I was saved from the embarrassment of showing you the red sun yesterday that you all saw with your own eyes, because my iPhone isn't talking to my iMac. I did, however, send it to Green Eyes in London as a message, because I thought it was a local phenomena. I can just see her rolling her eyes whilst mumbling something about 'silly old man'.
I expect you are wondering what the situation is regarding my leaking water heater, aren't you? Well having spent days and weeks researching tankless ones because I have received no advice from any plumber or even plumber's merchant (they are scared of giving the wrong advice), I have bought the modern equivalent of what we already have. At least I know that it ought to work and if the worst comes to the worst, I can connect it myself. I am now waiting for a water heater to turn up as well as a hat.
After weeks of gleaning snippets of caveat-laden advice via the net and from people in the pub who gave the matter a full two seconds of unqualified thought, I was beginning to have my doubts about a tankless heater even working at all in our compact but adorable city apartment. One dealer (who insisted he was a real human being called 'Harry') considered my circumstances on a live chatline, and came to the conclusion that I needed two units, neither of which should be more than one metre away from the hot tap.
As I set out yesterday to go to a few plumber's merchants in the area (including Chippenham and the higher numbers of the Bath postcode) which I had not yet tried, the sky darkened, casting a ghoulish and unearthly pallor over the land, and a strong and unseasonably warm wind picked up. Something strange was happening.
When I got back to my workshop with the intention of making a few more calls to plumbers who I have never - and will never - met/meet, I looked up and was shocked to see a brilliant red moon glaring down on me through the fast-shifting, red clouds.
That was when I gave up on the idea of a tankless water heater for our house.
I am flattered to think that God put all those other people to trouble and needless worry, just so He could warn me that I was heading for domestic disaster.
I should have listened the first time weeks ago, when I was vainly waiting for the original plumber to come round one night and make the assessments. In the end, God had to shout.
Some Brits have been telling some Americans that Halloween is no big thing here, but I used to love it when I was a kid and our pub makes a big thing of it too. Any excuse for a party.
I once had a school friend round for baked beans on toast by candle light, down the stone steps in our wine cellar. Yes, we had a wine cellar, but no wine was ever in it. The spirit of austerity and frugality (remember that?) which kept it permanently un-stocked also meant that my father refused to waste a real pumpkin for the night, so I had to make do with a turnip instead. This was the same spirit of frugality which meant that I had to make do with a steel-framed racing bike.
I loved everything to do with ghosts and ghouls up to the age of about 15. Actually I still do, but these days horror-films usually revolve around the spilling of blood, and we have enough of that in our every day lives as it is. I want escapism.
I read all the Pan Horror books as soon as they were published, and I was extremely disappointed when Sherlock Holmes proved that the Thetford Vampire was nothing of the sort. In life, Conan-Doyle was extremely superstitious and even believed in fairies, so it is odd that his hero was so logical.
I don't care about Halloween these days, of course - mainly because I am not so fascinated/confused/scared of death, and I don't need an excuse for parties.
In the compilation of the 17th century writings of John Aubrey that I am reading, he describes the town of Slough (near Eton) as being 'very dirty'. He also says that the very name, slough, means 'a dirty place' in Welsh. He proceeded John Betjeman by about 300 years - 'come friendly bombs and fall on Slough...'
Peter Ackroyd is right. Places never lose their original spirit of place or purpose, no matter how visually changed they become.
Since Roman times, Bath was one of the first tourist towns for rest and recuperation, attracting all sorts of people seeking simple diversion from their everyday lives. It is only a few miles from Bristol, but the difference in atmosphere is striking. Bristol was built on commerce, but Bath was built on gambling and sex.
This is a portrait of a friend's son which H.I. painted some years ago. It now hangs on the wall of a house, high in the mountains of Spain.
It was the fashion for young people to wear the slogan of the sports clothing manufacturer, Nike, as free advertising for them which the wearer has paid for. Theo even wore it as a band around his neck. It says, 'JUST DO IT'.
It seems like a life-affirming piece of encouragement - something to spur you on to greater things, to enter that race, to aspire to win it - to just get on with living your life.
Well it turns out that these were the last words of a convicted criminal to his executioners when asked if there was anything he wanted to say before they killed him.
Research animals on the net and all sorts of images come up. Research anything on the net and all sorts of images come up.
I quickly discovered that forensically building up muscles on a skeletal frame before adding the fur does not produce good sculpture. Doing this produces really impressive results when you are trying to find out what a murder victim looked like before decomposition, but you would not want to display the finished article on your mantlepiece.
In any event, us humans have a hard enough job trying to tell the difference between one fox and another, so if we employed a forensic sculptor to reconstruct one particular dead fox on its skeleton, we would end up confirming what we already know. It's a fox.
What I want when I show someone a fox sculpture is for them to say, "It really looks like a fox", and not really mean it.
What is the stinkiest thing in the world? An anchovy's arsehole.