Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Eve

Olive -Did you watch the final of 'Strictly Come dancing?
Caroline- No we were watching 'World War' - Who won?
Ian- We did.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Super Annuation

I don’t know if this is in your papers or not I don’t bother with newspapers these days.
In ‘Pension Week’, where I get my kicks , there is a headline ‘FAS pays out pitiful £1.7m in three years’

FAS = Financial Assistance Scheme and it is this scheme which is supposed to compensate people who have lost money in occupational pension schemes.
What I found interesting and entirely in line with my view of government, the ones who put this scheme in place, are the following facts.
100,000 people lost pensions when their sponsoring employer collapsed.
£2.3bn was earmarked in this scheme as a lifeboat.
In 3 years the FAS has paid out £1.7m to 454 of those 100,000 but has also paid £10.4m in staff wages and running costs.
The number of people paid out works out at about 6 people for every member of staff employed and that’s over more than 2 years.
I must see if I can get a job there. I reckon I could spend most of my time lounging round here in Brecon and maybe pop up to London on Ladys’ Day , Midsummer and Michaelmas do my three cases and then go home.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Did you get here searching for any of these?
If you did then let me know Im looking for them too.
Elsie Doreen Grantham
Elsie Doreen Mcleod
Alfred George Mcleod
Montgomery Graham
David Silver
Wendy Davies Lee Manor School
Martin Rhodes Bland Welch

Monday, November 27, 2006

He she it

It is always odd when reading the human element in a statement to find it referred to as 'she' , when of course it should be 'he'.
'The scientist in such instances will consult her data'
'The philosopher knows that her training will cover this'
When I encounter 'she' in such circumstances I always wonder what that womans doing in here when 'he' is perfectly understood as neutral.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I can smell burgers now the rain has come

Went to Brecon Fair yesterday. It was very many years before the magic of hot dogs and burgers finally deserted me and even now like an old dog my metaphorical ears still prick as if to the word ‘cats’ when the smell of frying onions wafts in.
Marcel Proust can keep his dainty cakes with me it’s the smell of frying onions and the front at Southend on Sea.
We wandered around these stalls – all containing Welsh food products.
By the way many years ago we visited the Kestrel pub just outside Brecon and it was kept by a German prisoner of War who had remained behind. We went there to see a Badger who had taken to coming into the bar and circulating among the clientele before departing into the night. The badger arrived dead on time and passed along the guests shaking hands and presumably making representations about the source of bovine TB before leaving by his usual exit and making his way back to the set.
An American visitor then asked the owner for something to eat that was typically Welsh. The landlord replied “Well there is only Welsh rarebit and that’s bloody awful”.
Back to yesterday it began to rain and at the same time I caught the smell of frying onions. Although I don’t eat the stuff these days I think subconsciously I probably resented the fact that it had started raining just as I had been ‘offered’ a hot dog, and I found myself saying to Ann, “I can smell burgers now the rain has come”.
I suppose I should have sung it and she might have sung back “Think of the cholesterol in your veins”
I did try desperately to get a picture of an enormous elf especially when she was eating cod & chips from out of the paper but failed. They all came out blurred

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I sometimes think what would have happened if the human gene pool were from the beginning of time composed entirely of my genes and that the genes did not mutate.
What would be the consequences for humans?
Well never in a million years would a human have contemplated milking a cow and then drinking it! So we can rule out everything that follows from that disgusting aberration including rice puddings. In fact I cant see my genes allowing the killing and eating of animals at all. Although I do eat meat my behaviour is acquired but with a universal predisposition not to eat meat in the genes then such behaviour is likely to remain deviant. “He was seen scoffing a bacon sandwich” would have the same effect in Macworld as “Gary Glitter is minding the children” has in this.
I think my genes would predispose humanity to invent the wheel and other things like computers etc.
I also think that human kind would be predisposed to the idea of God.

They all look/sound the same to me

Last month I noticed a new CD - 'Girls Aloud Greatest hits'.
That was 4 weeks ago - I wonder if volume 2 is out?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Well I thought I was destined to sail aboard the Black Prince however it seems that I was destined not to as Ann got taken ill on the day it was due to sail.
Just goes to show what a misleading thing destiny is.

Here is a good place to visit. Llandovery. Interesting shops with lots of cafés one of which seems to be always surrounded by motorcycles like white corpuscles round a wound.
The café I chose was slightly up market to the bikers grotto. Ann wanted a cappuccino and not seeing it on the menu I asked; “Have you got any cappuccino?”.
“Whats that ?” . “Well it’s got a sort of frothy top to it”. “Oh you mean milky coffee?” “Yes alright”.
Anyway the bacon egg and chips were top hole and very cheap too.
Actually whenever I see that combination of motorcycles and café I think of the café there used to be next to Forest Hill Station in the 1960’s. I went in there once and found several aggressive looking rockers on the pin tables. Not wishing to show fear I strolled up to the juke box and inserted some money , this gave me the opportunity to legitimately turn my back on them and to work out how to extricate myself more permanently. Unfortunately I pressed the wrong button and instead of some respectable ‘hard’ tune reinforcing my rightful presence the unmistakable sound of Hayley Mills singing ‘Lets get together , yeh ,yeh , yeh, why don’t you and I etc’. I retreated at once.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Willersley unruined ruin

I love this place that I pass on my way back from the dreadful Hereford. Completely unrestored. What a pleasure to see a decrepit ruin untouched and rotting away as nature intended. Maybe it is owned by somebody who doesn't care about the mazooma he is letting slip , but more likely there is some unresolved ownership dispute and greed pulling in more than one direction causing the whole thing to stagnate.
My earliest recollections of play are of exquisitely overgrown bomb sites in South East London. Now even here everything is being tarted up and 'improved'. The bombsite long ago became anonymous blocks of flats in the early 60's but there is no comparison aesthetically with bombed out buildings filling up with nature 6 years after the war ended. The ruined watermill on the Wye over the bridge in Boughrood is done up and lived in now it is the way of all things round here these days.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Things I never want to do again

Drive to or from any address in Birmingham.

Reprogramme Sony bedside clock/alarm.

Telephone Nationwide Building Society.

Give the Peace.

That will do for the time being.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Das Boot

In 8 days time I am steaming across a storm tossed Bay of Biscay in a plague ship – it is my destiny.
36 years ago while queuing to see a Lloyds underwriter I first saw this particular ship on the back of a magazine and liked the sound of it. I never thought about it again until it miraculously rematerialised in late September.
Every morning the news programs were full of tedious stuff about the size of the bags you could or could not take onto a plane and the different objects you could or could not take and vast hordes of would be passengers getting held and fed up.
I was asked to arrange a surprise holiday for Ann’s birthday by her mother and couldn’t face all that flying nonsense when the idea of a cruise occurred to me.
I rang to see what was available close to the date and leaving from the UK.
The Black Prince was leaving Liverpool on the 7th of November for France, Spain and Portugal. Instantly my mind went back to that Lloyds office long ago and the picture of the Black Prince in the magazine and I felt compelled to book it. I must say that we have never been on a cruise and have never wanted to or looked into it or have any knowledge of cruise ships. I recognise the names Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Aurora but that is all. I did feel that I had to book this one though.
Having paid the money it then occurred to me that we would be travelling most of the time back and forwards across the Bay of Biscay in a small cruise ship, during November; the Bay of Biscay not being known for it’s gentler side.
Ann was stunned and pleased by her mothers present but she recognised the name of the ship instantly as having been recently in the news for ¾’s of her passengers going down with some vomiting virus. I don’t read the papers or pay too much attention to the news since history invariably repeats itself and I have seen it all the first time round. I keep hearing in my head Eva Cassidy singing ‘People get ready there’s a train a coming you don’t need no ticket just climb aboard’

Happy Birthday to me

Received this card from Ian and Caroline today.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

No work in a fair lumper

There is no work in a fair lumper

You can rely on this observation in practically all cases.
Maybe there are exceptions but I cant think of them and as I sail further into lumpishness myself, I feel the work in me just ebbing away.
I do have some exquisite examples of local lumpers but cant , due to cowardice, bring them to a wider audience.
I heard TP in the office, staring at the keyboard of her computer, mutter to herself with a sigh. ‘There is no work in me today’. I had never heard that expression before and took it to be a Radnorshire saying. They seem to revere work in these parts. ‘He’s a good worker’ is the highest possible praise. I don’t see work as a virtue but I wouldn’t dare say that here, local political correctness would be outraged.
The idea of work as being something that is contained within a person must affect the way that work is understood.
Last week while mentioning somebody she knew TP said, matter of factly “mind you she’s a fair lumper”. I rushed to Google, having just used up the last few crumbs of my self contained work to check the phrase. I couldn’t find it even connecting it with Radnorshire in the search terms. All the other locals understood the expression perfectly so I conclude that a ‘fair lumper’ is a Radnorshire expression for somebody who is ‘big boned’.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Last Post

The next post I make here will not be sarcastic, ‘negative’ or heavily ironic.
I may be away for quite a while now trying to get myself into an appropriate mood to produce such a thing
Look back at Christmas time if its going to happen at all it must be by then.
So for the second time I say “I am just going outside and may be some time”

Scott of the Antarctic “ Quick lock the bloody tent this time”

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Encounter with a lady in a Victorian Spa Town

Yesterday went out to get a cold drink from JO’s and thereabouts came upon a young female built like a prop forward loudly effing and blinding as she marched down the street , her feet forming an obtuse angle between them in the most aggressive male posture. My father used to tell me I walked like a poof but Ann says I walk like Inspector Frost. I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window and noticed she was right. Don’t look in her eyes, don’t look in her eyes I told myself.
I breathed a sigh of relief as she macho'd off at a fast rate round the corner effing loudly at some unseen prey. At least on this occasion I should not be tested/humiliated.
And then I imagined the six girls in our office as policewomen all armed with truncheons and attempting to arrest two ton Tessie Berserk. I could see her fling them right left and centre like so many kittens and then effing off into the sunset to the sound of ‘Born Free’.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Working from home today. Its 5pm and Ive done bugger all. Have just drunk a pint of John Smith bitter and pointed the camera out of the window next to the desk where I am supposed to have been working.

The Wye Valley Mysteries

Its the Royal Welsh Show next week and that and the hot weather reminds me of the events of just a few years ago. Events that would change our lives forever.
Ann was working at the Erwood Craft centre half way to Builth Wells.
The Craft centre, the remains , post Beecham, of a railway station including some railway carriages and an engine or two was adapted mainly as a workshop for the talented wood turner who owns it. Ann was working part time in the teashop.

One morning she came into work and put her handbag down in the shop and went behind the counter to put the coffee machine on. A young woman with child, about 6 or 7 entered the shop and engaged my trusting wife in happy conversation while the Artful Dodger removed the handbag from its secure location, on the floor in the shop on the public side of the counter.
She didn’t discover the missing bag until later and although to my mind there was no great tragedy , cash trifling, credit cards insured, junk in purse a welcome evacuation, Ann was devastated particularly about the contents of the purse and the lost forever telephone numbers, recipes, addresses, till receipts etc. So she called the police. A policeman did arrive and gave his opinion his, politically incorrect opinion with which we both strongly agreed, that it was probably a tinker, one of a great horde who turn up each year for the show.

He suggested they drive down to the camp and see if they could see this woman walking about. They did but found nothing. Ann insisted on me and her revisiting the camp in the evening but again we saw nothing and although I felt myself turning into a character from Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, Ann was deadly serious I am only thankful she wasn’t armed, ‘go ahead punk make my day’.

A day or so later we learned that the credit card had been used at a petrol station near Brecon and then the police turned up with a polythene bag containing the entire contents of the handbag, a pile of utter trash. Ann however was over the moon. Some workmen on the A470 had found the stuff in a ditch. The thief, being of the same opinion as me, had removed the good stuff and flung the rest. Ann went through every little slip of paper lovingly until she came to a piece that wasn’t hers. This turned out to be a social services form with the thief’s name and address on it. Hetty put her theory to the police and Ms Fagin was caught bang to rights. Ann , who earlier had been demanding the death penalty recovered her peaceful good humour and put away the magnum. The police were happy with a detection and a conviction.

Now I come to think it didnt change our lives at all.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


You know how you can find a piece of driftwood and without doing anything to it beyond displaying it turn it into a work of art? I think they call such things objets trouvés although that may refer to the bags of soiled nappies I find that are occasionally hurled over our fence from the pub car park next door. I suppose given the right institution and hype even these might have some artistic pretensions.
But I think you can 'find' poems too and not just by noticing the occasional sometimes Freudian rhyme that slips out. My favourite I heard while listening to the late night shipping forecast on radio four delivered in the deadpan voice of, I think his name is Perkins, Low ,heading west, slowly losing identity. Not much of a poem and maybe I am relying on the rhythm of his delivery to give it any claim at all but it sums me up.


Saturday, July 15, 2006


Here is an automated email Ive had from the Downing Street website in response to the message left below.

Dear Mr Mcleod

Thank you for your message to the Prime Minister which you sent through the Downing Street website ( need to confirm that we have your correct details and that the message shown at the bottom of this email is from you.
Click on the link below to confirm your message.Once you have confirmed your email, your message will be passed to Downing Street staff to read. Although the PM is unable to answer emails personally, all your messages are read and the PM is given a report on the issues raised, along with a selection of messages.
The Number 10 Web Team
Here is the text we received:
RE: The sale of honours
Dear Prime Minister,
Could you let me know the cheapest honour youve got - not counting your
own of course.
best wishes

Thursday, July 13, 2006

12 months extra time

7.25am last Monday in Llandrindod Wells. You cant quite see it in this picture but the monument is to the Great War 1914 - 1919. I wonder if there were pockets of German resistance still operating behind enemy lines in Llandod after 1918 or Is there a better reason for the extra time ?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Why is consistency a virtue?
A television programme must repeat the same elements it displayed last week in order to continue to be watched.
The supermarket requires all vegetables to conform to a consistent pattern.
The laws under which we live must be the same everywhere.
The decision of Judge B must be consistent with the decision of Judge A.
The untruths a politician told today must be consistent with the untruths he told yesterday. He can lie as much as he likes so long as he is consistent.
If Gravity or the other laws of nature were not themselves consistent then life would be impossible.
But life is not impossible without the same TV programme being shown endlessly, the same tomato being eaten again and again. Perpetrators of graffiti getting locked up in Surrey and it counting towards their GCSE coursework in London is inconsistent but not impossible and not undesirable. A politician occasionally telling the truth would be a novelty. No they are not unfairly criticised they are all, every last man jack of them consistent liars.
When I was about 7 I noticed at election times all the Labour and Conservative posters and the occasional Liberal poster. I asked my mother what it was all about.
She said; "Labour stand for the poor and the Conservatives stand for the rich - the Liberals dont stand for anything - your father votes Liberal"

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sunday Lunch 9th July 2006

Today went for lunch with Ann's Aunt, on the left and her mother on the right.
The following conversation is in progress.
Aunt - Did you read about that man in Lyonshall? He jumped though the patio door and attacked another man. He bit off his thumb and ate it. Then he bit off his nipples and ate them too. They took him away and I think he is in a mental hospital somewhere.
Mother replies -The patio door cant have been double glazed


Called in at Leigh Delamere motorway service station on the M4.
A one litre bottle of still water to 'take away' was very finely priced at £2.07.
Obviously £2.00 was insufficient to provide a profit and required a careful balancing of the forces of supply and demand to get it right.
Meanwhile in Builth Wells yesterday the petrol station puts its price for a litre of petrol up to £1.01. I think though I can rely upon upon the thrifty spirit of the Radnorshire people to jerk quickly on the choke chain of demand and bring this impudent cur to heel.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rien ne va plus

I didn’t pay too much attention to the news stories about the Government inviting license applications for a number of ‘supercasinos’ except to wonder in passing why a British Government would want to create these kind of monstrosities and putting it down to the general degeneration of life.
Now the answer appears simple they flogged the Dome to an American and in return for this they had to fiddle some kind license for a supercasino there. Hence the blind of seeking multiple license applications and Prescott the heavy putting the screws on Southend to withdraw from the special one.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Feng sui

We closed our Builth Wells Office and moved everyone to Llandrindod Wells - hence it's a bit crowded. So crowded that two days a week I work from home and a colleague occupies my desk. I think I can call it my desk as I am in it 3 days to her 2.
She now tells me that according Feng sui the state of my desk is not conducive to something or other and the same can be said for leaving the toilet seat up.
I am not sure whether FS requires that the lid be lowered as well as the seating facility although I can see a case might be made for leaving the lid up in the kamikaze position. kamikaze I recall meaning divine wind.
The position of objects may be significant in a real way. I remember sitting on the beach at Pendine and poking at the sand with a stick. I observed as three grains of sand moved a small distance from each other. It occurred to me that although they had only moved a matter of millimeters the distance of every other point in the universe to the grains in question had altered and immediately. Therefore no action however trivial has less than universal consequences. This sudden insight into the nature of existence occurred to me 7 years ago and I can honestly say that since that time it has made no difference whatsoever. Perhaps I should try closing the toilet seat?

Sunday, June 25, 2006


This is an interesting website Megans Law operating in California.
Observe the distribution of sex offenders in an area and the idividuals themselves, their location and offence record. See if you can find any common facial attributes and thus revive the scientific fortune of phrenology - who knows its demise might be soley down to political correctness. Try to work out how John Reid will promise this sort of thing but get out of delivering anything at all.
Personally I dont care whether they introduce it or not, I might find it amusing if they did. Reason is on the side of those that say 'No' , but then reason is dead.
I used to watch/listen to Question Time years ago. But now I cannot bear to hear it.
If through error I arrive , via my remote control, at;
1) Question Time
2) Bazuka that ferruca
3) The advert with the hordes of aggressive women marching into some city square demanding sanitary towells.
I immediately change channels.
I am not sure what the connection is between this stuff and the Megan's Law bit but since reason is dead there doesnt have to be one.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Just this minute returned from the annual Church fête at the vicarage.
Won a very small bottle of indian tonic water on the bottle stall and bought a bottle of home made elderflower cordial. Brecon Town band playing well.

Tea in the refreshment tent only 25p in a china cup and saucer. I gave them a £1 and told them to keep the change. Does that make me a Philanthropist?

Not too well attended while I was there but it began filling up as I left - I dont think the two events are connected.

Now Ive got to spend 3 hours cutting our grass and probably will have to go into the office sometime before Monday for another 3 hours to sort out my work. I have noticed recently that if I have a problem case I have this ability to 'walk away from it in my head' - I dont have to 'walk' very far before it is lost completely .

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pork Sushi

They say we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
I think I might just have.
My son at 15 marinated some chicken.
I came home from work as he was going out and he said to me.
“There is some chicken in the fridge you can have”.
When he’d gone I took out the chicken and ate some.
It tasted lousy but as he had made it specially I persevered but even so gave up half way through the dish.
When he came back late at night he asked me if I liked the chicken.
I lied ‘yes but I couldn’t eat it all’.
He went to the fridge and saw the remains.
“You did cook it?” he asked nervously , and I swiftly realised my error.
My sausages arrived from France at last.
I began eating a long thinnish one at the beginning of the week.
It smelled disgusting and wasn’t very pleasant but nevertheless I ate my way through about a fifth of it.
Today I fried the rest and it tasted quite good, quite civilised.
Here is a picture of the wrapper. I cant see anything to suggest that I shouldn’t have eaten it in its original form but I know more sophisticated pallets than mine occasionally drop by here so perhaps they could pass judgement.

Monday, June 19, 2006


The shame of it - I wasnt going to show you this, and not just for aesthetic reasons. I went to the Gouesnou chess club and played this young chap (thats the one seated nearest the camera). I lost the first two games!! uuuugh!.I won the next 4 thank God and toyed with the idea of letting it be known that I had allowed him to win the first two.
The last time I played a difficult 10 year old was at Gwbert on Sea at least 10 years ago. He was very strong although it is possible that his feet didnt quite reach the floor while seated. I really needed a win but my position was deteriorating until the best I could hope for was a draw. I couldnt even be sure of a draw though and so I was obliged to adopt some shameful tactics. I lit a cigarette and gently blew the smoke towards him. I can still see him now, poor little chap, rubbing his eyes and looking like it was well past his bed time. I did get the draw though.

More excitement

3 weeks ago while hanging on the phone waiting for, first Norwich Union and then Legal & General to put me through to a human being I traced my mothers ancestry from my mother back to 1801 in Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire. All I had to help was my grandmothers maiden name Hudson, her year of birth 1880 and the annoying music coming from the Norwich Unions automated switchboard.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Iv’e got a life and this is it

For more than a year now, every month, I get a monthly statement from Citi- bank showing 50 pence outstanding on a credit card account I cancelled more than a year ago.
Businesses strive to increase their profit margins and I would like to increase my pleasure margins by taking the next paying in slip that they send and paying in 49 pence. This would reduce the balance outstanding to 1 penny. A bit like a kind of financial homeopathy the less there is the more potent is the effect . (so Im told)
I don’t want to trigger anything like an intelligent response that might cut off these letters though. Decisions , decisions.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Are they still up?

Searching the net for the whereabouts of Richard O'Sullivan , 'Man about the House' and occupant of 'Robins Nest' I find him resident in a nursing home having suffered by all accounts a stroke, alcoholism and manic depression.
While in bad taste Death List does at least reveal the names of some people you perhaps will be surprised to learn are still alive.
Lady Bird Johnson for example.
I think it was Lyndon Johnson who said something like, 'He has pissed on his last campfire' , which is quite a good way of describing my own attempted despoiling of the awful Pearl Assurance sales meetings I was forced to attend.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Call of Duty

We had the Mothers Union round to our house on Tuesday for a meeting.
This is a very good Christian organisation for women.
Unusually the leader of the group engaged in some kind of semi scripted exercise which involved asking the members. “What is the biggest gift you have received?”
Nobody spoke and so my wife Ann to be helpful replied ‘A bicycle’.
This was duly acknowledged and then one other of the group volunteered the probably more sought after answer “Well I suppose the gift of life”.
I was on the computer killing Germans while this was going on.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From your Dance Critic

Here is a picture of a Welsh Dance troupe that accompanied us on the ‘twinning’ to Brittany. They looked pretty good but the jigging didn’t strike me as ‘Welsh’ – not that I would know anything about it. It seemed to me rather like something contrived –‘this is how we would imagine Welsh dancing to be if there were such a thing’.The Breton dancing though really did feel as if it had been around for centuries evolving like one of Darwins finches in the isolation of an enclave.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Ontology of the Sausage and other trivia

Captain Oates would never have turned up again a few days later stuck his head in the tent and announced 'I've just come back for a bit.'
Anyway I have returned but it may not be for long.
Here is a picture of a 'cheese and wine party' attended during the week.
Thats Lord Bingham talking to our vicar.
A few years ago I remember the vicar, worried about possible lack of attendance at the Church fête, saying. " Ive managed to persuade Lord Bingham to open it so at least the IRA should turn up".
On the subject of food I inadvertently left my sausages in Brittany last week.
Our host has arranged for somebody staying on for a further week to bring them back. I wanted to take a picture of myself with knife and fork at the ready and insert a caption along the lines of 'and even as he sat his sausage had set sail for the shores of Wales'. I wasn't sure about the expression 'set sail' and also 'even as' and so used the Yahoo question site to ask someone. A lady called Vaness said she was French and gave me the translation. However she pointed out that I should use the plural of the word sausage, as there is a possibility it might be confused with a penis. I was brought up on 'Carry on ' films and so I find such pathetic jokes hysterical and it is of course what I intended. I don’t know whether she meant this as a genuine correction or if she was merely expressing her contempt that I should think it was funny. By the way in this part of Wales the plural of sausage is indeed sausage. They don’t ask for a pound of sausages but a pound of sausage.
Although each sausage is unquestionably a separate entity the apparently illogical unity imposed upon these spatially separate entities illustrates a different way of thinking about it/them. He who says sausage and not sausages thinks of the world differently just as he who ends his sentence with a verb has a subtley different world view. Thats why I wish I could speed up learning French as I am getting a bit bored with the present perspective.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lie in at the Home Office

2,000 people wrongly labled as criminals

The Home office says it makes "no apology for erring on the side of caution"
Interesting statement. Gives the impression that these were not errors at all.
If what they say is true then there should be no cases of the third type ie convicted criminals who were missed by this process. I bet there are good few of these too and the "no apology for erring on the side of caution" line is just a bit of opportunism like John Reid's catching of the illegal immigrants on their 'first' visit to the Home Office.

Trade with China

Ive just had this idea for a novelty Christmas present suitable to give to a UK boss.
I don’t know anything about porcelain but maybe there is some thing minimalist and shiny white available in China that could form the elegant basis of my product.
The idea is for the buyer to compose a suitable insult which is then translated and hand painted onto the cup/mug/teapot in Chinese. If they cant think of anything suitable there would be a readymade list of insults from which to choose allowing them to combine the correct sentiment with the artistic expression thereof.
I am sure it would look extremely elegant – the boss would have a nice present and the employee would have the satisfaction of knowing that every time he raised the cup to his lips he would be announcing to the world ‘May this gweilo burn in eternal damnation.’ Or something better.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A few more Bits near the bottom

Galileo said that the earth moved around the sun instead of vice versa and ever afterwards we laugh at anybody who talks of the sun going round the earth.
But as I understand it we can use either description without being wrong its just that one explanation, the Galileo explanation is simpler. I doubt whether most of those who laugh at the sun round the earth model are up to the simpler mathematics necessary to describe the Galileon orbit never mind anything else. Neither the sun nor the earth are fixed in space and so to grant the sun real priority is as unjustified or as justified as regarding the Earth as the centre of the universe.

Ann’s Aunty Sunday 28th October 2005
‘Ive lost interest in that old Millionaire. They are playing for charity. I suppose they don’t care whether they win or not.’
And on another Sunday in 1992
‘They are both very poorly – him and her- you know they asked S where they could get a cooked chicken for Christmas’

Russian Proverb
You can feed the wolf but he still looks towards the forest.

I see I made a note of a Henry Blofeld commentary in August 1996 as a bouncer was delivered.
‘He backed away from that and it was so close it almost knocked the drip off the end of his nose’

Monday, May 15, 2006

Chess and the No Claims Bonus

Here is another idea for the psychologist to research.
If you play chess regularly you get a grade, a number, and this number accurately reflects your playing abilities – unfortunately.
I saw a TV program years ago about good driving. It was proposed that good drivers recognise changing patterns in the road as they drive – bad drivers dont. Seemed plausible to me.
Back to chess – a good chess player is one who above all else recognises changing patterns in the game. A good chess player contrary to popular notion is not primarily a good calculator.
Given those two pieces of information it occurs to me that a good chess player should be a better motor insurance risk than a bad chess player. The chess grading system puts a number to, quantifies, the players ability and if the idea holds the chess grade should correlate with the driving ability.
To test the theory would be simple and would cost hardly anything – comparing chess grades and claims records. It would also be a cheap piece of publicity for the insurance company doing the research as it is just the kind of thing the press love.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Table turning

Mon 8 May 2006 @ 13:45 Pivot Tables Mon amour Post #1

Douglas Mcleod I have just discovered that Pivot Tables are magic. I think I will go on and see if there is anything in these new fangled portable telephones.

Mon 8 May 2006 @ 15:50 Re: Pivot Tables Mon amour Post #2

alan johnston is that like a swivel chair, ma cherie?Alan

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Waiting for Egg O

I have just been looking up some hotels on Trip advisor very good for the invaluable contributions of disgruntled guests getting their own back for having an almost full English going cold on their plate while they wait their turn to take delivery of a separately cooked fried egg. That’s always a problem though isn’t it? Not the fried egg – but have they remembered me?
I noticed a reference to a ‘turkey & tinsel weekend.’ My sister has been on a couple of these – surely one real Christmas is sufficient?
She was the youngest on this coach trip a mere 57 year old. I think it was early November, about 4 weeks after the shops first start hard selling Christmas proper.
They were taken to a hotel by coach and then over the next 4 days inside the hotel, it was Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and then even more anachronistically New Years Eve , while outside in the real world shop salesmen fretted about their targets and wondered whether a Christmas bonanza was ever going to take off.
What I thought was funny though was New Years Eve in the hotel.
Just like all the other days the owners strove for authenticity and New Years Eve in early November consisted of a New Years Eve party with the climax being the countdown to midnight. However due to the advanced age of most of the revellers it was requested that the hotel clock be put forward two hours so that they could all get to bed by 10.30 real time.

Nigel Tokely in my sock drawer another mystery solved

Me to them

Dear Sirs,
I wonder if you can help me .
While cleaning out my sock drawer I found a small circular buttonlike object with Nigel Tokely Broadstone G.C inscribed on it. Any ideas what it is and how I may have come by it?
Only idle curiosity on my part.

Them to me
Dear Mr McLeod
Nigel was the Head Professional from 1984 until last week. Nigel often had ball markers made, such as you suggest.

Kind regards

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Still there

Just received the following disapointing email from the Pledge Bank

We are sorry to have to inform you that the pledge to which you
signed up did not meet its target in the required time. It
required 100000 other people, but achieved only 150.

The pledge, created by Tim Ireland, read: 'I will pledge £10 to
a cash prize fund to be awarded to the person who proves Tony
Blair is a liar and prompts that PM's removal or resignation as
a result, but only if 100,000 other people will too.'

Play this

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I am an expert jay walker. I worked in the Strand for a number of years and in the City before that..
I could squeeze through the narrowest of quickly closing gaps, my spatial awareness bordering on the miraculous. I could have been a bull fighter of the most artistic kind but I didn’t like the idea of killing, or the idea of flying to Spain come to that.
Today in this hick town of Llandrindod I was humiliated in the most dreadful manner. The road is an ordinary two way road of moderate traffic density. I looked right – one car in the distance. I looked left – a stream of cars moving at less than 30 mph but an easy gap between the leading taxi and the next car. I walked into the centre of the road and waited for the taxi to pass me when I would quickly move in behind it cross the remaining six feet and the car behind the taxi would not even have to slow up.
Elementary jaywalking well within my city developed abilities. But the bastard taxi driver stopped and waved me across with his index finger like I was some old pensioner!
Still I suppose from a driver’s point of view it is an excellent stroke to pull and I was reminded of that book/film about Lifemanship written by Stephen somebody or other and starring Alister Sims, Terry Thomas and Ian Carmichael.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Experiment with Church Hall

Don't bother to play this unless youve got broadband and are exceptionally bored.
This is just an experiment by me to see if I could get it on to the blog.
The Boughrood & Llyswen new Church Hall opened today.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


A picture today of Llyswen again – I forgot about this viewpoint.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Change it's name to Snickers

I instinctively dislike the London Marathon. The whole thing is ludicrous. What have wheelchairs to do with Marathons ? Whats so elite about an elite runner that merits a separate start from the rest of the field; the only thing that might induce me to watch would be the possibility of some kid working his way up through this bunch of professional miseries and winning the race on Tower Bridge by running the last few yards backwards waving an open can of lager tauntingly in the face of the pursuing elite.
Even though Paula Radcliff wasn’t there this year I was still unable to bear the awful voices of Brendan Foster & Steve Cram for more than 10 minutes. At one point Cram piously said ‘at what other sporting event in world could complete novices compete against sporting giants’ at which point the camera cut from the sparsely populated elite race well under its early started pampered way to a great mass of ordinaries strolling and squeezing its way through the lovely gates of Greenwich Park completely despoiled by huge advertisements for some kind of politically correct margarine.. My heroic little yob runner would have to be very good indeed to overcome all this and beat these sporting giants.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More Money for the NHS

So £250,000 pa GPs.
Dr Del to Dr Rodney, "This time in 4 years we'll be millionaires ".
Missing millions

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another Fishy Business

Years ago in Post Magazine - an insurance paper taken by me mainly for the jobs, I read the story of a trawler called the 'Girl Pat'. I could never thereafter find any reference to it, the internet not being invented. I have just found the following BBC link.
Girl Pat With some research and a script this could be a good film.
Now I must see if I can find a copy of the book by the mutinous captain George Orsborne.


Have just read the following first bit of a conversation on the Chess website I play on.
‘Johnnyjohnson(50): I have a theory its my own theory that in some cases gravity can go sideways, that explains chairs moving across the room in poltergiest behavoiur. I don’t know why gravity goes sideways but I think in some cases it does its my own idea but noone seems interested.’

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Fastest Gun Alive - Idea for research

Yesterday I watched ‘The Fastest Gun Alive’ with Glen Ford. There was a very good , if out of place, dance sequence with Russ Tamblyn.
Perhaps now would be a good time to record my own contribution to the knowledge banks of Psychology. So to start could you imagine that you are Wyatt Earp about to draw your gun in Dodge city. Draw your gun fast and shoot and then hold it there. Now look at your gun and remember what you see.
Now imagine that you are flying a Lockheed Lightening jet around the room – off you go. Now freeze , remember the position. – and as Harry Hill would say , “and relax”.
Playing cowboys and Indians and flying a Lockheed Lightening dates my childhood terribly I know.
Think of the gun – had you extended the first one or two fingers like the barrel of a gun ? Or when you looked at your hand was your index finger curled around the trigger of an otherwise invisible gun, as mine always was.?
Think of the plane were your arms swepped back like the wings of a Lightening jet or was your aircraft, as mine was, totally invisible with your hands clasping an imaginary joystick.
I think there is a significant difference between the two modes of imagining.
Pointed, gun like fingers and swepped back wing like arms are signals to the world outside of the personal imagination whereas my way of doing it seems much more a ‘private world’. I wonder if there are two groups distinct groups in the populace displaying these characteristics.

Friday, April 14, 2006


It occurs to me that God like an anxious parent leaves us at the school gates of life and is reluctant to intervene until it is time to go home; but I think I may have suffered from too much Readers Digest.

Advertising ‘The rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket’ – George Orwell

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Philosophy of Art

Did this course at the OU.
Lionel Blair style lecturer on how to take the exam.
"Now you are all students of aesthetics so when you come to your desks I want you put a beautiful bowl of flowers (gesturing) there - not there , but there"
Ann has just come back from the village art exhibition. Quote "Its a £100 but its got a beautiful frame mind".

Saturday, April 08, 2006

GP's again

Picked up a pensioners pills yesterday from the surgery and they included this warning.Id love to be a fly on the wall during one of these meetings to 'discuss their behaviour'. Personally I think the behaviour of some GP's needs a bit of explaining too.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Kingsclere murders

I bought an old Daily Herald dated November 11 1944 , cost 1d.
On the back page down the bottom was this curious story, and I dont mean the 'Double dried egg allocation'. 9 US soldiers jailed for life for murder most foul.
How come it occupied such a small paragraph on the back page? Even in these days of depravity it would make banner headlines.
I looked it up on the internet and found that in fact it was only the Daily Herald that reported it , the whole story had been hushed up.
Details of the event can be found here

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


During the first year of an OU degree course I was on there was also a BA pilot.
He assured us that a fellow pilot had got the sack from BA because while in the air he tied two balls of string to his seat in the cockpit and then, walking backwards gradually unwinding the string and keeping it taught backed out of the cabin into the passenger area and approached, backwards the first passenger , a lady. He asked her if she would mind just holding the two pieces of string carefully just to keep the plane steady while he quickly visited the bathroom.
While on the subject of aircraft I used to work at Lloyds of London and a friend of mine who was an aviation broker showed me a claim he was trying to get settled.
I think it involved an Indian airliner. The airline was new and while it’s own pilots were training the principal pilots on the planes were Australian with Indian Co –Pilots. The plane had been held up on the runway for a long while and when it finally got the go ahead, as it sped past the control tower, the Australian pilot gave the tower the V sign to express his annoyance. The Indian co-pilot took this as a signal to raise the undercarriage and the whole thing sunk down into the tar mac. Nobody hurt but it cost a lot.

Monday, April 03, 2006

à la mode

Terribly excited - just heard my new machine washable , tumble dry, boil in the bag suit has arrived from Marks & Spenser's.
I do hope it is up to my usual sartorial standards.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I hear that it is Spring in Hong Kong just as it is Spring here.
Something puzzles me about seasons.
They are as I understand caused by the tilt of the earth towards the sun.
If it is the turn of the northern half of the globe to tilt towards the sun its summer in the north and winter at the bottom. As the earth goes round the sun in an ellipse the tilt relatively changes so that the bottom bit gets it’s turn in the sun and the top half takes its turn with the snow etc.
There is a big difference between winter and summer temperatures at least at our latitudes.
Life survives within a very narrow temperature range.
The Earth is 93 million miles from the sun.
It seems tremendously fortunate that we should be at just the right distance from the sun to evolve and it is the seasons that seem to underline that point to me. 93 million miles from the source and yet a ‘tilt’ on the axis of the Earth which accounts for big temperature ranges so far as life is concerned only brings the Summer Pole of the Earth closer to the sun by 3000 miles or so.
But then there is something called the anthropic principle which rather screws up this feeling of being specially selected.
I think this says that the only reason that there is this extraordinary set of circumstances is that there is somebody here to observe them. There might be a billion other ‘suitable’ planets where no observers have evolved.
Hold on though doesn’t that make life here even more improbable?
I am off to see if I can make some sense of it all.

"I had that Bertram Russell in the back of my cab one day and I said 'Lord Russell, you're a philosopher. What's it all about then Guv?' - and do you know, he couldn't tell me"
from Sir Isaiah Berlin Memorial lecture

Friday, March 31, 2006

Grandmaster and the Plod

Here is a picture of the signature that appears in a couple of chess books I bought in Hay about 10 years ago. I would like to know if they are the signatures of the author of the books, Alexander Alekhine. I have found a specimen of Alekhine’s signature on the web but it looks nothing like this. But then Alekhine was such a devious character it wouldn’t surprise me if he had more than one. So if you know that it definitely is or is not his signature please let me know and I might make a few quid.
His games are brilliant and the defence that bears his name is so good because when you play it you feel like Muhammad Ali employing his ‘rope a dope’ tactics against George Foreman, it is so completely contrary to normal chess instinct. (As I suppose is playing chess in boxing gloves but you get the point- I am making an analogy about tactics)
Now what is the connection between Alexander Alekhine chess artist extraordinaire and Paula Radcliff our own, well, obsessive runner and, perhaps more to the point ,why does the kind of theme I am about to recount crop up regularly in this blog in one way or another?
Alexander Alekhine or Dr Alexander Alekhine as he called himself, although there is a strong suggestion that he did a bit of Jeffrey Archer with the claim to a Doctorate, was given to urinating during a game on stage especially when drunk and Paula Radcliffe , well I still cant believe she did that! I could pursue this comparison further but I think it will only increase the reader’s unease and so I will spare you that. As to the unanswered question I am not even going to think about it. But if you are ever in a pub quiz and the Alekhine/Radcliff question crops up this might just make all the difference.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Trevor Johns sat on our sofa puffing at his unlit pipe and pondered the question what would he do if he won the lottery. He gave it deep and serious thought before removing the pipe and announcing. “I'd get a new shed”.

Ripped off by Oxfam

I have just been reading Chase me Ladies and he gives a quote by PG Wodehouse about ‘Gone with the Wind’ :"After an eternity of it, they fell into the embrace, and I was just reaching for my hat when damned if they didn’t start a whole new story".
Which reminded me that living so close to Hay on Wye, Town of Books, I did once dabble in collecting. I once came across among the old books in Oxfam a thickish hardback covered in wrinkley brown paper with ‘Gone with the Wind’ written upon it in a spidery ancient hand.
I opened it up to find that it was a 1st edition. Whoever priced the book knew it was a 1st edition too because they had written it in pencil on the inside cover and alongside it the price, £5. I knew that the price of a first edition ‘Gone with the Wind’ was at the time about £300 because I took ‘Book & Magazine Collector’. Should I tell them to reconsider the price it was a charity after all?
I glanced shiftily over my shoulder adopted a casual pose and bought it in silence for £5. Maybe I might send them something when I ve sold it on – perhaps.
Rushed back to the car and drove the 8 miles home.
Carefully removed the wrinkly paper and found that the wrinkley paper wasn’t to protect the book but more to hold it together. The spine was badly damaged.
But it was a first edition after all, I hunted out the relevant magazine. Yes there it was, £300 in very good condition ran my finger down the various categories of condition until I came to , “Poor £4. “. Ripped off by Oxfam!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Only a lark

Alouette gentille alouette,
Alouette je te plumerai.

I am disturbed to find today the verb plumer meaning to pluck.
All these years, since at least 1961, telling myself, ‘I must look that up’ - at last I do and am shocked at the barbarity of it. Poor little skylark.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Old School Ties

Last week a package arrived for me. I wasn’t expecting anything.
I ripped it open and two ties fell out. But they might as well have been two vipers my whole body stiffened as subconsciously I recognised them before the brain could put a name to them. Brockley County Grammar School ties. They expelled me in 1961, loathsome place.It wasnt for stealing a postal order either.

Llyswen from the air

I once heard a canoeist telling his friends excitedly that he had just found another river going in the opposite direction.


I have noticed in the last few weeks I take uncharacteristic pleasure in folding up a letter I have written so that the address just shows in one of those envelopes with a ‘window’.
In the height of summer when we had a dog and I cut the grass I would sometimes encounter one of his overlooked little ‘Richard the Thirds’ in the path of the mower.
Incidentally I bought a copy of the Lawrence Olivier film Richard the Third on ebay a week or so ago and it must have been good because I stayed awake right the way through, I have yet to keep my eyes open beyond the first 10 minutes of Jurassic Park.
Anyway Richard is itself again and impedes my progress with the mower.
This calls for a simple decision which requires a fine judgement founded upon a long experience in these matters. Do I remove it manually or do I mow straight over it? The prize for getting this judgement right is for the idle inestimable: call it right and ‘go over the top’ as it were and it would cost nothing. Call it wrong and go ‘over the top’ and the position is far worse than removing it first.
Some might say the correct thing to do is always to remove it manually, Ann among them, but for the pathologically lazy this is a challenge requiring judgement.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Brecon is twinned with a small Breton town called Gouesnou, near Brest.
Alternate years we visit each others homes and stay with a host family.
It is good fun.
New members sometimes get the wrong idea of what they are supposed to do when hosting. I heard of a case where the Brecon host did not know you were expected to feed your guests. It was two days without food before the stoical Breton made enquiries which resolved the issue.
Last year our guest told us of a pre-visit lecture given by the leader of the Bretons to those for whom this visit to stay with Welsh families was a new experience.
He urged them to follow the customs of their Welsh hosts when it came to food.
“If your host gets up off the sofa and wanders over to the fridge, peers inside, rummages about, drags something out and carries it back to the sofa to consume; you do the same”.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How are the mighty fallen?

2 weeks ago were you to have typed 'nasal hair trimmers' into the MSN Search engine as I noticed in my stats somebody actually did then my blog, this blog, would have come out as the no 1 site!!. There were 4,600 other entries.
I began to dream of selling my soul to the specialist mail grooming market perhaps by subtle product placements within my meanderings. This week I am devastated to find that the number of sites has increased by more than 1000 and I cant find mine in the first 10 pages. Hair today gone tomorrow.

A small pleasure

Pleased to receive this morning from Citi bank through the post another monthly statement and five bits of paper for the 50p that is still outstanding on my account see bankers and has been for the last 12 months now.
I am now going to try for year 2.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Here is a poem by Sheenagh Pugh, a welsh poet. She says she is sick of it and has removed it from her website.

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen ; may it happen for you.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Wincey Willis hypothesis

Much about modern life has crept up on me. A couple of days ago I said to Ann, “Where have all the Morris 1100s gone – the roads should be crawling with them?” She did not spare my feelings and gave me the verbal equivalent of a nasty slap on the legs. I then paid proper attention to the cars and noticed that they all looked essentially the same. It is as if there is a kind of parallel evolution going on – all vehicles tending towards the same shape. Its not that all have a common physical difficulty to overcome – re entry into the earths atmosphere say which might require a specific shape.
I had already noticed that all roads looked the same. You try and follow a route today that was once an interesting and pretty journey and are continually channelled , bullied , diverted and forced off of the route and onto some nondescript uniform motorway.
I blame Wincey Willis. I may be wrong but I remember weather forecasts as straightforward expressions of data. “Temperatures of 63 degrees Fahrenheit or 17 degrees Celsius can be expected”. I am damn sure it was Wincey Willis who in place of numbers introduced “not too bad” as a metrological term. Now they all say it and that Andrea Maclean on TV am irritates me further by always ending with “Now here is your summary” – its not my summary its her bloody summary.
In the little evolutionary tree that I am drawing up Wincey Willis ,surprisingly perhaps, is entered at a node. Thereafter down that branch all aspects of life converged to a dumbed down sameness.


"The situation my dear girl is normal and it can't be worse than that"
-Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart

Friday, March 10, 2006

Choking not Waving

Just been reading a blog on Dulwich and it reminded me of a time when my mother had a flat there in the very top of a large old victorian house. She was looking out of the window when the sash broke and the window collapsed like a guillotine trapping her head and hands outside the building.
Her shouts to passers by, for she lived alone, were either ignored or else they thought she was waving and waved back. I am not sure how she eventually got free but like everything else in her life it was almost certainly down to her own ingenuity rather than anyone else.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Great Sporting Moments

We are going to the Isle of Wight in September for a week. I like the place because it dosn’t seem to alter beyond recognition. We seem to go there about every 10 years. The first time I went was also the first time I had ever stayed in a hotel it was a ‘school journey’ probably circa 1955.
Edward May had been practising ‘gobbing’ for many weeks before the event, make as much spit as you can before depositing it in one, hopefully huge, globule. Success was measured by the size and coherence of the effort in its final resting place on the pavement. If it were an Olympic sport marks would be deducted for any separation in the body of this watery projectile when finally at rest.
Lee Manor Primary school in south east London was a long way from Shanklin Isle of Wight and Edward May’s effort to achieve the record must rank along side the greatest sporting efforts. His cheeks were going in and out as we boarded the coach and I think if he did manage to say anything at all it would have been at this point before the precious cargo had multiplied to a level that required careful containment.
I am sure the ferry port was Portsmouth and that would be about 90 miles from the school and on roads that were still pretty to travel on. Edward May’s cheeks pumped away , occasionally they paused , I suppose to rest the muscles in his face but he could say nothing. Not without tremendous risk to those of us who sat near him and to the ultimate perfection and beauty of his great work. Then the ferry which takes about ½ hour and again back onto the coach for the journey to Cliff Top Hotel Shanklin. Finally we arrived at Keats Green and walked up the gravel drive of the hotel. In my mind I now clearly see the white bay window where its base meets the gravel drive and nestling in the crevice the enormous but slightly disappointing Ted May deposit. His big error was not to realise the importance of gravel as a means of drainage.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Raising funds

One way they raise funds here for the Church or the new village hall etc is to hold a Chinese Auction. Why it is called a Chinese auction I don’t know and you don’t have to travel very far outside the area before you encounter locals who haven’t a clue what a Chinese auction is and so maybe it did evolve here first.
With a conventional jumble sale the organisers are left with a huge pile of rubbish that nobody wants and it is a real problem to get rid of it.
I remember once having to store a huge pile of the late Mrs D…’s old corsets in our garage – why she thought they might have some resale value I don’t know.
I wished Id hung on to them though because I think I might have been able to shift them on ebay especially if I lied about their provenance.
Incidently Mrs D….. in the days of Thatcher regularly delivered to our house the local Tory newsletter much to my concealed annoyance. In one issue they were running a competition, which was , complete the following ,’ Oh dear Kinnock and Hattersley……..’
I sent in ‘will soon stuff the tories and then where will Maggie be’.
I didn’t win but she never delivered another Conservative newsletter.
Now the thing is that under the Chinese auction regime Mrs D…..’s corsets would pose no problem at all. With such an event all the donated bits of junk are set out in piles and in front of each potential prize is placed a plastic cup. The punters come in and buy a book of cloakroom tickets. They then wander among this cornucopia of crap dropping a cloakroom ticket into each mug which is adjacent to prize in which they are interested. But you are saying at the end of this session Mrs D….’s corset collection will have attracted no tickets – surely not?. You would be right but the beauty of this system will now be demonstrated. Suppose that you, a punter, wished to win that first edition copy of ‘Gone with the Wind’ nobody had noticed and placed all your tickets in the plastic cup adjacent to it and suppose when they came to draw the winning ticket it was yours! The skilled assistant auctioneer would gather up your book, and here is the beauty of it, Mrs D…..’s corsets too and present the lot to you as your winnings. You would say ‘I didn’t put in for these’ to which the standard reply is ‘ Its all part of the same lot’ . Brilliant , all gone no crap left.
I thought I would help out once with an advert. I scoured the internet and found a magnificent picture of the Duke of Edinburgh in fully military kit and he was pointing towards the camera. I inserted a speech bubble which had him saying ‘Go all slitty eyed at the Llyswen Chinese Auction’. Unfortunately it was deemed not suitable by the committee.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cool out bottom in

I don’t use new words when an old word will do nor do I give them permanent new meanings. Temporary, new, one off meanings is a different matter that’s style.
Never will I describe any thing as ‘cool’ or ‘wicked’ and mean anything other than cool or wicked. I further expect that the number of occasions I am going to be able to use the word ‘awesome’ in the declining balance of my life is limited and I certainly don’t expect to have to deploy it in connection with a pair of trainers.
But there is one new usage which I feel does add something to the English language and that is the figurative use of the word arse. ‘I cant be arsed’. It seems to me to sum up a unique hitherto inadequatley described human predicament.
I was going to write some more but frankly I…etc et……………..

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Who says we in the insurance industry dont have sense of humour.
The following from Rod Gibson in Brokers forum
'The Balloon family are asleep in bed. Baby Balloon wakes up and decides to get in bed with his mum and dad.

He can't get in so he lets a little bit of air out of his mum.

He still can't get in, so lets a little bit of air out of his dad.

He still can't get in so he lets a lot of air out of himself.

In the morning his parents wake up and are really cross that he got out of bed.

His dad says “I'm really disappointed Son, you've let your mum down, you've let me down, but worst of all you've let yourself down”'

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wimpish curry and ugly spud

The View from the Harp's Car Park - River Wye in the background.

The Harp used to be good for food but when I revisited it today in my role as Welsh Food Correspondent for the Man from Catford I was disappointed.
I regret to report that The Harp Inn Glasbury on Wye under Catford ownership now for a couple years is not very good.
We arrived at 1.03 pm on Saturday bought some drinks and asked the barman if they were serving food and did the owners come from Catford. Yes the owners did come from Catford but his faced screwed up at the mention of food. He seemed reluctant to anticipate what the response might be if he asked the old Catfordians about any grub. “Sometimes they do sometimes they don’t it all depends Ill go and ask them”.
He came back a third of the way through my pint of Fosters and made some kind of facial expression that I thought might be the equivalent of a thumbs up and so I approached the bar. Yes they would do it; he handed me the menu with the proviso that although they would do it he wasn’t sure what they would actually do and so could we chose and he will go away again and see if it is feasible.
Ann chose a jacket potato with cheese and I chose from the separate curry menu a so called superhot curry they called ‘Welsh Dragon’ , there were at least 3 other curries but this one I took to be for the expert curry eaters.
The curry was pathetically wimpish and I say that with no bravado even Ann could have eaten it. I know they didn’t specially make the curry and the rice for me but don’t you think after they had heated the stuff in the microwave they might have taken a fork and moved it about a bit so that at least it didn’t look as if it had been set like that back in the distant past?
Presentation of the baked potato was also severely lacking a certain je ne sais quoi . Ann didn’t know quoi either.
There were about 8 of us in the bar as we finished the meal and two of them were the owner and his wife.
It is always a bad sign when the pub owners are drinking on the wrong side of the bar.
All in all a thumbs down.


What has become of the writer of the Policeman’s Blog?
This is surely a job for Hetty Wainthrop. Coppers blog

Friday, February 24, 2006

Snow good I will have to go in

Looked out the back garden this morning and it had snowed. Not alas sufficiently to prevent me from going to work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I owe it to L E Denny Latin & English Master deceased to preserve a little bit of him electronically and so I repeat what I wrote in Friends Reunited.
Saves thinking up something new too.
I cannot believe that L Denny does not get more of a mention here yet.
Granted Harry Jankers Jarman had a certain violent charm, incidentally Harry played his role very well - he was never genuinely evil unlike that vile headmaster who I do hope has by now come to a sticky end. ' I am going to thrash you McLeod' the words sliding monotonously from that slit in his face.
Mr Denny however was an excellent teacher of Latin and English and what was more important at the time he was a superb instrument for the skilled class disrupter to play.
He frequently called anybody who was being a little thick a 'silly arse'
I still feel extremely guilty about his retirement day. Do you remember the catch phrases in Round The Horne.? He came in to the class on his last day highly emotional after many years service to find written on the blackboard 'Dennus silly arsum est'.
Tears rolling down his face the class fell silent he turned and slowly and quietly spoke ' You do this to a master who has been at the school for 35 years'.
Round the Horne suddenly filled us all simultaneously and the question was with one voice shouted back at him ' How long sir?'
Ive just realised I sound a bit like that chap on the Fast Show.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Historic Smut

Verse from a Benny Hill song - Gather in the Mushrooms 1961

She said, "You give me half a crown I will read your palm,"
And then she saw his love line went half way up his arm.
So now she's changed her prices, although she's just as willing,
It's big fat men at two pound ten and little boys a shilling.

I dont suppose the BBC plays this anymore.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Paranoia time again

Consider this syllogism
1) We should emulate the brave.
2) Suicide bombers must be brave.
3) Therefore we should emulate suicide bombers.
The conclusion must be true if the two premises are true.
Neither premise 1 nor premise 2 are illegal thoughts and they may be freely held by anybody.
However the conclusion 3 is soon to be made illegal.
Is this not ridiculous nonsense?

There is a lot to be said for being a Viking, raping and pillaging etc
Personally I would not care if somebody did blow up Tony Blair.

All of this becomes unsayable with the stupid ‘glorification’ law.

What films will no longer be shown, what books will be censored, what works of art withdrawn because of this moronic tosh? There will certainly be an effect.
The BBC has already censored The Goon Show of all things for political incorrectness – maybe we shall never hear the real thing again as they are entrusted with the recordings.
When will the first council start withdrawing Robin Hood from the shelves?

My wife‘s Aunt, who reads the newspapers, tells me that they are going to go through our dustbins and make sure that we are recycling and if they find a tin can in the paper only bag we are going to be fined £1,000. She is terrified. Me I just shrug my shoulders and adopt the pose an Anti- Blair resistance fighter (or terrorist) and plan my next act of defiance. I have horded 3 Tetley beer cans which I intend to lay like an explosive charge in the black kitchen refuse sack tonight. But I must get past the guard (Ann) first without alerting her.

And as for ID cards………………….

Thursday, February 16, 2006

When nasal hair trimmers go wrong

Very worrying isn’t it? What if it catches a hair and wont let go and you cant find the button to switch it off!! Ive done my risk assessment.
I had an irrational fear that the sun was going into supernova , not even Patrick Moore’s reassuring tones on Sky at Night would stop me waking in a cold sweat. Valium cured that along with a nasty rash on the hand and a curious sinking feeling every time I got the train at Fenchurch Street Station. I have been more or less sane since.
I met Patrick Moore twice and had one postcard from him. First time was in a hotel in London – a charity chess event. You paid £25 and you got to play a simultaneous game of chess with the 8th best Grandmaster in the world – then Dr John Nunn. There were about 20 of us. At the same time Patrick Moore , Stephen Fry, Greta Scacchi and some others played a simultaneous game against some whiz kid – I think it was Michael Adams. Refreshments included!!. What value I cant think it raised a lot . Patrick Moore stood with me in the queue for grub. There was much clicking of the press cameras when Patrick loaded up at the buffet and stood in mid room with vast mounds of tuck balanced on two plates.
We all lost to the Grandmaster but I was not the first one to resign. In fact he looked a bit surprised that I did as I was only a pawn down. But I was about to lose another and remembered that if you are material down and in a bad position against a much stronger player good chess manners demands that you resign not waste his time by demanding proof of the obvious.
Next time I met Patrick Moore was at Hardwicke which is just outside of Hay on Wye and again we met in the food queue. This time he was giving a talk at a house called the Haven which had been the home of a Victorian Astronomer called Webb.
I reminded him about the chess match we had played in and I half hoped he might suggest we play a postal game but he said he wasn’t very good at it and proceeded at once to the refreshments.
Then I got to thinking. From all directions in the sky there is a constant background radiation equivalent to a temperature of 3 degrees above absolute zero. We are told that this radiation is ‘left over’ from the ‘Big Bang’ . But I thought that all electromagnetic radiation travels in a straight line at the speed of light.
Therefore it follows that the energy at the moment of the creation of the universe would have buggered off at the speed of lights and be way beyond Manchester by now and never looking back and so I wrote to Patrick Moore to point this out and ask for an explanation.
He wrote back and said maybe time and space were created at the same instant as matter/radiation. I took this to mean that matter/radiation did not appear in an infinite space but that space too grew.
Later I learned something of Einsteins theory of relativity and the warping of space by the presence of matter and it made a bit more sense.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Lunch today

Didnt get anything on my shirt but an escaped bit of sweet corn did lodge in the B N M area and I suddenly came to my senses when I realised I was trying to poke it with an unwrapped paper clip into the keyboard - intentionally.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tedious but relatively short

It’s a pity about the Post Office.
Remember the joke about the letter written by the little boy to Santa Claus asking for £100 for some tearjerking reason being intercepted by the sorting office workers and they having a whip round among themselves and raising £50 which they then deliver to the little boy. Next thing they intercept the boys letter of thanks to Santa Claus but note the complaint that those thieving gits at the Post Office had stolen half of it. When I first heard that joke years ago I didn’t think it funny because I just did not recognise how anyone could believe that of the Post Office. Every so often there would be a report of a postman going off the rails but it was always a rare and solitary vice committed from among a workforce of 250,000.
I worked for the GPO for a while and found most of the people in it pleasant, intelligent and many of them quite gifted, gifted as a proportion, much higher than I have noticed in any other segment of industry. Most lacked any ambition as regards material advancement which is an appealing attribute anyway.
Now after the benefit of modern management methods theft seems to be rife and the Post Office like other great institutions of the past is going down the pan rapidly.
BBC News

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tom cats and the speed of light

This Morning

Ann said something this morning which included the phrase, ‘not last night but the night before’. Into my head popped a poem from a south London school playground of 1954 which I have not thought of since.
Not last night but the night before,
two tom cats came knocking at my door.
I went downstairs to let them in,
they hit me on the head with a rolling pin .
The rolling pin was made of brass,
And I fell down on my fat arse.

I think the ‘arse’ word was replaced at the time by a discrete cough.


About 6 years ago and still smoking I was obliged to indulge my filthy habit in the garage. To pass the time while puffing I learned Keats poem Ode to a Nightingale by heart and when I could recite it perfectly, word perfectly that is, I put a little slip of paper in the book with the date on. I thought I would go back to the poem in 6 months or whenever I felt like it and see how much I remembered. This way I could observe how memory, my memory, decayed over time. I hoped it would not because I could remember perfectly well ‘Shall I compare they to a summer’s day etc’ which I had learned when I was 14.
After a couple of years the results were pretty good – but now I cannot remember the opening line.

Similarly I learned as a child that the speed of light was 186,000 miles per second and have never forgotten it. But when I actually had to use the speed of light in calculations regularly for a whole year while doing relativity in the OU ‘Space & Time’ course this figure was in meters per second rather than miles per hour. Despite the fact that I used the metric equivalent for a whole year and have never in my entire life had use for the 186,000 mph figure it is only the latter I can remember.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I like this poem by Philip Larkin. I heard it first at an OU Summer school.


Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losers, loblolly-men, louts-
They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
They seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually starves.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout, Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way to getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don't say, one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you have both.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Duchamp Revival

I think I ought to record, because Ive never seen it repeated anywhere since and it may well be an artwork to rival that of the superficially similar Duchamp masterpiece.
I was alone in a motoway service station toilet at least 15 years ago and as I approached I noticed the individual urinals all in a line at the same height except for one on the end which was much nearer to the ground obviously intended for small boys. Somebody had written above it ‘Big Boys’ .

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Miserable Git concludes

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 07 February 2006 09:05
To: boughrood
Subject: RE: OU resources

Hi Douglas
Yes they do seem expensive and it is precisly because we do not sell thousands of them. Most of the Open University videos are made for OU students to help them more fully understand a variety of different,often complex, subjects they are studying. In as many cases as possible OU Worldwide attempt to bring this expertise to the wider market, though obviously we are not always able to do this as sometimes the costs involved in clearing third party material is too expensive.
The videos we do clear for sale are targeted mainly at educational institutions to enable them to bring their teaching to life. In this role as a teaching tool they actually offer exceptional value as they can be used time and time again and are of a very high standard. As is the case in any programme made for theatre, tv or video the costs involved can be extremely high and as we don't sell through high street shops or launch our films through the cinema we are unable to benefit from the economies of scale of large production runs and box office sales, our market is much more limited and specialist. We do attempt to run promotions and discount older videos as much as possible so do please check our 'special offers' page.

Dear Jackie,
Thanks for the email. You say;
'Yes they do seem expensive and it is precisely because we do not sell thousands of them'.
I have never done economics but I do believe according to the latest theory that when demand is low the price drops and when demand is high the price increases - perhaps you can raise this with the committee that deals with policy they may find the results of this new research enlightening. As regards the costs of production; 1) Unless you actually sell any you wont recover any of these costs. 2) I am not interested in some over produced video that the OU is hoping to flog to this country or that, all I want is flares and a camera that barely moves. If the OU paid more than £500 for any one of the productions I am talking about they were overcharged and what is more the costs of production of these videos has already been recovered many times over by the students who paid fees to do the courses as I did. The only production costs to be recovered are the costs of producing copies and these days you cant buy a newspaper without a free DVD of 'Gone with the Wind'.
Anyway thanks but I will get the information I want free from the internet It is just that I rather liked the old style OU before it forgot why it was created.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Further OU

-- Original Message --
Subject: RE: OU resources
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 08:58:29 -0000

To: boughrood
Dear Douglas
Thank you for your query.Unfortunately we do not know the content of all our videos,may Isuggest you look up the topic on our website, the year the vidoe was
made is next to each video description so you should get some idea fromthat
Kind regards

Open University Worldwide
Tel: 44(0) 1908 858785
Fax: 44(0) 1908 858787
Dear Jackie,
Thanks - I have just had a quick look - How come you are charging £170 for a 24 minute video on a subject which must be about as popular as a Danish pastry at a Muslim teaparty. The number of people apart from myself that might be interested in that video you could count on one hand.Does the OU have shareholders now? Is Blair getting you ready to privatise?One more great institution laid low by greed and
Still have a nice day
Best Wishes
Douglas Mcleod

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Coleman, missing presumed rich

I wondered what had become of David Coleman, the BBC commentator and in researching him I came upon the following quotation which was nothing to do with him.
'The black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair,
but you also need white players in there to balance things up and give the team some brains and some common sense.'
(Crystal Palace chairman Ron Noades, speaking in 1991.)
Can you imagine a live interview these days and this being said? The interviewer would become apoplectic trying to politically correct it. Id love to see it.
I couldn’t find anything recent about Coleman though.

After the Watershed has gone to bed

Long to see an old style OU late night program on something obscure and so have just written to them.
Dear Sirs,
Do you have any mathematical videos preferably in DVD format but more than anything else where the presenter/lecturer is either wearing flares or the recording was made at a time when flares were in fashion? I do not really want anything made in recent years because I expect they are bit dumbed down. I maybe wrong of course but having seen a series a couple of years ago on the periodic table presented by an excessively emotional chap who seemed to think it a good idea to try and incorporate himself into some computer graphics like Bugs Bunny muscling in alongside Lawrence Olivier in Richard III, I suspect things can only have got worse.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

I bet they wont supply me with anything.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Incident in the Garage

Recycling and identity theft came to a head in my garage this morning when the bag designated to carry ‘paper and materials’ burst as I was trying to tie it up to take and leave for the dustmen. Reams of shredded paper spilled across the garage floor.
To tell you the truth, and I realise this might be akin to admitting I’m a racist in its shocking impact but I don’t really care about recycling , in fact I think it’s a waste of time.
As for ‘identity theft’ if someone assuming my identity can get anything useful from Lloyds Bank then they will deserve it because it would be far more than I have achieved and I have been with them for years.
So whats all the shredded paper and plastic bags doing in the garage?
Well that’s Ann, she is a believer and gets quite aggressive if she catches me nonchalantly slinging it all into one black sack

Monday, January 30, 2006

Good cod - no winkles!

Couldnt wait any longer - went to seaside today - Tenby.Ate Cod&Chips.Noticed in Saundersfoot what I think in the summer is a whelk stall having been fitted with CCTV. Perhaps there is a high incedence of seafood theft in these parts.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


I have a recurring problem with my foot. About twice a year it becomes impossible to walk on and takes several weeks to recover before returning to normality. Medical science is baffled or at least it can not be arsed. (I do hope that’s a british expression because it feels like it should have evolved out of 60 years of living in Britain)
It is odd that the human body is the most complex machine there is but it takes GP’s less time to diagnose than a garage to work out what is wrong with a car. The reason is that if your car is broken it stays broken until it is properly diagnosed and repaired , whereas the average GP attendee stands a 90% chance of recovering if he doesn’t bother seeing the doctor at all. It follows that in 90% of cases it doesnt matter to the immediate outcome whatever the GP says.
While on the subject of GP’s I shall not forget the incident about 20 years ago in Stanford Le Hope, Essex. I was riding a Scooter along the main road. A car pulled out from a side road and I hit the bonnet. As I accelerated upwards into the air and turned a summersault my helmet fell off. I crashed back down again onto the bonnet bounced up into the air, not so high this time due to the first law of thermodynamics, and down again onto the tarmac. Luckily this was right outside my GP’s surgery.
I picked myself up and staggered into the surgery clutching my helmet grazed dazed dusty and bleeding. The waiting room occupants visibly cheered up at the sight of me painfully limping towards the receptionist. They had heard the screech of tyres and the double bang of collision and my bounce and thought they had missed something interesting.
I stood before the receptionist.
She looked at me, paused and said;
“Have you got an appointment?”

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rorkes Drift

Until Christmas I never owned or used a mobile phone unless you count the time I accidentally sat on Reggie’s and rang his landline in the other room. For a while that mystery held the entire household in it’s grip before they got to the bottom of it so to speak.

Worries about people ringing me up wherever I was proved groundless – I just don’t give them my number. Since Christmas the £10 we put in is down to £9.72.
I am secretly pleased to have it though as this dream of the day before yesterday shows.
First 10 years ago when working for the awful Pearl Assurance in Hay on Wye I noticed about the town a tune constantly playing in my head. Durrrr dur durrr dur – dur durrr dur durrr.
When I got home I recognised it as coming from Zulu. Paranoid about meeting clients around every corner of the little town, they had become Zulu’s to my Gonville Bromhead.
The night before last I dreamed I was home and the house was surrounded by some unknown terror. The feeling was the same as being in Hay on Wye and waiting for the Zulu attack.
I locked the doors and hid knives about the house. A door burst open and a huge ginger chap flung himself at me. Later, (this admission is to my eternal shame), I recognised him as off of Coronation Street.
I killed him with knife OK and relocked the door. I ran to the phone to call the police but they had cut the lines.
Then a great sense of joy overtook me as I realised I had a mobile phone and I immediately woke up smiling. An odd dream because in real life I wouldn’t have put much faith in a mobile phone to work when needed and no faith at all in the police.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Optional Reading

It is self evidently true that Tony Blair is a liar.
It is true that he took a nation to war on a lie, his lie.
Why is it then that no enquiry ever finds any wrongdoing against him?
The Kelly enquiry for example is correctly regarded as a whitewash.
The answer is obvious but I have only just seen it, but before I say what it is I will have to go on a little diversion otherwise this revelation will be as impressively novel as the fact that Tony Blair himself is indeed a liar.
‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ . For years I was aware of that saying, knew the meaning of the words in the sentence and even knew what the saying meant , but I knew all of this in an abstract, theoretical way.
Eventually there came a time at work when there were so many people dabbling in a particular case that the whole thing became totally screwed up and at that point I suddenly felt the meaning of the saying. It became real and not just theoretical.
The answer to the Tony Blair conundrum is that the reason no investigation ever nails him is that it is a conspiracy of the establishment.
We all know that phrase, we all know what it means and nothing is changed in its meaning by applying it to Blair except that now it is felt, by me at least, it has ceased to be theoretical and become real.
It would damage the establishment terribly if Blair were justly convicted and so the establishment will not convict. I find this knowledge that the judiciary would act in this way shocking as I have always thought of them as truly independent.
I think the word ‘felt’ might be a little confusing what I mean by it is what William James in the ‘Will to Believe’ called a ‘living possibility’. That’s probably even more confusing.