Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Halloween Heaven: Halloween is an American import, just like Budweiser beer, Marlboro cigarettes and 75% of what we watch on TV; but whereas the beer and ciggies are assets, I'm not so sure about the remaining liabilities? Once again, though, I must hark back to my youth, a time when Halloween didn't exist, at least, not in the UK.
It's a night when all the ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy-beasties and things that go bump in the night; along with witches on broomsticks flying through the sky, and Jack 'O' Lantern's gurneying wicked peg-toothed grins at us from darkened windows, are there to scare the pants off us.
Yeah, right!.
And it's the night when the neighbourhood kids, usually dressed as witches, or Dracula, or some other 'grotesque monster,' are on the streets to 'trick or treat.'
And with parent's guarding their children from being snatched by paedophiles by insisting they taxi them to school in broad daylight; suddenly, because it's Halloween, it's OK to let them roam the streets knocking on stranger's doors in complete darkness!
Sorry, it doesn't make sense. And on occasions when the kids get their 'treat,' how do we know they're not getting drugged treats, allowing some weirdo to harvest 3 or 4 kids at once; delivered on a plate to their front door courtesy of Halloween?
No, Halloween didn't exist in my youth, when the world, despite the odd bent vicar or scout master with a penchant for boys here and there, was a much better place than it is today. It's just a load of money-making hoo-hah, designed to fill the coffers of the local shops and businesses after the bucket and spade and ice cream sales have dropped off after the summer holidays.
It's also Mikkey Dee of Motorhead's Birthday, so Happy Birthday to The Best Drummer In The World!

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's A Good Job We're All Different: Much as the Buddah theory, in that our Heaven or Hell will be the image we leave behind of ourselves and our lives to those whom are still living, appeals and seems more logical; if indeed we do actually go to these places we are taught are Heaven, Hell and Purgatory; then Purgatory, for me, would be fishing.
The closest I will ever get to fishing at this time in my life will be ordering cod and chips at the Moorland Way chippie; anything further than that, like investing in a rod, reel, bait, waders, flies; whether they be man-made or real; hats, coats, gloves, umbrellas etecetera; well, you can leave me out.
Yes, I am in the minority, there are millions of men and women who look forward to and set off for a nice relaxing weekend angling. Indeed, mentioning female anglers, I watched a couple of idle minutes on the Documentary channel a while back, when my interest was taken simply because she was rather an attractive female angler. But the programme focussed on the apparent fact that when a female angler lets her line out from the reel; the scent from her skin goes with it; and the male angler's were moaning because they regarded this as an unfair advantage; as they believed the fish were attracted to those female pheremones, or whatever they're called, rather than those of the male; as the women caught more fish.
Fair comment, and nice as this female angler was, had she been standing there in the middle of the river stark naked rather than in the stereotypical waders, wax jacket and a hat with badges; fishing still wouldn't be an attraction.
You see, at school, I joined a crowd of the lads on a shoreline sea fishing day out with our woodwork teacher, Maurice Buck; a bearded and bespectacled jazz groover who tutored me in the building of an acoustic guitar at school; who organised a Saturday trip.
We went in the rugged old school bus, to Hengistbury Head, which is between Bournemouth and Christchurch. And it was a disaster from the outset when I dropped my flask, which I'd borrowed from Gran, anyway; full of hot tomato soup, only to hear the silver vacuumed inner go 'Pop' which meant no hot drinks for me, and it wasn't a good day for weather; overcast and chilly as it was.
None of us, even those who had been fishing before, caught anything; and frozen to the marrow as we became, 'Bucky' as he was known to us kids; told us to "gather up any wood on the beach, and we'll build a fire!" No sooner said than done, and it was heaven; and Terry Best found a muscle, which he cooked in the flames, shelled it, stuck it on his hook; cast out, and caught the only fish of the day.
When evening finally came, (it seemed to take forever), off we went in the bus, only to be dropped off at school where we collected our bikes from the cycle shed and rode home; where I arrived, cold, damp, and extremely miserable, as I had to apologise to Gran for dropping her Thermos.
So, if there is such a thing as Pergatory, then I feel sure that the Power's That Be will chose that day fishing to re-live over and over like a tape loop; as my pennance, and it may even be my idea of Hell, too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Times In The Classifieds: That copies of the 'Motorhead' Babylon book were on the shelf in a local music shop was one of the last things I told my Mum before she died in December 1981. The book caused a minor flutter in the local paper, too, where a photo accompanied a review and a write-up. Like Mum, Dad was proud enough to say; 'Well done my son, you have achieved something far greater than your Mother and I ever did; as we'll only be in the paper 3 times; in the Births, the Marriages and the Deaths.
But when Mum died, I cried buckets, but when Dad died 21 year's later I didn't and still haven't shed a tear. You see, he spent those years in deep regret; and he regretted not ever going food shopping at the supermarket with her, and not knowing how to use the cooker or washing machine, and a thousand other things he'd left her to do; but he had to learn.
But most of all he regretted the years 1939 to 1945, because he had spent them away from her fighting a war of which he said, 'hopefully, none of the future generations will have to waste their lives doing!' Most of all, though, he would dearly have loved to have had those 6 years given back; 6 years when they were both young, when she was beautiful and he was handsome, and they were both besotted with one another.
But unfortunately, time is like money, and once you've spent it you're never going to get it back. And the reason why I didn't and still haven't shed any tears for him, is because he spent those 21 years wishing he could die, just to be with her again; and when he went, I felt happy because finally he'd made it, and his life and death were now complete.
It is such a tragedy that history repeats itself, and our troops are still spending valuable weeks, months and years away from their families and loved ones; and many not coming home at all. One day, mankind will realise he must stop fighting what he regards as 'the enemy,' and start working together to fight for the survival of our planet; for 'the real enemy' is that we are running out of time to save it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Gold Dagger Crime Thriller Awards: were on ITV last evening, and were a joy to watch. With a great many handsome and beautiful TV and film stars sitting amongst the not quite so glamourous writers, I realised why I have written them in the past, and will do so again in the near future.
Inspector Morse writer, Colin Dexter is, of course, getting on a bit now, and had to help himself along with a walking stick; but his acceptance speech was the most humourous and best, probably because he couldn't say a quick 'thank you' to his agent, publisher and readers, and then scuttle away on the nimble feet the younger authors' have.
Julia McKenzie, the latest Miss Marple, was there to present an Award, but as many of you know, Joan Hickson will never be bettered as Jane Marple in my book. In fact, when Agatha Christie was still alive she met Hickson at an event, and told her "you would make an ideal Jane Marple;" and she was right; so whether McKenzie is up to the mark, we shall see.
Martina Cole was there and her books are most enjoyable, yet Harlen Coben, an American crime writer, won an Award, and his books aren't.
But the best writer to win was Lynda La Plante, who went off on one in a quite frantic diatribe saying something along the lines of: "Publisher's should by now realise the day of the 'big money' celebrity autobiography has passed, and we are now dragging the bottom of the barrel. A good many excellent crime writers' are being left by the wayside because of such books, and this should not be allowed to happen!"
Bravo! Lynda.
And as if to put her words to the test, AC/DC's Brian Johnson's book was in Asda, and for £20, well, the words were like those in a kid's book and it is ridicuolously thin, and I thought, blimey, he must have had a boring life! And I suppose he has, as the publisher probably did a cut-copy-paste from Wikipedia and then called it a day; and there isn't much about him on there, either.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Percy Thrower Would Turn In His Grave: A great many people, even here in wold Dorset, live in flats, apartments, or have small gardens and never need to look around the local nurseries. We are, of course, talking about the nurseries which sell plants, which are not Robert, trees and shrubs; not the creche variety which is all Farley's rusks, Gerber foods and Pamper's nappies.
No, these are grown in plastic pots and tubs, and have gardener's flocking there in their droves from Easter until Autumn; and are then closed until the following Spring.
Well, that's how it used to be. Nurseries these days, in an effort to keep their tills a ringing all the year around; are an absolute wonderland of Christmas trees, cards, indoor and outdoor lights, and all manner of other curiosities which, if you don't know they are there, then you're really missing out.
But rather like the pub's I was on a about a few days ago, these nurseries are also up to their own tricks with, at the very minimum, a Dorset cream tea, or a full 3-course meal. They also sell budget books and DVD's and quite expensive paintings, and oh yes, if you happen to go outside, the sell potted plants but not Robert, and shrubs and trees, too.
So if you're choosing your Hydrangea or your Prunus, you will also see Granddad with gravy dribbling down his chin after seeing what it's cost him to treat the family to a slap-up meal, when at the outset they'd just tagged along whilst he bought a couple of bags of horse manure to put around his roses for the Winter.
Just because it's dark, cold, raining or all three, don't drive past your local nursery, call in; but just make sure your flexible friend is armed and ready to be spanked.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Made it!: Congratulations to all the people born in the 1940's, 50's, 60's and 70's. As generations we have survived being born to Mother's who smoked, and / or imbibed alcohol when they were carrying us. They also didn't worry about what they ate, they took aspirin when they had a headache, and they were not tested for diabetes.
After the event, our cots were painted with lead-based paint, and there were no child-proof medicine bottle caps or doors to cupboards; if we tried it we got a smack.
Further on in life, we didn't wear cycle helmets, and both male and female could hitch-hike and get where we wanted to go, driven by a friendly lorry driver who chatted like a brother. In cars there were no seat belts or air bags, and riding in the back of a friend's van was a great deal of fun.
We shared drinks with friends and none of us died or were ill from any diseases, likewise; we drank from the garden hose rather than a bottle of 'mineral water,' and it didn't taste that much different. We ate cakes not worrying about any peanut-related additives, and white bread likewise, and we spread real butter on it, and for all we knew, cholesterol might have been a foreign country we missed in our geography classes.
We drank bottles of pop which had sugar in them, and perhaps even some 'E's,' but we didn't know what they were, and if they made us 'hyper-active' we were regarded as a pain in the neck, received a few slaps to the back of the legs and were sent to bed.
We played outside all day, had camp fires in the back garden, and were called in at tea time needing a good wash down, or of we were lucky, a bath.
We didn't have a mobile phone, so if we went out of the range of our parents' eye-sight, they simply trusted us and knew we would return home when we were hungry.
When we cut ourselves, no one ever thought of stitching the wound, a plaster cured everything, and if we broke bones we just had them repaired, no one ever sued.
We built go-carts, and hit our thumb with the hammer doing so, and then crashed it and re-built it again. We played with toy swords and sticks cut from the hedgerows, yet despite being told we'd poke our eyes out, no one did; and we ate worms and lived to tell the tale.
Our generations produced people who took risks, people who solved problems and people who became inventors because we were allowed to do things for ourselves. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and learned how to cope with them in equal measure.
Yes, we made it, simply by being allowed to grow up like normal children.

The above was on the Internet circuit, and it has a lot of good points.
At 83 years of age, Chuck Berry must be one of the eldest legends still on the gigging / concert hall circuit. Dates around the UK are listed on Everyone should see Chuck Berry live at least once in their life, so get a ticket now!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not On My Doorstep: Delivering publicity postcards around Upton during December 2008 for the 'When Upton Had Trains' book was quite an eye opener. And whilst I am one of the first to voice the opinion to any and all tradesman and / or representatives of the various gas, electricity, double glazing firms and the numerous religions that if I want it, then I'll find you; they don't seem to take the hint. But on my travels, some of the cards and plaques on display warning such folk away were rather amusing.
There are dozens with 'We Do Not Buy From Doorstep Sellers,' so many in fact that I began thinking that even my postcard would not be welcome, but come on; the book is about Upton, the place you live! And it doesn't mean you're expected to buy a copy, it's just to let you know it's out there if you happen to want it?
Books about Poole and the surrounding towns and villages have always been of interest, and lately, including my own, there seems to be a fair few on the market which do quite well for the accompanying nostalgia factor. But other than buying a copy of The Daily Echo every day, and presuming they have covered every local interest book that's ever been published; there are dozens of them out there which have flown beneath The Echo's radar. Perhaps it's a case of the author being too shy to send them a copy for review? Perhaps they didn't think their publication was worthy of appearing in the local paper? But The Echo can only review or feature books if they are sent in, so if they didn't get one, that's the main reason.
So, during the miles I walked around the roads, closes, lanes and drives of Upton delivering these cards, I trod ground which, despite my almost exclusive lifetime of living in Upton, I had never trodden before. This was quite something to do, and I enjoyed it a great deal as there are some people, most of my family included, who have never done so and probably never will; and I still have quite a few more miles to cover.
But the most amusing yet at the same time petrifying message I read through an opaque front door glass or porch window; pictured an Alsation's head with bolt upright ears and a lolling tongue, along with the blood-curdling legend: He can reach the gate in 6 seconds; how fast are you?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Credit Crunch Cure: Once upon a time, Securicor delivered money. Nowadays, Securicor deliver parcels. They were the victim of wages snatches and hijacks, and with the advent of the electronic age, a new 'cashless' method of having our wages paid came into play; and our money was magically transferred into our Bank account electronically, thus avoiding the robberies.
But this 'cashless' system, known as BACS, which is an acronym for Bankers' Automated Clearing Services,' also wanted paying. But so did Securicor in their day, so our boss thought he would avoid paying out quite so often. So we were cajoled away from our nice homely, snug, and manageable 52 pay days a year, to just 12; and monthly pay, despite our whinging and whining, became King.
But monthly pay has not only been our own personal undoing, it has also been the undoing of the UK and the rest of the world. And it was left unchecked, and it festered, and this credit crunch we are in is the ugly result.
You see, the human being could and did manage his money well through the 7 days we know as the working week, but give us a months' pay, and have it paid invisibly and cashless into our Bank account; and we spend the whole lot in just 14.
It didn't and still doesn't seem as if we are spending money any more; we are simply spending figures which appear on a Bank statement or an ATM screen; it's not cold, hard cash. We knew what we were doing with real money in our pocket, wallet or purse; but this invisible money doesn't, quite simply, add up in the same way.
Enter our flexible friend - the Credit Card; he's the chap who takes up the slack to pay for the other 14 days. Great! The Credit Card is there to cover our over-spend and to bridge that gap when we buy all the things we can't afford during that 'skint' fortnight of the month.
And it did!
But then, enough was enough.
And the world of finance crashed around the worlds' shoulders, and by necessity, has severely curbed our spending.
The only way out of the credit crunch is to go back to being paid weekly.
It makes sense.
We managed our money then, and if we wanted something we couldn't afford, we saved up for it! Yes, remember those old words from the dim and distant past; SAVING UP.
But the employers won't go back to the good old days of paying us weekly, because it will cost them more money, and hence, less profit. And anyway, they wouldn't do it on principle, because it would make us happy, and the bosses don't like it when they have a happy workforce, do they.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Death Of The English Pub: Despite the recession, we are still, apparently, quite well off. After bumping into some old friends, promises were made, and it was decided we would meet up again soon, and have a nice quiet chat in a pub.
No more thought was given to this until those friends emailed a week or so later, asking which pub it would be? Trying to think of a local where food isn't sold was an impossibility. It didn't seem as if there was even just the odd one that hadn't been turned into a restaurant; most of which usually have a packed out car park, and a queue waiting to go in.
So, have all the kitchen cookers in the country, grand as they are these days, stopped working; or are we just too bone idle to use them? Or is it the abundance of TV cooks making exotic cuisine who have killed off the charm of sausage and mash and the Great British Breakfast?
For the life of me, I could not think of one pub where four people can just walk in, sit down with a drink, and talk to one another. No! To do this today, we must first book a table, and then spend around £20 a head for a steering-wheel sized plate full of gastronomic delights from a menu created by a calorie junkie chef, whom the British Heart Foundation would arrest, lock up, and throw away the key.
And what about the dart boards? Where are they? Admittedly, the clientele woud be a bit miffed if a double-top hit the wire and ricocheted off their t-bone steak, but come on! There will be a distinct lack of up-and-coming darts players in the future, and no one to take part in the televised matches.
And wouldn't it be great if they televised some of those old matches from the 70's, when darts were sponsored by Embassy cigarettes. It was so much more fun then, with Bristow and Jockey battling it out with a pint on the table and a fag burning in the ash tray. What do you get now? They drink water, and have an advert break so that they can go outside for a ciggie!
Our public houses of old are fast dying out, dear readers; and a good many are already dead. Instead of those wonderfully atmospheric fragrances of stale cigarette smoke and rancid beer, we now have a country filled with clinically clean pub restaurants for the obese.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Stressmobile: Although it is strapped together with platinum wire, it takes the sternum a good few weeks to fuse back together after open heart surgery. Difficult to imagine, perhaps, but it's difficult / near on impossible to open a packet of crisps at that stage, and they recommend lifting no more than half a kettle full of water; and you can't drive.
All of these simple everyday things we do without thinking, and more, put pressure on the rib cage, and the in turn, the sternum, so after a few weeks of recuperation at home; you're invited to a rehab course. These consist of eight weekly 2 hour sessions doing gentle exercise just to aid mobility and get the muscles working again.
Of course, when you attend something like that, inevitably, someone leaves his or her mobile phone on, and believe it or not, it wasn't any of us rehab athletes. And this woman, who had one of those trendy ladies' business suits on, started patting her pockets as if she was on fire, and looked desperatley worried until she had located and answered her phone.
And irony is never very far away from any of us, and at the end of each session someone gave a talk. One, I remember, was about the local heart club, which we could join and go out with them on walks. That sounded a barrel of laughs, and we didn't need too much excitement, so I passed. Another was about travel insurance agents' who were sympathetic to post-op heart patients, and contrary to the many, didn't charge the earth.
But our talk on that particular day was about stress; and who would be the speaker? Right. The lady in the business suit. So she went through her patter, and then asked what we did to avoid stress? I said: "The same as you should do, ditch that mobile phone. You flustered like a chicken when a fox walks into a hen house. I avoid all of that stress, I don't use a mobile phone!"
Why do people panic so?
Why do they walk around in circles when they're talking on one?
Answers on a postcard, please.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pretty In Pink: We are Motorhead fans, are we not? And these days, when we can get all sorts of merchandise from shoe laces to plectrums, it's not much of an eyebrow raiser to know there's also a range of Motorhead baby clothes; and of course, they are in black.
Not pink or blue: Black!
Black was Gene Vincent, black was Elvis Presley, black is rock 'n' roll, black is Motorhead. When I was born, much like everyone else who's born male, Mum dressed me in blue. If I'd been a female, she would have dressed me in pink. During those early months of our lives, it's one of the few ways of displaying which sex we are. As we get older, and refinements come into play; like looks and hairstyle, it becomes more obvious whether we're a boy or a girl; so there's no need for anyone to guess.
But in the late 1990's, some idiot at one of these so called 'fashion houses' had a bright idea. Well, that's questionable, because I reckon it was a rather dim idea, myself. Suddenly, M & S, and the many other retail outlets like it, started selling men's shirts - in PINK!
And what makes it even worse, men are buying and wearing them!
Some men, if they can still be regarded as such, smile benignly and say: "Oh, but my wife bought it for me." Well, she might have, but if Mrs. B did so, she'd be taking it straight back for a refund on her next trip to town. Yes, his wife might have bought it for him, but why is he so spineless that he has to wear it? A male baby wouldn't wear pink, so why on earth should a male adult?
When on holiday in Thailand in 2004, and fed up with tailor's pestering me on the street to buy a suit at every opportnity, I met one half way when offered 10 made-to-measure shirts for £100. A bargain! But from the array of colours available, the tailor didn't offer to make one in pink, any more than I would have asked for it.
Yes, females can dress in pink. Yes, females can dress in blue. Females can dress in whatever they like; a suit, a Trilby hat; whatever. And despite all the hard luck stories women beat us blokes around the head with, in fashion, they have the pick of everything, and in general, they will look good in it.
So no, sorry, pink just isn't on the radar, and it never should be, for MEN.
The title of this blog today is from a song by The Psychedelic Furs, who Mrs. B quite liked in the 1980's, and as far as I can remember, they were singing about a female who looked pretty in pink.
The only pink us men should enjoy, is sinking it, as per the AC/DC song.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So Heavy Even Samson Couldn't Hold It: It has always been a problem. It is often the butt of a joke and creates a lot of laughter, but it also has one of the most offensive smells known to mankind.
In the days of sailing ships like schooner's and galleon's, which took their power into the sails from the stern of the ship, they were situated in the bow so that the breeze blew the smell away from the ship, rather than towards it.
In our own history, throwing it from the upstairs window into the gutter below helped cause The Plague; and if you happened to be walking underneath at the time, well...
From there it progressed to what was, and sometimes still is called The Privie. Situated in the garden or back yard, and either timber or brick built, the smell only abated when the contents of the bucket were buried beneath soil.
Now, and for a good many years, we have enjoyed the luxury of having one indoors, and any odours, by and large, are flushed away.
But not always.
Often, it lingers and can be unpleasant; but there is an answer.
"Mum, I want to do a poo, but I don't want to do it in Paul's bathroom!"
You've seen the advert, right. It makes me want to hit the mute button, and the Oriental boy in the previous ad for the same product was no better. Somehow, both of these ad's were and are not only extremely annoying, but cringeworthy, too.
But the product, a small aerosol housed in an aesthetic container which is stuck to the bathroom tiles, is then pushed, when required, to release a fragrance. But the problem is with bathroom fragrances like that is, they just smell like a fragrance which covers up the smell of s***, so anyone visiting knows that someone in the house probably feels a great deal better after having a darned good clearout!
And it is one of the main medical problems we have to endure, some take medication to stop going, and there's a pleasant little advert for that; whilst others imbibe those little pots of "friendy bacteria which speed up a slow transitory system;" and believe me, the words "speed up" were not chosen idly; so you need to make sure you're not far away from the loo after a couple of those.
Indeed, in hospital, whether the patient is permitted to go home or not often hinges on their bowel movements. Many years ago now, I was in a bed adjacent to an elderly man, and he couldn't wait to go home. "But they won't let me," he confided, "until I've been! They've tried suppositories pushed into that end, and pills and medicine poured down at this end, but I told 'em, all I need is a tin of prunes!"
Later that day, a nurse wheeled a commode in and parked it next to his bed, and pulled the curtains around. A few minutes later, the smell wafting around the Ward was powerful enough to peel paint, and most of us felt quite ill. A few minutes later, the curtain was pulled back again, and the commode swiftly removed. Sitting there in bed with a huge smile on his face, the elderly man looked across and gave me the thumb's up. "I've been," he said, quite joyously, "I kept telling 'em to give me some prunes, and they did, so now I can go home!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Of The Old Codgers: Have you noticed every single one of the more famous TV detective's, with the exception, perhaps, of 'Magnum PI' and Bodie and Doyle in 'The Professionals,' all dressed much the same? Whether it's 'Columbo' or Dan Matthews in 'Highway Patrol' (remember him? Broderick Crawford was his real name), or 'Frost' or 'Poirot,' they all had one thing in common; their dress sense.
And yes, upholder's of law and order must look smart and wear a suit, as it's what the public expect. But it's not so much a stereotypical trait, but more for the fact that due to their job they dress accordingly, as they never know what weather they're going to encounter. But this is also one of those 'generation gap' observations, so here we go.
Brought up to wear a waterproof coat or jacket when it rains, now I see kids walking or cycling to school wearing just a shirt and / or a jumper. Apparently, due to the era they were born in, they were blessed with an invisible umbrella, or perhaps a 'Star Trek' force-field, as it seems they don't need to wear waterproof clothing, because somehow the rain doesn't land on them. This is absolutely amazing, and like all of those TV detectives who wear a Macintosh, I too wish I had been born within that generation, because as it is, I just get soaked! Perhaps their genes were crossed with those of the duck, causing any water to quite simply roll off of their clothes? Or perhaps Mum has found a new washing powder which has much the same effect? Oh, she has, and it's called a car, but we've been there before on the school run, haven't we!
And the thing is, they're dressed much the same when it's freezing cold outside, too. Again, they don't need an overcoat as they seem to possess this in-built heating system similar to a log burning stove; or perhaps 'Ready Brek' really does do what it says it'll do on the packet? Central heating for kids, indeed! More's the pity the elder generation, who in some instances cannot afford to adequately heat their homes, don't eat it for breakfast, so perhaps Gordon Brown's Winter Heating Allowance this year will be 24 boxes of 'Ready Brek'?
But I often wonder, are these youngster's as hard as nails, or are they just the first idiots of the year to get the 'flu and then pass it on to all the sensible people who dress according to the weather? "This is England," my old man used to say, "and the weather changes so quickly, you need to take your wardrobe with you!"
I used to scoff and think he was silly, but the older I get, the more his words seem to ring true.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Terminal Tavern: It's not unlike a public house without the bar and the dart board, with people sitting around waiting for their name to be called, all living within less than a half-mile of one another but ignoring everyone else even though they have their locality in common. Despite its sound and vision being centred upon giving medical advice, the wall-mounted TV crushes any proposed conversation, anyway, as it does in any circumstance, turning even the most talkative person mute and ignorant. Everyone is there for a purpose, as their chemistry has gone awry and they need it fixed. On occasion, someone new will walk in, and knowing another patient, a conversation will spark up. Pretending to be disinterested, all ears now filter out the TV and listen in to the soap opera of someone elses' life unfolding before them like a chapter from a book they wouldn't have otherwise considered reading.
The funny thing is, you will notice, we are in our doctor's surgery waiting room, and this person who enters and sits down with this friend they haven't seen for ages, always starts the conversation with "Hello, how are you?"
"Well, ill, obviously, or I would't be sitting here, would I?"
But nevertheless, everyone else earholes in on what's being said, whether it's about an ailment or, more interestingly, a bit of local scandal. We thrive on scandal, don't we, that's why we like the soap operas, because we can live through someone elses scandal without any of the repurcussions.
But unfortunately, our doctor's treat us like our cars between MOT's, and if we're there to get our distributor cap replaced, he will replace it; but they never seem to check anything else unless we specifically ask them to.
There has been talk of an annual MOT for everyone, but in truth, the way the NHS is always 'stretched to the limits,' then it's a nice thought, but not even visible on the immediate horizon.
What a pity.
If it had been, they would have found out about my defective heart valve long before they actually did so. And it's not as if this is a problem because I didn't collapse in a heap and have the ambulance doing a 'red-and-blue' to rush me in; I went of my own accord.
But if they'd had this MOT in 1981 and before, my Mum wouldn't have had three of her heart valves go at the same time, from which she died a week later at the fairly young age of 60, the fault would have been found long before. And it wouldn't have taken feeling under-the-weather for 5 months after an essential Yellow Fever jab taken for a trip to Kenya for them to find out I had inherited, thankfully, only one of her dodgy hearty valves, and then had go through the rigermarole of getting a mechnical replacement, with a Pacemaker as the star prize in the Ward raffle.
As I said in a Blog a few years ago now, do as the Chinese do, and keep an eye on the health of your tongue, as it is an excellent indicator of how your heart is doing. A year or so before my op, and quite by accident as I was having accapuncture for sciattica, as a matter of course the Chinese doctor's give a health check. And when she saw my tongue, Doctor Xin's eyes bulged and her mouth dropped open and she gasped: "Oh my goodness, it's purple!"
And indeed it was.
But her ethics may not have permitted her to say "That's not right, go and see your doctor as soon as possible."
So I didn't, despite the fact that every night when my head hit the pillow, I could hear my heart pumping away, and it sounded as if the wheels had fallen off.
So the moral of the story is, if there has been a heart problem in your family, get everyone checked over. Never keen on going to see the doctor, I was a reluctant patient, and I should, after hearing my irregular heart beat night after night, gone to see him much earlier. And it was only by sheer circumstance that I did so, yet if I had ignored it, I would have booked in to The Terminal Tavern for quite a long stay.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friendly Fire: It is without doubt an immense tragedy that we are seeing our deceased and disabled soldiers arriving home on a Hercules transporter aircraft almost on a daily basis. And it doesn't alter the tragic facts, statistics, and broken-hearted relatives opinions when the Police arrest and imprison terrorists who were planning to wreak havoc here in the UK; but it helps, because they were caught before the act rather than after.
We are living in tragic times, and even in Afghanistan and Iraq it's not a war as war used to be fought, in the trenches shooting at each other and as hand-to-hand combat. No! It's a war of cowardice, of booby traps, and of car bombs. Fighting the enemy, if indeed it can be called that, is about as crude as dropping a silent but smelly fart in a crowd and walking away to watch and laugh at the consequences from a safe distance; only the results are devastating rather than humourous.
And much like Northern Ireland in its day, they don't want us there, they want to be left to sort out their own problems. They don't want the British, or any other peace-keeping troops interfering; and it's only Politics why our boys have to be sent, with Gordon Brown taking the 'British Bulldog' / Winston Churchill stance and sending them because it's "the British way," and "the right thing to do!" Yet France, amongst others, won't send anyone, which brings with it the zero-body-bag / casualty effect; so are we really "doing the right thing" by sticking our noses in where they are quite clearly not welcomed?
And what's this "friendy fire"? It seems as if every war since gunpowder was invented has suffered casualties from "friendly fire." In real terms, what they meant to say was they made an enormous cock-up, mistook their own troops for the enemy, and either shot or shelled them.
I cannot feel sorry enough for the parent's and relatives of our troops whom have been killed by "friendly fire." What on earth was "friendly" about it when our own soldiers were killed by their colleagues ammunition?
All we can hope for is some form of recompence in that "the enemy" also suffers from some "friendly fire" casualties, too. But there again, with the mentality of a suicide bomber, I don't expect they'd care!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Something For The Weekend?: There was no such thing as a hairstyle for the post-war generation of male youths; or the older men for that matter. The only style a barber knew was the short-back-and-sides which they had been taught, if indeed it had required teaching; in the Armed Forces. So when you had your hair cut, it was no good sitting in the chair and telling the barber how you wanted it, because he just cut it the only way he knew how, and that was that.
Here, in Upton, we had a barber whom the kid's of the locality had named 'The Major,' who had cut our hair from his shop in Moorland Way, probably since he'd been de-mobbed. Once he'd done the business, which took all of two minutes flat, our head would be shaven to the skin around the sides and back, leaving a huge mop of hair, literally untouched, on the top. Now and again he'd thin it out or cut it back a bit, but by-and-large it looked something akin to a hedge that had gone awry, or perhaps a bird's nest. As a treat, The Major had two bottles of 'Bay Rum,' which he would shake fairly liberally onto our hair, and massage it into the scalp. Depending upon his mood, before doing so, he would either say; "I'll put on some 'Davy Crockett'" for you, or "I'll put on some 'Robin Hood.'" The bottles were unlabelled anwyay, so whatever you had, it didn't really matter.
And when a neighbourhood friend noticed the hatchet job you'd had on your locks, he would ask which one The Major had chosen for you? And depending upon which one he had told you he had dispensed, it was regarded as something of a status symbol, because The Major had chosen it. And of course, Fess Parker's portrayal of Davy Crockett was far more manly than Richard Greene's portrayal of Robin Hood; so if you got the 'Davy' you were regarded as being favoured by The Major in a way not unlike being blessed by The Pope. And besides those two, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, and The Lone Ranger and Tonto were the only other televised childhood heroes we had.
Now and again, we would be waiting for a haircut and The Major would be cutting a man's hair. And when he had finished and dusted the chap down, The Major would ask: "Will there be something Sir will be needing for the weekend?" If the chap said there was, or nodded, both he and The Major would enact this clandestine handshake, during which The Major would pass a packet of 3 condoms from his hand to the customer's; who would briskly pocket them. At that time, the 3 condoms cost half-a-crown, or two shillings and sixpence, 2/6d, or 12.5 of todays p; and it would be added to the price of the haircut, of course.
That was the way it happened, in that very descreet manner, yet today condoms are on sale and right in front of the till in every chemists shop, in most supermarkets, in every pub and bar toilet on the planet; and no doubt EBay as well.
One of my favourite punk-era bands were Radio Stars, who have a rather good compilation CD out, titled, funnily enough, 'Something For The Weekend,' which was perhaps chosen in due reverence to this largely forgotten question, because the last place we would find a 'packet of Johnnies' as they were known then, today, is in a hairdressers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When Conkers Were Currency: Red Indians' used Wampum beads, made from whelk and / or clam shells. Other civilisations used the exchange and bartering of goods; and then it was decided that a common currency seemed like a much better idea.
But school kids, or at least we did when we used to go, still tended to use the exchange and bartering method, probably because we didn't have any money. So a rare or "I only need that one for the complete set" tea or cigarette card might have changed hands for half a dozen Bell Boy bubble gums, or perhaps twenty Fruit Salads or Black Jacks.
So the school playground was a place where those early methods of two people striking a bargain and exchanging items for a mutually agreed price, with no actual money changing hands, still happened.
Then, during the Autumn months of late September to early October; the schoolboy currency changed, and patient souls would wait for them to drop when Mother Nature so decreed they would, or impatient hooligans who didn't want to would throw sticks up into the trees to get - their conkers.
And inside that hard, spikey case, which looks something like a close relation of the wartime sea-going mine, those beautifully polished brown skins would be protected; until we opened them up to drill a hole and poke an old shoelace through them, and then beat them to death in an extremely hostile playtime game.
What a thoroughly rotten fate!
And the schoolboy does it with such glee and relish, doesn't he!
But the name 'conkers' seems to have been derived from the game itself, where the winner is 'the conqueror' who shatters his opponent's horse chestnut tree seed, which is, after all, what they really are.
But in these more recent years in which Law suits have become beyond ridiculous, schools have tried banning conkers by saying the kids might get a nut allergy, or that safety goggles should be worn during play. Thankfully, this spoil-sport stupidity has not prevailed, but for a few brief Autumnal weeks, conkers were not only for playing the game, but also for playground trading; and a lad could be King, as long as he had plenty of conkers in the Bank.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Truth, We're Ozone Hostile: Those graphic images on the News showing the polar ice caps melting might as well be film of an ice cream thawing out as far as the inhabitants of this planet are concerned.
We pay lip-service and nod our heads in all the right places, or so we think, but in all honesty, we don't give a fig.
Yes, we separate the tins, bottles and newspapers and walk the plastic bottles to the relevant skip provided; but it's not enough.
A few days ago, they told us our gas and leccy bills would be going up astranomically in the next ten years, as they need the revenue to spend more on making their products more ozone friendly. Worldwide industry either won't or are reluctant to cut back on emissions as this will cause (more) unemployment, but there are other steps the NIMBY's can take.
The 'School Run' is a complete joke, when will we stop wiping their bottoms and let them do something on their own? But if the Government banned the school run to help combat our constantly depleting ozone layer, parents would be up-in-arms: "Oh, but my child / children might get kidnapped and molested or murdered by a paedophile!" Not if there's a decent enough bus service, (which, by the way, there has been ever since they invented the bus); and anyway, most kids walk to school and spend their bus fare on cigarettes, just like we did in our day!
But there are numerous other ways to help save Planet Earth. Ban fireworks completely. Ban bonfires. Ban these 'log-burning-stoves' which have suddenly become trendy but cough out clouds of choking smoke anyway, and likewise their cousins, those horrible little chimenea things which have sprung up like mushrooms at every blasted garden centre in the UK! Jail people for life who deliberately set heath fires. And when we had the foot-and-mouth epidemic, was there really no other way to kill the virus other than burning the carcasses on a bed of coal?
And China may well be enjoying rapid industrial development, but their smog and pollution levels have caused 1,750,000 premature deaths; so they are not only the forerunners in mass self-genocide, but also in killing our planet faster than any other race. Forbes magazine went all the way in proving this point in 2006, by reporting that all ten of the most polluted cities in the world - are in China!
We are not doing enough as a planet.
And we are not thinking far enough ahead.
We are being too selfish, because our Governments like us to live and enjoy the dream they promised in their Manifesto. But in 150 years time our offspring will be spitting on our graves for being far too slow off the mark; and they will be right in doing so, and the guilt ought to be hurting us like a pinched shoe already.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Books A Penny A Piece: I'm not quite sure if an author should be flattered or offended when their books appear in Amazon's 'New & Used' section for 1 penny?
On the positive side, those writer's familiar to me who have quite a number of 'penny listings,' like Jeremy Clarkson, Dan Brown, Stephen King and Julie Burchill, sold their books, originally, in their millions. So it would be flattering with regard to the size of their Royalty cheques on those tremendous sales figures, but offensive in that their literary output seems to be no more than a collection of 'read 'em and dump 'em' books, rather than those which are kept and saved as treasured items on the owner's bookshelf.
And I think it would be that last comment which would disappoint me. As a life-long collector of loads of different things from matchbox labels to Motorhead records, if a book has a charm or readability aspect which I like; I will probably make it something of a passion to track down and buy everything I can find by that particular author. This I have done with our good friend, Mick Farren, although not exclusively with his non-fiction. You see, Mick has been a clever writer, and over the years he has written quite a few of what are called in the trade, 'bread and butter' books. And titles like 'The Rolling Stones In Their Own Words,' 'Elvis And The Colonel' and 'The Hitch-hiker's Guide To Elvis' just keep on selling, and likewise, the Royalty cheques keep on dropping through the letter box; but they're not really my cup of tea; yet Elvis and Stones fans just snap them up.
Some of Mick's non-fiction, though, I have collected, like 'The Black Leather Jacket' (every MHB should own that one!) and 'Gene Vincent - There's One In Every Town,' amongst others, which are excellent.
But Mick is also the victim of being another 'penny listings' author, and some of his mass-market sci-fi paperbacks on the American market are listed as such. But, conversely, his 1975 'The Tale of Willy's Rats' paperback goes for, (when there is one on the market, which isn't often), around £100, even in fairly tatty condition.
But the biggest bugbear shared by authors and musicians alike is the fact that they only get a Royalty on the first sale of the book or record, but never on any subsequent sales. So the used book or record market can buy and sell a hundred times and for whatever price they wish, and neither the writer nor musician get a bean; whether it's sold for a penny or £1,000.
And although the percentage on a penny book sale would be so insignificant as not to matter, the seller has won some extra space on their bookshelf in a highly competitive marketplace, and usually made at least well over a quid when the change from the £2-50 postage charge is ringing in their till.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Log On To and select the 'Latest News' drop-down for the You Tube clip of Motorhead playing 'Iron Fist' on the Jimmy Kimmel Live American talk show, broadcast October 10th.

Also, there's a brand new clip beneath it which Lemmy has filmed as a promo trailer for the re-release of the 1990 'Hardware' sci-fi movie, in which he played the part of a river boat taxi driver, which is due out with loads of 'extras' on October 13th.
The Only Ones Who Squint: Yes, I know, but we're not talking about the Punk era song 'Turning Japanese' by The Vapours, a song which was believed to euphemistically refer to the expression on a male's face when masturbating; which was strongly denied by songwriter, Dave Fenton.
No, we're talking more about the Mulder and Scully sort of squinting, but as far as I can remember, squinting hasn't been featured in an X-Files episode or film.
Now and again, when I get the opportunity to scan the 'Documentary' listings, there are titles like 'UFO Watch' or something similar, and I tend to have a look. Once again refering back to when we were born, the space-race was of immense interest as 'we were there' when the first astronaut orbitted the Earth, the first pictures of the Moon appeared on TV, and so on. So more by luck than judgement, and perhaps the 'Bournemouth Belle' not pulling out on time; we were born within a tremendously historic era; The Space Race.
Whilst today's youngsters mope around and are constantly gibbering about 'being bored,' my generation, well, me, anyway; bought a Daily Telegraph 'The Sky At Night' map, unfolded it across the roof of one of the garden's chicken houses, and spent hours scanning the heavens with a small telescope. So, other than on an evening when it was raining or clouded over, I / we could never 'get bored' watching this miracle of the heaven's above us, and unlike today's generation, if someone mentioned 'Mars,' 'Galaxy' or 'The Milky Way, we didn't immediately think of a chocolate bar!
But this 'UFO Watch' or whatever it was called caught my attention, and they were talking about the theory many of us have that we are 'A Failed Race' brought / dumped here by the alien beings who created us whilst they went on to create a better one; but without the numerous flaws we have, like our organs canabalising themselves, which we call cancer; hearts, kidneys and livers wearing out etc, and all the other illnesses and diseases which our otherwise excellently designed bodies tend to cope with.
And this chap was on the programme talking about the proof that we did originate elsewhere in the galaxy, because we are the only beings on Earth who squint in the Sun! And when you think about this, it is absolutely true. And he reckoned the reason why we squint is due to the fact that we originated, or were designed to cope with the dimmer light from the Sun on a planet much further away in the Solar System; or, indeed, in another Solar System in a Galaxy elsewhere; whereas all the other animals and wildlife on this planet, because they are the true natives, Do Not Squint at all.
Just think about it, the theory isn't quite as daft as it may first sound!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is A Dictionary A Dictionary?: Well, we believe they are when we buy them, even though it isn't that often. Most of us don't own one, or if we do, it's an antequated family heirloom which is so out of date it doesn't have the word 'nuclear' listed; never mind 'overkill.'
And they do go out of date, moreso in these recent years when words like 'Quidditch' and 'Blogger' have entered our vocabulary from Harry Potter books, and the jargon-heavy Internet.
Yes, I know a dictionary is now attached to one of our Word documents menus, and often, also a Thesaurus; so by and large the dictionary as a book has largely become redundant, other than for the crossword fanatics of this world, of whom there are many.
But a couple of years ago, Mrs. B bought me a new Dictionary, and a Dictionary and Thesaurus. The dictionary is by the well reputed publisher, Collins, and cost her 50 pence. A bargain. But it seems to me as if there are 'Bargain' dictionaries which are cheap, and 'Not Bargain' dictionaries, which are...expensive; and there is a difference!
This bargain dictionary which Mrs. B kindly bought me to replace an older and tattier one, is now called 'The Magic Dictionary,' just as the Geddes & Grosset Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus also shares the same title with 'Magic' added.
Now, Mrs. B, who has known me since 1971, has always been pretty sure that I am a bit of a lunatic, and this pair of books confirmed that notion 100% when I told her, on numerous occasions, that every word I need to look up is never there. It's as if these two books are of a similar ilk to the 'own brand' products our supermarkets have on sale, where we pay the going rate for a packet of cheese and onion crisps which taste of cheese and onion, or next to nothing for a packet where the crisps were allowed to rattle along the same conveyor belt but no flavour was added; so they just have the faintest whiff of cheese and onion.
Of course, this doesn't happen 100% of the time, or the books would be filled with blank pages, (or we'd just have plain crisps), but believe me, it does happen, I am not imagining it, and it is infuriating! It's as if there's a goblin or gremlin or something similar here in the room, and when I pick up either book, he 'magics' the word I'm after right off the page. But no, it proved to be far simpler and more logical than that.
The two books Mrs. B bought me seem to be 'edited' editions for children, with any too complex or profane words removed; which is probably why they were a bargain, because whoever would want a dictionary like that; other than The Pope? Even the kids want to see all of the words in our marvellous English language, they don't want to be censored!
So there we are, problem solved...or is it?
Just so that Mrs. B knows when another 'bargain' dictionary or thesaurus enters her line of vision, wouldn't it be nice if they added 'Edited for Children,' or 'The Real McCoy For Big Boy's!' so that we knew what we were buying. It's a pity, because she thought she was doing me a favour, but it seems as if our dictionary manufacturer's are under the impression that Enid Blyton's 'perfect world for children' still exists.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A God Amongst Mere Mortals: We've all had those irritating phone calls, haven't we?
"Hello. Our team is working in your area at the moment, and we would like to fit a brand new kitchen for you, and it'll cost you absolutely nothing."
"Yeah, right. Nothing in life is free!"
"Oh, but this is. All you have to do is let us take 'before' and 'after' photos for our catalogue..."
"Yeah, right (again), but you haven't even seen my kitchen!"
How do they know I haven't just finished fitting a brand new, state-of-the-art kitchen, yesterday, and they're insulting me by suggesting I need a new one?
Or, that it's an absolute tip and they don't know what they're letting themselves in for?
And the other absolute diamond is double glazing.
"No! Absolutely not! I've got all the double glazing I need, thank you."
"Yes." (A fib to get rid of this idiot).
"Front and back doors?"
"Just had them replaced, thanks." (True)
"Yes." (Another fib, but they're OK).
"But have they got the black fitting strips keeping the glass in?"
"Yes." (Also true).
"Ah, but they're out of date now, and they're not burglar proof!"
"Oh, go away!"
All of these people, no matter how they try and disguise it, are after our money, because if I've had the calls that means you've already had them, or will do soon.
And we're ex-directory!
But rarely, if ever, do we get a genuine phone call saving us money.
Until now.
It didn't happen when they were called Cable & Wireless, or Nynex, or any of the other names it had as it was bought out time after dreary time; until it was bought by Virgin.
And didn't we know that if there was going to be anyone who would ring us up with an honest offer to save us money, it would be Richard Branson.
Well, Richard Branson didn't ring me up personally; it was a Scotsman, and to begin with I though, "Oh, no, here we go again!"
But he was honest, and he was genuine.
This wee Scot's fella gave, yes gave me faster broadband for the same as I'm paying now. And he sent me a new modem and power pack within 2 working days.
Also, he offered a package for our local calls of £7-95 a month all-in, saving in the region of £8 to £10 a month. It also included this 59 minute thing, where we can talk for 59 minutes, put the phone down, re-dial, and talk again for another 59 minutes, and so on. That option is of absolutely no use to us chaps whatsoever, but for our female partner's ringing the mother-in-law, the daughter or daughter-in-law; then it's absolutely marvellous, because I no longer have to stand there tutting and making signals to get her to put the phone down whilst dreading the awful bill she's running up!
So, thank you, Richard Branson, you are a god amongst us mere mortals. Roll on the day you take over the Lottery, then we might actually win something.
All this and more from a fellow hippie from my generation, who opened a record shop in the mid-60's and created an incredible, world-wide empire from those humble beginnings. Amazing!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Wiser Than Morecambe: Watching 'Live At The Apollo' and then a Johnny Vegas sit-com set in a holiday location in Spain or wherever, it strikes me that these 'new' comedians are great, and they're a really good laugh. Lee Evans is also favourite, and has me in tears when he's cracking jokes about wives, family, and bodily functions; which we can all relate to, yet some of the other stuff barely raises a smile.
Perhaps it's a 'generation' gap situation again, where us older chaps have seen and enjoyed far too many of the 'greats' like Tommy Cooper and Morecambe and Wise; yet they are 'boring old farts' to the youngsters?
Repeats on TV are also going for the older comedy, like 'Steptoe & Son,' 'As Time Goes By,' 'Only Fools and Horses' (for the millionth time), and 'The Royle Family' and suchlike, because those programmes are still really funny. But other than 'Mock The Week' and the numerous other comedy shows there are on 'Dave,' all the other channels seem to be choked up with Crime, glorifying famous murderer's like Fred West and Dr. Shipman; and Police chase videos.
But it's laughter we need in these recessionary times, something to lift our spirits when we cannot afford to do so quite as often when they are a cheerful amber liquid in a glass; and right now it doesn't really matter who's dishing it out; because laughter really is the best medicine for curing our problems.
Morecambe and Wise 'Kitchen' sketch has been voted 'The Funniest Sketch of All Time,' and alongside The Two Ronnies 'Four Candles,' or is it 'Fork Handles,' they are indeed classics. But every time I hear an emergency vehicle chasing deown the road with the sirens blaring, I can't help but chuckle over the very same situation in another Morecambe and Wise sketch where Eric hears the siren and says: "He'll never sell any ice creams going at that speed!"
Bloatermog Text Speak: l o m8 hw r ya duin? r u ok? i 1dered az u havnt bn rnd l8ly. i w8ted fr u b4 i skrwd yr grlfrnd it wz gr8 thr4 we did it agn. lol. Iz tht y u hvnt bn rnd?

the txtng yngr genratn thnk thr clvr bt th who strtd this in 1970 wth thr lve at leeds lp by wrtng 'yr n ld cnt' on the recrd lbl.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Wakey-Wakey!: Have you noticed sometimes when you're watching the telly the DVD they're playing the programme from 'sticks' and the picture freezes on the screen? It didn't happen with the old VHS tapes, did it? No, they just stretched, snapped, or the quality became worse; but they rarely stopped the show.
But one can imagine somewhere at Sky Central, a crowd of people sitting around their own individual TV master-screens, one for each channel, who are paid to make sure this doesn't happen. It must be very boring, or perhaps not, depending on the programme? But obviously some of them must fall asleep, or be outside having a fag break from time to time when they do 'stick.'
Probably because it's my weekday early evening pleasure, but I have noticed that the 'X-Files' gets its fair share of these 'sticks,' and by the time someone at Sky Central has noticed it and they have given the person who's supposed to be watching it a prod to rouse them from slumber, or called him or her in from their fag break and they run in and bash the machine to get it 'un-stuck,' we have missed an important part of the plot.
And if you think a prod, a call or a bash are uncivilised, well, no they aren't, so read on.
Many years ago in the early 1970's when I was courting Mrs. B and she was a Miss, I would often drive her during the Winter months to the Tivoli Theatre in nearby Wimborne for 'The Sunday Horror Double Bill.' This would generally be a Hammer Horror film, plus a lesser-known and usually crap B-movie, but she likes those anyway, and now and again the main feature would be something like 'Witchfinder General,' or Oliver Reed in 'The Devils;' and we would usually sit upstairs in those double seats which were specifically designed for courting couples and / or young lovers.
You're supposed to say "Aahhhhh, isn't that sweet," there, by the way.
In those days there was no DVD to 'stick,' but there was a similar problem which we had to endure on the odd occasion, when the quite brittle celluloid film would break. It would just 'snap' as it went through the projector mechanism, but unlike the 'stuck' frozen-framed picture we get on our TV today, the cinema screen just went white from the light of the projector bulb.
Our world was also at that point in our social history when it was 'normal' to smoke in the cinema, and anywhere else come to that, rather than the crime / bordering upon high treason it has become today. And the local rocker's / biker's / greaser's who also enjoyed "a good-old slash-'em and bash-'em" film would be upstairs with their leather-clad and mini-skirted biker chicks, and they would flick their fag ends and sail them over the balcony into the downstairs arena, whilst jeering loudly as a roaring vocalisation of their displeasure at this temporary halt in the evening's entertainment.
Barbaric as this may sound, 'The Sunday Horror Double Bill' or whatever they called it was minimally attended, and most of the patronage watched the film from upstairs anyway, so no harm was done. Of course, the cinema projectionist, who wouldn't have been asleep or outside on a fag break, would be furiously repairing the film to enable the show to continue; and it was all part of a Sunday evening's entertainment in rural Wimborne town.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Motorblog A Great Lemmy Interview: You may have seen this as it's on the site under 'Latest News' within the entries for September 11th. Click the to watch it.

Motorhead are also appearing on the 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' late night talk show on October 8th, though outside America will have to watch it as and when it gets a You Tube upload.
Bloatermog Nice Day For A White Wedding: Mentioning our Wedding yesterday reminded me about the Honeymoon. It was a week in London, at a small hotel on the left-hand side of Russell Square. It had been booked by sending a cheque through the post, as any other method of paying for it, like the zillions of credit cards we have today, didn't exist in 1973. Indeed, the post was new at the time, and only ten years before that it was sent with a rider on a horse; well, almost. Travelling there by train, as there were precious few or no Motorways then, either, and driving directions were from one pub, or other landmark, to the next; and it was all very basic, and generally needing good to excellent map reading skills. And flying abroad was also a much more complicated affair than it is today, so by and large, people didn't. But eventually we arrived, and took a taxi from Waterloo to Russell Square.
The landlady greeted us, we signed in, a chap took our cases to the room; and the landlady called me to one side. "You were probably nervous about the Wedding," she smiled, as she slid my cheque across the counter, "but you forgot to sign this."
Oh, silly me.
And she was right, about not signing it, that is, not the nerves; so I apologised and duly scribbled upon it, and commented on how nice it was that she hadn't cancelled the booking.
Recently, whilst turning out a wardrobe to find something else, I happened to find our Wedding Photo's album. Amongst a few other things inside the box there was an exercise book, where I had written notes about the places we had been to during the day, and where and what we had eaten.
The writer was in me even then, as this exercise book went to prove, and we had visited typically 'tourist' places like Regents Park Zoo and Trafalgar Square, and forever the rock 'n' roller, we had also gone to find the Polydor and Track Records offices, just because I wanted to see what they looked like?
But one of the strangest and amazing things happened when we packed our cases and left to go home. The Russell Court Hotel took up the whole of the frontage of Russell Square; a massive hotel, and one which we most certainly couldn't have afforded to stay in. There was a green opposite the hotel, and we stood on the pavement and began hailing taxi's. But every one of them went straight past, even though they were empty! Then, (the very new) Mrs. B noticed the taxi's were picking up fares from the Russell Court, because they knew they would get a better tip from them than us; lowly beggars as we appeared in comparison to the clientele there.
So I picked up the cases, and we traipsed along the pavements until we reached the other side of The Russell Court Hotel, and managed to get one to stop for us, at a time when a taxi happened to drive past but there were no prospective 'big tip' fares waiting.
What a cheek, eh?
And I bet the same thing happens today.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Fine Romance: Those close to me will know by now that when romance was dished out, I was right at the back of the queue. Mrs. B, of course, would be the first to agree, especially when Valentine's Day arrives.
For me, Valentine's Day stopped the minute I said "I do" at the Alter in Lytchett Minster Parish Church in December 1973. After all, if a Valentine's Day card did happen to drop through the letter box after that date, it would stir up an almighty rumpus with unimagineable consequences.
So far, none have.
Thank goodness.
But women seem to expect us chaps to buy them a card and a red rose on Valentine's Day, and even though they know we have sent it / given it to them, I suppose it "makes them feel wanted." Yes, I've been in the shops and looked at the cards and the roses which go for about £2-50 each, and for a fiver, I suppose I ought to do it just to keep Mrs. B happy.
But "it's the thought that counts," she tells me, and not that I'm tight, but a fiver is a fiver, and I'd rather she bought 'whatever' for that five quid rather than spend it on a card and a rose, which will end up in the waste bin, anyway.
"The most unromantic man in the world," she has called me, more than once. But 2 or 3 years ago now, the cards and roses hit everyone for six as they walked into our local village Co-Op; such was the fine and massive array. 'Mmm. Perhaps I should?' I thought, 'It would save a lot of hassle."
But I didn't.
Instead, I bought the stamps I needed, and The Daily Echo, and started walking home. But in the Community Centre / Church car park, I noticed a couple of scratched-off scratch cards thrown on the ground, and an idea was born.
So I went back to the shop and bought Mrs. B £5 worth of £1,000 top prize scratch cards, thinking 'the lower the top prize, the more chance there is to win.'
Arriving home, I presented them to her. "Happy Valentine's Day, dear," and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Now, Mrs. B likes winning things, and after getting over the shock of such a gift for Valentine's Day, (after all, it was unusual), she quickly scratched them off to find...she had won £12!
I can tell you, the effect was oh so much better than any a measly old Valentine's Day card with a smarmy Barbara Cartland style verse inside could ever produce. And Mrs B smiled one of the best smiles she has ever smiled, and it felt so good.
I haven't repeated this since, neither have I bought her a card and a rose. Instead, Mr. Unromantic just gives her a kiss on the cheek and says, "Listen to the words of The Beach Boys 'God Only Knows' song; because that will say everything that needs to be said.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Bloatermog The Mystical Sixties: Watched a 2 hour documentary on 60's folkie, Donovan, on Sky Arts; an absolute joy, 2 hours without any commercial breaks! It was from his 'Sunshine Superman: The Journey of Donovan' DVD, which is a 2 disc 3 hour set.
His songs were quite a big part of the background music of the Sixties, of course, and many were in the Charts, so no one from those times could fail in at least knowing he was around. But it was not the kind of music most of us chaps in the 'Progressive Rock Fraternity' would have bought, but some of it is rather good; retrospectively.
But after a few hits with 'Catch The Wind,' 'Universal Soldier,' 'Colours,' etc; Donovan opened up to songs with more than just an acoustic guitar and harmonica backing, when he started making records with Pop svengali / guru and record producer, Mickey Most, and these caused the rock fans ears to prick up.
'Hurdy-Gurdy Man' was released first in 1968, and we were freaked out not only by the track as a whole, but also at the wild guitar solo during the middle-eight. In later years, and as Donovan tells us on this DVD, we found out that the musicians playing behind him were three-quarters of Led Zeppelin, as John Bonham, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. At the time, it was tantamount to the death penalty if such names were disclosed due to contracts and suchlike, but in 1968, Jimmy Page would have been the only 'name' we knew from his Yardbird's fame, as Led Zeppelin were yet be born.
'Barabajagal' or 'Goo-Goo Barbajagal' was released in 1969, and again, we wondered who the guitarist was? And Mickey Most was clever in using other bands in his 'stable' on fellow artistes songs, and in this case it was The Jeff Beck Group backing Donovan; but yet again, the public could guess, but would not be told the truth due to this then ridiculous record company / management protocol. Now, most of those barriers have been broken down, and as long as credit is given to the artiste and a Royalty where necessary, it virtually happens all the time.
Donovan also wrote 'The Season Of The Witch' song, which band's tend to use as a starting point to jam on, and Sam Gopal's 'Escalator' album included it, as sung by Lemmy Kilmister.
But Donovan was also talking about the Sixties as a period in time which many of today's young people look back upon as a mystical and magical time in history; rather like Tir-Na-Nog, Shangri-La, and Atlantis. And that seems to be true, because it was a time of discovery when everyone had so much to live for, that we didn't want to die. And we wanted to change the world, and after two World Wars we believed we could, with our anthems of love and peace. Yet today, all of those hopes, dreams and ideals no longer exist, because the youth of today have everything they need, with nothing left to fight for. He likened the Sixties to something strange and mystical to these young people, who are now looking to the time period for an understanding of what it was all about?
And yes, it was a magical time, but perhaps what also makes it so interesting to the youngsters is the origination of 'The Twenty-Seven Club;' which those four very talented stars, in Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones joined, all of whom were 27 years of age when they died; which the young now find so fascinating. Also, we were the first generation who believed we could bring an end to war, famine, and poverty; and that was a fine ideal indeed.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Countdown Begins: With the final burst of this 'Indian Summer' still holding on by its fingernails, some half-wit spoilt the whole effect yesterday by reminding us there are but two paydays until Xmas, and only 85 days including weekends to Xmas Eve, when it'll be cold, dark, and miserable outside. Those paydays don't include the one most people have on Xmas Eve itself; which is the last one for an excruciating 5 weeks; making January the most horrible month of the year financially. Luckily, though, some of the local authorities have become wise to this. After finding out the hard way that the Courts and the bailiffs are unable to get blood from a stone, they realised that most people haven't got the money for their water and community charge bills in January, and need until the end of February to straighten themselves out. So they take their dosh over the remaining 10 months, thus giving us some brief respite whilst we lick our Xmas and New Year wounds and recover from our reckless and spendthrift 'let's have a good time and sod the expense' ways.
But Xmas is no longer about Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Rhummy, Snap, or even Draughts like it used to be. And I know I harp on about it, but in my youth, at least we played games involving everyone; Mum, Dad, Gran, Granddad, and brothers and / or sisters. These days the kids generally play alone whilst staring at a computer or PC screen, wearing out their thumbs on a joy-stick / controller thingy which were not designed for such useage any more than they were designed to thumb phone keys for text messaging. And parent's don't seem to care as long as the kids "are happy" and "out of our way."
Xmas today is all about kids having far more than they deserve, with the adults running up bills either on the plastic, (but the recession is drawing a halt to that), or with the Provi man / lady; who are also known as Mr. or Mrs. Borrow A few Quid Now, but Pay Back An Arm And A Leg Later.
Now, Xmas is not all about presents in 2009, it's all about Batteries; the AA type, mostly; and I bet the staff in the battery factories around the globe are working overtime building up the stock. These days, everything but everything needs a battery, doesn't it, and if we run out of them, it's bound to be during those brief few hours when the shops actually do shut, and we end up buying them at a ridiculous price from the 'Open 365 Day's A Year' petrol station, (every town's got one!) to stop little Johnny bursting into tears when the last one he's got with a spark of life in it, fizzles out and dies. "Go and get him some more batteries!" Mum orders Dad, "we can't have him reading a book, or playing a board game, or watching the telly, he'll get bored; he's not happy unless his toys need batteries!" And virtually every toy needs one, doesn't it; and is there, amongst all the recycling / save the planet / stop pollution receptacles dotted around our towns, any to take and dispose of dead batteries?
They go to landfill.
Oh dear!