Friday, December 30, 2005

Going on a bear hunt!

Boxing Day, we had to coerce the littl'uns out on a country walk by pretending to go on a bear hunt. One of the littl'uns was heard confessing "But Mummy, I'm actually quite scared of bears".


My brother hates custard and has not eaten it for many years, We think since about 1975.
For some reason he decided to try some on Boxing day. This had to be blogged.
You can get an impression of the magnitude of this event but looking at my sister's face in the first two pictures.

One has to ask why? Why, after 30 happy years of custard free living did he decide to experiment with the semen like desert sauce?

But courage to the fellow, he went ahead anyway.

I rather doubt custard will be gracing my brother's menu's anytime soon. Well, could have been worse, could have been monkey glands.


For those of you unfamiliar with the game, Subbuteo is easily the most popular, successful and enduring of all soccer related games (with the probable exception of actually getting out there with your mates and kicking a ball about in the street).

It's also a Bowles family favourite. As often as there are two or more Bowles men together and a couple of drinks have been had the cry goes up "Subbuteo tournament!"
Someone goes up to the spare room and gets the battered old cardboard box containing dozens of teams, the goals and balls and of course, the famous 'Chapel Lane' pitch.

This is a 25 year old subbuteo pitch sewn onto an old bedsheet, around the touchlines have been graffitied famous scores from the past, the first time i ever beat my Dad, the first time I beat my brother, that crazy day my brother beat my dad. In our family this pitch is Lords, Wembley and Shea Stadium all rolled into one.

When we were kids we would play non stop (ahh, the days before computer games)and I have to admit that I may well have done much better at University had it not been for the influence of my room mate and his subbuteo set.

The pitch has to be ironed and then spread out over the kitchen table. You play by flicking the plastic players to kick the ball. What follows is almost as great as the real thing, there's invariably running commentaries and outrageous punditry as well as real time arguments, criticism and praise.
Let the pictures explain the rest.

The Silver Fox looks for the 'Bowles Subbuteo Tournament' entry from the unoffical history of subbuteo.

Searching for that elusive 1981 Spurs team.

Tis the job of the youngest son to iron the holy field of battle.

The Silver Fox takes on the Custard King, Mondale provides commentary.

The teams warm up.

For the record my brother swept us both and the Silver Fox narrowly beat me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

That's enough of the freakin year in freakin pictures.

Enough of the year in review, it's on to 2006!!

Auntie Boo in full effect!! Maryland, October.

Gentleman hanging out after a night of effigy burning. November.

Those crazy British kids causing mayhem at Bowles Towers, UK. February.

A confession, I really don't like shellfish all that much. Maryland, October.

Drunk in the kitchen, arguing about music. December.

The year in pictures three.

A Bowles family tradition continues. Der Neffe Benedict and his subbuteo team, Norfolk,UK. February.

Josh and Anja's wedding day, Grand Army Plaza, October .

New Yorkers become frustrated at rural post office opening hours, Wakefield, R.I. November.

Mitch is nowhere to be seen, November.

Mayor Johnsen and Governor Bowles shake hands, Johnsen's wedding, September.

The year in pictures deux.

A winter field, Norfolk, UK, February.

Hanging out with Robert Green, Giants Stadium, Memorial Day.

Frau Random Doubt and Mr Glen recreate a high society party moment. December.

Mr Johnsen, Frau Masuda and Mr Gold rock on down. December.

Old Glory, Key West, March.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The year in pictures.

Just a few images from the last year. Enjoy.

Frau Random Doubt and the Bat.

Frau Random Doubt and siblings in law stare at art.

November 5th;Two Brits and a Guy.

Thanksgiving '05,; Frau Random Doubt and Paperbag.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


...the lesson plan doesn't go quite as expected.

Lesson aim.
Write a polite yet firm letter to the Norfolk School Science committe asking for the gold medal I won in 1988.
Key words and phrases were placed on the board to assist the kids.

(from girl who needs at least 3 strong cups of coffee in the morning)

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'll be damned.

I've been teaching for almost ten years now and there are certain things that are fairly reliable. There are certain things that one can just take for granted when it comes to the kids you teach. You always had a ginger kid in the class, there was always the freakishly tall kid (that was me), the scarily short, the potty mouthed, the kid with the fantastically inappropriate parent etc, etc.
This year it is a bit different.
This much I have discovered about the children in my care.

None of them are lefties. I had a certain ammount of left handed handwriting books in September, had to send them back. That's weird.

They all have siblings. Not one only child amongst them. No one I can raise my eyebrows at and mutter darkly "ah, it's the only child thing". This also deprives me from using one of my favorite French phrases 'Fils unique'(That's only child in French).

Today I find this out,

Not one of them has a pet cat. Some of them have had cats, some of them yearn for one but at this point in time not one of them goes home to a creature of feline persuasion. This is going to make my annual 'cats v dogs' debate quite interesting.

As a right hander with a brother and sister I can't do much about the first two categories but I will include a picture of 'Kitten' our elderly and adorable cat to make up for the pet deficiencies of my students.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Local knowledge.

Cadman Park, behind the big Soviet style war memorial, Weasel and I discovered the most fantastic (and little known) public bathrooms in NYC.
Clean, quiet and very user friendly

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm not dead.

Just resting. I will be blogging soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Electoral politics.

So, if you're reading this and you're not Weasel you may want to abandon about now.
Down the years Ms random Doubt has asked many questions about my homeland. "How?", she says "is this place so politically conservative yet socially fairly liberal?"
I always explain this away with the vagueries of the three party system. "Approximately 26,000 voters vote for the Conservative candidate, whilst approximately 16,000 vote for the Liberal Democrat and approximately 12,000 vote for the Labour candidate" says I, "Therefore more people vote against the Tory than vote for him but he gets in based upon the division of the other two parties".
So I gets to thinking in my massive geek thinking way, "I wonder how this would pan out across the county if I looked up all the votes cast for all the candidates in the last election and added them all up and sorted them according to party and saw which party would come out on top? Would Norfolk as a whole (remember, South Norfolk is only one of about 8 different constituencies) replicate this pattern or would there be a different trend apparent?"
So I looked all the results up, the internet is a gift for such things, if only therapy were so simple.
The final tally.

Votes cast in Norfolk in the May 2005 Parliamentary Election.

Conservative 162,224
Labour 122,650
Liberal Democrat 103,805
Others (inc UKIP)15,018

Total votes cast 403,697

So I'm fairly right in assuming that my homeland is still a 'good ole boy' type of conservative place even though there are far more non Torys who actually live, work and vote there.
Thank you for listening.

Wakefield, Rhode Island.

We spent last weekend touring Ms Random doubts hometown of Wakefield in the Ocean State.

Sunset over Narragansett bay.

Ever the history geek I was delighted to spot these living monuments to the triumphs of the New Deal, footpaths in Rhode Island.

The cemetery was bathed in brilliant November sunshine.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lyrical whimsy.

It's one of my all time favourite songs, 'St Swithin's day' by Billy Bragg.
A swirly guitar based ode to lost love and an English summer's day.
I just got wondering,

" With my own hands,
when I make love to your memory,
It's not the same,
I miss the thunder,
I miss the rain"

Is Uncle Bill singing about self love?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Brooklyn Bridge.

Just a couple of shots of everyone's favorite bridge.

Yet more Weasel related shots.

Mondale and Weasel explore New York harbor.

Up and down the City Road,

Weasel serenades some drunks.

Listmaker prior to a mild bout of food poisoning.


In and out of the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the Weasel.
(A selection of Weasel related pics from his forage into Brooklyn)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Danny Boy

So I'm singing 'Danny Boy' in the shower and I start to wonder, "How many other people are singing 'Danny Boy' in the shower, this morning, in New York?"
And I start to think that probably a few, like, retired firefighters or cops or just old guys and then I get a little wierded out.
Oh, and go Handwashings in the NYC Marathon today!

Friday, November 04, 2005

dress sense.

I'm wearing the same shirt as Howard the computer guy.
Except mine has something extra disco about it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

He's on his way.

All being well my old school chum and erstwhile fellow Mr Bookham will be here tomorrow. It's a fair trek from Maine and I wish him safe travelling.
I have long been a fan of the show 'Dad's Army' and have sometimes thought how it would have been had Bookham and I been called upon to stand by the nation's defences during it's darkest hour.
Any excuse for a picture of Capt Mainwaring (Weasel) and Sgt Wilson (myself).
Pictures of the real fun will follow next week.
Toodle pip.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

This month's guest speaker.

"It's with some pride that the Carroll Gardens branch of the Margo and Jerry association/DAR of Brooklyn are able to announce this month's guest speaker, Mr Enesto 'Che' Bookham. Otherwise known as 'Weasel'.
We shall be filling him with food, ale and a mildly disorientating sense of the NYC mass transit network. No doubt he will be as distracted by all the bustle of the big city as we are scared shitless by the utter silence and pitch darkness of anywhere outside of the MTA travel region (although as he is a reformed Londoner/Cockney type I doubt it).
We aim to spend a small fortune on him with tours of the famous Staten Island ferry and the costly 'walking over the Brooklyn Bridge' experience. We will also take him to the special places only New Yorkers know where you can see the Empire State building for free.
As well as this we will hope to rise bright and early on Sunday to cheer on Mr Scherr in the 2005 New York Marathon.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A slight misunderstanding.

We were talking about some of the reasons why people had come to America in search of a better life. We mentioned the Irish potato famine as an example. One of the kids wanted to draw a picture for our timeline.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tony Jones, where art thou?

Tony, You need to see this.
Tonight, from the remains of a chicken cooked yesterday Ms Random doubt fashioned a Chicken n' tater pie.
I doubt I have ever been more in love!

Tony, this is better than that time we drove 15 miles looking for the perfect meat n' tater pie. This is better than all the semi successful pies I made whilst we were room mates in Bath. This is better than hearing you fall down stairs or listening to you talk to Harriet Taylor on the phone. This is even better than that time you scratched your arse on astro turf and couldn't sit down for a week.
Tony, dare I say it,
This is almost better than Rocky I,II,and V.

So little shame.

A message from a friend.

"Hi, really looking forward to Saturday's party and by the way, I bumped into your friend Julia in the wine store. I invited her along too, do nudge her and make sure she can make it!"

Unrequested, unprompted and without bothering to ask, I'd invited Julia to my friend's party about two weeks ago.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

greasy eggs and arguments.

I read recently that Weasel is moving house. You can catch up with his latest exploits at his blog.
His entry prompted me to consider my former career as a removal man. They were simpler times before the permeation of cell phones and internet.

Our job was simply to empty location A,
Pack the van (it was always a van, never a truck or even a lorry)
Transport 'effects' (never furniture or stuff) to location B
and fill location B with effects from van.

Of course there were often variations on a theme such as packing and wrapping, drop offs and detours, the occasional forgotten item or lost set of keys, issues of storage or tea spilt over important written directions.

I could tell you any number of lenghty Bowles-esque anecdotes, all long winded and vague involving the many and varied trials and tribulations of carrying furniture, moving pianos and the Russian mafia.

I worked for 5 summers for the self proclaimed Grand old man of East Anglian removals, "Hadley & Ottaway". They were based in a tiny yard in the middle of Norwich, a city that still retains something of it's medieval past despite the better efforts of the Luftwaffe and 1960's planning. It was within one of the remaining 14th century courtyards that our greasy, oily vans used to rev up each morning with scant regard for the ageing surroundings. We used to store our gear in an old victorian elevator and the bathroom was easily 250 years old. The company itself was maybe 80 years old and was run by a bespoke gentleman by the name of Turner. There was often talk of moving the entire operation out to a purpose built warehouse style venue on the outskirts of the city. The word among the 'boys' (those of us who lifted stuff) and the 'drivers' (guess) was that as long as Turner could stave off the costly move to more efficient facilities we were staying put. The irony of this was lost on no one.
Turner worked us hard but, it must be said, paid us fairly well. We would often leave the yard very early in the morning, move someone who was very rich indeed, be tipped heavily and return back at the yard late at night. It was ideal work for a student trying to break down the overdraft during the three months of summer break.

In 1996 I spent one summer working for a company in Bath, in the west of England. If H&O had been all pre dawn starts and late finishes "Workman" was a much more sedate expereince and one that taught me a few things about the world of work. I had been a student for 4 years and was about to start my teaching career. At workmans I was able to roll into the yard at sometime just before 8am and get my job sheet from Len, the co-owner of the company. Len and his brother John kept their paperwork on a spike. They wore those green docker style trousers and polo shirts often covered in grime, dust and a bit of sweat (Len and John were far better off than their appearances belied but unlike Mr Turner were not afraid to muck infrom time to time). Len would tell you who you were with and where you were going.
Workman was often local work. Len had friends in the local council and had sucessfully bid for a number of contracts for government moves (compared with Mr Turner who had a number of friends in John Major's cabinet and would frequently mutter darkly about the prospect of a Labour government).
This meant that we would often spend time in the middle of Bath moving filing cabinets from the housing benefit office to the DMV across the street.
We would also moving council house tenants from one property to another, sometimes against their will. No heavy tipping with Workman but you never had to start early and we were distraught if we had to work beyond 5.30pm.

It was certainly physical work but not always in the ways that many assume. Lots of climbing stairs, walking into vans and yes, obviously , carrying stuff. The thing is this, Each and every removal man has to live to lift another day and no one wants to injure someone or get injured. After about half an hour on the job you soon realise that you are not paid enough to be a hero. If something is too heavy, get help. There was also a certain code amongst movers. You always stand aside when someone is carrying something, no matter how small or large that item might be. You never return to the van empty handed. You would soon get found out and theres nothing worse in such an environment than being a lazy bastard or a whinger.

There was alot of banal conversation, stupid jokes and sweat. Music, sport, food and sex were the staples of conversation, along with the job in hand or when the next tea, smoke or food break would be or who had just been given the big run to France or Wales. Pianos I have known was also a favored topic.

I enjoyed it, it was fairly stress free and it definately kept me fit. I was able to make one phonecall early each summer and was pretty much guaranteed employment until the end of September. Working for H&O I was able to travel the length and breadth of the UK and saw the insides of some rather spectacular buildings (Houses of Parliament, some wierd stately homes, Auction houses) and bum cigarettes off members of the uber rich.

Working for Len and John I was able to see the insides of Bath council offices and on one occaison spend the afternoon sunbathing and swimming in the English Channel as we waited for the keys to a property to be delivered. I was also able to bum cigarettes off Corky and Dave.

I have compiled a few short anecdotes. You will need to vote for the one that looks fascinating and possibly hilarious. If there is any interest I will publish in a week or two.

1. Wally, his guns and his daughters.
2. Slumper and the table.
3. Sending Slumper to Paris.
4. Dennis Waterman's washing machine.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trafalgar, October 21st, 1805.

Happy Trafalgar day,
one and all.
He wore his medals,
got shot,
kissed Hardy
and was put in a barrel of rum.
He has a staue in london.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tory Leadership contest.

I quite like the semi annual Conservative Party leadership competitions.
Whilst I would love to have a credible opposition to Mr Blair it's also amusing to see the Tories in such disarray. They seem to change the rules governing their leadership elections every time and almost every time they pick a less than credible leader. So much that the shining light of English conservatism left the party and became a TV celebrity, he knew where he could be appreciated.
Two candidates in the current four way race are Kenneth Clarke who, as a director of a tobacco company has toured south east asia in an attempt to promote childhood smoking and some fellow by the name of Cameron who is currently involved in a row over drug abuse. It seems that in British politics you are allowed to smoke pot but not much else. His preference for 'the real thing' is hindering his chances of leading the blue rinse brigade.
I am just amused by the personalities, their brash disregard for the normalcies of political life and hope the fervent hope that none of them ever get close to running the country.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A question.

What's more important?
Solidarity or democracy?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

In defence of beer.

I know some folk are wine lovers, some find joy in a tequila shot or whisky sour. I am a passionate defender of fine beer.
I'm not talking the corporate piss water that sometimes masquarades in the half time beer commercials, I mean crafted, well brewed, proper beer, the hard to find brewery, the result of someone's lifetime passion.
Last night at a friend's rehearsal dinner I was able to sample one or two fine Austrian beers. After that at 'Floyds' the Brooklyn lager flowed. This morning I feel clean and refreshed if slightly organic.
Had I veered from the path of fine beer I would feel like death right now.
Great beer is almost a meal in itself, nutty brown and delicious.
It's also an encouragement to great photography as you can see (that's me on the right).