Monday, December 31, 2012

The task of mankind

Gilgamesh, whither rovest thou?
The life thou pursuest thou shall not find.
When the gods created mankind,
Death for mankind they set aside,
Life in their own hands retaining.
Thou, Gilgamesh, let full be thy belly.
Make thou merry by day and by night.
Of each day make thou a feast of rejoicing,
Day and night dance thou and play.
Let thy garments be sparkling fresh,
Thy head be washed; bathe thou in water.
Pay heed to the little one that holds on to thy hand,
Let thy spouse rejoice in thy bosom!
For this is the task of mankind!
Siduri is a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh. She is an "alewife", a wise female divinity associated with fermentation. Take her party advice this New Year's Eve. She's qualified, and nothing much has changed over the last four thousand years it would seem.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pawking Metaws

From a BBC festive quiz:

1. The Queen has more than 400,000 followers on her British Monarchy Twitter site and has tweeted more than 13,000 times. How many people is she following?

When it launched it looked like she was following Andy Muray and the Burglar; they'd been cancelled but it took days to disappear from Twitter's cache.

Simpler times, and I still remember when a quarter of a million followers seemed a lot.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Big Game 5

There are 82,000 of us, by all accounts, off to Twickenham today to see the 'Quins play London Irish.

Friday, December 28, 2012


We speculatively plugged the Bomber's new laptop into the big TV in the living room last night via the HDMI cable that it usually reserved for the XBOX.

World of Warcraft in HD was such a bright and detailed revelation in high definition that even I could bear to look at it for five minutes.

I'm sure that there are settings that can be fine tuned, but this definitely looks like the way forward even after a cursory effort. If  I can't find a wireless keyboard and mouse combo in the office to play from the couch at home, I will pick up something like this Microsoft offering.

Looking back, the Welsh Born Icon Time Machine, tells me that he has been playing World of Warcraft for six of his twelve years.

Half his life. Gosh.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quality time

  1. The M4 motorway links London with South Wales. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Other major places along the route include Reading, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. Originally referred to as the London-South Wales Motorway, the English section was constructed between 1965 and 1971, the Welsh section was completed in 1993 and the Second Severn Crossing opened in 1996.
  2. University Hospital of Wales (referred to locally as "the Heath" or UHW), opened in November 1971, is a major 1000-bed hospital situated in the Heath district of Cardiff, Wales. UHW is the third largest University Hospital in the UK and the largest hospital in Wales, providing 24-hour Accident & Emergency and various other specialist departments.
Lately I feel that I am getting to know both of them better than I would like.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Child's Christmas in Wales

It is Dylan Thomas you shall have this year butt, as Wales is where I'm to isn't it.

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.

"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

"Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.

"There won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."

There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.

"Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and ran out of the house to the telephone box.

"Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."

But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

"Were there postmen then, too?"

"With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells."

"You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?"

"I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them."

"I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells."

"There were church bells, too."

"Inside them?"

"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence."

"Get back to the postmen"

"They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles ...."

"Ours has got a black knocker...."

"And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out."

"And then the presents?"

"And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger's slabs.

"He wagged his bag like a frozen camel's hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone."

"Get back to the Presents."

"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."

"Go on the Useless Presents."

"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons."

"Were there Uncles like in our house?"

"There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms' length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers."

Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.

I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.

"I bet people will think there's been hippos."

"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"

"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail."

"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"

Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house.

"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."

"Let's write things in the snow."

"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."

Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"

The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior." We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"

"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen ... And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.

"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said. "

Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.

"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that.

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

Monday, December 24, 2012

forswear thin potations

If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them should be to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.
The compliments of the season to you.

When the nations lose their war-sense
And the world gets back its horse-sense
What a day for celebration that will be.
When some body shouts "The fight's up!"
And "It's time to put the lights up!"
Then the first thing to be lit up will be me.

I'm going to get lit-up when the lights go up in London
I'm going to get lit up as I've never been before....
You will find me on the tiles
You will find me wreathed in smiles
I'm going to get so lit up I'll be visible for miles

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home from Home

Well, I have rushed back to SW19. Why, I wonder?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The method of loci

Myself: (coming out of hiding): Who are you? 

Prodnose: I am Prodnose, the busybody-- Do you remember me? 

Myself: Prodnose... 

Prodnose: Yes, Prodnose... 

Myself: You better get out of here, Prodnose; there's gonna be trouble... 

Prodnose: If there is trouble, I stay here to help you. For your father -- for your father 

Myself: Alright... Listen, wait for me outside in front of the hospital. Alright? I'll be out in a minute. Go ahead... 

Prodnose: Okay... okay. 

[I return to the Don's room, at his bedside. The nurse is still in the room] 

Myself: Just lie here, Pop. I'll take care of you now. I'm with you now. I'm with you... 

Friday, December 21, 2012

dropping a conglanger

By the nineteenth century, the dream of constructing a philosophical language capable of expressing universal truths had given way to the equally ambitious desire to unite the world through a single, easy-to-learn, politically neutral, auxiliary language. Solresol, the creation of a French musician named Jean-Fran├žois Sudre, was among the first of these universal languages to gain popular attention. It had only seven syllables: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Si. Words could be sung, or performed on a violin. Or, since the language could also be translated into the seven colors of the rainbow, sentences could be woven into a textile as a stream of colors.
All hail constructed languages.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things that might have been

I think about things that might have been and never were.
The treatise on Saxon myths that Bede omitted to write.
The inconceivable work that Dante may have glimpsed
As soon as he corrected the Comedy's last verse.
History without two afternoons: that of the hemlock, that of the Cross.
History without Helen's face.
Man without the eyes that have granted us the moon.
Over three Gettysburg days, the victory of the South.
The love we never shared.
The vast empire the Vikings declined to found.
The globe without the wheel, or without the rose.
John Donne's judgment of Shakespeare.
The Unicorn's other horn.
The fabled Irish bird which alights in two places at once.
The child I never had.
I'm not crying. There's just something in my eye.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Am I blue?

"When there's a French whore in the White House, then we can talk."

For your Christmas movie consideration.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dreams with sharp teeth

I used to love Harlan Ellison when I was a kid. At least one of us has mellowed.

My brow has lowered further this week, as I am taking a break from Ray Monk's biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein, to read Mark Kriegel's life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.
From Youngstown, Ohio, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
A lightweight contender, like father like son
He fought for the title with Frias in Vegas
And he put him away in round number one
Hurry home early - hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini's fighting Bobby Chacon
Prodnose: What we can't say we can't say, and we can't whistle it either.

Monday, December 17, 2012

light the touchpad and retire

We spent a lot of this weekend setting up the new laptop I have got the Bomber for Christmas. It may detract from the romance of gifts and wrapping but it was certainly necessary.

As a case in point, after we had downloaded all 20+GB of World of Warcraft, he told me that it was very difficult to play because the touchpad stopped working while he was using the keyboard and for about a brief period afterwards as well.

Much head scratching and research revealed a setting that is explicitly designed to stop the touchpad responding  for about 2-3 seconds while the keyboard is being used. It is supposed to avoid erratic movement of the cursor if your palm accidentally brushed the pad while typing. Not really something you would want to be trouble shooting on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beepin' 'ell

I binned the gym this morning as I had received the following scary email yesterday from the Old Ruts U12 coaching team.
Dear All
Now is the chance to show your Boys where they get their "talent" from, Can ALL parents please bring their Trainers to join in a "friendly" session tomorrow.
As it turned out, adult participation was confined to the bleep test and gratifyingly the Bomber and I were the last two standing.

What I didn't tell him however, was that I had craftily only participated in alternate legs of the runs in the middle part of the test which left me with extra gas in the tank at the end.

I will come clean eventually however as there is a life lesson I want him to take from the story: whenever possible let someone else do the donkey work before showing up just before the end to grab any glory that may be going.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Girl's Gone Wilde

Kim Wilde and Ricky Wilde serenade passengers on the train home after the MagicFM Christmas Party. (Hat tip. Frankie).

I saw Kim Wilde supporting Michael Jackson at Cardiff Arms Park in 1988 on the BAD stadium tour. She's doing better than him now. Ricky Wilde actually wrote Kids in America for her (along with their father Marty) by the way, trivia hounds.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stop making census

Scrubbed 2011 census data is now available and the papers are full of yadayadayada about the percentage of the population identifying their religious affiliation as Jedi and other such enterprises of great pith and moment.

I remember the census weekend because a friend of the Bomber stayed over at ours on the Saturday night.  If he had stayed over on Sunday I would have had to supplied Her Majesty's snoopers with all sort of information that I, straw chewing bumpkin that I am, didn't actually know; trivial things like his precise surname and address. I knew his family well enough , and that he could be taken home through the park, turn right, turn left, first house over the road but the more formal stuff eluded me.

I know the details now, but I won't share them with you. He needs to stay incognito as I recently heard the boys chuckling about the fact that this year our guest has snaffled a whiteboard controller and sometimes uses if to mess, ghost-in-the-machine stylee, with a teacher's mind in class. Officially I disapprove but it does bring a smile to my face every time I think of it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Matron, take them away!

(Hat tip. Simon B.)

A technique I have for judging if a film is really any good is to imagine it remade with the Carry On team and decide if that version would be an improvement.

Thus, "Carrry On Godfather" probably wouldn't be better than the original, but "Carry On Betty Blue" could be a work of genius.
Betty (Hattie Jacques) and Zorg (Sid James) are passionate lovers who live in a shack on the beach.  Zorg narrates the story of their relationship via voiceover. He describes Betty as “like a flower with translucent antennae and a mauve plastic heart”. She yearns for a better life and quit her last job as a waitress. Zorg's boss asks him to paint the 500 shacks that populate the beach—a fact that he keeps from Betty who thinks they only have to do one. She takes on the project with enthusiasm that quickly turns to anger once she learns the actual number. In response, Betty covers the boss’s car with pink paint .... and then the fun really begins ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Pound Fish

The fish seller – real name Muhammad Shahid Nazir – became a web sensation earlier this year when footage of him singing his One Pound Fish ditty at his stall in Upton Park, London, surfaced online.

This would explain why the Bomber has been singing it to himself for the last few months. I simply assumed that he had gone off his head.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Muddied Oafs

The planets aligned for mini rugby this weekend. Ben's mate Jonnie finally switched codes from soccer. Alex, who we take in the car to training, made a debut for his school at inside half. My old Whitton friend Steve turned up at the Ruts with his son who plays for Twickenham U11s and I wandered over from the U12s to say hello just as he went over in the corner for a try. As ever, the Bomber scored in his match as well. Then, when we got back to the club, a couple of Harlequins players were there with the Aviva Premiership trophy they won last season.

All in all, a very satisfying way to spend a Sunday morning.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

all the loungers and idlers of the Empire

I went to Venus yesterday afternoon for the launch of a local osteopath's folk music CD. Wouldn't that be a great alibi in a detective story, or perhaps for Sherlock Holmes to deduce from my demeanour?

If he was also to establish from his observations that I have had some rickety fence panels in the back garden replaced free as a neighbour's contractors accidently knocked them over when taking down a tree that would be correct as well.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

The Bomber mentioned in passing the other day that they are studying the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" in school. I was delighted as it contains perhaps my favourite exchange in the oeuvre.
"I will go when I have said my say. Don't you dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here. I traced her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here." He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands.
"See that you keep yourself out of my grip," he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace he strode out of the room.
"He seems a very amiable person," said Holmes, laughing. "I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own." As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again.
I bought the Jeremy Brett telly version on iTunes for £1.98 and we watched it on Thursday night. It also made me realize that as I have the collection from which it comes on Kindle. The story is, to all intents and purposes with me all the time as it is on my iPhone and iPad as well as the Kindle hardware.

All very revolutionary I suppose, though one still actually has to read it. It doesn't just leach through the skin by osmosis.

Friday, December 07, 2012

a jobbing actor

The Burglar intoduced me to Cabin Pressure when we were driving down to West Dean for a meeting I think.

It is strange and rather heartening as the trailer for the new Star Trek movie is released to think that Benedict Cumberbatch is spending his weekends playing a half-wit in an ensemble cast taping a BBC Radio 4 sitcom with a budget that would probably be lost as a rounding error in  a Hollywood tent pole release.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Magic Box

The tip of the finest snow flake from the northern lights of Antarctica.*
The tip of the finest leaf on a sparkly Christmas tree next to the blazing fire.
The crumbs of a biscuit after Santa has placed his teeth in them on a snowy Christmas day.
The left overs of ancient fairy dust.
The flaming heart of the devil.
The holy heart of god himself.
The left overs of smelted gold.
The sediment of drunken whisky.
EJ Bomber (12 1/4)

* Northern Lightsh; Shouth Pole? Shurely shome mishtake?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

True, Unlikely, Welsh

Heston Blumenthal aims to rekindle people's love of traditional pub food by building a giant pie and transforming it into a fully functioning public house in the Welsh village of Minera. But that's not all - his tavern comes complete with a billiard table made from cod, tartare sauce and pea mousse - topped off with pickled egg balls - a supersized pork scratching big enough to feed the entire village and a fruit machine that pays its jackpot in snacks.
Unlikely as that sounds it pales into insignificance when set against the heroically daft, but wonderfully entertaining, notion that England as hosts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup could play their pool games at the Millenium Stadium in Wales.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Do What Thou Wilton's

I was supposed to go to Wilton's tonight, but I have had to bin it to attend a meeting at the school about the Bomber's skiing trip next year.

Maybe some other time. It seems like an interesting place.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Welsh Perspective

29 Nov 2012: All Blacks laid low by Norovirus

1 Dec 2012: England 38-21 NZ

Not that I want to rain on anyone's parade you understand.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

bona rutabaga

Myself: The scientific causes for obese, dull, or obnoxious kids are surely complicated. Yet, empiricism has yet to rule out environmental factors like poor parenting and bad nutrition. Indeed, each may be two sides of the same cookie. The idea, that bad nutrition and poor socialization are unrelated to much of the pathology that afflicts children today, is an illusion.

Prodnose: Eh?

Myself: I ate a swede mate. Caught it myself in the veg, box, skinned and butchered it with my own hands; then served it up to the Bomber and self after turning my nose up at that species of veg for decades.

Prodnose: Good for you, but think of all the other things you may have missed in life by not being able to get past the gag-reflex.

Myself: Oh, ain't he bold Mr Horne, ain't he bold!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The young master is home

When the Bomber bowled up for his first day in secondary school I congratulated myself that I was delivering a self confident fella who was a trained nak muay and judoka, player of the year at the rugby club, and winner of every single event bar one at his primary school sports day.

He got detention in French last week for talking in class. Once I establish he wasn't gossiping in French there will be ..... consequences. The problem I have to deal with is that I have delivered a self confident fella who is a trained nak muay and judoka, player of the year at the rugby club, and winner of every single event bar one at his primary school sports day.

Exactly. Hat tip, Winston.