Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Shed

This shed was a refuge. It was here I did my stuff, I created. Music, art and literature. From dawn till dusk I did whatever my instincts told me. An artist must trust his instincts. Must act on them. Must do.

My family left me to my own devices. My wife worked at home, in her upstairs studio. She wrote film and television soundtracks. You may have seen her name. It may have registered. Sarah Malcolm. My sweet Sarah.

My children were gifted, too. Ross was going to be a successful musician. He had a magnificent command of a multitude of instruments. And Lucy's calling was to write. She was a precocious child who wrote her first story at the age of four. Our children were beautiful with full brown eyes and long dark hair.

Last Saturday evening, they all died in an horrific supernatural maelstrom of evil that engulfed the house.

Fortunately for me, I was in the shed at the time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'Tis The Season

Preparations for the company Christmas do are in full swing. It's going to be a posh version of chicken-in-a-basket (pheasant-on-china?) with a live band (who will attempt anything from the 50s to the noughties) to accompany our noshing and guzzling. We've been asked for dedications for the band to play to fellow staff members.

Of course I'm keeping myself to myself and wouldn't dare suggest Kraftwerk's Pocket Calculator for yours truly or The Fall's Mr Pharmacist for the office cocaine dealer, but I thought it might be fun to make things a little difficult for the singer.

Bill Withers' Lovely Day, for example, or Mojo Pin by Jeff Buckley, or 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six by Tom Waits, or Captain Beefheart's Electricity. Even Rush's Closer To The Heart.

Any other challenges for the vocal chords?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Harvester (Slight Reflux)

Mrs Edmonds is cooking Noel's favourite meal, salmon steak with buttered new potatoes and tinned Smedley peas. Noel always orders this meal when he goes to his favourite restaurant, The Harvester.

"Sauce, darling?" Mrs Edmonds calls from the kitchen.

"Sorry, darling?" replies Noel.

"Would you like sauce with your salmon?"

For the first time in his long life, Noel is not sure about something. He dithers. Mrs Edmonds begins to get a little irritated.

"I said would you like sauce? I'll have to make it straight away if you want it."

Noel is confused. He really doesn't know. He really doesn't know whether he wants sauce or not.

"For the last time, darling!"

"Yes, darling?"

"Sauce or not?"

"Sauce or not?" Noel repeats, parrot fashion.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Harvester

Betty couldn't make it as she'd sprained her ankle the previous day and was not particularly mobile. This left me, my mum and her husband, and my sister and hers. I cadged a lift as I do not drink and drive.

My brother-in-law asked us what we wanted to drink. I was not quick enough to get the drinks in. I never am. Two of them went to the bar and the rest of us were greeted by the Harvester Greeter. Yes, they had a table for five. We were shown to it.

There were all ages in the restaurant, from babies to old women. Children were running around, in high spirits. There was a lot of chatter. I honed in on a kid who had a "Chelsea F.C." top draped over his chair. And the old woman with the half of lager, her middle aged son with a pint of coke. He must have driven the family there, sacrificing booze for kindness.

I picked up the menu. It wasn't the menu I'd seen online, the pdf I'd downloaded to my desktop. This was the good value "Earlybird" menu to be ordered before 6 p.m. I imagined birds waking up at 5 p.m. saying to themselves, "Bloody hell, I'm up early".

I didn't want to seem a cheapskate so I picked up the main menu, as did the others. I'd already decided on the soup to start and chicken & mash as my main course. Apparently you can't go wrong with chicken & mash no matter what day of the week or time of day it is.

The waitress came to our table. Nobody wanted a starter so I kept schtum about the soup. They were all going to scavenge from the free salad cart and eat their spoils as a starter. This is the Harvester unwritten custom. You do not have a starter, ever. You scavenge from the free salad cart.

I have trouble with raw and vinegary food. So after ordering our main courses the others went up to the cart and I was left nursing my glass of red wine.

They ate their salads. On the table ahead of me the old woman sent her lamb shoulder back to the kitchen. Was it underdone? Not enough gravy? I never did find out. Her son seemed happy enough with his mountain of food and his second pint of coke.

We spoke about what was on telly and about the Christine Bleakley/Frank Lampard affair. Then our main courses arrived. Two well-done sirloin steaks, one with jacket potato, one with chips. One salmon steak with buttered baby potatoes. One gammon steak topped with a fried egg and accompanied by chips. Oh, and my chicken & mash. Everybody had a baby's handful of tinned garden peas. And there was a bowl of onion rings to share.

We got stuck in and we were good girls and boys, eating most of our meat and fish and all of our peas. The leftover steak and salmon was wrapped in a serviette for the dog for later.

"Did you enjoy your meal?" said the waitress.

"Yes, thank you," we said.

"Would you like to see the dessert menu?"

"Yes, please."

I really didn't fancy a dessert. The others did and I watched them demolish profiteroles and all kinds of ice cream. A rather overweight family arrived and my mum said "Oh, well. There goes the rest of the food."

And then it was over. We left the bright Harvester lights, its motorway service station ambience, goodbye to the new arrivals, the old woman with three quarters of a lamb shoulder in her belly, her satiated son grinning into his half-full pint of coke. We said farewell and made a wish that this would not be our last time in such a convivial family atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chanson d'Amour

From what you see in the media, you'd think that "old school" blogging was all about middle class birds shagging. Don't get me wrong, there was all that going on. But there was much, much more.

What you don't hear about are the blogs that described your ordinary working class geezers' experiences of sex. To put it bluntly, it weren't just the literary birds that were putting it about. Of course, the press couldn't give a bollock about the men's point of view as a man's sex life is not deemed newsworthy. But blogs like...

Rock Hard Alan's Blog
Derek From Behind
Long Dong Paul
Dogging Dave

and not forgetting my favourite...

Bit Of Rough Ray (a painter and decorator who described his exploits with a series of posh sorts whose interiors he was seeing to)

...all had merit and were a bloody good read.

They may not have had all those fancy words that got the ladies the book and TV deals but what the geezers lacked in finesse they certainly made up for in enthusiasm.

What are your memories of the old days?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And when they were only half-way up, they were neither up nor down

We're coming up to the time of year when my lovely family enjoy a happy Sunday in the glorious surroundings of a local restaurant. Tomorrow is our local Harvester's turn to experience us in action.

We go to posh places, too though. Remember the time we went here?

Well, I've received a few comments about my cheeky little review since I did it all of three years ago. (My, how the time flies!) Anonymous 1, 2 and 3 aren't really on my wavelength. They mistake my jest for a lack of sophistication. And their defence of a popular local restaurant which doesn't need defending I think illustrates an attitude prevalent amongst those with working class backgrounds who have pissed on their roots and are smugly happy to sneer at those who couldn't give a shit about the social climbing ladder. The ladder is long and the top rungs are off-limits to the likes of the anonymous as they climb as high as they can to breathe the rarest air they can reach. The food on anon's rung is good, of course. But far from the best. The best is as unattainable for them as it is for a single mother on benefits.


Anon 1: "I can tell you would not know a first class meal at a resonable price if it bit you on your Burburry cap covered empty heads. Stick to MacDonalds you cheap, moronic, unappreciative egits.

By the way the V******* Restaurant is a fantastic place to eat, we had our company Christmas do there and found the food, wine, surroundings and staff to be excellent."

Anon 2: " "I travel through work a LOT and eat out at restaurants across the country practically every night, through necessity, to the point it's not a treat anymore.

The V******** Restaurant in B********* had always been my favourite - a place for a special occasion - and when I went back with my girlfriend recently I was concerned that it wouldn't be as good as I'd remembered, having been spoilt over the last year.

I'm pleased to say, it was every bit as good as I remembered, one of the best places I've eaten ANYWHERE, and I'm going back there again tomorrow.

The writer of this article doesn't know what they are talking about and needs to stick to Weatherspoons, where a beer and burger meal is very good value for money if you are feeling a bit tight ;)"

Anon 3: "Stick to ordering a pizza for your trailer geoff! I hear dominos are doing buy one get one free! that should keep the family happy!

wouldnt know a good meal if it came upto ya and twated u between the eyes!"

Nice, eh? The last comment on the post is Betty's. Which sums up our attitude to sneering bastards everywhere.

Betty: "Bleeding hell, anyone would think he had dared to criticise Cipriani or some other top notch joint, judging by the pasting he is getting from people who are so refained and poshe, don't you know, that they can't spell twatted or Burberry.

A shame that isn't still around - your subtle, witty potshots at poor people would have found a welcoming home there."

Saturday, November 07, 2009


"A Conservative government will give every child the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off".

Does anybody believe this absolute shit coming from the mouth of the Tories' education spokesman and contact lens wearer of the year 2009, Michael Gove? But they're on a roll and can say what they like. No moronic floating voter is going to care what they say, they'll just say "it's time for a change" as if who runs the country is about as important as what they're wearing this autumn.

"I've had this coat for a good three years now. It's time for a change."

For those under the illusion that the New Conservatives don't have any real policies and that they'll be just the same as that New Labour lot, Johann Hari puts them straight in this post.

Of course they won't read it, though. Because "they're all the same".