A Meeting

It was the cold that woke me up. For a brief moment I thought that PIL was sharing my bed again and had stolen all the duvet like she used to. Wishful thinking on my part. I rolled over and saw the figure sitting on the sofa by the window. The figure appeared to be tall and slim and was wearing some kind of hooded shroud. I couldn’t see its face. There was a scythe lying across its lap.

“Are you Death?” I asked.

“I am” the figure replied

“Have you come for me?”

“I have”. Came the reply.

“Don’t say much do you mate?”

“Not much to say.” he replied. The voice was definitely male.

I sat up, as I had decided long ago that I would not face death lying down.

“Well, I’d sooner not go just yet if that’s ok with you.”

“Many people say that to me y’know. Not all, but a fair number. It rarely changes anything.”

“It’s just that I still have a great many things to do and see and achieve and being dead won’t help.”

“So what is it that is so important that I cannot take you now?” asked Death.

“There are quite a few things actually. I would really like to see my children grow up, graduate from University, marry and have kids themselves. It would be nice to see my grandchildren.”

“Is that it?”

“I also want to learn to sail and speak French.” I replied

“You mean you don’t want to cure cancer, stop pollution and save the environment?” came the slightly sarcastic reply.

“All fine ambitions” I answered, ” and stopping Mankind’s inhumanity towards Mankind would also be pretty good but I know my limitations. I am a simple man with simple ambitions.”

Death picked up his scythe and put it to one side. I started breathing again. I hadn’t realise I was holding my breathe.

“I have to take a soul. If not yours, then whose?” he said.

“Mate, if you’re saying that if you don’t take me you will take one of my kids or PIL, then take me now. There is no way you are taking any of them. I will fight you with everything I have to stop that happening.”

Death laughed for a second or two then stopped and appeared to be thinking.

“What about the dog? Dogs have souls.” he said after a few seconds.

“That’s not really fair on the dog is it?” I answered. “He’s done nothing wrong, he had an awful start to his life and he’s happy here. He may be as daft as a brush but no, take me if you have to take anyone.”

Death was quiet for a few minutes. I guess he was thinking again. Finally, he spoke again.

“We’ve met before.” he said. That was a bit unexpected.

“Er. I don’t think so bud. I’d remember something like meeting you.”

“No, no, no.” Death exclaimed. “What I mean is that I was taking someone and you were there. You wouldn’t have seen me but I saw you. Three times in fact.”

“Were you there when my parents died?” I asked.

“No.” he said. “That would have been one of my brothers. I have a great many brothers. I was there when your work colleague, Robbie died. The heart attack killed him before he hit the floor so your attempts at CPR were fruitless.”

“Thanks pal. That makes me feel so much better.”

“My pleasure. You really didn’t need to beat yourself up about that but I suppose you weren’t to know. I was also there for the man who got flung out of the car and lost the top of his head. You comforted him while he died.”

“I remember. It seemed to take ages for him to die but he didn’t appear to be in any pain. I was covered in blood and his brains when I finally got up.”

“You’re right. He wasn’t in pain but sometimes these things need to take their course. Did you go and see his wife?”

“I did.” I replied. “I left it a couple of days and then went to see her.”

“Why did you go?”

“He asked me to tell his wife that he loved her and that he was sorry. Seemed to me to be the least I could do. It wasn’t the best time of my life that’s for sure but if you can’t grant a dying mans wish, then what does that make you?”

“I see.” said Death.

“When was the third time?”

“I was there to take your friend when he got trapped in his canoe and drowned.”

“Jean-Claude?”

“Yes. You and your friend tried to pull him out. You did a very dangerous thing. I nearly came away with three that time. So why did you and Omar place yourself in so much danger? Was it because he was a friend?”

“Jean-Claude was a very good friend. We only really saw him at races, but no, we would have done the same thing irrespective of who it was. It’s a dangerous sport and if someone is in the shit, you help. Omar and I always took that attitude and we hoped that if we were ever in trouble, someone would help us.”

Death stood up and picked up his scythe.

“Oh shit.” I thought. “Play for time.”

“Tell me something Death. Why do you wear that shroudy hoodie thing? Doesn’t it freak out the people you’ve come for? It’s freaking me out!”

“You’re right. It does and we recently tried wearing suits. Some of my brothers wore Armani. Others wore Boss. I went the Tom Ford route. I preferred the cut. Unfortunately, it confused the dying. They see a smiling face in an expensive suit and they think the Worlds greatest medic has arrived to save them.”

“Surely the scythe gives it away?” I asked.

“People see what they want to see. Besides, it was costing the Boss a fortune in dry cleaning bills. So we wear these. Easy to keep clean. Chuck ’em in the machine on a cool wash and ‘Hey Presto’. I’m going now. You have persuaded me to leave you until another time. Next time we meet, and it will be me, you will be coming with me.”

“Thank you. I hope I don’t see you anytime soon.” I said.

“I don’t know when it will be but I really do hope you learn to sail and speak French.”

I woke up at 7am as usual and staggered downstairs as usual. CJ was in the living room.

“Good morning sweetness”, I said. “Boy, did I have a weird dream last night.”

“Ewwww Dad. I really don’t want to know.”

“What?”

“I’ve heard about THOSE dreams boys have.”

“What?” I said again.

” Yes. You dream about naked women and make a mess on the bed sheets.”

“What? What? It wasn’t that kind of dream. Where did you find out about this stuff anyway?”

“School. Sex education. Boys are disgusting.”

“Jesus girl. I really don’t want to be having this conversation. I haven’t had a cup of tea yet.”

“Well, you started it.”

“What? Ok, whatever. Where’s Mum?”

“She went to see Richard. Y’know, he lives round the corner.”

“I know where he lives sweetness. I take it she’s gone to wish him ‘Good luck’ in the marathon he and his wife are running in today?”

“No, Richards wife..”

“Elizabeth.”

“Yes. Elizabeth. She died suddenly in her sleep last night.”

 

More Dick soon.

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Holiday. Pt2

Have you ever noticed how when you’re having the time of your life, time just gallops by? So much for that Einstein bloke and his theories.

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We were having a great time. Le Telfair had everything we needed, swimming pools, a beautiful beach, lovely sea,

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cold beer, gorgeous food, fantastic rooms and amazing views. So much so that we had no real desire to go off exploring. We did take one trip out on a sailing boat to visit a “paradise” island. It wasn’t called Paradise Island and I’m not entirely convinced it was an island. We were taken to the East coast in a minibus. The locals drive on the right side, which is the left. In keeping with their French origins, they do like to drive in the middle of the road whenever possible though. And sometimes, they drive there even when it isn’t possible. We went aboard a beautiful catamaran. There was us lot plus about half a dozen other people. We set sail by starting the outboard motors and headed off into the Indian Ocean.

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We slobbed out at the pointy end at the front and drank beer.

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The crew was very pleasant even if they did look like pirates. After a while the crew chucked the anchor over the side and some of the passengers went snorkelling. We didn’t. There are sharks in the Indian Ocean and we didn’t fancy becoming a meal. The crew cooked up a barbecue and we had a lovely meal of freshly caught barbecued fish and more beer. It was sublime! It was on this little voyage that I discovered exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to do nothing more than sit on the little seat at the front of a catamaran, drinking beer, sailing around the Ocean and saying nautical things like;

“Avast behind!”

or

“Shiver me timbers”

or even,

“Arrr. Jim lad.”

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Eventually, we arrived at the paradise island. We took a small boat to look at a waterfall, which was very nice.

CJ and Ed as we headed off to the waterfall.

CJ and Ed as we headed off to the waterfall.

Then we went ashore to spend a couple of hours poking about. I have to say that it was just like you imagine a Paradise Island to be with white, sandy beaches, cool seas, palm trees and a Swiss family called Robinson strolling along the beach.

This really is the island we visited.

This really is the island we visited.

That is, if you took the 3027 other people who were also visiting off the island and dumped them far out to sea. Bit of a disappointment that. We set sail again only this time we did set sail and cruised away and the incredible sense of happiness and well-being returned to us once more.

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We returned to Le Telfair just as the sun began to set.

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I don’t think I have seen us all quite so relaxed, happy and contented.

The boys decided to play another round of golf. PIL and CJ went with them after promising not to be abusive about the standard of play they were about to witness. I must say now that while Ed and Greg will never be pro golfers, they play a damned sight better than any of us could.

I decided not to go and instead sit by the pool, catch some rays, go pinker and read one of my books. I grabbed a book and made like a German and laid out towels over several sun loungers. I settled down and started to read, but not for long. The book I was reading was by a well-respected military historian named Antony Beevor and was entitled “ARDENNES 1944. HITLERS LAST GAMBLE” and it was about the Nazis attack more commonly called “The Battle of the Bulge”. After reading about 2 pages, I realised that very much like the US 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne during this campaign, I was surrounded by Germans!

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Probably not the best choice of reading material under the circumstances. I returned to my room to find another book. I had one written by the author, poet, comedian and general raving lunatic, the late Spike Milligan. He is reputed to have engraved on his gravestone “I told you I was ill”. My kind of bloke. Anyway, the book of his I had with me was entitled “ADOLF HITLER. MY PART IN HIS DOWNFALL.” Hmmmm. Probably not.

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In the end I took a book by Clarkson and had a jolly good browse through that while I singed around the edges. Everyone else eventually returned. Out of the 12 balls they took with them, they had 2 left but they had all had a bloody good time.

There was also a gym on site so from time to time we all took a wander down there and had a workout

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but generally all we did was chill out and relax. We walked along the beach. We indulged in good conversation. Sometimes we did both at the same time.

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All good things come to an end eventually and unfortunately, so did our holiday in Mauritius. We had an absolutely blinding time there. We loved every second of our stay. Would we go again? Absolutely. Have to save up for a while though so not anytime soon. On that note, the Rio Olympics are on TV now so I’m off to watch that. Team GB are doing well so far and we won Gold and Silver in the slalom event which was good. CJ is glued to the swimming and the Womens hockey. She wants to know why ladies netball isn’t an Olympic event especially as the mens version is.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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Slug repellent results

Last year, I thought I had found a way of stopping slugs from chomping their way through my plants. I had seen that slugs and snails didn’t eat stinging nettles so I decided to make up a liquid from lots of stinging nettles and water. Unfortunately, PIL, being unaware of my experiment, threw the resultant liquid away. She then absolutely forbade me from using hostas ( a particular favourite of slugs) as the target plants as she is very fond of them. Hostas that is, not slugs.

So this year I tried again without saying a word to PIL. I made up the liquor from fresh stinging nettles and then soaked a couple of hostas in the special, organic liquid. I did this just before we went away on holiday. We returned the other week and the results were immediately apparent.

 

 

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Bugger!

Boy, is PIL ticked off or what? I am definitely in the dog house now.

Back to the drawing board.

Have a bloody marvellous day.

I’ve just noticed. This is my 100th post! Congratulations to me then.

More Dick soon.auto

 

Holiday

We have been away on our holidays. We flew out on Friday 15th July and got back to the UK on Wednesday 27th. Our first task on the day we left was to take Dexter to the kennels for his holiday. He went to the same place as last year to kennels in Blean. It had taken him a few days to settle down last year but this year, he settled in straight away apparently.

Dexter in the back of the car, ready to go to the kennels for his holiday

Dexter in the back of the car, ready to go to the kennels for his holiday

After dropping Dexter off, our next task was to finish packing. All we took was summer clothing, forgetting we were going South of the Equator where it is now Winter! Doh! We left early as we were flying from Heathrow, which meant travelling some distance on the M25 which can be an absolute bastard of a road.

The M25. On it's day, it can be a nightmare

The M25. On its day, it can be a nightmare

Fortunately, on this particular day it wasn’t and we arrived in plenty of time. Checked in and cleared security. We boarded the aircraft, an Airbus A340 which is not exactly the biggest of aircraft, and settled down in a packed aircraft for our 11 hour flight. We flew South East over France, along the west coast of Italy, crossed the Med, continued over Egypt and headed off over the Indian Ocean. I know this because it showed our route on the little TV screen in front of me. It was the only thing I could get to work on the somewhat antiquated In Flight Entertainment system and it was all in French. We didn’t actually see anything for 2 reasons. First, none of us had window seats. Secondly, it was dark outside and thirdly we were flying at an altitude of 9,375 metres. Eventually, we arrived at our destination – the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and I have to say it’s the first time I have arrived at an airport that has a name bigger than the airport itself! Thankfully, the locals have abbreviated the name and call it “The Airport” because in our befuddled state of mind, we simply couldn’t handle that number of syllables. We were met by the Virgin Holidays rep and took a transfer coach to our final destination which was an hour away. We slept most of the way there. We got to our final destination, the Heritage Le Telfair, a 5 Star Golf and Spa resort and it was absolutely gorgeous. We had two suites with views across the Indian Ocean. The suites were enormous and we had one on the ground floor with its own patio area and another one directly above with a balcony. There was a brief discussion as to who went where as some members of the family didn’t want to share with others because they “snored, farted and belched”! This was quickly resolved and PIL and CJ were banished upstairs where they could fart, snore and belch to their heart’s content and us blokes could have some peace and quiet!

The view from our suite

The view from our suite

A brief history now follows. You can skip this part if you want.  The island was visited by the Arabs and Portuguese during the Middle Ages. It was uninhabited until the Dutch bumped into it and established a small colony. After eating most of the dodos living there, the Dutch cleared off. The French then settled there, stuck corks up the bums of the remaining dodos and scoffed the lot. They also used it as a base to capture British merchant ships returning from India with valuable cargos of spices and other stuff the Brits nicked from the Indian sub continent. This pissed the Brits off big time so they invaded and as usual, beat the French. It became the Empires main sugar-producing colony. It became an independent nation in 1968 and a republic in 1992. The official language is English but everyone speaks either French or Creole and English only when necessary. It is a fantastic place although we saw very little of it.

Le Telfair is absolutely wonderful. The staff, whether they be waiters, house keeping, gardeners or whatever, were fantastic. Warm and friendly and nothing ever seemed to be too much bother. IMG-20160802-WA0038

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We settled down in our rooms and unpacked and then we went for a walk along the beach and a general explore of the resort. The kids also searched for more Pokemon on their phones!IMG-20160802-WA0000

We jumped into one of the pools dotted around. IMG-20160802-WA0034

We behaved like tourists on holiday and we were having a great time.IMG-20160802-WA0033

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I cannot properly describe how absolutely idyllic the place is. Within a very short time, the beach bar staff knew our usual order (3 beers, a Sprite and a diet Coke in case you’re wondering). Every evening we went for an evening meal and we had food we never dreamt we would eat. We had squid, octopus, every colour of snapper fish there is, goats cheese and every meal was fantastic.IMG-20160802-WA0018

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We had wine with our meals and the wine waiter would take the time out to explain all the different varieties of wine they had on offer (a lot), the grapes used for each type, where it came from, how special varieties were grown according to the climatic and soil conditions in each country. It was a delightful education eating and drinking here.IMG-20160802-WA0009

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On our second day, Ed and Greg went off to play a round of golf. PIL, CJ and yours truly went with them. Bear in mind that neither of them had played since our last holiday 12 months ago and they were rubbish then! Greg, however, was wearing his golf shoes and claimed he would be brilliant. Despite this claim, PIL got 9 second-hand golf balls just in case. As we arrived, the heavens opened and it poured with rain. Greg teed off at the first hole and the ball shot off into the distance. A fantastic shot if he hadn’t sliced it. The ball went off at 45 degrees to the intended direction and despite a search by us all, remains undiscovered.

Greg about to tee off. We all took cover.

Greg about to tee off. We all took cover.

Naturally, the rest of us found this incredibly funny. Greg did not though. At the second hole, his ball travelled about 60 feet from the tee. Even funnier! However, Greg now had the serious hump and despite telling him that he’d made a rod for his own back, we agreed not to laugh at him again. At the third hole, he took his tee shot and I gazed off into the distance to see where it went. I couldn’t see it so called out, “Did you see where it went mate?” Whereupon, everyone fell about laughing again because I hadn’t noticed his ball had travelled 17 feet six and three-quarter inches! Ed was equally as good! PIL, CJ and I decided then to go back to the club house so that we wouldn’t be tempted to laugh at the pair of them but also because it was chucking it down with rain. We left the two of them to it, went to the club house and had something to eat and drink.

Ed striking a golfing pose

Ed striking a golfing pose

Every now and again we would see them flailing about in the distance. IMG-20160802-WA0003IMG-20160802-WA0002

The rain continued. The half point brought them back to the club house where they rushed over to ask for some more balls! They had two left. So PIL got another 18. Just in case and off they went to do something called “The Back Nine”.

Greg. Note the shoes which were supposed to turn him into a golf ace.

Greg. Note the shoes which were supposed to turn him into a golf ace.

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They both seemed to play much better without the unkind remarks and laughter and they did have a good time.IMG-20160802-WA0007

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Eventually, we saw them again playing the 18th and last hole. A Par 5 apparently. They were some distance away but we knew it was them because we could see one broad-shouldered figure and one very tall figure. Plus, who else but the English play golf in the pissing rain wearing only shorts and polo shirts? We decided to go out by the final hole and keep our eyes peeled for their balls as they approached. We kind of hid behind a bunker so as not to put them off. When Ed and Greg finally arrived they blamed us for having to take 6 shots to get to the green as all they could see were our three heads popping up from behind the bunker. They said we looked like a trio of “bloody meerkats”! They didn’t mention loosing another 8 balls until much later!

 

PIL, CJ and me watching Ed and Greg playing golf. Not a pretty sight!

PIL, CJ and me watching Ed and Greg playing golf. Not a pretty sight!

After that, PIL went to the Spa and had a massage and facial. The rest of us went for a massage the following day. It was bliss.

The next installment of our holiday adventures follows soon.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.auto

 

Beard Update.

It’s gone! Shaved it off. No more beaver sanctuary. Poor old Clit Eatswood!

With the milk chocolate colour of the top of my head, the strawberry pink colour over my nose and cheekbones due to wearing sunglasses and copious quantities of factor 15 and now the pale pink lower half of my face, my head looks like it’s been carved from a large block of Neopolitan ice cream!

I look ridiculous!

Bollocks!

Never mind. We go on holiday on Friday so by the time we get back it should have  all blended in. No one will see me like this.

Except……

Thousands of people when I go into town later. Thousands more at the airport terminal. 200+ more on the aircraft we’re travelling on. Plus the hundreds of people at our holiday destination!

Bollocks!

Have a great day. Where’s my hoodie?

More Dick soon.

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I Remember. Revisited.

I never planned to do this. Then again, I never planned to write on this subject in the first place. My original thoughts were to relay how I was feeling by way of a whole series of music videos that mean a lot to me and effectively described how I felt. Then I discovered that the choice open to me was never-ending. There were so many songs that I could have chosen. Mostly they were particular songs that acted as triggers for my dark periods and I usually tried to avoid them. Then Adele came along and said “Hello”! Another one to add to the list. I also thought that it would be fairly pointless as most people wouldn’t know what I was on about. Plus, of course, it’s hardly writing is it? So I decided to grow a pair and go all out and tell the World how I was feeling and how I had felt for the last 15 years.harden up

So I did.

It was a painful experience for me and in Part 4 I said how the pain has never gone away and that my love for PIL had never wavered. I also said that writing about this ongoing episode in my life hadn’t helped one jot. I think I may have been a bit premature with that particular conclusion. Being premature is something I’m good at! The anguish and pain are still there. The love I feel for PIL hasn’t altered but since writing about my experiences and how I feel, the dark periods in my life seem to have diminished. Bearing in mind that my dark times were a regular occurrence that could descend upon me at any time, sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes for days on end and sometimes for no discernible reason, since writing about them I can honestly say that I have not had one really, really bad time since getting over the emotional trauma of writing about them in the first place. The triggers are still there; the songs on the radio, a couple holding hands, seeing her and all the other little things that could set me off still do but not always and nowhere near as badly as they used to.15-Quotes-For-Couples-In-Love-5439-11

I realised this recently when a particular song came on the radio and instead of turning it off, I sang along. It made me think. The prompt to write this particular post came earlier this evening.

When we were an item, we would often sit and watch RomComs on TV or DVD. We would sprawl out on the sofa with a bottle of wine (or two) and watch movies. For some reason, I seem to remember we always ended up naked by the end!lovers2

We probably watched them all. Movies like 4 Weddings and a Funeral, You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill, Wall-E and my personal favourite; As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.As_Good_As_It_Gets-782033107-large

I’ve not watched any of them for donkeys for fear of how I would feel afterwards but tonight I sat and watched As Good As It Gets and do you know what? For the first time in years I sat and watched that movie and enjoyed it for what it actually is: a movie that tells a great story and didn’t find myself tied in knots with my emotions running riot.

So, perhaps writing about this kind of stuff and opening up really is a good idea.

Have a great evening.

More Dick soon.auto

The Day I Lost My Hat.

I have this slightly bonkers theory that Western Civilisation starting going down the toilet when men stopped wearing hats. Not baseball caps and such like but proper “Foyle’s War” type trilbys and fedoras.

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A long time ago, I had the most fantastic fedora. It was such a dark grey that it looked almost black. It was beautiful. I loved that hat. It was a Christmas present from my girlfriend at the time. Lynn. Smashing girl. I remember one evening we were in her flat in Vauxhall when I suggested that we should go and watch the sun come up. She sighed one of those sighs that women sigh when you suggest something they consider so romantic you just know you’re going to get laid! Anyway, we jumped into my MGB GT sports car

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and drove to Ramsgate on the Kent coast which was the most easterly point I could think of, bearing in mind that my thought processes were under the complete control of my penis at the time! We arrived in Ramsgate in the early hours, just before dawn. We parked up on the sea front and saw absolutely nothing. It was foggy and we couldn’t see a bloody thing! Still, it was the thought that counts and we had a lovely time although I do still have a bad back. A MGB GT is not a large car. Unfortunately we broke up soon after but I kept the hat.

Back to the hat.

I wore that hat a lot. I wore it to work. I wore it nearly every day and every night. I cared for it.  I may have slept with it on from time to time. I certainly bonked a girl or two while I was wearing it. It was the smartest piece of clothing I owned. My default dress code is called “scruffy”. Still is to this day. If I was to wear an expensive Hugo Boss suit I wouldn’t look like Gerard Butler.

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More like his Irish mate, Sac O’Shit. Within half an hour of donning any smart clothing I would look like I’d been in several brawls. My hat though just looked the dogs danglies all the time. At weekends I would don my 501s, my Rolling Stones tee shirt (or the Led Zep one or the Frank Zappa one cos he had a moustache just like mine), put the coolest ever black leather jacket on, put my hat on my head and I thought I looked the bollocks. Probably most people on the planet thought I looked like a right whelk but I didn’t care. I was wearing my hat! Girls loved it. I would approach a young lady at whatever club I was in, doff my hat to them and say,

“May I have this dance?”

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or

“Can I buy you a drink?”

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or

“Fancy a shag?”12222107-censored-stamp

Worked every time.You know what they say; ‘You need a head to wear a hat’ or something like that.

One day I went to visit my brother. I put my hat upon my head and left my place to go to his. (I was wearing other clothes!) My brother lived in Brixton which is in South West London. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Brixton was a very expensive area in the suburbs. The houses were huge. The first road in London to get electricity was in Brixton and it was renamed Electric Avenue and that’s where my brother lived. Eddy Whatshisface wrote a song about it. As time went on though, Brixton started to fall on hard times, the houses were split up into flats and the whole area became a bit shabby. A lot of Irish families moved there and during the 1960s and 70s, a large proportion of the population were from the West Indies. My brother loved living there and I admit I loved to visit. It was always alive, the market was great, the pubs were brilliant and we had a good time whenever I visited.  The hostility between the police and the local population didn’t really register with us although the presence of large numbers of police officers was always a topic of conversation. On this particular visit, unknown to both of us, the SPG (Special Patrol Group) were present and Operation Swamp was in full swing with the police stopping a multitude of young people, mainly black, under the “Sus” laws. The atmosphere was tense and you could feel it so we decided to go back to my brothers flat which he shared with 2 Irish lads. Shortly after we returned, we noticed black smoke rising from nearby Railton Road known as “The Front Line” to the locals. Rioting had broken out and the rioters had set fire to a pub.

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Police arrived in my brothers road and all the shops shut, the street market closed and the whole road very quickly became deserted. All four of us were hanging out the windows of the top floor flat trying to see what was going on when, quite suddenly, a mass of people appeared around the corner like a huge tidal wave. They filled the road completely. There were thousands of them. The jewellers across the road had pulled their shutters down over the windows but within 15 seconds the rioters were in and looting the place. Every shop was broken into and looted. We looked on in total amazement.riot

Just down the road was a Curry’s electrical store. The rioters went through the plate-glass windows and stripped the place bare. Some of them hid their loot under the market rubbish but someone set fire to it. Others took their stuff to what appeared to be a wedding reception a bit further down the road. The newly weds had more fridges, freezers, washing machines and microwaves than they could shake a stick at. We heard people coming up the stairs so we went out into the hall to see what was going.

“We’re taking stuff up to the roof.” they said. This “stuff” was a bloody great washing machine and a fridge.

“No you’re not.” said my brother.

“Oh yes we are.” they replied.

“Not happening mate.” I said

Then they looked again and saw four burly blokes blocking their way. My brother and his flat mates played rugby and were built like outhouses. I’d been a canoeist for donkeys years and had very broad shoulders and a narrow waist. (Sadly, these have now swapped places). So they struggled back down stairs again and shortly afterwards one of them came back with an Easter egg for each of us. How nice!on-this-day-brixton-riots-136397487029803901-150410143414

We went back to watching the scenes below us. Gradually, the crowd moved away and the road was deserted again. Devastated but deserted. We saw an old guy on a moped riding past and picking up pieces of jewellery discarded by the mob. Then, in a scene that could have been from Shaun of the Dead we saw a guy walking down the road. He was looking around in total amazement. I think he lived nearby and after a heavy session the previous night had just woken up and gone out to the shops to be met with the most incredible scenes of destruction. His mouth was wide open and he was looking around trying to compute what on earth had happened and what had he missed. He stepped into the now empty Curry’s store and with unbelievable speed a police meat wagon screeched up, four huge coppers jumped out, grabbed the guy, threw (and I mean THREW) him in the back of the meat wagon and screeched off again. Been and Gone in 60 Seconds!Brixton-Riots-In-London-I-015

It started getting dark. From the roof we could see little groups of people sitting on all the roof tops with their loot, waiting for the whole thing to ease off so they could take it home or sell it. There were more people in the road again and as we hung out the windows, my hat fell from my head and floated ever so gently to the ground below. Some random bloke picked it up. I shouted out to him;

“Thanks mate. That’s my hat. I’ll be straight down to get it.”

Whereupon he stuck MY hat on HIS head and called out;

“Cheers mate.”

and he walked off!

 

With my hat!

 

On his head.

 

What an absolute bastard!

 

I have been traumatised ever since. I never got a replacement. It just wouldn’t be the same. I miss my hat and I often wonder what happened to it. I guess I’ll never know. I do hope though that the bastard who took it suffered a terrible fate. How could anyone take another mans hat?

Have an amazing week.

More Dick soon.

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The Garden

The front garden, which has been my project for the last 12 months is coming along nicely. It needs more plants in it and I got another dozen to plant up on Sunday. Typically, since then the weather has been foul and I’ve not had a chance to actually put them in the soil. I’ve got Astilbes, Lupins, Freesias (my mums favourite if I remember correctly), Anemones and a couple more Geums. I also got several ferns for Eeyores place down one side of the house that is particularly gloomy. I think that once they’re in it will begin to look more cottage gardeny although I suspect more plants will be required to get the desired effect but I’m pleased with it so far. 20160531_113633

The tulips out there did very well on long, straight stems but didn’t last as long as I had hoped mainly due, I think, to the wet weather. The alliums are looking particularly good at the moment as do some other plants I put in last year but have no idea what they are now.

I have been disappointed with the foxgloves though. After writing about how easy they are to grow and how they self seed everywhere, this year, despite having loads growing previously and possibly a billion seeds falling to the soil, only half a dozen have started to grow. What a bummer!20150612_100703

I like foxgloves for their height, their attraction to bees, their beautiful flowers and how easy they are to grow (usually). I can’t help thinking that the extremely wet winter we had has caused the seeds to rot away or, knowing my luck, the seeds floated off and one of my neighbours has a beautiful display.20150612_100842

Having said that, apparently it’s one of the joys of gardening insofar as you never quite know what each year will bring. I’m inclined to go along with that although the sense of disappointment when something doesn’t quite work out how you planned is a pain in the neck or, in my case, a pain in the lower back. Still, very soon now the front garden will be looking splendid and it will be time to contemplate the back garden which is looking more than a tad neglected. We (by ‘We”, I mean PIL) have plans for the back garden. Just about any plants we put in the beds last less than a season due to being flattened by youngsters playing, in no particular order, cricket, football, basketball, tennis, trample dads plants and take off the flowers with a frisbee (the last two being particular favourites with our kids). Once the front is finished, all the plants in the back garden will be transferred to the front to fill in any spaces there and the ensuing space planted with shrubs.2004_OND-BELL-HEBEVI4

Shrubs tend to be more resilient to the kind of abuse my kids hand out plus they don’t seem to be so sensitive to being pissed on by the dog (and by me from time to time when I can’t be arsed to come in). The additional bonus of having shrubs there is that they quickly grow large enough to devour all kinds of balls, frisbees and water pistols. Either that or shrubs have some kind of portal to another dimension where stuff like that disappears for all time. A bit like washing machines and socks.

Now that I have made my sister Boo

Boo. My sister. She often looks like this

Boo. My sister. She often looks like this

happy by writing about gardens and my toiletry habits I am going to go and dig some holes to put our new plants in cos it’s stopped raining. I just hope there isn’t any cat crap out there.

Have an outstanding day. They are the best ones to have.

More Dick soon.auto

Guilt

I’m sitting at home feeling guilty. The soaps are on TV so PIL is destroying several million brain cells watching them. She enjoys mindless TV apparently and Morgan Freeman help anyone who speaks while they’re on.

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So why do I feel guilt?

I have been away for a couple of weeks working.

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I disappeared on the 13th May to start on a task on the 14th. It was scheduled to finish on the 29th. It didn’t. By 11am on the 28th we had finished and after a horrendous journey on the M25, I had returned home to my family by 4pm. This meant that I was able to watch the Play off final between Hull and Sheffield Wednesday and then swop channels to watch the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid while still being paid. I also spent Sunday the 29th poking around in the garden, the local garden centre, walking the dog, spending time with my family (except Greg who was at his girlfriends “revising”) and getting paid while I did so. Is this why I feel guilt? No chance!

No. I feel guilty because on the 16th the builders appeared to start work replacing the family bathroom, the en-suite and the downstairs loo and poor PIL had to deal with it all. It did not get off to a good start. Within 30 seconds of arriving, one of the builders had smashed a vase. It did not improve at all over the next couple of weeks. There were no major disasters, just a series of minor problems that started driving PIL nuts.

The builder sent an email stating:

“Get any shower you like for the bathrooms.”

assuming that we remembered a brief conversation we had many weeks previously where he said that the main bathroom needed an electric shower. We didn’t so PIL got the wrong showers which in turn meant there wasn’t any shower in the house for 2 days as a pump had to purchased and it had to be installed and because of that delay, the radiators haven’t been fitted. Not having a shower for two days is a major disaster in our house!20160530_150927

Then they installed the toilet for the main bathroom in the downstairs loo. Why? They didn’t ask and just installed the toilet closest to hand. Another morning lost. Each of the sinks is having a cabinet fitted underneath. The one in the downstairs toilet was going to be full length. So that’s what PIL got. Then it turned out that due to some issues with pipes, it needed to be a wall hung unit. So PIL ordered one. The following day she noticed they were installing the full length cabinet. So she had to cancel the wall hung unit but it had already been despatched and so on and so forth………..

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Work has commenced in the en-suite and has been more involved than at first thought but at the same time, the tiling in the main bathroom hasn’t been completed. Why? No idea.20160530_150833

I explained to the guy that we have absolutely no issue with the workmen or the standard of workmanship but there has been a distinct lack of communication and he has made a very dangerous assumption that we understand what he is talking about. Neither of us is thick and we are very good at every aspect of our professional lives but we know absolutely nothing about building, plumbing or tiling middle-age-man-tools-18781280

so he needs to treat us like a couple of morons and use simple words of one syllable or less and not assume that we will remember a short conversation about showers that took place some weeks previously.

“In future mate, put on your emails; ‘any shower you like but remember the main bathroom needs an electric one’!”

The builders are back today and I have told their Boss to be here later today so we can thrash out all these niggling issues once and for all. The plan is that the bathrooms should be finished this week. We shall see. Until then I will continue to feel guilty about leaving PIL to deal with all this nonsense although I have to say she has done a bloody marvellous job dealing with the builders and a never ending series of hiccups while at the same time selecting all the units and tiles and showers and baths and bogs and basins. It’s looking good.

I think our new bathrooms may be the subject of another post real soon. Until then have a bloody excellent day.

More Dick soon.

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Toad in the Hole. A recipe.

 

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For those of you who don’t know what toad in the Hole is, don’t worry. I’m not about to chuck an amphibian into a fire pit and cook it although I have eaten frog legs. Tastes like chicken. Nope. Toad in the Hole is Yorkshire pudding with the addition of sausages (bangers). The reason this culinary delight is called Toad in the Hole is beyond me as is the reason sausages are called ‘bangers’. I never said I would explain why the English are weird.

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Toad in the Hole is my signature dish. My mum taught me how to cook it and I do make a pretty decent version. You will note that I don’t list quantities or weights cos I never measure or weigh ingredients which probably explains why some of the meals I cook end up looking like baby poo and, occasionally, a plate of vomit. Heyho. I may look like the Michelin Man but I have no stars. It is a great meal to have though. Cheap as chips and if you use Quorn sausages, it’s suitable for veggies too.

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You will need the following:

Plain flour, eggs, milk, some vegetable oil and some bangers. I prefer to use Cumberland sausages simply because I like them but you can use whatever bangers you like.

You will also need a big bowl, a sieve, a whisk or fork and two deep oven tray thingies – a big one for the main event and a smaller one for the secret. Don’t use the trays for making little individual Yorkshire puds. Well, ok. If you really must then you can.

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Sieve the flour into the big bowl. This starts to put air into the mixture. Beat in two or three eggs until you have a gooey mess. This should add more air to the mixture. Then gradually start to add milk and stir it into the mixture. While stirring, try to beat more air into the mixture. You’ll know if you are because little bubbles start to appear in the mixture. Add milk until the mixture is sort of a thick liquid. Leave it to stand for a while.

batter mix

Turn your oven on as high as it goes. It needs to be really hot. At least 220 centigrade which converts to a shit load of fahrenheits. Put some oil into the oven trays and add as many bangers as you want to the bigger of the two trays (don’t put any in the smaller one) and put them both into the very hot oven. After about 10 minutes prepare to take the trays out by turning a burner on the hob on. Take the trays out one at a time, closing the oven door as you take each one out. Place on the burner to maintain the heat. Pour the batter into each of the trays ensuring you put enough into each to completely cover the base. Return to the oven as quickly as possible.

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After about 15 minutes open the oven door and don’t do what I always do and stick your head in the oven. It’s bloody hot and if you wear specs like I do at home, they will steam up and you can’t see a bloody thing! Turn the oven down to about 200. After 20/25 minutes the small one which is just Yorkshire pud should be cooked so remove it and leave it to get cold.

After about half an hour or 30 minutes if you prefer, the Toad in the Hole should be cooked. Remove from the oven which you should now turn off to save the planet, cut up into the required number of pieces and serve with veg and gravy. We rarely have it with mashed spud but you can if you want.

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Once the small Yorkshire is cold, cut it up and serve later with a decent smothering of strawberry jam. Don’t puke, it’s lovely. Try it.

Have a smashing day.

More Dick soon.

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