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.