Tuesday, 31 January 2012

All You Need To Know About: BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.

Monday, 30 January 2012

My Little Audio Workstation.

Over the last 3 months I seem to have spent an inordinate length of time sat in front of this set up:
It's the picture that's wonky, not the monitors.
Well, not this set up exactly.
Until last Friday night the monitor system was my trusty old Panasonic BoomBox,
a system I've used, on and off, for over 20 years.

On Friday I decided it was time to set up my Edirol monitors and give the final mix of the BeHeld E.P. a quick listen.
I am so glad I did.
The mix was bass heavy and the stereo field was far to wide.
This means I'll have to sit here for the next week re-jigging the mix.

Except for tomorrow night.
Mystic Rog's hand is much better so BeHeld will be visiting a "sing-around" at Amberlely Acoustic Music Club.
We've got four new songs we need to try out in public and this open-mic-without-the-mic suits our purpose perfectly.
We plan to play the following songs:

  1. When The Spring Has Come (me)
  2. When I Was On Horseback (Trad-Arr)
  3. It Must Be True (me)
  4. The Lamentation of the Lost Prophet (me)

I'd also like to try out 'Heart' (me) if we get chance.
The playing standard at AAMC is very high.
So is BeHeld's.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

My 'Track of the Week": 'All Things Must Pass' as performed by George Harrison.

I received some news today that upset me greatly.
It was a consequence of a decision I made and I realise the consequence was probably inevitable but, if you make a decision you must be prepared to accept the consequences and not whine on and on just because it's not to your liking.
The decision I made was the right one.
Listening to this song helps sooth the feeling of betrayal I'm trying to ignore:
At least it's not Positively 4th Street.
There, that's an end to it.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Bee Dilemma.

Sat at home yesterday I became aware of a large, buzzing insect-being's futile attempts to smash it's way through the double-glazing to freedom.
At first I'd assumed it to be a bluebottle and, because I associate bluebottles with some of the more unpleasant things in life, was unsympathetic to it's plight.
I opened a window close to where it was bouncing about and left it at that.

This morning, as the sun filled the flat, the buzzing started up again.
I realised I'd have to intervene.
On locating the prisoner I found it was a bee:
Bee (not to scale)
This causes a few problems.
If it had been a bluebottle I wouldn't have had any qualms about capturing it in my flying insect-being beaker, trapping it in the beaker with a postcard depicting John Martin's 'The Great Day of His Wrath', and releasing it back into the wild.
A bee is a different matter.

Today is one of those bright, cold winter days, if I caught the bee and put it outside the cold will undoubtedly kill it or, at least incapacitate it to the point where it may become vulnerable to attack by birds.

Once again my grannie's wisdom comes back to haunt me "y'can't d'right, fer doing wrong".

I wonder what bees eat?

Friday, 27 January 2012

Solar Toys 01

I've become fascinated by solar powered toys.
Linda noticed this and bought me a 6 in 1 Solar Toy Set for my birthday.
I built the first example and, when the sun eventually shone, filmed it:
I also like the shadows cast (the B/W bits).

The second example has been built and will be under test just as soon as the sun shines, again.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mutant Banjo!

My banjo, which is essentially a guitar with a banjo body (Guitjo, Bantar?), was due to be sold to raise funds for a good quality tenor ukulele (more about this plan in a later post).

At BeHeld's rehearsal a couple of weeks ago I mentioned my plan and listed the items that were on their way to market.
Mystic Rog expressed disappointment about the sale of the banjo as he'd worked out an arrangement for the song 'When I Was On Horseback' in which he 'heard' a banjo.
I explained how, after over a year of not playing a six-stringed instrument, I found it nearly impossible to play anything with more than four strings.

Another plan suddenly hatched.
Convert the banjo to a four string, in effect turning it into a tenor banjo.
Mystic Rog is a bit of a dab hand at musical instrument repair and offered to have a go at the conversion.

Using the same string spacing as my baritone ukulele seemed like a good idea and I asked if it could be DoGBonE re-entrant strung and entrusted it to Mystic Rog's care.

A week passed and Rog returned with this:
The Mutant Banjo
Rather than set it up as a straight forward four string Rog has done something rather ingenious.
He's grouped the bottom D string with it's octave a-la a 12 string guitar (are you following this?) thus:
Don't get confused by the shadows of the strings!
The sound of this hybrid instrument is amazing.
Primitive I'd call it.

I could add a sound file to demonstrate the noise it makes but, as we all know, a gentleman is someone who can play the banjo, but dosen't.

Thanks Mystic Rog, it's brilliant!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A View From The Scaffold. (Updated)

I arrived home to late to climb up and look off the scaffold yesterday.
The ladder was extremely wobbly but I'm a roughy-toughy and know no fear.
Bit draughty up there.
The bad news from the men who did the repair is that the whole roof will have to come off to be fully restored at some point.

(Have I drawn your attention to the PayPal button to the right?)

In the original post I described the roof's problem as "nail disease".
Turns out it's actually "nail sickness".
Which I personally find slightly more disturbing.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Hyacinth News.

Carrying on from the post Some of My Best Friends Are Plants, here's an update on the hyacinth situation.
It now looks like this:
It smells great!
In the next hyacinth post I'll present a full cost/benefit analysis.

Monday, 23 January 2012

An Exciting Development.

Our roof has developed nail sickness which caused several slates to fall from the roof narrowly missing a couple of passers by.
There's also a large hole birds had decided was a good place to nest in.

I returned home at lunch-time to find this exciting scaffold attached to the side of the house.
I didn't have time to climb up and look off the top but there's certainly going to be some climbing up and looking off the top done tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The 1,000th Post: Video Portrait of OSM by Linda (NWS! Contains Strong Language!)

To London & What Happened When We Got There.

I had intended to write-up our London trip last night while it was still fresh in my memory but I was so tired, and not a little confused, sleeping felt like the better option.

I booked 2 cheap day returns on the internet the previous evening, packed our rucksacks (my stuff in Linda's and Linda's stuff in mine, trust me it works), located my very old London street map and did a perfunctory investigation into bus services around the capital.

Linda will NOT travel on the underground system.
"It's unnatural".
I am unable to get my head around the bus timetables.

During the train journey I decide to re-jig the itinerary.
On the approach to London I see the future written in the sky:
Scottish Independence is Inevitable 
The only reason I want to go to the Science Museum is to look at Difference Engine No. 2 so it seems like a good idea to get that out of the way first.

We arrive at Victoria Station where Linda decides we need coffee.
I never disagree with any suggestion that involves drinking coffee.
I take a picture of a clock:
I know what time it is
We take our coffee and sit in Grosvenor Gardens across the way from the station and I begin to work out a route that will get us to the Science Museum, on foot.
I take a picture of a small building decorated with shells:

We have shells just like that in Bognor Regis!
 I scan the buildings around the garden and get the first inkling of what the significant feature of this trip is going to be.

Having plotted a vague diagonal line between us and the museum we set off across Belgravia.
We scrutinise the buildings along the way. Linda focuses in on the shrubbery stood outside the buildings and comes to the conclusion that olive trees are probably the best all round choice for this area.
I see lots of cars parked outside the houses, cars I've only ever seen on Top Gear.
All the houses have the appearance of being made from ice-cream.
Everything seems very clean and well ordered.

After much wandering about I realise we are well off my vague route and we land on Knightsbridge right outside Harvey Nichols, and Linda has spotted it.
We enter Harvey Nichols.
All the staff look like they come from at least 3 rungs higher up the social ladder than Linda and me and there seems to be more of them than there are customers.
Linda managed to get a dab of perfume on her wrist before the counter staff got to her and we were out of there.
I casually mention that Harrods is nearby.
We go to Harrods.

The building is a wonder, the interior is a wonder, that Egyptian bit is a wonder but I still feel the whole place is a bit, well, tacky.
The Diana and Dodie statue only serves to reinforce my opinion.
It starts to rain.

We continue on to the Science Museum.
On entering we both agree we need something to eat and experience one of the highlights of the day, a hot belly pork sandwich with apple sauce and rocket.
From the eating balcony I take a picture of a red steam engine:
Here's where the problem starts
I pour over every part of this vast machine, every nut and bolt and I begin to wonder.
If art is 'useless beauty' is this redundant machine now a piece of art?
We wander though the museum and I become increasingly troubled by this question.
All these cases filled with examples of, to me, inexplicable things that I'm not allowed to touch.
We reach the Babbage bit:
A piece of a long dead human being in a jar.
I couldn't take a picture of Difference Engine No.2 that didn't have a reflection of me taking a picture of Difference Engine No.2 in it so I gave up trying and just looked at this beautifully useless thing in a glass case.
I'm not sure how my experience was 'enhanced' by being able to look at a large part of Babbage's brain in a glass jar.
I took one last picture inside the museum from a balcony:
Lots of stuff.
We left the museum.
Linda noticed the building across the way, "what's that place?"
That place is the V & A.
We enter the V & A.
More useless beauty I'm not allowed to touch housed in glass cases.
Then something caught my attention, an expression I chose to interpret as bewilderment:
"What the..?"
We stepped out into the garden:
Linda contemplates the V&A
Once again I'm enthralled by the exterior of a building.
Back indoors I see something that seems like a metaphor:
This means something.
Time is pushing on so I suggest we try to make it to Tate Britain before it closes.
My plan is to walk towards the river then turn left.
There then follows a very long walk through another interesting built environment called Chelsea.

On turning left at the river, more useless beauty:
Looking at this building fills my heart with joy.
We get to the Tate at around 5 o'clock.
We are both exhausted.
Why are we here?
We are here to look at 'Ophelia' (Lizzy Siddal in a bath) our favourite painting.
"I'm sorry sir, this gallery is closing now".
Linda and I stare through the door's closing gap toward the painting on the opposite wall, the doors close.

On the walk back to Victoria station Linda picks up on the fact that I've become somewhat glum and tries to cheer me up.
I can't deny I'm down in the dumps and it has something to do with what may seem to be an unrelated comment in the birthday card I'd received from my friend Paul.
It's a quote by Don Marquis (1878-1937) it goes like this:
"If you make people think they're thinking, they will love you; but if you really make them think, they'll hate you."
Paul added "You have been warned.."
I haven't made an entirely satisfactory connection between this day, the things in glass cases I'm not allowed to touch, between what is (and what is not) art, and the built environment we wandered through, but I'm working on it, even though I hate it.

Linda suggests we go to McDonalds.
I give in, Big Mac meal, go large with a white coffee please.
Then the day is suddenly saved by a fairy princess, who speaks indecipherable English with a heavy Eastern European accent to no one in particular whilst bashing away at a net-book and who sparkles from head to toe:
Now that's what I call art!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

To London.

As part of the celebration of my birth Linda and I set out for the great city.
The itinerary was as follows:

  • 01) Tate Britain
  • 02) The National Gallery
  • 03) The R.A.
  • 04) The Science Museum
  • 05) Borough Market

Didn't quite go according to plan to be honest.
This posting isn't going to plan either.
I've just realised it will take me at least 3 hours to condense our adventure so I'm off to bed instead.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Outa_Spaceman Being: 54

I half remember a movie quote, I think it was spoken by Paul Newman, and there's a possibility I may have imagined it.
It goes something like this:

A man falls from the top of a 100 story building.
As he passes an open window on the 50th floor he is heard to say, "So far, so good".

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Carpet Cleaning As Spectator Sport.

The more cynical may have sneered at my suggestion that a picture of a carpet-cleaning machine was as entertaining as a film of the madcap antics of Suicide Pheasants.
Well, let me tell you, today put the cynical laughter in a pipe and smoked it!

I am called to Spice Paradise Tandoori.
To the SupremeClean mobile:
Once the tables had been removed from the restaurant area, small square areas of a vivid blue carpet are plainly visible.
I looked at the other bits, the bits the customers had been walking on.
I initially assumed it was actually tarmaced but no, that's punter tracks, 8 months worth of punter tracks.
I break out the EDIC Fivestar Carpet Cleaning Machine with attendant powders, potions and sprays.
I begin my complex preparation routine.

All the time this is happening I am watched intently by the entire staff of the establishment.
Every move I make is scrutinised.
Applying the pre-spray, pouring the solvent/water mixture from a bucket into the machine, adding the de-foamer, plugging the machine in and then cutting the first cleaning row.
The crowd closed in for a closer look.

I had to do the first row four times which involved re-filling the machine 3 times in 10 minutes.
(N.B. I can usually clean an average living room carpet on two re-fills.)

The job took 5 hours and the crowd never got bored once.
Helpfully, they even began to point out bits I'd missed along the way.
(Which turned out to be shadows cast by the table legs.)

On finishing, everybody seemed to agree that was the best carpet clean they'd ever seen.
Not that they'd seen one for a while of course.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Misty Woods.

Still on the look out for Suicide Pheasants, I was mesmerised by the weird light in the woodlands on the access road to the oil field:
I ended up wandering about in there for over an hour and got soaking wet.
A good day!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

More Ignorant Ornithology: The Suicide Pheasant.

On my happy little morning jaunts over the downs around Goodwood, to clean the Oil Well in the Woods, most of my concentration is focused on avoiding that ornithological curiosity the Suicide Pheasant.
Off in the distance I'll spot 2 or 3 of these birds meandering about in the middle of the road, what on earth they find to do there is as much a mystery to me as why chickens choose to cross roads.
As I approach, and the birds notice me, they begin to dart hither and thither, switching back and forth, run one way, double back, run pell mell down the middle of the road anything, in fact, except fly away.

My plan this morning was to have my camera at the ready to film this crazed behaviour and post the resulting footage here for your delight and amusement.
Sadly I was unable to.
I saw at least 10 mangled pheasant corpses on the road, most of them been eaten by crows or, in one case, an enormous buzzard.
So, by way of compensation, here's a picture of the carpet cleaner I use on a daily basis and is much more fun, but not as tasty, as a Suicide Pheasant:
Another of the fabulous toys I'm allowed to play with at work!
On the whole I get the feeling Linda was happier that I brought the carpet cleaner home and used it on our Indian rug rather than me bringing road-kill home for her to pluck and dress.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Glass Back.

I first experienced the excruciating world of pain a 'slipped disc' can bring when I was around 21.
I travelled to my Doctor's, 5 miles away, standing up on an empty bus.
When I got into the surgery I was invited to sit down.
I explained I couldn't sit down because of my back.
Without further questioning or examination my Doctor asked me how long I wanted a sick-note for.
I told him I didn't really want a sick-note I wanted him to do something to stop my back hurting so I could get back to work.
Turns out there was nothing he could, or was willing, to do so I took the sick note and headed home.
Then I remembered that osteopaths did something with backs.
I consulted the first one in the telephone directory, got an appointment straight away and, after a bit of manipulation and £25, I got back to work 2 days later.

This went on for years.
On average I was getting, what I now call 'flare-ups', 2 or 3 times a year.
As I got older the flare-ups became more debilitating, the recovery periods grew longer and the osteopath's bills went up.

The break-point came after a really nasty flare-up.
I had to wait for two days until I was able to walk.
I went to the osteopath before going to get my sick note.
The osteopath told me that I should now think in terms of my back problem as a chronic condition that would need me to visit him on at least a monthly basis for the rest of my miserable pain filled life.

I went to my doctor (a different one to the original) and told her the osteopath's  conclusions.
My doctor seemed to explode internally.
She consulted my medical record.
"This has been going on for years!" she said.
I couldn't disagree.
"And nobody did anything?" she asked.
I shook my head, even though the pain it caused nearly brought tears to my eyes.
" Right, you have two choices, you can carry on giving money to that osteopath for the rest of your life of pain or, I can send you on a Back Rehabilitation Course".
The Back Rehab course sounded like the better option.

It was.
A one hour a day, twelve day course that explained the roots of my condition, gave me an armoury of techniques to combat it and lots of really useful advice on how to avoid further flare-ups.
The biggest problem I had was believing that the progressively worsening flare-ups would one day be permanent.
I now know that's not the case.

Let's go through a typical flare-up.
I will be doing something innocuous, like reaching up to replace a lightbulb.
I will feel the vertebra at the bottom of my back 'pop'.
I know then I've got about 24 hours before I'm incapacitated and load myself with the strongest ibuprofen I can lay my hands on and carry on as if nothing has happened.
The following day, when I'm viewed from the front, I'm sort of 'S' shaped, find it very difficult to move at all and am in excruciating pain.
More ibuprofen some light exercises and rest.
The following day, still in excruciating pain, more ibuprofen and, after a series of exercises, I set off on a very, very long walk.
The walk can take up to 5 or 6 hours, the first mile or so can take up to 2 hours to cover, but slowly, slowly my mobility returns.
The third day will be much the same but by the forth day, although I'm still in some considerable pain, I have regained most of my mobility and can usually return to work.

I don't have as many flare-ups as I used to do.
Last year I didn't have any.
The greatest relief is knowing that I won't be permanently crippled, that it's just a matter of time, exercise and ibuprofen before I'm back to, at least, physical normality.

I hope anyone finding themselves in a similar situation finds this post helpful before, in desperation, staggering off toward a charlatan with an eye on their bank account.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

I've Got A Plan.

"The secret of quiet happiness lies in limiting your aspirations".
I've abandoned guitar playing.
I was only ever, at best, an average strummer and no amount of practice ever changed that fact.
Playing the guitar was, and always has been, just a means to an end.
I needed to accompany myself and the guitar was the most convenient instrument for that purpose.
It's never been my favourite instrument and it always felt like a bit of a dead-end.

I've concentrated on playing baritone ukulele for over a year now and find it a much more rewarding instrument.
I'd really like a good quality tenor ukulele and I need to raise the cash.
£300+ should do the trick.

So, the great sell off begins with my Pignose 7-100 practice amp:
This Little Piggy Gone To eBay
To describe the Pignose as a 'practice amp' is a little unfair.
I know session guitarists who use nothing else in the studio (except for their precious analogue FX pedals) and use it as a pre-amp when playing live.
Truth to tell I haven't used it for months and months and can't imagine using it again anytime soon so bye, bye piggy.

The sell off list will include:
A resonator guitar.
A red Alden triple pickuped, tear-drop shaped electric guitar.
A Roland Cube 30 amp.
A Vox (Korg variant) AC10 (it's got an intermittent fault so I'll unload it on Cash Converters heh, heh.)
A whole raft of FX pedals and dynamic microphones.

I'm tempted to hang on to my tiny P.A. but if it comes between me and a good uke, it may have to go as well.

I can't describe the weight that's been lifted from my shoulders.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Best £20 I Ever Spent.

It's fair to say that Linda is atypical of women of, ahem, her age in that's she's an enthusiastic video 'gamer'.
This isn't some recent development, Linda's been playing video games for years.
The attic is filled with the many and varied consoles and computers that have facilitated her addiction in the past along with the associated floppy discs, cartridges and other paraphernalia (which I am strictly forbidden to dispose of).

Her current platform of choice is a limited edition red Nintendo Wii that I bought her for Xmas 2010.
She's also a fan of the Rayman adventures and has all the different incarnations of the game series.

I was at a complete loss as to what to buy Linda for Xmas until the new Rayman Origins adventure turned up last year.

Since ripping the packaging from the game on Xmas morning, all of Linda's concentration has been focused directly on it (except for when Emmerdale and Corrie' are on of course).

So here's a brief insight into what life has been like in the flat since the 25th of December:
Things in the game are not going well at the moment.

Friday, 13 January 2012

More Ignorant Ornithology.

Seen in Bognor Regis's London Road:
A skeletal flying insect being.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

BeHeld: Oh, Wait a Moment. (Updated)

All the tracks for BeHeld's first E.P., 'Lo', are recorded and mixed, I'm in negotiation with a C.D. manufacturer (reckon about 100 should do it) and the launch gigs are set up. We've even decided on the cover:
What could possibly go wrong?

Mystic Roger, who's not steady on his pins at the best of times, had a bit of a fall and broke a bone in his hand which went undiscovered by medical science until the other day.


Girl-on-Wire just texted Linda to say she'd got herself trapped in a lavatory in Derbyshire.
Looks like BeHeld's going to end up being a duo at this rate.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Health & Safety (Sheesh..)

Today was window cleaning day at the pre-school for posh kids.
As the light of morning increased I noticed the wendy-house in the playground:
 Then I noticed the signs on the wendy-house:
Please, somebody, tell me this a joke.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

My 'Track of the Week": 'Rosie' as played by Don Partridge 'King of the Buskers'.

I wish one of the uke jams I attend would pick up on this classic song.

The Oil Well in the Woods.

I am brazenly telling anyone who'll listen that I'm currently working on an oil rig.
This, in my mind, makes me sound very masculine, hairy and ruffy-tuffy.
The truth is a little more prosaic.
I spend 2.5 hours a day cleaning the offices, changing rooms and canteen facilities on the rig.

There are 5 wells already producing (and have been doing so for about 15 years) oil. It says something about the price of oil when it's become economically viable to sink another shaft in this quiet part of the south downs.

The bit I clean (the beige bit) is much bigger than it appears in this picture
The rig operators are a German company and everything seems, to me at least, very efficient and alarmingly over-engineered.
They've drilled over a mile down, at time of typing, and still haven't hit the black gold yet.

This is all well (no pun intended) and good but the best bits of the whole site are the nodding donkeys that bring the oil up from the working wells:
Their action is super hypnotic and I daren't look at them in case I become transfixed, mouth wide open catching flies.

Of course I'm completely outraged by this selfish rape of mother earth and the consequent pollution the oil will undoubtedly cause yadda, yadda, but I got to eat baby.

On leaving the site today I saw a mountain biker on a mountain unicycle which seemed to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life. I suppose there's a whole mountain unicycle sub-culture evolved since I was a pioneering mountain biker on this small muddy island.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Day From Hell.

"If some one offers you money to clean 10 years of accumulated grease from a pub kitchen smile politely and walk away".

Is a piece of advice I wish somebody had given me at some point in my life.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sunday.... Errrr,

Today started with all the promise a new day dawning offers the enthusiastic participant in life's rich pageant.

Fixing the new punctures in both wheels on my bike.
A trip to the ukulele jam at Littlehampton (first of the new year).
Another attempt at mixing the 3 tracks for the forthcoming BeHeld C.D.

These were all perfectly reasonably options.
But, what actually happened was:

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Steam Cleaning (I'm In Luurve)

One of the compensations of my current lowly employment is being able to bring home, and play with, all the fascinating machinery used in contract cleaning.
Top of my list at the moment is the Osprey Steam Cleaner.
Now there's a funny face.
I love it (almost) as much as my Henry Vacuum Cleaner:
My sing-along pal.
We have a condensation problem in the bathroom at the flat which has resulted in unsightly mildew spreading across the ceiling.
Because I favour showering, rather than sitting in a bath full of my own filth, I hadn't actually noticed the extent of the hold it had taken:
Mildew is evil
After a perfunctory risk assessment, I charged my beautiful assistant with applying a bleach solution to the affected area:
Linda gets several more blond streaks in her hair
I then laid in with the steam cleaner, across the ceiling, down the tiled walls, around the sink and bath, and then over the vinyl flooring.
I became lost in time pausing only the refill the machine.
Linda says it took me about 4 hours.
I'm sure it only took me about 4 minutes.

The result is a bathroom that shines so hard I have to wear sunglasses in there:
Shiny, shiny!
I must have a steam cleaner of my own... NOW!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Some Of My Best Friends Are Plants.

13ish weeks ago I posted about two of my close friends:
My Friends and Me (Updated)

The Hyacinth was put into darkness for what should have been 10 weeks but I forgot where I put it.
Much to my relief, I found it again today and it now looks like this:
It's put on an amazing amount of root growth and has begun to sprout leaves.
I find this all tremendously exciting.
Of course, under normal circumstances, my hyacinth would be one of the first signs of life renewing it's self in these dark winter days but, up to typing, this winter's been so mild it's not the only thing growing.
Out in the garden our banana plant is still going strong, the nasturtiums are still rambling around in an alarmingly vigorous way and at least one marigold still has flowers on it.

So, where's Jack Frost got himself to?

The cyclamen?
Ungrateful b-tard died.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Wassail at Tarring.

Hey ho to Tarring we go to celebrate the archaic ritual of Wassail in the ancient village of Tarring hosted by The Sompting Village Morris.

So, first off, let's have a torchlit processional dance up and down Tarring High Street:
Then into the orchard for the ceremony:
Details from the back of the song sheet:
"We awaken the apple trees spirits with our chanting and loud music.  A virgin is invited to place toast in the branches for the winter robins who will carry off any bad spirits. The Wassail Applecake and a double-handed Wassail Cup of mulled cider is passed freely around as everyone joins in the chant and hullabaloo."

I am eternally grateful to Pansy Cradledew for the loan of the book "Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids, A Journey Through the English Ritual Year" by Sara Hannant which brought this wonderful little ritual to my attention.

Linda's over the moon as cider's her drug of choice.
I was hoping Christopher Lee would turn up wearing a frock, but he didn't.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


So, having ridden to work I pack my bicycle away, collect the company van and head off to a contract clean.
The Chichester by-pass, and in particular the round-about where the Bognor Road joins it, is an accident waiting to happen.
I avoid it like the plague and drive along the quiet roads that run, more or less, parallel with it.  This detour adds about 2 miles to the overall journey but is actually quicker.
I'm 3 cars back from the 'T' junction where I turn right toward the village of Tangmere.
A blue car begins to turn right from the main road on to the road I'm on.
A silver car appears from the Tangmere direction (my right) and impacts the blue car heavily.
The blue car hits the front of a black car stood at the junction waiting to turn left.
Everything stands still.
When I recover from the momentary shock I find myself thinking "that was not supposed to happen".

It's one of those situations where seconds become hours.
The driver of the car in front of me gets out of his car and heads toward the pile of wreckage.
The driver of the car behind me gets out of his car and heads toward the pile of wreckage.
I'm not sure what I should do.
I'm usually good in a crisis, I have some basic first aid skills, am unmoved by the sight of blood and guts and can make a pretty good cup of tea but can't for the life of me think what to do in this situation.
I decide to try and remember as much as I can about what just happened then get out of my vehicle and walk toward the incident filming the scene on my mobile phone:

The man holding the back of his head is the driver of the silver car.
I don't think he should be moving around until he's received medical attention.
I realise that I may seem callous in the extreme wandering around filming so I return to my vehicle and leave.

My admiration goes out to the man in the baseball cap who had the presence of mind to use his mobile phone to call for assistance.

I've spent the rest of the day trying to remember exactly what happened with out trying to interpret it, just remembering the facts.
I'm going to have a cup of tea now as I've stopped shaking enough to drink it without spilling it.
I suspect the police may want to have a word with me at some point.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Adventures In Modern Cycling: Apollo Veho II Update.

I bought my current 'winter' bicycle on the 19th of October 2011:
Adventures in Modern Cycling: Off The Peg.

I've ridden it at least four days a week in all weathers covering around 15-20 miles a day.
I tend to ride "eye-balls out" (low gear/high cadence) along the flint strewn dirt tracks to darker places sorry, designated cycle-paths between Felpham and the outskirts of Chichester.
In my original post I swore not to modify the bike in anyway and only replace the bits that broke or dropped off.

So, how's it going then?
N.B. Usual layer of filth removed for picture.
I found after riding for about 20 minutes my arms would become numb and so decided to change the handlebars for a straight, flat set:
It now takes about 30 minutes for my arms to go numb.
I could change the stem to raise my riding position but the truth is this bicycle is to small for me.
I've made more minute adjustments to the saddle than my mind can contemplate yet it's still eye-wateringly uncomfortable.
The seat stem is extended to the full limit (70% of my body length is leg) but it only remains like that for about 5 miles before it begins to sink back into the frame.
I replaced the seat bolt with a quick-release clamp which may seem like a bad idea but it makes it easier to re-set the seat height quickly and puts less stress on the frame than bolting and unbolting the original fastening.

A couple of weeks ago the bike developed a 'clunk'.
I instantly knew exactly what had happened.
The bottom bracket cups have no seals in them thus allowing in gravel and water (the constituent parts of the local cycle-paths) which quickly replaced the imaginary grease through-out the B.B. assembly.
Not good.
One of the bearing cages gave up the ghost, the axle developed an alarming amount of play and the 'clunk'.
Until today I haven't been in a financial position to do anything about it so the situation just got worse.

I set about the repair work this afternoon.
Having removed the clamp ring I found the bearing cup impossible to remove with any spanner I have in my collection and had to resort to my biggest set of grips to get it out.
Needless to say the grips destroyed the threads on the bearing cup and that my diagnosis of the fault was right on the money.
£7 for new cup and bearings.
I've jammed as much water-proof grease into the assembly as I can and will now clean off the bottom bracket area after every ride.
I give it about 6 weeks before I have to do this all again.
I could save up for a one-piece sealed unit but I've got better things to spend my money on, food for instance.

At time of typing I've repaired 10 punctures caused by tiny pieces of flint.
I now understand why many cyclists choose to risk riding on the roads rather than the cycle-path.
A dick-head local councillor wrote a whining letter to the local paper just before Xmas complaining about cyclists who insist on riding on the road when there's a 'perfectly adequate cycle-path'...

I have to stop typing now, a 'red-mist' just made it hard for me to see the screen and I have the two worst swear words in the English language repeating endlessly in my head.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Model Tri-Plane.

Linda bought me a press-out & slot-together airplane kit sometime ago.
With nothing especially pressing yesterday I finally got round to building it.

The pack suggests the kit might be suitable for a younger child to construct.
I'd like to meet the child who could, using the supplied instructions, end up with any kind of finished product.

It took me all afternoon to work out how it went together then, having stood back to admire it, deciding to break it down and paint it a jolly purple colour:

The bits that look light-blue are actually silver.
I've been flying it round the flat for hours now.