May 2010


The big sycamore in next door’s garden is gone. I was up early to finish work on a new CV and an application for the Ilkley Literary Festival Poet in Residence and they started soon after. By the time we left the house for Ilkley it was standing gaunt and almost leafless, and by the time I came home it was a stump. It should never have been allowed to grow there, and it was a threat to all the surrounding houses, including mine, but I have to confess I will miss the view a little.

Went to see the new film Four Lions with Bev yesterday. It is a comedy about a Islamic terrorist group in Sheffield. I read the reviews today, and can understand the very harsh criticism of it not being a good film; but we both enjoyed it. There are very, very funny scenes; and we were both engaged for almost all of it; but the more I think about it the more details just wont stand up to inspection. It is a Three Stooges like film in places, but people really do die. I would still recommend it though. It actually made us both think.

On Saturday Joe filmed me doing poems for a DVD to add to the Ilkley application. He has produced a very good DVD, apart from my performance. I went thinking I would be doing a CD and just did not prepare myself to be filmed, and the camera showed it. Not usable this time but a very valuable lesson.

On Friday I cooked steamed pheasant with bread and apple sauce. It was well received. As were my readings from P.G.Wodehouse’s Eggs, beans and Crumpets.

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So I have worked for 15 hours as a Poll Clerk at today’s elections. The best one yet. A lot of that was due to Mohammed and Phil, the people I worked with. This is the first Parliamentary election I have worked, and the turn-out (around 60 percent, by my pencil calculations) was about double what I have had at previous elections I have worked. The thing is, apart from the first hour (because us two Poll Clerks had had no training, so saving Bradford Council the £20 we would have got as a fee) we coped much better.

Afterwards I went to the Brown Cow (Wendy from Durban) and relaxed my self. I do not go in often, but when I mentioned the tale of the lass who confessed to supplying the council estate with lumps of ice shaped like 2 shilling pieces (as told to me, and reported in this blog long since) folk had heard the story.

Tomorrow I have a ‘Re-Star(hi)t’ interview (I should have signed on today) which I think is my yearly one, when I am still on the 9 month one. I will have my dole stopped, and then be liable for Poll tax. Who needs adventure when you can be a self employed poet, writer and showman, who wants to help the wheels of democracy turning?
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Blessed days.

Yesterday I did a straight line walk of my own creation. I drew a line from the abandoned Old Red Lion on Little Horton Lane, to the Bulls Head in Baildon; and walked between the two, as close to the line as I could, and that was remarkably close.

I walked throug many phrases of my past life. The path to MacRory’s, past the parking bay of the professor of the University course I was thrown off (where I used to be violently ill, early of some mornings, by some strange coincidence): into the Rose and Crown, White Abbey Road, AT 11.05 they open of a Sunday) for my fiurst drink since my last full day in Crawley.

I then walked up Lumb Lane and by Valley Parade to Midland Road. Then down Hillam Road to have a splendid bacon and black pudding teacake at Jimmy’s. in Bradford Mothercycles’ car park.

Then on to Bolton Woods, which I knew very well when my, then good, friends Alister Macilroy and (deep sigh) Louise Hooker lived there. The New Victoria, in Bolton Woods, have a new couple wanting to make it work, and reintroduce hand pumps. I will be going again.

From there I walked through Owlet, stopped in the Travellers Rest (no handpulled), then to the Junction; where I met the metal detectors who have chocolate labradors
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Yjen up Baildon Road, via the glen/park to keep to the line. Then up the Bedlam Steps in Baildon, to the Bulls Head, where Bev came to meet me.

The rest of the weekend was really chilled (and chilly for a while, until my moaning about duvets with the tog rating of a paper towel resulted in extra being got). Great night in the Malt Shovel. Good people watching, of a kind I could not do on my own.

Today I got closer to cats, stamped cans flat so clear a path, and did a little gardening. Then a lovely shared walk to Fanny’s. A very relaxed stop there and Shipley.
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I had a mind to go and see Bradford City’s last home game of the season today, a thought reinforced by getting an invite to Mike Harrison and Emily’s wedding this morning; going to the match would allow me to accept in person.

There is usually a discount voucher scheme for City tickets, and getting one would allow beer with mates and the match. There was no voucher though; so I could have used the money I had to talk to blokes in a pub, or go to the match. I ended up doing neither. (City beat play-off hopefuls Northampton 2-0, leaving them in 15th).

I did a third day working in gardens. My vine has budded and the dwarf pear is in blossom. I have also planted some bulbs from a mixed box of yellow plants (by chance nearly all my summer flowers are purple/mauve).

I also made brawn with a ham hock. It is over 20 years since I last made this combination of small bits of ultra cheap pig bits boiled and left to set in its own jelly. The last time was with half a pigs head. I thought this one was just short of brilliant. I t tastes great, and I turned it out on a plate, like a jelly, but it proved hard to cut in slices. After a few more hours in the fridge though, and a different knife, it is cutting fine.

I had the brawn with a hot potato salad, one of my better ones.
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