Monday, 2 May 2016

The R in the car park

What a turn around - from being vilified as a child-killing and evil monarch, Richard the Third is now a talisman and pilgrimage destination for Leicester City Football Club fans from all over the world - especially Thailand.

Hindsight is all well and good, but I wish I had put a quid on that no-hoper.

Did I ever tell you that I met Garry Lineker once....?


Today, I am feeling even more guilty about not having visited the Grayson Perry exhibition when it was on my doorstep, as he has been on the radio talking the sense which he is become renowned for. In my own defence, I don't think that his artwork necessarily has everything to do with his written stuff, so I don't think I have to like both.

He has written something about what it is to be a man - or, more precisely - what it is to be masculine. I would not have thought that anyone - particularly a man (even a cross-dressing one) could come up with anything original to say about the subject these days, but G.P.'s clear-thinking and rationale actually has.

He got me remembering how - as a young boy - I always had a makeshift 'survival kit' to hand when I was not at school. It consisted of (amongst other things) Elastoplast bandages, face-paint, some sort of small knife and - get this - water-purifying tablets! When do you think that a small boy living with his parents in the heart of stock broker-belt Surrey would ever have a need to purify water for drinking?!

All these years later - thanks to Mr Perry - I now understand that the desire or need to own a survival-kit was all to do with the insecurity of a little boy in the big, bad world. It made me feel better about my chances of survival if I were ever to be abandoned. How sad, that I could - coming from a reasonably well-off family as I did - make some truly pathetic allowances for the possibility of being left alone, outside, by my caring family.

I now understand that I was asking myself what it meant to be a man in a boy's world, and the fear of imminent abandonment did not leave me until I truly grew up on an emotional level - if I ever did.

Then I remembered that spate of 'Survivalists' - all those men who went up into the mountains alone with camouflage, guns and knives - mainly in America, but we had a few. Some of them are probably still up there.

They had a distinctly military, 'special forces' look to them, and - indeed - some of them were not only ex military, but Vietnam vets as well.

The army had been their family, and they could not cope when it let them go - out into the big, bad world, like small, frightened boys.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Warm Winter, cold Spring = ........?

I have spent the last three days - more like three months - trying to get my email working normally, but I won't bore you with that right now. Suffice to say that I feel physically sick after an hour of working on it.

Update on the Giant Bully situation: I was standing outside near the door a couple of days ago, and he walked past and into the pub, pausing only to wordlessly kick me in the leg from behind. That was enough to get him barred, so at least I stand more of a chance of relaxing with friends - whilst I'm on the inside. I need to be able to relax right now, but that may not include walking to and from the pub.

Today is May Day. As usual, they spent the best part of the year enlisting virgins to dance round the Maypole, but had to call the event off because the girls' status had changed some time during the run-up to May 1st.

I don't know why pagan May Day is associated with the Left, but I suppose it is all to do with agriculture and the rustics who were paid a pittance to gather in the tithes. The things some people have to do to feed their families - I mean, to actually grow the food.

I think the above photo was taken in New Zealand. A lot of my images are sourced from there these days. They might have more virgins than we do, or there might be more farmers per acre than here. Maybe they just have more British ex-pats per acre, or are they called 'migrants' these days?

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Plunge - for Rachel

Here it is, my latest - and last - plunger.

I only used it once, on the kitchen sink, but it seems to work on sanitary towels as well, if you read the wording carefully.

It produces about 6 times the pressure of an ordinary plunger, and when I used it on the sink, I gave it one almighty push down, and a blast of filthy water came straight out of the upper overflow and right into my face.

Satisfied, bitches?

Game of Thrones

Following on from yesterday's successful but somewhat scatalogical post, let me tell you about the fitting of our last toilet seat. I feel a lot easier in using the word 'toilet' and not 'lavatory bowl' or the prissier 'loo', during the Hattatt's little break from Blogland, but I still experience a slightly uncomfortable suspicion that they may be reading and not writing. This is just inverted snobbery, so 'toilet' it will be.

We needed a new toilet seat a few years ago, and I vowed not to buy a cheap one like the last, which was made from MDF and fell apart in a very short while due to the ingress of urine. MDF is like a sponge.

There seems to be about three different sizes to standard toilet-bowls, and three different materials used to make the seats. Two of them - plastic and MDF - were not being considered by me and a smart-looking gentleman in suit and tie, as we stood in front of a display of solid hardwood seats in our local Homebase shop.

The seats were pinned to a vertical wall in rows and had a variety of hinges and fittings - some in yellow brass, some in chrome and some in stainless steel. H.I. refuses to have any dark wood in the house, so I knew that once I had bought a suitable seat, I would have to take it to the workshop, take it apart and sand it down ready for her to paint in some pastel colour before I reassembled it again and fitted it. I knew from the outset that this was not going to be a simple matter of taking off the old seat and bolting on the new.

The man in the suit and I stood staring at the array of seats on offer, comparing the quality to the prices, and we were both struck by what looked like an obvious bargain - a solid hardwood one with heavy chrome hinges and fixings, and a 'soft closing' mechanism which prevented the wood from slamming against the ceramic when you lowered the seat or top cover. It was about £20 less than any of the others of a similar quality, and we began to discuss it with each other.

"Hmm," the man looked at it thoughtfully, "There must be something wrong with it."

"Well it doesn't mention any defects in the ticket and I cannot see any. I'm going to buy it." With that, I picked up the boxed version on the rack beneath the display, paid for it and took it to the workshop where I prepared it for H.I.'s re-painting.

The removal of an old toilet seat and the fitting of a new one is a laborious, awkward and sickening task, even if you are only dealing with your own stale urine which has accumulated in out-of-the-way places that ordinary cleaning cannot reach, but after an hour or so, I had done it.

I lifted the seat, and was surprised at the resistance which I encountered when trying to lean it against the ceramic cistern. Then I let it go and it slammed hard against the porcelain as it closed itself again.

The 'soft closing' mechanism had been fitted the wrong way round in the factory, and Homebase knew this but had not disclosed the fact. They just lowered the price without explanation.

If any male stranger visits us as they tend to do around Christmas, you can hear the seat slamming against the bowl about five times before they give up and piss all over the woodwork in frustrated anger.

I am guessing that the man in the suit was a businessman. Probably quite a shrewd one at that.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

In the interests of austerity, please use both sides

I had a friend who used to run a vegetarian restaurant here in Bath, and the place suffered badly from a poorly designed drain system. It kept blocking. It reminded everyone about those strange little hotels in Greece which have notices next to the toilets asking you to put the used paper in a bin to the side, for everyone's sake - except the cleaner's.

The restauranteur asked me for help one evening, lifting the external drain cover so he could clear the latest blockage. Not a good thing to be doing in front of paying customers, but better than an overflow on the inside.

"Jesus Christ," he cursed, "Why do women have to use so much toilet paper? They must wrap it around their hands several times with each wipe!'

At the time, I thought he was being a little unreasonable - partly for assuming that women were the culprits and partly for assuming the blockage was caused by them using too much paper per visit, but having lived with H.I. for about 26 years, I now think that he had a valid point.

We seem to get through about a roll a day in this house, and we have to buy it in bulk for fear of running out. I didn't so much confront her about it a week or so ago - having kept silent on the subject for years - but I just casually observed that she must use a hell of a lot. She freely admitted that she did, but didn't go so far as to explain how or why, and I didn't ask. Since then, she has been buying the paper for the house, whereas that used to be my job during the shopping trips for food. I feel ashamed that I may have made her feel guilty.

I used to bring home masses of it from Lidl - great plastic bundles of 24 rolls - in the mistaken belief that this was a more economical way of buying it, but then I did the maths and realised that it was not. Neither is it worth buying the cheaper variety - a compromise between the expensive stuff as advertised by playful puppies, and the sort which is so cheap that you run a daily risk of - quite bluntly - accidentally sticking your finger into one of two orifices whenever you try to use it.

Now I am fully aware that I have already overstepped the mark of decency in a public place, so I might as well continue.

Without wishing to overburden you with information which will never be of any use to you under any circumstances at all in the future, I will tell you that I always wash myself down there with a shower-head. You could eat your dinner off my arse.

This is yet another area in which I and other people of certain religious convictions have something in common.

I was sitting and day-dreaming in the bathroom of a cheap, Egyptian hotel once, when my eyes fell on an incongruously placed little tap within arm's reach on the wall. Being half asleep in the early morning, I leant over and turned it on.

A jet of freezing cold water shot straight up my fundament. In an instant, I was wide awake. It was a blinding flash of enlightenment on a very simple subject indeed.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My first bra

I'm having problems with photo-heavy blog posts at the moment, but that is my crap IPS's fault, not yours. I should pay the extra for optic fibre. Having said that, the someone has just called on the landline, and I seem to be still connected to broadband, which makes a nice change.

Yael has said that everything looks so perfect here in Blogland. Not on my site, it doesn't!

Cro's Wizzy is in full bloom, and - as far as I know - cakes are still being baked in Mise's household and her daughters are unhurriedly passing through their pink phases as if there was no such thing as a strike in the NHS. If you insist on having a multiple pile-up style car-crash today, make sure it isn't in the U.K.

Today would be even nicer if it were not so bloody cold. It's almost freezing here right now, and I am hoping that my lavish window-box is not going to be nipped by a hard frost.

A year ago - for the three consecutive years - we had a Spring so hot that the grass turned yellow before it was properly green, then there followed three cold, wet Summers during which the walls turned green. So I am hoping that this cold period will herald a perfect Summer for a change. I am also hoping that I never begin a sentence with the word 'so', if ever I am interviewed on radio or television. (Note the seamless way I managed to get in a little curmudgeonly rant there.)

Today sees the culmination of the Hillsborough Disaster inquest in which over 90 football supporters were crushed or asphyxiated after being herded into a fenced-off section of the stands by the police, to stop them from invading the pitch. The jurors on that case have been deliberating for two years - long enough to destroy their careers - but it had to be done.

If ever a blog post looks wistfully perfect, it is often when the past is revisited with bittersweet memories of youth, and Rachel's post about buying her first bra and suspenders (Suspenders?! At her age? Now OR then?!) at The British Home Stores (in LSD - pounds, shillings and pence), is such a post.

Being a boy, I did not have to go through the humiliating experience of choosing my first bra, with or without my mother's help. I didn't start sprouting tits until I hit late middle-age, and by that time nobody cared about my appearance.

I once - and ONCE only - chose some sexy underwear for my then girlfriend, but only because she asked me to. She refused to go to the department store with me, preferring the notion of the whole thing being my idea and imagining that I might get some sort of kick out of the experience. Her previous birthday present from me had been an electric food mixer, which didn't go down too well.

So I walked into the shop (here I go again, beginning a sentence with 'so') and made my way up to the lingerie department of the old-fashioned 'Jolly's' store here in Bath, feeling not a little nervous.

The first thing I learnt was that the less there is of ladies underwear, the more expensive it is. The smaller the garment, the higher the price. How does that work?

A beautiful young woman came out of the shadows (the other thing I learnt was that lighting in these departments is always low and flattering - like a bedroom) and asked me if I needed her assistance. I admitted that I did.

I tried to describe the sort of bra and knickers combo which I was looking for - for my GIRLFRIEND - without sounding like a complete pervert, but she was well used to this situation and tried to put me at my ease.

"What is her bra size?" she asked with a charming smile. I had no idea, and told her so. I had fallen at the first hurdle.

"Ok, no problem," she took one step toward me and pushed her ample bosom roughly in my direction, "Is she anything like my size?"

For the first time in my life, a beautiful young women who I did not know was verbally inviting me to stare at her tits. So I did (oh no, I've done it again).

I was very tempted to say that the only way I could compare the size of her breasts to my girlfriend's would be to close my eyes and physically fondle them for a minute or two, using both hands, but I didn't have the courage.

"Yes," I admitted, "They are pretty much identical."

So that was it (argh! yet again!). I left the shop about £150 lighter, and about 6 ounces heavier.