Friday, February 23, 2018

Memory Lane

Tonight Mathew, I am watching the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Not a great lover of rock music or prog rock or anything much when I was a teenager but I used to watch this. Mainly I suspect so I knew what everyone else was talking about. Indeed, Danny Baker is saying much the same thing at this very minute.

Good old Whispering Bob Harris. He managed to make it exciting and secretive, being part of this special world of bands. Bands that weren't going to appear on TOTP, or very few of them.

I suspect many watching tonight wish they would bring it back.

But they won't. Who needs a program where people can actually play musical instruments, can sing in tune without autotune and don't have a "journey" with which to draw in the public. Just groups of musicians sitting around making music. How the hell is Simon Cowell going to make a fortune with that!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Good Vibrations

I have a strange disease. I don't know whether it is known to the medical community or not. I have decided to call it mobile leg.

I keep my mobiles in my right trouser pocket. I have for years. But I have noticed over the last year or so that sometimes it feels like my phone is vibrating for an incoming call. When my phone isn't in my pocket. Which is weird. And my left leg never does it.

Have my leg muscles learnt to vibrate? Should I accept things as they are but panic if it starts to play a ringtone? Is a leg vibrating whilst driving against the law? Do I have to give my leg back at the end of the contract?

Come on medical world. It's all very well curing the common cold etcetera but this is what people* are demanding a cure for!

* People may in fact just be one person in this instance.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Work Overload

It is of course our slow time of year. And it will continue to be so. But I am about to have 6 weeks of work to do at home.

My mother has come back with me from the UK to stay for 6 or so weeks. This spells trouble. Not because she is any trouble per se, You couldn't have a nicer house guest, but last year Marj discovered a secret. Having spent months trying to get me to put shelves up, curtain rails et al, she mentioned to my mum she was still waiting. My mother turned round every couple of days to ask if I'd done such and such. She then proceeded to suggest I get off my back side and do it. So I did.

Marj was astonished at how I just went and did things at her suggestion when she was hitting her head against a brick wall. As Mum said, "because I'm his mother". This year she has made a bit of a list so my mother can get me to do them during her stay.

Today we met a couple of friends and I was telling the husband the story and my mum was there, before we got to the very end he said "because it's your mum!".

Us boys are very well trained as far as our mothers are concerned!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

You've let yourself down, the school down, and the blogosphere down!

Well, there we go. In a complete replay of my school years, by leaving my posts until the last minute each day, the moment something went wrong there was no chance to recover and therefore I have missed handing in yesterdays homework and have failed my February blogging course.

It should have all gone so smoothly. A trip out to Godfreys Fish & Chips at Harpenden, a post prandial drink, and then back to base with an hour to spare. But then things got a bit later and we all got chatting and then the chimes of midnight struck, I ran so that I could get to my computer to post and on the way I lost my glass slipper.

Tonight was going to be the problem as I have a party to go to and once I leave at 10am today I won't be back until the wee small hours of tomorrow morning. Instead however, I have fallen at the fence before by taking my eye off the ball and hitting my own wicket whilst mixing large numbers of metaphors.

Oh well, perhaps Feb 2019 will be the year when I get properly organised!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

End of an Era

I was going through some of my old haunts today. Things change all the time and a couple of groups I belong to on Facebook often post pictures from the area many years back which are interesting to see or even remember but today I passed a place and realised an era had come to an end.

When I was a wee lad a friend of my mum used to cut my hair, and once he moved on to the big barber shop in the sky I used to visit a salon of hirsutedness over the road, but rather than cut my hair the way I wanted they would cut it too short. This was the 70s and short hair was very old hat. They would style your hair and indeed, it looked like a very old hat. Boom Boom as Basil Brush would say.

Come 1972 my Grandma got remarried and I needed my hair marginally cut but styled. My dad said "why not try my barber" so off we trotted to Dave the Barber. I was 16 and needed to have my hair tidy enough for parents to approve and long enough that I could get into trouble at school thereby maintaining some sort of street cred.

Whilst this was taken a few weeks later, here I am, resplendent with longish hair.

Whatever happened to that young lad about town! My mother insisted I should have some "portraits done" at a local photographers otherwise no evidence would exist.

Anyway, so lasted a relationship with Dave until last year. When I approached the age  where I could reverse the figures above and Dave decided to retire.

All through those years, although I occasionally had to use other barbers Dave was my number 1 man. He was the man who changed my styles for 40 years as hairlines receded and thinned.

The last time I went, around a year ago, resulted in the following.

A somewhat shorter, greyer, style than when he started. And yes, that is The Magnificent M!

Today I drove past the shop and, although still a barbers, it was modernised. No more pictures of 1950's styles with brylcreemed models looking wistfully into the distance. The old style red leather chairs with the board that went across for the kids to sit on. His Wanted Poster that his kids had bought him one Fathers Day. The bay rum, brylcreem, rubber puffer full of talc for the back of your neck, all gone.

I hope the retirement is going well and you've got a place in Italy to holiday in even if you aren't living there. After 40+ years I must have paid you enough money to at least enjoy a bit of your new found freedom! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

No Frills, No Problems

Greetings from England. Except you are already in England. So it only me who is abroad.

Once again I landed upon these shores thanks to Mr Ryanair. They get a lot of bad press but I have to say in my experience they have always been really good. Take this journey for instance. It cost me 12.99€. To fly the thick end of a thousand miles. You can't even by a large pizza for that, well not at Pizza Hut anyway.

The journey takes 2 hours and 5 minutes on the way here. It is 10 minutes less on the way back but that might be because it is downhill on a globe. I buy a can of drink airside at Carcassonne and ta
ke that on the plane with me. Even I can last for 2 hours without needing a meal so there is no need to spend any money on the plane itself.

There are of course the extras you can buy. I took priority booking which cost an extra 2€. Firstly, because I always have a window seat it means I can get on firstish and get to my seat without having to climb over anyone. Although today I excelled and was first on the plane! The baggage allowance has changed and you are only allowed a handbag, manbag, or laptop case in the cabin. Unless you have priority booking when you can still have your small case in the overhead locker. If you don't have priority your small case can go in the hold and it doesn't cost you anything. Larger cases are chargeable. And it also means you don't have to queue for your bags at Stanstead which can take quite a time.

The flight left on time and arrived 5 minutes early so the only downside was they played their fanfare but luckily nobody clapped which is often what happens. Actually the other downside was a bit of a bumpy landing but that wasn't their fault. That was God who arranged that. I think it possibly also got hit with a gust of wind just as we touched down because not only did it bump but it seemed to skid slightly which isn't surprising given the torrential rain that was pouring down at the time.

So hurrah for cheap air travel. All that for less than the price of a pizza. I would have taken some photos but we were either in cloud or it was dark. So to compensate, here is a picture of a grasshopper I took last Monday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Can You Dig It?

Well, the local electrical company can. They are moving us from overhead lines to underground cables. Much has been done today and we've only just got wi-fi back so just a quick blog tonight. It'll be the same tomorrow but I will avoiding it, cos I'm on my travels. Back in dear Old Blightly tomorrow and on my Mums' fast and stable  broadband.

Hopefully when I get back our cat won't have got too curious and ended up buried under the tarmac!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Schadenfraude (or however you spell it).

We get on pretty well with our owners. They obviously pay our "wages" but in the end, we tend not to get every penny we can out of them, which is probably a mistake, but anyway that's how we are. We believe in a bit of give and take. We charge more for our complete property management service that if an owner sources all the separate components themselves as they are cutting out the middle man. And that is fine, you can't win 'em all.

So the other week we had an enquiry from a very large house not too far away from us to quote for a full management service. We did so and slightly under what we should have charged because there was a lot involved. They decided we were too expensive. No problem, we don't need any extra owners but we could have outed a couple of others with their replacement.

So earlier today, on a facebook group I follow, there was a request from someone for recommendations for a plumber as they had an emergency and needed to get it sorted out. Well, well, it was the same people. If they had gone with us there would have been a plumber in today. So now they know why what we offer might cost a little more. If everything goes right you have saved money, if it doesn't it costs more in money and more importantly, stress.

No, I didn't recommend anyone. I did however have a little sense of "satisfaction" that their decision had come back to bite them. It doesn't show me in the best of light but better than if I had replied on the page asking whether they had thought of getting a property management company.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Slipping into old age.

Following young Mashers post this morning, which in turn follows young Brennigs post the other day, I too am going to on breakfasts. Well not just breakfasts but all meals.

If I had kids we would be eating breakfast, lunch and our evening meal at a table, as a family. That alone will let any parents reading this know that I don't have kids as that's a fairyland scenario. Anyway I don't so we can be a little more relaxed. And since xmas our efforts to eat on our laps has been made easier.

We obviously had trays before but now we have......

To be fair, we didn't buy them ourselves. They were a present. Nor are they that design. We aren't so old as to actually buy them. They are, however, quite useful. Particularly when you use them with liquids in the bowl or on the plate.

It definitely feels like a heavy move towards older age but still realising they are a good idea and feeling a bit depressed about it.

Still, at least it isn't a zimmer frame yet. But who knows what we will get for Xmas next year!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ziggy Played Guitar

46 years ago today in a London pub, David Bowie came on stage in a new persona. Nobody I know was there. In fact not many people were, it was a small pub. It was four months before the LP came out and it is the first musical event that seemed to unite virtually everyone in my class at school. Those more in the know than me started talking about it and enough excitement was generated that by the time we first saw Starman on Top of the Pops we were hooked on Bowie.

It isn't that we hadn't heard of him before. My brother had Hunky Dory. It did absolutely nothing for me. I listened to it again a couple of weeks back and it still just sounded like wallpaper to me.

Ziggy however was totally different.experience. We talked about every performance we saw. And when the album was out we discussed each track. Learnt them. Sang them. We were all our own Ziggys. There was much air guitar playing to Mick Ronson.

Bowie caught our attention like no one had before. Or possibly since.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Traffic News

There was a report this week on the UK's busiest roads. The winner was the A406, North Circular Hanger Lane to Chiswick Roundabout. A stretch of road I know well. And indeed the local website mentioned it here.

The website also gives you major roadworks in the area. For the next couple of weeks or so there is one here.

That's certainly going to help with the congestion. I know they have to do the work but it always takes so long in the UK.

I expect the tailback to be somewhere about Leicester.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

It Never Rains In Southern California.

So sang Albert Hammond. Although I prefer his single Free Electric Band. Anyway, I digress. It never rains in Southern California sang Albert Hammond.

It does however snow in Southern France.

That was a surprise when we woke up.

And I'm not sure the vines at the bottom of the road are going to be happy about it.

This at least explains why it has been so bloody cold lately.

If we had this amount of snow, which is quite a bit for our village, I can't wait to see the mountains when the cloud lifts!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Old Man - New Technology

So, I signed up for that there Google Play Music service. For a few pennies less than ten pounds I can access virtually every record ever made, except the ones by my mate Phil Martin, the Languid Balladeer.

Anyway, I've been merrily having my free trial month and half way through, The Magnificent M, being impressed that she could listen to her old heartthrob, David Cassidy, incessantly, decided we should invest a further five pounds a month for Family Membership, which means she can use it as well.

All would have been well except, having signed up for individual membership on my French profile, I managed to sign up for family membership on my uk profile. Both use the same gmail address so it shouldn't be too hard to move the membership from one to the other. And yet it is. Talking to the Google Play help desk is proving trying as even with screenshots they aren't able to see what the problem is. Even after a week.

I have a feeling this might run for some time.But it's not all bad. I can still listen. Even if it isn't to Phil.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Escale à Sète

And now I get to tie up two previous posts. Back in October I mentioned I was a member of The Aude Shantymen, Singing in harmony with the sea. Supposedly. Then not 72 hours ago I outed myself as Long John Silver.

The Escale à Sète festival is a maritime festival lasting a week on an annual basis. Sailing ships from round the world converge on the port and from our point of view there is a shanty singing concert/competition. And we also get to go round bars singing and getting free drinks. But the most interesting bit is we get invited to sing on some of the sailing ships. Like proper pirate type ships. With sails! And ropes! And probably a cat with 9 tails!!

And we are going to dress up. As pirates. Some of us haven't been this excited since our 7th birthday party!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Tally Ho!

The annual cull of deer in Richmond Park is about to start. There will be the normal outcry that follows this announcement. It is an emotive subject. When I was young, late teens/early 20s I was very against hunting, culling, etc. Indeed, I was banned from Selfridges for harassing a woman in the fur department and telling her the coat she was wearing looked better on the animal than her.

My views now I am older seem to have mellowed or maybe swung the other way. Maybe I'm not as susceptible to a furry friend as I once was.

I used to drive through Richmond Park a few times a week. I got to recognise the differing herds. And I also got to spot the deer that weren't going to be there for much longer. Some were easy to spot. The white deer, those that were carrying injuries, those that were smaller. The deer are remarkably successful at breeding and increase their numbers by too large a percentage each year. So how do you keep the numbers down? You can't give them away because you will be giving the worst stock to someone. In the end, having heard the arguments I think culling probably is the best solution. And the restaurants of Richmond have venison on their menu for time. As does Buckingham Palace as HM owns the deer.

Down here in the South of France we have a similar problem but with Wild Boar. I've seen 3 or 4 whilst we've been here and I thought there were probably a fair number around. I wasn't sure what a fair number would be. Maybe a hundred or so in the near vicinity. I know there are many hunters and they might get one, they might not. On a good day they get a few. Over the season so far, which started in October, at a nearby town, Puivert, so far in the immediate vicinity they have culled over 3000. 3000!!! I'm surprised you can drive down the road without running the buggers over. And they can be vicious as well. Apparently they have bred exceptionally well this year. The hunters are having a field day. And all our restaurants and supermarkets are brimming with "sanglier". The French are a little more  sanguine about things than the good burghers of West London and Surrey.  There won't be many voices of dissent to the hunting down here.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Not these days, Guv'

Some time back, young Mr Masher was so good as to point out the lyrics of Grease Lightning which were certainly not what one would have imagined in such a wholesome film as Grease with that nice young Olivia Newton-John.

There is a song from the 70's which gets played on French radio quite often, probably because they like the tune. I'm not sure whether it is played much in the UK any more. Whilst it is a perfectly innocent song, in this day and age, when everything is scrutinised to the nth degree to see if something is politically incorrect or depraved, and I don't mean singing about hoes and drugs because apparently that is acceptable, I suspect the record company wouldn't have allowed it to be released.

The record is Clare by Gilbert O'Sullivan.

Put on your best Puritan hat and read the lyrics. As you can't walk down the street and look at a child for fear of accusations I think you will see why this is of a time past.

The moment I met you, I swear.
I felt as if something, somewhere, 
Had happened to me, which I couldn't see.
And then, the moment I met you, again.
I knew in my heart that we were friends.
It had to be so, it couldn't be no.
But try as hard as I might do, I don't know why.
You get to me in a way I can't describe.
Words mean so little when you look up and smile.
I don't care what people say, to me you're more than a child.
Oh Clair. Clair ...
If ever a moment so rare 
Was captured for all to compare.
That moment is you in all that you do.
But why in spite of our age difference do I cry.
Each time I leave you I feel I could die.
Nothing means more to me than hearing you say,
"I'm going to marry you. Will you marry me? Oh hurray!"
Oh Clair Clair ...
I've told you before "Don't you dare!"
"Get back into bed."
"Can't you see that it's late."
"No you can't have a drink."
"Oh allright then, but wait just a minute."
While I, in an effort to babysit, catch up on my breath,
What there is left of it.
You can be murder at this hour of the day.
But in the morning the sun will see my lifetime away.
Oh Clair Clair ...
Oh Clair

There is a misprint in the lyrics though which actually makes it a little more explanatory. It shouldn't be Oh Hurray!, the lyrics are actually Uncle Ray this being a song he wrote when his niece. who is called Clare, was young. Then again, I'm not sure Uncles would be looked on any more favourably.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Man of a Thousand Faces

This last December I took part in my first pantomime for about 40 years. And for the first time ever I got to be the baddie! And yes, it was in France but luckily we were performing it in English. I couldn't have coped with shouts of "Oh non ce n'est pas" or "derriere toi!". Anyway, it was Treasure Island and I got to play Long John Silver.

Of course, as you can see, my appearance was totally based on Johhny Depps character, Captain Jack Sparrow. It is now law that all pirates have to look like him. You will no doubt see the similarity.

No, it's not quite there is it. I did however remind myself of somebody. And it took few days to work it out. It was of course, jazz player and food critic, Jay Rayner, son of Claire Rayner, for those old enough to remember TVs most prominent agony aunt of the 80s (?).

Others suggested that it might in fact be rock god Frank Zappa.

Other suggestions welcome!

Friday, February 02, 2018

United Nations

On Friday afternoons, when we aren't busy, ourselves, Birgit who live next door, and Joelle who lives one house further on, spend an hour or so talking in French. It helps to improve our French conversation and also Birgit's, who is German, and for Joelle, who is French, it has given her an extra social occasion. In general the conversation flows, although mine is more of a trickle, but occasionally we go down a certain route and it all falls apart. That's when we move into our Franglais +, known to us as Franglaismande! Between us we can manage the following;

French English German
Dave Middling Fluent None*
The Magnificent M Very good Fluent Did A level
Birgit Quite good Good Fluent
Joelle Fluent Some None

* I can manage zwei bier!

We have conversations to try and explain certain things where every sentence in one language follows on to another sentence with a differing language. I'm not sure it helps. Instead of one person not understanding something and needing an explanation it disintegrates into a babble of confused multinational voices until someone takes control.

I wonder if the European Parliament has this many problems?

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Blogathon 2018

So, we have broken from the traps. Whilst I stand in the very shadow of Masher and his 12 years before the mast I think this is year 5 for me. For some reason I did 2012 and then had a few years off. And then for some reason I started again. Madness, I tell you! And once again I find myself with nothing in the draft folder to start with despite my best intentions. I dream of the day when I have 28 posts sat there waiting for me just to publish one.

As I sit here typing, the Magnificent M asked me;

What are you doing? Blogging?
Yes, it's February!
Oh God, not again. It can't be February again already!

That is the sort of pressure us Feb bloggers have to endure! Still, it's satisfying to know that the Blogathon is known further afield than just the three of us who do it! Sometimes.