August 2009

There is a thread on ilkley-more about a group demanding a bridge across the River Wharfe like certain men in Germany used to demand space for living. I suggested an event during the Uncut Fringe at the site, with a possible reading of The Tay Bridge Disater by William McGonagall. A little later I added the below, the comment is from the thread.

Bradwan wrote:

When folk talk of a bridge o’er the silvery Wharfe,
I say to myself: ‘Surely they’re having a laugh!’
For the poor tax payer will not thank,
To see an enormous box stretch from bank to bank.
For when the silver Wharf has not too much depths,
We can see a wonderful line of grand stoney steps.
Made into a footpath by working folk’s habit.
So they could return to their homes as quick as a rabbit.
So come good people of Wharfedale, why not set your hearts in the year of 2009
To fixing up the steps, so they can be used for a very long time.

Glyn Watkins

This is a wonderful poem. A worthy tribute to the great McG.

Yesterday I relaxed with cleaning and ironing, and went to the Library to photocopy this <a href=""Press praise Pie and brushes up Uncut Fringe story. I cannot scan it though, so the link eill have to do.

Went to Ilkley again. Got the seeds of an idea for an event starting with tea at the Methodist’s, a walk to White Wells for hat throwing on Ilkley Moor, then maybe down to the Bar Yat for a duck dinner. A million, Jummy Saville like, points to anyone who can say what this would celebrate (and you have to have all 3 parts for the full points_. Answers here, sort of.

The guard on the train to Ilkley knew of me because he had read the letter Eddie had written to the Craven Herald praising the last Curry & Kipling show I did in Skipton, and it turns out Eddie drives trains.

Talked to a lot of nice people, including many good looking women. Did now business, but I remain hopeful.

Yesterday the gnocchi worked very well, despite the potatoes starting cold and soggy. The link shows an Italian adding flour by the handful, including for rolling out. Makes all the difference.

I felt well this morning, after 4 days dry. Have two straight days to do in Ilkley. I had beer in Ilkley today, doubt I will keep off the beer.

I was in the Midland in Ilkley with the pie on the tray. I was quized about Priestley by the bar’s king of the quiz night, and was then called Simon, for obvious reasons. I replied with I said, I did, I said!. The bloke next to me said: You’ve got broad shoulders!,/i> One of the nicest compliments I have heard.


In the UK if you claim Benefit/welfare for six months you have to have a ‘restart interview’ which is designed to send you on a badly run course provided by an parasitic organization, which claims to be providing help and training, but whose sole aim is to make money with the least amount of effort; and seeing providing misery is a lot cheaper than providing training, that’s what you will get on a restart. If you refuse to go though, or fail to see out the stretch, you benefit will be stopped.

I had my 3 month, are you really looking for work? Prove it! Half way to restart interview.

The bloke interviewing me was probably the first person, apart from me, who has looked at one of the fortnightly accounts, and the Jobsearch diary I submit. He was not very happy with me claiming as a self employed person, but he was not nasty, and cannot change the ruling. It will be much harsher in November though, three months hence.

Rest of the day was very relaxed. Called in at Joe’s office, had the thickest salad sandwich I have ever had from The Munchen House and it cost less than a small packet of tomatoes.

I then strolled to the Cathedral for a look at the lighting rig; then Don’s Danish Pantry for a splendid pork pie; and Poundland for crisps and Wagon Wheels.

It was the first fine day for probably a week. From what I saw from trains, and all the straw wagons passing through Ilkley almost as slowly as caravans, the harvest was in before the rains; so while it has been miserable, it has meant less vandalism and stopped trains. It is near the end of the long school holiday, when enough children start looking for things to mark or break for it to cause real problems, unless it is raining.

Anyway, today was fine enough to do a laundry and peg it out. I did not start until mid afternoon but a fresh wind dried everything lovely.

I had boiled what I could save of the slug damaged potatoes yesterday. Today I grated them to make gnocchi with (though that wont happen until tomorrow); made a leek, bacon, onion, garlic and tomato sauce; part cooked some very cheap sausages in the oven; used the resulting fat (with rosemary and garlic) to roast the potato skins; and finished the sausages with some of the sauce. Wonderful!

Also cooked a new iPie.

The big news from the last few days is that united agents have slashed the price of my license for the J.B.Priestley Night in response to my begging letter, and allowed me two for the price of two for one; so if if I look like selling out the first night of the show (and I can now set the tickets at less than capacity to give more room for the show) I can do a second show in the following few days.

I have also started selling tickets, and Ilkley Pets have agreed to sell tickets for me. So far I have sold 9, but I have time. I have had to change the PayPal button, partly so I do not over sell, and to change it to a fixed fee per ticket for handling.

I felt really ill a couple of days ago, hopefully pre show stress disorder getting in early. If I was a rich Victorian woman it would have been described as the vapours; for a bloke probably nervous exhaustion.

Went to Ilkley and Keighley yesterday, partly to calling on the Beaumont’s to give Jenny a birthday card I did on the bus that looked like a ration book (rationing was the theme of her birthday tea party).

I am listening to a BBC Radio 3 programme about Gilbert White. The old male actors, especailly the one playing White, are good, the production is so-so and the actresses are poor. It still moves me.

The train from Ilkley to Bradford passes over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and then a large set of allotments. The one in the corner of the rail road and the canal is always full of chickens. In Ilkley for Frazer’s 63rd birthday I read bit in his QI book, about a chicken that lived for 2 years after having his head cut off. In Bexleyheath I answered a question from 11 year old Alex about how long something could live with its head cut off.

I was in the Midland in Ilkley when England won the Ashes. I missed the actual ball. I heard the winning ball of the last winning Ashes match.It seems like yesterday, but I remember it because evil oil sufficator Blair was Prime Minister, he gave the team hours, and I then thought he gave out honours like a whore gives out pox.

I dug most of my potatoes this morning, and wrote and posted the begging letter to the agent of the Priestley estate.

The young male actor on the White play could act being a 21st Century middle class boy. I hope he is the son of the producer, anything less would mark the producer as more poor than I have already thought. I have already sent a mail of bitter complaint to the BBC website, about not being able to find out what was on; and then not being able to find out how to point that out. Oh Dear! The end of the play is really getting bad. The idiot boy sounds like he is being edited in after many attempts at getting simple lines read.

Just over half of the potatoes had holes. Better than last year. The sound ones will keep me in potatoes for a while, but even with no holed ones it would be little to boast of.

Spent a good deal of the day letter writing and form filling. I still need to do more maths to see if I should apply for a loss guarantee, but the Ilkley Gazette asked for if they could publish details of the Priestley Night and for more information about the Ilkley Festival Uncut Fringe. As a result I have decided to risk losing money, and do the Priestley show.

I recorded an ACT now radio show with Joe Ogden in the afternoon. It was good. It is on next Tuesday 25th August, and you can listen live using the button to the right of the page the last link goes to.

I also got a lovely call, out of the blue, from old friend Jenny.

On an unhappy note my HP 3180 will not scan, and I reloaded the software a few days ago. It prints, but not having a scanner will make some things very difficult.

I also discovered my Lantus insulin disposable pen has been leaking from the cartridge when I inject. So for a few days I have been under injecting. The next few days could be interesting.

It was a pleasant enough journey back to Bradford, though I only got talking to a fellow passenger after Doncaster, a nice young woman who works for the University of Utrecht, who liked steam trains, armour, and who was going to try her luck in California! She laughed at my suggestion Alabama, Mississippi, and the other dustbowl states might be putting up fences to stop the dirt poor Silicon Valleyers getting in, using fences sold off by the bankrupt state of California.

It was raining when I got back, and it now feels cold, and I am well pissed off.

Yet another letter telling me my Housing Benefit has been stopped, because of a bureaucratic process which does not work and does not care. I now face hours challenging the decision, or rather forcing them to follow due process to start entitlement from when Income Support was resumed after the week in which I worked in the Polling Station (a job which has now proved worthless and painful as far as I am concerned).

I got a call from the local Department of Culture, Tourism and Sport; saying I could apply for a loss guarantee for the Priestley Night; but sitting down to write the application is turning into a nightmare. I had planned to do a second night if the first sold out quickly, but that is making the maths and the form really complicated, and even if I only do one night all this shit shoveling is time I am not rehearsing, and sorting other shows, and I do not even know if I am doing it.

As I write this I also realise that if I put down a wage for me in any application for loss guarantee (the only way I can make any money as things stand) that will make any dole claim even more complicated.

I obviously like a panic, I must do considering how many I make for myself, but it would be nice to have something work simply. The only good thing is that I am not sinking into depression because of all this; leastways not yet.

Happy birthday to sensible Martha. Mrs Martha Watkins decidees to celebrate her 88th birthday by a slow trip to the shops.

Happy birthday to sensible Martha. Mrs Martha Watkins decidees to celebrate her 88th birthday by a slow trip to the shops.

She’s had a life
has our Martha
With times so good
and a few so bad
So let’s all cheer
that she’s still here
And she’s 88
and still
quite mad.

Tuesday 18th August.

Mother’s 88th birthday went very well despite there being lots of potential flashpoints.

We, or rather ma, Basil and me, were supposed to go to the Tilgate curryhouse for lunch with dad fending for himself (dad would probably rather eat out of a dustbin than have money wasted eating out). The idea was ma would not have to cook, but when I got up she was already making enough meatballs to feed four, and had the potatoes ready to boil, and opened a tin tin of beans.

It turned out for the best. Basil took dad for a bloodtest, June came to wish ma happy birthday, and Linda came to clean. Once I’d opened the birthday champagne and we had drunk it, time was getting on, and my offer to cook the meatballs was for the best, and accepted. I added a few more potatoes, used an already opened cook-in sauce, and put the beans away. It was the smallest meal the four of us had ever sat down to! But it worked very well.

In the early evening we did go for the curry. Ma loved it, so it was worth every penny.

Wednesday 19th August.

In the morning I took washing to the laundrette and then pegged it out. Basil picked damsons, tidied up the redcurrants, and let dad ‘help’.

After a ma cooked curry for lunch Basil drove me to Bexleyheath to visit Marion-Jane and her tribe. It was an interesting journey, and a good experience, the only bad thing being mostly the result of google route description. I have just looked at the Travel Direct site, and the description is not only far better, but shows that the google version was plain wrong.

Marion (the name I knew her as at primary school) was home with her two youngest boys, Alex and Oliver, who I think are 11 and 14. Marion took us all to the pub, where there was a bit of showing off and being silly, but the boys did not seem too embarrassed by their mother.

After that we all went to London. Walked from London Bridge Station to St. Paul’s, via Blackfriars Bridge and the Cockpit. We watched the tide going out and saw a lot of little details.

We then got a Routemaster bus 15 to Covent Garden, where we met Marion’s Nick.

We then went to Chinatown and had food at an all you can eat buffet (the Kowloon). It was lovely to eat in nice company, but I hated the place; and the others felt that way as well by the end. To be fair all you can eat buffets are never going to be my thing, and this one may be as good and bad as all the others round there, and I was getting very tired; but still a place where I think everything but the food was horrible.

We then walked back to Aldwych, where Nick had parked and he drove us back to their place. I was so tired I refused an offer of a stop at a good pub.

I really nice, and very different, day.

14th Nov.

I am at my brother’s monastery for just one night, and am writing this in my room after what would normally be Vespers, the last service, of around 20 minutes. I do not know what it was today, it says “Majorem caritatem” on the bit of paper on the desk; but I am not a catholic, have no clue, and there is no context. What I know is is that it took 50 minutes and half of that was kneeling in silence. I am not complaining, but I certain appreciate a cushion more than I did an hour ago.

The raido alarum went off at 6.00 in the midst of a vivid dream (involving an airport, losing a coat, an inability to speak the language, a straight road of ups and downs, a circuling aircraft, and a strange catalogue). I press the snooze button, and went back to the dream. I have done this a few times in the recent past, and it does seem odd.

Left the house calmly and ahead of time. Got talking to a couple who got on at Wakefield, who were going to see Sister Act at the Palladium.

There was a young mother on the train from Victoria with a baby and young boy. I spent a little time playing, lean to one side, disappear with the baby; who gurgled and laughed. Apart from exchanging smiles with the mother that was all the contact.

Went to the Artillary Arms when I got here, and the landlady asked how my poetry was going. They have nearly finished doing out the small function room. I had a look and I reckon 20 – 25 capacity. So OK for a small show with no slides, but for me it would only make sense to play here if I was doing something elsewhere before or after.

I went to the Sailors Church and found two ladies selling coffee, the first time I have ever seen anyone from the church in there. I explained I wanted to do a show and got a few details about how it actually works. Like the service order, it is something so plainly obvious to those that know that they do not realise jst how blank it is to outsiders.

There were 4 non clerical guests, more than I had seen before, and supper for guests on a Friday is now in the guest room (the monks fast). Much easier, and I had a chance to teach the two Italians here to learn english what a pie was. How can any language course about English-english not teach what a pie is? It is fundAmental to understanding the culture.

I also introduced one of them to Marmite. He was not impressed.


Up at 7.00, well after Matins, but I could easily have gone to Lauds, but seeing I am not a Catholic and I am under no internal obligation.

The main reason for coming down was so me and Basil could have a drive to Crawley for our mother’s 88th birthday on the 18th. We set out soon after 8.00

A good trip. Stopped at a village called Hawk Hurst to buy a pie in a bakers shop that looked like it made less profit than payphone, very good sausage roll though.

We then went to Brightling – to visit Mad Jack Fuller’s follies, I will try and post pictures. The memorials he paid for in the church and his pyramid outside, were especially memorable. We also saw a buzzard when we were at the Sugar Loaf.

We then went on to Batemans, my first visit after 3 previous attempts. A nice house which would be interesting enough even without all the Rudyard Kipling memorabilia, and I learnt some useful things.

After Batemans Basil was not so well. We talked about it and he seemed to be suffering from mild hyperinsulinism. He certainly got better when he had some of my chocolate.

We drove on and had lunch in a pub that did not impress me so I’ll not try remembering the name. 3 cups maybe. Food was ok but I would not good enough to make me want to go again.

Monday 17th Nov.

Dug the potatoes and called Tamar about the Priestley show this morning. A much better crop than last year, and not much slug damage, but apart from a random one ma stuck in a container the yield was little more than double what I put in (brilliant flavour though), Tamar’s advice was sound.

After dinner me and Basil went to London, almost on a whim. He had seen a good revue for a pub in Pimlico he remembered when he was a postie there decades ago. It had been the Pimlico Tram, but has been remodeled as the CASK (their capitals).

It was worth a visit, but it is not special enough to make it generally worth my effort to travel the fair distance from Victoria Station.

We had Capital cards (up a third from the last one I bought just a month or so ago) so we got buses; the best being the Route 38. We got off at Holborn, walked down to High Holborn and stopped at the Olde Citie of Yorke, a historic gem of a Sam Miths pub, and a first visit for me.

We then went to the Mitre on Ely Place; I have been to the street a few times, but again a first visit to this pub. Good pub with a function room (albeit very small) and the apprentice of Lol the stonesetter was there with a mate, so I knew someone. Basil impress them with his knowledge of the physical properties and historical context of golds.

Then moved on to the Horseshoe, off Clerkenwell Green, where landlord Richard shook our hands.

Called in at the Jerusalem Tavern for the least friendly pint.

A good day.

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