Friday, May 28, 2004

Divine Intervention

Well blow me. No sooner had I written the last blog when Mr Vodafone offered me a new mobile phone for free, complete with built in digital camera.

After practising by taking pictures of my genitals and showing them to disgusted wife (it's got to be done), I'm ready to tackle the tree-shed and the wheelbarrow tree for the few saddoes who might want to look.

The images look pretty shite, but you should get the idea. And yes, you're even sadder if you'd prefer to see my genitals.

All I need to do now if figure out how to transfer pictures to computer and then put them in a blog. There was a time when I used to relish this sort of thing. Now, I resent the inevitable frustration.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Love of a Shed

The excellent blogger who was Raised by Chaffinches has a love of sheds to which I do not yet subscribe; but I can see the attraction.

I have a fourteen-year-old son who wants a tree-house. A good wholesome, Just William, boy of a thing to want. Much better that GameCube or dirty mags and Kleenex. He had in mind a tree (an old Cherry) and intended to build one.

Coincidentally, we have a shed that is surplus to requirements. Well I say shed, but it's one of those small wooden playhouses for little children. Our offspring have all grown out of that sort of thing. However, eight feet up in a tree, it would be transformed from pathetic kiddies' plaything into super macho wank-substitute.

So that was it. Put the 6ft x 4ft "shed" eight feet up into a Cherry tree. Simple!

Richard, my builder friend was visiting and warmed to the task. A knackered wheelbarrow was tied high up in (another) tree with the knackered wheel improvising as a knackered pulley. A ramp was made from two aluminium ladders and bits of wood. Handles affixed to shed. Adolescent boys humping shed thinking "what the f**".

It's amazing what you can do with wood, nails, rope and, what Richard has in enviable quantities, practical common sense.

The knackered wheelbarrow will now stay where it is forever, 15ft up the tree. If I had a digital camera, I'd show you a picture. Maybe I will one day.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Thank God for Beach Volleyball

I went to my sister's house the other day. They have an enormous, funny-shaped telly that doesn't appear to have an "off" button. What's more it seems not to have a channel changing knob and is fixed on a channel called Eurosport.

One of the blessings of this is Women's International Beach Volleyball. I was impressed by the physique of the competitors, and the skimpy two-piece sportswear. One of the girls had "BRA" helpfully printed on her top half. I was looking for "PANTS" on the bottom half when I realised she was playing for Brazil.

Update on the head

Mum's fine after her op, but still in hospital. The insurance company are refusing to pay for the hole in my head gasket. They say I should have noticed. I must say, how I lost a radiator full of water without noticing is a mystery to me.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Denmark Where?

Mum is at King's Hospital at Denmark Hill. I am staying with my Dad at Bexley. We went by train to visit her. I went to buy a ticket at Bexley station ticket office from a small man with a round face and a Hitler moustache. The following conversation ensued:

"A single to Denmark Hill please"

"Which way are you going"

"I'm sorry, I don't know. Is there more than one way?"

"There are two"

"Does it make any difference?"

"Yes" (slighly exasperated) "The cost of the ticket depends on which way you go"

"Oh well in that case, I'll have the cheapest please"

"Which one is that?"

Now, you haven't lost the thread here. The man, the expert, the one wearing the railway uniform, was asking me, Clueless from Gloucestershire which of the two routes was the cheapest. I pressed on:

"How should I know? I don't live here. You're the expert, you tell me"

After some disgruntled dabbing on keyboard: "You need to change at Lewisham. That'll be £3.60"

I didn't let it go at that:

"What's the other route then?"

"You can change at London Bridge"

"Why would anyone want to change at London Bridge if changing at Lewisham is cheaper?" (expecting the answer "'cos it's quicker", but it isn't)

"Some people might like to".

I could have bought the ticket from the machine outside the ticket office. I'm glad I didn't. This little chat was the highlight of the day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Hole in the Head

I need this like a hole in the head.

Badger got a hole in the head. I hit him with my car. Said head put a hole in the air-con radiator, the water radiator and, because I have no temperature gauge, a hole in the head gasket. £1,000 to fix; insurance claim; no car for a week or so (maybe more). They gas badgers because they say cause TB. Gas 'em cos their heads are too hard I say.

The hole in the headdery doesn't stop there. My dear old mum (nearly 80) has a blood clot on the brain (sub-durnal heamatoma - or something like that). They are putting a hole in the head to fix it later this week.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Switzerland trip is off, misery all round.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Dangio Here We Come

It's all set.

After an excessive amount of sibling debate, three of us (not Fran who's just give birth) are taking Mum and Dad to Italy and then on to Switzerland next Thursday.

This is to celebrate Dad's 80th on the Wednesday when we're meeting for a meal in the evening. The Switzerland trip was supposed to be a surprise, but due to cock-up by the insurance company, they now know they're in for a foreign trip, but don't know where.

Despite the potential for internecine family stress and strife, I'm looking forward to it immensely.

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker

Last night I decided to sing Jake's Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker. I once heard Jake say: "I lifted it wholemeal, you know, as opposed to piecemeal, from Laurie Lee's Cider With Rosie".

I was surprised at this. I had read the book, but couldn't remember The Blacksmith and The Toffee Maker. I re-read it and sure enough, there it was. The wholemeal nature of the lifting is interesting and surprising. This forgettable passage was indeed lifted by Jake, but I would say amplified into something much greater than the original text. The song, as a ballad, is damn-near perfect, with biographical intros, story, happy ending, concluding with a moral analysis.

I decided to read the text from my well-thumbed copy of Cider With Rosie, and then sing the song.

I new person turned up at the club with a fiddle. She was intending to play, but inadvertently, she was overlooked. I was chatting to her and she asked me to sing Summer Lightning by Ralph McTell. This is a stunning guitar piece and an exquisite love song about arguing and making up.

I played it (not very well - but ok), and when I returned to my new-found fiddler friend, she was moved to tears. This was unquestionably the event of the day.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I'm an uncle again!

My youngest sister and her husband have successfully produced a baby boy. No name yet, but all is well. He's a big 'un too: eight and a half pounds. I got to know via a text message including picture of the babe. Not that the picture helped any. You can't tell much from a fuzzy one-inch screen.

My reply: "life will never be the same again" was accurate, but on reflection, perhaps a tad insensitive.

I hope to see the new nephew this weekend.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Royal Mail Delivery

Yesterday, on a bank holiday Monday, a dodgy looking bloke turned up in a Ford Mondeo. We assumed he was a parent of one of the many teenagers staggering about from my daughter's impromptu party the night before.

But no, he was the passport delivery man. We just ordered a passport for our daughter and because so many mail items are being lost by Royal Mail, they have taken to using dodgy-looking Mondeo drivers.

We then went to Eynsham to see the Morris Men. The highlight was two male streakers captured forever by the ubiquitous digital camera. I will be able to email you the video clip if you are interested.