Chateau De Lanniron, Thursday 24th August, 2004

Dear Mr Jones,

Hello. Le Soleil ne brillait pas. Sorry to go on a bit about the weather but it has been somewhat uppermost in our minds. Actually I am not being completely fair. The soleil in reality does brillait this morning. It is one of those rare mornings where we can sit out doing nothing but relaxing as one is supposed to do whilst on holiday in Brittany.

Yesterday we went to visit the Wards at their campsite near Quimperle and Dad and Alistair spent the afternoon drinking the local plonk whilst us kids hit the pool and the water slides. The Wards, in an attempt to get him to learn French have renamed William, Guillame. Don’t be surprised therefore when we return to school that you may well have to change the class register from W Ward to G Ward. You might of course, being a German language teacher, elect to persuade William to keep his original initial and call himself Wilhelm. I don’t think he has particularly strong views or any strong attachment to the French version. I leave this to you to decide.

We had a bit of a drama on the way home. It was quite late before we set off from the Wards campsite. Mum was driving and the petrol warning light had come on. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because there were two 24 hour petrol stations nearby. However French petrol machines don’t seem to like British credit cards and we found that whilst our credit was good we were unable to pay for the fuel. French petrol stations being unmanned at that time of night therefore meant that we couldn’t actually get any petrol. Oh!

Not to worry said Dad and he promptly rang the international AA. He had just joined before going on holiday at the enormous rip off expense of £155 for 1 year’s membership to insure against this very possibility.

No problem said the voice on the other end of the phone. You just carry on driving and when you run out of petrol just give us a call and we will have assistance to you in 45 minutes or so. Great said Dad. That was clearly £155 well spent – not!

In the meantime Mum, who being the designated driver and had therefore not been drinking, spotted someone filling up at the service station and persuaded them to pay for our petrol with their credit cards in exchange for cash. Phew as they say in France. At least that’s what I imagine they would say as phew seems to be an universally accepted exclamation. They may spell it differently and emphasise it differently, though I doubt the latter, but say it I’m sure they do.

We made it home after the camp guards had put up the shutters for the night so we parked outside the perimeter fence and making full use of World War 2 raiding techniques stepped over the low chain fence and walked to the mobile home and bed.

I mention World War 2 because it is a hot topic here at the moment being the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of France. Vive la Republique, vive l’Entente Cordiale!? It gets nearly as many column inches (pardon monsieur, centimetres) as the Olympics which are on in Athens at the moment. Particularly annoying as whilst the British are doing better medalwise than perhaps they expected, the French are doing even better – zut alors.


Lincoln 12 – 18 Paviors 18th January 2003

When you are down and having a run of poor results, bad luck seems to come looking for you and there is no place to hide. This certainly seems to apply to Lincoln Rugby Club as they struggle to find form in the 2002/3 Powergen East Midlands Division 3 (North).

On Saturday they played host to Nottingham side Paviors in a game that they might have expected to win. Indeed whilst at times the visitors performed better in the set pieces Lincoln were easily a match for them in the loose and had the crowd in a state of anticipatory excitement on a number of occasions with territorial breaks coming from both forwards and backs.

This was a crowd who, feeling comfortable after the pre-match three course lunch, wanted to be entertained by a home win. Their hopes were to be unfairly denied to them in a game in which the dice were rolling the wrong way.

Although Paviors kicking down the slope went into an early lead with a penalty in front of the posts. Lincoln came back with a vengeance with a period of sustained pressure in the Paviors half. A clearance by Paviors was kept in by scrum half Ewen Hamilton to set up centre Paul Clarke for a superb Lincoln try. This was converted and although Paviors were to reply with one more penalty Lincoln went into the turn one point ahead and with the wind and slope in their favour.

The second half however had a completely different tone to the first and was dogged by stoppages. It is unfair to complain about the refereeing because this amateur game could not be played without the efforts of referees giving up their Saturdays to enable others to lay the game.

However in this case it is possible to identify two specific refereeing mistakes that lead to tries by Paviors that decided the result in their favour.

The first was a clear knock on by Paviors in open ground that was seen by everyone. The ball was picked up by Lincoln but no advantage was gained and the same movement saw Paviors recover the ball to score.

Nevertheless Lincoln came back and despite a period where every decision seemed to go against them found themselves awarded a scrum five metres out from the Paviors corner. Veteran Clive Lewis playing at flanker took no chances and a thundering drive took him over the line and Lincoln back into a slender 12 – 11 lead.

Lincoln held on to this lead until near the end of the match when the second major refereeing mistake cost them the game. A kick forward by Paviors lead to Lincoln full back and skipper Nick Middleton being unable to control a difficult bounce. A further fly hack saw a race between a Paviors payer and Lincoln winger Adam (Sid) Whitwell actually won by Whitwell. The referee following on at a distance of some 30 to 40 metres awarded a try to Paviors.


Boxing Day Rugby Match, 2004

Boxing Day at any rugby club in the country is when the true spirit of the sport emerges and its innate entertainment value is brought out by the bottle (seems a better way of putting it than bucket load).  Just as Christmas is a time for families to come together the traditional Boxing Day sporting event sees anyone that has ever been involved in the wide community of  rugby turn out to meet old friends and for some festive fresh air and exercise. The outcome is usually hugely amusing, the rugby flowing and people discover their shortcomings under benign and understanding circumstances that all can enjoy.

These days it is often the only game of rugby a veteran plays in the year.  An old trooper who has long hung up his boots will root them out of the cupboard when his son or his daughters’ husband comes home for the holidays in a desperate attempt to keep in touch with his youth and to show he can still do it.  It is a well known fact that a rugby player never retires.  It is simply that the gaps between matches get longer and longer. Indeed at a recent holiday in Center Parcs this rugby writer dug out his old shorts to play badminton with his kids and not only did they refuse to play with him in his old gear but they frogmarched him to the sports shop to buy a more modern, longer and therefore trendier and more acceptable kit. Harrumph.

At Lincoln Rugby Club,  Boxing Day was a beautiful crisp winter’s day.  Even though the midday the sun was low in the sky and the ground was largely frozen around fifty players old and new turned out to do battle on the ice rink.  If this had been a league match the game would have been abandoned before it started but there was one hundred percent consensus that the game was important enough to carry on.

Because Lincoln only have the one strip there was some objection because of the cold conditions to the notion of playing one side in “skins” and it was decided that one team would just turn their shirts inside out. As Chairman of Selectors Keith Younger read out the teams individuals would troop over to one side or the other just as they still do in school during the break when the two captains pick their own team.  Those not chosen were not too dejected because they knew that they could keep their coats on for another half an hour on the touchline.

This truly is a family day at Lincoln Rugby Club and a number of families turned out to play.  In the vanguard was Geoff Newmarch who brought three grown up sons along for a game, followed by Adie Smith and son Tom. Other father and son pairings included the Smalls, Dudleys, Woods and Woodthorpes.  The Younger brothers added a fraternal slant and Malcolm Withers at the young old age of 68 turned out in a museum piece of a scrum cap that has preserved his good looks through six decades of the sport.

Referee John Kirk turned out in a Father Christmas outfit that bulged so much after his Christmas lunch the previous day that everyone present felt that he would never get down that chimney again unless he put in a real effort at slimming in the New Year. John kept the game flowing as never before – nobody really wanted to slow down for a scrum or lineout because it was too cold.

At half time as the teams changed round and those players yet to have their turn came on several bottles of port were distributed together with oranges soaked in chilli vodka.  If anyone minded the vodka no-one mentioned it and in fact it was so cold that it may be the case that no-one actually noticed the difference from the normal healthy orange segment.

As for the game itself?  It ebbed, flowed, it entertained, kicks were booed and individual performances were cheered, many tries were scored and nobody kept the score. Old timers received knocks that reminded them why they didn’t play any more and of all the players on the pitch no one person gets a specific mention other than Pete Webster who likes to see his name in print. Well played Pete.  Well played everyone.  See you in 2005.



A hard fought campaign.

The hustings.

The response of the crowd.

The populist vote.

Laughter, silence, emotion.






Choir by conference call

Anyone wanting to participate in a choir could ring in to a conference bridge and participate in the session remotely.


The Virtual Rock Concert

How about we create virtual rock concert venues where we get everyone a seat. The early bird get the lower seat numbers. there could be incentives for early birds eg free cd’s, t shirts.

The venues don’t have to be virtual. This could be something we offer concert promoters as an added value and a means of creating additional revenues from concerts.

Attendees could log on and check venue details, concert information, ticket delivery information, buy merchandise in advance, book parking facilities etc

the art gallery

The Readers

One person sits on a stool reading a book. The location is somewhere public where people can come and watch.

The work has a finite length – it is the time that it takes the person to finish the book. 

The activity can be repeated as many times as desired either using the same person and book or different people/books etc.

The work can then be extended to having two persons reading. This could offer a contrast such as for example a university professor reading one book and a barmaid reading another. When they have finished they could swap books and start again.

This could be a display in a bookshop.

the art gallery

The Candle

The candle sits there surrounded by darkness. It is stood on a glass plate inscribed with the date and location. When it has burnt out the melted wax covers much of the glass and this is then mounted for future viewing.

the art gallery


A roped off area of exhibit space is empty except for an extremely sharp knife…


The Lawnmower

In prehistoric times if it was done at all it is likely that the function of the lawnmower was performed by the use of sheep and other animals to keep the grass down.

The concept of having a lawn as a largely decorative part of one’s garden is almost certainly an idea born out of civilisation. This set of ideas explores the history of the lawnmower and looks at it’s position in and effect on society during the period of its existence.

It is easy to see the lawnmower as both a work of art and a tool, paintbrush if you like, that can be used to create art. In this section both aspects are looked at.

The clippings of a lawnmower can be used to create compost that will then be fed back into the soil to encourage further growth. This cycle can be looked at simplistically or in a manner that provokes wider thought.

The simple view is just the breakdown of the process of cutting the grass, making the compost and feeding it back into the soil.

A more complex approach might be to use the process to look at much deeper subjects such as the whole existence of life.

On the way we can see that the grass cuttings, laid down over millennia, could stratify into layers of rock that illustrate the lasting effect and influence of the lawnmower.

In this we explore the religious aspects of lawnmowers from being simple mechanical objects used to religiously mow the lawn every Sunday afternoon to iconic symbols representing a higher order of things (aka the cross) through to the lawnmower itself being a god.

A simple look back at the good old days of the lawnmower.

The lawnmower has evolved from being a simple mechanical cutting tool to a sophisticated electromechanical machine that embodies many advancements in the science of mankind. This extensive section looks into all the technical aspects of a lawnmower.

There are many facets to the lawnmower as a sophisticate from the use of expensive high end lawnmowers to mow the lawns of the wealthy to the highly developed and sophisticated brain that we might attribute to a “lawnmower about town”.

A down to earth piece about the usefulness of the lawnmower.

Redundancy and Obsolescence
The coming of artificial grass possibly sounds the death knell for the lawnmower. We discuss a scenario that postulates the end of the lawnmower era.

I’m just crazy about lawnmowers. I collect them, I lovingly maintain them, I defend them from critics in the same way that I would defend my sixteen year old daughter from the attentions of the young lothario.

Their blades rip, cut and destroy all living things in their path leaving behind a trail of death. Is there beauty in this violence? Is it pure malevolence?

It all wells up in me when I look at my lawnmower. Lets find out why.

Does a lawnmower have a sense of duty? After all, aside from the occasional difficulty getting it started it rarely complains when asked to do a task.

Roll up ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the lawnmower.

Influence of
The lawnmower has influenced many great inventors and artistic geniuses. Lets look at how.

It is also now an offence to be found driving under the influence of a lawnmower. Lets see why.

chinks poems

9th September 1958

9th September was a big day
In 1958
There she was
Renee, her right
on her big day.
There stood Keith,
But excited
Craning to see
If his bride to be
had arrived.
Music, vicar, I do’s, kisses
More music,
Laughter, expectation
Sherry, lemonade, beer, wine
No more rationing
Boots filled speeches
Tin cans, horeshoes
Glow, hope, expectation.

9th September 2008
50 years on
Taxi on time
Posh hotel
Posh nosh
3 kids, 6 grandchildren
Their mark imprinted
Sherry, lemonade, beer, wine
Speeches, more reminiscences
Absent friends, achievements
Glow, home, satisfaction.

poems for children

The Flower


delicate yet deceptively strong.

Wind and rain can blow and batter

yet, still, when the warmth of the sun pours out,

we are rewarded with  beauty.

poems for children

John is partial to his sport

John is partial to his sport
He can play most any sort,
Give him a bat and give him a ball
He’ll have a go at them all.

Johnny’s keen on football,
The best centre forward yet,
He runs ahead and scores the goals
Without his breaking sweat.

At playing cricket he excels
And bowls a steady line,
Then when he’s batting whacks the ball
For sixes every time.

Golfing’s great when John’s around
He hits it down the middle,
He always gets a hole in one
With hardly any trouble.

Swimming up and down he does
Before he goes to school,
He ploughs the lanes with a fast front crawl
In the town swimming pool.

At badminton his record is
Eighty three with Tom,
And if he keeps on practising
It will be 100 before long.

He paddles here he paddles there
When kayaking with his brothers,
Eskimo rolls and a big seal launch
Whilst splashing one another.

Basketball? – he’s not very tall
So he hasn’t played this yet,
But when he grows a foot or two
He’ll find that high up net.

At rugby he’s a fast scrum half
And scores before you know it,
He is the best but it must be said
That tennis is his favourite.

He’s ace at serving, volleys hard
His back hand is great to see,
But his forehand topspin beats the lot
If you were asking me.

When it’s raining hard outside
At snooker he’s quite able,
Then he likes to play ping pong
Upon the kitchen table.

John is partial to his sport
He can play most any sort,
Give him a bat and give him a ball
He’ll have a go at them all.

poems for children


Lilly’s such a silly billy
Likes to dance and play the fool
People think she’s a bit crazy
But not me I think she’s cool.

This is only a short poem
Because Lilly’s not so tall
But it’s only fair to mention
She’s only six, that’s why she’s small.

Her mummy tells me she is mad
I think that’s a great thing to be
If she wasn’t I’d be sad
She really means a lot to me.

Cos mad mad mad mad mad mad mad
Makes her popular at school
People think she’s a bit crazy
But not me I think she’s cool.

poems for children

Cheese – a poem for Stella

There are lots of different kinds of cheeses
Some with holes and some, which when you smell ‘em
blows your socks off to your kneeses
filling your head with lots of sneezes.

Not all cheese is holy,
except when eaten by a vicar
or an Archbishop of Canterbury.

Not all cheese is smelly
Unless left in the fridge too long
In which case it’ll start to pong.

Some cheese is blue, its true
The choice is yours
It’s down to you.

If you prefer orange or red or green
This type of cheese is often seen
Upon the supermarket shelf
And if eaten in moderation
Is said to be quite good for your elf.

Spreadable, dunkable, toastable cheese
Is sometimes all it takes to please
A yatchsman sailing on high seas.

But best of all is good old cheddar
A taste I learnt of from another
Who said it originates from a cow
I found it difficult to believe how,
When it clearly comes in a plastic cover
Bought in Tesco by my mother.