The booklet cost £2.50 and I gave the lady at the desk a £5 note. A proper one with a picture of Dame May Whitty on the back of it. The lady at the desk rummaged in the coin tray for a considerable time. A good half of the tray was covered in pound coins and there was a mound of fifty pence pieces just to one side. But still she rummaged in the coin tray for a considerable time. Reluctantly she palmed a fifty pence piece then rummaged a bit more. In the end she gave me an assortment of 10p coins, some 5p coins, a twenty and the fifty pence piece. Scores of pound coins to give as change and she gave me two hundredweight of half-chewed threepenny bits. You have to wonder about some people.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
We were having the seat up/down argument the other day. We must have been bored: usually we only argue about sensible things like whether or not Michael Portillo is wearing a merkin on "This Week." Herself says the seat must be down but the lid up. I say that both seat and lid should be down to prevent unpleasant aerosol events in the bathroom. Herself says the seat must be down but the lid up.
The reason she says that is fair enough, I suppose. She claims that pop festivals gave her haemarroids. She reckons it was Glastonbury as done it. After three days eating Pieminster pies and drinking strong fire water she braved the bogs. A hour or so later, when she got to the end of the queue she went in. And came straight back out again. And didn't go to the toilet until she got back home a couple of days later.
Which is why she always insists on the lid staying up: "I like to know what I'm running away from before it's close enough to growl at me!"
Monday, May 13, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
I have a long-distance relationship with football: mildly interested but not so much as to be arsed watching a match, even on the telly. Even so, I'm often amazed at just how badly run the whole shebang is. UEFA, FIFA, FA, Premier League, all skittering about in squanderbug worlds of their own.
It hit home this week. FA Cup Final weekend. Manchester City vs. Wigan Athletic. David and Goliath stuff, full of the romance of the FA Cup. So the run-up to it has all been about Alec Ferguson's retirement. And the Sunday after the the Final. And the game itself was rescheduled so as to put the mockers on the BBC's early evening programming.
Back when I was more interested, the FA Cup Final was the last event of the season. The league titles had all been won and all the promotions and relegations done and dusted so we could all settle back for the year's finale. 3pm on that final Saturday we and the world would know that battle had commenced. It might be a dour grind between the big boys of the time; a daftly romantic battle of unequals or just some scrappy mess but whatever it was it would be one for the books.
It still could and should be.
For the record, I'm dead sorry that City lost but I think it's good for football that Wigan won. It would have been better had Wigan's win been the last word on the season.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
The weather's warmed up a bit so I decided to have a nosy in the compost bin which has been keeping cats' bottoms warm all winter. It's pretty much nicely-rotted now so I chucked a load over the bare bed by the hazel bush in the corner. I also decide to put a spare big plastic box to use. It was originally given to us by the council to hold old newspapers for collection (only old newspapers, mark you) and has been redundant this past few years since we started having four humongous wheelie bins to manage on their behalf. So I half-filled it with compost from the bin, added a layer of coir compost and then topped it over with a few inches of multi-purpose compost from a bag.
I havered a bit about what to put in there: I've some tomato plants that are still a bit on the small side and not really suited for being by the side of the house; I'll stick with Plan A and get a couple of growbags for the back garden. I sowed a couple of rows of Swiss chard and a row of dwarf broad beans (I like them, The Small Object of desire thinks that beans are Things Of The Devil) and planted in a few scented-leaved pelargoniums at the front to soften the edges a bit and confuse any pests that depend on their sense of smell to find the plants they're going to ravage.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Small Object of Desire was talking to a colleague fresh from a film archivist's conference.
"How did it go?" she asked.
"Oh very nicely. We had a good last evening. It's a bit geeky but it's a brilliant film."She was telling me this as I cooked tea.
"Which fillum?" I asked.
"Oh, it was an old Fritz Lang film from the thirties. She said it had recently been restored. Five hours long, she said."
"Not Doctor Mabuse der Spiegler?"
"That's the one... Is it OK?"Yes. It is. Fancy being paid to watch it...
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Now that The Small Object of Desire has been and got herself a new job I'm back on the public transport commute. I'd forgotten what a trial my fellow commuters are…
The Power Walker: Usually dressed like an extra from the touring production of"Bonfire of the Vanities," they're determined to stride out in a ruthlessly straight line, taking no prisoners in the battle for that stretch of pavement.
The Hypnotised Diagonalists: Earphones glued in to keep out the world, eyes fixed on the mobile device in their hand as they walk straight across you without warning as you try to cross that busy road where the pedestrian crossing's been out of action since last Summer.
Mrs. Overalls: Usually men, Mrs. Overalls dither about in shop doorways, train doorways, tram doorways, in fact any narrow passageway you may need to get through in a hurry. Their motto is: "I'm not actually going anywhere, and by God! neither are you."
The Metropolitan Cyclist: Expensive bike, speedos, hi-vis spectacles and streamlined cycling helmet, the Metropolitan Cyclist has the spatial awareness Ida seven-year-old and the arrogance of a ham actor playing a Spanish grandee in a remake of "Zorro."
TrishanEm: Two or three women functioning as one loud series of announcements about the sexual inadequacies of friends' boyfriends; bulletins about the doings of That Bitch; and Daily Mail headlines. Usually looking like the Black & White Minstrel Show had run out of burnt cork and had to resort to gravy browning.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Big Billy Bullshit corporations are very big on having somebody high profile employed to do their blue skies thinking, to hide the fact that the company's selling the same old blarney but wants to look like it's cutting-edge and can think outside the box. Grey-haired men in suits are paraded as "technology evangelists" or "social media evangelists" or the like.
I am very taken with this. I'd like to become a Have A Cup Of Tea And Stop Talking Bollocks Evangelist.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Monday, May 06, 2013
Having a glass of Doctor MacAndrew's Thunder Liquid in the temperance bar in Hannigan's Truss Boutique with Ken Barmy. He's in contemplative mood.
"I'm glad I'm unlikely to persuade venture capitalists to give me a shit load of money."I understand his dilemma: I disapprove of the setting-up of Call Me Dave's "Just like John Lewis honestly" privatisations of public services but like Ken I sometimes worry that despite our deeply-held conviction that public services should be publicly-accountable and part of democratic organisations, there's the possibility that library services need rescuing from some of their local authorities.Luckily, for both of us, this is a purely philosophical quandary.
"Wouldn't you like a shit load of money?" I asked.
"Oh yes. But I'd be tempted to set up a mutual organisation for the libraries."
"Mind you, if I were to take over the libraries I'd set conditions."
"To tell," I encouraged.
"They could keep three libraries; I wouldn't want to know."
"Too expensive for nobody to be using. Look at _____, the number of books they issued last month is what most of our branch libraries issue in a day. And we're paying way over the market rent for the place. Basically, it's just there to provide a nice little income for the school. Same with ______. And nearly all the books being issued are to the school they're set in. We're providing these schools with an excellent free school library service and paying them way over the odds for the privilege of providing them with the service. Conkers to that."Amen to that. It would be easy to go off on one about the ways of schools.
"What about the third one you wouldn't want?"
"Oh? The central library of course. Complete dog's breakfast. It's just a drain on resources - every bugger and his dog interferes with it and we're not allowed to actually run it as a library. Well, bollocks to them, I'd even let them keep the stock if they wanted. I'd just want the libraries we could run properly and deliver services in without having to constantly jump through hoops for permission to even do the basics."
" You've got to have a central library, Ken, how can you survive without a flagship library?" (I was being deliberately provocative).
"Flagships are for people who like dressing up like Lord Nelson."This is quite true: does your local authority have a flagship social services office or a flagship environmental health office? No, of course not.
It's probably just as well that neither of us would be in a position to be setting up a mutual...
Sunday, May 05, 2013
Today is International Dawn Chorus Day. As if to emphasise the matter, all the feathered hooligans are in fine fettle, whether it's the wren and the blackcap blasting out their song from amongst the brambles; or the sparrows and goldfinches chirruping from the treetops; or Frankie Howerd the cat muttering to itself from next door's garage roof.
The cat I don't have made damned sure I was awake for it by jumping on my head at four in the morning.
There are those who would say that my planting wild garlic in the garden is an act of folly, and I'd be amongst their number when I'm grubbing them out of the path. But this time of year they provide a nice picture of glossy fresh green leaves and starry white flowers and I forgive them quite a lot. Especially as they also taste nice, the leaves having that flavour of strong spring onions with a small back-note of garlic about them.
Tonight I made some garlicky mushrooms to go with the pizza. I melted some butter in the frying pan, added a glug of olive oil and then slung in some finely-sliced mushrooms. I'd grubbed up a coiple of wild garlic bulbs, so I cleaned and trimmed these, squashed them with the heavy chopping knife and added these to tne mushrooms. Finally I rolled up a handful of garlic leaves and finely shredded them then added this to the pan. A minute or so later they were in the serving dish ready to eat.
Friday, May 03, 2013
My turn to be full of a cold. A tear-stained, snot-ridden idiot.
The Small Object of Desire gets home from work.
"How do you feel?"
"How do I look?"
"A bit grim."
"You're supposed to talk me up, make me feel better.
"You look fucking awful."
Thursday, May 02, 2013
I have been taken to task for not having banged on at copious length about Helminthdale's May Day celebrations. Well catkins and bells to the whole sorry mess if you ask me. There's only so many pigs-bladder hats anyone should have to put up with on the bus down the Penkridge Road and if Beltane consists of two drunken farts in the "Duck and Pullett" lurching over their table with cries of: "I'm fair motleyed out, I am!" then the sooner the Druids pack up and start taking up needlework the better.