Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another milestone

Ah, parenting.
Isn't it just a collection of milestones mingled in with a bunch of crazy scary stuff?

This morning (freezing cold, blazing blue skies) Henry and I went off to feed the ducks with all the leftover bread from Christmas. As we strolled back through Hometown we popped into see 'Uncle Merv' our friendly baker and sponsor of my teenage record buying habits. Then, with not much to do but drink a cup of milk and munch a snack it hit me.

Why not?

Sure we could?


While I ploughed my way through a mansize-mega-munch-olympic-London2012-we won the war-hero-1966-allyoucaneat-disco- HenryCooper-breakfast special, Henry drank his milk and munched on some white bread and butter.

All around us blokes ate their breakfast and read newspapers, the waitresses were jolly and the tea piping hot.

Our first solo outing to a proper British greasy spoon caff.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day!

Strolling through Hometown between fried breakfast and naptime we stumbled upon lots of slightly drunk posh folk on horseback.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas!!

We'll be eating, drinking and rolling around on the floor. And of course, that most brilliant of English Christmas traditions, on Boxing day we will locate a hard to drive to, freezing  beach and walk along it for a couple of hours.
Glad tidings to you and yours.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the Watton road at dawn.

My drive to work is gorgeous. Gorgeous but I never get a good look as I speed through the lanes at 60.
Bendy, scary country roads, some proper English countryside. 
On Friday morning I pulled over on top of a 'hill' to take a couple of pictures, OK, I took them with my phone so the quality is not great but i hope you can get the general idea.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

the awkward squad

Co Worker "You into Billy Bragg then?"

Me "Yes"

Co Worker "You look the type"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

barber shop #2 The before and after shots.

Dave has also been writing about barbers and grooming. I thought he (and you) might appreciate a couple of before and after shots.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Barber shop

So I think I've finally solved my barbershop connundrum.

In the olden days in Hometown there were a number of choices to be had if a fella was ever in need of a haircut.
There was Vic, there was John and there was the old boy down Damgate Street who was so old he closed up and retired when I was just a kid.

I mostly went to Vic

When I returned for the first time in 2000 there was no Vic anymore but there was a new kid in town. I let him cut my hair. Then I moved to New York and spent a number of happy years visiting the wacky singing Park Slope barbers on 7th Avenue. I loved those guys, even if they were a bit odd.

When I returned for the second time I once again gave the new kid my hair related business.

I used to go to the new kid until very recently.

I stopped going to the new kid for a number of small reasons, you know the way and inkling can become an itch which can become a query which then turns into an 'i dunno, maybe I'm bored of you' which becomes a 'soddit, I'm trying something new'.

Following a dodgy trim for my lil'un at the new kid's place and a chat with a friend I decide to give John another try. The thing is, John is no longer John but the bloke who bought the business from John a couple of years back. He's still waiting to put up a new sign.

I'd taken lil'un in there a while ago and the bloke who ran it was dead nice. Not all ooey gooey over the boy but neither was he slightly put out that I'd brought a toddler into his shop. He was friendly and normal and that's all I want. Not only that, he'd done a good job on the lil'un and kept him amused with a tractor impression.

This morning I ducked into his shop, had a great chat about Christmas, Olive oil (he loves the stuff, could drink it in pints), traditional and organic herbal remedies, the recession, what will Hometown do without Woolies, the pros and cons of shoplifting, business and beer.

We chatted so much he cut off a lot of my hair.

He cut off a lot of my hair and, as my sister was quick to point out, gave me exactly the same style as he gave the Lil'un a couple of weeks ago.

Still, that's what I went in for.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't get out much anymore

I stumbled across Listmaker's old photoblog (complete with bizarro global commenting).

Another time, another place, A much loved pastime (being drunk and clumsy, the smoking I don't miss)

For those of you who I should be having a beer with this Christmas, but can't, enjoy this image and the memories it might stir.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

book learning # 48

I'm not a rereader of books. I tend to move on and move out, never go back.
I first read this book at highschool about twenty years ago.
I enjoyed it back then, along with the other English Lit books I studied for GCSE.

I picked this up the other day, it was lying about, it's one of Frau Random Doubt's favourites.

I could not put this book down.
It made me long for a lengthy bus ride or train journey. I would find a reason to sneak off to the loo and sit for twenty minutes.

I can't tell you anything you don't already know, I just loved it. And perhaps even better than just loving it, I loved that I loved it.

Thank you Harper Lee for writing this book.

Friday, December 05, 2008

School Christmas fair.

This afternoon I witnessed a genius at work.

The child in question created a 'must have' buzz around an idea, a thing that could not be held or touched, taken away or even seen.

Other children paid good money to stick their hands inside 'Tommy's box of horror'. They rummaged inside the box, went 'oooh' and left, happy.

Only one child asked "what's the point? Is there a prize?"

And Tommy?

He spent the whole time walking around the fair eating cake with a 4 foot toy snake wrapped around his neck whilst a couple of girls ran his stall.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stone me!

I just heard Sally Cinnamon on Radio6.
Can it really be almost 20 (TWENTY!!?) years ago that The Stone Roses released that album?

Twenty years ago?
Twenty years?
Twenty years?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Writing Christmas cards with Frau Random Doubt

Picture the scene,
Tis November and all the fields and moors are darkened, the mist is rolling in and the wolves can be heard on yonder. None but the mad or the diseased wander the lanes at such an hour.

My good lady and I glug cheap white wine and write 42,348 Christmas cards.

I have addressed the envelopes and signed the insides with my first name.

The good Frau Random Doubt then goes through the cards and envelopes and writes delightful, thoughtful messages of good cheer which are directly expressed towards the intended recipient and their family/partner/live in sibling/civil partner/pet etc.
Occasionally she passes a card to me with the words "Your friend" or "My dad" or "Your aunt's ex girlfriend's new husband".

I inevitably get the intended message of good cheer mixed up.

To the horribly ill friend "here's to a brilliant 2009!"
To the sports hating elderly relative "You're scum and you know you are! yeah! you! you wanker!"
To the small child "we really must get shit faced really soon!"
To the old college chum "best wishes to all in the convent".

Friday, November 28, 2008

The English Civil War

I'm determined to find out more about this.
This is big.
This is a shift in my historical thinking.
The type of shift that happens once in every few years.

When I was 7 I was really into Vikings, reading all about them and really getting into Vikings led me nicely onto the Normans and by about the age of 10 I was, with a little help from Asterix the Gaul, into the Roman empire.

Then I got into Victorians and the British Empire and by the time I was 12 I was really obsessed with the Stuart family (but not the Civil War which is ironic when you ponder it).

By the age of 13 I was clinically obsessed with World War One. I remained so until about the age of 16 when I discovered America. American history has pretty much been my obsession ever since

My American journey began with JFK, Vietnam, LBJ and the sixties but soon moved into all sorts of other areas and in the last couple of years has led me into the USA as enlightenment utopia/modern reality. The Enlightenment end of the story has led me to backtrack to why people left Britain in the first place. I know it was as economic as it was cultural or religious, but I've recently been wondering what it was that prompted the move. So I begin to think about england in the first half of the seventeenth century and Voila! The English Civil War.

nu shooz

The gorgeous, lovely new running shoes arrived two weeks ago.

Due to a combination of factors (almost breaking myself on a super duper long run and then taking a well deserved week off, a crazy mid November blizzard which left us covered in 6 inches of snow last weekend-WHICH DIDN'T MELT BY 11am, just 11 am the next day- followed by some man flu and losing my voice COMPLETELY)

I have yet to wear them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

How are you coping?

It's a mad world isn't it?
Do you have any tips?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Another of the marvellous Tillerman's group writing projects has found itself resting in the inbox.
Perhaps it's the economic collapse, perhaps it's the demise of the Republican Party, perhaps it's just the weather but it's taken a few days to get this one on board, a few days to arrange the guest list, order the wine, buy the mussels, sort out the location.

Well, in true Mondale fashion, here goes.

As anyone reading this blog on a semi regular basis will know, the location, guest list and menu will mean little to anyone beyond the curiously shaped Mondale bubble. However, I should like to add that just as a place is set for Elijah, a place will be set for anyone of you who wishes to cross the threshold with a good bottle and good cheer.

The location will be outdoors, Summer Solstice, June 21st. it will be on the banks of the River Thurne in Norfolk, just upstream from Thurne Mouth. You 'll find us easily if you arrive by boat,We'll shout you down as you pass. You'll not stand a chance if you travel by car. We'll be the ones sitting at a table on the dock, the dock at the legendary and mystical Theta club.

We'll be eating Morston mussels, roast beef and apple crumble, with a variety of other delights served in the correct order. We'll be drinking Woodfordes Wherry beer and whatever else crosses the threshold with the guests. This is the Norfolk Broads al fresco, all good food and good company.

What of the company?

There will be Cumpstey the butcher's son. A dear old chum of many years who has shared some of the best and worst of Mondale's sailing moments.

Emily Fabpants my old Mirror crew between 1985 and 1989 would certainly need to be there as she could set anyone straight about my ability as a racing helm.

I'd quite like to have Lord Nelson there but cant help feeling that he'd be rather hard work as it's over 200 years since he died and I'm just not sure he'd fit in. I just think 'social climber'. I might be wrong.

I would quite like to have the Duke of Edinburgh there. Emily Fabpants and Cumpstey would keep him in check but more importantly he's an old navy man and an enthusiastic sailor.I know he'd enjoy himself and I've always secretly admired him for many curious reasons.

Mark, the man who has, at the age of 37, forgotten more about the Norfolk Broads and sailing upon them that any of the rest of us will ever know. He will amuse and educate the rest of us and still be fit to go for that midnight sail if there's enough wind. If the wind fails then we break out cigars and look at the stars.

Friday, November 14, 2008


He's been pointing to one of the several framed pictures of the 36th President that adorn our living room and saying "Daddy".

And I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

book learning # 47

The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne

This is exactly the type of book the 11 year old Mondale loved to read.

The 35 year old Mondale also loved it.

It was recommended to me about a year ago by the very last person (a professional associate) that I would have thought would even recommend books let alone anything worthwhile. Still, she is an important figure in my career so I graciously took her copy and it lived in my briefcase for a number of months. She then asked for it back, and was a bit put out that I had 'not got round to it yet but it's by my bed and I'll read it soon'. After returning it I heard a beguiling radio story about the movie that has been made, it didn't give anything away but made me reach for the copy in the school library. Did I read it differently because I'm now a parent? Was my sorrow greater? Was my fear real?

Whatever the answers to such questions this much I know.

I couldn't put it down.

I had to know what happened next.

I was captivated.

Such innocence.

Such darkness.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This blog

A friend asked me the other day "what's your blog about? What's it like?"

It's always nice to stop and think about what you do (as opposed to blindly crashing through life which is often my preferred method of cultural navigation).

I thought for a moment.

"I guess it's a bit like a smalltown newspaper, I'm the editor and writer and reporter and tea boy. All the news is of interest to me and perhaps a dozen or so others who read regularly. In some respects I am living off the glories of a couple of older posts which still google well and draw in a crowd of passers by who might pick up a copy, use the small ads section and never bother to read any further. Alot of the news is about me".

book learning # 46

The life and times of the thunderbolt kid by Bill Bryson.

Can I just cut and paste every other review I've done on a Bill Bryson book?
why do I keep picking him up?
It's like the Sunday newspaper magazine article about the new Bond film.
You sit on the loo , you read and your life is not changed. It's not harmful but it's not enlightening.
It passed the time.

Having said all that I liked the stuff about the big fifties themes, communism, racism, consumerism etc.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My favourite BBC/election 08 moment.

I love Gore Vidal.
I love the BBC.
Put them both together and you have oodles of brilliant insanity and geriatric shoutiness.

Gore Vidal verses David Dimbleby


He's not the messiah.

Let's get that straight right now.

But I do feel hope.

I feel an overwhelming sense of rejection of the Bush doctrine. I love that sense of rejection. I love the fact that Bush is being replaced by an opposite figure, everything he seems not to be, everything he seems uncomfortable with.

I love the sense of seeing where things are going to settle.

I'm looking forward to my big run this evening and then a night watching analysis with Frau Random Doubt.

I love the fact that my little boy, the wee hen just left me a message on my phone.



Gotta love his voice coach.

And I love America.

I like to think I never doubted you, even in this far away, damp and often miserable political climate.

Right now, this just feels great. That's good enought to be going on with.

And I feel hope.

And I like that.

The speech

I'm huddled round my sony bravia wondering,

"Does Hometown count as a forgotten corner of the world?"

4am GMT

I just woke fro a bad dream (no, i'm not referring to the Bush years, although that's true).

The pundits were apologising for the incorrect polls, looking uncomfortable and attempting to explain how they had got it all wrong.

Then I really woke up.

Turned on the telly.

The BBC called it for Obama.

In theory I should now go to bed.

In reality there's those two hours of geekfest and toast.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My election night 3

I've decided.
I'll set my alarm for 4am.
I'll get 2 hours of geekfest before the wee hen wakes up.

I can't miss this, whatever happens.

My election night 2.

Today I talked to the class about the election.
I didn't take a poll but the room felt very Obama.
We looked at the NYTimes website and it's brilliantly geeky electoral map, they kids loved the interactive state by state analysis.

Then they saw images of Obama and McCain.

Poacher kid " Obama is the same kind of party as Gordon Brown except young and black and popular"

Girl with blu-tac stuck in her hair "And McCain is like David Cameron except old and nearly dead and not popular"

My election night.

It started five hours earlier than yours, that's pretty certain.

I ended my parents evening with two of my favourite parents, proper Norfolk folk, my own kind, simple, earthy, with big smiles and rough hands. They warned me about the outrageous and very scary fog creeping in over the fields. That was very nice of them.

They were nicer than the American parent who noticed my new tie filled with little donkeys.


After that he let his agreeable and not uneasy on the eyes wife do the talking while he looked through his daughter's books.

The fog was indeed outrageous and scary and it took me ages to drive home. I would have got home sooner but at the Hackford turn I got stuck behind somebody doing 12 (TWELVE) mph. The fog was bad but for f**** sake! This is Norfolk! LEARN TO EFFING WELL DRIVE DOWN TWISTY AND SHIT SCARY COUNTRY LANES IN FOG WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE YOUR WINDSCREEN WIPERS IN!! IT'S WHY YOU HAVE HEADLIGHTS!!

The fog seemed to bring out the crowds when it came to the chip shop. When I walked in there were 7 men and a lady waiting in silence. The boy Kenny sorted us all out pretty quickly. When the lady left all the men started chatting, the boy kenny asked me to add up some prices "Come on, you teach maths dontcha?"

Frau Random Doubt had gone to her American chum's house for an election drinkette and girly gossip so I popped into the off licence and the chip shop before getting home to release the babysitter (my mum).

I'm tempted to rise at 4am and follow events. I'm that excited.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Intensity and the prospect of victory.

It's going to be an unbelievable week, which ever way things turn out on Tuesday.

Due to the time difference I will find out the results as I rise on Wednesday morning. It's Sunday evening now, I've been on the go all day taking the toddler out to the beach and to lunch with grandparents and then noticing that toddler isn't himself (he's never not himself, this kid is a pro, he's the hardest working toddler in the business, which throws us through a big fiery loop when he's not himself.) We've put him to bed with some medicine, a lullaby and some hope.

Then it was the turn of the kitchen, long forgotten as we've eaten out and done other fun things these past few days as it's been half term which brings me onto getting my shit together for a big week back at school after a week off which coincides with the election which turns my political junkie head and reminds me that I must read the paper which is still in it's plastic bag since i bought it at 10am.

That's why there probably won't be an incisive post anytime soon about the election (because there have been so many up to now? Right?) You all know where I stand and will have a very good idea about how I will be feeling on Wednesday morning.

I'm going to sit down and read the paper.

Have a good week (as long as you're a Democrat, if any republicans read this, I hope your week sucks.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An election post

Articles like this scare the hell out of me.

(Describe a Republican rout 10 days before polling? what are you? fucking nuts? Do you understand how this makes me feel? I live within a medieval degree of superstition, as well as having lived through the British general election of 1992 and the gut wrenching disappointment that lasted 5 further years as we observed the government implode)

The Tao of running

When I run, My day is automatically better.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Needle in a haystack

There are over 2000 National Express buses in the UK.
Frau Random Doubt travelled on one to Heathrow Airport last Thursday.

She lost her phone.

It slipped down the side of the seat, or something like that.

I got a call from a payphone in the airport when she told me that, oh bugger, she'd lost her phone.

I called her phone company, got a lock put on the phone, called the bus company, asked them about it. They had me ring round the airport garages.

Oh joy.

Everyone was helpful, The woman from Stansted airport told me that they get lots of lost property every day so it might turn up, then again. The woman from Gatwick airport told me not to hold out too much hope. The woman from Heathrow airport told me to call again on Monday but, to be honest, I'm thinking that we'll not be seeing that phone again.

Modern life is rubbish isn't it?

On Monday I'll give up hope and call the phone company again and deal with the fact that I'll have to shell out for a new phone.


Then today I got a text message. I was in Starbucks with the wee hen attempting to juggle toddler and mocha when one of Frau Random Doubts mummy chums asked me if she had lost a phone on a National Express bus? She had been phoned by a driver who wanted to return the phone.



I called a fella called Matt who spoke to a bloke called Steve and I'm meeting the bus tomorrow when it pulls into Hometown. then a geezer called Ian, the driver, wil return FRD's phone.

It's not that amazing but it's a lovely reminder that people are more often good and straightforward and helpful than not.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gone, and we never did have that final pint.

The boy Dave's gone to work in the UAE.

We've had some marvellous times of late, Some great meals and a few beers.
I'll try not to get too weepy, all my best friends fly away, and they all come back ( in some wierd form or another)
I feel a bit bad that we didn't squeeze in that last pint last week.
Sorry mate.

Anyhow, his new blog is on the right, rock and a hot place.

Book learning # 45

The Damned United by David Peace

Brian Clough was one of the most outrageous managers in an era of outrageous managers. This is a novel based upon an outrageous episode in his career.

He had won the league with Derby and would go on to win the league and two European Cups with Forest.
In 1974 he took charge at Leeds United, a club he had done nothing but criticise for the previous decade.
His managerial role at Leeds United lasted 44 days.

This novel explores the mind of Mr Clough during those booze fuelled, paranoid 44 days.

I loved the story but didn't appreciate the author's style, stream of conciousness, flashbacks to his Derby career, emotional tangles and the contradictions of a soul in turmoil. At times I felt that I didn't really need yet another drunken night in a midlands hotel, but another drunken night in a midlands hotel was what I got.

I battled through it, mostly enjoying it, wondering about the point of it all.

Did Mr Clough set out to destroy Leeds United from the inside?

Why on earth had Leeds hired Mr Clough in the first place?

Was he really that manic? That obnoxious? That drunk?

The answers to the last three?

Probably yes.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Running scared. Civilised.

It was a longer run.

The longest I've done since returning to running following my ten month rest.

It was such a very civilised way to start the day.

A gorgeous autumn day, a hint of mist, a slight chill, severe clear skies.

towards the end of the run I headed up Bradman's lane for that 'this is England, this is heaven' moment, the view over the fields and farms that could have been from 1808 let alone 2008. The view that you want to stop and admire but you've got to keep running.

My moment of Zen?

I returned home and found that my mother had popped round, she had been to the bakers and had left me a gret'ole cream cake!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Oi Vey!?

I'm just about to settle down for the second presidential debate and then this.

A great show about the most important job in the world.

The England Manager.


Behind me the telly is telling me that something awful is happening to a bank somewhere.
I just heard the phrase "an extraordinary day" for about the twelfth "extraordinary day" in a row.
I just heard the phrase "financial armageddon".

And I've tried.

I've tried to understand.

I've looked on the bright side.

I think I've worked out that we might not be too badly screwed (medium sized public sector income, small mortgage, minimal extra curricular debt)

I just wish I could have heard more of Sarah Vowell on the Daily Show (GLOBAL EDITION) I loved her bit about the fireside chats. Darn, I think i need a fireside chat right now.
I think I'll make do with another glass of wine.

Another glass of wine and a big run in the morning.

Tomorrow is my bi-weekly 'work from home' day. We call it PPA.
This means a day at home in my jammies, plus a run, throw in a haircut and a not school related meeting with a man about some stuff.
I like to think my PPA days feel like it will feel when I've got my book published and I'm all famous and shit.

This is all truly random, stream of conciousness. Not drunk. Not yet.

I decided that I like Gordon Brown and will almost certainly vote for him in a couple of years out of solidarity. I just can't see any other option.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Blogging verses the other stuff.

I get the feeling that blogging is becoming slightly old fashioned and mildly tweedy and nerdy.
I like it like that.
I like it more than anything else on the internet.
I'm just sorry that life is a bit busy right now and that the blogging is slow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

HARVEST rhymes with ...

So, it's the harvest festival in the parish church, all are gathered, the children, the parents, the elderly, some rioting toddlers.
Class 3 do a thing with the letters H.A.R.V.E.S.T
I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have but it seemed to be something about different words you can make out of H.A.R.V.E.S.T such as S.H.A.R.E. and R.E.S.T. and H.A.V.E and they relayed a meaningful homily after each new word. Was it me or as they changed the order of the letters during their thought provoking activity did I notice the word A.R.S.E

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Conflict resolution

Paddy's a kid in my class.
We disagree about chocolate bars.
He loves Mars bars.
I love Snickers.
He wants to settle this.
Once and for all.
I've offered him a debate, a vote, some fisticuffs.
I've even told him that my people could talk to his people, that he and I could remain civil.
He told me "You haven't got any people".
I told him "Yes I have".
He said "No you haven't"

This went on for a while.

I told him that I would vow to destroy him and everything he stood for.
He told me he didn't really understand the last bit but was ready to take me on, he told me that he had 'forces'.

I asked him what he meant by 'forces'.

He told me that if he explained what he meant by 'forces' he might as well just tell me to my face exactly what he planned to do to me and where and when so what's the point of trying to maintain any kind of element of surprise? After all, the element of surprise is key.

I asked if he could just possibly give me a timeframe, is this going to happen next week? Or do I have to wait years for the hiding at the hands of his 'forces'?

He said I should be careful on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Governor

I'm a school Governor.
This is an important job.
It's the type of important job that you have to do for a while before you realize how important it is.
It's also the type of important job which makes you yearn for a benevolent dictatorship.
With you as the dictator.

This evening I spent three and a half hours in a Governors meeting mostly listening to other Governors talking about very dull but important stuff.

I did my small share of dull but important talking, made the odd bad joke (the Headteacher offered his father's jazz band as entertainment for a fundraiser for a nearby field, I said "oh no, not them, they're awful!" The joke being that I've never even heard his father's jazz band! We all laughed because it was bloody HILARIOUS!)

My god.

There was one 37 minute section of the meeting where everybody seemed to forget everything.

The Vice Chair of Governors kept waiting until we had all almost finished with an agenda item, he would wait until we were all waiting for the chair to say "right, onto item 67, use of knives and forks in school on a Tuesday during Lent"

At that point he would ask a very important question about item 66.

I'm sure you can imagine our frustration.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Day

in rough running order.

Crack of dawn phonecall with my boss, he's out today, as are several other key staff.

Ranty shouting moment with very non key member of staff as she discovers others are not in today. I am offended but say very little, some people need to shout, very early in the day, at me.

Lovable supply teacher needs me to fix something right now, right this minute please.

Tommy's mum can't do his homework.

Normally sane staff member is distinctly 'off'.

Very enthusiastic parent is very enthusiastic just when I needed a moment of calm.

Lunchtime, double helpings of fish related stuff and chips!

Swimming pool with windows open which allows noxious fumes to dipserse without actually killing anyone.

Parents assembly passes off quickly and without a hitch.

Phonecall with weeping staff member, will she , wont she make it in on Monday?

Henry and I stroll over the lane to watch what I hope will turn out to be a hot air balloon crash.

Disappointed, we stroll home as balloon makes yet another gradual ascent over the rooftops.

Back home I encounter aggressive door to door begging (what is this? Tudor London?)

Following begging moment , call the cops 'non emergency' line, apparently this beggar has been all over town. This prompts the question, Slow moving beggar with minimal charm verses high tech modern police service. Surely?

Moment of zen, mowing the lawn as the sun goes down, then sipping a cold one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Senior Teacher

Hey, in the last post I wanted to mention my promotion. I forgot. I guess I was to busy being busy.
I'm now the senior teacher (asst principal) in my small village primary school.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Catch up

There's alot to blog about,
Alot has been going on.
There's not been enough hours in the day.
I'd like to apply for an extra couple or three hours in the day, but then again, maybe not.

I'm back on the road after almost a year (knee problems being the main reason). I've taken up a programme from runners world magazine and am loving every minute of getting back into my favourite outdoor pastime. Frau random Doubt had also reconnected with the running bug (We run on alternate nights, whoever is 'resting' gets to make tea and do the dishes. Nice plan eh?) I've gone for the softly, softly, catchy monkey philosophy. It seems to be working.

Left leg
So with the running I've been getting tiredness and a bit of, well, 'eugh?' in my left leg. No rational explanation. I've slept on my side since I was able to sleep through the night. Of course, All my weight, 8 hours a night is on my left side. Frau random Doubt is also running and has complained of a similar complaint on her right side. After almost 6 years of marriage we're going to swop sides of the bed. Hey! Could be crazy! Could be saucy!

A good read
I'm loving my current read. I've moved away from presidents and twentieth century history and have delved into The Enlightenment. More of this in the next 'Book Learning'.

I'm really enjoying a great beer. Bath ales. Lovely

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Look at this!

OK, for those of you unfamiliar or a bit rusty on your East Anglian rivalries allow me to recap.

I am of Norfolk.
Norfolk good.
Norfolk above Suffolk.
In every way better.

Some years ago a number of political organisations were formed to promote Norfolk as a cultural and political entity free of the yoke of English imperialism. The leading light in this quest for independence was the NLA. The Norfolk Liberation army. I have never blogged this before because it's very existence is open to interpretation and doubt.

They say it is an autocratic cell based organisation dedicated to all things Norfolk. At least it was until Mad Nathan moved to London and Gary's van got stolen.

Anyway, one of the main goals of this group was (and is) the southward expansion of Norfolk's border with it's oldest foe, Suffolk.

And now, it seems that Suffolk is inviting us in to take over one of it's poorest boroughs.

The southerners have decided that they are unable to care for their own, and need economic, political and cultural support.

It seems to be a shame that our democratically elected representatives here in Norfolk seem so short sighted and are less than keen about making this historic step, the first step on a path to conquest and glory.

Next stop Southwold and Walberswick.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

To borrow, to borrow

"There are so many things I want to do, such a better person I want to be. But I really just need to go to bed".

Seriously lame blogging to borrow wholesale from another but I feel just the same way. First week back at work is always an absolute killer.
Thanks to Unwellness for the quote.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


A lady Veep?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Name an album you can sing, from start to finish, every song.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book learning #44

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

I like Shakespeare as much as the next man ( as long as the next man quite likes most of the stuff he's seen and is comfortable to call the crap as he sees it, was taught some at high school and was taken to some of the bloodier plays as a teenager by his dad who decided that the way to culture for his kids was some militaristic glorification of a deviously interpreted past) and I also quite like local eminence Bill Bryson.

This was a quick read and just the tonic after some months of literary ennui.
The premise being that there's a lot we think we know about Shakey but an awful lot more that's myth or just plain old false.

Now I just have to wait a bit for my mum to finish her amazing looking bio of one of history's greatest characters so that I can get into that. I also need to avoid mum for a week or two as she delights in reading snippets from the aforementioned book.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Just back from a couple of weeks away.
Just back in the 'got in the door, put toddler to bed, unpacked some bags, found the telly remote from the house we stayed in, and of course, found five minutes to blog.

Big news of the trip?

We've finally succumbed to membership of The National Trust.
I had always thought of it as a Pagan/Marxist conspiracy but it does offer tremendous value for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, all that free parking!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Book learning #43

Bush at War by Bob Woodward.

Sometimes I wonder, I really do. Sometimes I wonder why I persist in selecting books about US Presidents, their high jinks, their fiascos and their occasional successes when out there, on some sturdy wooden bookshelf , there must be just the book for me. A book that would enlighten and amuse, and perhaps even educate.

An indicator of how seriously i took this book was the fact that I kept playing with the author's name. Recalling that favourite childhood joke "What do you call Edward Woodward without any 'r's? Answer- EwarWoowar" I kept thinking of 'Bob Woowar' and smiling gently to myself as I shuffled about.

The content is noble but by now it's all common knowledge. Lots of meetings, Rumsfeld gets annoyed, Bush becomes strong and slightly mean then tears up when meeting survivors of the terror attacks, Cheney goes and spends some time in a secret, everything proof bunker, Rice is concerned, Powell is perplexed and doubtful. Repeat to fade. Everything you've read in the NYtimes or heard on NPR in the last 7 years.

Friday, August 08, 2008

"How'd city git orn?"

It will be heard across the east from now until May.

The footy season kicks off tomorrow.

Here's hoping we can worry about promotion and playoffs rather than not getting hammered by Ipswich and possibly geting relegated,

If it could be said in song lyrics it might g a little something like this... "You're worth the trouble, you're worth the pain, if we all went back to another time, I would love you over" Belle & Sebastian.
Or perhaps "Don't go changing, to try to please me, etc..." Was that Billy Joel?
Anyway, you can begin to understand the delightfully muddled place that my brain is at right now, the olympics, the footy, the toddler.

Watch this space.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Our favourite beach (right now but possibly forever).

(This picture is from a visit in June, We would have taken a bunch of pics today but we were too busy having fun and I really, really need to recharge the camera battery)

Living here, we are lucky in many ways. You should not leave New York and move out to the burbs to die. You should leave New York and find somewhere different, interesting, challenging but fun to live.
Here, in Norfolk, we have that. You just need to read between the lines. We enjoy reading between the lines.

We also enjoy the conversations about beaches.

Anyone lucky enough to live within an hour of the coast, any coast, will no doubt know exactly what I mean. The 'favourite beach' conversation.

I have lots of different 'favourite' beaches.

The favourite romantic beach,the favourite outstandingly beautiful beach, the favourite swimming beach, the favourite walking a dog beach, the favourite getting drunk and falling asleep until dawn beach (old mondale but still a cherished memory!)

Right now our favourite beach is 45 minutes drive away. Get on the highway and drive east. Don't stop until you park the car outside the old folks home overlooking the bowling green and the tennis courts on top of the cliff.

Unpack toddler and tote bags and stroll down path to wide , underpopulated, clean, friendly, relaxed , sandy beach!

The promenade is long and wide, there are cafes, a couple of gloriously faded hotels, a sailing club and a boating lake, you have a great view of a busy industrial harbour and lots of big ships coming in and out, it's not quite cool enough to attract too many people but it's perfectly formed and the human element is very well designed (there can be no escape from the prom for the climbing obsessed toddler, all the designated play areas are 100% age appropriate and all have only one gated entry/exit point).

Today we spent 6 hours waltzing about, chasing the tide, trying to eat sand, building sandcastles, paddling, regretting not bringing grown up bathing suits, staring at pink, fat people, drinking tea and eating cake and generally having a ball. The Wee Hen snarled and cried when we left. I knew exactly how he felt.

Right now we have that most excellent feeling, that post beach, glass of wine, time for bed feeling!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The world turned upside down

Cultural landgrab? Political/socio-economic blitzkrieg? I'm not sure what any of this means but let's just say, I've already begun my meandering journey to the next available polling booth and there's no way I'm voting Tory. But then what?

Friday, August 01, 2008


We popped in on some family history this afternoon (on the way to the zoo)

Churchyard full of goats?

What a marvellous scene!

Fishing for compliments

Ah, nothing like a few hours on the North Sea fishing for your supper.

Ah, nothing like a few hours staring out at this waiting for a bite while all around you catch tonnes of the bite sized morsels!

After three increasingly impatient hours, some sulking, a change of bait and several changes of position I finally gets me the stupidest fish in the North Sea!

Then the fisherman's homemade 'sushi' challenge.

And at last! The perfect end to a day's fishing!
(Bottom left- the stupidest fish and his brother, the unluckiest fish , two of the three caught by me goodself, the third fish, just a normal fish having a bad day is at the very top of the barbeque, almost out of sight)

(apologies to Msdee, this is not the August 1st post I promised you. Could you just remind me again, what did I promise you?)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Henry visits The Feathers

An occasional visitor to this blog, The Wee Hen, makes a visit to a pub that his father was a much more than occasional visitor to, The Feathers (arguably the greatest pub in Britiain). For proof of his underage shennanigans, he poses by the bike on the wall (You know, the pub with the bike on the wall)

The Absolut truth.

The Absolut trophy was inaugerated at some undetermined point in the mid 1990s.

Neither myself nor the other competitor, the old chum, former fellow student and global traveller and professional Bristolian, 'Ringer' can recall the exact details of it's birth. Last night we attempted to piece together some of the mythology surrounding this hallowed, yet empty, glass bottle.

We do seem to remember drinking much more vodka in those bygone days.
We do seem to remember playing an awful lot of Subbuteo, FIFA 97,babyfoot, pool and darts.
We do seem to remember that we brought out a bizarre competitive streak in each other, often to the bemusement of those around us.
We definitely remember that out of this daze of student life and the immediate aftermath grew the Absolut Trophy. An empty bottle of vodka that we fought over in competitive sport.

We fought over it back then.

We fight over it still.

In fact last night, 'Ringer' and his lovely wife and tiny daughter came to stay at Fritz Mansions, we ate, we drank and of course, we ushered the ladies into the parlour, we retreated to the games room, lit our cigars, poured the finest brandy and did battle.

The concept is simple. We are the only two who may compete for the Absolut trophy. It's a bit like the Boat race or the Ashes in that respect. The preferred field of combat is the subbuteo pitch but the challenger may choose any form of competition to try and gain the trophy. But really, it's about two grown men stooped over a table , flicking little plastic men about. Flicking little plastic men about in order to get the rights to keep hold of an empty bottle of vodka that we think we drank in 1994, possibly. The actual bottle now hardly features, the last time I saw it , it was on 'Ringer's bookshelf in Bath in 1998. He admitted last night that it's in his loft in Bangkok, in a box.

The whereabouts of the actual bottle is irrelevant, I managed to find a replacement for display purposes for last night.

The real issue is the honour.

Sadly, last night the honour went to Ringer (again).

The practise game went well enough, 0-0, a cagey start. Ringer was insistent upon the format of the competition (a practise game and then a two legged affair with no away goals ruling).

The first leg was also a tight game. 1-1. Going into the second leg, honours even with everything to play for. I could almost touch the glass.

The second leg. Cobblers. 6-1. A rout. A drubbing. A lesson in Subbuteo. Also perhaps a lesson in not drinking to excess if you are about to go out and play in a major sporting event.

My congratulations to Mr Ringer and his fans, the Absolut is yours, for the time being.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Manners and etiquette.

Upon leaving Chestnut Cottage, the gorgeous home of two of our dearest and most gorgeousable of gorgeous chums following a divine elevensies of freshly baked scones and homemade apple and damson jam with lashings of hot tea, Frau Random Doubt turned to me and asked...

..."Why did you have to hit Terry in the face with that stick and smash his glasses and cut his cheek?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer, Wednesday, 23rd of July 2008.

It looked like summer.
It felt like summer!
It was summer!

I wonder what season tomorrow will bring?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Mondale

Summer Mondale begins at 3pm on Tuesday, July 22nd.

(with apologies to the original, Mr Listmaker)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vote! Vote! Vote!

As I stumbled in late this evening following a night of dancing at the end of year school party, I slumped beside this old computer with a glass of wine and a happy, happy heart.
I noticed that Frau Random Doubt had been out to the library and as usual had returned with a wonderful selection of interesting and curious texts.

One of these was a selection of "Children's songs and games from Scotland".

In these troubled times it's lovely to think of the Wee Hen being taught songs and games on his mother's knee. 

This one in particular, made me smile.

"Vote, Vote, Vote for Mr Labour,
In come a Tory at the door.
take a poker and a knife, and chase him for his life,
And we won't see Mr Tory any more, shut the door!"

In these troubled times indeed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

For the love of all things English

I have recently had the pleasure of teaching a certain 11 year old lad who is the very essence of all things English. He never gives up, is a fierce competitor, He likes going abroad but isn't completely sure about foreigners, He follows his footy with that bizarrely English passion, Is a great advocate of fairness and doing the right thing. He's a cheeky monkey but also worshipped by the younger kids and praised by adults. He's Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy on a humid summer afternoon, He's Terry Butcher's shirt covered in blood, He's John Terry's tears. This lad is all that and more and I really wish him all the best in his new school, He'll never do too well academically but I know that he'll shine in other ways.

There is, however, a slight problem.

He doesn't like pastry.

He admitted this to me the other day. We were chatting about lunch, what we would be eating that day. I told him of my admiration for a certain local baker who made the most delicious sausage rolls.

"I don't like sausage rolls, I like sausages but not the roll bit. I hate pastry".

"What? You don't like pastry?"

"I hate the stuff, Ever since I was little".

In my mind this is almost a disqualification to being English. I have a nightmarish vision of being hauled up before some shadowy Whitehall committee to explain and justify why this lad should be allowed to remain in the country, I'd have to reason with the pastry politburo, I'd have to beg them to allow him to stay.

This is like a Frenchman not liking cheese or wine.

This is like a German not liking meat or the ensuing fart based humour.

In order to illustrate my point I should like to offer the jury two pictures of my breakfast. I should like to add that the following images could cause offence and that they merely represent my occasional weekend breakfast. I use the images to show the creative genius the English employ when working in the media of pastry.

This breakfast roll contains sausage, bacon, egg and baked beans all rolled together in a tender, loving caress of shortcrust pastry. Fresh from the bakers for less than three quid.

The end view shows a bit more detail, including a bean, nestled next to the various pork products in the interior.

I simply have to ask, Why would anybody not love this delicious morsel?

Sunday, June 29, 2008


How delightful that the Germans gave the world a word which so perfectly describes my emotions at this moment in time.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Book learning #42

The Prime Minister, the office and it's holders since 1945.
Peter Hennessey.

Hennessey is a great contemporary historian.

I first read this a few years ago, I picked it up again for two reasons. I was bored and I'd loved it the first time. I was hoping to find some insight into leadership that might help with my current professional ennui.

I loved it all over again, most of all Clement Atlee, then Harold Macmillan, then James Callaghan.

Did I learn anything?
Have I used that learning?
Perhaps but maybe not yet.

Did I enjoy re-reading the moments of power and struggle of the the last 65 years?

Do I look like a political geek?

Backyard Glastonbury.

You know you are getting old when you see the coverage of the Glastonbury Festival on the BBC and think "Oh that's nice, I can have a beer on the sofa and watch that".

I've attempted to recreate a mild 'Glasto' atmos by getting a bit drunk and leaving the back door open.
(Frau Random Doubt is at a disco at the Ex Serviceman's club with my sister)

Germany v Spain, European Championship Final 2008.

I'm constantly amazed and delighted by the BBC's approach to foreign football. They make the very best of any opportunity to shake, rattle and mock our European cousins and it's often brilliant. I was gobsmacked by their 'Anschluss' montage before the Germany- Austria group match

Then there was the Adrian Childs 'Freud, where's my mother/why didn't England qualify?' sketch during a half time segment.

I'm very much looking forward to tomorrows final between Germany and Spain (Oh please, please, please, Catholic God, Allah,Tommi Miers, George Orwell,Franco, King Juan Carlos II, whoever else has had any influence in anything Spanish ever, ever. Please give the Spaniards strength! Defeat the Germans!)

(Guess who I have a massive TV crush on)

(No, not him)

(shit no! are you mental?)

I cant wait to hear what is said during John "The FA Cup needs a cuddle"* Motson's last match commentary as the BBC hand over the rights to covering such events to the commercial stations.

* Responding to the popular view that the FA Cup, that grand dame of footy had lost her magic and allure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ugghhhh??? Noooo???!

Who commits the biggest injustice of Euro 08?
Of Course.
The Germans.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The enemies list

Of course, now the Dutch have flown back north , the real Euro 2008 fun can begin.
My interest is no longer based upon wanting somebody to win, but really, really, really wanting Germany or Italy to lose.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The end of the road.

Russia 3 Holland 1.

Oh dear, my adopted footy nation are on their way home.

OK, I'm over it now.

I was alarmed, no, profoundly disturbed, to note the fashion amongst Russian fans to cavort about without shirts on.
I'm not sure they are what I would describe as an attractive race.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

lunchtime topics

For those of you who have begun your summers already.

I ate lunch with the kids today and was delighted to be told to sit next to my least able, most challenging but almost, on a good day, most lovable student.
We both had seconds , extolled the virtues of apple crumble and virtually licked our plates clean (as close as is possible in semi polite society)
The topics he brought up were as follows.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

I said seagull, he said fox. We both agreed that we had wanted to be these animals since forever and would not be changing our minds anytime soon "unless they discover a new animal that's better than a fox".

If you could travel back in time when would you travel to?

I said right here but about 200 years ago, before railways and decent roads and all the new buildings. He was excited by that idea and decided that he'd quite like to come along as well, if that was alright. A few of the other kids thought that would be pretty cool and asked if they could come along as well "as backup".

What's your favourite pudding?

Apple crumble of course except noone makes it as nice as Granny. Another kid pointed out that Grannies always makes the best apple crumble. Didn't stop us going up for seconds.

Later on this same kid gave me a classic quote with a great big smile on his face.

"When I'm 16 I'm going to get a tractor and just drive about in that all the time. I'll never get a proper driving licence, I can't bloody read!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Team of the tournament?

"The Dutch have gone goal crazy"

John Motson. 13/6/08

I love my new adopted football country!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why I blog.

I blog because I have just looked in my diary and realised that the deadline I was getting all nervous and sweaty about was in fact July 1st.

Not June 20th!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Het is een beetje als het letten op Blackpool

And yes, when you think about it, it really is a bit like watching Blackpool.

That is why, my friends and readers, I have decided to place my full support behind the Royal House of Orange and their football team.

As I write (and before you quibble, I made this decision days ago) they lead Italy 2-0 which is a matter that can only fill my heart with lots of small bits of glee!

It's also slightly relevant that I live rather close to Holland and if I were a seagull I could probably fly there in a reasonably short amount of time.

I've also spent some time this year working with a Dutch Maths guru who was not only knowledgeable and helpful but very friendly, in a Tim Gunn from 'Project Runway' sort of a way.

All that aside I have always admired their footy team and have only ever been upset by them on those odd occasions when they have beaten England.

Gawd Bless you M'aam!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Rain stopped play?

The Clement Attlee Junior School old boys XI have called upon my services.

It's been raining for three days straight.

I'm dressed in whites and am about to play up and play the game.

The sun is theatening an appearance before 3pm (when a decision will be made).

I've even got hold of a raspberry victoria sponge cake.

The old boy (girl) network

In my last sailing related post I mentioned my search for erstwhile sailing chum of old, Mr Turner.

As I opened my email inbox this lunchtime I noticed an email from Emily Fabpants. As usual it was an absolute pleasure to get such an email (not least because she'd included some delightful photos of Hickling, her broad one of which I have reproduced here. Along with these pics she'd also included Mr Turner's email address! (our friendship predates email and we would always just catch up with everyone each spring as we were fitting out for a new year of sailing).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hippy art work.

And to think I thought my last school had all the brilliantly eccentric parents.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sailing goals 2008.

Some Three Rivers 'action' from last weekend.

Thanks toTillerman for providing appropriate inspiration for this, my 600th post.
I had been waiting for the right topic to come along and he has provided a grand idea, a practical objective, a real thing about which to write. Not for this post the hypothetical ramblings of the possible footballing success of foreigners, nor the wranglings of the Democratic Party, nor even jottings related to cycling mishaps. The Tillerman has issued another of his agreeable writing challenges.

He has asked his audience to write about our sailing goals for 2008.

I grew up sailing in these parts and since returning from NYC have been keen to get back in the Norfolk groove. The winter and restoration of the family home have stalled the ambitions up to this point. But all that's done, now is the time for action.

My goal for this year is very simple, highly achievable and I think , dare I say it, lots of fun.

I just want to get back on the water as often as possible.

I also want to reconnect with one of my finest sailing chums of old, Mr Turner. I know he's about, just need to find him.
I have plenty of opportunities to get back on the water, from sail by the hour at the local broad to hiring halfdeckers from Hunters Yard. I have a number of excellent partners in crime who are busy planning days out, nights under canvas and even a 'boys weekend' .

Quite simply, lots of fun, cruising, bbq-ing, warm beering, cold beering (when technology permits), running, reaching, ducking, gybing, swearing and laughing, all in the next few glorious months of summer.

Thank you for listening.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Euro 2008

This is the question on everyone's mind at the moment.


I'm still trying to work out which team I love the most or hate the least.

Here are the options, I've highlighted my serious considerations (these people need to know if I'm on their side) based on some pretty flimsy evidence such as past holidays, encounters with nationals and national cuisine,

Group A

Czech Republic

Group B


Group C



Group D


Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crikey O'Reilly!

What a completely mental day!

First, The Wee Hen trips over in the back yard, cuts his top lip. Blood everywhere! Huge top lip swollen to Carbrooke! Of course, he's absolutely fine but it's a bit of a shocker.

Did I mention the fantastic weather had been washed away by some Test Match special wet weather and grey skies?
Yeah, try house arrest with a 16 month old with a swollen lip.

Second, the weather, oh, it's turned to poo.

Third, Frau Random Doubt has been poisoned by the Silver Fox. She's had a jippy tummy all day following some parental entertainment last night.

Fourth, The fucking car started smoking!


Right where the steering column is.

It's not this year's model but we keep it in good order and get it serviced as often as is proper. We have also had the 'talk'. Both Frau Random Doubt and I are retired smokers and are as aware of the dangers as anyone. It's the disapointment that hurts.

Anyway, We were entering the car park of the Sainsbury centre so I pulled over, away from other vehicles just in case the rollerskate was gonna blow, evacuated Frau Random Doubt and the Wee Hen and called my Dad. He collected us a couple of hours later (after we had been around the exhibits and had a cup of tea) and after some consultation with Terry down at the garage and some minor poking under the bonnet I was told to drive to Terry's garage without indicating (we think it's the indicator fuse in the steering column that has been getting all smokey) You will be pleased to know that FRD and the Wee Hen travelled with the Silver Fox in safety whilst I flew the old girl back on a wing and a prayer and no indicating.

After a difficult bedtime I decided that I'd treat myself to a burn on the bike.

At least when you run and something goes wrong when you are 6 miles from home on the wrong end of a brilliantly muddy country track you don't have to walk home with a broken mountain bike.