December 2009

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.

Sweet Sir Walter± Switter Swatter, Sweet day.

Kings Place; Queen’s blood; Ace event trumps the season.

Suite full.

More to follow. Just noting: the walk back from Three Bridges on semi thawed snow was music of crunching, varied in tone, pitch and rhythm. And I did not once fall on me arse. Train back was even more public theatre than me in the concert.

Best part of the day was just now.

I had watched an ancient QI on my parents digitally boxed telly, then spent 15 minutes trying to find anything to watch (which included the free 5 minutes of the porn channel. Why do blokes with money to spend and a need to polish their pork swords not think of getting an internet connection, rather than giving their credit card details to digital tv companies offering access to badly filmed slappers and mutters? We are talk real 9 pinters and a paper bag here.).

After giving up on the telly I walked into the kitchen and was entranced by the snow that had just fallen in the garden I grow up in. The light as been clear all day, a clearness you get before snow; and I am very glad not to have it fall before journey’s start; and if I do not get to do what has been planned tomorrow I will cuss a little; but the gardens of my past are white and lovely; and I and my mum and dad are here.

The next best thing was seeing, and talking to, Ruth for the first time in between 20 and 30 years; in the Grove. I recognised her, could not remember where from, but stared hard (as I did in ages past, and for the same reason). After glancing around me for a few times, her eyes settled on me when all the pictures from the edge of her vision prompted a memory. She remember my name, and the fact we knew each other at University (though I then remembered the last time we met, in Wallesey, at Elise’s party, before she coped off with a Jehovah’s Witness.

Worst part of the day was realising the stand pie (a big pork pie, traditiopnally eaten on Boxing Day in Yourkshire) I had gone to so much trouble to sort out had been left behind. The is a rescue party going to recover it. It was alot easier to fix up than one to check me mail, or water my plants, or feed my cats in the old days. Still, better et than mouldy, and I owe the pie rescue man many favours.

Had a chat (I did let her talk every so often, IT”S TRUE) with a young woman studying at Lincoln. She is an Arsenal supporter, her brother supports the team death for English league football, but their dad supports Orient. I was begging her to make the family go to Orient over Christmas. It would help Orient, and the family.

Saw Coonor in the Betjeman, and gave him a card. Talked to a few fold as well, inluding Brian from York, who is being made redundant from English Heritage, thanks, he says, and I do not doubt him. to Gordon Brown. He knew about the Bradford Odeon, and asked about the red wines, and bought a small glass …because I have a train to catch, and don’t have time to enjoy a large glass.

Had a nice restart interview, and on time. I cannot remember the name of the woman interviewing me, I am back on ‘normal’ dole cycle, so cannot see her again for at least 3 month, and I gave her a Christmas card without my web address, but I wish her well. A human face in a robotic system deserves praise.

I posted most of my Christmas cards today, 4 days early for last second class post (if UK customs are strange to you I will explain that you can pay less for delivery of mail, and it will be laid down to rest for a few days. I do not want to knock the Royal Mail {apart from the managers, who came up with the 3rd worst ever name change {Royal Mail to Insigniarse(?) and back again}).

Where was I? Oh yes, I’ve sent most of me cards off early. Thee ones to Finland and Swden are officially late, but I would bet money they arrive before the 2nd class British ones do.

Spent a fair amount of time trying to fix up stuff that may lead to work as well. Prospects for Ramsgate seem now as good as the last turkey on the farm; but a few London things have become possible.

The Walburgas show is still up in the air. I went out tonight to make a booking for a Walburgas Eve show, but the venue was shut: the walk was through areas that used to have have women willing for a fiver (as I think I have mention on early blogs, you’ll have to go to if you are reading this on wordpress). There were no women, so either the weather, or Bradford’s economy was just too bad.

I had a really good pint in Haighy’s; then met Dave in the City Vaults. Got on the same bus as him on the way home. A dossy old drunk butted in to our conversation before I had said more than a few words. I was not quiet in my reply; but I would rather not have some inbreed butt in, or steal my hat. At least the bloke on Saturday may have woken up with a dislocated thumb on Sunday, today’s twat on the bus would probably have had Dave engaging in in entertaining conversation. I have had a possible life model given me in John Tempest. A no mercy man that does a massive amount of good; is always engaged in fights: but only fights when he is sure of winning. On the other hand I doubt he’d be in a pub wearing a top hat, or on a late bus. If I want public drama I have to be in public.

There should be blogs aplenty over the next few weeks, but things may change after tomorrow, so happy Christmas, and check the homepage for the new Christmas card soon.

Friday and Saturday were active and somewhat stimulating, including the closest I have come to a fight for a long time, when a very drunk and fairly stupid youth tried to pounce a pint off me, and then tried to run away with my top hat. He was being an idiot, but he was also trying to run for the door. A set of lads congratulated me afterwards on my forthright action.

I was wearing the top hat for the latest Save Our Odeon event yesterday.

This was really two things. A music show and leafleting the audience for the first of this season’s Alhambra pantos.

I have already blogged about this facebook group not being a group, but still a collection of individuals only united, so far, but facebook and events.There is a well organised middle aged group called B.O.R.G that are running the important, sensible but slightly worthy campains. The facebook group is very much more young and enthusiastic.

The event worked, but it would have work so much better if people had turned up on time. One of the older campaigners walked off in disgust when he saw the A5 flyers had been printed A4 and torn in half. I have got to say I was disappointed, and somewhat angry later when I was the only one there to give leaflets out to the audience as they left, but that is what you get with youth, inexperience and a vague hostility to hierarchy. I enjoyed myself, though I did not perform one of the Odeon carols and songs I had written or rewritten Friday night/saturday morning. I was quite looking forward to doing a Paul Robson impression on Old man Odeon

Friday I went to Keighley to deliver Christmas cards.

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