Friday, December 28, 2007


Some of you have been looking forward to news of Mrs Lucas's drinks and nibbles party. Ever since I first advertised the event in on a post about bollards.

Especially this bit.

"XI. If I start a great big neighbourhood feud/war type thing won't it be a bit embarrassing at Mrs Lucas's Christmas drinks and nibbles party on the 27th of December?"

I'd like you all to know that the drinks and nibbles party went down with great humour, great food and great booze. We gosipped, we ate and we laughed. There was talk of bollards but all of it favourable, there was also talk of sketchy neighbours but all of it drunken. My homemade Brooklyn Cheeseckae was a hit!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

This one is aimed directly at Weasel.

Frau Random Doubt, the wee Hen and I went 'up the city' on Thursday to do a spot of lastish minute Christmas shopping. I was dreading it.

The first day of the school holidays? The city? parking? driving? crowds? working class people?

The mere prospect of a day (or a significant part of a day) spent hauling around Norwich filled me with anguish. Can't we just do all this online?

"No", said FRD. "We need to get some specific things right now".

So off we went.

Parking was much easier than I had anticipated. Ummm.

There seemed to be fewer people about. Great.

One of the specific things we needed to get was a small football for Balfour. For some reason this had proved problematic (in a country clinically obsessed with footy it was difficult to get just the right type of ball). I had pondered this and decided upon hitting the city and finding a cheesy sports store. My words "I'll get the lad the ball he wants or I'm no uncle and we shall never celebrate Christmas again!!"

We take the lift in the slightly swanky department store to the wrong floor. Bugger. But there, as the lift doors part, there it was. A fantastic, reasonably priced mini football of exactly the type Balfour's parents had suggested.

We knew it was going to be a better than average day.

While FRD went into the worst mall in the world I took the wee Hen to the local museum to buy a museum pass (free entry to about half the museums in the county for a year!) The museum was a blissfull oasis of calm and tea. we spent an hour, looking at watercolours and stuffed polar bears. It was a truly rarefied moment, and the baby changing room was very good.

This day is actually becoming enjoyable.

With great ease we found and purchased gifts for my impossible to buy for mother.

Unheard of. Other family members still do not believe this bit.

Then, with our shopping done, the weather gorgeous and not many crowds we spent a couple of hours strolling. yes, strolling the streets looking in windows and having a delightful time.

I even introduced FRD to the great childhood game of 'Go into the old fashioned hardware store via it's entrance on this street and navigate your way through old fashioned hardware store's three floors of brushes and plumbing supplies until you re emerge from it's other entrance on the other street'. She loved it!

Weasel, the picture is for you, a Norwich institution and still feeding the masses as it did when we were lads!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas cards

After a lengthy series of negotiations, arguments, reconcilliations, visits to card shops, post offices, photocopiers, blood, sweat and tears, red wine, single malt, baileys irish cream and some late night candle burning our 2007 Christmas cards are done.

They lack something this year ( we meant to do a cheesy circular note but couldn't be bothered).

If I like you, look out for an underwhelming yuletide note soon.

We'll keep the Singing Postman busy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We're all Daves now.

I was chatting to a dear friend called Dave (not that Dave).

I asked him if he was annoyed that 'Dave' was now synonymous for irresistable, smug, born again, neo liberal conservatives who will quite possibly take over the country at the next election.

He said "yes, it annoys me a lot".

Later on, I was brewing up some tea. In our house we call normal tea "Dave tea". It's a good honest working man's name for a good, honest working man's brew. All the other stuff (Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Lapsan Souchong etc) we call 'fancy tea'.

I asked Dave what he calls "Dave tea". He said "I call it normal tea, all the tea in my house is Dave's tea".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Emily Fabpants

I used to sail with Emily. Years and years ago, for years and years.
She still defies explanation, interpretation, catagorisation but does not defy friendship and good beer.
She has a blog!
Hooray for blogs nouveau!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


A rather long tale from the eastern shires which discusses human rights violations and bollards.

At the rear of my house there is a nice car park. It's a private car park for the use of residents and their guests. In days of yore it was often full but these days there are a couple of empty spaces as two of the five houses do not own a car. To the back of the car park is a public footpath which runs behind the old bridewell. Vehicle access is gained from the road about fifty metres away. All said it's a very nice litlle spot, well, for a car park. The sun shines in from the south west on an afternoon and it's fairly clean, the old bridewell dates from the 1700's and is a good looking redbrick fascade which lends a slightly more urban symmetry to the small town environment.

Right, so you're aware of the location? And you're not asleep yet?

I'll go on.

There was a spot of wierdness recently about other people using the car park and at one point some notes were left on the windscreens of non residents but this has never bothered me, nobody has ever used my spot so why get involved. This wierdness passed and since then I have used the car park with no hindrance of any kind.

Last week bollards were erected across the entrance to the car park.

A bloke came to our door , gave Frau Random Doubt a couple of keys and went away.

She didn't even know what a bollard was. You can't see them from our house, they are just around the corner of the dog leg access road. Like I said, no bother with parking of any kind.

For some reason the erection of bollards across my legal right of way caused the mighty fury to rise up and take possession of my soul. The reasons for my fury were fifteenfold. At least.

I. It restricted my legal right of access to my home. OK, not exactly, you can of course still get in the front way but I park my car at the back.

II. It's a massive inconvienience. getting out of the car twice every time I want to go anywhere.

III. What about when it rains?

IV. I never asked for these bollards.

V. Who put them up?

VI. Who controls them?

VII. Who controls the keys and the locks?

VIII. How do I complain about them and to whom do I complain about them?

IX. Was it a neighbour?

X. Which neighbour would have had the time, money, inclination to raise a barrier to my right of way?

XI. If I start a great big neighbourhood feud/war type thing won't it be a bit embarrassing at Mrs Lucas's Christmas drinks and nibbles party on the 27th of December?

XII. Surely I can't wait untill after the 27th to begin my neighborhood feud/war type thing?

XIII. If I engage with the bollards am I accepting their existence and thereby giving them credibilty, thus undermining my vengeful wrath.

XIV. If I boycott the bollards how will I ever leave my home again?

By this time I was feeling a little bit nipped to say the least.
I was a little bit Sir Edward Carson ("Ulster will fight and Ulster wil be right!"), I was a little bit Sir Winston Churchill (" An Iron curtain"), A little bit Ronald Reagan (" Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!").

Before confronting any of the nine or ten potential suspects I decided to enquire at the local council. They must know something.
I began at the top, calling the County council. They knew nothing about any bollards being erected in that location (Tory bastards).
I tried the district council, they brushed me off almost immediately and passed me back to County level(I think they are Tory bastards too but I'm not sure, possibly Lib Dem misguided fools). I had another great conversation with a nice man who advised me to "build a case and find out all the facts before I confront anyone".
I continued by calling my sister's father in law, a former mayor of hometown who told me to check in with the town council, I could even attend the town council meeting that very night, it's open to the public. Oh, that would be nice but I've got a ticket for the footy tonight and I don't get to go that often so the bollards will have to wait. He sort of exhaled and gave me the impression that the bollards can't really be that important if you are off the watch city. He was probably right. I then spoke to the clerk of the town coucil, a nice man called Trevor. He informed me that the town council had no knowledge of any bollards in that location ( I would call them Tory bastards because that's what they are but I know most of them and they do a pretty good job and are quite a nice bunch, if a bit uptight about young people and fun and stuff).

Still, my fundamental rights of access to the rear of my property are being infringed!

This leaves me with a sinking feeling, plus the fact that the vengeful fury is still there too.

If the three tiers of local government have no knowledge of the bollards , it has to be a neighbour. A really, really uptight neighbour. A really, really uptight neighbour with enough money and time and inclination to erect bollards across my legal right of way, thus restricting it and causing me to get out of my car twice, sometimes in the rain, in order to raise and lower the bollards.

I must confront this erector of bollards and condemn them. I am so right. I am turning from vengeful fury to righteous wrath.

I have never been so right about anything.

The bollards must go!

I shall lead my people in the cause!

But what if it gets a bit awkward at Mrs Lucas's drinks and nibbles party on the 27th?

No Bother, did a spot of potential social awkwardness prevent the Dr. Martin Luther King from walking the bridge at Selma?
Did a disquieting sense of social unease upset Nelson Mandela before he strode out of prison in 1990? Was Mrs Thatcher concerned about the impression it might create at the Argentine embassy cocktail lunch in 1982?


In order to pursue this properly I must find out who owns this land. They will be my number one suspect.

I have by this point aquired an ally in my struggle.

My dad.

A semi retired gentleman who likes nothing more than phoning our elected officals and asking them questions about bollards. I would have done this myself but I was teaching all day and also stoking my righteous anger and thinking of the court battles to follow

" Your honour, I will now point to article 234.4, subsection F of the Norfolk County Council Highways act 1956...."
I would swish about the courtroom, making the jury weep with pity for my predicament before delivering justice.

I went through my legal papers, deeds of ownership, even a note from my solicitor about my LEGAL RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO THE REAR OF MY PROPERTY!

My human rights were being harassed, My civil rights were being squashed. Who controls the bollards? Am I being watched? Could an anonymous, unelected neighbour lock me in my own home?
This was like what Hitler did to Czechoslovakia.

I was gearing up for the long struggle ahead.

Then my dad called.

"Hello son, it seems that the County council erected the bollards following a series of complaints from residents about illegal parking. The County council undertook a consultation process with the residents and following the views expressed in the aforementioned consultation process the bollards were erected at the top of your dog legged access road".

(He doesn't actually talk like that).

It was the County council after all.

But why had they denied all knowledge?

It seems that I had spoken to the wrong department, I should have spoken to the highways department, I was talking to the rights of way department.

So that was that, I was beaten. My vengeful wrath and righteous fury evaporated.

It seems that while I was away in the US of Stateside a legal and slightly thorough process of complaint and consultation took place. There had been a problem and the elected authorities did something about it. Democracy in action.
Thank god, I can attend Mrs Lucas's drinks and nibbles party on the 27th with an easy heart, gather in her kitchen with other nieghbours and talk about our kids and running and stuff.

But whilst I'm happy that the bollards are legitimate, that they were erected by a democratically elected council, that I can complain about them if I wish, that I have a reference number to quote in all communications with the council and that I won't have to start an all out neighbourhood war, I am still baffled by the heavy handed response to a few dodgy parkers and the simple fact that I need to get in and out of my car twice every time I want to go anywhere.


On Friday morning somebody had crashed into one of the new bollards. I felt a bit bad for whoever had just wrecked their bumper but quietly happy about this possible act of sabotage. The council fixed it that morning.

On Saturday afternoon I asked a friend to get out and unlock the bloody bollard so I could get the bloody car through in order to park in my bloody space at the back of my bloody house (it was raining as well).
He gets out, has a look and says " I reckon you could drive through there".

He was bloody right.

My small yet perfectly formed french motor can squeeze through the gap between two of the bollards without unlocking any of them! I never need to get out of my car!

We drove down to the house singing lines from 'Fight The Power' by Public Enemy.

I now have no problem with the stupid bollards at all.

I am calm again.

Happy even.

I am mostly delighted that an unpleasant and costly neighbourhod war type thing has been averted, and that I have not turned into a ranting Basil Fawlty earlier than is inevitable.

I have also just realised that I now live in a gated community, sort of.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Update, bollards and library books.

Right, I'm off out in a moment so I thought I'd share a few snippets of the daily grind.

1. It's getting cold and windy. This is better than cold and wet and definately better than cold and snowy.

2. I've been directing the Y5/6 Christmas performance. It's a Karmic revenge for my uncontrolled mirth when I found out that Listmaker would have to direct a school performance in the spring. I have grumpy Angels who shove each other all over the stage, shepherds who blissfully ignore everything that goes on around them, the campest roman soldiers you'll see this side of the West End and an absentee Joseph which leaves single mum Mary toting the lil baby Jesus all over ancient Palestine in search of an inn. Oh, did I mention the Inkeepers? They sing the opening number and reject the pleas of the Holy Mother in search of a resting place. They relish their singing and their rejection of Mary. Everyone ignores the lil baby Jesus as they compete to be the most singingest/dancingest members of the cast. The Three Wise Men are superb. Looking at the stage it's clear that all the talent is on the right and all the animals are on the left. The Angels are still grumpy and shovey.

3. Bollards have been erected in my access road. I thought this was the work of a neighbour but have since discovered that the County Council have done this. I will post in much greater detail on this matter.

4. I've discovered the joy of internet library use. You log in, search the catalogue and in a few days an email appears which tells you your selection has been delivered to your local branch! All for 55p a reservation. Coolio!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book learning #40

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall.

I first read this book just before the BBC adaptation in the early/mid 1980's. It stood out as one of the most enjoyable books of my childhood and one of the first books beyond the Roald Dahl/Michael Rosen obsessed pre teen years of reading (I was a few years away from presidential biographies at this point).

I just read it to my class. It's a very English book, set on the blitzed out home front of World War two, full of coppers and milk bottles, jerries and shrapnel and the school culture and rough and tumble of the 1940's. I knew that my American kids were too young and too, well, not English enough to understand or enjoy this book. I was delighted to be able to read it to an appreciative audience.

OK, I was happy to read it to my class. They really weren't that appreciative. I think sometimes they just put up with my choices. I think most of them enjoyed it but when we discussed it after reading there were some very honest opinions expressed. It's certainly more of a boy's book and there aren't a huge ammount of laughs. It is about a boy who wrenches a machine gun off a crashed German bomber and gets into all sorts of scrapes with his friends, a German pilot and a simple fella who collects milk bottles and says "where you going now?".

On the other hand, as an adult reading a very well written and highly acclaimed children's classic, there are many plusses to this book that my class may have missed. The interpretation of the Home Front seems more believable than many other books, the angst of family life was great, the shit scared descriptions of air raids, the fumbling German airman hiding from the authorities who stumbles into the gang of kids, all great stuff.

Worth a look.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

book learning #39

The Progressive Patriot. A search for belonging by Billy Bragg.

Ever since I picked up the 12 inch single "Greetings to the new brunette" in January 1987 I have been wedded to Billy Bragg.
It's been a pretty good marriage, there have been times when all I needed was to listen to 'Worker's playtime' or 'Talking to the taxman about poetry' and all was well. I had Uncle Bill, those strange teenage years were bearable.

Then came 'Sexuality' and all that success.

Then came some truly lean years.

I kept the faith and I kept going to gigs, I just lived in a different place, a different time.
I think that at one gig Uncle Bill talked a lot about his wife and son and how hard it is to get a babysitter and I felt pretty much marginalised. Added to which I thought that the album he was promoting was crap. I have always loved his hostile attitude to nostalgia but dammit, if there's one man who can make me feel nostalgic for so many things it's Billy Bragg 1983-1988!

However, I saw him a couple of years ago in New York and loved every minute of it, my estranged Uncle Bill had come home. OK, he'd not really come home,it was more like he was attending a family function on good behaviour, but still, here he was, just as chatty as ever and playing all his old classics in a gorgeous venue.

So, I read his book.

In the midst of a self imposed enquiry about Englishness and what it means, a self imposed thought fest about returning to England, I picked up this book and began to read.

Bragg tackles a most complex issue, a complex issue for any nation, the idea of national identity and awareness.


It's not all that intense, it flows in the way that an Uncle Billy mid gig chat flows, he fills it with family history (he is an incredible and quite fascinating geek) and a left centred view on English domestic history. He quotes heavyweights such as George Orwell and Sir Winston Churchill as well as lighter notes Sir John Major and Lord Tebbit. Billy takes you on a ride and it's a great conversation, I love the fact that he apologises several times for being a Londoner who now lives by the sea in devon!

All this made me realise that you could read a book a day on Englishness (Billy makes the distinction that this bok is about being English, not British) and still not get halfway close to an understanding. It also made me realise that whilst I don't rate much of Billy's recent musical output, he's not a half bad writer (always was a superb lyrical poet) and his books certainly hold the reader and keep the interest. yes, it's a geeky read full of semi obscure English history and the need for a formal, written constitution, but it's also dead entertaining.

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky"

Dark clouds literally (it is November in Norfolk, big skies=much cloud, much of 'em frightfully dark and often wet)
Dark clouds metaphorically (what exactly will we do next summer without Euro08 to enjoy?)

"You mus'nt cry and you mus'nt sigh"

Old chums lighten your load with fantastic new blogs!Mayor Johnsen (husband of Lisa at Onegoodcook and a drummer by trade). Looking forward to as many blog related good times as we've had real ones! (This guy knows everyone, he's like that).

"spread a little happiness as time goes by".

I seem to collect drummers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I was not wrong.

I said this over a year ago. McClaren has to go.

The manager of the England football team has certain expectations placed upon him.

He must lead the team to the Quarter finals of the major tournaments. At least.

To fail to obtain qualification is an immediate resignation matter.

Mr McClaren, leave, leave now.

Oh what a day, Oh what a day,What a most incredible day!

Everything is happening in a most incredible way!

First of all these fellas (that's Her Majesty's Government to you and me) lose all our personal and financial data on a misplaced disc. That's the banking and personal details of 25 million of us with children in the UK.


Then this.

England get dicked by Croatia and fail to qualify for Euro 2008.


A really shitty day to be an Englishman.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A blog is born

Joy! A new blog is born. OK, it's been about since June but I have only just been informed of it's existence.
You can see the author (with the late Kitten whom she adored and in turn was adored right back) in th picture above.

Tales of LA and fine eatin!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

But there's also this...

...when it's not misty and damp or dark it can be alarmingly crisp and bright and sunny!

Norfolk Gothic

The weather is damp and misty.
Misty all day long.
Dark alot of the time too.
Very, very dark.
"Dark at breakfast, dark at tea".

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book learning #38

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

I did enjoy this book. I did.

I just felt that I would have enjoyed it much more five years ago.

It was one of the books on my parent's shelves, a book amongst many that I had wanted to read for a few years. Each time he appeared on TV doing his food/travel thing I thought to myself "Oh, I should read his book, the one about not eating fish on a Monday" . But I never did.
And I enjoyed it. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed the first half , the early years, the crazy shit. Then he became more proficient, more clean and tidy, and slightly dull. I fell away towards then end. There are only so many well run and successful restaurant kitchens I can be bothered to read about.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Stig of the dump.

I was at the dump on Sunday emptying half a tree into the 'bits of tree' bin.

A bloke I'd never seen before made some dump type comment to which I replied "Yes, my wife does all the gardening and I have to clear it up".

His response?

"At least you've got a wife" and then he started sniffing.

That was awkward.

Also, alot of the kids I went to school with, the kids with 'issues', they have ended up as police officers.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The almost floods

It's like living in Holland. Well, in some ways but not in so many others. The whole 'living below sea level' thing is a distinct similarity.
This can get slightly awkward when the perfect storm of tides/winds/heavy rain/swell etc threaten the fragile coast.
Luckily the threatened catastrophe was avoided this morning as the winds weren't quite as bad, the tides not quite as high, the rain eased a bit and the swell was, well, just different.
Fortunately the coast was saved the worst effects.

And us?
We live 30 miles away on a hill.

This is not a football blog

Norwich 1 Watford 3

Captain Canary I can understand, every team needs a mascot. I will tolerate you.
Splat the cat? I loathe you. I see no point in your existence. Especially when you come on the pitch at half time, we're 0-2 down and you start poncing about with the Captain looking like you're having fun. I don't care how much they are paying you. It's wrong.

The Silver fox watches Watford warm up for a second half against a tired and effete City.
He's been doing this for years

The groundstaff sort out the divots at half time.
I have some questions. Questions I have had in mind for about 25 years.

How much do they get paid?
What do they do for the rest of the week? Do they look after the pitches at Colney and turn up at Carra Rud?
How do you get that job?

My journey home.

I was placing my phone on the dashboard after calling Frau Random Doubt to see if we needed any potatoes or some such menial domestic errand and the damn thing went click.

This is the result.

The road between work and hometown on a Friday afternoon.

And before I get all the road safety calls I was using a hands free headset thingy and was within the speed limit/sobre/obeying the two second rule etc etc....

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Adrift at the bottom of the Championship and 2-0 down against Ipswich.


NB: Never blog at half time. It's a silly thing to do. I'm glad this time it worked in my favour as City clawed a 2-2 draw. We are currently a little less adrift than we were before.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Free spuds for life!

After months of patient waiting the Silver Fox finally has his allotment!

Here he is weeding the plot on the edge of Hometown.

This should mean that we will soon be treated to homegrown organic vegetables fresh from the soil.

In order to create the best possible growing environment we will need to remove the stones that litter the soil. I recommend employing the walking grandchildren to spend an hour or so picking stones and placing them into buckets. Of course knowing the particular grandchildren they would probably unionise themselves and demand something called 'an honest wage'.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Overheard on our sofa

Me "I miss jews and I want a pizza"
FRD: "Where are the Puerto Ricans?"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blog pics

I was curiously looking at possible new images for the blog icon. These two came into contention but only for a moment.


Mondale as almost Rock star.

Oohhh! 1984.


This may sound a bit odd so please bear with me.

It's actually great to be living fairly close to my parents. They adore the wee hen and he gurgles and chuckles right back at them. It's one of the reasons we moved back, so that they could know him as he grows up.

There is a side effect.

It's a benefical one.

The bookshelves at B****s Towers are loaded.

They are loaded with all those books that you thought you should have read, all those books that you might have read, all those books that you sort of thought you should have read or might have read and a few in between. Don't even get me started on The Silver Fox's study which is crammed with sporting volumes from over five decades, everything from how to tune your racing dinghy to photostudies of the 1966 World Cup Finals. In the next room and downstairs there are all the great classics (Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Tolstoy etc) as well as lots and lots of more modern fiction and biography. It's a wonderfully random selection and from time to time it's a place where a passion for books can be indulged, especially as I am currently banned from bookshops (it's a single income thing, we need to tighten our belts a bit and my book habit was costly).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gretna 0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4

One of the most utterly forgettable things about English life?
The media reporting of Scottish football.


Who cares?

(and I'm not drunk)

This made me smile

From time to time words crop up in an order that touches one's emotions, moves one, makes one cry or laugh. This wee nugget is from a recent post of Weasel's

"But life is not a Greek tragedy (unless you are a Greek person with perpetual bad luck. Then life is a Greek tragedy tinged with irony)."

That's it.

I love the way words, poetic or prose can delight, amuse or move. Mere snippets of poems, novels or songs can enchant and motivate.

More to follow I'm sure.

A lovely stroll.

This afternoon Frau Random Doubt and the wee Hen and I went for a thoroughly charming stroll through the Norfolk countryside. We walked around a man made 'Broad'. Well I reckon it was man made. It certainly felt man made (lovely stroller friendly paths, designated wildlife and picnic areas, signposts etc) The FRD suggested the inevitable truth, surely all broads are man made?

Dammit she's right. Again.

Please enjoy a couple of pictures from our stroll. The first is of a Heron. Upon approaching this bird we had a lengthy debate about wether it was a real Heron or a decoy.

Then the bugger flew away which rather defeated my argument in favour of the plastic decoy theory.

The second picture is of a church across the water. This rather says it all. Church, countryside, broad. And all within 20 minutes drive from our house.


Most observant readers of this blog will know where I live, many observant readers of this blog will know me in person. Not a problem although I have have always felt that some small ammount of anonymity will be a most agreeable thing. Therefore I have decided to refer to my new abode as 'Hometown'.
That's pronounced 'Hometown' but spelt 'Yhumeneuyhamtumdedumhayyergortaloightborham'. In order to spare you, my faithful reader, the emabarrassment of attempting to read the correct spelling everytime I refer to this charming South Norfolk Market town I'll stick to 'Hometown' from now on.

Friday, October 26, 2007

World Series

I really miss the World Series.
The October Classic.
OK, I only spent 5 years in the USA and was a Mets fan (as I still am goddammit)
But I need some October excitement.
That just doesn't happen in European sport.
Following on the internet just isn't the same.

nb: After a spot of drunk blogging I realise that come May the football season will be electric. When in Rome.

The Guardian

I suppose I no longer really need to link to The Guardian anymore as I can just nip down the shop and pick up a copy.

I used to wonder about Hometown's relationship with this left leaning daily newspaper. Were there no copies to be had because the few leftists in town got up earlier than I did and swiped them all or were there no copies because there were no leftists in town to buy it so the newsagents didn't bother to order any?

It's no longer a problem as all newsagents now stock it but some still eye you suspiciously if you buy a copy, like you might be somebody who reads.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book learning #37

In Churchill's shadow by David Cannadine.

This was a delight of a book. A delight made no less by the fact that it was a thoughful gift from a friend but also because it was a really good take on a very well worn historical path. What was Winston Churchill's relationship with Britain? What's the relevance of his achievements?

Cannadine doesn't particularly delve into the great man's life and works and a casual fan of the V sign and cigar may become disorienated and confused, no rambling speeches here, no ash dust from the Blitz and evocations of the supernatural English spirit. No, Cannadine selects a series of contempories of Churchill and assesses their impact upon British life and in a mild way, their relationship with Churchill. From Stanley Baldwin, to Ian Fleming and many in between , including Noel Coward, Neville Chamberlain and The National Trust.

I read this book over the course of five months having misplaced it during our move to the UK. I was delighted to pull it from the carnage of our move and finish it off last week.

In true Churchill style I wrote this review whilst nursing a bottle of 2006 Malbec (Come on, it's half term)

Thank you Mr former Vice President.

And by that I mean Nobel winner Mr Al Gore. After all, he invented the internet (oh lord I'm shaking, it's so good to be out of the early 1990's hellhole that was NO INTERNET CONNECTION).


We can look for a replacement fireplace online, no need to trapse around shops with a baby.

We can check the weather rather than rely on BBC weather reports which inform us daily "Today will be a lot like yesterday".

We can look at blogs and blog and fantasize about vacations and things that we would like to buy online and then not buy them but just investigate cheap flights anyway.

Oh goodness and so much more!!

Watch this space,


Hey, here's a picture of a quiet backstreet in my hometown.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kitten. 1991?-2007

Kitten 'went upstate' last week. She had developed cancer and that was that.
Our deepest thanks go to the Park slope flying circus who took her in during her final weeks and cared for her, she was a plucky lady.
(I'd like to point out that despite regular visits to the vet she was never diagnosed with anything whilst in our care. The she was taken to a real vet who discovered her condition.)

Kitten , formerly known as Lucy el diablo Miaow was allegedly discovered wandering on the beach at Montauk in the early 1990's. Will Smith's chef took her into care and brought her back to New York where she lived in a variety of circumstances including East Village bohemia and pre gentrified Carroll Gardens. It was with tremendous wrenching that we decided that she could not make the journey with us to Blighty. She would have loved it here but we inhabit a neighborhood of large, well established and distinctly territorial cats, it would have been difficult for her to reap the real benefits of country life.

Kitten had many friends and will be missed greatly.

Book learning 36

A bit of a blur by Alex James.

I think I read this in August. I've been so busy/tired lately and have completely fallen off my 'one book at a time' monogomy trip.
As far as I recall this was a fun read full of tales of rock n' roll hedonism and then redemption in the arms of a true love and an organic farm. hey everybody needs a dream right?

Yeah, light and engaging with lots of sex, drugs and booze.

Hello again.

I've noticed that it's been a horribly long time since I last posted. I will get over that and soon begin posting again and writing posts about matters other than lack of postings.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Things are moving..

..but oh so bloody slowly.
This blog will return to full operational status as of OCTOBER 21st 2007.
That's when our broadband should be set up at home.
We've signed up with a rival phone compny and, well, it's just taking a while.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Still alive

and still waiting for the North Korean phone network to set up my landline.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

501st post

Blood and sand! I had such high and mighty ideas about how to celebrate my 500th post. Then i went and missed it!
So here it is, my 501st post.
Not much to report, still waiting for phone connection, paint to dry, electrician, builder,gasman to call, oh and entire wordly posessions to be delivered!
But hey, the sun shines and the beer is warm.

Friday, August 03, 2007

More eastern tales

Our days are long and full of toil, our boat has docked with all our worldly goods aboard, now we wait for it to get port clearance and delivery.
Some good news (well, its all pretty good)our almost neighbour/my sister's old chum is away on holiday for a couple of weeks. We will be lounging in her slightly marvellous home until our place is sorted, it's half a block away!
More soon,stay lucky.

Friday, July 27, 2007

News from the east.

Right, I'll be quick.

No flooding here, we live on a hill surrounded by sheep. A fair bit of rain, lots of wind but mostly sheep.

The house is coming along, slowly. No consrtruction/restoration project ever ran smooth, under budget or quickly.

Most English people are completely and quite brilliantly mental. Or may be it's just Norfolk. Yes, I think it's just Norfolk.

The wee Hen is doing fine and loves the sheep.

Sheep are really noisy, especially at night. We spent the first few nights going upstairs because we thought Hen had woken up, it was just a sheep coughing.

The weather is 70 f and windy and sunny. Then it rains a bit then the sun comes out again. Repeat until dusk.

I've never drunk so much tea.

We are all feeling refreshed and busy and very happy, but we do miss our American chums.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Tomorrow we fly to England.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Book learning #35

The Cold War. A new history by John Lewis Gaddis.

A zippingly concise little history of the Cold War. Written for students in college who were born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. For the rest of us a swift journey through the old post war world.

I loved the concise nature of it, learned more about the role and impact of the Middle East and the nature of Soviet politics.
A good intelligent summer read.

A few of the things that stood out.

Nikita Krushchev was obsessed with American culture and kept trying to have summits in the USA.

Jimmy Carter increased the ammount of nuclear weapons.

Ronald Reagan decreased the ammount of nuclear weapons.

The first George Bush was really pretty pointless

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Going, going, gone!

Our apt as was...

Then the movers came...

Then the movers left!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's not all Newsday and traffic

We are in exile on long Island. It's definitely a guilded cage. A very, very guilded cage.
Just spent a few days on fire island where we were able to relax and observe the fabulous lifeguards doing their fabulous things. Frau Random Doubt said "They're perfect, it's just like our very own private 'Baywatch!"

this picture was taken by paper bag who wanted to perve and letch over al the young male flesh. We thought that she was taking a picture of us and Henry.

Backyard blogging

Just discovered that this corner of Long Island suburbia is a wireless hotspot!
There may be some blogging after all.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


I'm taking the month off.
The reason is very simple. We are of no fixed abode until early August, limited internet access and therefore limited blogging rights.
Apologies in advance, oh loyal reader.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Farewell to the best damn neighborhood in the world.

This week we move out of our little corner of Brooklyn.
It's been five fantastic years!

Mazolla bakery. The best bakery cum bus stop in the world. For five years I stood beneath your awning in the wind and rain watching cops buy donuts. I loved your ham and cheese croissant, that probably contributed to my waist creeping up to 38 inches.

Our cross street for the last five years, Henry and Sackett.

The distinctly odd 'Vermont Grocery' across the street. If anything sang out 'Mob front' it was you. Adieu.

The Italian gentleman's club across the street. I danced like a drunken fool on the sidewalk outside the night Norwich won the league in 2004. One of your elderly members accosted me and became a friend through footy. Your members are deadly serious about satnding about with cigars and gesticulating.

No more alternate side parking!

Sadly, no more Nino's pizza. Your delivery boys have seen far more of my life than I would like to admit. Your pepperoni with green peppers and olives is an utter joy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I had it a moment ago.

Ah, the old UK paper drivers licence. For those of us born after entry into the EEC but before the Falklands War, raised on a diet of Weetabix and 'Rainbow' this crumpled document was all we needed to gain our freedom, that and a cooperative parent willing to lend us the family Vauxhall Chevette.
And of course I'd lost it!
This would have proved seriously inconvienient. No car hire from the airport. Insurance hassles.
Then I found it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The last few days

I've just got through the last few days of my five years stint at what is now my 'old' school.
It's never easy leaving a place and this was no exception, in fact at times it was quite difficult.
The following are random thoughts and observations in no particular order of significance.

#1 Everyone has been so nice, are they pleased to see me off?

#2 There seems to be a strange band of coworkers who seem to react to things so strongly? "Oh Mondale, we'll miss you, this place will never be the same".... hey, you can never step into the same river twice but come on, I spoke to you four times in five years, you don't even know my first name, snap out if it.

#3 I have made some dear, dear friends at this school. I will certainly miss them, but I will be a visiting from time to time. Funnily enough I barely saw most of them today, just the way it goes.

#4 Mactechwitch threw a delightful afternoon thing in her gorgeous backyard on Monday night. The weather was warm and calm, the loveliest people attended and we drank, ate and gossiped. It was the highlight of my send off, we did miss a few but glasses were raised in their absence. Thank you Mactech.

#5 Please don't come and visit us in England. Lunches in London by appointment, yes. Weeklong sailing trips on the Norfolk Broads, no. There are exceptions to this rule, you know who you are.

#6 I missed Listmaker this week as he was at a conference. In a funny kind of way I'm sort of glad. He and I have some time arranged before I depart which will be tremendous fun. It sort of distinguishes him from the end of the year school stuff, a bit like Chris Patten after the 1992 election. I like that.

#7 I don't think I bought a meal or a drink all week (alright already, I know it's only Wednesday!) I did enjoy the social breakfasts and lunches in burger joints and diners. Thank you to those responsible.

#8 I do apologise for leaving quietly at the end of the whole school lunch today. I had to get across a crowded gym and was not feeling good about the departure. I decided to do the 'Aboriginie bugger off' (just walk away in a straight line and don't look back). I did make a point of giving Thelma a massive hug, In my own way I was hugging the school goodbye. Then I just split.

#9 Funnily enough as I was escaping I got caught by the very last person I would have wished to get caught and cornered by. I mumbled something about 'having to go' and she made a promise to visit in the fall (see #5) she then started telling me something about cellphones.

#10 I'll never ride the B71 bus again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm listening to...

... early Billy Bragg.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Didn't I say that Spring in New York would be freakin gorgeous?
It's doing all it can to make us stay