EDitorial ± 27-May-2003

Cordial Times

Lovely long weekend staying with A+C+E+R, the family Hopkins, on the edge of The Lakes... which was the name of a controversial BBC series about five years back featuring John Simm... who's currently starring in the gripping State Of Play... which we watched on tape last night on our return from the Lakes. OK, OK, quite enough of that last week.

Item #1: en route to becoming Cumbria, couldn't miss the opportunity to make a brief diversion to Rawtenstall, pronounced Rottenstull. Why there? Being a non-drinker, I felt compelled to pop (geddit?) in to "Britain's last remaining temperance bar", i.e. a pub with no beer.

Dandelion & burdock, black beer & raisin, blood tonic, lemon punch with ginger, cream soda, Turkish apple tea, and not forgetting sarsaparilla with Chinese liquorice

Fitzpatrick's Herbal Health Bar was one of twelve similar bars run by the same family. It's no bigger than a corner shop, and continues to use the same ingredients & methods in its preparation of non-alchoholic drinks. I opted for a pint of sarsaparilla, apparently very good for the digestion, and felt like Bob Hope in The Road To Utopia:

I'll have a lemonade...
[hesitates, adopts agressive look]
...in a dirty glass!
Most pleasant it was too, as was the non-fizzy cream soda enjoyed by the kids. Shelves are lined with jars filled with such delights as eyebright, ground ivy, quassia chips and red sage, all with their own unique peculiar properties, no doubt. A unique place.

Item #2: Sunday late morning found the nine of us in Staveley-in-Cartmel, home of the Millerbeck Light Railway. Bear in mind that The Boy, not quite three years old, has only to see some tyre tracks in the mud to shout "train track!" So the combination of a complete miniature railway, four different engines on which to ride, real steam, sunny weather and a picnic made Boysy one happy bunny.

Top place: incredibly friendly and enthusiastic, only a pound for kids to ride twice, and you get a free biscuit with your coffee!

In spite of repeated slides in the Brockhole adventure playground, much playing with bat & ball, not to mention rolling down a grassy slope, he had great trouble getting to sleep that night. His little mind was still racing with thoughts of Skarloey the red loco, etc. Took about six or seven trips up the (two flights of) stairs back to his bed before he finally settled. Bless.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 19-May-2003


Diana Ross, who used to rule Supreme, once confessed to being in the middle of a chain reaction. In spite of the concomitant radiation and explosion, she escaped injury-free. As we all know, sometimes one thing can lead to another.

I don't understand how the last card is played
But somehow the vital connection is made
— Elastica, Connection

Small boy flees from high art

  1. Reading in Britain's Evening Newspaper Of The Year 2002/03, your local Star, about a new 16ft high sculpture unveiled this past week in (warning: cliche alert) downtown Ipswich. Apparently destined to become a new landmark for the town, me and the boy, who has no say in these matters, set out on Sunday to take our first look at it.

    Directions in the paper weren't too precise — "near Princes Street bridge" — but I figured that we'd spot a giant metallic object easily once we were on said bridge. Not so. Couldn't find it.

    Popped back early evening today and had more success. It's off the cycle path between the bridge and West End Road, by the way, close to the old railway bridge that crosses the river. Big rusty steel object. I like it. By a guy named John Atkin, BTW. Ironically, given our failure to find it first time, it's called The Navigator...

  2. ...which is also the name of an odd film I saw some years back on telly, most likely as part of a Moviedrome season. Briefly, it tells the tale of a mediaeval tribe who, fearing the plague, dig a tunnel out of their village, only to emerge in present day New Zealand...
  3. ...which is home to lots and lots of sheep. Remember poor Dolly, the clone, who died a few months back? She's been "prepared" and has recently gone on display at Scotland's Royal Museum in Edinburgh as part of their permanent collection. Photo in the paper looked like something by Damien Hirst...
  4. ...who's contributed a "spot painting" to the tiny new British spacecraft that should land on Mars at the end of 2003. Part of the Mars Express Mission, and not based in Slough, the mission is called Beagle2, named after the ship on which Charles Darwin sailed...
  5. ...who lived in Down House, owned by English Heritage and open to the public since 1998. Well worth a visit for a glimpse inside the mind of the man who famously went to the Galapagos...
  6. ...which is the name of a novel by the same man who wrote Slaughterhouse Five (so it goes), Breakfast Of Champions (great phrase), and many others, the talented Kurt Vonnegut...
  7. ...who was wrongly credited with providing the words for Baz Luhrmann's hit, Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen): "Floss. Do one thing everyday that scares you. Stretch. Get plenty of calcium". Was really a columnist named Mary Schmich. Inspirational track, which I got hold of through ebay...
  8. ...where my best sale to date has been the debut CD single by Radiohead...
  9. ...who are doing a UK tour later this year. Tried to buy a pre-release ticket online Friday, and was too late, but managed to secure one over the phone on Saturday morning: yahoo! Now have to wait until November for the gig...
  10. ...like the one by The Pogues that I went to in downtown Ipswich (oops!) back in 1985. This was shortly after they'd brought out the fantastically titled "Rum, Sodomy & the Lash", an LP which included a track called Navigator...
Isn't this where we came in?

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 12-May-2003

Wishing I Was Lucky

Rewind to early January and shin up the ladder of your imagination to peek into the middle bedroom at Broom Acres, and there I am, an unemployed wretch, struggling with a practical Mensa test and Meccano kit in the form of an Ikea high bed. In the background are the medium wavelengths of Radio Five Live - hey, it kept me going through the barren days & nights - and Simon Mayo, the Hellman's heir, is chairing a discussion about how to be lucky.

I'm on a roll
I'm on a roll this time
I feel my luck could change
— Radiohead, Lucky

A doctor had recently published a book explaining how, in his opinion, to improve your fortune. Now I've often considered myself lucky, and still do. Part of it, apparently, is to do with looking on the bright side. Chin-chin, and all that. If my toast falls on the floor (not that it would), the buttered side remains up.

Forward four months to yesterday, Sunday 11-May. I've got paid work, a belly full of roast dinner, the kids are reasonably happy, and we're about to pop round to visit my unsuspecting parents. Switch on my mobile before leaving, 'cos it pays to stay in touch, and there are two new texts:

  1. one from the bank with a mini-statement, still a great service
  2. the other headed "ED WE WON..."

Initially thought the second message was probably junk SMS, then realised it included my name. Reading on, discovered that this had been sent by the guy who runs our lottery syndicate...

Rub off the latex. Match three like amounts from nine, win that amount. Find a heart, and automatically win £50.

Where am I going to moor another yacht? And can the roof really take another platinum coating? Nope, wasn't really an amount that will force me to go into hiding, chiefly from my family, but still a most amenable bolt from the blue. Three of us started the syndicate way back when, and I'd grown all too used to seeing that weekly email, saying "No win this week". As I say, most amenable.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

They only hung me the right way up yesterday:

  • as Gary Player said, "the more I practice, the luckier I get"
  • if you're going to get a net or an edge, be good enough to acknowledge it
  • see that scanned scratchcard above? - thought I'd see how far my lucky streak will stretch; will do it tomorrow and let you know next week

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 6-May-2003

Seven Signs Of Aging

Have a butcher's at that none-too-great snapshot below and you'll notice my unkempt hair, badly (but not baldy) in need of a trim. What's not obvious is that my nomadic wannabe sideburn is sprouting a few <whisper>grey hairs</whisper> in a Wolverine-meets-Rogue stylee.

That nice young man Tony Blair may have hit 50 today but none of us is getting any younger, sweetheart, not even those pre-teens advertising Olay. Is this wonder product no longer an oil? Was its name a non-U word? Fax your MP for answers now.

I'm getting ready for my best years
Approaching 40
Not as unhappy as I could be
Approaching 40
— I Ludicrous, Approaching 40

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

My own seven signs of aging:

  1. taking longer in the bathroom — not entirely due to reading the paper and listening to Five Live, but thanks to increased use of E45, hydrocortisone and floss
  2. repeating things I've already said — no example to hand
  3. aching after sport — squash on Saturday, and still waiting for my muscles to get over the shock; should have quit when I was ahead
  4. trouble remembering my age — have to recalculate from 1966, year of birth and Bobby Moore, each time I'm asked
  5. not being able to read for long in bed without falling asleep — use a mini Maglite sometimes, and have woken up more than once to find AA battery has died thanks to nodding off while torch still on
  6. forgetting words — particularly for different types of containers, eg jar, bottle, all other kinds
  7. repeating things I've already said — no example to hand

On the positive side, I can still outrun the two-year-old, most of the time, esp. when he's heading for the main road. And I have absolutely no problem staying up *this* late to finish these scribblings. Apart from the getting up the following morning and yawning non-stop at work.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

Official seven signs:

  • lines and wrinkles — knees and toes, knees and toes
  • rough skin texture — could strike a match
  • dullness of skin's appearance — quite the wan
  • larger appearance of pores — now they know how many holes
  • blotchiness — tropical disease
  • dry skin — flammable
  • age spots — like Strike It Lucky

Be seeing you!