Archive for July, 2013

3rd Law Part 53 – discombobulate and punctuationless

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

It’s that finished the jobslist and it’s still not lunchtime yet feeling. Pretty good I’d say. The conservatory doors are open and the cricket is on the wireless. What more can a man ask for? This evening we are having a barbecue. It gets better all the time.  I lit the barbecue last night just for myself. Cooked three sausages. Didn’t use any charcoal. Just burnt some wood and cooked on the embers which seemed much hotter than had it been charcoal. Might not risk that this evening. The family likes certainty though I can’t say that there is ever certainty where charcoal is concerned.

We did have an Australian gas barbecue. It eventually rotted away and I’ve not got round to buying another, mostly because they are horrendously expensive. They also take a bit of assembling. Wots that all about? You don’t want to have to mess about assembling a barbecue. When we moved in to this house I nipped out and bought one. Opening the box I found about 200 nuts and bolts. There was no time to assemble it so I popped back to Tesco for some disposable ones. Disposable barbecues are never as good as the real mcoy.

I quite fancy a Weber. Guaranteed for 25 years apparently. That would probably see me through to the end of my barbecuing career. One wonders how many sausages would have been cooked in that time. It is possible to work it out – average number of bangers per bbq x number of bbqs a year. It will be different for everyone so you need to work out your own total. If you like.

Actually I’d like to think I will still be barbecuing in another 25 years. It will be something to look forward to – the next trip to buy another barbecue. Long wait. There will be other fun things to do in the meantime. Whist drives, bingo evenings etc etc. Never been to a bingo evening though it’s never too late to start. Used to go to the village whist drive when I lived in Waunfawr in North Wales. Long time ago now. Before the internet was discovered.

I say discovered but in reality it was invented. It’s not as if it was always there and one day someone came across it. “I claim this internet in the name of Queen Elizabeth The Second.” That’s the Head of State not the cruise liner. I can’t imagine anyone claiming something in the name of a ship unless we are talking about a berth which we aren’t. It would be a big berth for the QE2. Probably more than one gangplank too. Can you imagine 2,000 passengers all making their way gingerly down a plank onto the quayside. I’m not even sure the QE2 is still afloat, or sailing. These liners tend to end their days as floating hotels somewhere.

I stayed on the Queen Mary in Longbeach a couple of times. Quite dated rooms compared to a normal hotel but full of character. The ship has a great bar call the Observation Deck Bar. It’s a 20’s art deco job at the back of the ship. Top quality. The first time I was there they had a female trio singing Andres Sisters type songs. They did a terrific rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”. From Company B. The bugle boy that is not the singers.

The second time I stayed there was when Anne was pregnant. She flew out to meet me at the end of a business trip. On the way home I gave her my business class seat and I sat in coach. The rub was that being pregnant she could not avail herself of any of the free booze they dish out at the front of the plane. I on the other hand had kicked into my long haul flight survival mode. After early consumption of beer I fell asleep for the rest of the flight. Anne periodically came back to visit me during the flight but on each occasion I was dead to the world.  The sleep of the just. Ish.

Yesterday we got rid of our trampoline. You might ask yourselves where is the connection with trampolines and sleeping on planes? Well there isn’t. It came totally out of left field. It’s just like the kid in Anne’s class when she taught in London who one day announced to the world that his “daddy has a caravan”. Okaay.

There is nothing to say that when putting the third law into practice you can’t just flit from one unrelated website to another. This morning I bounced between sites with cut priced champagne offers and those selling Weber barbecues. There is a connection though not necessarily immediately obvious. You can drink champagne whilst cooking a barbecue.

In this case I’m after some serious quantities of champagne to service the guests at our Silver Wedding Anniversary bash in August. Problem is that whilst there are some good offers around I haven’t necessarily tried any of the champagnes concerned. One might consider it worth buying a single bottle to try but Anne doesn’t like champagne so I’d have to drink the whole bottle myself. Unless I invited someone round which I could.

I’m still mulling it over. I may let you know what I decide or I may not. Ve shall see. I quite like a decent bottle of Australian Shiraz but we aren’t talking about red. We’re on champagne although tbh I’m getting bored with the subject.

Bored bored bored bored bored. No comma. Quick fire. Punctuationless. New word for you. Doesn’t roll particularly well off the tongue but whoever said a new word had to be an easy one to say. When they invented discombobulate no consideration was given to ease of use. I imagine that these days when people invent new words they have focus groups and teams of marketing types that evaluate their effectiveness. They might also need to check the availability of the domain name. If the domain name already exists it can’t be a new word though that word doesn’t necessarily have a meaning.

I just checked btw and the domain name is for sale. Bought by some loser sometime who thought they could make a bit of cash from the word. Problem is no one knows what it means except for my son Tom who used to learn difficult words from the Oxford English Dictionary and slip them into conversations with his teachers knowing full well that the chances were that the teach would have no idea what he was saying.

I prefer the word discombobulate to punctuationless.

3rd Law Part 52 here

3rd Law Part 54 here

Lincoln A2Z – C19 Hykeham Sailing Club

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

A life on the ocean wave.

Land Ho

Riding along on the crest of a wave

Splice the mainbrace

Shiver me timbers

In search of the North West Passage

The sun is over the yardarm

Bermuda triangle



The white hot sun beat down on the water, its glare blinding the weekenders that had turned out for a sail. There was not a breath of air and the sails on the small boats struggled to fill, the occasional lifeless flap offering little grounds for optimism.

They sat at the edge of the water waiting. Occasionally someone would get a cold drink out of the picnic bag. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the afternoon. Although there was no sailing it was too hot to do anything else and dangling your legs in the water was a good way of cooling off.

As the heat of the day died away the barbecue lit itself and the beers came out.

Db5 Pelham Bridge

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

You can bet yer booties that Pelham Bridge made a massive difference to traffic flow in down town Lincoln. It’s bad enough these days with the railway crossings that we have but without Pelham Bridge there would be even more.

Pelham Bridge was opened by the Queen in June 1958. It was chucking it down – typical British Summer weather. In those days it would have been horse and cart, or maybe the Model T Ford. Had cars even been invented? I dunno.

Anyway Pelham Bridge was built to provide a useful viewing point for train spotters wanting to watch the steam trains at Lincoln Central Station. Trainspotting was a perfectly acceptable hobby in those days and was something to be encouraged. Nowadays trains all look the same and have no romance. Anyone interested in trainspotting needs their head examining. Probably other parts of the body too.

In 1958 Pelham Bridge was the first of a series of planned constructions designed to alleviate the traffic in Lincoln. The others are still waiting to happen though we do now have the bridge at the far end of the Brayford which is very handy. It was built for people to have a good viewing point for looking down at the boats and to make it easier to get to the Hub pub on the other side of the water.

There isn’t much attractive about Pelham Bridge. It’s a bit of a concrete jobbie and can get very windswept when you walk over it which doesn’t happen very often. I’ve seen people do it though. On their way home from Sincil Bank maybe. I’d be inclined to cross using the pedestrian bridge nearer the Railway Station. It’s more direct.

I wonder how many bridges the Queen has opened since then. Loads. She specialises in that kind of stuff. Means she can reuse her speech. Just changes the word bridge to school, hospital or other civil engineering project.

Sometimes she delegates smaller openings to Phil the Greek but when she did Pelham she was still fresh on the throne and was doing most of them herself. I wonder if she remembers doing Pelham Bridge. It was a long time ago now. It was opened in 1958 and it was raining.

K13 Sir Francis Hill Primary School named after Lincoln historian

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

When you drive south along Tritton Road and you get to the Chieftain Way trading estate there is a school on your left. It’s one of those things you notice but don’t give any though to.

Well you should. Not specifically because of the school but because that school is named after one of Lincoln’s most famous historians, Sir Francis Hill.

Wikipedia tells us that Sir James William Francis Hill CBE (1899–1980) was a British solicitor and leading historian of Lincoln and Lincolnshire. He was the third Chancellor of the University of Nottingham. He also served as a Councillor, Alderman and Mayor of Lincoln.

I am somewhat saddened that there is very little information about him on tinterweb. There will I’m sure be something archived in Lincoln but he predated the internet. Sir Francis wrote three books on the history of Medieval, Georgian and Victorian Lincoln which if you like that sort of thing, which I do, are definitely worth a read. Worth buying even I’d say.

I refer to him very formally as Sir Francis but I did find a reference to him on google books where he was called Frank Hill and discussing the fact that he started writing the Medieval book in the 1920s which is interesting. I assume that his friends called him Frank. I don’t imagine his wife calling him Sir Francis do you?

I’m going to stick with Sir Francis out of deference.

As far as the rest of K13 goes there isn’t much to say. It touches a couple of trading estates and part of Tritton Road runs through it as I have already said…

3rd Law Part 52 – bird reading for beginners

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

The best is yet to come. That’s the only motto to live with. On a different subject just installed a new app on my phone. Motion detector. I have the phone pointing at the bird feeder resplendent with new bird seed. The feeder that is not the phone. For some reason the birds didn’t like the old stuff I put out for them. Bought it from a farm shop. This stuff is National Trust “certified”. They’re bound to like it. It’s a trusted brand, the National Trust, as the name implies.

I did consider leaving a note out for the birds asking if they had any mates that might like the old stuff but didn’t bother in the end. After all birds might be able to say “pretty polly” but I’m darned sure they can’t read. I mean whoever heard of a bird learning to read? Huh 🙂

For a bird, learning to fly and how to find food is far more useful. The concept of a bird landing on your shoulder and asking if you minded if he read your paper whilst you were reading it is pretty outlandish. If nothing else it could lead to awkward situations. If the bird is a slower reader than you you could find yourself waiting impatiently for it to finish a page whilst you wanted to turn to page 8 to finish off the article. There is also the scenario where the bird could plop on your shoulder whilst sat there. It’s what birds do. You can’t blame the bird. You only have yourself to blame for letting him perch there in the first place.

Also think of the extreme psychological damage you could do to a bird if you accidentally opened the cookery section while he was sat there. Doesn’t bear thinking about. Picture the scene. Bird sat there, happily browsing through the Sunday paper with you and you turn the page. It is summer and barbecues are all the rage. The recipe for the day is spit roasted blackbird. The blackbird on your shoulder does a double take, flaps his wings in agitation and poos on your head whilst taking off.

You don’t want that do you. Now I realise that barbecued blackbird recipes don’t appear on a regular basis in the food section of the Sunday paper but it could have been some other bird and the bird sharing your paper wasn’t necessarily a blackbird. Could have been a chicken or a grouse. You need to slot your own brand of bird into the story. Whatever frequents your deck or patio or patch of lawn small.

If you only have a small lawn you shouldn’t feel bad about this. After all it will be far easier to maintain and it’s unlikely that you would need to invest in a ride on lawnmower. Even though you might secretly hanker after one. If you had a lawn big enough for a ride on lawnmower then you would probably also have a gardener to drive it which would not be what you had in mind at all.

Personally I am totally cool with the idea of having a gardener. Gardens are for sitting in sipping a cool drink, or for playing footy with the kids, or both. Not at the same time of course unless you had a lid and a straw for the cool drink and were only playing in goal. The kids would also have to be happy with the fact that you weren’t trying that hard, concentrating mainly on the cool drink. Make sure you wear a suitable hat remember. If it’s nice enough to be out sipping a cool drink there will be sun involved.

I need to tell you that whilst sat here typing not a single bird has approached that feeder. I wonder if they can see me and are a bit suspicious. They needn’t be. I have no intention of putting them on the barbecue. We already have some filleted chicken breasts for that together with some Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce of which we all approve.

Plenty of bumble bees this year I note. I like that. Far preferable to wasps and they don’t seem to come into the house which is even better. Tonight we will be putting some wood on the barbecue and turning it into a firepit. It’s going to be the perfect evening for it. Rare.

I have a penchant for drinking good brandy around the firepit. I have a nice bottle of Carlos 1 I brought back from Barcelona the other week but will probably not broach it. I’m being a good boy at the moment. I prefer Spanish brandy to French. Seems to have a mellower taste to it. A bit more woody or smoky perhaps. The only difference, I assume is the grapes.

We have a plentiful supply of wood to stick on the fire. The wood has the side benefit of scaring away the mozzies which I am particularly attractive to.

While I think of it I reckon the birds have got out of the habit of visiting our bird feeder because of my previous selection of nuts. It may take some time to regain their loyalty. Happens with birds. I read that somewhere. No I think it was here 🙂

The fat balls are very popular and they seem to go like a shot. It isn’t just the birds that go for them. It’s squirrels too. Unfortunately I can’t be selective. Come one come all. “The egalitarian method of feeding wildlife” by Trefor Davies. A best seller in the Eastgate School rankings for Wildlife Literature as chosen by Class R. Class R incidentally, have yet to learn to read. This allows them to identify with birds and is why they have a world famous register of bird feeding books. Or not…

3rd Law Part 51 here

3rd Law Part 53 here

3rd Law Part 51 – metropolish

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Metropolish – quite a large town – almost a big city. The language continues to evolve. Whether that word gets adopted remains to be seen. I am happy with the concept that the written word does not have to conform. It can take its own shape as long as it is conveying what the writer meant to say. What the reader is meant to understand by that word.

The word metropolish does in one sense continue to conform with certain aspects of the English language and that is in its ambiguity. This morning I tweeted that I was just having a row. Someone came back thinking what I meant was I was having an argument. No no no:) I was on the rowing machine going a steady ten minutes on the flat. It’s a good time of day for it, early morning.

Well to metropolish could also mean to buff up the metro, make it gleam, shine, almost as if you can see your face in it. If this was the meaning then people would come from all over the world to see the polished metro. It would be the subject of documentaries. Such would be its popularity and fame that Japanese film crews would clash with American trying to bag camera positions. The BBC, unable to afford the filming rights would make documentaries about the filming of documentaries and David Attenborough would be brought in to comment about the human aspect of life polishing the metro.

I’m not quite sure why they chose David Attenborough because he normally does nature programmes. Perhaps he was under contract to film a certain number of documentaries and being of advancing years was not always able to fly to the Antartic to film penguins in winter.

We have now established that these documentaries are filmed in winter. Don’t ask why. Perhaps it gets too hot on the polished metro in summer, or it is too hot to polish and the polish melts. Disaster. You can imagine that when this happened for the first time the staff returned the tins of polish to the company stores complaining that it no longer had the consistency they needed for the perfect shine. Too runny and metropolish is no good, but you knew that.

They did experiment with spray polish but it was never quite the same and one of the funny things about those that practice the art of metropolishing is that they are quite old fashioned in their own way. They don’t like change. They are very proud of their jobs and when he (or nowadays she though the guild of metropolishers held off allowing female members for longer than any other trade body apart from the Honourable Guild Of Male Strip Tease Artists) completes his 7 year apprenticeship a newly qualified metropolisher considers himself to be in a job for life. It is only recently that the last pre-war metropolisher died, at his post. Metropolishers never retire. There is always that one last bit of polishing they need to finish off.

The fact that a metropolishing apprenticeship still lasts seven hears has raised some eyebrows amongst the political interfering class. How, they argue, can a job that only involves the application of copious amount of elbow grease take seven years to learn whilst being paid peanuts? I use peanuts as a turn of phrase here. They don’t actually get paid in peanuts. That phrase is used to represent a low value that is indeterminate, although I’ve never checked to see whether there is an actual definition for peanuts as pay.

I digress. The Grand Masters of the metropolishing world dismiss these arguments with a simple retort. They had to do it so they don’t see why anyone else should get more money. Or larger nuts! Activists, and there have been some over the years though they seem to disappear, wander off down a tunnel never to be heard of again, have occasionally stuck their heads through the entrance to the metro and suggested that if the pay was made in coconuts then at least these would have some resale value. If nothing else the apprentices could take their coconuts home and their mothers could use the flesh in the preparation of aromatic, coconut based curries.

Enlightened Renumeration Panels (for the Guild prides itself on conducting its business in a totally transparent manner) have considered these suggestions but have always reject them as impractical because of the altogether higher cost base of a coconut economy, not the least being transportation costs. Peanuts can be economically conveyed in sacks of manageable size. They can even be shelled/processed at their country of origin and shipped in plain, salted or roasted form packaged and ready to dish out.

The pre-processing of coconuts leads to accusations of tampering and contamination and precludes any sales outside of culinary markets. To fairgrounds for example. Don’t be shy, give it a try doesn’t work when the coconut on said shy has been replaced by a tin of coconut milk or a packet of the desiccated stuff.

There is no sign that the metropolishing profession is about to change any time soon. Jobs are handed down to family members and it is a very difficult trade for outsiders to break in to. Metropolishing families are very insular. The trade secrets are kept within their close knit circles. It is even rare for young metropolishers to marry outside of their immediate family. The resultant inbreeding which might explain why a practitioner is happy to spend a life elbow deep in polish. The average metropolisher is a simple soul.

There are no known cases of a metropolisher having been to university. Let it remain thus. They will not thank you for interfering. Get on with your own life.

3rd Law Part 50 here

3rd Law Part 52 here

3rd Law Part 50 – tomorrow is another day

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

The garden is mostly in shade which believe it or not is ideal for such a warm day. I can hear the occasional loud jet fly in or out of RAF Waddington. The airshow is in full swing. It is a perfect day for it though people will need to make sure they wear a hat and drink plenty of fluids. I’m beginning to sound like my mum now.

You have to hand it to the RAF they certainly know how to manage big events. A visit to the airshow gives you confidence that a full scale go to war effort would similarly be handled.

This, as I have mentioned, is a perfect summer’s day. It’s a chill in the shade not doing very much kind of day. That does sound a little contradictory doesn’t it – the contrast of the perfect, ie warm, summer’s day compared with a chill.

I came back from watching the Lions comprehensively beat the Wallabies at Ajax’s house. Most of the folk there were in full drinking swing. Party atmosphere. The barbecue was going and the sausages already cooked for the final whistle. A great day for it but not for me. I am heading to Boston tonight to hear Joe in a concert. It’s the 4th gig I’ll have seen him play inside a week. In fact this one is a repeat of last Sunday’s concert in Lincoln so I could have legitimately have dipped out of tonight’s do were it not for the fact that as a parent I have a responsibility to see that the lad gets home safe and sound. Leaving him to hitchhike back from Boston late at night doesn’t sound consistent with that level of responsibility.

At the tender age of 51 I still can’t get my brain around the responsibility thing. Being just a big kid it sits strangely on my shoulders. The funny thing is that when I listen to myself talking work type things I hear a person with a lot of experience who has seen it all before.

The time will come when I stand again at the side of the road with a sign saying St Tropez as I did after my first year at Bangor University. It got me there. I didn’t stay long as it was a very expensive part of the world and my budget didn’t extend to the drinks prices they charged. I’m not sure you see people hitchhiking anymore. I might try it sometime for old time sake. Just to show the younger generation how it’s done. I’m sure that students used to have hitch hiking competitions in those days. See who could get the furthest in one weekend. They all expect to hop in a taxi nowadays.

I have to be careful here. Don’t want to sound like some old fart, nosir. Given the choice between a sleeping bag under a hedge and a nice hotel it’s a nobrainer. In fact given the choice between hitch hiking and a first class train carriage that too is a nobrainer. Bob.

I’m even getting a little fussier about my hotels these days. I need comfort. Ideally a pool though I won’t necessarily use it. A nice bar is a definite plus especially if it has sweeping views.

The planes continue to take off from Waddington. The noise competes with the birds twittering happily in our hedge. Different kinds of birds. Steel and feathers. One after worms and the other firing missiles. Predatory both, I guess. There is something vaguely sinister about the plane type of bird when you think of it in those terms. The feathered variety perches comfortably on its nest and the metal monster sits at the end of the runway waiting to hurtle skywards. To kill. Or be killed. Winged fate.

Let us all enjoy our day in the sun. Or the shade. As you like it.

We do have a hammock that has not had an outing this year yet. I think this is the weekend for it. We will also normally have arranged a camping trip by now. I fear that I may not get a night under canvas this year though I do have the Annual Group Scout Camp as a backup assuming I don’t have to go to the mother in law’s 80th birthday on the Friday night. Ve shall see Meestar Bond.

Like tinterweb the aeroplane represents technological progress. I suppose. I think I’m getting into another of those sombre moods. It’s funny how moods can change just like that. Don’t worry. I’ve already pulled myself out of it. That’s what I call real mental strength. Confidence in my own ability. Comfortable in my skin. Except I could do with losing a bit more weight. Still I kept off the beers this morning and will be glad of it later when I enjoy the concert.

The enjoyment will be greatly helped by the fact that I heard all the pieces last week. You always enjoy listening to music that you already know innit. The finale was the Henry Wood medley that they sing at the Last Night of the Proms. Very enjoyable even if it doesn’t sit well with my non jingoistic Welsh upbringing. I guess you have to put politics aside when it comes to art.

Not that politics and art don’t mix. The art of the Russian Revolution for example is very striking and interesting to look at in its political context. I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on this point 🙂

The one thing we don’t have that is quite useful for five days a year is a swimming pool in the back garden. I’d quite like one and would be in it now if we had one. My writing would suffer but that is just the price us writers have to pay for wanting a swimming pool. If that makes sense. It’s a law of diminishing returns. Become a hugely successful writer and earn lots of money so that you can afford to buy a pool. Stop writing because you spend all your time in the swimming pool. You can replace swimming pool with other distractions. Holidays in the Caribbean, Skiing in the Swiss Alps, a cruise around the Galapagos Islands. That kind of thing.

A cruise around the Galapagos Islands is never something I’ve seriously considered. I do quite like the idea of a month or so in de Caribbean man. Rum cocktails, hammock between two palm trees in what little shade there is at midday. Charter a yatch. One of those old fashioned schooner types that you anchor off a white sandy bay and jump into the water to do some snorkelling. Little fish swim around you. Taking a spear you catch enough for supper that night. Row ashore and light a fire on the beach where you cook the fish on sticks.

Back to the villa before it gets too late or maybe a night at sea in the cabin of the boat. The waves gently rock you to sleep and tomorrow is another day…

3rd Law Part 49 here

3rd Law Part 51 here

Lincoln A2Z G8 – Fossdyke

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

When the weather is fine you’ll be spending your time just messing about on the river. As the song goes. The Fossdyke isn’t an actual river but hey. Who cares. It is water and if it is a sunny day it is nice to mess about on it.

Most of don’t have that luxury of course for to mess about on the water you have to have a boat. Still like the idea though. I wonder if there is a rush on boats when the weather is fine in the same was as when it snows the shops soon sell out of sledges (bit of poetry for you there).

I suspect not because you can get a sledge for a few quid but a boat is going to cost you quite a bit more, depending on how big you want it to be. The choice of boat size is very important because if you have a lot of people wanting to come on board and the boat isn’t big enough then it could sink.

I realise that this is a very obvious piece of advice but to stray off the path of political correctness for now fleeting moment there are some people out there who need instructions like this to be written in very large font and shoved in front of their face. I’d even go one step further and ask them to sign that they have red and understood the instructions. You’d need a lot of space for the signatures because there would be a lot of them.

Anyway I digress. Boat size, as I say, is important. Especially when the weather is fine because all your friends and neighbours will just happen to call round and slip into the conversation the fact that it’s a lovely day to be out on the water isn’t it? They expect to be invited. That is why you should buy a bigger boat than you think you need. Unless you aren’t particularly sociable or don’t like your neighbours in which case you could just tell them to stuff it.

You do get a lot of boats pootling along the Fossdyke. A walk along the bank, just past the golf course can be very pleasant. Don’t be shy, give it a try.

3rd Law Part 49 – patterns in the grass

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

It’s uplifiting. The conservatory doors are wide open. The birds are singing away happily knowing that they have a beautiful sunny day ahead. The lawn needs a bit of a cut but there is no rush. I was going to cut down the undergrowth at the bottom of the garden but I think I’ll leave it until tomorrow. Manyana. I’ve got some lively musing streaming over the wireless interweb. Radio Oxford fwiw.

I realise  I should be tuned in to Radio Lincolnshire and news of the Waddington Air Show but an offspring is reading the traffic and travel news in Oxford so I am being a dutiful parent. I’ve been to the Air Show a couple of times and it is a fantastic day out. Long queues very long queues on the roads though so if you’re thinking of going you need to get there very early. Waddington is probably three miles from our house and the cars back up on the road outside us. You have been warned.

I don’t know why we don’t go to the Air Show more often, considering it is such a good day out. The only times we have been are when one or two of the kids has been playing with the school band in one of the hangars. This is the best way to do it as we get a free family ticket and a car pass so that we can park right next to the hangar and not have to join the unwashed masses in the public car park. This also makes it easy to nip back to pick up the picnic.

Although there have been wet weekends for the Air Show on balance the weather has usually been great. On one of our visits one of the kids forgot to bring a hat and I had to share mine. The concept of hat sharing is quite novel I think. Probably not original though. Hey you can’t live your life doing completely new things all the time. Most of it has already been done before – taking a shower, making the toast, cutting the grass. You get my drift.

You’d never get anything done if it all had to be new and original. Spend all your time doing nothing trying to think of something new. I suppose you could cut the grass in a different way. Make interesting patterns with the lawnmower that gradually disappear as more of the grass gets cut. That would be a valid “new thing” because each pattern would be different even if the concept might not itself be new. You can’t spend all your time cutting the grass in a new way though because once cut the grass would need to be left a week or so to grow back to a cuttable length again. You could cut if very slowly but I don’t think it would fly. You are going to have to think of other things.

Paining a big landscape watercolour could be one way of doing it. Unfortunately I’m not a very good artist. Also I don’t have any watercolour paints and in any case this is just a mental exercise. You don’t actually have to do any of the things being discussed here although I’m not stopping you. You should let me know what happens. Take a pic of the grass half way through the mow for example and send it to me on Twitter. Simple to do and a highly effective way of sharing. I might even retweet it if I thought it was good enough to share. You could find that everyone on the planet ends up seeing your picture of the pattern in your lawn. Not that everyone is online yet but I’m sure someone would print off a copy and post it somewhere public so that everyone else could see.

The only drawback with that level of publicity is that you would find your house besieged by the press all wanting to take “exclusive” pictures of your lawn. You would spend all your time doing interviews and never have enough time to cut the grass. If you charged a fee for the interview you might be able to afford to hire a gardener to cut the grass for you but that would somehow defeat the object of the exercise. I imagine, and this is pure hypothesis you understand, people would even hire airplanes to fly over your back garden for photographs of your lawn. Google would redo its satellite shot of your house to incorporate the pattern on the lawn. How cool is that. Pre-pattern images of your lawn would begin to sell at a premium although that would not last long because we all know how easy it is to copy images on tinterweb.

This whole sad line of reasoning is of course built on the premise that there is actually a pattern to be viewed so you’d better make sure you don’t finish cutting all the lawn like  I originally suggested and leave  a pattern. Think how disappointed everyone would be if there wasn’t one after all the fuss. You would start getting adverse comments on Facebook and Twitter. People can be very cruel you know. It may all stem from jealousy and their own pathetic inadequacy but that is real life.

The alternative is not to stick your head above the parapet. Don’t do anything original. Nobody will then notice you and you can go to your grave in soon to be forgotten ignominy. You may get a few people along at the funeral. The odd passer-by and a priest, if you are that way inclined, paid to do a job of work.

“Shed not a tear for this departed brother for he was not different.” You may now cry if you think that person is you.

3rd Law Part 48 here

3rd Law Part 50 here

3rd Law Part 48 – pee haitch ee double yew

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Pee haitch ee double yew. That’s what ah say. Just been watching our Andy at Wimbledon. E went two sets down but recovered to win three two. It went to seven five in the final set. Close man. C lose. Phew.

Don’t know why I’m talking like that. Andy is Scottish although as is ever the case the English media says he is British, which of course he is too. At least until the Scots vote for independence, dig a big trench the other side of Hadrian’s Wall and float off into the sunset.

I know I know Scotland isn’t exactly going to float off. It’s mostly made of granite. Faaar too heavy, man. Waaay too heavy. There I go again. It just slipped out. Funny innit? Funny strange not funny haha. Innit. I like the word innit.  It lets me slip into a pseudo colloquial yoof tongue, if I may put it like that dear boy. Or girl. It’s almost certainly the BBC equivalent of colloquial yoof, if there is such a thing.

I know this because I once went to visit my Uncle Mick in South London. His instructions included details of which tube to get off at and then which bus to catch. It was on the bus that I discovered the true London yoof accent. I can’t call it Cockney because it bore no relation to the chirpy Cockney Pearly King type of accent which threw in the odd frog and toad and gawd blimey guvnor bless ya.

I couldn’t even begin to describe the London yoof accent to which I was witness. This is partly because in reality I am quite a sheltered individual. Although my travels have taken me to a big chunk of the world these have been in the splendid and luxurious isolation of posh hotels and trendy bars with taxis to ferry me between the two. I rarely encountered the yoof although I do once remember taking the sun outside a hotel in Los Angeles and a guy sauntered by and asked me for money. People don’t know how to cope with such situations. I declined the request (it was not an offer as such). He moved on and I retreated to the safety of the hotel lobby.

I saw a similar scene in Barcelona last weekend. An old peasant woman came into the carriage proffering two packets of paper tissues which she was trying to sell. I call her an old peasant woman so that you can try to picture her in your mind’s eye. She had a walking stick and grey hair and looked totally forlorn. She might not have been an actual peasant but she certainly looked the part.

Everyone in the carriage studiously ignored her. I didn’t know the form. Was she part of an armed gang that ripped you off once you got your wallet out to slip her a few coins for the tissues? Were the tissues nicked in the first place? Fortunately she studiously ignored me. I looked the typical tourist – shorts sandals tee shirt and tattered straw hat. Maybe she only tried to sell to locals. We were all uncomfortable with the situation.

I’m not saying that a tattered straw hat is typical of the tourist because I don’t think it is. Most tourists pride themselves on wearing more standard headgear such as baseball hats that say “I love Barcelona” or “Hard Rock Café”. Obv the Barcelona bit is because we were in Barcelona. It would be different in Blackpool, Bognor and Biarritz, to name but a few “B”s.

The old peasant woman got off the carriage at the next stop and a short while later a cheery bloke got on with a karaoke machine on some sort of hand trolley. He switched on the machine and proceeded to sing a song. He was busking. I felt instantly comfortable with this guy and gave him forty cents. Having forked out I then felt comfortable in taking photographs of him. I don’t think anyone else gave him any money but he got more than did the old peasant woman.

Off he went and I soon arrived at my stop. I never saw him again. Bit melodramatic eh? Thought I’d chuck it in. I never see most people again. I matters not. Who cares? Some people I want to see again. A few mates, my family etc I’m feeling some kind of mood change in the air here. The violins are about to kick in. There is some dramatic music in the offing. Maybe a few crashed piano chords.

I pause for reflection. The music dances lightly in the background, not intruding. I can hear it  but it doesn’t get in the way of my thoughts. Sometimes I think I can also hear waves crashing against the beach. They keep coming. Slowly the sound of the waves gets louder and with it the orchestra builds up to a crescendo. The final notes crash into place and gradually drift away leaving me exhausted. My head is slumped forward and my arms hang limply by my side.

Slowly I come to. I look up, catch my bearings and walk offstage left (that’s right as you see it). The audience, for one moment held captive by my performance, springs to life and reacts with thunderous applause. I do not return to the stage. By this time I have left through the stage door and hailed a taxi to take me to the airport. Changing quickly in the back of the cab I cleverly alter my appearance and disappear.

Here is consternation back at the theatre and the audience gradually dissipates to the bars around the square where they spend the rest of the evening talking about the ending of the show and thinking how strange it all is. The next morning my disappearance is in all the press. A global search is set in place but they never find me.

I am in a remote cottage just beyond the line of the surf where few people go and where the locals do not talk to people they do not recognise. I am the once exception. They take me in as one of their own, referring to me as “the bloke in the cottage beyond the surf”.  I spend my time meditating and working on my book.

Each morning I swim in the sea and am completely happy with my life. One day a ship appears on the horizon and anchors in the bay.  A rowing boat comes away from the ship and heads towards the beach. Captain Cook wades ashore the last few feet and brings me some trinkets as tokens of his peace and goodwill. He also claims the beach in the name of the king at which point I have to tell him he is a few hundred years late.

Finding it difficult to hide his disappointment he turns around and tells his crew they must be off. “There be no rich pickings he me lads”. That night in the local pub I tell the villagers about my encounter. They look horrified at each other and ask me never to mention the incident again. There is something dark going on in this village. However I don’t like that kind of story so I’m going to move on to talk about the annual festival of St Eugenie that is held on the village green every August. Another time…

3rd Law Part 47 here

3rd Law Part 49 here

Beauty on the Tube

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013


Filmy ferns at Farringdon
Harts tongue and shuttlecock,
Clinging to the brickwork, nodding in the breeze

Brunette-haired beauty,
Gets on at Barbican
Doing her mascara with a swift, sure hand

Regimented white tiles
March across Moorgate
Unrelieved by posters, or warning signs

Catenaries of cables
Sinuous and serious
Line the walls of Liverpool Street, purple and red

At last arrive at Aldgate
Ancient city gate
Floral tributes, staircases and journey’s end

Electrical illusion

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Immediacy alludes power,
Glimpsed through slatted bits;
Drawn close we matter,
Yet power rests unmoved;
On the boldest shoulder,
Benumbed by glare;
Guns unaffected,
By people who care.

3rd Law Part 47 – I was up at half past three

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Tiredness is not normally a productive state of mind.  I thought I’d see what came out. Tonight I am tired. Not dead beat tired, almost asleep on my feet tired. Just a been up since 3.30 am tired that  I could probably shrug off or delay for an hour or two by going out and getting some fresh air.

Apart from the 3.30am start, which was to take our youngest to school for a Y8 trip to France (ohohiho) I went swimming on my way to work and then did a 10 minute stint on the rowing machine when I got home. The physical exercise has I think contributed to my fatigue and  I would be most surprised if I didn’t sleep soundly tonight.

The sleep of the dead? Not quite. I’m sure if necessary I would wake up. You know. If the burglar alarm goes off in the middle of the night or there was a terrific explosion just down the street from our house. Don’t ask me what caused the explosion. It was just a massive bang and I did not care to nip outside to investigate.  I guess it could have been a plane crash. We are very near to RAF Waddington. Heard nothing about it on the news though so I guess I’ll have to accept that it was totally a figment of my imagination. Not something that could come out of a mind in a state of extreme tiredness I suspect.

Hmm. I don’t know where this is taking me. That of course is part of the fun. The step out into the unknown. The great leap of faith. Takes some courage to do that sometimes. Either courage (mon brave) or the feeling that you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Did you like the way I slipped a bit of French into the conversation. It seemed the right thing to do. I’m obviously being influenced by the fact that the lad is by now in France.

I quite fancied going on the trip myself. Taking off and leaving everything behind. Over the years I’ve often romanticised about taking off to Skegness for the afternoon when I should have been in work.  I also quite like the idea of dropping everything and drifting around the world, seeing where the tides take me. Only problem is the mortgage, the kids, the job etc etc etc. I put down the thre etceteras there but actually the three reasons I gave for not taking off around the world, or to Skegness, are exactly those initially articulated. There is no need for further material contribution to  the discussion.

There is one thing you do need to know and that is we do not have a pet dog. That barrier to going away for a long trip is therefore not present. Had we had a dog we would have had to leave him in a boarding kennel for an indeterminate length of time. In my mind that is no way to treat your best friend, your most faithful servant. Good that Rover can be both innit? Yes the dog that we don’t own is called Rover, or not, depending on whether you believe me, or not.

If it wasn’t calledRover I think that Aubrey would be a suitable alternative name. Rover makes me picture in my minds eye an animal constantly on the move. Sniffing smells in a variety of nooks and crannies as he makes his way around the garden/house/visitor attraction. That assumes they let dogs into the vistor attraction. He could be a guide dog I suppose but then he wouldn’t be mine as I am not blind and in no need of a guide dog.

Aubrey on the other hand, and before I forget, is somewhat more languid. He has large floppy ears and big eyes that often gaze up at me saying “do you really want me to do this?” Aubrey is not to be confused with Oberon. I have no idea who or what Oberon is. Might even be a bar of chocolate, likely containing some kind of nut.

I never used to like nuts when I was a kid. I do now. My dad used to have a big bowl of mixed nuts that he would crack open on Christmas Day. Use kids would volunteer to work the nutcrackers for him, or at least I did. Can’t speak for my sisters. Can’t actually remember. I also remember that dad used to get crate of pale ale for Christmas. The bottle tops used to have a detachable plastic lining that dad would remove and use it to affix the metal bit to our tshirts like a badge. Funny what you remember. I don’t really remember that I was wearing a tshirt. I can’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old. The clothes I wore then don’t fit me now and even if they did they would probably no longer be fashionable. I’d a chucked them ages ago on that basis.

Actually that isn’t true. I’m not known for chucking clothes. I always feel I’ll fit back into them one day. Funnily enough last year  I lost quite a bit of weight and now do (yes indeedy) fit back into quite a number of shirts and trousers given up a long time ago. Some of them I didn’t even remember I had. Must have known deep down I was right when I said I’d get back into them. Some kind of built in instinct. Like cows have when they lie down because it is about to rain.

Or racing pigeons. Not that racing pigeons lie down when it is about to rain. As far as I know. I meant like racing pigeons know where home is and head straight there not passing Go or stopping off at the George and Dragon pub for a pint of mix and a packet of peanuts. When I say mix I mean mild and bitter and not anything containing brown ale. Not sure you see either mild or brown ale being drunk much these days mind you. I do like a pint of bitter.

3rd Law part 47 was brought you by “I just can’t get enough of them 3rd Law blues, oh yea”

3rd Law Part 46 here

3rd Law Part 48 here


Monday, July 1st, 2013


Succumb, my loyal populace!
Line up and be defended;
Together I am stronger,
And my enemies extended.

My watchers are amongst you,
But fuss not at their goal;
Enjoy the playground made for you,
The freedom I bestow.

I tell you where all dangers lie,
You need not be afraid;
For every foe you know about,
Are traps already laid.

My strength lies in your weakness,
Your weakness in my power;
Critics flip as fawning patrons,
Come the zero hour.

The Art of Government

Monday, July 1st, 2013

As a Crown Representative for technology, working out of the Cabinet Office, I get to attend meetings in some interesting and unique places around Whitehall. As a painter myself, I’m often impressed by – and sometime in awe of – the artworks that hang on the walls and stand in the halls of Government buildings.  It’s also interesting to see that few people stop to look and consider the art around them – probably because they’re used to it being part of their day-to-day lives.

An example of this struck me when I was checking in with the security office for a meeting at Admiralty House.  Directly above the security officer’s head was one of the finest portraits of Samuel Pepys that I have ever come across. In fact, I’d seen it in an art book as a child, but to see it ‘in the flesh’ as it were, was quite a thing for me. The security chap was more than slightly bemused by my gawping at the picture above his head; a picture he must have seen everyday and therefore took no real notice of.

This got me thinking about who actually ‘owns’ these pictures and who is responsible for managing such ‘assets’. One quick search on Google gave me the answer. The works belong to the nation and are managed by the Government Art Collection; which comes under the umbrella of The Department of Culture, Media and Sport. I was delighted to see that they provide a website which is centered on a pretty well designed searchable database. It’s not clear how comprehensive this database is (for example I couldn’t find the Pepys portrait in there), but it kept me engaged for a good hour or so, and there’s a wonderful diversity of classic and contemporary work listed.

I’m going to be tweeting pictures (where I have permission) as I come across any I like. You can join me on this journey of discovery by following me on Twitter @robwilmot