Saturday, 28 March 2015

What's funny about that?

Ooh look, another crap photo.

I went into a charity shop and bought this grey, cotton top with a very feminine collar yesterday, thinking to use it as a night-shirt.

When I took it out of the bag at home, H.I. asked me if it had come from the women's rack. I said no, and even so it was XXL - absolutely enormous - and I could not think of any normal woman who it would fit at all. She reminded me of a mutual friend who often wears items like this, so I conceded that it could possibly have been made for the fairer sex.

When I came down in it this morning, it suddenly occurred to me that it was the sort of top favoured by Vulcans like Mr Spock from the old series of Star Trek, and said so to H.I. who then stared at me for a few seconds, trying to imagine me with pointy ears before laughing out loud.

I think my next birthday present is going to be some good prosthetic ears to wear with it. As is so often the case, this present will be for the benefit of the giver, like the train-set from Dad.

Friday, 27 March 2015

B. Smithers, 1914

These are the style of glasses we drink wine from every night. I have loads of them, and have just bought the two either side of centre for not much money.

They all date from between 1790 and 1820 and are usually offered for sale in antique shops at about £70, but I have never paid more than £30 for any. The pair which arrived today are immaculate, and I paid £10 each for them. They replace two which were broken a while ago.

The one in the centre is my dedicated glass, and I couldn't let 2014 pass without mentioning the engraving on it. Sorry about the crap photo (again) below, but it gives you an idea of the amateur style.

It is diamond-engraved with the name, 'B. Smithers', and has the date '1914' below, set above a laurel leaf motif.

Because 1914 was the year of the beginning of the First World War, and because the laurel wreath motif is usually reserved for military honour, I cannot help thinking that B. Smithers was a soldier in that war, and this may have been used in the mess - possibly by him or in his honour as a memorial.

It is difficult to know if he was killed in the outbreak of WW1, or if he just engraved the glass to mark it. The title of this post is of the engraving, just incase a relative types his name into a search, as I have fruitlessly done before.

The glass was already 100 years old when it was engraved - exactly 100 years ago. The unknown soldier?

Thursday, 26 March 2015


I'm just whiling away what should be a couple of seconds to receive an email, but seems to be turning into a matter of hours.

It pays to shop around. I have just committed to buy 30 kilograms of aluminium ingot from a company in Yorkshire who are more used to delivering the stuff by the tonne rather than the tiny amount which I need. Sometimes it pays to be small as well.

I was lying in bed before dawn this morning, thinking of how my life would have been different if I was physically smaller than I ended up. I came to the conclusion that I would probably have used my height in the same way as I have exploited my actual height, and try to appeal to the mothering instincts of girls and women, rather than the homicidal Amazonian traits in the ones that I seemed to have attracted.

I think the only woman I ever related to on an equal basis without endless conflict is H.I., which is - no doubt - why we are still together. I have known quite a few couples who delight in constant bickering and arguments about nothing, and they have told me that life would be dull without them. I don't see it myself.

I was walking down the street yesterday, when I came upon an elderly couple at a bus-stop.

She was sitting on the bench and he was standing there, just watching, when - without warning - she threw-up on the pavement. She was obviously not well.

"Oh, that was clever, wasn't it?!", was his unsympathetic response.

She just said, "I couldn't help it," and I was filled with sadness that a couple could be so long together and lose all sense of empathy for each other.

The worst experience of my life to date happened a few years ago when, one evening, I heard a terrible crash from the room next door and ran in to find H.I. lying in a heap after she had fallen over whilst changing out of her trousers and into her pyjamas. She had lost balance and fallen onto a cluttered glass table which - thankfully - had not broken, and she ended up semi-conscious on the floor.

Her face was horribly bruised and she did not leave the house for about a week because of it. Even then, she wore a scarf around her face and dark sunglasses. I still have to fight off tearfulness when I remember it.

That email has just arrived.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Russell Crowe remains a boring c***

Ok, I know I have said this before, but - despite John Gray's schoolboy infatuation - I really do think that Russell Crowe is an obnoxious, arrogant, aggressive and talentless lump of bush-meat, albeit a very wealthy one.

He has now turned into a director, but remains the same rude bastard that he has always been to the journalists who have made him his fortune. Tonight it was a woman, but he doesn't care who or what they are.

What on Earth could anyone possibly see in him???  I really do not understand it. He can't even act for fuck's sake. God knows how his directing skills compare to his thespian ones.


This post is entirely  - almost - to attract Mise back, because she seems to have gone off the radar now, after a brief appearance on our screens a few weeks ago.

I am not going to summon the Hattatts by invoking Iford Manor yet, because they must be up to their necks in the contents of many Pickfords lorries, but I will send my good wishes to them at the same time.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

R is for...

Look how many formal parterres there are in such a small area in this old map. 'Cornwall Street' is now designated 'Walcot Street' after the the name of the medieval village which sprang up outside the city gates, but everything else stays the same.

There is a spelling mistake though. 'Cornwall' should be 'Cornwell', but even my spell-checker says that this is the wrong spelling, and the map could have been made before Johnson standardised spelling and phonetics ruled. I am assuming that the place was named after one of the many wells and not the land in the far West.

'Ladymead' to the left, was originally 'Law-Day Meadow', when travelling assizes were held once a year next to the river to settled legal disputes - like Runnymead, where the Magna Carta was signed.

Today, the bones of Richard 3rd will be taken from Leicester University to the Cathedral where they will sort of lie in state - next to the font - until they are put under a slab with a more formal burial. York wanted their last Plantagenet king back home of course, but York gets enough tourists as it is and Leicester badly needs them. I've never been to either place, believe it or not.

I still cannot get over the amazing story of how Richard was rediscovered, and how a woman who was previously thought of as a ranting obsessive suddenly turned into a national heroine, thanks to the funding of a T.V. station. I want to see that film again, where she walks into a modern, boring car-park, points to a large letter 'R' painted onto the tarmac and says, "I have a strong intuition he is right here."

They dig a hole, and - bugger me - there he is, right under the R.

I can't get enough of this living history stuff.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Empire State

My good friend Sally Strachey is doing the job on this scaffold.  This is the church with the crap bells and Peregrin Falcons on it, but not this Spring I would guess.  Still - no bells!  Hooray!

Launch minus 10... 9... 8... 7... 6...