Monday, December 13, 2010


I've loved 6music since first I heard it back in 2007.

I even wrote to my MP when the station was threatened with closure in 2009 (he wrote back in a favourable but non committal sort of way, unsurprising for a politician, surprising for a tory)

Over the weekend I thought to myself "this station needs to play some Juliana Hatfield, that's what I need right now" .

Tonight, loading the dishwasher.

The Juliana Hatfield Three!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wymondham Abbey

I've always been fortunate to live in places that inspire.
Wherever I have lived there has been somewhere that I can go to to lift the soul.
Wymondham is full of such nooks and crannies, although I would hardly classify the 900 year old abbey as either a 'nook' or a 'crannie'.
For your pleasure, a December Saturday afternoon running around the grounds.

Looking south over the sheep meadow. The remains of the Abbey prior to the dissolution in 1538 are visible as lumps in the meadow.
Hen sitting on top of some of Henry VIII's rubble.
The ruined East tower.
ASBO behaviour, 1754 style.
The East tower from within.
Doorway, East tower.
East Tower.
Hen inside East Tower.
The Arch, looking over towards the sheep meadow.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Uncle Bill

Billy Bragg and I have previous. Lots of previous.

I'll go into that later because tonight, tonight in the ice and the snow and sudden mid gig queasiness about the difficult journey home I fell in love with Billy Bragg. Fell in love all over again.
I stood in the middle, twenty feet from the front, surrounded by other greying, bellied fans. Intermingled were the newer cohorts of fans but for the most part the audience reflected the main attraction, middle aged, self depreciatory and curious.
I wasn't beering it up and there was no smoke, it was my first HD gig.

Twenty years ago I had been at the same gig in another part of town and had listened to Billy rail against nostalgia. He had no time for it, the struggle had to move onwards, not back. Therefore he was not going to play any of the old stuff. That , along with every album after 'Workers Playtime' and up to 'Mermaid Avenue' put Billy on the back burner. I was 18 and he was singing about the difficulties involved with getting a decent babysitter.

Times change. Tonight I got a decent babysitter and drove the car to the University and watched Billy rail through his classic back catalogue. I don't think it's nostalgia, I think he has understood that he's an entertainer and that we want to be entertained, entertained by some of the most wonderful, lyrical, rock and roll of the past 30 years. We were also entertained and provoked by his observations, the banter and the two drunken extremists who started a fight in the corner and got thrown out. This would not have been relevant had it not been right at the front and the security men taken a long and somewhat heavy handed approach to the whole proceedings. It was almost like a piece of tourism form the 1980s.

A wonderful night, just what the soul had been asking for. Just what the ears needed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Notes from the bunker

I'm still dusting off the debris of the last few months.
It is late and wine has been consumed, not always a recipe for good blogging, however I am in love with the genre again, especially as it has now been overtaken by about twelve other developments in the great race to remain up to date.
Here are a few of the things that have been rolling about in my mind.

What is the Pope up to?

How long will the coalition government last?

Will the Liberal Democrats take the kicking they deserve at the next election?

Have I returned all those library books?

Should I feel guilty about secretly feeling good about demonstrators smashing up Tory party HQ? (OF COURSE, I'm not condoning dropping fire extinguishers from tall buildings)

What's more important? Washing or sleep?

Why am I not missing TV?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The cloth of kings

I'm slowly emerging from the bunker.
The bunker that was suddenly becoming the father of three.
The bunker that was moving house and saying goodbye to the neighbour from hell.
The bunker that is work.
The bunker that is life at the start of the twenty first century.

2011 will be a big year for corduroy. At a rough guess there will be at least four official days of cord.


That last one will be the biggie. It only comes along once in 100 years. Trouble is, one always has to be a bit respectful of Armistice day, that's why I'm excited about the other three.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

No 10

We've finally moved!
It has taken us over a year.
A year of the slowest housing market in a generation, a market that is continuing to decline.
But we did it!

No 10!

And we didn't even need to win an election!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


For a moment I thought that he had been born in the 1970s.
For a moment I thought that the political world had found it's first major player born in the 1970s.
For a moment I thought that the moment in my own life had come, That moment when the political world catches up with you, when you are no longer young. The sporting world passed me by when Michael Owen debuted for England, I knew I would never play for my country.

Then I looked more closely and learned that he was born in the 1960s (just!)
He is younger than my brother (he's younger than his own brother)
My generation?

Keep buggering on...

There is a lot going on.
I have read some books and will write about them soon.
There will be huge announcements within the week.
It is my sincere hope that things will soon be changing for the better, the very much better.
Things will be happening on all three blogs.

Bear with me, watch this space.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


It's 70 years since the Battle of Britain, our finest hour.

With this in mind I decided to grab my nearest old fella and place him in front of my class to tell tales and answer questions.
His lovely wife came along because, in her words "I was there too".

My new class sat for over an hour and listened to their memories, tales of air raids and blackouts. Mr and Mrs 'B' seemed to enjoy it and the kids were hooked.

Some highlights...

Where you scared?


How did you feel when war was declared?

"Awful, just awful. Depressed, angry but resigned to get the job done"

Was everyone as cheerful as we are told?

"No, but everyone worked together and got on with things, we talked alot and helped each other because otherwise people would fall apart, and some people did fall apart and some people were unkind about them"

Did you like Winston Churchill?

"My family were NOT Conservatives, we did NOT like Churchill"

"Yes dear but he did do an awful lot to help us win the war"

"That's true, I suppose"

Was it easy to beat the Germans?

"We only just beat them, we survived the summer of 1940 because the Germans made bad mistakes and we were lucky"

Would you like a cup of tea?

"One thing everyone who lived through those years will tell you, you never turn down a cup of tea!"

Friday, July 09, 2010


Time consuming.

living every thrilling minute.

repeat to fade.

I'll recapture the blog soon, I still believe.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!
Sunday. The Germans!

I am very, very, very excited!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's here.

Blogging has been slow of late and I'm sorry.
OFSTED came and went (and went away happy!)
Both twins visited the hospital and both came home ok.

And of course, Fabio's boys take on the USA on Saturday!
One golden month of footy!

I can't bear the suspense!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Electoral strategy

OK, looking like a hung parliament.
High turnout turning the count into a slow one.
Twin babies asleep upstairs.

I'm going to turn in, if the exit polls are to be believed, it's not the next couple of hours that will prove interesting but the next couple of days. By the time I wake at 5.30am the results will still be coming in and deals being struck.


I wasn't here in 2005.
I'd forgotten about the beautiful silence that engulfs a British General election day.

All campaigning must halt as polls open at 7am.

All media outlets turn to alternative topics (a lengthy interview with Sir Paul MacCartney about vegetarianism was my favourite)as they are barred from mentioning the obvious.

It's a magisterial calm.

At 10pm the polls will close and then.


Hours of results and punditry, interviews, arguments, analysis and post mortem.

I love it!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Decision time

Ok, tomorrow is the General Election.

What to do?

I'm a bit confused.

For several reasons.

Actually I'm a bit confused for one main reason and it's nothing to do with a posh bloke called Dave.
For the past 37 years I have either lived in, or been emotionally connected to, a delightful area called 'South Norfolk'. It's been tory since 1950 so it's not even a political attachment. I've always enjoyed throwing my Labour or Lib Dem vote into the opposing wind of toriness. But more than that, I just love being from, and right now living in, SOUTH Norfolk.
I know who my MP is, I know he's going to be my MP until he dies. He even knows who I am, in a very small, met him twice, wrote to him once, sort of a way.

South Norfolk is my kind of place.

Well all that has changed since some gerrymandering civil servants decided that I wasn't 'south' enough and that my entire town should be moved into a new constituency called 'Mid Norfolk'. A bunch of candidates I don't know, a playing field I'm unfamiliar with, lumped in with other, lesser market towns such as Watton and Dereham?
I looked online to find out about tactical voting. MId Norfolk did not even register on the site. I thought South Norfolk was a tory stronghold, Mid Norfolk is bluer than the disinfectant in Sam-Cam's downstairs loo!

Another reason to be mildly perplexed (and this carries on from the new constituency rant) is that I'm not sure how best to use my vote.

Should I vote Labour?

Surely their time is up?
Surely Brown has blown it?
Surely time to get over my emotional attachment to Clement Atlee And Nye Bevan?

but... What about the economy? I actually think things might have been alot worse with somebody else in charge and have half a mind to think that they might be the best to keep things slowly improving.

Should I vote LIb Dem?

Done this before, it seems like their time, would be great to boost their national percentage and give them more credibility with the other two parties, or even put them into second place. Electoral reform is needed. Clegg's wife is yummilicious.

but... the euro?

Should I vote Green?

I cant help wonder if Green is the new Labour? A fledgling movement tackling the crucial issues of the day. Difficult decisions will require a radical, progressive approach.

but... can't help feeling that the LIb Dems need my vote more, perhaps I'll vote Green next time.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Interesting times

These aren't such bad days for your everyday political junkie/footy fan.

It's looking like being a rather sharp election with Brown using all his dark powers to grimly cling to power whilst young Harry Potter tries all manner of spells and tricks to convince us he's for real. It's only 36 hours old but I'm already enjoying this election, especially the way they all talk about stuff that we've known about for months and try to make it fun.

My prediction? Slight tory majority. 6-20 seats.
Out of this world insanity would be for Brown to cling on with a similar size rump, could happen, perhaps.
It looks like being a poisoned chalice with all the cuts looming.

A few weeks after the 6th of May we move south to South Africa!
Need I say more?

My prediction?
England reach the semis (AT LEAST)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Michael and Daniel

Well beggar me if we ain't just had twins!

A highly civilised day of childbirth courtesy of the Norfolk and Norwich University Trust Hospital.
Everyone we encountered was friendly and professional, the operating theatre was lit by the first sun of spring and filled with laughter and cheers. I only wish all entries into the world could be so down to earth and humane. It was an honour to be in the room. Yet another moment to feel proud of the NHS, quietly made me worry about my old friends in the states (SORT IT OUT!!!!)

OK, politics aside, enjoy the moment. Mommy and her babies are in hospital being taken care of, I'm home with the original Lil'un who is now coming to terms with being a big brother! this is the easy bit, they'll be coming home in a day or two!!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

D-Day minus three.

The big day is very, very near.

A part of us has no idea what is about to hit us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Persuasion and voting habits.

Today we looked at persuasion and how people can be persuaded to vote for specific groups or ideas.

Three groups (Purple, Brown and Green) had different ideas for running the school.

The purple group wanted to start early in the morning and finish by lunch. There would be compulsory sports clubs after lunch.

The brown group wanted to slightly alter the length of the day, shorten some breaks but offer a wide range of cross cultural pursuits in an extensive afterschool programme.

The green group would keep the school day as it is, offer more trips and employ excellent teachers.

I consciously avoided words such as 'parties' or 'election' and a class discussion followed about the merits of the various groups. 

After a few minutes we held a quick vote, an opinion poll.

The purples were clear leaders, the browns were next with a tiny minority of children voting for the greens.

Pointing out to the class that this was just an excercise, I then amended some of the group's published ideas. The purple group promised greater choice at lunch, the brown group (second in the poll) offered a one hour breaktime in the middle of the day and the green group proposed to abolish all homework except for the Year Six kids taking exams.

The class went into a mild frenzy. "Can I change my vote?" "What?" "ONE HOUR BREAK??YEAH!"

I assured them that it was just an opinion poll and yes, votes, opinions and minds could be changed. Another fantastic discussion took place.

Another straw poll and then I asked the class.

"The Leader of the brown group is a  bully, would you still vote brown?"

"Even if he was a bully, he wouldn't bully kids"

"Sometimes you have to be a bit of a bully to get stuff done"

A heated debate but the upshot was a completely unchanged total for the browns.

"OK, how about this? 10 years ago on an exotic holiday, the leader of the purple group ate dog soup. Would you still vote purple knowing that the leader is a one time dog eater?"

Fury soon gave way to comments such as "It was 10 years ago" and "What does his diet have to do with running the school?"

"The leader of the green group has been married seven times"

"Was he horrible to his wives or did they die?"

"Loads of people get divorced"

A half hour of fantastic, open minded, open hearted political debate with some of the best 10 and 11 year olds around.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Who the hell doesn't love lasagne?

Especially lasagne made by a drunk bloke?

Especially when it's then thrown in the freezer for a month or two to be baked and consumed amidst babies and nappies and stuff?

Please enjoy the very small photo essay about my Saturday night.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

End times

Things might be a touch slow around here, we've entered the final phase of the pregnancy and are within days, all being well, of a couple of new arrivals.
Watch this space!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Neighbourhood watch

Has my nextdoor neighbour just been arrested?

Watch this space (cos I sure as hell am!!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Learning-THE BLOG!

Right, deep breath.
I've been reviewing my reading for four years, making notes, slapdash comments or simply rattling down whatever tiredness, level of engagement or time and emotion will allow.
Following an enforced spell in solitary confinement whilst I get over swine flu (for real!) I've been able to move the library or 'reviews' onto their own blog.
Catalogued by author and in chronological order, you can now find details of every book I have read and completed since January 2006. Unfortunately I was not patient enough to bring the comments over, they still exist, alongside the original reviews in the archives of TRDOWM. All future 'Book learning' posts will appear directly on the new'ish' blog. Hope some of you might find it interesting.

Book learning 59

The Great Silence 1918-1920. Living in the shadow of the Great War. By Juliet Nicolson

I'm not sure if my childhood obsession with World War One has ever really been too prominent in this blog. It's the historical obsession that predated the historical obsession with American history. Between the age of 11 and 17 it was all about the Schlieffen plan, Passschendaele, Zeppelins, President Wilson's 12 points (oh? Do you see a link?)

Cut to 2010 and the pile of books delivered by Santa.

This surprisingly accessible read deals with the zeitgiest of the two years immediately following the November armistice in 1918, as such, it's primary concern is grief. The book follows the seasons as the nation tries to come to terms with the apocalyptic loss of the previous four years. Along with the extremely traumatic side of things such as severely disabled veterans, early forays into plastic surgery and the various coping mechanisms of the bereaved the book also looks at elements of popular culture, the mood of the people, industrial relations and the decisions behind some of the iconic monuments commemorating the loss of the Great War (The Cenotaph, The Unknown soldier). Throw all this together and it makes for a powerful and absorbing read.

I began reading this in the full flush of health, then I got a hefty dose of swine flu. I couldn't read or do anything for a few days and when I did eventually sit up in bed I wasn't so sure that I wanted to be reading about the effects of Spanish flu, however the time did allow me to really get into the book in a way that's just not possible when you grab twenty minutes before bedtime. Having said all that, I would not recommend swine flu as an aid to reading.

It was the human angle that came through strongest, the book was based largely on anecdotes or diaries and the emotions people experienced were refreshingly honest, some thought the idea of a ' tomb of the unknown warrior' insincere or disrespectful, children were creeped out by disfigured veterans, young women who just wanted everyone to get over it. A good insight into a lost age and not without lessons for our own times.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book learning #58

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon.

The first of the Christmas books bites the dust.

A pacey first 350 pages which stalled abit after that, became a bit repetitive. I still thoroughly enjoyed it even if I did flick a bit towards the end. The most enjoyable parts were the history of the NYPD and the folklore angle.

At various parts of this, I felt homesick for the old place.

I'm gonna pass this onto a good old friend.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Snow Days!!

Snow days? Just the best aren't they?

A day snatched from the grasp of The Man, a day when you can eat a little more and do bizarre things like baking and building snowmen.

A day when even your grumpy neighbour can raise a smile (before he takes a tumble and breaks a hip)

And what's better than one stolen, beautiful snowday?

TWO beautiful, stolen snowdays!

As well as the above, it should be noted that the year had hardly begun, up to date with work and planning and stuff. This meant that I was able to enjoy both days (and the weekend) without a single worry about things I should be doing!

And please, no cheeky comments from Americans "Call that snow?" etc. We know, Frau Random Doubt (lately of R.I. and Kings County, NYC) pointed out "This is real snow".

Friday, January 01, 2010


So what is this?

The Teenies?

Anyway, today I realised that I have a big thing in common with David Cameron.

I also want to be in a new house by the end of this year.