July 2010


A pleasant few days of catching up, mostly with myself.

I was on http://www.bcbradio.co.uk/>BCB’s Roundtable show this afternoon. I argeed to do it a while back but made no note, and got ther reminder call very late in the morning. Things must be ok with me cash wise because I splashed out £3.50 for a taxi!

I arrived a bit flustered after the live show had started, and did not recognize my friend Martin the photographer was a fellow guest. To be fair I have only ever seen in in dim pubs, but even so I wonder if it is time to start writing my name on the front of my underpants, incase I forget it!

The show seemed to go well, but does not seem to be repeated; so I cannot really tell.

I finally managed to finish a reading list for the Pie & Priestley, which allowed me to apply for a licence to the copyright administrator.

I also spent some time at the Disability Support office talking to Joe, about me getting a very small sound system/p.a. for shows, and other stuff; and looking at Steve’s photos of Ramsgate.

I also bought a sleeping bag from Lidl for £15, for a possible trip to a morris fest in Shrewsbury.

The only downside of the day was the effects of the dirty kebab I got from the only stall in John St. market which did not have a queue of Asians. It took 6 hours for full throttle, but I was millimetres from a turbo strike.
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Briefly.

Ilkley (show chasing) – Shipley (meeting and chips) – Leeds and Huddersfield (changing trains) – Marsden (morris watching and getting wet) – home (Wodehouseing).

Broadly

Spent the morning writing and sending e-mails, mostly about shows but also about a request for ‘inspiring words’ for the little park I have been involved with. I sent a poem and had the woman from the quango mail me to say it was lovely, but there was a word limit of 5, or less! She was chasing funding to pay an engraver to do the words but had been too lazy, stupid, or arrogant to bother with the actual words. Waste of money is under 5 words, and is Meaningless and Project to fill my CV. I said none of that in my reply, but made some useful criticism (useful to me that is).

The Ilkley projects are not going well, unlike the Highgate one (where the manager has already done more work for the show than any of my friends have for the last few).

I wanted the hat throwing linked to the Ilkley Festival but have found it almost impossible to get any reply out of the Councillor who owns it since a set of one sentence e-mails last week; so no answer to whether I can get grant support or any costs covered, and seeing nobody is actually in charge it makes things very difficult. There is a programme out, but without a single time given for any event.

As for the Ilkley Pie & Priestley the venue I used last year is being really tardy in giving me a quote. If I had not had such good service at the last two events there I would already have written them off; as it is I have asked for a quote from another, potentially very good, venue.

I did buy lots of books from charity shops, including a Kipling collection with lots of short stories I do not have, and an Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, which I have started reading from the back.

Met Bev and some fish and chips in Shipley station, which was just what I needed. We then went to Marsden, where she was dancing with Wayzgoose at the Tunnel End Inn.

The Thieving Magpies and The Slbbing Billy’s (a team that dance in clogs with full irons) were also dancing; and it was outside, and the was a cold and piecing dizzle as well. As I said to the young Danish and Canadian women who had come to watch, doing daft things outside in the rain was a grand English tradition.

The smiling Geordie from Magpies thanked me for mentioning the team in my blog, and for pointing out she was looking for a spare man, at least in the public dance off. I thought she was called Allison, but Bev, who reads this, pointed out I had called her Chris here, and so it proved.

Thanks to an umbrella and beer the rain added to my sense of occasion, although I felt sorry for the swallow desperately looking for any insects around rain sodden trees. If it had been fine we might have been eaten my midges, but the swallow would have got many of them, and carried some human protein down to southern Africa.

I did better at the dance off and was complemented on my use of stick (officially sticking but twatting describes it better). The free sausages afterwards were really good, the pub dog was nice and the pub cat lovely; and I talked to a few people.

Walking back along the dark canal towpath we saw frogs. Marsden station was a sod, and we could easily have missed our train due to it being one of the worst I know. Totally inadequate signposting, no direct link between platforms, and dangerous steps down from the public road that serves the cheap way of not having a footbridge
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virgin (worst internet provider) media
Another hours internet downtime Monday. Phone unusable at same time.

I have been off-line for several days, but it was not broadband supplier’s fault this time.

Friday

A really low key, and pleasant, return ‘home’. Until the point I tried to go on-line, when I discovered my internet connection was not. I have no clue when you can read this.

At Three Bridges Station I offered information to a woman who had been enquiring. Turns out my subconscious was correct, We were both travelling via St Pancras, I I learnt about how Japan can run trains through earthquakes, the geography of Derbyshire; and the the better parts of Chesterfield. I may have told Alice things she did not know, including tip for not missing your train if travelling via First Capital (no) Connect (set off at least an hour earlier than they tell you).

I had two pints in the Betjemin, Beer was fine, and I talked to a few customers, but I did not know one of the staff, and it all seemed like the company’s chickens were looking to roost.
The Grand Central direct train to Bradford seemed much better than the one down, but was probably largely the same. I wrote an essay of comments to the company, especially about the dwell time between Doncaster and Bradford (and vis versa), and I think I talked to all of the train crew apart from the driver, including the bloke with the laptop trying to fix the train whilst it was moving.

I did most of the talking at the buffet which was selling Nick Stafford’s Hambledon Ale , until I drank it all.

I gave some late night hug therapy, which I enjoyed enormously.

Saturday

Went to Mike and Emily’s wedding at the Victoria Hotel. It was a really nice day, even though I had to do on my own. I did a short reading during the service; saw a good few old friends from Mike’s side; and met lots of Canadians from Emily’s side. I sat down to dinner with regular reader Mark, and Julie; and Glen, Becky and Maggie from Toronto.

pie and peas were on the menu, and I made the hotel go and get some mint sauce.

Sunday

Bev came round with some lamb chops, and I did a barbeque. I think a first fwhile I have lived here, and possibly the first I have done. It was good.

Did more Wodehouse to end the day.
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Ma saw a pair of legs going through a bedroom window of the house across the street. I called the police and they were here quick. Apparently it was the family’s kids messing about.

Apart from cooking a very good mutton curry, and picking raspberries and red currents I did almost nothing today. Thought about going to see Sussex vs. Gloucestershire at Arundel, partly because I wrote a cultural guide for it without going there (but I was never paid for it, so that’s all right). I just stopped here and watch Dave.
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Spent nearly all of today in Highgate, where J.B.Priestley lived for long enough to get a plaque. I was looking for a venue for Pie & Priestley.

I went to a full dozen places, and am tired. The best offer was from Avi, at only the second place, The Gatehouse. This is a Weatherspoons, which means potential nationwide coverage, and while there ere are lots of things to sort out, I will be trying hard to sort them quickly.

Honourable mentions to the Red Lion and Sun, and the Angel (which have no suitable room)’ T.O.C (an acronym on the pub sign, that I am not going to spell out, and which is probably too far down the hill); and the Rose and Crown (which is a restaurant, and too high end for this show, until the show takes off). I also went to the Spaniards, which was the busiest pub of the day; so busy I could barely talk to the bloke in charge; but enough to learn they could not do meat and potato pies.

I passed an 2 seat Audi, in Benjamin Street, Clerkenwell, with its nearside mirror covered in bird poo. I stopped to look up to discover a pigeon’s nest, and to wonder why the car had been parked for so long.

Another not about a previous day. On the way up to White Wells on Saturaday I stopped to look at the top of a 1950/60’s round, curved top, post box. It was under a big tree, and covered in more life than you will see on a helicoper safari. All if it seemingly walking aimlessly across the rust ridged and mildewed top. Fat, lumbering ladybird lavea, greenflies without wings running about, a few red spider mites, and at least two other animals. Nearly all would get to the edge, and then walk away. The only greenfly I saw caught was by a mite. I have never seen a ladybird lavea catch anything, and that did not change in the ten minutes I watched them.
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It turns out that the Department of Work and Pensions are nothing to do with Social Services, so this mornings visit was not a Social Services assessment; but it should result in my mother getting a Carers Allowance. I am not an ignorant man, but things for old people seem almost more complicated than I can manage; but it has to be said I have managed to get things changed for my parents benefit.

They also had the windows measured for a quote for replacements; so the icy draft straight to the back of my dad’s neck, and the upstairs window that will fall out if it is ever opened, will be things of the past soon, hopefully.

I few bits and pieces about past days.

I called in the Three Horseshoes Helion St, yesterday. The were two Cockneys and a Scot. We started talking about pies (guess who started that) and ranged across many of the ethnic delicacies of Britain; from pie, mash and liquor ,with jellied eels; through white pudding and haggis; to the glories of pork scratchings.

Before that; on the long West Yorkshire zag of the train journey, I saw a hedge of 5 herons flying over a new looking lake cum pond by the railway. I do not think I have ever seen more than a single heron in any one place.
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I finally managed to travel on Grand Central’s direct Bradford London service.

£69 return is cheaper than East Coast ‘off peak’ return fare by at least £15. I can also buy (or rather: have to bu) my ticket on the train; so none of the farce of havng to go to Leeds to collect East Coast tickets. It also takes only about 20 minutes more, they also sell good bottled beer. There also seems to be more space on the Class 180 than on most inter city stock.

But working backward: the train rattled (though mostly before it got to the main line).

The journey to the main line at Doncaster was through, mostly, new ground for me, but still got tedious (southwest to Halifax – southeast to Brighouse – east to Wakefield Kirkgate, then Pntefract Monkhill – then a massive curve to finally arrive at Doncaster to the south). The train did not stop then until London, so makes up time, but the fact that the train stood stock still for at least 30 minutes at stations and signals before Doncaster is much more noticeable than the fast bit to London.

Finally, while the fare is much better than the on the day price for East Coast, they offer no onward fares or on-line discount. There are not a lot of good deals for East Coast, but the total cost of a single to my parents is still less if pre-booked. Grand Central are also much more expensive than Megasbus.

So mixed feelings. I will be using them again in the near future; but I already I think Grand Central will be second choice to meagbus in normal circumstances, or first if I have spare cash and want to think.

If East Coast can be bothered to install a ticket machine in Bradford and reduce their midday fares (when their Leeds – London trains are not even a quarter full) then I would use them; if Grand central can either cut 30 minutes off the journey to Doncaster, or cut the fare, then they would be first choice.
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