January 2010


Well, I got the coach, no problem. Trying to get the printer working may have destroyed it, but it also stopped me going out and drinking.


It was an alright trip, or as alright as a long coach journey is ever going to be. Used earhones to listen to the radio on my Nokia for the first time. No signal in the north, and had to keep retuning once I did get a signal, but even your own radio crackle is better than other people’s noise.

I also read a book about how to paint water-colours, by Ashley Jackson. Not all that well done, with loads of blank pages excused as there to practise on, and with some very unclear illustrations, but still some very useful stuff.

I did not sleep, which was luck for the lad sat next to me.


Went to the pub my brother took me to last year. It was called the Pimlico Tram, but I do not know what it is called now. Much better atmosphere than the Whetherspoons I went in first; but also a quid a pint dearer. Very good beers though, including the only true brewed English lager (from the Peak District).

Talked to lots of nice people, including a glamorous 74 year old from Dublin, who was incredibly like my mother in attitude and iron will.


One consequence of the trip is that I have use of another printer. I printed a proof of the Walburgas card, and then had to spend hours re-doing it. The problem was the scan of printing could not be printed true; and I cannot presently rescan the painting (the knacked print is the same as the scanner). That meant I had you use Adobe Elements, which I really did not want to do for this. Still, I have a card now.


I have been hearing a female cat in heat, somewhere near my house, for a couple of days. Yesterday morning I saw a black cat in next door’s garden (I am sure it is the one me an the prostitute stroked last winter), and then the female emerged from being some ivy. She had a collar and must live close by; so a neighbor will probably be getting kittens soon.

The big news is that I have provisionally set the next Little Britton Show for late July. I also finished the Walburgas card painting; and the poem; copied the poem out with a dip pen (which was finger blackening but satisfying work); scanned both; and laid out the card. It all looks well

Everything would be relatively good; but for my ancient printer giving my a nightmare, which has left my plans asunder and my fingers even blacker.

I am due on a trip on National Express tomorrow. I printed the ticket a couple of days ago. Tonight I tried to print a test Walburgas. It started ok, but the black ran out before the bottom of the page. I then went and checked the ticket The top looks ok, which is all I checked, but looking at the bottom, the ink ran out before it printed the driver instruction. It may still be acceptable to the driver, but if not I am knacked; because when I tried to print a new one it was worse, when I tried refilling the black cartridge I seemingly knackered the colour cartridge as well, so the option of getting up early to get a new black cartridge has doubled in price, and I may have knacked the printer totally (which was on it’s last legs anyway).

I am going to bed, will rise early, and have a think then.

On a brighter note I met friends last night including Tina Watkin, who had a copy of the American book containing her Sammy the Snail poem. It is illustrated by Karen Harvill, and is really cute, but ( cannot find a book title or reference on-line.

I also sorted out lots more about the Walburgas show at the Delius Centre (25th Feb.) with Sam Collier, the production coordinator. It is shaping well.

I had better write the blog before the cava catches up (btw. if I do not write about drinking on this blog I probably have not been drinking; apart from the times I have been drinking so much I cannot even write the blog with my thumbs).

A gradely, top hole, bonzer, huvah, da day (I think that covers all my ethnic heritages, including sounding posh despite going to a right rough comprehensive, having a background as earth as is possible, and never wanting to talk posh; just clear about what I mean).

If you have never seen one of my shows, and are thinking of coming to one, but are not sure the subject matter interests you, then the last paragraph should suggest any show I do will be full of unbilled, and unplanned, diversions.

Set the poem to Jan my solid gold poem tester. I thought it needed at least polishing, and Jan confirmed it. I added 2 lines, and changed a few words and line orders, and did my first “Dilbert dance” for a long time (I would do a link for the ‘Dilbert’s engineer’s dance of conquest’, but cannot find one, though I have just mailed Scott Adams to ask, and will make a little fuss on here if he replies). The latest, and last, version also fits the plan I had for the picture.

I then did the picture. Drawing outlines, acrylics and tubed watercolours, Airfix enamel, then a watercolour washes for the background. I painted the detail was going to use friskets (a word I learnt from a commercial art dictionary Bradford Library got rid of in the last cull.) but openned the cava before I finished; and the Michael Barry recipe was so flawed I ended up deciding to finish in the style of a pre-human who has just discovered alcohol, and the fact that jobs like killing a mammoth is not as scare as first appeared, and needs to be done straight away.

It looks well, is as planned (though obviously not as good as I saw).

The dinner was ‘French style roast chicken’ from Barry’ Jamie Oliver style roast potatoes; and my mum’s style oven steamed cabbage. Cabbage and potatoes were best I’ve done.

The chicken recipe is plain dangerous. It has a chicken covered with lemon juice, then garlic sale and ground bay leaves (I just ground salt, garlic and bayleaf in an egg cup), put on a rack above a roasting tin with water in, roasted for an hour at gas mark 5. Nothing about weight.

I have tried this before. The flesh on the legs cooks enough to fall off if you grasp one in 40 minutes. He says the usual: poke a skewer into the thick part of the leg, if juices pink it is not done). I did that and got clear juices. When I carved it the blood was spruting out. This time I gave it an hour and a half. It seemed fine. When I went back in the kitchen there was blood on the carving plate.

I liked Barry’s style, and some of his recipes are very good, but I think I will be throwing the book in the recycling skip, after tearing the cover off.

The bleaching did not lighten the cheap curtain at all, so I still need something to paint a banner on, but I have had immense help from ilkley more .

Managed to talk to David Wright about possible dates for the next Little Britton Show as well.

I now have a symbolic and workable idea for the Walburgas Card and have done a colour wash for a background (though I probably will not use it). The only problem is none of the symbolism is referred to in the poem as it now stands, and I have already done a rewrite from yesterday.

Went out to get advice about picture hanging for the Walburgas exhibition, and some canvas to paint a banner on. Got the former from the impressions gallery, but drew a blank with material. Bradford is useless for cloth shops, and everything else. One market stall that had nothing like what I wanted. I bought a curtain or table cloth in a charity shop but if I cannot bleach it lighter (and I am trying) I don not think it will do.

A Month in the Country film
Called Tamar about the A Month in the Country screening. She knows Harry Burton and reckons he is the man most likely to know who to talk toi about getting Channel 4 to re-release the DVD (I still do not have a copy, despite getting it released in the first place).

The showing is very posh, and is linked to a knife and folk supper at a place called Le Cafe Anglais in Bayswater; the whole thing a commemoration of both Natatasha Richardson and the writer Simon Gray. I would post details but I have not found any on the web yet.

An emotionally mixed few days. I have felt like I am walking around a pit bull depression, but I have kept out of teeth’s reach.

I have just finished the first draft of this year’s Walburgas poem, which is at bottom. It was very hard to start, but got the first few lines yesterday on the buses to, from, and between the Cricketers, the Boltmakers, Fannys, the Castle and the Vaults. It is the first time I have made reference to St Walbuga being an Anglo-Saxon.

The Angled Saxons came, the carried

Carried casts, and kind and care

First sharp projected with fear and loathing

With divided rules, and finds, and ware

Swift  fight, and might, and war’s affair

Yet protracted loves came to those that tarried

Tarried midst mists, and minds and air

Through the worst was hope a clothing

Till united love so kind declare

So may sight of light show your blessed share.

I got an e-mail from an actor/director called Harry Burton asking about the A Month in the Country DVD, for a possible screening in memory of Natasha Richardson (the female lead). I assumed he was just starting to plan to wrote quite a long answer, with links. It turns out almost everything is already sorted, and that it will include dinner is a posh restaurant, will also be in memorium for the writer Simon Grey; and I have now been invited.

As I said to Harry, I have taken a Carr sabbatical after what Wakefield Council did to me last year, but I am now ready to try and start a UK campaign to have the film re-released.

Really relaxed day.

Had a meeting at the Delius Centre with Sam Collier (event programmer there, and ex-pupil of mine) to take about the Walburgas Gay 10 show. Darren the caretaker was there as well. Largely because to them this is almost certain to be the least stressful venue I have produced a show in. I will also be mounting a small exhibition of my work.

Darren took photos of me and Sam with last years Walburgas artwork (which will be in the exhibition) Then went to the Titus Salts Whetherspoons for a drink with Sam.

In the evening I went for a free curry at the curryhouse on the site of the, much missed, Italia Cafe. It was organised by Yasim for active members of the ‘community forum’. A very enjoyable and civilised evening.


On the plus side. After 6 hours I managed to submit my tax return (one hour filling in the form, and four in trying to get on the nightmare of a site, though the telephone help desk is the best I have had to use).

On the debit. My opinion about the Arts Council is a lot lower than it was. I rang up, then mailed, weeks before Christmas to ask if I could to talk to someone about whether the Arts Council could help with the Little Britton show. It took forever for a reply to arrive. When it did it asked me to write a proposal, including costs, for the correct person. I spent a long time writing it; and the first line said I wanted help with a single show.

The certain person called me today (late) and asked me how my proposal would help my development as an artist!? Not a question I was expecting. From the start he obviously was not going to give me money, but could not say so. After I had spent an age floundering because I could not guess what he wanted; he told me the Arts Council …never, or hardly ever, give finding for one off shows.

I had asked for funding for a one off show in the first line of the proposal. If I had been told that at the start I could have kept my own time for my own use, or spent time seeing if I could get a tour out of the Britton (he said I was to come back when the project was …developed to the point when you are looking at planning a tour. If I could plan a fecking tour I would not need to be the asking the Arts Council for help and advice; I genuinely wanted advice before asking for money; but I was asked to provide costs, so costed a high status show.

I will do a show, David Wright is up for it. It will almost certainly be in Clerkenwell, probably at the Horseshoe.

Nicest part of the day was having a skype call with video streaming from Sirpa and her family in Finland. They all look well and it was really good to see them. It is the first time I have had a use for skype for months, and Sirpa had to call me on the mobile to fix it!

I also fixed up a phone discussion/interview for tomorrow with the Arts Council about funding for a Little Britton show. I also finished reckoning up my accounts for 2008-2009. A gross of just over £4000 and a nett of around £3600! I will try and submit the return via the IR website tomorrow.

So by tomorrow night I could be a happier man.

I also have the Walburgas event to organise and the card to create.

Did a mushroom, cheese and leek pancake today. Fried the mushrooms, then the leeks while cooking a pancake. Put former on pancake and added grated cheese. Folded and put under grill.

I also cleaned; yes, really! And did two laundries and the ironing.

The strangest thing of the day was the arrival of 40 or so e-mails at the same time. All but a few were ones I had written to 4 or 5 different people in 2006 and 2007. I my way through them and checking for the originals of a few, and found none, so I either trashed them and they have returned for some big cyber dump, or trashed and saved them elsewhere. There is no clue in the mails, they all appear to have been sent by me to myself.

It was actually quite odd reading sets of mails to Jenny, Richard, Dawne and Sirpa from 3 or 4 years ago. I was in the middle of writing for the Stedders Football & Real Ale Guides, went to help bury my Uncle Jukka in Finland, and signed off as a result, and was still in a strange relationship cum friendship. It actually all seems a very long time ago.

Went to Bradford’s meat market and bought a jointed rabbit (£3); and 5 pigs trotters for a single pound! I cooked the trotters in a court bouillon including celeric (needed to be used), carrots (ditto) and herbs from my garden. I may try making pork pies, as I will have lots of wonderful jelly.

Made an angel cake yesterday. I would have sworn I had made one before, but as I was creaming the butter and sugar with a folk I realised how much work it was, and I could not remember ever doing it before. The result was not as nice as the virtually fat free one I did recently (with beaten eggs and no butter or marg). It reminded me of a Garrison Keillor story about an aunt who made brilliant cakes but who was beaten in a competition because (a) the judge was whisky drunk, and (b) the winning cake was so greasy it left stains on his shirt. He gave first prize to a pudding! Well, mine was like a pudding.

I am still thinking about the York trip, it is good enough to be repeated in my head. I am planning to do a show at the National Early Music Centre, and used the cost of that as the basis of the proposal I sent to the Arts Council, but I am too late for their festival, and probably for any chance this year. However I talked to the new bloke at the Black Swan about his function room, and I have just wondered if I should do an Early Music Fringe Festival this year.

Doing a lot of mulling about this year’s Walburgas card. Have some poetry ideas but nothing visual yet.

Lovely, lovely trip to York wi Joe.

We went by bus, at my suggestion. Joe has this theory that me and buses equals free public entertainment. On the bus to York from Leeds it was not me loudly repeating words used by the gobshitingly loud Australian’s on a mobile. On the way back though my talking in the sleep made him and a lass smile, he says. The lass brushed past me and I said something in my sleep. She turned around and said Sorry love. Then grew a big grin when she realised I was talking from the land of nod. Joe reckoned she was right good looking, so I wish I could have shared the moment.

Going by bus meant around 4 hours traveling, instead of the 2 by train. Worth doing for the experience, but at a total saving of only £3 just not worth i unless you want to experience a bus, or see Tadcaster.

I had no plan for the day, but a few vague ideas, and that was grand. I finally figured out how the trains got to the first York station for a start. We were going to the Kings Arms, by the River Ouse, for lunch, but the river had burst it’s city banks. No houses actually flooded, but the riverside road under water.

Joe used to be a serious railway modeler, and today we both visited the York Model Railway Museum, by York;s present station (it does not seem to have it’s own website, so search). Brilliant! Art, skill and an expression of the human condition and experience, and you get trains, and other things moving when you press a button. It is a fiver in, but it is worth you giving it a fiver just to help it survive.

Spent £35 at the army surplus stall on the market. Soft, cold weather, top and an ex Navy gortes collored coat.

Joe took some good photos. It was his first pint for a fortnight as well. Golden Fleece (new to me, and good), Last Drop Inn (good baked potato and beer, but I just less able to stand it’s bad layout), The Black Swan (new, and much better, couple, and a possible site for a show), the Swan on Bishopthorpe (now my favourite York pub) and the Weatherspoons on Micklegate, but just so to lose liquid before getting on the bus (though we also added whilst there). We also did the dame in Leeds and Bradford on the way home.

Got a massive fried cod from Ebor Fisheries. First fish and chip shop I have used for at least a year (the last time may have been the same place on the last trip to York with Joe).

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