Friday, 28 July 2017

The Good, The Vlad and the Ugly


"Привіт Влад прийшов і подивився, що на цьому тижні написав жирний англієць"

The above I imagine is what is being uttered by 61 Ukrainians as I write

" Vlad come and see what the fat Englishman has written this week."

I lack the skills to interpret most of the statistics with which I am supplied by the Blogger people but the ones showing the countries that visit the site are of fascination. Loyal readers will both have noticed that last time I was interested that the USA and Russia had more page views than the UK. but Russia has faded off the chart this week the USA remains well in front which is fine. But now Ukraine have hove (hived?) into view with 61. I thought such a number warranted more research into the country which is why I know Vlad, mentioned above,  is the most popular boy's name in Ukraine. Now I suspect that like me the only Vlad you had heard of was the one of impaling fame; hardly a good example if you get my point as Vlad was oft heard to say.

These days  they talk of "fake news" as though it's something new whereas it's always been around, it's just the medium and speed of spreading the falsehood that has changed. Hence it is quite possible that Vlad the Impaler probably wasn't a bad Vlad at all but perhaps misunderstood  (Ooops sorry, didn't see the spike) or maybe more pinned against than pinning.  
Presumably, Vlad is short for Vladimir and I expect there have been plenty of good Vladimirs. Shall we find out?

Well for a start there's Lenin and Putin-both decent enough chaps neither of whom would have been named after Bad Vlad and certainly wouldn't be for impaling unless pushed.
In the Arts world  there's  Nabokov, Horowicz and Ashkenazy, again  all good chaps, all Vladimirs.
There is also a city in Russia called Vladimir with some 300k souls. It is twinned with Canterbury in Kent. God knows why.

One cannot go far in investigating Vladimiriness before you come up against the most infamous  Vlad the Bad Lad.
Vlad the Impaler was in fact Vlad III. Like Vlad I and Vlad II Vlad III was in fact Vlad Dracul and was the Ruler of somewhere called Wallachia three times which means he got kicked out at least twice. 
The two main blokes with whom he had "issues" were a dude called Hunyadi, (no, not the dyslexic car) the Regent-Governor of Hungary who had invaded Wallachia and kicked Vlad out, kidnapped his brother, murdered his elder bro and father and installed Vlad's cousin as the head honcho.
Some years later when Vlad III had got his act together he sorted Hunyadi, the cousin and any other poor sod who'd crossed him. His favourite method of problem solving was impaling. Hundreds of 'em.
The other bloke was The Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II who, whilst Vlad was under his protection, ordered Vlad to pay homage to him personally, but Vlad, not a man given to bending his knee to any bugger, had the sultans' two envoys captured and , you've guessed it, impaled. You begin to understand why he wasn't known as Vlad the Jolly or Vlad the Sort Who Always Buys the Big Issue.

After Vlad's death in 1477 -murdered of course but I don't know how-books describing Vlad's cruel acts were among the first bestsellers in the German-speaking territories. In Russia, popular stories suggested that Vlad was able to strengthen central government only through applying brutal punishments, a practice that has continued for the next  540 years later. 
Vlad's reputation for cruelty gave rise to the name of the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's's 1897 novel.

Anyway Vlad is the most popular boy's name in Ukraine-if you want to know  the others they are here. As are the girls. Favourite name. Anna

OK. I know I was meant to be looking at Ukraine rather than Vlad the Blogwatcher.
Why are 61 Ukrainians interested in my blog? (ignoring the fact that it could be one Ukranian looking 61 times)
They don't have canals; they have some meaty rivers and the Danube forms part of their border. I had thought-on the very rare occasions when I ever thought about Ukraine- that it was probably about the size of Belgium but it turns out to be the largest wholly European country beaten only by Russia which isn't apparently wholly European. Bit like us really.
It has been ruled and invaded by all the nasty buggers history could throw at it and as we know is currently enjoying very sour relations with Russia. In fact if I was Ukraine I'd move and would certainly think about relocating if I was one of its citizens.
So perhaps Vlad the Bloggeree is doing a bit of research on where to move that hasn't been invaded over the years by Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire (and we know that ended in tears), Austria-Hungary (remember Hyundai?), Russia, Germany (twice) and now Russia sniffing around again. All of a sudden the Chilterns looks good. Let me know when you get here, Vlad I'll buy you a beer....and Anna if you bring her.
Talking of beer guess who won the Lamb Monthly Quiz? The "Scruffy Boaters" that's who. Haven't won a quiz for years so most enjoyable and so ably assisted by Nat and Robbie (another boater). A team of just 3 against various teams of 4,5 and 6.
 Braggin rights? Not arf.

Talking of pubs the Cow Roast Inn has reopened for the sale of drink only. No food. The opening hours seem a tad inconsistent but at least it's open and I hope will survive........but not without food I fear. Early days. Live in hope.

As an example I stayed overnight in Norfolk last week at a pub called the Jennyns Arms at the attractively named Denver Sluice. I remember the pub and the sluice from my boating days on the Great Ouse when Denver Sluice was the end of navigation as far as my boat was concerned, the next stop being The Wash and the nearest pub was in Rotterdam.
Denver Sluice
 I loved my time on the Great Ouse. A grand trip could be had from my base in Huntingdon  past the Hemingfords, St Ives onto the Old West River to Popes Corner  at the confluence of the Cam and the Ouse -where there is a pub called the Fish and Duck (A Spooner Inn?)- then North, past Ely and on to Denver Sluice.
The F and D sadly closed and was demolished in 2009 to make way for a new marina. Very sad, although its demise was caused by subsidence and water damage.
The Jennyns Arms was a good pub back in the 70s and it still is.
Given that the number of chimneys nearby is fewer than Cow Roast (the nearest town, Downham Market, is over a mile away and has plenty of decent hostelries of its own) the Jennyns Arms was rammed on a Thursday lunchtime and early evening.
People hads driven some distance because the food is good-nothing poncey-just good and always available lunchtime and early evening.
Punters do not come because of the juke box, the background music,the karaoke -they had none. They have a good selection of ales and wines, a lovely riverside garden and a pool table. but the reason everyone was there was the food.

Maggie and Tom
The reason for my visit was to meet sister Moira, bro in law, Tom, who were visiting his niece, Maggie and her husband John. It has become a sort of annual outing and the last couple of years  Ady and I have stayed overnight so as to get the maximum imbibery benefit from the expedition.
John and Ady
Always a jolly gathering with a trip to a local windmill with associated antiques and a bar. Best time to visit a windmill? When the sails are on.
I look pleased with myself

Moira and Tom

Ady found some antiques-...................................he's holding them! A box of radio valves from the 50s-he bought them because we got better programmes then.

It was good to see the assembled in good form and a
 good time was had.


Sunday and Pam and I took ourselves off to Cliveden for a walk and a picnic. Both very enjoyable. It's a great place which we have hardly explored in its entirety.

A walk by the Water Gardens

I first visited Cliveden when I was 16 back in 1963. Those of you of a certain age will realise the significance of the year. My age was immaterial. I went with my parents on a tour of the house. Whether  the Profumo affair had broken or had done so  later that year, I was probably vexed that I had missed it all. Mind you when I was sixteen I didn't know my arse from my elbow in matters of sex so probably wouldn't have understood what was going on. I certainly didn't didn't know what homosexuality was about and the Cliveden Scandal had it all.. You can read the bones here.

Anyway here I am at Cliveden aged 16.

The statue as you no doubt have already worked out is "The Wounded Amazon " WILLIAM WALDORF ASTOR, 1st
VISCOUNT ASTOR (1848-1919); Marble: signed and dated 1870 This may be the only extant signed sculpture by Lord Astor. He must have learnt the art in the studio of his acquaintance William Wetmore Story, and it is tempting to suppose that this figure was carved under Story's close supervision. Its composition is dependent on Roman and Hellenistic copies of Greek Amazons, but reinterpreted in a Romantic, almost sentimental mood.
So there.
My Philistine nature only allows me to comment that William Wetmore Story sounds like a writer of smutty books. However a visit to

will show that he was an accomplished, much travelled and multi talented man. 

I'll leave you to read that whilst I ponder the fact that, apparently, Wetmore was his mother's Maiden name conjuring up a Pythonesque character...."Oooh dear, 'ere comes that Mrs Wetmore what works at the laundry...."

Coincidentally, his eldest son, Thomas Waldo also became a successful sculptor ( a chip off the old block so to speak) and he  was most known for his sculpture Fountain of Love, which also stands in Cliveden and looks like this.


Whilst we are out in the garden here's the latest picture of my mooring-I've heard no more about the CRT Competition "Boats in Bloom" so I probably didn't make the cut to coin a golf/canal phrase. Budgie who moors further up is obviously going further with his display than my humble effort and I bear no grudge despite the rumours that he has been seen in the wee small hours creeping round my garden with a Paraquat spray whilst encouraging his dog to piss on my Gnomes. But I am not the sort of chap to get paranoid (short for Paraquatannoyed). If that's how he wants to play it then just wait till next year when my mate Vlad gets here with his spikey sticks. Time for my tablet methinks.
All joking aside I wish Budgie and Jan well. It would be good if the prize came to the mooring anyway.
I am indebted to Peter off Dreckly who kindly got my generator going after an 18 month lay-up. He obviously has a talent for these things having fixed a lawnmower that was auctioned for the Hospice. Anyway if he's wondering where the thank you cider came from it was off my noisy trolley.


I mentioned above when rambling on about Cliveden that at the age of sixteen I was blissfully unaware of the complications and variations in sexuality that seem to exist nowadays. As far as I was concerned there were two options male and female. I was aware that for others there was a third option-as in My mum had three kids, one of each-but I didn't know any. If I was sixteen now I would be so bloody confused I'd probably just give up and be celibate.  Now I see the plan is that you can decide what you want to be, notwithstanding whether you are with "standing" or you are without "standing". Whatever equipment you were born with you will declare you are of the opposite persuasion and nobody can gainsay.
Has the world gone mad whilst I've not been looking? For months I've though LGBT was some quango to do with telecommunications or a variety of hipster sandwich containing Guacamole, but no. It's another 4 options on the sexual menu making a total of six and rising if you'll forgive the expression. Oh to be back in the days recalled by the late, great Peter Ustinov when he received the only sex education around from his Headmaster "Stop it or it will drop off"
Life was much better then
And now I have to address another matter of current import. First a recipe

Mix the following
  • 3 tbsp Mayo
  • Mild curry powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Mango chutney
  • sultanas - as many as you fancy
 half a pint of Chlorine

 Some chicken

and there you have it.
Chlorination Chicken

The latest import threatened from the USA, post Brexit and post us becoming the 51st state of our cousins over the pond.

Chicken washed in chlorine is getting a bad press over here Donald but I suspect it's a matter of presentation. Doesn't sound appetising and  certainly our old and ex chums in Europe could never countenance such a thing.
I have a compromise which could resolve this and other matters.

Since time began we have subjected ourselves and our women and children of all six sexes to finding entertainment in the local swimming baths during which frollicking they have consumed more Chlorine in a year than your average American chicken sees in its life. So the simple option is rather than make your chicken jump through this additional hoop (Cock a Hoop?) just supply it to the UK on the understanding that the purchaser/consumer has visited their local baths at least once in the past year. This will quieten the anti chicken washing brigade and encourage a generation of under-exercised obese offspring to get down the pool.

However (and I know you like to think outside the box Donald) if it isn't feasible to sell the chickens unchlorinated could not the chickens, as part of their rearing in an ever more cuddly environment, be given free passes out of hours to use our swimming pools. A small donation from the chicken farmer to the local authority (remember he/she/it/L/G/B/T is now saving on chlorine and the chickenfeed he pays theMexican illegals who used to wash the birds) which would  aid Councils in keeping swimming pools open .
My pleasure Donald. Here to help.

a cartoon of no relevance, appositeness, bearing, concern, germaneness, materiality, pertinence, relevancy.

The Floating theatre group, Alarum, are travelling the cut from Leamington Spa to Camden with their production of "Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways". They were due to perform at the Cow Roast Inn on Monday next (31st July) but because the pub is in a transitional state they propose to perform at The Rising Sun, Berko-where they are due to perform on the Tuesday (1st Aug) anyway.Free entry-donations welcome.

Their final performance is on Sat 5th August The Pirate Castle, Oval Road,Camden, NW1 7EA (Tickets £12/£10)

Why not pay them a visit.(


Cheers for now especially to my friends in Ukraine

Захоплення зараз - особливо моїм друзям в Україні

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