May 2010

In between starting and finishing this blog I had supper, a barh, and beer, and watched Country Queens with the family, (and only sang along a few times) and several otehr programs with Basil. 

I have had a nice time over the weekend, and I think everyone else in the family has as well. Went out with Basil. He drove us down to a place called Leonardslee Gardens; privately owned and designed and world famous. In the Dog and Nightgown on Friday a couple told me they had just been, because it has been sold to an individual who is shutting it at the end of June.

When I told Basil he was visibly shocked. He might have taken ma on a jaunt today, but the paths are too steep for her, and this was the last day he could possibly see Leonardslee.

In the morning Basil drove us to a diy store, where I got a bag of stones to fill the failed micro pond and some concrete for later. I nearly walked us out, leaving a full trolley at the pay desk. it was self ‘service’ tills, and there was no way I was lifting a 20kg bag of stones onto the scanner. I pressed the assistance button, nobody came, Basil pointed out there was a hand held scanner; not labeled or mentioned at the desk.

Basil had already done a splendid, and meticulous job on cutting the lawn before I got up. When we got back from saving B&Q the cost of till staff I emptied the stones and we went round the garden with Basil identifying plants for me to spray with weedkiller.

Then we all ate a great dinner of Finnish potato and anchovy casserole and the trotters and hocks I had sawed.

Then to Leonardslee.

As Basil said, the family that made the garden selling it, and he closing, is yet another minor English tragedy of our soul-less time.The camellias were still out and the rhododendron and azalea were still in full flower. The views and vistas were simply breathtaking. Views of only white and green; views of yellow and green with one red leaved tree; views of rhododendron and azalea flowers of every colour of the rainbow. Rare trees with extraordinary forms and colours. And we did not even visit the top part of the gardens with the heath plants and the wallabies.
We also talked a lot, for the better.
On the way back we stopped at the Black Horse in Nuthurst, which is a welcoming pub with a very good beer garden, a glamorous .landlady and a redhaired barmaid keen to learn more about red hair,

After finishing at the Frog and Nightgown yesterday I walked back to Faygate for the first time (I usually walk on to Littlehaven). I crossed a wheat field that had the footpath defined by the farmer spraying weedkiller along it (and it worked(.

I have now watched enough. Time Team‘s to watch the ground when walking across fields. I picked up a heavy piece of blue curved bottle glass, and a cuboid sandstone of about an inch square section, broken at one end.

In the evening I showed these to Basil and ma whilst watching telly. The glass is obviously from a hand made bottle, The stone caused discussion between me and Basil until I saw there were groves in the end. I suggested a whetstone, and ma looked at it and said it was exactly like the stone her father used to sharpen his scythe. Obviously the stone has been in the field since lost or thrown away by a man cutting wheat or hay by hand.

When Basil drives to the parents he usually does so in an ancient VW pick-up. This time he is in a Peugeot, so I could go with him and ma on the supermarket big buy. I helped it be relatively unstressful, the pair of us worked well, and neither lost the temper with mother. I also can the school vouchers to the scout group collecting them at the door, which happened to be my old one, the 1st Southgate.

I then made salad, managed chips, cooked rhubarb, opened the cava, made mother sit down, and served dinner. Nobody got stressed! Apart from mother with her let me lone! I’m alrighten!!, which I bulldozed gently.

I then went to the shops to pay their paper bill, and bought trotters. I then sawed the trotters into trotter and shank.

Watched The best of Benny Hill on ITV 3 and nearly choked. The one with the French film director being the one that drove me closest. I also discovered the source of me going Weeeeeeee!

Me and Basil then went out. We went to the Whetherspoons (County Oak) which was relatively chav free, but had no beer we could be bothered with. Then The Swan for Kissing Gate Brewery (Crawley’s first for about a century). Then the Downsman for the best pints of the day (I had Courage best he had St Austell Tribute). We would have stayed for at least one more but the whole pub was hired for a stag do.

Good day with a chance to discuss lots of important stuff.

Virgin Media are shit called to apologise for my personal lack of broadband. He claimed it was just chance that I had suffered 3 separate issues over 5 days, and took another tenner of my next bill. Still not happy but at least they called. The Coop (Together you will get hurt) have not.

From looking at books I think the very small bird that nearly flew down my throat last Saturday was just out of the nest. Maybe a chiffchaff or a warbler, but by looks and size I think most likely to be a firecreast.

A day of endorphins.

Ma gave me a iPulley, sleeveless in this case. Basil has also arrived, so for a few das it will be the family square.

Did the traditional bluebell walk from Faygate, and I must have been doing them for more than a decade now. The bluebells were very late this year but even so only about one in a hundred plants were were still in flower. Lots and lots of lesser speedwell though, the most I have ever seen; and also fields full of self-heal, so still plenty of violet blue.

Got the 12.05 train to Faygate, and was the only person getting off there, as is usual. Martin at the Holmbush, greeted me with the traditional It’s not that time of year again is it! and shook my hand. I had a relaxed chat and drink but was sad to hear the brilliant chainsaw woodcarver that was based next door died last year in his thirties due to long term excess consumption.

Called Tamar from Tamar’s field, the traditional spot. Just the answerphone, but there is a new pond and chickens, and chickens increase the entertainment value of any field a thousandfold, especially if there is a cockerel. This one seemed especially thick. Taking so long to focus on the bit of oat bar landing under his beak that one of his brood would get it instead.

Passed a small field of sheep and I bahhed at them. They all came running up to the fence to check, though my offer of long grass provoked little interest.

All of the fields on the walk seemed to have had work done, and new stiles are installed, which did cause my hip joints to protest.

The Frog and Nightgown was open. Ex-Halifax bomber pilot Jim is alive and well and Janet is still as sharp as knives, and was sat outside with friends. They probably guessed I was coming from the fact I cheered loudly when I saw it was open, and again when I saw the new sign (given to them by locals to mark 25 years at the pub).

Janet remembered me. Her friend and neighbour Coral (who runs the Owl Castle b&b) was impressed with that and my pulllover. She asked me to write her a poem, which is something I rarely do, but her name attracted me, Some names, like Beverley for instance, I find hard to rhyme with. Coral sparked verse. It was nothing to do with her being young and good looking, or the fact she kept going Aaaaaw! and Oooooh! when I was telling her about myself.


The wash and seas of foaming waves

The thrusting life to reach the light

The atoll’s eye that loving craves

Makes coral’s beauty a joy to sight


To the Halifax in the morning with mother to sort accounts; then H&M for new slippers for her; then her first visit to “poundworld, where she only asked how much something cost 3 or 4 times; then Post Office.

After lunch I went to London to see John about a Curry & Kipling.

On the way there I got talking to (forced my conversation on) a vision of a buying consultant, who told me about buying pigs bristles for dye testing, and much more that I found fascinating; in exchange for my tales of J.B.Priestley's tales of wool and fiber, and maybe one or two others, including the joy of origami.

Then up Charing Cross Road, where I got a George Burrow book (With the Bible in Spain) for more than double what I would pay on the internet, but he was a good man who knew his stuff. Then got a Kipling biography, but failed to find anything about Sydney Smith.

Then in the Duke of Chandos for the meeting, which went really well.

Then to the Harp, where I met Graham from “North Hampshire” (probably Slough) and a sales rep from Timothy Taylors called Giles. Giles promised us a pint of Golden Best if we came to his promotion at the Porcupine. Guess where we went.

Talked to loads of folk in the Porcupine, and not just to tell them to drink Golden Best. Liz the sound landlady; at least two blokes from Australia, and three from Canada; and a really pretty youth from Minnesota; as well as a limited company from Norway, whose name I could not pronounce, let alone spell.

I went with ma to the hospital for an appointment with a gut specialist. She was referred mainly because of her supposed weight loss. I assume the GP has weighed her and thinks it significant, because her own testimony is confused. At worst it is 5kg in 5 months.

The specialist did nothing except decide she was fit enough for a colonoscopy (which is not the one ending with a bag, but the one involving looking inside the big end). It takes a full day at hospital).

The specialist was a nice man, but all he did was decide that ma was fit enough to have the colonoscopy. Linda the cleaner, who was here when I arrived yesterday, said that that was going to have one! And the GP is surely better placed to decide on her fitness.

On the other hand the specialist did ask the woman in charge of appointments to ring me to discus the date, so I can be with her. I have also talked to ma about managing father; with his complete inability to inject himself with insulin, on that day. A nurse may be involved. It should be a relatively painless way of testing what happens if she is not here.

Later on a bottle of beer exploded in my basket at the Coop and gave be a shock and a small cut on the hand. The manger did not ask of my welfaire, let alone offer recompence. I photoed the bottle and the statement I wrote for him.

I did want to tell you such a lot about the last few days: about the exciting and fulfilling Sunday; about finding a bullet buried in the abandoned garden, identifying it as Czech S&B 6.5×57 and unfired, and taking to the police station where the young WPC said “I have no idea what that is.”; about learning lots and teaching more.

I would have written about all that, but my Virgin media is shit broadband connection has been down every day in the last five; with two more broken days in the previous 5. Breaks have ranged from 2 to 14 hours.

Another trip to the parents. Took the 07.20 Megabus coach/train combination. A good time and trip. Lots of yellow rape fields in full bloom, especially around Nottingham (the rape flowers seemed to be falling further south).

Watched a lorry at the power station at East Midlands Parkway being loaded with stuff from the inside of a cooling tower. It looked like massive, black corrugated cardboard, and by the way it bounced it seemed to be made of rubber.

Had a lovely chat with a couple from Beeston, Notts, on there way to see their daughter being made a member of the Royal College of Physicians.

Called in the Betjeman.

Things at the parents are like one of those two view plastic pictures from the 60’s, the kind where you move your head and the picture changes. In my case things look either fine or ominous, depending on where my head is. When I discovered their Virgin media is shit broadband connection was down it was a stressed head; but that was fixed, I have drawn breath, and things look better, though no different.

Meant to go and see Hayseed Dixie in Brighton or a gig with iain Burnside in London. I felt far too tired to do either. I am wondering if I should paint a Don’t mind me, it’s me menopause t-shirt.

So much to say, so few fingers to say it with

Walked from Roberts Park in Saltaire’s grand re-opening day (where I watched Bev’s Rainbow Morris troupe dance) to Baildon Woodbottom Cricket Club (where I watched Gargrave give Haworth Road Meths (the ‘home’ team) a right spanking. I left before the end, but the home team were chasing 230 odd for a win, and had scored 89 with 18 overs left. Thawites Nutty Black mild was £1.50 and I got talking to an old bloke who not only agreed with me that the fielding team clapping the bowler every time the batsman does not score is stupid, but was also a much better judge of the strokes the batsmen offered.

On the walk by the River Aire I saw my second greater spotted woodpecker this last fortnight (I can’t be bothered checking when I saw the last one, it was in Elland Park Wood, and I banged a stone on a tree) but also got a bird (I think a goldcrest, but will check) so demented with my imitation of its whistle it came almost within touching distance. There was a bird of the same king tweeting and fluttering its wings, I guessed a female, but the one I provoked followed me issuing Come on if you think you’re hard noises; whilst staring straight at me. Whaterver else I might look like, I do not look like a bird of less than 10cm’s.

It was lovely to be at Roberts Park. Having the reason of seeing the dancing made it even better. Talked to loads of people, from Pheobe who is just ;, and was as excited as me when I pointed out the blue balloon that was just a speck in the sky; to people who have had a bus pass for decades.

I think I have had 3, or maybe 2, pints short of a gallon today; but that was spread over 12 hours, and the three at the cricket, and the one in Shipley’s Wetherspoons, were mild,

I said ‘hello’ to friends in the City Vaults. ate from the Oasis kebab house, and impressed the Iranian who works there with my knowledge of his history (both of Iran and the kebab house); and he seemed to get excited by the fact it might be the oldest kebab house in Bradford.

I then went to the Polish Parish Club. Talked to Micheal from Wyszkow, who does 12 hour shifts.

BBC Radio 2 have just played Joy Division’s Love will tear us apart. I had to turn it up full. I have a vivid memory of hearing the news that the singer Ian Curtis had slashed his wrist in a bath. I was walking somewhere to the east of Crawley, by an abandoned garage. The image has never left me, but it stopped being something to aim for long since.

It turns out that was 30 years ago last Tuesday, I guess 4 months before I started supporting Bradford City. The date of Curtis’ death and the Bradford fire. less than a week apart.

Man full of beer warning!

Very good days, despite thieving pikey cant scratter bastards, probably driving an oranged striped, Shepa looking, pick up, nicking two fecling inches of lead pipe off the pipe that fed the cistern of one of the redundant outside toilets.

Yorkshire Water are parasitic scum, tossers, bastards and indifferent to need; which for water suggests drinking the blood of babies to stay alive is not far away.

I also discovered freezer issues, which might explain some of the time when I have not had full control of my own actions.

I do need a new fridge/freezer. Trouble is all the new ones I have found are either much taller than mine (so I lose somewhere to put fruit and new needles for my insulin pens), or I have a bigger fridge (no use to me) and a tiny freezer (I’ll have bo bread).

However: I did an instinctive fix by repacking, and it has flipping well worked.

Today I chased dreams, until my virgin (virgin are shit) broadband connection gave out at 11.00, for the third day running. Then I phoned people.

I wrote a full description of the last few days for my re=start interview, but I am chemically inca[able of cutting and pasting; so if I need to know what I have done since the last post I will have to check my ‘sent’ files.

The Re=start was the best I have ever had. I cannot remember his name, but he was good.

Then spent time catching up on my drinking at Salts, The Love Apple and the Delius (f.k.a The Thirsty Scholar). Talked at the barmaid in the Apple, and wrote a description of where the bluebells are, coz she said she loved them, and lived near Elland: then a few folk in the Delius, including a student from Cornwall, who said he was a Man U fan (So your a home fan then, being from Cornwell! Made his black Cockney mate laugh, a lot). I tell you what, once he got passionate his accent flowered (obviously the one he got whilst waiting for the bus to school, 3 times a year, or whilst getting cider drunk at 16 in the pub nearest his Emmet parents).

I got home to find my broadband connection was still unconnected, and called virgin (shite) media. I had called in the morning when it first went down, and put the phone down on her foreign accent, whereas when I called tonight, Alex and he even more foreign Scottish accent did what he should do, and well.

For the first time I saw a bird (magpie) drinking and washing from my ‘done nothing to, for, or with it’ pond. I always assumed it were cats that lowered the water level, before today.

I might go and sit and bat watch, and drink more, now. Or drink more, or not drink any more and go to bed, or not watch bats and watch drinks. or jusr drink, or not, It;s nice to have friends that will listen.

Tha would have been my final word, but my virgin (virgin are shit) connection is down again.

If I am off-line for more than 4 days, I am either ill, busy, drunk, not bothered, or changing from virgin (virgin are shit) media to a provider that provides.

I have done no work today, I just did gardening, cooking and a bit of cleaning. I was stood in the garden when I heard the dole home visit officer pull up in his diesel (I found out they are given a choice of either a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Astra, both diesels; and his Focus suffers from the same turbo lag problems as Roger’s Volkswagen. It’s the first bad thing I have heard about the new Focus, especially as it is a works car that is fully serviced).

The interview took less than 5 minutes, not including car talk time, and was just to confirm my basic details. I have no objection, but it has just made things complicated. I might have been able to get to London to talk about a Kipling show this week if I had not had to be here for it. Still, it has been good to be in my own house, and it is not as if I have been finding it hard to find pleasant things to do.

I dug up some horseradish and grated it with some ginger and stir fried both with sliced onions and yesterday’s braised beef. It was lovely but nowhere near as hot as I thought it would be.

Ilkley Literature Festival’s decision not to interview me was what I expected. I probably will do some kind of Ilkley Uncut Fringe, the trouble is that while I had some good support from the town, especially in terms of venues, I have nobody to help with the organizing, and it needs more organizing than I can manage to do it bigger tahn last year.

A little moth like butterfly we saw yesterday, which I did not know, was actually a Wood Tiger Moth, which, I guess, is where de Havilland got the name for the aeroplane Amy Johnstone flew to Australia in. The big, black flies in a cloud wanting to mate (such groups are called leks) were probably Large Ichneumans.

It has been such a good weekend (apart from knock backs from the dodgy Keighley hidden history thing, and Ilkley Lit Fest) that I am struggling to remember it all.

I thought I idd a laundry on Friday, but having my own blog I discovered I did that on Wednesday. I know I entertained in the evening (bacon steaks on a bed of potatoes. shredded cabbage, onion and caraway seeds), and did another private P.G.Wodehouse reading; but what I did in the day is a blank at the moment.

Hang on. I went to Keighley to talk business with Roger, then called in at Mike Harrion’s in Frizinghall. That’s taken a weight of my mind.

Saturday did heavy shops at both Morrisons and Lidl. Also did guerilla gardening at the top of my street, and showed the widow’s children how to plant bulbs. Whilst I was working a woman turned up with a big smile. She set my looney alarm off even before she started telling a story of assault. She seemed non-violent, and friendly, and I am not proud that she heard or saw me giving an opinion that prompted her to come back and demand to know if I thought she was mad. The trouble is that she had been standing at the end of the ginnel for minutes, watching and listening, for her to know that is what I thought.

Today. Set off with Bev to repeat the bluebell walk of a few days ago, a trip into the unknown for her. We saw many butterflies by the River Calder, just above Brighouse; more species than I can remember seeing in one place, and possible more than Bev had ever knowingly seen (or had pointed out to her by someone that knew). Peacock; orange tip; brimstone; a small white (maybe a wooded); and at least two more I could not guess at.

We then met a bloke with a dog. The dog looked very resigned once the bloke got talking. I did manage to force my recommendation of Elland Wood on him; but did do the walk he recommended, and we did discover a secrete bluebell wood below the railway between Elland Junction and Brighouse. We had to leap across a raging torrent, or rather hop across a sluggish stream; and then had to retrace our steps when the pond met the railway, but we, or rather I, nmade discoveries in the shade.

Then the Barge & Barrel (best quote:I arranged to meet her outside her house, and she never showed up!) and the Malt Shovel (Man’s voice That’s why I’ve grown a beard, to keep lasses off. Woman’s voice Well it’s not working love! I’m puckering up. The same man said he walked to Brighouse because: Nobody says owt to yer; but if you walk on’t canal every bugger smiles at yer an says ‘Ave a nice day.’… Feck off!’

It were a shared adventure and a lovely day.

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