the art gallery

birdbath in winter

just a birdbath in winter

chinks diary

It’s one of those hmm it’s early but I’m awake mornings and I might as well get up. The world is going crazy out there but I am focussed on my own little world and that of my friends and family. It’s a survival thing. In my capacity as an ant one day I will be stamped upon so I may as well focus on enjoying it while I am here.

Before the working day starts I am off for a morning swim and thence at some point out to get the shop in for the forthcoming weekend. I’ll be too busy to do it as we approach the weekend with the Lonap AGM and trefbash on Thursday and a boozy lunch with Anne’s friend Gill Dowling (rod) on Friday. Then on Saturday it’s the annual Christmas carol singson/party at ours which is what I need to get supplies in for. There’s also my birthday lunch on Sunday for which I am cooking so it’s a busy time ahead.

Meanwhile outside the dome Rome burns and the flames had spread across the whole planet. I’d call the fire brigade but don’t have their number. I suspect they disappeared in the cuts.


Banjo with no strings

You heard it first on philosopherontap

Banjo with no strings
Banjo ไม่มีสตริง
Banjo sans ficelle
жок саптар менен Банджо
ڪوبہ ڪونھ سان بينجو
Banjo ohne Fäden
Banjo ki pa gen strings
Banjo be strings
Banjo ບໍ່ມີສາຍ
Banjo kateak ez
কোন স্ট্রিং সঙ্গে Banjo
Banjo tsis muaj cov hlua
بینجو کوئی تار کے ساتھ نہیں
Banjo ouni Strings
Μπάντζο χωρίς χορδές
බෑන්ජෝ නොකියයි
Banjo sin cuerdas
Banjo nihil chordis
Банджа без якіх-небудзь радкоў
Banjo gan aon teaghráin
Banjo zonder verplichtingen
Банџо без жици
ʻO kaʻaha me nā kaula
Banjo ilman merkkijonoja
Banjo bi strûreyan
Banjo sen kordoj
Banjo bez strun
Banjo ямар ч мөргүй

poems poetry

twilight time

Not much light left in the day.
Systems entering night mode.
Hibernation acceptable strategy.
Conservation of energy.

the art gallery

useful things to know #103,658,373,856,352,418

the wifi passcode – only any use if you know which access point it is for 🙂


The December Party Prospectus

Sunday 2nd December Dogwood @ Strugglers
Thursday 6th December trefbash @ Phoenix Artist Club, London
Friday 7th December lunch with Gill Dowling (rod) @ Wig & Mitre
Sat 8th December Davies Family Christmas Market Party @ our house
Sunday 9th December Tref’s birthday lunch @ our house
Tuesday 11th December Wright Vigar Christmas drinks bash @ Cathedral Chapter House
Wednesday 12th December Stay @ Birmingham Airport (8am flight next day)
Thursday 13th December INEX meeting & Xmas bash, Dublin
Friday 14th December pub early doors with book posse
Saturday 15th December Brittains Christmas Party (always great nosh)
Sunday 16th December Hey Dude @ Strugglers
Wednesday 19th December Carols @ Morning Star
Thursday 20th December Capacity Yorkshire, York
Friday 21st December Lincoln Independent Traders Christmas bash @ Struggs & Chinese @ Newport Arch with drop in to the Sadler’s party en route
Sat 22nd December Davies Family Christmas get together Cardiff
Sunday 23rd December Dawkins drinks party (tbc)
Monday 24th December Christmas Eve etc Sue and Dad arrive
Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day etc
Wednesday 26th December Boxing Day etc
Thursday 27th Sue and Dad leave, Jaime and Natalia from Madrid come for a visit
Friday 28th fly to Hong Kong (and that’s another story)

Life is short. Do stuff.


The 4am drift.

I was reminded that the reason I lay awake in bed at 4am was probably because I fell asleep on the settee at 8.30pm. I eventually got up to make the tea at 7.15 having drifted in and out of consciousness since the initial awakening. It’s a single time zone equivalent of jet lag. Alcohol lag. The effects of the book club meeting in the Straight and Narrow at 5pm. Anne is very skeptical of the book club and thinks it is simply a cover for a drinking bout with the boys. If I tell you that we discussed the book I am currently re-reading – Churchill’s masterpiece and definitive History of WW2 and that I was happy to reveal the ending to the boys – we won – you will know that it is indeed a book club.

This morning I will be pottering around and mentally preparing myself for the afternoon and evening ahead. Two rugby matches and a pub quiz. You will sympathise with me when I tell you that not being a Sky Sports subscriber I have to go to the Peacock with the boys to watch England v Australia. Ordinarily I would be happy to watch Wales v South Africa at home on terrestrial TV but the chances of me being able to push through the dense crowd towards the pub exit are likely to be minimal. I will have to take pot luck.

Afterwards it’s the pub quiz at the Burton Club. I realise it will come as a shock when I tell you I’m rubbish at pub quizzes but it is so. Your brain has to be in tune with the person setting the questions and mine rarely is. There was a funny exception to this when we were doing the Coast to Coast walk. The 20 miler leading to Kirkby Stephen was a killer and instead of going to the B&B we headed straight to the pub. After several pints of lime and soda followed by a few lager shandies (yes) on the picnic bench outside we went in to the pub for some food only to find that there was a pub quiz on. Tucking in to our nightly steak and chips we joined in the quiz. During the first half there was a bonus question, the answer to which was the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Now I was the only person in the pub to know the answer and won the £30 bonus prize. The only problem was you had to stay until the end of the quiz to collect. There was no way I was doing that. It was already 8.30 and bedtime. We left the pub leaving the thirty quid behind and the next morning continued East towards Keld.


I sit here jivin

I sit here jivin’ in chair
my fave sounds
the world is in front of me,
go where I please
cap sits comfortably
autumn falls outside

I am alone the girls have gone out
walked to town for a celebrity
followed by gin and tonic
float the boat and down your throat

occasionally I line up the music
don’t leave that to chance

volume increases

political classes commit suicide
on everyone’s behalf
taking us with them
guitar solo kicks in with drum support

next morning it rains
breakfast over, back in chair
leaves litter no lawn left
quiet house

chinks diary

fire on board train cancelled day 24 travel extended

smooth bit of miles davis in my ears contrasts with the unbounded hassle of the journey. who said international travel is glamorous? fire on board train cancelled delay disgruntles, stood in line for ninety minutes. my head is clear though. a strange state of affairs as I’d normally have a few numbing beers under these circumstances. the train is comfortable enough and the staff remarkably cheerful. a contrast with the station staff who had to deal with hundreds of annoyed passengers and who themselves didn’t look to possess the natural ebullience of the girls on the train. blackness outside as we race through the presumably Belgian countryside. stop in a town. Lille. mademoiselle. my head nods rhythmically to beat of the double bass. trumpet dances. around me people eat the tasteless cardboard fare dished out on the eurostar. I’d need to be hank marvin to do the same. had a burger at Gare du Midi. we are stopped next to neon blue Carrefour sign. presumably the train staff have nipped across to get some shopping in. this delay is not encouraging. I have 27 minutes to swap trains in London. It’s just a walk along the platform, down the moving stairway, out through customs and across the road to kings cross station. simples, in theory. before me sits an empty plastic drinks container. I hesitate to call it a glass. diet coke. not my normal tipple but these are not normal times. a small bottle of vittel sits upended in the cupholder awaiting my thirsty pleasure. top on obvs. been going 50 minutes now fwiw. my right heel has been constantly bobbing up and down. just made a conscious effort to stop it. had a productive day in Ixelles. actuellement comme on dit 🙂 bloke sat opposite has just taken his shoe/boot off and found one of those paper tubes of sugar in it. how’d that get there? couldn’t make it up. he is reading “a gentleman in moscow” by amor towles. wonder what amor’s real name is. looks like a crappy novel. I don’t do crappy novels. he has two young sons in tow. they are engrossed playing child minding games on iPads or simlar. in front of me the vanity mirror is open. I am resting the phone on its cover. old geezer with a collar and tie walks back and has to wait in the aisle whilst the staff do their stuff. clearing up after the silver service plastic airline food. I await a second cup of coffee. we are apparentelement still on time for st p. innit. we may now be underwater, so to speak. the ambient noise beyond my bose phones just seemed to change although I hear very little outside the jazz. a very gentle conversational murmur. two aged gentlefolk opposite doing the times crossword. not sure whether it’s the cryptic one or not. can’t quite make it out. don’t think so. not that I doubt their capacity to do the times cryptic crossword. probably already done it. that or keeping it for last/best. john coltrane is on sax with paul chambers on base. red garland on piano and billy joejohn. not sure about that last one. the old bloke has walked past again. weak bladder or something up. the whole family opposite have earphones in. me too of course but it does feel a bit strange that they are all in their own zone and not communicating with each other. I suspect I’ll be wide awake when I get home and not able to sleep. drinking more coffee here. it would make sense for me to get some work done when hanging around for hours on these trips but you can’t really get the enthusiasm or energy to do it. that’s despite not imbibing. if there was beer involved it would be a no hoper. where there’s life there’s hope. there is life. moved on to bill evans


Sober October Day 23

Travelling again, away from home
Too long away
Hotels and trains and big nights out
Don’t replace a morning cup of tea and a smile
Sat in coach one, headset on
Shutting out the world
Moving on to another town
Where they don’t know how to make tea
My head is clear, as the landscape moves
Shoulders shiver
Learning how to relax
Survival instinct kicking in
Darkness descends, inside the tunnel
I try to ignore
The continuing chatter in coach one
Will go quiet before too long
Two hours, I turn down breakfast
Just a black coffee
Amazed at my own willpower
I already ate in London

The little girls across the aisle
Go silent as they munch
Croissants with bread and jam
I would brush my teeth
Industrial landscape mingles with abandoned countryscape
Modern victim bypassed
Concrete islands with metal interconnect
Electronic departure boards fly by
I switch to Spotify

Where has October gone, sped by in a haze of reality
I was born to it, really.
Reality is only any use if you make something of it.
Squeeze every last ounce out of your allocation.
Open your brain wide and catch every last drop.

“It is totally forbidden to smoke on the train thank you.” Someone has been naughty. Had enough of reality. Reality is being caught smoking on the train.

We are in France.
Big productive fields, fallow now
Birds flock
Forest replanted

chinks diary

Sober October Day 11

Slightly tedious Day 11. Sorting out quotes. Need some more info to be able to finish off. Took car to superhand car wash (or whatever it’s called) on Outer Circle Road . Was covered in gunk off the trees in the front drive. Also took cheque to pay into bank. Business account.

This evening we have the (newly repaired) central heating on. Needed a new pump! Sokay now though which is good because otherwise it would be cold. Anne cooked a nice prawn curry using a Slimming World recipe. Brown rice.

Popped down to the West End Tap for a swift one early doors. Ended up having a swift three. Pints of lime and soda. Bit of banter with the lads at the bar. No nibbles. Now watching a documentary on the Chromecast. Sod all on the box.

chinks diary

Sober October Day 7

One week down. Met Steve Wildman and Rob Vashak in the Star for early doors for a coffee yesterday. Barman Dave wasn’t overjoyed as making three cappuccinos with an extra shot of espresso is far more complicated than pouring a pint. Had to assuage him with an in between rounds pint of lime and soda.

This afternoon I am off to Brussels, flying from EMA. Don’t usually fly but on a Sunday it seems easier to travel that way than using the almost non existent train services from Lincoln. I Get to Brussels quite late so will almost certainly be a quick hello to anyone who is in the bar and then off to bed.

So are there any lessons after week 1? I’ve found myself with more time on my hands and energy to do things. Lots of little jobs sorted out including going through my drawers and throwing out clothes that have hung around for years but never worn.

The time on my hands bit works both ways. There have been occasions where I’ve twiddled my thumbs wondering what to do next. I’m thinking specifically of Friday early doors where I would normally be down the pub. Don’t get me wrong. Pub time in Lincoln is usually just Friday and Saturday early doors though this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I don’t mind popping out and just consuming soda water but last Friday we were heading out to the Labour Club for the jazz night so early doors was slightly later at 6.30pm. I’m quite comfortable not drinking alcohol.

The biggest change in lifestyle has actually been the disappearance of all offspring from the house. We are back to what it was like before we had kids which is great although also a bit strange. Freedom ! 🙂

Today we might press some apples.



Autumn has well and truly arrived. The lawn is green with a mottled brown counterpane of fallen leaves.

Rain falls gently as I gather the last of the greenhouse tomatoes and carry them to the house in the fold of my shirt. Tonight they will be put to good use.

Rose lingers beech hedge shimmers water droplets.

Noises off kitchen industry Anne pops her head through door welcome smile cup of tea.

Inner stillness.

chinks diary

Sober October Day 4

An uneventful day. Why should it be otherwise? Working plus a visit to the health centre for the annual flu jab. It’s an age thing!

Bit of a swim first thing as I am wont to do. There were not many people in the pool and I recognised a bloke in the near side lane who I knew would not be in for much longer. I joined him and after two lengths he got out leaving the lane to just me for the rest of the session. Result. It’s a lot easier to get up and go to the pool if the previous night has been alcohol free.

Took the volvo estate back to Coops. He’d leant it to us to take Hannah’s gear to her new flat in London. Couldn’t have done it without it. She has a nice flat that will be perfect for her and her flatmate Ann. Top floor flat mind you. Nearly killed me carrying everything up three flights of stairs.

At coops’ picked up one of the campervan awnings – the bag needs washing and repairing. Coops also lent us his apple press. The weekend will see some cider making in progress.

Had carrot and coriander soup for lunch and lemon sole, chips peas and asparagus for tea.

Quiet evening in watching iPlayer. More anon.

3rd law

Sober October Day 1

Not a difficult day to start Sober October. It’s a Monday at home in Lincoln. Wouldn’t normally have a beer on this day anyway. The challenges are going to come at the weekends and when staying away.

Tomorrow night we are staying at Hannah’s in London, helping her move in to her new flat. In the evening she has booked a table at the restaurant below the flat. That will be challenge number one but I’m sure will be ok. Then I have quite a few trips planned. Brussels x 2, Cardiff and Amsterdam.

I’m looking forward to the month ahead.