Monday, January 22, 2007


I don't do this very often but I've just eaten a whole bag of Julian Graves' Fruit Pastilles so I'll not sleep tonight because I'll be deafened by the sound of my teeth rotting. To take my mind off it, I've been Tubing. I make no pretence to being popular where music's concerned, both feet are usually dragged firmly back into the past (although I did actually find myself emailing 6 Music the other week during Boy George's mix session and congratulating him for genuinely keeping me entertained for 2 hours. And they read it out). There's no mournful shoe gazing in this here selection though. Nor any anger, swearing or cod philosophy or 160 bpm frantic grooving. This is bare bones rock and roll, trimmed right back to the beat and presented by 4 boys, the oldest of whom was about 21. This lot are about the same age as, some actually younger than, McFly but they're not bubblegum pop-rock. The vocalist had, still has, the quintessential rock voice that completely belies his age. He grunts and wails in exactly the right places, a master of timing; Sinatra with a strut. The drummer was aha...rock solid; the bassist was only 20 when the band folded but was already a jobbing club musician at 13. The guitarist had a devastatingly effective economy of style and a delicious vibrato that could fell trees at 20 paces. Sadly he also possessed a propensity for self medication that meant he didn't even make the traditional rock and roll check-out of 27, choosing instead to cark it on a plane at 25 on his way to a reunion. The dirty stop-out. For four or so years across the top of the 60s not many bands could top these.

Have you got 20 minutes? Ladies and Gentlemen, turn it up and sit back. Free.

Fire and Water

I'll be Creepin'

Mr Big

and if you insist,

All Right Now

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be buggering off for a few days. I might drop the odd comment here and there but there'll be no postings for the next week from Wednesday as I'm going to stamp my carbon footprint on the North Atlantic on the way down to Marrakech for a few days of trying to get our lives back together. I promise to switch more lights off to make up for it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


As everyone knows by now, it got a bit breezy from Wednesday night for about a day or so. I was rudely awoken by my mother at 6.45am on Thursday as she crashed around in the utility room in the dark looking for candles to illuminate the kitchen and bathroom with due to the power cut. My temporary abode is in what we call the extension and at 30 years old is the most recent part of the house. Because of the modern building techniques involved and its location at the end of a passage, it reacts rather like the sound mirrors over at Dungeness, thus a dropped spoon in the kitchen sounds like a heavy machine gun going off. I had aimed to get up early anyway as the farrier was coming at 8 to shoe one of the horses and I would have had to move my car off the quagmire we're laughingly calling the drive. I did get away and fought the increasing wind into work although I was almost taken out by a Polish artic attempting to join Operation Stack at J10 of the M20 by cutting across three lanes of the roundabout in front of me without much notice (apologies to Jed and other colonials for whom this will be much like literary white noise).

The wind reached its fiercest around midday on Thursday. We got off lightly at work; the door of the old mushroom shed I work in blew open and the window is now held together with parcel tape. The surprise came when I got home. When I asked whether they'd lost any trees (not that there are many left to lose) Mum said that the apple tree in the garden had gone. I looked at my sister who was there picking up my babysat nephews and, even though it was by now pitch dark, we both ran outside to check. Our tree! MY tree. Everyone's tree; laying propped up by the old cypress Mum's wanted gone for years. The WRONG tree. My Great-Grandfather took this property over in 1948 and the tree was around then. My mother was 13 and would have known it; I learned to climb in its branches and used to swing down from one particular one, gone a few years now. I would sit in a high crook with a book and read and sleep, occasionally eating an apple. They were tart but crisp. "Don't eat those, you'll get stomach ache" Mum would yell out from the kitchen window. Never did. I developed a good throwing arm from aiming the unripe or rotting windfalls over a tree in the field next door. My own children and my nephews have climbed it and sat beneath the branches too. One tree, 59 years and four generations. Tomorrow it will be sawn up and the fibres that have processed tons of CO2 over the years will be used to heat the house during the forthcoming forecast cold snap. In fact, my Dad, who has little sentiment for this kind of thing, had already started to saw bits off it. I said not to do any more until he'd taken pictures of it at least. It's a member of the family, no need to be too hasty with the funeral, it hasn't left a will.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007



Sorry I've not been about, I can't say I've been that inspired of late and I've been staring at a computer screen all day anyway. I'm not sure I completely agree with this work mullarkey but I'll keep at it until they tire of my stupid mistakes. If you've been following, I've taken up a position with a toy auction site for a few weeks and earlier today I accidentally listed a set of 8 Corgi models for £2995 when it should have been £20. I only noticed a few minutes ago when I went to check something else. Thank heavens for teh interwebs and being able to remember the login. When I last worked in an office, computers all had IBM written on them somewhere and the internet was a spelling mistake so it's taken a few days to get up to speed. Unfortunately my acceleration is more Imp than than Impreza.

Weekends have been spent getting physical with bow saws, axes and sundry other garden implements. My favourite one at the moment is the odd rake thing that scrapes up the horse shit. Have you any idea how much a barrow of that stuff weighs? I hope this is all worth it. I was carting around a bit of excess when I arrived down here nearly six weeks ago and although there doesn't seem to be much less of it, I feel better. My parents seem to be thriving on it, they're both in their 70s and still have all their own teeth. I do hope S isn't expecting a six pack next week though; it's still a bit of a Party Seven. OK, maybe a Party Four. To think I used to run 100 metres in a bit over 11 seconds.

To return to things rather more bucolic. Yesterday Mum went out to feed the horses after I'd left for work. She went into the small haystore to fill the nets and was rather surprised to see this fast asleep on the bales, basking in the sun streaming in through the doorway. She was a bit taken aback - she had after all confined a wild animal in an enclosed space. This is the countryside and these aren't city foxes that will walk up the road behind you if you've got a bag of chips like they used to do in Belvedere (if you've got a bag of chips in your hand in Belvedere, anybody will follow you, not only the wildlife. Although that's being rather disingenuous to the real wildlife as they're often more civilised than the local humans in Bexley). That's not to say these foxes are vicious or anything, either, they're just not used to humans. This one though was rather different. It didn't respond to Mum's encouragements to shift itself so, fearing it was injured, she went to fetch my Dad. He came armed with his camera. As you can see, Renard was still in situ, completely unphased by the flashes from the two pictures Dad took. They fetched a broom to try and shovel him out with but he still wasn't having anything of it. In the end he eventually grew tired of these two strangers trying to kick him out of his bed and tried to climb up the wall. Finding no exit through the roof he jumped down and trotted out the door. He was probably lucky. Had Des next door found him, he would probably have been on the receiving end of a twelve bore cartridge as repayment for the lambs that have gone missing over the past three years. Of course, the gentlemen in pink would rather you called them out for what they laughingly call "pest control". I don't think so, not in these quarters. Life's tough but rather a swift despatch than being ripped to shreds by ravening hounds in the name of a good ride out, eh? Actually, I'd rather pay a few pence a pound more for lamb and suffer the losses but I'm not going to argue that one here.

(Huge prizes to the first one to suss the title)

Sunday, January 07, 2007


New Year Celebrity Passing Away Special No 1

He started, now he's finished.

Magnus Magnussonsonsonson

1929 - 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It's a new year and it's my intention to turn over a new leaf. Needs must, as my mother says. Needs must indeed. Except it's not the devil driving, it's penury. Tomorrow I return temporarily to the ranks of the salaried. I will be listing toys on an internet auction site based in an old mushroom farm in Bilting. It doesn't pay much but it's small, friendly and will keep a pack of wolves from the door for a while until the cartloads of money start rolling in from my literary endeavours and I can afford an over-and-under Purdey to shoot the buggers with. I also need to save a few quid because I'm off to here for a few days at the end of month with this one. Lovely old habits die hard, especially if you don't let them. At the very least it will make me wonder why on earth I used to push my old die-cast models off the kitchen table and not keep them in their boxes in the loft. Actually, I can answer that. Because those things taught me how not to get bored. One had to think to play and there's precious little of that involved in a shoot 'em up.

It's been a while since I worked in anything approaching an office. Well, I did work for the Rural Payments Agency in Crewe for a few months but one doesn't like to admit it. It could be mildly amusing but nothing like this. Wish me luck.