Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm making a note here so that I remember that the Bomber was the  Ruts' captain for the first time at the Esher Floodlit Rugby Festival on Friday. It was extremely funny to see the ref describing to Ben in great detail how he was going to adjudicate at the scrum. A part of the game which - as a full back - the son and heir knows next to nothing. "He was talking a lot about the back foot," said Ben. "I just nodded."

The boys beat Esher and Teddington but got edged out by Chobham. Himself told me he got a couple of tries but I can only remember him touching down for the first points of the campaign so I must have been having a senior moment for his second.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Any Given Sunday

If you're going to be stuck in Wimbledon with the Bomber's rugby cancelled due to the terrible weather then a meal at Sticks 'n Sushi followed by The Humger Games movie at the Odeon is as good a way as any of taking your punishment.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ain't life grand!

The radiators and hot water tank will be salvaged, but apart from that the whole central heating system will be torn out and replaced on the 22nd of next month. I'm seven grand lighter of pocket and will be living without a ceiling for another month. I do get two years complementary Homecare with it so I suppose that is equivalent to a 20% discount from one point of view.

Also, now I have had time to reflect, it would have been easy for Mick to ignore the damp cladding on the vent pipe, put up the ceiling, and trouser the fee, leaving me with a ceiling that would collapse with damp again in a few years, so props to him. He's cost himself money and inconvenience for my benefit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

And so it goes ...

The central heating engineer turned up yesterday afternoon and concluded that my pipework is corroded and the vent is going all the time because of the quality of the water in the system.

It is too far gone even to power flush and thus, the whole system will have to be replaced which means ripping up the floorboards. This - of course - will all have to be done before I can get my ceiling put back up.

A further and better guy is going to come round and work through it with me this afternoon.

Weeks of chaos at the end of which I will be several grand lighter in the pocket is the current forecast.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Story So Far .....

I got a call from Mitch the builder yesterday saying that when they took down the landing ceiling, they found that there was still a leak in the loft pipework, and further this leak had rotted away part of the joist.

I called in HomeCare who sent a plumber around. The plumber in turn told me that the the leak is coming from the open vent on the heating, so I needed a British Gas engineer. I was promised he'd attend between 3 and 6 and that I would get a call when he was on the way as I only work five minutes away. When I got in there was a card through the door saying that the engineer had called at 5.03 when I wasn't home.

I called back and am due to get another visit between twelve and six today. It is essential it gets done as I've had to cancel the electrician for today and re-book him for tomorrow. I'm about to call and stress this to them which explains the collection of thoughts on these spindrift pages.

This sorry tale also finally explains why the bathroom roof is waterlogged. The vent should be empty. If it is leaking in the loft this explains why the overflow tank would have been continuously streaming water onto the flat roof, via an amazingly stupidly sited pipe.

Update: Today's job number is 138 745 2774

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bound East for Cardiff

His life was simply awful, an existence bookended by a grim metaphor of rootlessness. His dying words were reportedly: 'I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room.' Between those two rooms, the first on Broadway and the last in Boston, he struggled through sixty-five years of intermittent soul-draining misery. After an unhappy nomadic childhood, gloomy Catholic boarding school and a brief spell at Princeton University, he bummed around the world as a merchant seaman, developed a taste for liquor, and contracted tuberculosis. He was a remarkably bad poet, publishing some dud verses when working briefly for the New London Telegraph in 1912. A spell in a sanatorium led to his decision to become a writer and he was an emerging theatrical talent when his parents (both actors) and much-loved elder brother died in quick succession. Two failed marriages produced three children; his third wife, the actress Carlotta Monterey, was addicted, though not fatally, to potassium bromide, a clobbering sedative available over the counter in American drugstores until 1975. His two sons, Eugene Jr and Shane, both committed suicide, the former predeceasing his father, who later disowned his daughter, Oona. She married Charlie Chaplin (she was eighteen, he fifty-four) and O'Neill never spoke to her again. His last ten years were spent as an increasingly reclusive invalid, with a debilitating nervous condition, misdiagnosed as Parkinson's Disease, that caused his hands to tremble so violently that he couldn't hold a pen, let alone write a word. A morose alcoholic, he was subject to long depressions. A suicide attempt at the age of twenty-four informs the content of Exorcism, written seven years later.
Anyone who can read Eugene O'Neill's life story without laughing must have a heart of stone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One thing after another

Nearly two months after my floods (Icons passim) the initial (it's a long story) insurance claim is settled and the builders arrived this morning to take down the ruined ceiling.

After that the electrician will come in to replace the shorted lights and wiring.

After that the builders will come back to board up the ceiling again.

After that the plasterer will attend.

Once the plaster is dry, the builders will come back to put up the coving and sort out the decoration.

We're not out of the woods yet.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Synonyms 2.0

friend: stranger
community: strangers
like: click
share: steal
comment: type
chat: read
talk: bot
follow: ignore
social: solo
groom: stalk
discover: parrot

(poke: prodnose)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Howard Moon

Howard is an aspiring musician, actor, poet, novelist and photographer. He is vain, despite being described as "generic-looking" and often makes outrageous claims which turn out to be true. He reacts to criticism violently. His favourite style of music is jazz-fusion, and he spends part of each day in a "jazz trance". He often claims different parts of his body or aspects of his style are "powerful" particularly when he is being mocked. He is unlucky in love. Despite his lack of success, he seems to see himself as a smooth-talker and while he considers himself cool and dashing, his attempts to engage women are awkward at best.
Netflix gas given me the chance to catch up with the first two series of The Mighty Boosh. I think I may actually be Howard Moon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dashed elusive, what?

I have managed to acquire some footage of Pippa Middleton at the Vicomte Arthur de Soultrait's party in Paris earlier this week. More I cannot say for my source works in the dark, and his identity is only known under the solemn oath of secrecy to his immediate followers.

Between ourselves, the Scarlet Pimpernel is the name of a humble English wayside flower; but it is also the name chosen to hide the identity of the best and bravest man in all the world, so that he may better succeed in accomplishing the noble task he has set himself to do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What the Taco Bell®?

Zany and optimistic, Olive Shipley starts a music blog called 'Let's Big Happy', which is dedicated to helping bands launch their careers. When bands seek out her talents, Olive's ingenuity propels them into the spotlight as she pulls off absurd, attention-seeking stunts. Her visions are always bizarre and rarely go according to plan, but with the help of Andrew W.K. and an unreal number of tacos, Olive's own career takes off beyond her expectations and 'Let's Big Happy' becomes an Internet sensation. Underlining the synergistic nature of the partnership, the show's final episode will feature Taco Bell's new Doritos Locos Tacos, a product that launched at restaurants nationwide earlier this month.
"Taco Bell is a brand of firsts, continually at the forefront of traditional and social entertainment partnerships, and we are always looking for new ways to authentically connect with our fans," said Brian Niccol, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Taco Bell Corp. "Fox Digital understands that -- and has been a great partner, leveraging our passion for music and our Feed the Beat program. 'Let's Big Happy' integrates Taco Bell and Feed the Beat in a way that is organic to the series and supports our new branding efforts to Live Mas."
This makes Infinite Jest's Year of the Whopper look eerily prescient.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As long as the fire’s still burning

“When you get onto the mat, if you don’t respect anybody who’s on that mat, you’re not worthy to be on it. You’ve got to respect everybody, whatever their creed or colour of origin. When you go on that judo mat, everybody’s won.”

A quote from a profile of Winston Gordon (2nd from right back row in the photo above) on the Telegraph web site today. The Bomber also appears in the picture at the right of the front row. I'm not sure Ben ever really understood what elevated company he was in. (I've also just noticed that the son and heir is also, and not untypically, the only kid too reserved to be displaying his medal.)

Anyway read the article here. It is all true and he walks the walk; as is demonstrated in our photo of an Olympic athlete taking a day out of his schedule to help Eric and Darren chaperone a junior team at a competition.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a goal of two halves

Messi may be in town with Barcelona for the Chelsea game, but who needs him when City have got Mark Hudson.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hit the DEC

I am off to the Disasters Emergency Committee today.

As its a touch damp an cold I am looking for someone to whom I can complain about the weather but I'm not sure that I will get much sympathy at the umbrella organisation which launches and coordinates UK responses to major disasters overseas.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Give me the U7 and I will give you the man

I learned at the weekend that the Old Ruts (the Bomber's club) won the 2012 RFU "Recruitment club of the Year" award for the whole of England, having recruited over 160 new players this season.

I'm pleased of course to see mini rugby going from strength to strength up here, but there's a bitter-sweet taste from what Vince was telling me over Easter about its decline in Cardiff.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Anyone for tennis?

With the end of the rugby season looming, the Bomber has expressed an interest in trying tennis for the summer; looks like a good place to start.

Update: Then maybe if it goes well.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The continuing adventures of Jessie J

Jessie J: OK, Coconut Man, Moon Head and Pea, you ready?

Coconut Man, Moon Head and Pea: No

Friday, April 13, 2012

Arthur 'Two Sheds'

We're invited to the official opening of Andy and Ollie's shed at 4pm Sunday. I like to think if it as a sort of sequel to my red carpet appearance at the Titanic 3D premiere at the Albert Hall (Icons passim).

They've wired it up to the mains but neglected the internet. I think something along the lines of the D-Link 200Mbps Powerline Wireless-N Kit out to be up to the job of piggy backing the interwebs on the 'leccy but I better confirm it is all on the same fuse box.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April showers

Those whom God preserve
The Nubrella, which resembles a bubble wrapped around the user's head and shoulders, works by strapping on a shoulder support and extending a canopy around the head.
Weighing just over 1kg, it costs £40 and comes in either black or see-through style.
Inventor Dr Strabismus, 49, from Utrecht, said: "The major advantage is the wearer doesn't have to carry anything when not in use as it goes behind the head like a hood.
"The umbrella was long overdue for some innovation, now people can ride their bikes and work outdoors completely hands free while staying protected.
"Millions of people are required to work outdoors no matter what the conditions are and simply can't hold an umbrella and perform their tasks.
"We believe this will revolutionise the industry and are targeting people who can't use an umbrella or are too tired to hold an umbrella."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Mind Outside My Head

"You are not stuck in traffic: you are traffic." I may have had more time to think, stuck on the M4 in journeys that bookended the Easter break, than was good for me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mr Cadbury's Parrot Reprise

I'm back and it is time to reflect on the Easter mystery.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


I am off to Wales with the Bomber for the Easter break which means that you won't be hearing from me on the interwebs, Ma and Pa Browne not having broadband.

For the future however, I have ordered a (deep breath) new iPad - now with ultrafast 4G LTE connectivity.

I may need help when it arrives. Last night's attempt (wine glass in hand) to re-tune the TV after BBC2's analogue signal was turned off left me still 2less and all the box's menus converted to an alphabet - never mind language - that I couldn't even recognize never mind read.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A cheap shot

PLANS to monitor millions of emails, texts and website visits are vital to trap killers like Ian Huntley and smash paedo rings, Theresa May declares today.
Writing in The Sun, the Home Secretary says the new powers are needed to “help police stay one step ahead of the criminals”.
This is so disingenuous that words fail me. I grant you that mobile phone evidence was crucial in Huntley's conviction, but internet records weren't relevant to it at all.

The IT lesson from the horrible murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman was of the incompetence of the police in managing information. Specifically, in the failure of Humberside police to pass on suspicions about him that would have stopped him getting a job as a school caretaker in the first place.. There is a specific derogation in the Freedom of Information Act that allows Police Forces to hold hearsay on their CIS databases.

I am 100% with David Davis on this.
EVERY email to your friends. Every phone call to your wife. Every status update your child puts online.
The Government want to monitor the lot, by forcing internet firms to hand over the details to bureaucrats on request.
Whenever a government announces plans to snoop on British citizens, the argument is always the same — it needs the new law to stop terrorists.
But we already have a law which lets the secret services eavesdrop on suspected criminals and terrorists.
When the London and Glasgow bombings happened, the secret services were able to use telephone records to identify the suspects.
In a matter of hours. In the middle of the night. They did not need a new law to do that.
The new law does not focus on terrorists or criminals. It would instead allow civil servants to monitor every innocent, ordinary person in Britain, and all without a warrant.
This would be a massive, unnecessary extension of the State’s power.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Happy Easter

The ginger geezer sold out towards the end. Good for him.

Monday, April 02, 2012

2 April 1982

It is thirty years ago today that Argentina invaded the Falkands. I was a pampered, gilded lily of twenty in university at the time, and I remember very clearly that the overwhelming majority of the casualties I heard about on the news were younger than me.

Younger than twenty.

You really do have to wonder what circumstances can possibly justify two countries sending their children out to kill and be killed by each other.

Sunday, April 01, 2012


Churrasco (Portuguese: [ʃuˈʁasku], Spanish: [tʃuˈrasko]) is a Portuguese and Spanish term referring to beef or grilled meat more generally, differing across Latin America and Europe, but a prominent feature in the cuisines of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and other Latin American countries.

It is improved somehow the exotic looking Brazillian fella manning the grill turns out to have a broad Cheshire accent.