Monday, 19 February 2018

I've got a new friend. Lucky eh?
Well, not exactly. We haven't actually met, let alone been introduced but we are becoming more and more interlinked each day; our lives running along side by side joined by a thread of deepening awareness.
It (for I know not what sex "it" is and God knows there's enough to choose from these days) lives in my car and has done so apparently for over a week. Hard to tell when it arrived but I first thought "Hello, I've got a visitor" when I found a loaf of granary bread had been tampered with. The type of bread is unimportant other than to indicate I had opted for the healthy option but the tamperer had only had a nibble, not voracious, but noticeable and certainly enough to render the healthy option unappetising to the tamperee.
"Bastard" I thought. Then it had a go at my cough sweets in the glove compartment but obviously couldn't get the wrapper off. A few chewed pieces of newspaper indicated something verminous. I cleared the car but found nothing. I handed  the car over to the Polish Handwashki at Cow Roast for a full valet (15 quid- excellent value) who cleaned and Polish-ed her till she gleamed. I drove away confident that matey was now half way to Tring, propelled there, I hoped,  on the end of a Polish power washer's jet.

The discovery of my atlas in a state of distress (eaten the whole of Wales and the bit about road signs) meant my confidence was ill founded. The bastard was still about. So being of a kindly nature I set a humane trap (which surely means they are to catch humans!?) I baited it with a little chocolate cookie biscuit....correction-three biscuits have now been devoured but the trap is empty. Bastard.
So what have we learnt. Our new friend has a cough, an interest in Wales, a liking for chocolate cookies and can't read. How do I know it can't read?
We've upgraded the weaponry to poison the sod. Whatever it is. Well whatever it is it can't read. Or rather if it can read it can't comprehend that this stuff according to the packet is irresistible to little furry bastards. It has resisted it for two nights and got stuck into shredding a towel (Egyptian-Dunelm)!
Some of this might strike you as an over reaction-live and let live etc but those of you that know me-or rather the inside of my car- will know that my lifestyle is such that approximately a third of my possessions travel with me; sometimes on their way to the launderette or Council tip but more often because there is no room for them elsewhere. Add to this the fact that at this time of ball-breaking coldness the car makes an excellent additional fridge. Until visitors arrive that is.
So I've removed everything from the car so there is only the irresistible poison left. My fear was that it would take a fancy to the wiring instead which I know with my experience of glis glis is catastrophic. 

 Well, nothing's been nibbled, disturbed, chewed, confettied for a week. .........
looking cool in a hat from France courtesy of Auntie Natalie

In the interim a trip to collect Caz and Mathilda.
They  came to stay with Pam for half term and it  was lovely to see them.
All babies are great and I'm a big soft sod but Mathilda is gorgeous; absolutely gorgeous.

======================================== Somehow I've got involved in my local Patient Participation Group and have been drafting a newsletter to be sent to patients. I thought I'd include a few of cartoons which I  now share with you.


Ever now and then the sun appears and brightens our lives and encourages us to look forward to the Spring. Not soon enough as far as I'm concerned. Just filled up with diesel (which runs my central heating) from the wonderful Juels' fuels. £132! Since 8th January! 31 days! £4.26 a day! Actually that's not too bad and that I hope is the coldest month dealt with. Mind you there's also coal and logs for the real fire, say, 40 quid a month. No wonder I want the Spring to arrive. As does I am sure the little beauty to the right who just perched on my ropes for at least two minutes hunched against the biting wind blowing up from wildest Berkhamsted. I was so excited to snap him, to see him in fact. Such a treat.
One of the places a chap should be able to retreat to on a cold evening is his local but as the whole world knows the Cow Roast Inn is shut, its future uncertain but the view hereabouts is it's closed for good. For some strange reason a giant skip arrived for a couple of days suggesting some action but nobody saw anything happen and it disappeared again.

And now Lent approaches. As an O level Catholic I struggle with Lent, or rather the giving stuff up bit. I have proved conclusively over the last 71 years that I have sod all will power, never ever able to maintain those Lenten resolutions.
The whole world knows I must lose some weight but do I seize the opportunity of 40 days without beer or bread? Nah. Well maybe at first but then the negotiations start-maybe I could have a beer.....or two....on just a Friday and perhaps just wine with meals.....and bang crash wallop nothings changed and Lent is over and so is my weight.
It's Shrove Tuesday so decision time. Tomorrow is the kick off. What to do....I'd better not announce my intentions publicly for fear that the odd (very) friend that reads this crap might spot me skulking, cream horn in hand, and denounce me. Come on now Michael it's only 40 days-you must be able to give up something fattening  for just 40 days...but what?
It's absolutely peeing down as I write. It's enough to drive a man to drink.

This was meant to be a photo of the MSWIB in the snowdrops
 but the MSWIB obviously decided otherwise
Pam and I went to Stowe last weekend and very pleasant too except I kept running out of puff which comes back to my weight I suppose. I even used the little bus that's meant to be for the wrinklies and I don't like that. I seem to recover very quickly which suggests it's all in the mind so looks like I'm fat and barmy.....but then you all knew that.
 The MSWIB? I hear you ask. Well some passing toff said to me something like "Your wife is the most stylish woman in Buckinghamshire" which was nice...except the "wife" bit; the MSWIB wasn't too impressed with that.

Some more pictures.


To end on' a couple of RIPs.
Friend and publican Mario O'Neill died last week aged 64 I think. Mario and I first met years ago when he temporarily managed the Cow Roast Inn during one of its many hiatus periods. We got on well and kept in touch thereafter until eventually he took the tenancy of the Rose and Crown (now closed) which was a few doors from Pam and therefor very handy. For some reason lost in the passing of time but probably to do with the fact we were both taught by priests he would usually greet me with "Good Evening your Reverence" to which I would respond "and to you your Grace"
Ever happy with a wind up when a customer asked Mario (in my absence)why he addressed me thus he kindly explained that I was a defrocked priest and then to make sure half the pub ignored me added "but he's a tax inspector now"
A few days later I was waiting for a train at Berko and saw one of the R and C customers just along the platform-I knew he was a builder so probably not a big fan of HMRC but when I waved at him in cheery acknowledgement he blanked me. When the train arrived I saw him climb aboard but as I took my seat I saw through the window he had got off again. Methinks he had a lot of unpaid tax. Mario and I enjoyed that story often. 
RIP Your Grace.

I didn't really know Malcolm Snow other than the odd exchange of a good evening in The Lamb. With no disrespect intended I mention him for another reason. A couple of years ago in the lead up to Christmas-let's call it Advent-the Lions had organised their traditional Santa on a sleigh touring the streets of Berko and generally raising an air of jollity. Unfortunately on this occasion the snow and ice had visited early and the sleigh lost its grip on the hill leading to the High Street and Santa and parcels and elves had careered across
the road T -boning a parked car....owned by Malcolm Snow.
Whilst having sympathy for all concerned I would have loved to have been in the Insurer's Office the following day to hear that Santa had crashed his sleigh into a Mr Snow. You couldn't make it up.
Back to Mooring matters and thought is being given to the St George's annual party and in particular whether to have an auction. It does take a long while and if it's chilly, which it usually is then it's a bit tough on guests having to put up with the hawking of a fair amount of junk whilst hypothermia sets in. Some say it raises money so what the hell. I'm ambivalent.

I do feel it's got a bit tired and a rest might be a good idea. A suggestion is that if anyone has anything actually of value they price it and leave it on a table inviting offers. After that it's up to them whether they pocket the proceeds minus 10% for charity or make the whole thing a donation.
A topic for discussion for the next month.
Before I publish I'm just going to check the car once more when Ady and I go for a pre-dinner tincture. It's over a week since any sign of Mr Mousebastard so fingers crossed........
No sign thereof so hope the bugger has gone elsewhere.

 On a note of celebration cos Ady and I had a bet on Wigan to beat Man City 1-0 at 74-1 and cleared £148 profit!!!.
Rock on.

Cheers for now

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Presidents' Men

Hi everybody and welcome to this latest blog-it's been a while but you know how it is over Christmas and the New Year-then suddenly we are half way thorough January and nowt's been written for weeks.
With Ady and Roy in the Lamb on the 15th December which was a chance to send birthday wishes to Carrie Dodgyhogg in Orkney
Anyway we'll start writing and see what happens.
Part of my my problem-a major part- is I'm not a winter person a  situation that gets 
progressively  worse every winter.
The weather has been crap-a meteorological term for intermittent snow, scrotum freezing cold and persistent bloody rain
Snow in December! Not unusual but Not impressed. The path on the mooring has been a bugger-very slippery and muddy. Ady's boat "Moorhen" had a good covering.

as did Independence

and everybody else

I came across this
A Christmas Eve party...
Santa and his helpers
"William Jellis, landlord of the Cow Roast Inn, near Northchurch, was charged 'that he did open and expose to be drawn by dice for possession of a pig and two bottles of spirits on Dec. 24th;' also with permitting gaming on his licensed premises. Mr. Penny... for the defence... pleaded guilty to keeping a lottery... very different from keeping a gaming house... [it] was a Christmas-eve raffle, and an error only. The defendant had kept the house respectably for nine years. Case dismissed, costs £1:0:6." (Bucks Herald, Feb 1887)

A Ghostly Santa visits the neighbours
Apart from the fact that times have changed in that the police don't give a toss (sorry) about gaming in pubs anymore the idea of a publican keeping a pub for nine years is laughable especially if that pub is the Cow Roast where over the last 30 years there has been more landlords than customers. In fact the idea of "career" publicans has all but disappeared.
Rumours abound as to the future of the pub-lap dancing/creche/private house but nothing concrete-except for the horrid anti-pikey blocks around the site.
However one little glimmer of hope-the dreaded Punch Taverns who are struggling have sold many of their premises to Heineken and a search of their Star Pubs Portfolio shows the Cowroast with a note that details are available from Punch until 4th March when the premises pass to Star pubs. Could be good news-who knows.
Here's some good news!

Yay! Snowdrops on the moorings  showing we are in the arse end of Winter.....but I haven't finished with  New Year yet.
Just a few pictures... not too onerous

New Year on board Panther

.and of course I had a lovely birthday with a thriller mystery at Windsor Theatre Royal followed by dinner-thank you Pam and a lunch at the New Akash with 20 chums


And CAKE!!!!!!

So what's been exercising your mind of late?
I love a new word and frottage is my best so far for 2018. As is often the case I heard it on that great educator Radio 4 during a discussion on the current popular topic of sexual harassment. Had you heard the word before? You're probably an innocent in these matters as am I. It has two meanings:-

  1. the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface to form the basis of a work of art.
  2. .
    the practice of touching or rubbing against the clothed body of another person in a crowd as a means of obtaining sexual gratification.

Well I never. I know so little about art......Great word though.
Sounds like a cheese or  similar.

I suppose frottage brings us on to the subject of the President's Club and the goings on at the Dorchester. Now I know I'm a bit unworldly in matters of wealthy gatherings, hostesses and such but I don't know of any woman  that would have turned up at this gathering expecting that behaviour would  be the most seemly. Call me a sexist pig but if someone offers me 150 quid plus a cab home and then tells me to wear  my shortest skirt and black underwear  I think I might have thought there is a decision to be made here between the dosh and a good night out or stay at home safe and secure. Not saying it's right but that's how it is.Mind you anybody that thinks I'd be worth groping in my little black number would be a peculiar cove. But as the whole sodding economy seems to be run by peculiar inbred coves who knows. What was Peter (Lord) Mandelson doing there. Corbyn fired him afterwards but surely the loathsome Mandy is gay as a coot so the hostesses won't  have been for him to grope/ogle (Google?). Maybe he was looking for a cheap mortgage-he has previous on that. They're were obviously lots of high powered rich types there and their collective presence  I find  more disturbing than that some women copped 150 quid and the price of a cab home and then  decided they'd been harassed cos it said so in the Financial Times. Any suggestions for a collective noun for a gathering such as the President's Club? How about "A Squalour"? Any others?

Anyway all sorts of parliamentary types got embarrassed  for being there and are now "disqualourfied".
The sad thing is the do was for charity though looking at the sorts that were there if they all paid their taxes and stayed at home the net good would have been the same. I don't think the charities should have returned the money-if they need it what the hell and it doesn't improve the place of women in our world one jot.

To other matters.
Below you see the picture of Ady manning the pump. The pump is attached to the pump out in the marina. He is hoping to empty the toilet holding  tank on Moorhen prior to removing it from the boat. (He has two).
The tank is out now-awaiting collection by the scrap man. It took three if us to get it off the boat and manhandle it down to the gate. Suffice to say when you pay for a pump-out don't for a moment assume this means the tank will be empty afterwards...........

Thanks to Geoff H for his stirling assistance.
The scrap man says he will return for the tank.....we'll see.

I'm hoping to start work on reclaiming Independence come the Spring assuming my level of fitness is a bit higher than at present. She really does need a repaint and internally the kitchen and loo areas need a refurb. I've also got my Safety Inspection in April so that all gets rid of a few bob. Looks like my fire extinguishers will be past it so off to IKEA I'm told.

Ikea whose founder, Ingvar Kamprad has just died (28/01/18) aged 91 was founded when he saw an employee unscrew the legs off a table to fit it in a car. Where I worked that was called thieving but the Swedish are more liberal than us. It is always referred to as suppository furniture hereabouts because you put it up yourself. 
Apart from his involvement with the Nazi movement during and immediately after the war (and which of us can say for certain we wouldn't too)Mr Kamprad seems to have been a force for good providing work worldwide. By all reports he was very frugal so probably wouldn't have been in the President's club.

As I write my engine is running in the background although to be honest she isn't a background noise-music to my ears-but nothing subtle. I found during the week that a refurbished Dorman 3LB just sold for 6k so I thought let's just check she is in better nick than her owner. I am tempted to have a float but the return of my duff knee and the fact Ady is breasted up on my outside means staying put. Ady on Moorhen (66ft) is still waiting on a berth in the marina and has been told if nothing occurs by end of Feb then he'll be classed as a Continuous Cruiser and have to go travelling, thus depriving CRT of a lot of dosh which he pays whilst breasted up to me. So if you hear of 66ft of mooring.....
One of the sillier things I've heard (and I am very pro CRT and their efforts to get dossing boats under control) is that Ady applied for a mooring but was told they wouldn't deal with him till the sale was completed and his boat licensed. Surely CRT should say they and nobody else have any 66' moorings, or indeed, any length. It might put some people off buying.

So I'm staying put and doing some picture framing instead plus hanging the following-a lovely present from Jim and Sue for my birthday. The picture is of the Admiral Class Mountbatten (outside) and on the inside, well, I'm not sure. It doesn't look like Jellicoe but I know advice will be forthcoming. In copying the picture I seem to  have turned the headlight on but it is in fact the flash on my phone.

Anyway, confined to the boat with this *************** knee I just found a can of beer at the back of a cupboard which I will now enjoy whilst watching Jezzer P give the UC contestants grief. Come on! No conferring!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The First weekend of Advent 2017

What sorcery is afoot? From whence has this trickery emanated? Is it witchcraft or just chicanery?
I am perplexed, anxious, confused.

I stand here in some discomfort.

My problem? Unable to pass water to be frank-well, not unable- just mustn't. Believe you me I am keen, nay desperate. But I must not.

"Why?" you cry.

It would seem that somehow, since dressing, the hole at the front of my underpants has magically disappeared! My usual escape route has gone. I am denied egress. It is the morning of Saturday 2nd December. I have a busy weekend ahead. This can't be happening.

Today I will assist (with Ady) Roy and Annie on Panther down the Marsworth flight to the Red Lion where tonight will be held the Cow Roast Boaters' Christmas Gathering. 

Adrian's new boat "Moorhen" is already at Marsworth (see previous blog) and tomorrow we will bring Moorhen back to Cow Roast after we have held a short ceremony to dispose of the ashes of our friend Geoff.

Last night I finished up on Roy's boat to discuss tides and other nautical matters and to aid  clarity of thought sampled some single malt. The word "some" is inadequate in this context. Why oh why did I not have the early night I'd promised myself ? Especially whilst still recovering from the worst cold since records began.

In my confused state it would appear, after further investigation, that I have put my underpants on the wrong way round. It takes time for my mind to clear and for this fact to dawn. 

Breakfast is a rushed ,unhealthy affair. The usual car swapping needs to be undertaken and I am to meet Adrian at Marsworth, bring his car back to Cowroast and return with him to Marsworth and walk up the flight to meet Panther.

Those of you who haven't fallen asleep might just have realised that my logistical planning was as arse about face as my underpants.

Why did I not just meet Ady at Cowroast,leave his car there and drive us both to Marsworth and save myself a totally unnecessary two way trip? This does not bode well.

Whilst I'm admitting to examples of my failing mental faculties may I tell you of another? 
Last week I went Aldi and took with me my one remaining old £1 coin. My cunning plan to  get rid of it was to use it for the trolley.
I pushed my goods round the shop with an extra smugness at my guile . Having paid for my shopping and packed it in the car I returned my trolley.....and got my old £1 coin back ! This wasn't meant to have happened but why I ever though there would be any other ending God knows.
Still mustn't get one's knickers in a twist.
Bob looks more like Rick Wakeman this year

We had a grand do on the Saturday night with the Red Lion producing some very fine grub. and the raffle with other bits raised  424 quid for the RNIB in memory of Geoff. (It would have been £425 with the old pound coin some mean scrote slipped in at the end!  hee hee) Numbers were a bit down which did mean a bit more seating/eating space

Carrie trying to pay attention but knowing she is having her picture taken

£15 worth of raffle tickets and look what I won!

We retired in good order not having over indulged with a reasonable chance that the hole in the front of the pants will be to the fore in the morning.

Come the morning and we have a small ceremony to perform. The Ashes of
friend Geoff whose funeral was at the end of October are to be scattered at Marsworth and his brother and cousin David with wife Joan joined Adrian and myself, Roy and Annie and Mike and Judith at 12 noon.
A prayer, a poem a few words by Adrian and Brian and the ashes were scattered in a spot that Geoff knew well near a pub we often used together. Not having done such a thing before I put together a short Order of Service and did a passable impersonation of an itinerant Rabbi. I also wore Geoff's Blackpool scarf

Brian scatters his brother's ashes
It was sad but had to be done. We adjourned to the Red Lion to toast Geoff's life and made our farewells before firing up the two boats and returning to Cow Roast. A morning of mixed emotions. No matter how one deals with such an occasion both Ady and I feel a very deep sense of loss.

Thomas Aquinas summed it up for me. "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship" ....and Geoff was a very true friend. Goodbye old mate.

And so we returned to Cow Roast and moored the newly acquired Moorhen alongside Independence where Mac and Carrie had a guided tour

My last posting talked of my two "locals" , The Cow Roast and the Lamb in Berkhamsted. The rumours as usual were rife but the picture below with the added concrete barricades suggest nothing is happening for a while, if ever at the Cow Roast. It is as always an indication that not only don't Punch Taverns give a toss about pubs, customers or employees but they have no qualms about making the street scene even uglier with a shuttered pub and a concrete monstrosity.  A pub that is shut because of their greed.

Doesn't it look awful.!?

The other rumour is that the Lamb re-opens on this coming Friday-assuming Punch don't burn it down on Thursday.
Image result for ashes cartoonWhilst I'm in a deep depression over the publess state of this once great nation it would seem an appropriate moment to congratulate the Australians on winning the first two tests of the Ashes series currently being played over there . They have matched and beaten us in every department of the game and there is little hope of rescuing the situation. I am told that Mr and Mrs Howe who live in the colony will soon be visiting their  and my friends Mac and Carrie but fortunately that will be on the Orkneys where a complete absence of electricity, internet, phone signal or a postal service will mean their gloating will be restricted to a couple of sheep and a goat-which sounds to me like a good night out in Australia.
So that was my weekend-knickers in a twist-a jolly start to Christmas-and goodbye to two lots of Ashes.

Bye bye for now

I 've got a new friend. Lucky eh? Well, not exactly. We haven't actually met, let alone been introduced but we are becoming more an...