Saturday 29 June 2019

For any doubters of Global warming.

Two greyhounds lying on a tiled floor instead of the usual sofas. Never before seen . . . 41 degrees on the terrace outside - also never seen/felt.

Friday 28 June 2019

Another small rant about plastic

And . . . supermarkets encouraging people to forget how to cook basic stuff.


THIS is a Tesco instant pancake mix in a plastic bottle. The pancake mix (dust) - just add water - fills about a quarter of the container. The rest is air - the space where you presumably add the water.
Two main things about this product: One, why? As in, why instant pancake stuff? - pancakes must be one of the easiest and satisfying food items to make.
Imagine the fun of Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday without blending eggs, flour and milk. Opening a plastic pot of ready mix . . . a little sad?
The other gripe . . . if Tesco really feel it is a worthwhile thing to promote instant pancake dust, why not put it in a small cardboard box - or something like a small Bird's Custard type container. Less plastic, less trapped air, more space on shelves. Obviously people would have to make the effort of pouring the stuff into a bowl/empty glass jar/ whatever and then shake it but it wouldn't really be a problem. Would it, Tesco's?
Like it says on the label - fluffy and simple. Might also refer to someone who had this idea in the food-strategy/marketing/what on Earth can we make now, department of said store.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Past and present

Some folk don't like to look back at the past - done, onward, next thing, but there must be a reason for us to have this incredible ability to store images, thoughts; replay whole tracts of time in slightly 50s Technicolour.
I feel we should consider the past fascinating - good and bad. You learn from things you have done, improve (hopefully) and mature as a person; replay the exhilarating, sometimes difficult, exciting, and just heart-warming times - meeting the significant other, birthdays, pregnancy and birth, Christmases, your child's first bike ride, the success of a project, particular concerts, moving into a new house, observing a garden take shape, and a million other things.
On the subject of new houses and gardens. This is a before and after of the terrace of our new (1975 villa) house back in 2011 - and now on the day I write this post - 15th June, 2019.
What a difference some plants make, as Dinah Washington sang . . .
The first thing we did after roughly moving belongings into place was to find a metal-working person, put up a structure and plant vines. It's all a bit out of control now being somewhat live and let live gardeners but it is a wonderful sight when the roses are out, and the terrace becomes our dining and sitting room during the spring and summer.
Maybe when we have moved to something a little smaller, wherever that will be, I will recall those hot days under the vine leaves; days of salad, chat, accordion, fan whirring and dogs stretched out on the warm concrete.






Wednesday 12 June 2019

It's old . . .

Well-used words at car boot sales, no doubt all over the world, for justifying an exorbitant price tag.
In this case at our local 'vide-grenier' - (literally emptying one's attic) where Mark homed in - being a buyer and hoarder of just about any type of musical instrument - on a once-possibly noble Zither.
The guy swaggered nonchalantly over (think you can do this) and proceeded to point out the instrument's qualities. 
'It is old' 
Yes, it certainly is but not in a good way.
'It is in excellent condition - works perfectly.
No, it doesn't. The strings are untunable and someone appears to have poured a pot of white paint over it, scrubbed ineffectually and then added a rough line of black around the edge to complete its renovation.
Mark and I exchanged glances, trying to guess what the price might be. I suggested it might be worth purchasing it for a more experimental form of jazz - sort of thing where two people and a dog might be the audience. We agreed it would be worth relieving him of the object for about five euros, so he wouldn't have to repack it in the van. No one else within a radius of about a hundred KM would have bought it other than us. That was for sure.
"Vous voulez combien?" asked Mark.
The reply of thirty euros was somewhat surprising. We walked away after employing another useful car boot phrase - 'we'll have a quick look around and come back'.
What one of us should have said was, 'What? thirty euros for that? are you insane? But we are English, somewhat pathetic and perhaps didn't want to spoil his illusion that he did have indeed a very old and unusually-restored item on his stall. 
Sadly, it will probably end up at the tip at the end of the Vide Grenier season when it could have featured in some weird and inventive art music piece. 


Thursday 6 June 2019

Green light

Moving ahead!
My novel now has a book deal with the wonderful, Tartarus Press.
As they specialise in 'literary supernatural/strange/horror fiction' I know my characters will be well at home in their catalogue.
Still some way to go with edits, etc, but looking forward to the time that my work will be out there.

Detail of a London map of 1775 featuring St Leonard's church (center - ish) where a lot of the story takes place - although set in 2072 . . . Mind, with the way everything seems to be going, London could possibly re-resemble this map by that time . . .

Pic - Mapco/David Hale.

Sunday 2 June 2019

While cleaning out the loft . . .

I found a box of old college stuff that I hadn't looked in for certainly twenty years - think it wasn't opened in the move from our last two places.
Ah, the days before photoshop etc. I recall buying the mackerel and stringing them up with fishing line (appropriate), and the many times Toby had to smoke cigarettes and look faintly surprised as if waking from a dream that was in fact some bizarre reality. Think that was it - no idea. Lost in the heavy fog of time . . .


The picture below features me (in skirt - rare occurrence) and friend Mal, and yes, they were real boots - t'was the 80s . . .
I can't remember the reason for the dots but the picture did win a large format Polaroid camera in the yearly Polaroid competition. Not that I got to keep the camera - think it was amalgamated into the art college equipment store.
Happy days of messing about with set building, paints, cameras, clothes, and fish, with no idea of what I might do later in life . . .