December 2009

It is illness. Not bad, and the house is warm, but don’t expect much action for a while.

Just a short trip to Croydon to meet up with Gideon, then on to Wimbledon on the tram (through endless miles of wiggly tin world, then back via Clapham Junction. A pleasant afternoon jaunt, but it has left me feeling weaker than I have for weeks. It’s either accumulation or the start of something. I have a clearish day tomorrow though.

Yesterday: No drink. Some food. One short walk. Bed very early.

Today: Ma took dad to the local mass (for young people and those whose family’s have been middle class for more than 3 generations, that means they went to a Catholic church. My father was the second Catholic in the family since the Reformation, after my brother Basil (fka Harry). My mother is Orthodox, but does consider God the concept to me more important than the franchise.

What that meant was I had the house to myself for the best part of two hours. Marvellous (I have to fell you at this point that my TestEdit told me I had misspelt Marvellous. I wrote Marvelous english speeling into the search engine (the search engine I cannot be arsed changing), and found out that Glynny fat fingers had risen forth after just 7/12th of a bottle of champaign, what was left of Vina Maipo (Basil’s choice of wine when he took ma for the big Christmas shop) and just a pint of sherry with lemonade.

Any road up. The point is I had a truly lovely time in the kitchen (and put all the ballbearings back into the broken wheel of my dad’s walking aid, and packed them in with vasiline {whilst in my pyjamas and with Top Gear on}); and washed the jumper ma had forced him to surrender last night.

I then sorted things for the recipe, which I saw on ITV’s Christmas Cook’s Challenge. I did look for a link to the spicy duck (we had duck for Christmas) recipe from Brian the Yorkshire tv chef. Unfortunately I agreed to do a survey for itv . com 9note how that will not form a hotlink on any browser), and that survey helped flush out any unused anger, and is at below in italics.

It is a shame itv are so bad, because it was a cracking recipe. I fried the cooked (in parts) duck with sesame oil; then gently fried the fancy stuffing. Added diced onion and crushed garlic, Added chilli mixed nuts, that would have hung around until Basil next visited; and a cartoon of chopped tomato,

I had already boiled small patoto cubes in the liquid from yesterday’s soup, with the red bone of duck I was not frying. Then fried cubes of rye bread. The dried potato (which had been mixed with tumeric). Controlled the freshly opened bottle of champaign (by me, it’s my job) and we all had a lovely dinner.

Glyn’s comment on itv . com

How angry do you cretins want to make people? That’s you designing this mind numbinly shite survey. What do you expect to find out from asking more questions than black youths being talked to by coppers near the end of their shift?

Clueless wankers is now the impression I have of itv . com. If you do not understand that people on the internet will, generally, answer no more than 10 questions and then skip, then it underlines the fact that Itv is being run by people who could not find anything better.

Also, I suspect; no more because after I got bored I was seeing pages as fast as I could press return; that there was a value gien to any page with no answer given. I doubt I will complain about the survey techique, but as a matter of statistics ‘no answer’ is the most siginificant indication of a badly designed survey.

Betsey Dumplog’s eyes misted as she looked down at the young face of her charge.

What’s to go Master Pap? You looks all of a dither!

Mister Drunkfingers’ has found his way to the keyboard Betsey! What can we do?

Don’t you worry bout old Fatends. the worst he can do is a big brown blog; and if it blocks the bend, well there’s work there for those’s who’ll ave it.

Wonderful Christmas. Ma stuffed the duck, but I did almost everything else; including educating her about why her The Doctor said he should only have one drink! is even more annoying than my Dad’s The Welsh have been the citizens of two empires.

I managed to keep ma out of then kitchen whilst I cooked. It was like bejing a chef.I sung, then swore better than I have for years.

Fingers are missing then target now. Did the walk to Campbell’s Lake. Stopped at the Charcoal Burner to leave cad, and discover all my money was in the other trousers, and the rip off caSH MACHINE AT THE POST Office was not working.

I just had fresh air to sustain me until I got back, apart from an old bloke with an olden alstatian (yes that is splet wrong, but what do you expect on this time of a Christmas day?)

Oh, and there were two girls with another dog, who made him come back and say hello, because I was saying what a nice dog to Mark of Intrpid Videoss on my mobile.


Happy Christmas. If you check back later I may have managed to put my card on this blog, but I am not promising.

One of my more intelligent readers (Hi Basil) contacted me to point out that queen bumble bees not only have stings, but have much worse ones than normal bumble bess, on account of having to fight off cuckoo bees and worse.

If only I had known that yesterday, it would not have made the slightest difference. One thing I forgot to mention was that I twice tried to nudge the queen into a hole, and both times she ended up hanging hooked on just one leg to my finger.

Did another liquid heavy shop this morning, then cut dad’s hair. Gave up on trying to get to Brighton to try and find the Russian plain chant and to drink beer, and drunk beer in Crawley instead.

Went to the library, mostly in the hope of seeing Debbie, and giving her a Christmas card, but got there 10 minutes after closing for the holidays. Saw bossman Mandy outside, who had not only got my e-card but replied. I was walking with her, me towards Wetherspoons and her to the station and Christmas, when someone called my name. Proved to be James Pegg, who I had not seen since 79! Decent bloke and lovely to see him.

I then had alcohol and conversations in 3 pubs, oh, and bought slippers for mum to give to dad (he will loudly claim that he does not need them, or want them, and he has one foot in the grave, so why does he need new things. It was ever thus.),

Did a really good prawn, corn and brocelli curry as well.

The Christmas card is now on my bradwan homepage.

It rained heavily this morning, so the snow has gone or is compacted, and the ice started to melt.

I did two heavy shops today. I shop with a large rucksack and either carry it all the way back or use a bus for most of the way.

The first shop was local, one collection of drugs for each parent, with a chat to the manager of the chemist about the mad world of Watkins. I also got birdseed, flowers for dad (to give to mum), his daily fix of bad news and outrage, and liquids.

The second trip was to town. I cannot walk along ice and snow covered pavements without trying to clear a way for those that follow, and if there is melt water that just adds to the joy of the challenge. It is tiring though.

I bought fruit and more liquid, I was going to get a bus, but saw a very wet queen bumble bee crawling across the pavement outside a hamburger joint. I left her crawl on my finger and tried to give her some glucose tablet melted with snow (human spit is poisonous to insects). I cannot be sure she took any, She cleaned itself very clumsily.

She crawled around my hands a few times and tried to go up my sleeve (I could feel the hooks in the end of her legs). A few people stopped to watch and ask questions as it was moving, and I then had the issue of what to do next. It had obviously been woken from hibernation, perhaps by melting snow wash out or dislodging its resting place. I thought about putting it in a hole in a post or building, but any such hole is likely to have a spider. I finally decided to carry it to dad’s disused shed, on my hand.

She spent most of the journey with her head in the space between the bottom of two fingers. Near home she started to move about much more freely. I took her up to an ivy covered oak tree and she flew off before I could try and place her.

If it does not freeze tonight she has a slim chance of surviving, but a fatter one than she had before I saw her on the pavement (btw. queen bees have no sting).

If I use Three Bridges Station tomorrow it will make it the fifth day in seven, which makes it the closest I have been to a commutor for a very long time.

This trip was to meet up with friend John for a drink and to talk about a possible Curry & Kipling, and old mate Gideon.

Before I set off I had to get dad’s Daily Mail (I hide it under my coat on the way back incase anyone sees me with it, as I cannot be bothered buying a porn mag to hide it in) but also book an appointment for ma at the doctors.

Met John at the Duke of Chandos (a Sam Smiths pub) then went looking for a cd of Russian plain chant. It’s John’s old manor, and he still knows people around Charing Cross Road/Shaftsbury Avenue/Oxford Street. I got a cd of Russian vespers at Harold Moores Records but not the one I wanted. It was a good walk, with us both having history to relate, with John’s being more detailed and up to date.

We went in two pubs, one was next to Moores and the other I think called the Blue Posts, whose landlord was a friend of John’s.

Then back to the Chandos to meet Gideon. Me and John ordered food, at which point I discovered I had not brought my insulin. If I had had it I would have spent a couple more hours chatting to Gideon, but not more as I had to get back to take ma to the appointment in the evening.

A good day, full of learning.

The walk back from Three Bridges was the slippiest so far. Lots of the paths were clear after some melting, but the roads and some of the paths had turned in polished old ice or new black ice.

Ma was feeling better than this morning, and the trip to the doc’s was the first night out since the Crawley, Carr and Kipling Show. She got drops, and two new tablets. We came back via the Coop, so a grand night out; but if I had not been home there is would have been a far too high a chance of her breaking bones. There appears not to have been a single grit or grain of salt put down on any road, let alone pavement. She could have asked for a home visit, but that is as likely as me asking Tony Blair how I could help him get richer.

I know I talk about my soup with an overweening arrogance on a regular basis, each soup I talk of being one of the best I have made/ Well yesterday I made the best ever. I put everything my mum had cooked for the previous 4 days that was still sitting in the fridge (including the slices of roast lamb in gravy), boiled with the stock from the pickled ham, liquidised it with a cheese sauce she made, and added very thinly sliced leek. It was so good I had it for my breakfast, and while it may had made me a one man Western Front impression, it was worth it for the taste.

Went to Croydon to try and buy a particular kind of CD for a Christmas present. I asked in the tourist information office and asked about record stores. They were less much use google, and that was useless enough; but another man who was in their followed me out and asked if he could interview me for Radio 4. At least that is what he said, and he had a recording machine, and writing this I wished I had asked him what it was, as I really could do with one.

Anyway, he was meeting a ‘comic’ from Skipton or Croydon who hated Croydon (B.O.A.C then) who was going to talk about Beano Records closing. I think the recording man was Patrick, and he did not know Croydon, but Beano have gone. It will be a covered market soon, I guess for the kind of people who liked beonos. I liked it not because of what it was about but because it was full of music I could get get in any other shop, and it was cheap, and next to the Dog and Bull.

The Dog and Bull was very quiet and even more expensive, and Dave has been enticed to Leicester by a woman.

I then went to the a cheaper and better boozer, where the first bloke I talked to asked me if I would do him two favours. I told him I was not gay (which may be a surprise to some of you that never asked, and why should you ask as it is none of your business) and I had no cigarettes. I ended up writing a Christmas card to Gabrielle form Phil, and two children (whose names are not being writing because I forgot, rather than to protect them, they could do with being identified, so something could be done for them).

He offered to pay for my beer, but did not manage it, looked well dressed, and I was fine with him until he told me he was good looking and lucky. I told him he was also drunk, and that’s why he was refused another drink.

I then got talking to a West Ham fan, who almost certainly is still a member of the ICF, like he said, though if he is the youngest member the British Legion could give advice. He is the first person in a decade I have heard describing blacks with the c word, and he was doing it very loudly. The odd thing was he was not as racist as many people I have known who would not dream of using offensive language. I still think he is a stupid c for using the other c word though. Man who makes a difference though, and if everyone just says yes and dreams of getting lucky we will be extinct sooner than we should

I did not get the cd, though I got a cheap northern soul compilation, and it started snowing, after and during rain (no, it was not sleet, there were flakes of snow slowing descending in the midst of rain). The train from East Croydon was very crowed, and people were pushing to get on. I stood, and managed to drift half way to sleep, comforted by the fact the fat woman who had objected to me my arm out to grab a handle would cushion me if we crashed (I had grabbed it in case I need to lever against the c’s not moving, if more tried to get on behind me).

I then went to the Charcoal Burner, and met coach driver Peter. A man who would take elderly patients being brought back from the nightmare of East Surrey Hospital to the pub, if they wanted. Like I said, a gentleman and a man who has helped to make people happy.

Oh, and I have had an e-amil from the Arts Council about the Little Britton show.

The most energetic thing I did today was coming back from the shops in the evening after posting letters and doing an errand. On the way I had passed a man in a wheelchair going the other way, obviously struggling on the snow and ice covered pavement.

On my way back I caught up with him and asked him if he would like a push. It was a wheelchair built for his convenience, not an institutions, so there was a back bar but no handles, but seeing we had to go up a steep hill soon after I started pushing that was less of a problem. I had to stop many times, had to take my hat off, and had to take a glucose tablet because of the energy used; but I was probably a lot less knacked than Geoff would have been if he had to get there under his own power.

Earlier on ma had done a Finnish, or rather a Karelian Christmas dinner like her mum used to make. Pickled ham cooked in a dish with a bread crust; red cabbage with carrots; roast onion; and a non Karelian roast sweet potato. It was lovely; and would have been even better if she had managed to eat any of it; but she not only knacked herself with the dinner (Leave me alone Glyn; I like doing things! but also made vodka soaked blueberries in butterscotch whip, and had 4 of the berries whilst she was making it.

In the morning Iain Burnside on Radio 3’s Sunday Morning was talking to a good historian called Kate Williams about Queen Victoria and her Albert’s creation of Christmas; and how normal massive alcohol consumption at Christmas was before their time. I sent the below, which Iain Read out.

Ho ho ho for ethnic heritage

Dear iain

Well done to you and Kate for reminding this country of its proud ethnic heritage. Alcohol evolved 250,000 million years ago, and the British peoples have been trying to drink it all for over a thousand years. I am actually raising a glass to our proud tradition; Cheers! Oh, and a very merry Christmas to you all.

He mentioned that alcohol appearing and the dinosaurs finishing seemed to happen at the same time, so perhaps extinction due to egg nog. My mother heard my name on national radio, but dad was too engrossed in what ever the Mail on Sunday was being indignant about on the page he was on.

Another listener, called Andrew from Altingham then mailed to point out my figure was wrong. As far as I can remember:

250,000 million years ago equals 250 billion years, is nearly 20 times the age of the universe, I could understand 250 thousand, but not the rest, unless God invented alcohol, which might explain a lot.

He’s right about, what I should have written was 250 million, as alcohol evolved in the mid Jurassic period (although having checked the figure for that is was actually around 180 million y.a), but I blame the alcohol, without which I would not have contributed to debate and entertainment.

A very exhilarating few days, but it caught up with me today.

Yesterday’s London trip came about because on Tuesday I heard Sean Rafferty interviewing Robert Hollingworth of >I Fagioklli about a series of concerts he had organised at Kings Place.

I have suggested Kings Place to others as a possible London venue, and had it in the back of my own mind. When Robert talked about last nights event being based on a 17th Century alehouse I knew I had to go; to see the venue; see the show; and talk to the people involved.

It is a stunning place, and a almost perfect venue for the next Little Britton Festival. Good, friendly and intelligent staff; good space; and very busy. The only bad thing is the price of beer (£3.80 for a small bottle of Sam Smiths organic larger f.f.s!!!!!).

The show was great, done by Barok Solistene, with singing by The Merry Companions. There was audience participation, and not just by me; and community round singing at the end.

I was wearing the latest of my mum’s iKnit (not the one on the link, the new one has the url and RONOILIJA, Finnish for poet, on) and was using that, and cheek, to talk to the audience. Afterwards I talked to the most of the band and singers; who seemed to recognise my voice; and who thanked me for joining in. A good set of people I would love to work with.

On the train to London I saw a magnificent red sun, just touching the horizon, through the spokes of the London Eye.

I got off at Clerkenwell and called in to Old Session House to wish them a happy Christmas, and drop cards of at the Horseshoe, and the Betsy Trotwood.

On the way back there were no Thameslink trains from St Pancras (the station was shut when I got there at 22.40), I guess because of snow. I did not panic much, but rushing by tube to Victoria took me back to my youth. The train was very full, and I was mostly surrounded by good looking, working women who been for a works drink session. It ended up with seemingly scores of people engaged in the conversation. Once it started emptying one of the party who had been down the carriage, came up to her friend, looked at my jumper, and asked what it said, so I said RONOILIJA, it’s Finnish for poet, because I am one. She said You speak english very well! You speak better than any of us. It got a good laugh.

The only shame of the day was the fact I was too tired to go back to Kings Place for the last of the set of events. I wanted to see the Bach show, and possibly talk to Robert Hollingworth.

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