Tuesday, 24 June 2008

SUN IN CANCER, ARSE IN GEAR.

Yes, all you good people of the omniverse, the Earth has beetled around once again to the part of it's orbit that floats a great deal of boats. As a result, a new and Tigger like energy has risen in me which is usually the case come Solstice. Being a Cancerian is cool. Birthdays are usually sunny affairs.
I am filling my days with "buildin' fings", 16 hours a week I get paid for it, thanks to a renewed career as a handyman.

The other Buddha-knows-how-many hours construction work has gone into the previously much touted shed project.

I'm not in a position to show any photos of progress because it's all very hush-hush, don't ya know. You'll just have to wait. Gadzooks, I can almost smell the tension from here.

Needless to say, the postage stamp sized urban garden is littered with piles of wood and rusty old nails. It's a health and safety nightmare, an A&E admittance waiting to happen. But I prefer to run the gauntlet, it lends life a sense of derring-do. Besides, there's no point in clearing up until the wobbly woman warbles.

The next week or so will produce a camping holiday, cricket, an annual visit, loud music from my revamped car stereo, outdoor fires (upon which I usually sacrifice at least one piece of clothing albeit mistakenly), birdwatching, peoplewatching, a lack of watchwatching, beer drinking and hopefully a modicum of sunburn, all of which you may well get to read about.

Until then, here are some random things captured for your delectation and perhaps, if you will, even amusement.
Here, we can clearly see that a junk food empire has been brought to it's knees by a renegade sparrow. Some kind of alliance has obviously been struck between it and it's feathered friends which commonly appear on the menu dressed in tight fitting batter suits.

The upshot of this I suspect was probably several dozen spotty ill-looking natives frantically scouring the locale for a similarly puke-worthy helping of feral pigeon in a bap.

They wouldn't have to go very far in this neck of the woods.

Next on the agenda is my own fascinating experimentation with Do-it-Yourself brain surgery. The tricky part is getting the bread knife and chisels clean again afterwards. Of course, I wouldn't recommend this form of amateur neuro slicing to the feint hearted, but the more adventurous among you will be pleasantly surprised by your children's next exam results if you get it right. However, if you get it wrong they are only capable of watching Big Brother until you've gone back to the old drawing board before another well intentioned stab at it.

And here is a monster from the deep which I fished out of my garden pond. The fucker took me 8 hours to land and left me with a vicious hickey which I quite clearly cant go to the medical services with in case they think I'm one of those weird people who can only become romantically attached to lampreys.
For those among you who believe I had to turn my back on it to get attacked in this region, think again, it's not how it looks. It does however, bring a whole new meaning to the words 'blue tit'.

And that, my crusty little old barnacles upon the hull of humanity, is that. Be good to yourselves and to those immediately to your right. Anybody on the left can get stuffed.


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

OF CHANGING CARS AND SHIFTING SHEDS

I've been awfully quiet, in bloggy respects, of late. There are a few reasons. Attempting and failing to mend a car and then selling it for a pittance. That was a wee bit disappointing but as soon as the horrid thing was gone, I felt better, even though it wasn't my car. I hadn't stolen it or anything silly, just doing the B.F.G. a favour because she has no time for such tasks. I polished it until it stood resplendent in the spring sun, awaiting a new mug to throw good money after bad at it.

Having sold it, I then realised that trying to buy a bargainatious runaround for the similar pittance plus a maximum of £250 was going to be nigh on impossible, especially now I had no car to go and view them with. This is because my chivalrous nature has conspired to shoot myself squarely below the ankle region by lending my lovely shiny car to the aforementioned B.F.G. so she could get to work and keep me in the style to which I have become accustomed, ie piss poor.

However, after the next two weeks endlessly picking over thousands of car adds and websites about best buys and parts, the Car Fairies turned up a much better car for my lover at only £15 more than the old French charabanc. And there endeth the tale on a happy, nay ecstatic, Japanese note.

And then so on to the shed.


video

My garden shed is, or should I say was, much loved (by me at least). It contains/contained as you hopefully can see by the video tour, all manor of the types of crap that men in their forties have accumulated by the natural course of events. Well, events such as skip scrounging and never throwing anything away anyhow. And so when it ceases/ceased to hold out the rain and smells/smelt of rot and is/was clearly suffering in it's old age it is/was time to put it down.
So I did/have.

You can't take a shed to a vet, or flush them down the toilet like unwanted pets, so I tore it down with a claw hammer, and when that wasn't manly enough, my bare hands. Spiders of varying shapes, sizes and hues scuttled willy-nilly hither and thither as bits of mouldy plywood and 2x2 flew in all manner of directions at the mercy of a tea crazed loon in the midday heat.
Part one of my rebuild was all but done and most of the fallout taken to the dump. The rest goes tomorrow, excepting all the salvaged pieces, of which there are few.

I will shop for new (recycled) timber, and stick to my design which involves interior doors and a PVC window all scrounged for nowt locally over the past few years and weeks.


Eat yer 'eart out, The Feckin' Wombles. I'm building an architectural masterpiece. An Ediface to the Gods. Builders of similar shacks will flock from miles around just to be in it's looming shadow. Upon it, cats will sit and birds will shit. Molluscs will slime and wind and rain batter at it's corners like banshees. But it will resist because it will be held fast by love....and about 500 2"screws.
Keep your eyes on this space for hot news of the Great Project as it nears completion.
I will try my damnedest not to leave it for so long that you burst with anxiety before the next post.
Oh, and I genuinely hope you are all beginning to enjoy the summer at last, except those of you who burn easily or who live in the Southern hemisphere.





Thursday, 3 April 2008

RESPLENDENT SPRING!

A blue sky, clear but for a random scattering of gently metamorphosing clouds, plays host to bleached white gulls. The seabirds laugh and wheel in a seasonally appropriate oxymoronic state of manic nonchalance, utilising the languid updraughts billowing invisibly from city streets stimulated by the first truly warm day of the year.

Far below their raucous cackling, I sun myself greedily, soaking up as many rays as I can before this most fickle of seasons turns it's many faced head to reveal an altogether less clement mien.Today though, a patient breeze has replaced the recent rash or hasty gales. It casually transports tender offerings of mingled light fragrances across the neighbouring environs to my hitherto starved olfactory sense. Tree blossom plays an unlikely bedfellow to warm skin.
Twittering finches alert my gaze skyward again. They commute across the azure with staccato flurries of wing beats which give their flight the look of a shuttle weaving an imperceptible thread under and over through the jet streams miles above them, perhaps manufacturing a simple tapestry upon which the ensuing months will eventually embroider the full heated passion of summer. Love sick buzzards arc and soar in lordly fashion above, their presence betrayed only by their eerie monotonous wails which pierce the erstwhile serenity of the afternoon firmament.

As the evening wanders on towards it's close, illuminated by a decreasing effulgence, the disorganised intricacy of trills and whistles that is blackbird song will echo around the urban environs displaying their territorial intent as they lay claim to the treetops by unremitting aria. The common toad who comes hither to feed on various tiny lifeforms will doubtless appear as is her custom on relatively balmy nights.

For now, my eye is caught by the fiery lily beetle as it prepares to gorge itself on the fresh growth bursting through the soil. I hear bumble bees amble drunkenly through the air on a constant vigil for nectar filled blossoms upon which they can fuel a cool night in waiting for yet another day. I can look on as a sunfly hovers erratically, vacillating violently between the ivy leaves as if shadow boxing for fun.

I love the spring for it's renewed sense of hope and life, it's light and the feeling that something exciting is about to happen.


And I suppose it is, if you count the rest of your life.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

LUDWIG VAN SPIDER; A STORY OF CROSS SPECIES COMMUNICATION

It takes an absolute age to teach a common garden spider to play Beethoven on a web. Firstly one has to link the intricate silken threads through a midi interface, no mean feat I can tell you. I had to enlist the help of one or two of our visitor friends for that one, but therein lies another long winded tale of intergalactic travel and other-worldly antics I can tell you just wouldn't wish to be burdened with, so I'll not bother today.
video
I reckon this little chap seems to have embraced the subtle nuances and minor to major key changes of one of the world's most enigmatic and recognisable piano pieces, even if I, his mentor, may say so myself.
It took a great deal of patience and understanding, not helped tremendously by my own ineptitude on the old Joanna, which knows no bounds. I haven't even got as far as 'Chopsticks.'
However, through unparallelled diligence and a rigorous diet of flies and woodlice, (I hate bluebottles especially, and those invertebrates get stuck between your teeth, yeeuk!) myself and Ludwig struck up a rapport musical which may go a very long way towards furthering homo-arachnid relations beyond anything the space program and all those experiments with L.S.D. ever managed.
At first, he found it easier to play if he went too fast. Impassioned cries of 'Adagio! Adagio!' could be heard across the haphazard urban landscape, as I pleaded with him to slow the piece down from the Andante he seemed to have settled upon. I was almost at the end of my tether, and so literally was Ludwig, when one beautiful Autumn morning, I took my early cuppa into the garden to find Little Luddy, concentration etched across his tiny multi-eyed brow, winding his way around the web, calmly and with such concupiscence as to bring a tear to even the most hard hearted of fellows. Each gentle up rise in tempo, each contour of the sound so delicately navigated it put me in mind of a youthful Evgeny Kissin.
And so, today, you can hear the piece in it's entirety. I hope you can enjoy it and perhaps it may inspire you to take up the challenge of inter-species communication. Let me know if you decide to train a centipede to tap dance, or encourage an ant colony to form a Welsh Style Voice Choir. It is difficult, but if you can handle the constant knock backs, the rewards are bountiful and uplifting beyond your wildest imaginations.
Good Luck, comrades in artistic ventures. With your success, the world will owe you a debt of immeasurable gratitude.
(All music composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven)

Monday, 10 March 2008

THE ALPHABET TREE

Wandering around with one's mind at best only partially fixed to any particular task at hand is one of life's pleasures. It was not too long ago now, whilst in one of these meandering ruminations back in the Autumn of last year, that I made a quite astonishing discovery. I have discovered a tree in the park.
Now, at this juncture I can hear cogs a-whirring and jaws a-flapping saying things like

"A tree in the park isn't unusual, you silly old Rexy"
or
"A tree in the park is akin to finding a shell on the beach"
Well that's all true, but don't pick that shell up, it may still be live and blow your hands off!

And since that kind of surprise is what can be chanced upon in life, the R.A.F. and U.S.A.F. being messy people who leave things like depleted uranium lying around in other countries, a result being less pianists, I refer you all back to the tree in the park. It's no ordinary tree. The photograph above is of some of it's fallen leaves, and of it's bizarre windblown fruits. Yes, it is indeed Dendrofallacium Lexicographii, an alphabet tree.

The alphabet tree is fairly ordinary to the eye in many respects, except of course it's fruits which fall to earth around November and scatter themselves a short distance from the tree. Not every fruit contains a seed which is one of the reasons that the alphabet tree is not as common as many of it's indigenous counterparts. Imported to Britain from as far away as Greece and Turkey by the great arboretum collectors of the 17th to 19th century, this broad leaved deciduous has few uses to man in industry or leisure, and has therefore rarely been introduced to the wider countryside on a large scale.
The fruits are not eaten by many creatures, but it is a widely held folklore belief that animals with the ability to pick things up with their forepaws such as squirrels or rats have used the fruits as educational devices for their young or even to hang above the entrances to their drays, burrows etc as signs for predators to stay away. Flocks of carrion crows were often to be seen wearing large fruits around their necks to delineate between the various rival murders.

Another folklore tale surrounds how each seed containing fruit would lend itself to growing different sized trees depending on the letter shape of it. Though I'm aware of no scientific studies or evidence to back up the 'wives tales', some old verses still get passed on in the oral tradition. One such rhyme goes, to memory, something like this;

The tree of the letter shaped A through to H
Will not grow an inch above yon garden gate
A bough or a branch grown from I to an M
Will wither and die when the size of most men
From N to the Y seeds are not quite as high
As a tree from the letter shaped as a Z
Which will always stand twig branch wood shoulder and head
Above any other in forest or glade
Which are all the letters from which our words are made
.

I think it's lost something in translation, but you get the basic drift.
In the days before the tree was introduced to the bounds of these shores, the natives of it's origins had their own stories bound by it. Of course, in Turkey, the Turkish trees had a different alphabet, as they did in Greece. When imported to Russia, a similar thing occurs. It's as though the tree has a very close bond with the people around it, like it can understand the basic language of those humans around it. Everybody in those countries will tell of how their ancestors could almost feel the trees listening to their thoughts, eager for human contact or even symbiosis.


The ancient Gods of Greece had their own favourite letters from the tree seeds.

I suppose we could all pick our own favourites too. Some would be quite partial to an E, and there are those for whom there is great comfort in an R. I asked the B.F.G. what her favourite is.
I'll leave you to guess what her answer was.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

SCHOOL TRIP

Back in December, before the school Christmas break was upon us, my son went on his first trip away with the school. Not just a day trip, but a full on activity holiday involving the kind of dampness which can only be truly achieved by going to Wales during the winter. Dutifully, I bought him a new rucky and some ill fitting strides, pairs 2, muddy waters for the absorption of. It was suggested he take plenty of spare clothing. We packed it all, including wellies strapped to the outside of his backpack.

On the morning he was due to leave, the bag became the focus for all his pent up excitement, as he carried it around the house in preparation to go. He was driving me nuts with it up and down the stairs like Sherpa Tensing on speed at least half an hour before we were due to leave, bumping into the furniture and just generally getting in my bleary eyed way at what is best described as a part of the day when I'm not at my most organised or patient.
But leave we did, astonishingly on time, down to meet the bus outside the school. Dozens of other parents were there seeing off their excited and some slightly anxious kids. I suppose there was a little twang of 'My Baby is going away' stuff, but I just thought of all that spare time and peace and quiet, and what fun he was going to have compared with yet another week of school. Besides, one week away from a T.V. blethering on about impending Christmas was gonna be good for this kids soul and probably my bank balance.
There was a slight feeling of apprehension as the bus was late, then showed up looking like this.
In the early hours of the morning (before ten am anyway) I'm easily confused, and my first thoughts were that the bus company name had been written by an artistically very talented dyslexic. Perhaps I've been doing too many crosswords of late, because my next fleeting cogitation upon the matter was that this must be an anagram. Reaching swiftly for my pen and paper, (which I always carry for quick note emergencies, a trick learnt whilst tracking the movement and locations of urban skips) I established the obvious reason this particular coach had been sent, the anagram emblazoned on it being "Ya cab must wif". Well I expect that'll be years of pukey kids and fat arsed drivers in it, I mused.
And then, as my grey matter lurched into slovenly action, things stated to add up.

Welsh! Aha! Of course, what an oaf I felt. Send a coach from Wales. Why not? Much easier to keep your carbon footprint maximised by sending a coach from Wales over the bridge and then drive back to Wales with some kids.

Bit by bit, child by child, the vehicle loaded to just about it's full potential. I thought I'd use this valuable time to check the credentials of the cabin crew. What better recommendation could they have than this.

A 'Hendy men' can do anything. They're always reliable and so my mind was put at ease by this comforting sight.
And so the time came for the bus to roll out toward its destination. Final hugs and kisses ensued until even the potential bed wetters were crammed in and the doors were closed on a bus full of over excited youths destined for a foreign land.
This is the last view of it disappearing.

And from that moment until four and a half days later, my house was quiet. And I came home to write a poem which you can look back to if you want. (Leavings, Dec 10th 2007)

Monday, 4 February 2008

I MEAN, GORDON BENNETT !!?**!

I don't wish anybody to get alarmed, but I believe there is a national, even global plot afoot which surrounds one of the most notorious men in expletive history. I speak of course, of Gordon Bennett. It has become clear to me that one of the nefarious activities of Mr. Gordon Bennett is the recycling of discarded materials into shop goods to be sold back to the general public, only a short while before that same public realise it's all shit and take it to the nearest skip.




And so on, and so on, ad infinitum until Mr. B is rolling in piles of crisp £20 notes.

When investigating such criminal behavior, I must call upon my amazing powers of under-cover disguise. I wrapped myself in a couple of old bin liners and hid inside this skip for several days, living off food scraps, until it was collected and taken to an outlet for the recycled crap.
I had not wasted my time in the skip at night, and by the light of a nearby street lamp had managed to cobble together a working if not terribly attractive camera from bog roll tubes and a bottle-bottom. Through this device, I managed to take this tell tale picture of the outlet in a town in the South West of England.



Potentially thousands if not millions of pounds per day cross the palms of the vendors of misery inside. Shortly after this photo was taken, I was spotted by security and had to make a desperate dash for freedom. I'd have got(ten) away with it if it weren't for those meddling security guards. I've only just returned from one of their sweat shops making Easter bunnies out of discarded Christmas tree baubles. My fingers are still sore.
Don't be sucked into this nightmare. Avoid any contact with Gordon Bennett at all costs.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

BIRDWATCHING IN THE CITY

WARNING; DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IF YOU HAVE JUST EATEN.

Not that long ago, my wonderful children and I were off to the nearest train station. They were off to catch a train to Wiltshire to see one of their grandparents. I don't go to Wiltshire unless under cover of darkness and preferably in a fast moving vehicle. I still don't trust the coppers there. Prone to the annual Hippie Cull they were. And did you know it's illegal not to eat a pork pie every 60 minutes in Wiltshire. They still have the stocks and angry crowds of ill mannered wurzels turn up in their thousands to hurl soggy, mouldy vegetables at anybody who doesn't have pig in aspic stuck between their teeth and traces of greasy pastry on their smock.

However, on the way to the station, there was a bird. This bird was right in front of us, bang smack in the middle of the pavement if you please. And it was very still. It's one of those sorts of birds which you periodically see stationary, because it's stone cold dead. Not just a bit dead mind you, absolutely horror show, intestines out sort of dead.

There are many cats in our area, and parked cars often afford them an excellent sculking or hiding place from which to pounce upon their prey. On this occasion, the unsuspecting bird, probably humming a crisp tune to itself, was stalked and done in.

So feast your mince on it's last attempt at modelling for the camera, immortalised as long as this hard drive and blog keep a-rollin' on. I hope it didn't suffer.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

BEHOLD, THE TRANSLAT-O-CAM

Well, fancy that. I've just had the most amazing thing happen.
"What's that?" I hear you all cry. (not cry as in tearful and upset, I meant cry like a town crier, only ssh, cos you'll wake the neighbours)
I was returning from the local weeny supermarket, when I looked up into the night sky. And guess what I saw. You'll never believe me. I mean, I wouldn't believe anybody that told me this. Well, I may believe some people, because some people are just very good at explaining things in a way which means virtually everybody believes them. (There's a song about that by a band called "The Wizards of Twiddley" I rather like it.) Some folk can just go on saying stuff, using all the best and most accurate terminology and descriptive powers, and still nobody would think that they were telling the truth. If they went on too long, most people would just get a bit bored.

When bored, all sorts of occupations will skip into the mind. They will send minute electrical charges merrily across the synapses in order to get one to do something.

Earlier, when I was bored, I cut all the words in my dictionary out. It took me bloody ages. I've been telling people I've been decorating, but that, my friends, has been a cunning cover story. Once they were all chopped like a wordy spag bol, I climbed up the nearest mountain (just next door as it happens) and threw them into the breeze. Just scattered them randomly. I had considered throwing them one by one, but I'm not an idiot, that would've taken me far too long and I really must get on with the decorating. (DOH!)

Anyhow, having thrown them, I hurriedly sprinted down the mountain to see where the wind had taken them and what might be written.

As if Casting the Runes, these words appeared before my extremely eyes. That's even more than my very eyes, which is quite a bit of eyes, but extremely eyes is noticeably more. If it had been in front of my totally eyes, or even even my wow man, far out dude eyes, I'm not sure if I'd have believed them. I can handle extremely eyes because , though that's, well, extreme, it's not as extreme as wow man far out dude eyes. I mean, what could be?
The words, to return to the point, were laid out as plain as the nose on my face. Actually, the nose on my face isn't terribly plain. I don't mean that in a 'oh, my nose is so gorgeous' sort of way, or the 'I wish my nose wasn't so unusual' sort of way. No, I mean it in the plain to see sort of way, like most people mean. Really, do you all think I'm so strange that I can't use normal expressions such as 'plain as the nose on my face'?

Hey, why don't I post a piccy of the nose on my face? Obviously, I couldn't post a piccy of the nose not on my face, cos it stays on my face on a permanent basis. If my nose was off my face, how would I smell? Like a dog in a German stand up comedy routine probably. But that's beside the point. Not beside the point of my nose. My nose isn't really pointy, it's kind of rounded, a fact with which you will probably concur when you see the photo.
This is me a couple of years ago, when I looked like a girl. If you look closely, you can see my nose. For those who are easily confused, my nose is on the left of my face as we see it here. It's not on the left of my face when you see it from the front. Then it's in the middle, even since the World Title bout, which I only narrowly lost to another bloke who looked like a girl. He was called Daphne, which is odd for a Tiddley Winks Champion.
Now I know what you're thinking. Well, not everything obviously. I'd have to be some kind of deity for that, which means that sooner or later I'd have to ban everybody from commenting on this blogsite. What you are thinking may be this.



Yes, that. But that's a daft thing to think, even when your on holiday in a swimsuit. I know this isn't you, but it's just a photo to illustrate a person thinking. I know, there are two people here, but only one of them would be thinking this thought. The other one is just a figment of the thinking one's imagination. Actually, that was a bit of a fib, there are two here really. You can tell that because cameras can't really pick up people's thoughts. It would be handy if they could, because I would just take a photo of myself in the mirror every time I lost concentration, and I'd be back on the right thread quite soon.

The original piccy of me up there was taken on the same beach as those two. I think they were both Russian, but it's hard to tell from their accents in a photo. Photos can't pick up accents or dialects either, or translate other languages to English. It would be good if they could, because then I could take a photo of people from eg. Russia and look at it to see exactly what they were saying to me, or even about me. They'd probably be saying;

"Why, English bloke, are taking you a the photos and us?" (I know, I know. It's a cheap camera, O.K.)

Of course, my Russian is non-existent from my mouth as well as to my ears, so I'd have to take a picture of me thinking or saying something and show it to them. Since it takes up to 7 days for my photos to get back from the developers, I expect they'd have forgotten what they'd asked me, and the conversation would go rather limp. That's probably the only reason the Translat-o-cam was never invented. Or the Thought-a-matic.

Anyway, since Daphne is a cheat, I'm going to appeal against the result. The least I feel I should get is a rematch.

However, the wind was fairly strong, so once I'd got to the bottom of the mountain, most of the short, and hence, lighter words had blown away. The best I could do to make sense of them all was ask a passer-by. As there weren't any passer's by, I ran around the corner to find one. Eventually I did, and he kindly followed me back to where the words were, despite the atypical nature of my request.

Upon asking him about the scattering words, he looked at me rather oddly. I asked him why he was looking at me rather oddly. Was it an unusual request to ask a total stranger to look at the ground to see if the chopped up words from my dictionary would spell out some sort of message? Most folk would comply wouldn't they, without a funny look? He said no, not at all. It's just that it's Wednesday which means he has to fulfill his New Year resolution to randomly present total strangers with a bizarre countenance. I looked at him strangely. He asked me if that was that my New Year resolution too? I said no, that sort of coincidence would be utterly ridiculous.

After careful consideration, he came to the conclusion that the only coherent message the words spelt out was "Go to the shops and buy a beer"

WWHOAH! That was really weird. Before I'd got bored, I had been wondering if I should just pop up to the shops and buy a beer. Sometimes the Universe is just irrefutably synchronized, isn't it?

That wasn't the weird thing that happened to me though. No, the weird thing was on the way back from the shops, I distinctly made out the shape of a spaceship traversing the Northern part of the sky. Oh, wait a minute. It's still there! Oh No, I'm wrong. It's just an eyelash.

Silly me, I've probably wasted quite a bit of your time, haven't I?