he did it without guns or an army".
1st Indian kid " Yeah, he just got everyone to ignore the British".
Both Indian kids " Yeah, they just ignored them".
At which point I was duly and very deliberately ignored.

Every pissing rainstorm in the Bronx has a silver lining, kind of.

I do believe in beauty. I do wake up and feel exhilirated by the new dawn. I am an eternal optimist.
But there are some things that really piss me off. Let me list the ways.
Going to Yankee Stadium annoys me, it just does. ($18)
Spending over an hour on the 4 train to get there when it should only take about 45 minutes.($2)
Pissing, miserable, soaking, demoralising rain.(free, it's rain you know)
Obnoxious Yankee fans on aforementioned 4 train.(also free yet still annoying)
Waiting for half an hour to get into the Death star in a crowd of annoying Yankee fans in the rain. (a combination of all of the above except the bit about the 4 train).
Seeing six Yankee fans turned away from the gate because they had arrived on Friday night with tickets for Sunday's game. (F*CKING PRICELESS!!!!).

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

This TV show makes me happy.

I was nicely adrift in a world loosed from reality then someone pinched my laptop. I've no desire to make laptop theft a repetative motif within my blogworld but it just feels like 'reality' (never a concept I was at home with) has knocked on my door.
BUT, there is hope. The British sitcom 'spaced'.
I've just watched this (two seasons, 14 episodes, some 7 hours of TV, love/joy/laughter/happiness/nostalgia/quality/humour and the rest) all the way through one of the most deliciously sun drenched, late summer breezed, idyllic september afternoons.
And do you know what? It felt great!
I promise the next time I write I will a) not mention crime and b) place a link to the spaced website.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Movie moments.

I have been carrying a torch for this man for years.
Please go and see 'Shaun of the dead'. It's got Simon Pegg in it. He was in the best TV show ever. 'Spaced'. You must see this movie.

Crime and punishment.

It's been a strange few days here at Bowles towers.
Firstly there was an outrageous breach of security which involved the theft of two laptops.
The culprits are being pursued.
They will be crushed.
The most depressing aspect is the ammount of writing that was lost, we have now learned the importance of backing up all our work but it's a bit too late.
So, in a vain attempt to recapture what was lost i'll give you a brief synopsis of the contents of my laptop.
' Parallel Universe'. This was a work in progress (hey, they were all WIP). A pseudo-Seinfeldian drift through the early morning adventures of a Brooklyn schoolteacher and his journey to work.
Also starring Dave the art teacher.
'Tom'. An affectionate portrait of my old university chum, Tom Lynn. I was enjoying this so much that I'm planning on re writing it and continuing the process with other friends.
An untitled account of my grandfather's pre war athletics career.
'Butterfly brooch'. A sure fire money spinner. This was the wife and I hoping to cull middle America with the schmaltzy tale of how we met and the ensuing romance. We are willing to cash in our happiness for the downpayment for a house.
There were other things but the four mentioned above were the ones that I'm determined to try and recreate.
As it happens we got off pretty lightly. Two laptops, that's it.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Victorian Gothic.

Sometimes I get the urge to take a sideways glance at the world and just go "aaaahhh". I am not a close the curtains and roll back into bed sort of chap but I look around and see the world spinning as normal. I am resigned to my fate, glorious and crazy as it may be. The RNC is in town, "aaaahhh". The Olympics are over, "aaaahhh". There seems to be some tennis happening in Queens, "aaaahhh". We have no netflix movies in the house, the next are due on Wednesday, "aaaahhh".
But there are positive notes. Mrs Bowles and I are embarking upon our annual 'New England, meet the family roadtrip' this Thursday.
I love roadtrips! Part of the great American dream. Load the car up with CDs, bad food and random reading material. Point the thing north and in about five hours we are in Boston and a few days later we drift down to Rhode Island and then home. In the meantime lots of eating, drinking and bonding.
On a slightly gloomier note, the long hot summer of lazy teacher fun is about to draw to a close. My brother refers to this as the "long dark weekend of the soul". Back to school.
But Hey! Britain got a bunch of medals in Athens, after a slow start we got home with something like 59 medals. Best haul since 1954.
OK, if you need more Bowles why not check out my slot on It's a straight talking,man of the people sort of column all about soccer.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Thoughts upon a convention.

Oh my word i'm confused.
On the one hand I'm a political junkie of 25 years standing (I remember the disapointment my parents felt upon the elction of Mrs Thatcher in 1979) and I am fascinated by the prospect of a massive political event happening on my doorstep.
On the other hand I am scared by republicans. I know two who are really nice people but the others are a**holes. I resent their presence in my city almost as much as I resent their presence in your country.
The botttom line has to be this, I cannot comprehend a political system where everybody thinks,acts and votes in the same way. I admire opposition and discussion in all forms and am never happier* than when discussing questions with open minded, civil people.
I just don't see many civil, open minded republicans out there.
(You know who you are and I'm not just being polite, respect is due.)
*Actually, lots of things make me happier than hanging out with conservatives! Who am i trying to kid? Having said that I stand by my comment about there being two good republicans out there, i'll not name them, this is a liberal site after all.
More thoughts to follow.

Friday, August 27, 2004

A most unsettling situation.

I have an apology to make. There was a spelling mistake in my last entry and I have been humbled and humiliated by it's glaring presence. have i bothered to delve into my archive and rectify the situation? Nah, course not, but then, what are you gonna do?
Another matter which has come to my attention is that there are some noble bloggers out there who have included links to this site on their sites. I've tried to fill out the little links bit which sometimes appears on the right hand side of the page but I love this format so much and there's really no room for links. Accordingly, I shall tell you now who three of my favourite linksters are and how you can reach them. One has to assume that folk other than the two dans and jamies actually read this page. here goes,
There, I won't say any more than that, just enjoy the blogs that you, my readers write.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Olympics.

I'm not overly concerned about the olympics. As any semi interested aprty(LOOK! GLARING AND RIDICULOUS SPELLING MISTAKE, oh the shame. See next entry for full apology.) will be aware. I'm more of a football, cricket, baseball sort of fella. I do love sailing and know an insane ammount about it but it's never really the type of sport you can watch on TV or chat about to friends, "Hey guys! Did you see Ben Ainslie crap on that Finnish laser last night?" No, it doesn't really work.
Having said all that I do enjoy the big shows such as the track events or anything where the British have even the slight chance of success. We used to win a few medals when I was a kid.
The reason for our decline? It's not about underinvestment in the nation's youth or the rise of the 11 year old couch potato. It's all to do with the cold war. Look at some of the great British Olympic heroes of the past thirty years, they all succeeded when the games were 'blighted' by some form of international boycotts. In 1980 (No USA) we won a clutch of golds. In 1984 (No USSR) we also did pretty well. Since the world has grown up and decided to get along we've been shit. Oh well, here's to curling and synchronised diving.

Friday, August 06, 2004

I'm back.

After three glorious weeks in the UK I'm back.
Jetlagged, tired but happy.
I'm going to try and get something up and running in the next couple of days but first i think that you should get those long awaited quiz answers.
Thanks to the two Dans and Jamie who, as far as I know are the only people who attempted the challenge.
Here goes.
1. Sunderland won the FA cup in 1973 beating Leeds Utd 1-0. (One of the biggest giant killing upsets in cup final history!)
2. Clark Clifford replaced Bob Mcnamara as defence sec.
3. Newcastle utd are known as "the Magpies". (Why the obsession with the Northeast?)
4. Winston Churchill's last words. (By all accounts he was bloody useless in his second term as Prime Minister.)
5. Spiro "ethnic slur" Agnew was Governor of Maryland. (Well done Baltimore Dan.)
6. Lambeth Bridge. (Nearest tube station is Pimlico on the Victoria line.)
7. U.S.Grant. (He didn't want to be President, described the White House as a jail.)
8. 14 November 1948, Charles Windsor's birthdate.
9. 9. (If you got this wrong you want bloody shootin.)
10. Freya was the Norse god of passion and beauty.
11. The 'A' train runs from the Rockaways to Inwood 207st. ( Note to Maine Dan,"Somewhere shit to somewhere overrated" is a terribly Boston RedSox sort of answer but it made me laugh.)
12. Richard Nixon's middle name was 'Milhous'.
13. President Johnson called his dog 'Little Beagle Johnson'. (Don't, I could go on all day.)
14. Ahh, my favourite hymn. This one also contains a reference to seventies funksters 'Earth , Wind and fire'. The hymn runs..."Oh Lord and master of mankind, forgive our foolish ways".
15. A great big bar of chocolate is wending it's way to Maine Dan for getting this one correct.
Lucy's nickname is 'Kitten'.
16. A growler is the name given to the smallest form of iceberg. (who would have known?)
17. A Macdonald's big mac contains 27.6 grams of protein. (I'm not making this up.)
18. Tennesse went Republican in 2000. ('nuff said.)
19. The IVY league universities are, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale..
20. Describe a recent sensation of ennui? I should imagine that taking part in quizzes in blogland should hit the spot.

Thanks to those of you who took the time and effort to have a go. I'm sorry that i was a little late in terms of answering. I shall be blogging more soon and you never know, there may even be another quiz in a month or two.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The real Walter Mondale

It's all there, the picture from 1984. Our namesake is talking to a lone fisherman. Big Ron is gladhandling thousands of happy shiny types whilst our friend Walter is just hangin with a fisherman. I wonder where he is now?
And by the way, Big Ron may have won in 1984 but where is he now?
Looks like Walter is laughing last.

Quiz time.

It's a busy time for me as I'm off on vacation in a couple of days time. Here's a quiz for you to amuse yourself with. Answers in a few days.
1. Who won the FA Cup in 1973?
2. Who replaced Robert Macnamara as Sec of defence in 1967?
3. The Magpies is the nickname of which English football team?
4. "Oh, I am so bored with it all" were the last words of which British Prime minister?
5. Spiro Agnew was Governor of which state?
6. Which london Bridge lies between Westminster and Vauxhall bridge?
7. 18th President of the USA?
8. The Prince of Wales' birthday?
9. 3+6=?
10. Freya was the Norse god of what?
11. The A train runs from where to where?
12. Richard Nixon's middle name?
13. LBJ's dog was called?
14. "Oh Lord and master of mankind...." complete the next line of this old hymn.
15. My cat has a nickname, what is it?
16. In the offical classification of icebergs, what name is given to the smallest type of iceberg?
17. How much protein (in grams) is in a Macdonalds Big Mac?
18. In the 2000 Presidential election Tennessee went Democrat or Republican?
19. There are eight IVY league universities, name four of them.
20. Describe, in your own words, a recent sensation of 'ennui'.

There you go, you have half an hour, no talking.
Answers in a few days.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The end of facial hair.

It's all gone now. There was just to much emotional baggage linked with growing a beard.
There was the kid in my home town who took acid and then his mum died mysteriously and then he flunked out of University and went mad and still wanders the streets asking for cigarettes in between getting beaten up by local hicks, he has a beard.
Then there was my nemesis in teaching college who took one look at me and thought "shit, you're just shit". He did everything within his power to fail me and destroy my fledgling teaching career. For nine weeks he made my life hell. He had a beard.
Added to which i kept seeing wierd people in the street with crappy facial hair. Plus the fact that I'm blonde and beards don't really work on blonde people.
I toyed with the idea of a Piazza/Nascar goatee but by god you shouda seen it (OOOOH! slack jawed yokel alert).
So i'm clean for Kerry/Edwards and it's all the way with LBJ.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Endless suffering II. Some good news.

OK, I just got some good news that I thought you, my blog faithful would like to hear.
My sporting spirits have been lifted by some news from The UK.
It seems that my five year old neice Eleanor is something of a sporting champion.
She won her kindergarten sports day "beat the keeper" (penalty kicks) competition with a straight sweep of five consecutive goals. Well done girl!
As well as this, she smashed (that's right, Smashed) the Browick Road Infants School bowling record. The record stood at 24 and had done so for years. Eleanor's score? 40.
So, there's hope for the future.

Facial hair.

It's summer, It's growing.
I'm in great doubt about it.
I look like a German sailor from WW2.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Endless suffering.

A passion for football runs deep in my family. My father was a noble center forward playing for a number of quality amateur sides from the 1950s through to the mid 1970s, my brother was a handy player, I just turned up and hurt people. My enthusiasm bloomed vicariously upon the terraces at Carrow Road, home of Norwich City, the Canaries. This interest has followed me across the Atlantic where I have been fortunate to follow the far away fortunes of Norwich City as they scaled the mighty heights. I have also been able to endure the joy but mostly pain and self loathing of watching England's latest European campaign. Dan Bookham sent me an article the other day,The article was concerned about the rise of new footballing nations, the non superpower brigade. It seems that with the decline of once great footballing nations such as Germany, Italy, dare I say it,even England there are some new kids on the block and they are pushing their way noisily to the fore. The article makes claims that globalization is now affecting football and that as a result the smaller nations, with their doubtless quality are able to take on any number of 'big boys'. This hurts. I have just one point to make. Why can't I follow a team (and remember, I have no choice in this, such support was chosen for me, by birth) that hits the right note, at the right time, in the right place? Why must I always be the bridesmaid at these things? I mean, don't get me wrong, we never even really got close this time but why not just let us have a little bit of glory just once? I remember the then England captain Bryan Robson telling us all how sick he was of looking at photographs of that swinging summers afternoon in 1966, the last and only time that England have ever won anything of significance, he was hoping to place that picture in it's proper historical perspective by bringing home the world cup. He was writing this in 1986.
OK, I know that this is a rant. I should be grateful. Norwich are in the Premiership after 9 often mediocre years in Division one (the Championship as it's now been rebranded). I have a great life, lovely wife etc, etc.
But just once, that's all I ask.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Henry and the Avenues

This is a game that I invented a couple of years ago. It's not actually been played yet as I'm waiting for it's namesake Henry Holland to visit and come and play.
Manhattan has a lot of avenues (at least 12) running from north to south. Using aesthetic passion, design judgment and alcoholic verve the winner will be the person who manages to find the most interesting/visually appealing spot on those avenues.
Choose a staring point. I've no wish to be too prescriptive but I would suggest that you begin on either the east or the west side, and avoid Central park as from my last look it doesn't have any avenues running through it.
Then find a bar, have a drink. Continue this process as you cross the island of Manhattan. When crossing an avenue glance north and south as is safe to do so (please don't get run over or otherwise die). Examine briefly the scene that greets you there. Look for anything, architecture, the way the clouds are moving, the street life,anything and then find the nearest bar on the other side of the avenue, drink and discuss. You may want to take notes, digital pictures, whatever. As I said above, do not spend ages dawdling in the middle of the road, you will die. You could do the viewing from the sidewalk, perhaps setting your group a time limit. The key is that you get across Manhattan and you have a drink between each and every avenue. Maintain a straight course, for example, if you choose to walk 34th street, then try as hard as possible to stick to 34th street, deviate only in the search for suitable drinking establishments and be sure to return swiftly to your chosen course.
I think the winner is the most passionately drunk person who can still hold a conversation together, well, everyones a winner! As mentioned above, avoid Central Park. Trees are cool but you can't get a beer in them.
I'm waiting for Henry Holland to play but if anyone tries this in the meantime, please let me know how you get on.

These things I know.

I've been listening to Air America recently. It's a dash livelier than NPR and far more juicy than most other stations. They had a question about which news sources do we (the people) trust? some of the predictable ones came up but also some rather good UK based internet sites. Now i'm sure that if you're reading this you've just got in from watching Fahrenheit 911 or have casually tossed the latest Al Franken book back on the shelf, you can leave your liberal credentials at the door, we are all friends here!
So, here are Bowles's top fine media institutions. This is the website for the Guardian newspaper in the UK. Still refered to by some members of my family as 'The Manchester Guardian', the town from what it sprung over 100 years ago. A delight for liberals anywhere. yadadada. everyone knows the BBC , enough said.
The independent. Rather a good newspaper but i think it has one of those annoying subscription policies which puts me off. I only do the free stuff.

The Daily Mail. just avoid. I won't have this in the house.

So, there we are. I shall try not to politic too much but i enjoy it (as a spectator sport).
i just thought that you may be interested.


So i just created a 'blog'.
There are reasons for this and i'm not really sure how deep I should go.
A couple of pointers to start with. (if indeed it is protocol in such things to have 'pointers')
it's summer and I'm off work. My use of the English language is suspect at the best of times so if I don't cross every T or dot each i just get over it.
Enough apologies.
Things i have been doing this week
I played golf (is that cool?)
actually i played golf very badly in a Brooklyn kinda way (don't ask , don't tell)
that's it. that's why the blog is up.
more later.