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Kids should be seen and heard

It has been a great week for top-flight entertainment value supplied by small children. Including the one who was B-B-C-een but not heard. Despite clearly not needing their services, I sat in a hairdressers in Kendal for a while last weekend. Before you start calling the local constabulary, I was legitimately there – Mrs. G was getting her barnet coiffed.

Whilst carrying out the thoroughly modern practice of staring at my phone and avoiding eye contact with anyone, I found myself simultaneously trying not to get distracted by an extremely smiley toddler and his adorable slightly bigger sister, who was having her hair cut.

Every time I glanced up, the little chap was grinning at me, or making an attempt to grab my sleeve, whilst his sister chatted happily away.

After the trim was sorted, she decided I clearly needed to pay more attention, and launched into a hysterical explanation, for my benefit, about the deficiencies of her baby bro. She does love him, apparently, but he doesn’t do …
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Can we check your meter, Peter? (or Utility futility)

That’s it. I’m declaring war on companies not bothering to show up during the agreed timeslot. I got up early on Saturday. I was in the shower by 0715 on my day off, to make sure I was done, dressed and had consumed my cereals and toast in time for the start of the 0800 timeslot.

Following a letter in the post, an appointment had been booked weeks previously for a representative to come round and check that our gas meter was safe. Nothing to worry about, routine check, it is very important that you book it in NOW, we have the right to forcibly enter your house etc.

Despite previous experience suggesting that from the point my doorbell rang to me saying “Thanks, bye” would be well under five minutes, a 4 hour slot was allocated.

So, on about the nicest day of the year so far, I was trapped in my own home, waiting for a visitor whose stay would be so brief, you’d still be on the “Galileo!” bit of Bohemian Rhapsody (if you had the strange habit of timing engineers using the ‘Queen No.1s …

Revealed - Why McLaren's 2017 Formula 1 car isn't very good

I think I might have solved why McLaren's new F1 car has been so slow in testing for the 2017 season...


Sing when you’re wing-ing

If there’s an Oscar for “best soundtrack by something with feathers”, we have a blackbird near our house that should be up for a small gold bloke – presuming they have the right envelope. Ah, Spring. Whilst it may have been a windy, sleety, rainy few weeks, the signs are definitely there. Snowdrops are giving way to Daffodils. Lambs are starting to appear, shivering bemusedly in the fields. Storms are called Doris.

Blossom is, ah, blossoming on trees, triggering the same level of amazement reserved for people who wear shorts in the first week of March. Brave? Or foolish? You have to admire the pluckiness, though.

We have a new champion of the springiest season too. A blackbird has taken up residence close by to our house, with a remarkable level of stamina rarely seen in the birdyverse. This plucky little chap starts singing at the top of his voice at the first hint of daylight.

If I wake up before the alarm clock goes off, he’s singing. He’s singing when I head for the shower, and wh…

Seven seconds of fame

Andy Warhol said that “Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. He was almost right. It’s a nice quote. And, in my case, he was bang on. If you replace “world” with “North West of England”. And change “famous” to “briefly recognisable”. And swap “15 minutes” for “7 seconds”.

Yes, my shot at the big time occurred last week, when I popped up on BBC North West tonight, just before 7pm, and probably put many viewers off their dinner.

Whilst I had hoped to come across as intelligent and a bit dashing, I actually managed to pull off the far trickier ‘dishevelled and incoherent’. Result!

My brief moment in the limelight came about courtesy of my employer, Brathay Trust, who have their HQ in Ambleside. This is where I hang around during the week, pretending I know something about marketing, and generally making the place look untidy whilst drinking cappuccinos.

Brathay’s marvellous octogenarian archivist, Maurice Dybeck, showed us an amazing film from 1953, featuring young men doing all…

Lettuce pray for the Courgette Crisis victms

The year is 2117. In an underground bunker, a battered tablet screen flickers in the gloom. On it’s screen are the words “The 2018 Broccoli War”... A scrawny old man, dressed in tattered clothes enters the room and slumps in a worn chair. Picking up the ancient electronic device, his trembling finger hovers over the screen, before descending on the blinking button bearing the words “Begin lesson”.

Prior to 2017, The United Kingdom (as it was then known) was a relatively stable and affluent place. There was concern about a forthcoming “Brexit”, although most were unclear what this actually involved, including the elected government of the day.

The preceding year’s high ‘celebrity’ (see ‘singers’, ‘actors’ and ‘reality TV’) death count, had left the inhabitants of UK on edge, and a seemingly insignificant shortage of courgettes (see ‘watery vegetables’ and ‘middle class food’) early in ’17 was the starting point of a rapid descent into chaos.

Cold and wet weather in Spain (see ‘unbearably …

Cumbria’s Keystone Cops and the Big Bang

You’re having a bad day when you’re taken ill suddenly. What could make it worse? Maybe the police having your car blown up? I really feel for the poor guy who was taken ill in Workington recently. Helpfully, the police kindly looked after his car and took it back to the station.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, by the next morning they’d forgotten about it due to an “internal communication error” and spotting “suspicious objects” within decided to be on the safe side and call out the artillery.

Evacuating the station, closing the A596 and putting a 100m cordon in place, they carried out a controlled explosion on the vehicle. I’m making a wild guess here, but the local police getting a bomb disposal team to blow up your car probably affects your no claims discount adversely.

In a wonderful example of hiding your mistake inside a complicated sentence, following the unnecessary detonation of the innocent Vauxhall Corsa the aftermath of this high-drama moment was beautifully described by…