30 May 2011

More Auction Oddities

Our irregular selection of oddities and curiosities from the catalogues of two of our local auction rooms. There's enough of this that I'm not going to comment ... just look at the oddities, curious juxtapositions, alternative interpretations and the (non-)logic of the descriptions. Like, why do I care, and how do you know, what the artist was wearing; why would a bird be sitting on a fish; or what sort of fruit grow on small children?

  • A small oil of a riverside house signed with initials JF and dated 1983, and...
  • A portrait of a young Romany woman by W Blanke, signed, wearing a red scarf and colourful bodice, oils on board, framed.
  • A carton of interesting ephemera dating back to the 19th century. [That's all it says!]
  • A 9 piece Golliwog jazz band, an ivory billiard ball and a leather cased set of stirrup cups.
  • A fine Victorian silver mustard pot by the Barnards, the open-work sides cast with a rural scene in Irish style with cottage, cow and windmill, plain hinged lid, London 1846, blue glass liner.
  • A silver reproduction lighthouse sugar caster, a baluster cream jug, tea strainer with stand, spirit measure, and sauce ladle.
  • A large porcelain figurine of a crinolined lady holding a bouquet with hunting dogs by her side.
  • Twenty-one stone tribal carvings.
  • A stuffed jay on a perch.
  • Two white ceramic female busts on marble bases, two others of classical form, a pair of putti bearing fruit, figurines on marble bases, a porcelain figurine of an oriental lady, ceramic bird ornaments, etc.
  • A Black Forest style cuckoo clock, with dancing figures.
  • A carton containing two Salvation Army hats, bags, children’s books, toiletries, two porcelain dolls...
  • A cottage ware biscuit barrel, two Royal Doulton lidded dishes, three chamber pots, oriental vase, fruit set, plaster-of-Paris bust of Maurice Chevalier, etc.
  • A small collection of various iron nails from "Roman Legionary Fortress, Inchtuthil, Perthshire, Scotland, AD 83-87", in glazed display case, and a boxed three piece clarinet.
  • A late 19th century black slate clock with classical portico and rams' head handles, the top mounted with a sleeping maiden.
  • A helmet in Roman style with folding ear protectors, neck guard and red fanned plume.
  • A large West African polished hardwood male fertility figure, accompanied by an Ashanti grain weight, a Benin snake skin and bronze pipe stem, two Ashanti bracelets, a carved bone figure and another fertility figure etc.
  • A large bronze figure of a pixie holding a trumpet lily.
  • A very large pair of unmounted Kudu bull spiral horns.
  • A Warrant Officer's dress uniform – Household Cavalry of the Blues and Royals, with attached aiglettes showing rank.
  • John Somerville, a collection of sixteen sculpted political and royal caricature candles circa 1980, including Maggie Thatcher, Denis Healey, John Major, Charles, Diana and many others; this artist is now a well known sculptor specialising in bronze.
  • A silvered bronze group of a semi-nude cherub driving a cart made from a model of a nautilus shell.
  • A complete set of five Wade Nat West pigs.

One does wonder who would give any of this stuff house-room. Quite worrying, really.

29 May 2011

Works of the Devil

Katyboo recently listed a number of things she considers the works of the Devil. And naturally this got me thinking, the way such things do. So here are a few more things which the Devil has sent as a pestilence upon us.

  • Top of the list has to be RELIGION. Now look all you religious people, you're all Devil worshippers! If you didn't believe in the Devil you wouldn't need God to save you from him.
  • And then comes politics. Need I say more when one looks at workers of Devil like Tony B Liar and Gordon Brown.
  • Fast food: especially McDonalds and KFC (or as it's know in this house Kentucky Fried Food Poisoning). As an adjunct we must include ready meals, and indeed all False Food.
  • Then there is a collection of actual food stuffs, which includes Egg Custard (yeuch!) and Jellied Eels (double yeuch!) and tinned sweetcorn. I love eel, but jellied, no, disgusting – salty and slimy.
  • And a few beverages, especially Pernod and Absinthe which are just vile. They even look like the works of the Devil as well as tasting disgusting.

What else should one add?
  • Hermetically sealed clam-shell packaging. Well you could make that all plastic packaging.
  • Night clothes, especially pyjamas. Haven't worn anything in bed since I was a student apart from the odd occasions I've been in hospital. It's just so uncomfortable.
  • Braces (suspenders to you Americans). Something else that's vilely uncomfortable and looks stupid – if you need braces your trousers don't fit properly.
  • And while we're on clothes, there's fashion. Pretentious and a waste of time and money.
  • Girls wearing far too much make-up (so that's most of them!). Why do they need to look as if they've strayed a 2mm thick skin of plastic on their faces?
  • Facial pubic beards and pudenda (on both sexes) without them.
  • Ballroom Dancing. I refused to have anything to do with it as a youngster, despite my parents' prediction I would be a social outcast. So I'm a social outcast: it's probably for the best!
  • Maggots. Anything that smells nasty and wriggles. No more to say really!
  • Cinema and films. I just ask "Why?". What is the point?
  • And finally there are a few people including Lord Winston (I remain convinced that IVF is the Devil's work), Richard Dawkins (who is just as bigoted as the believers he objects to) plus most of the twats that fill our TV screens.
Oh, you'd better add daytime TV too!

Interesting. Reading back over that list it is very much a reflection of our theory about False Life. Worrying!

Image from 123RF Stock Photos.

Listography - Finals

For one week only Kate Takes 5 has this week handed over the Listography to Keith at Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad. And Keith is asking us to think about our five finals: final farewells, final suppers, final resting places, etc. So here are five thoughts about some final things for me ...

Final Supper: Lamb Sag Madras with Bombay Aloo, Cauliflower Bhaji and Lemon Rice.
I love curry in almost all its guises. So almost any curry would do.

Final Drink: Several pints of Adnams' East Green.
I was pretty nearly weaned on Adnams' Bitter (well I was a post-grad at the time) and to this day it is their beers I enjoy the most. East Green is a recent eco-friendly brew which for me just has the edge on Adnams' Bitter.

Final Words: "Oh fuck ..."
Well what else is there to say?

Final Act: Hug Noreen and cry.
'Cos I shall miss her and 'cos I've not been a better husband and lover.

Final Destination: Hell.
Just think of all the interesting people there are to meet in Hell: Oscar Wilde, Emperor Claudius, Richard Feynman, Isaac Newton, Joseph Campbell as well as an assortment of artists, pornographers and thinkers. Should be a good party!

28 May 2011

[21/52] Fire Extinguisher

[21/52] Fire Extinguisher, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Week 21 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

Taken while wasting time in the café of our local Waitrose supermarket waiting for Noreen to return from beating up the bank manager.

Healthy Sexual Development

It is important that we all develop our sexuality and our attitudes to sexuality in healthy ways. But it seems this ain't easy especially as this is a many-sided coin. However at last a diverse group of experts have codified what healthy sexual development means. There's a summary with commentary/interpretation over at Scarleteen.

I commend the reading of this summary to all parents – and indeed anyone involved with the development of children.

Like many of these things it is little more than common sense. It is thus something all good and thinking parents will intuitively know. Nevertheless it is useful and important it is all brought together as a coherent whole especially as large swathes of it often get swamped by the excesses of both our tabloid and religious sub-cultures.

As the author of the summary observes, this is "an excellent framework for working towards cultures which are sexually healthier than most are and have been".

27 May 2011

Quotes of the Week

This week's collection ...

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
[Mark Twain]

Now I know foreigners do things strangely but ...

The 31-year-old king of the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan announces his intention to marry this October.
[BBC News report]

Oh, that's alright then. As long as he's not marrying last October. That would be necrophilia.

I masturbate because it makes me feel warm, embodied, juicy, alert, calm, self-possessed, and fulfilled. I masturbate to celebrate my body and my sovereignty. I masturbate and am not ashamed to do so. There are other things I do when I’m alone that are far more embarrassing.
[Allison at http://thesexpositivephotoproject.blogspot.com]

One really shouldn't laugh at other misfortune, especially in wartime ...

9 May 1941 ... We'd just got down to the Victoria in Turners Hill when there was a whoosh and a bang as a [250kg high explosive] bomb fell where the Fire Station is now - it was old Bertie Simpkins' junk yard then. Mrs Whiddon who lived opposite had an old lavatory pan come in through her front bedroom window!
[Peter Rooke, Cheshunt at War 1939-1945]

Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.
[Luther Burbank]

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
[Dorothea Lang]

Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
[Monty Python and the Holy Grail]

26 May 2011

Sex and Football

Well I bet you think this is going to be about the goings on of footballers and their WAGs. Wrong!

I just spotted this headline on BBC News: FA raises mixed teams age limit. "A Devon girl is celebrating after her campaign to raise the age limit for mixed sex teams from 11 to 13 is accepted by the Football Association."

Why? Why is there an age limit? Why is this even an issue? Isn't this (legally) sex discrimination?

Why shouldn't girls be allowed to play football with boys at any age? If they're good enough why can't they play for Manchester United, Arsenal or Dog and Bone Rovers? No, not in ladies' teams. Alongside the men. Aside from the practicality of needing separate dressing rooms (and even that I don't really understand; nor is it impossible), where is the issue?

I suggest the issue is all in the heads of the old stuffed shirts that run football - and not just football but all sporting organisations, at every level from the grass-roots to the international.

I remember many years ago (like the mid-70s) when I was 3rd XI captain of my then local cricket club, I got fed up with the lads not always turning up. The wife of one of the guys who played with me was a good cricketer – she played for the local polytechnic (now a university) side which was then one of the top ladies teams in the London area. I made it clear that if the lads weren't going to be committed I'd play this young lady, who I suspect wouldn't have disgraced the club 1st XI. And I got roundly condemned by a chorus of "You can't do that!". When challenged the only sensible objection was "Where will she change?". Oh FFS! It's not exactly an objection which couldn't be overcome even though we did play on communal recreation grounds.

I found this so pathetic, even at the time, that ever since I've had a very jaundiced view of the hierarchy of sport governing bodies. Indeed I got so fed up with the attitudes of the stuffed shirts running cricket (my first love as a sport) that I gave up on cricket entirely some years ago.

Let the girls play with the boys if they want to. Just pick the best (wo)man for the team. OK?!

24 May 2011

23 May 2011

Listography - Albums by Band

For this week's Listography from Kate Takes 5 we're asked for our top five albums, one per band. For once I've decide to play by the real spirit of the game and restrict myself to rock/pop and not include classical music. So here's my selection, in no particular order ...

1. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
There are no special stories attached to any of these albums and I can't tell you why I choose most of them except that I enjoy them. But Wish You Were Here is throughout a brilliant piss-take although you need to know the culture of the 60s and 70s to get much of it. For me this and Dark Side of the Moon (hard to choose between them) are classic Floyd and indeed classic rock – but then this is the rock of my (formative) post-grad days. Pink Floyd on Facebook.
2. The Beatles, Abbey Road
I was going to say this is the album where the Beatles started "doing it for me", but that's not quite true as I think that was probably Sergeant Peppers. I had to toss a coin between Abbey Road and Let It Be; Abbey Road wins by a short head. Again this is for me the quintessential music of my undergraduate years – I never really did get the very heavy rock of King Crimson and the like – but there was so much really great rock music around then. The Beatles on Facebook
3. Yes, Close to the Edge
Lyrical rock again from my post-grad days. I have to thank my then flat-mate Geoff for introducing me to both Yes and Caravan. And who can forget thos Roger Deam album covers?! Find Yes on Facebook.
4. Caravan, For Girls that Grow Plump in the Night
What do you mean you've never heard of Caravan? They're a British band (originally from Canterbyr). And no, they weren't a one hit wonder – they're still touring and recording! You can find Caravan on Facebook too. See also Yes, above!
5. Moody Blues, Octave
Earlier Moody Blues (On the Threshold of a Dream, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour) are again the stuff of my student days. And listening to them again recently I found their mood rather depressing. Octave is a bit later and resonates more with me. Moody Blues on Facebook.

And I haven't even mentioned Dire Straits, Queen, The Who, Rolling Stones ...

Now a bigger challenge would be to find ones favourite five tracks (but only one per band). Hmmm ... hard ... and they wouldn't necessarily come off these five albums!

Anyone else for choosing five albums?

22 May 2011

Microwave Kedgeree

Noreen did us a scrummy tea last night using one of my oldest, simplest and best tested recipes: Microwave Kedgeree. As you'd expect from me it's a bit different, so here's the recipe. If you don't like fish there are some options at the end.

Microwave Kedgeree
Serves 4 normal people or 2 gluttons

6 oz (180 grams) Long Grain Rice
3 or 4 large Eggs
12 oz (350 grams) Smoked Haddock
2 or 3 Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
2 medium Onions (sliced)
2 cloves Garlic
Butter (or Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)
8-10 Black Olives (optional)
Pepper and Herbs (fresh if possible)

1. Hard boil the eggs and cook the rice.
2. Cook the fish in the microwave with a little butter.
3. Braise the onions and garlic in the microwave (3-5 minutes on 100%) with a little butter.
4. Meanwhile flake the fish, shell and chop the eggs, drain and rinse the rice, roughly chop the tomatoes, pit and halve the olives.
5. Mix everything together in a large serving dish.
6. Season to taste with pepper and herbs and dot with butter. (There will probably be enough salt from the fish.)
7. Heat through in the microwave for 5 minutes on 100%.
8. Serve and eat.

You could actually do this with any smoked fish, although I think kippers might not be the best option. Or you could even try a version with pancetta, chorizo or beans (just omit step 2 if you start with a ready cooked ingredient). Another option is to use mushrooms instead of tomatoes.

21 May 2011

[20/52] And up yours too, Brother!

[20/52] And up yours too, Brother!, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Week 20 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

"The Spinnaker" at Portsmouth, taken from The Hard. Having now seen it in the flesh, as it were, I'm still not sure I like it. And it is certainly pretentious, standing proud above the waterfront area. :-)

Perhaps this should be in celebration of May being Masturbation Month?

20 May 2011

Quotes of the Week

A small selection of this week's strange and interesting findings ...

Hogwash entered the room, and, having entered, decided, upon entry, having viewed all there was, and some of what was not, to be seen, to remove himself, once more, from the room by the same route through which he had, so recently, entered.
[Craig Brown, The Marsh-Marlowe Letters, parodying Anthony Powell]

He possessed that opportune facility for turning out several thousand words on any subject whatever at the shortest possible notice: politics; sport; books; finance; science; art; fashion – as he himself said, ‘War, Famine, Pestilence or Death on a Pale Horse.’ All were equal when it came to Bagshaw’s typewriter. He could take on anything, and – to be fair – what he produced, even off the cuff, was no worse than was to be read most of the time. You never wondered how on earth the stuff had ever managed to be printed.
[Anthony Powell, Books Do Furnish a Room]

I just love Tudor/Restoration "irregular" spelling ...

[I]n 1558-59 St Mary Woolnoth paid 'one Robert Bennett syngyngeman for servynge in the churche at dyvers tymes from the begynnynge of August tyll Michaelmas'.
[John Harley, The World of William Byrd: Musicians, Merchants and Magnates]

London is a patchwork of the fabulous and the shit.
[Antonia at Whoopee]

Too right!

Finally something bringing us right up to date ...

This train reduces CO2 emissions
[Slogan on a Southern Trains emu at Clapham, 19/05/2011]

I'm not sure how this is achieved: presumably the train selectively sucks CO2 from the atmosphere. One suspects they mean "this train causes the emission of less CO2 than other trains/modes of transport. But that's not what it says, guys!

18 May 2011


Rye, in East Sussex, is another of my favourite places because of its history, its friendliness, its proximity to the sea and to Romney Marsh and of course because of its "olde worlde" charm and picturesqueness.

St Anthony's, Rye
St Anthony's, Rye, © Copyright by Keith Marshall, 2010.

Following on from my post of a couple of days ago about Fairfield church, I came upon this poem by Patric Dickinson (the poet, 1914-1994, not to be confused with my friend Patric Dickinson who is currently Clarenceux King of Arms and still very much alive).


It seems solid enough
As you come through the Landgate
And the streets climb up to the church
That, like a stranded ark,
     Straddles the hilltop.

But Time is different here.
The streets are full of beggars
You cannot see, who speak
The tongues of centuries
     To the deaf tourists.

'We have always been perverse
And unprofessional beggars,
For we want to give, not take,
To offer you this town’s
     Particular nature.

'It is not what you see
As you trip on the cobbles
And say the houses are quaint,
Nor was it ever like that,
     It is our presence.

'The town keeps whispering
Its history – fishermen, merchants –
Lifetimes that have been built
From unimportant scraps
     To construct a clement

'Enclave and sanctuary.
Once you have understood this,
You will feel Rye within,
And be disposed to come back,
     If you ever leave it.'

16 May 2011


Wanting something to read in bed the other evening, and not wanting anything heavy, I chose at random from the pile of books by the bed. My hand alighted on Betjeman's England, an anthology by Stephen Games of extracts from the scripts of Sir John Betjeman's TV films about England.

Now I love the Romney Marsh and Dungeness in Kent, and the nearby small town of Rye. So imagine my enjoyment when the book fell open, quite at random, at the following piece about Fairfield Church in the heart of the Romney Marsh.


From the Shell series Discovering Britain with John Betjeman
Random Film Productions Ltd
ITV, Spring 1956 (exact date unknown)
Director: Peter Woosnam-Mills

Romney Marsh, on the Sussex border of Kent and close to the sea. Romney Marsh, where the roads wind like streams through pasture and the sky is always three-quarters of the landscape. The sounds I associate with Romney Marsh are the bleating of innumerable sheep and the whistle of the sea wind in old willow trees. The sea has given a colour to this district: it has spotted with silver the oak posts and rails; it gives the grass and the rushes a grey salty look and turns the red bricks and tiles of Fairfield Church a saffron yellow.

For a moment, when you see Fairfield Church there on the skyline, you think it must be a farm or a barn. There's no road to it – only a footbridge and a path. And in the church, you feel you're on an island in the marsh.

Inside, it's like walking underneath an upturned ship. (Those great beams are made of Kentish oak.) The communion rails go round three sides of the altar as they used to in many churches two hundred years ago; and since in those days, just as much as now, people were literate, they hired a local inn-sign painter to paint, in yellowish-gold letters on a black background, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments.

The church is still kept up and used, though it's miles from anywhere, and that's what gives it atmosphere.

Another thing that endears Fairfield Church to me is that it's been spared electric light and the surgical basins in the roof that go with it. How pleasant those Victorian oil lamps are and how well they fit in with the scene.

Let's go into one of the high, white box pews. And sitting here in the quiet waste of marsh, islanded by grass in water, let's think ourselves back two hundred years. The place can't have looked very different. The parson read the service from that lower desk where the candle is, he climbed to the pulpit to preach, and if you found yourself not attending to the sermon, there was always a text to remind you of where you were and of the reverence due to this loved and lonely house of God.

Fairfield Church: it's about ten miles from Tenterden in Kent and therefore sixty-three miles south-east of London.

I've been to Fairfield a number of times and it is even now just as fascinating and delightful as Betjeman paints it, despite several heavy restorations in the last 200 years. Fairfield really is in the middle of nowhere, and probably always was as there was never anything much by way of village there. There is still no electricity but the church is used, at least sporadically.

For me Fairfield has a further attraction. It is dedicated to my patron saint, Thomas Beckett (Thomas of Canterbury), ca. 1118 to 29 December 1170; murdered at the behest of Henry II and canonised by Pope Alexander III in 1173.

The church, which is tiny, is on a slight rise in the middle of a rather wet sheep field, and when you go into the church you have to remember to shut the door behind you so the sheep don't follow you. I have been there and found several sheep sheltering in the porch!

Yes, it is one of those idyllic and idiosyncratic English places!

There's more on the architectural structure of Fairfield church here.

Stephen Games (Ed.), Betjeman's England (John Murray, London, 2009)

Listography - Products

Slightly late with this week's Listography entry, as proposed by Kate Takes 5. This week it's all about products — specifically those top five products you couldn't live without.

So in the interests of not frightening the horses natives, here's my sensible list:

Laptop or PC. I don't mind if I have a laptop or a desktop PC; I'm happy using either; both have advantages and disadvantages. But I'm a fish out of water without instant access to the intertubes and all my documentation.

Bed. I need my sleep. I need oil tanker loads of beauty sleep and even then it doesn't do any good. Bed for me is a haven; not just somewhere to sleep but somewhere to relax, read, think and even on occasions watch TV. Yes, we still live very much in student mode, even 40 years after the event!

Camera. I always carry a camera. You never know what you're going to see. Mostly it's dull, but very occasionally it isn't. And I like photographing people and the odd things that go on around me; especially people. Even at home my camera sits to hand on my desk.

Beer. Well we'd better have something to sustain us. I don't drink a lot of beer these days; I've switched mostly to wine in the interests of trying (and failing) to lose weight and control the diabetes. But I love beer and couldn't do without the occasional fix. And anyway, what else does one really want to drink with curry?

Glasses. As in spectacles. I'm as blind as a bat without my glasses, which I've worn since I was about 14. They are such a part of me that I don't know I'm wearing them, so I've never even bothered to think much about having lenses — and not too much point now as I'd still need reading glasses. I like my varifocals; unlike many people I've never had problem with them.

So there you are. What are your top five things you couldn't do without.

15 May 2011

Pure Silliness

My brain has gone on strike. I cannot get it into the right gear to write anything even remotely resembling thoughts. See it can't even write proper English!

So instead I decided I'd share with you a really very stupid, silly, not to say crap, piece of dogrel verse I penned a couple of years ago, when work was especially horrid.

Sisyphus Rolls His Jelly
The mountains of treacle
Grow up to the skies;
The mouldings of jelly
Grow big in pigsties;
But my toothpicks, my toothpicks
Stay tiny and slight,
No wonder my job
It is stressful and shite.

See I told you it was a pile of old tripe.

Now I'd better let my brain have a a lie down.

Quote: Bed

Be careful what you wear to bed at night, you never know who you'll meet in your dreams.

14 May 2011

Quotes of the Week

A rather more eclectic mix than usual this week. I just love some of the names in this first quote ...

Transport on Water: Barge Driving Race - Saturday 18 June 2011
Race Start 1200

A number of Thames barges will be raced, under oars, from Greenwich to Westminster Bridge on Saturday 18th June 2011. The race will start at Greenwich at 1200 from 3 start lines for the different classes of barge, off Greenwich Pier, off Trafalgar Tavern (lower end of Scrap Iron Park) and off Tunnel Glucose Wharf. Each start line will be marked by 2 pellet buoys, one on each side of the river.

[Port of London - River Thames, Notice to Mariners, M34 of 2011]

Scrap Iron Park indeed!

Cease to inquire what the future has in store, and take as a gift whatever the day brings forth.

I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic.
[Jack Kerouac]

Which reminds me that in response to some god-botherer's query "are you saved?" a friend once responded "Good God no, I'm a Roman Catholic".

You kill 'em. We grill 'em.
[Bart Simpson, aka Matt Groening]

That sums up the feelings of last couple of days quite well!

To us, the moment 8:17 AM means something – something very important, if it happens to be the starting time of our daily train. To our ancestors, such an odd eccentric instant was without significance – did not even exist. In inventing the locomotive, Watt and Stevenson were part inventors of time.
[Aldous Huxley]

Time can't be measured in days the way money is measured in pesos and centavos, because all pesos are equal, while every day, perhaps every hour, is different.
[Jorge Luis Borges]

Earth laughs in flowers.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

If so then our garden is rolling on the floor peeing it's pants 'cos we have an absolute riot of roses at the moment. Our large apricot-coloured climber Lady Hillingdon currently has more flowers than leaves – it really is just one mass of flowers like never before.

12 May 2011

UK Government Announces New Regulators

Just in case you missed it, yesterday Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in the UK Government announced the new independent Statutory Regulators for a wide variety of industries. They are:
  • Office of the Gambling Industry Regulator, to be known as Offchance
  • Office for the Regulation of Comedians and Entertainers, Offcolour
  • Office for the Regulation of Hair Stylists, Offcut
  • Office for the Regulation of Sex Workers, Offhand
  • Office for the Regulation of Meteorologists, Office
  • Office of the Home Working Regulator, Offhome
  • Office of the Regulator of Private Security Firms, Offpeek
  • Office of the Regulator of Sales and Marketing, Offsales
  • Office for the Information Technology Regulator, Offit
  • Office for the Regulation of Musicians, Offkey
  • Office of the Association Football (Soccer) Regulator, Offside
  • Office for the Regulation of Child Minders, Offspring
  • Office of the Regulator of Stately Homes, Offhouse
  • Office of the Regulator of UK Plc, Offuk

[Re-listed courtesy of the London Gazette]

11 May 2011

[19/52] 2.05 PM

[19/52] 2.05 PM, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Week 19 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

As you'll see if you work out the angles, this was taken from the passenger seat the other day. I wanted to capture the combination of camera, wing-mirror, a bit of self-portrait, the traffic behind us and the traffic beside us at the lights.


For some amusement I thought I'd delve into the weekly Listography from Kate Takes 5. So here are my five contributions for this week's theme: Bad Combinations.

Pubic Hair + Wax
Well really any hair and wax, or sticking plasters. Just say no. Ouch!!!!

Knife + Finger
Yes I had a knife and finger incident a few days ago and successfully removed the tip of my little finger.

Chilli + Genitals
Actually, again, chilli plus any sensitive tissues - nose, eyes, etc. But chilli and naughty bits is great fun – NOT!

Shorts + Shoes and Socks
What is it about middle-aged British men that as soon as the summer sun appears they wear shorts but with their normal shoes and socks? Shorts with dark calf-length socks and brogues looks decidedly naff.

Meat + Sugar
Meat with anything sweet is to me horrible. Whoever thought of eating meat with jam?! I'm OK with meat and fruit, it's the sugar that inevitably goes with it I detest.

Anyone else going to contribute ideas?

Sex up Your Pub Quiz Knowledge

Just in time for your next pub quiz night I came across this curious list of odd sexual facts. Amongst the gems are:

80% of men living in the USA have been circumcised.
Which I find at best sad but not surprising.

During sexual intercourse, in addition to the genitals and breasts, the inner nose also swells.
Weird! But why?

A teaspoon of semen contains approximately 5 calories.
So it ain't going to do too much damage to your diet!

During an average man’s lifetime, he will ejaculate approximately 17 litres of semen.
Good grief, that's almost two buckets! Although at an average 5ml a pop it is only one ejaculation a week between the ages of 16 and 81. Are you really getting enough?! Especially knowing that ...

It’s possible to relieve depression through masturbation.
Now that sounds like the best excuse ever for a bit of Onanism!

All taken from www.lustability.com/facts.php

10 May 2011

Cartoon of the Week

Me No Understand

This morning saw both of us off to see our doctor for our (all too frequent) check-ups.

While waiting there were two African Muslim ladies (say in their 30s) sitting to my right. Both were wearing coloured but sombre floor-length dresses/robes. The one nearer me was also wearing a loose headscarf and rather nice but sensible shoes and socks. The one further from me had a headscarf which was tight about her face. However on her feet she had nothing but a pair of flip-flips.

How can it be unseemly to display one's head but perfectly OK to have nude feet?

Me no understand.

09 May 2011

You Really Didn't Want to Do That!

I've been reminded recently that English law contains many curious, ancient and still extant statutes. The following examples are culled from the endlessly interesting The Strange Laws of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne (Piatkus, 2004).

First, there are many curious statutes surrounding Parliament and the monarchy:
  • Under a law of 1324 all whales belong to the monarch as do all swans unless they are on the River Thames and marked as belonging to either the Vintners' Company and the Dyers' Company.
  • Under the Treason Act of 1351 anyone who do violate the king's companion, or the king's eldest daughter unmarried, or the wife of the king's eldest son is committing treason – as of course would be the violated party.
  • Parliament is still technically allowed to burn books but under Section 39 of the Malicious Damage act of 1861 others persons are not.
  • Under a law of 1313 MPs are forbidden to wear armour in Parliament. However they may play roulette in the lobbies.
  • If any Jew becomes Prime Minister, under the Jews Relief Act of 1858 he (or presumably she) is not allowed to advise on the appointment of any ecclesiastical post in the Churches of England, Ireland and Scotland, with the duty devolving on the Archbishop of Canterbury. Roman Catholics are similarly barred but not Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists.

Many cities and towns have peculiarities enshrined either in statute law of their bye-laws. For instance:
  • In Hertford a wife has the right to throw out her husband's stash of girlie magazines, adult movies and any other material of a sexual nature.
  • In Bristol it is illegal to have sex while lying underneath a car. (But inside it is OK.)
  • If a man takes a woman out for a drive in Leeds on a Sunday he is prohibited from making any suggestion of an amorous nature while he is driving – but only if he's driving a car; any other vehicle is OK.
  • Couples in Edinburgh may not have sex in cars parked in car parks or on public streets. But it is OK if the car is parked on their own property as long as the act is committed on the back seat.

As one would expect London has a peculiar set of laws all its own ...

  • Freemen of the City of London have various privileges including the right to herd sheep over London Bridge (which they still exercise from time to time), being allowed to go about the City with a drawn sword and if convicted of a capital offence they have the right to be hanged with a silken cord.
  • According to an old City ordinance it is illegal to check into a London hotel under assumed names for the purpose of having sex. It is also illegal to have sex in trains, buses, parked cars, churchyards, churches and parks. (But apparently it is OK in a moving car as long as one continues to drive with due care and attention.)
  • Many house-proud Londoners unwittingly break the law every day. Under section 60 of the wide-ranging Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 it is an offence to beat or shake any carpet, rug or mat in any street in the Metropolitan Police District although it is permitted to shake out a doormat as long as you do it before eight o'clock in the morning.
  • The same Act imposes a similar fine on every person who shall empty or begin to empty a privy between the hours of six in the morning and twelve at night, or remove along any thoroughfare any night soil, soap lees, ammoniacal liquor or other such offensive matter, between the hours of six in the morning and eight in the evening, or who shall at any time use for any such purpose any cart or carriage not having a proper covering, or who shall carelessly slop or spill any such offensive matter. (And quite right too!)
  • The slaughtering or dressing of cattle in the streets remains illegal, except if the animal concerned has been run over by the person who is doing the slaughtering or dressing. Moreover Metropolitan Streets Act of 1867 forbids the driving of cattle down the roadway between 10 AM and 7 PM without prior approval from the Commissioner of Police.
  • In view of the foregoing it is hardly surprising the Londoners are not allowed to keep a pigsty in the front of their houses.
  • And now for something completely odd ... It is unlawful for anyone who lives within a mile of any arsenal or store for explosives to possess a pack of playing cards.
  • What few Londoners know is that it is illegal to hail a cab while it is in motion – technically you must go to a cab rank or place appointed. All taxi ranks are still required to have a water trough so the horses could take a drink.
  • The cabby is should ask each of his passengers, and he should carry out an on-the-spot medical examination, to determine if they are suffering from any notifiable disease such as smallpox or the plague as conveying sufferers is illegal. And if a passenger were to pass away during the journey he would be committing another offence as it is illegal for a taxi driver to carry corpses or rabid dogs.
  • The cabby is also required to carry out a thorough search of his vehicle before allowing his fare to go on their way as it is the cabby's responsibility, not the passenger's, to see that nothing is left behind.

More generally ...
  • In a judgement of 1881 Mr Justice Kessel, then Master of the Rolls, decreed that a creditor may accept anything in settlement of a debt except a lesser amount of money as this would constitute a nudum pactum or one-sided contract. (In English law a contract has to be of material benefit to both parties.)
  • An Act of 1405 instructed every parish that ran its own affairs to have a set of stocks and decreed that any village without stocks be downgraded to a mere hamlet. And yes, this is still in force!
  • When celebrating Guy Fawkes's Night it remains permissible for children to go door to door collecting "a penny for the guy" only with the written permission of the local Chief Constable of Police.

And finally ... It remains illegal to impersonate Chelsea Pensioner.

08 May 2011

Photo Trouvé

Oh dear me! Discovered on the intertubes ...

Maybe one shouldn't wonder the child looks distraught!

Ten Things - May

Number 5 in my monthly series of "Ten Things" for 2011. Each month I list one thing from each of ten categories which will remain the same for each month of 2011. So at the end of the year you have ten lists of twelve things about me.
  1. Something I Like: Nudity
  2. Something I Won't Do: Wear a DJ/Tuxedo
  3. Something I Want To Do: Have Acupuncture
  4. A Blog I Like: Whoopee
  5. A Book I Like: Brown, Ferguson, Lawrence & Lees; Tracks & Signs of the Birds of Britain & Europe
  6. Some Music I Like: Caravan, In the Land of Grey and Pink
  7. A Food I Like: Whitebait
  8. A Food or Drink I Dislike: Sheep's Eyes
  9. A Word I Like: Amniomancy
  10. A Quote I Like: I like small furry animals – as long as they're tasty. [Lisa Jardine]

07 May 2011

Weekly Links

This week a selection of links about that perennially fascinating subject: sex! And no, there's nothing here your teenage daughter shouldn't to read, and it is all essentially safe for work: no nasty pictures!

Emily at Emily Nagoski : Sex Nerd has an interesting perspective on the events of last weekend. Everything from the Royal Wedding to the death of Osama bin Laden, it's all to do with sex.

Bish! is a UK-based information site about sex and relationships for young people (like teenagers). They recently posted a weblog item about Talking about Sex with Teens. Now I'm not a parent, but the article (and indeed the whole site) strikes me as extremely useful. They also publish information packs and there's a section on the site specifically for parents and carers.

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal so far forgot itself as to run an article on Researching the Health Benefits of Sex. Yes, it is about doing the research, but it also contains lots of information about how sexual response works etc. It's worth a read.

Finally something to bring a smile to your face (and elsewhere!). Apparently May is Masturbation Month. No, I wouldn't have known either but for Cory Silverberg pointing it out over at About.com.

06 May 2011

Quotes of the Week

A mixed bag of quotes this week ...

When the British government set up the loss-making groundnut scheme in Africa in 1947, a law was passed which contained a paragraph that read: 'In the Nuts (unground) (other than ground-nuts) Order, the expression nuts shall have reference to such nuts, other than ground-nuts, as would but for this amending Order not qualify as nuts (unground) (other than ground-nuts) by reason of their being nuts (unground).'
[Nigel Cawthorne; The Strange Laws of Old England]

We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion ... This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy.
[Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama]

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.

'A long time ago.'
'I didn’t have white hair in those days,' said Granny. 'Everything was a different colour in those days.'
'That’s true.'
'It didn’t rain so much in the summer time.'
'The sunsets were redder.'
'There were more old people. The world was full of them,' said the wizard.
'Yes, I know. And now it’s full of young people. Funny, really.'

[Terry Pratchett; Equal Rites]

[S]he was opposed to books on strict moral grounds, since she had heard that many of them were written by dead people and therefore it stood to reason reading them would be as bad as necromancy.
[Terry Pratchett; Equal Rites]

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
[WC Fields]

I screwed in the first one. I realised how hot it really was that day. I screwed in the second one. Now I was sweltering, and my wrist ached like I'd manually pleasured a rugby team.
[Antonia at http://yetanotherbloomingblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-darlings.html]

05 May 2011

[18/52] Turkey Cafe, Leicester

[18/52] Turkey Cafe, Leicester, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Week 18 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

Taken on our day trip to Leicester on Tuesday to see our friend Katy. We did gossip, coffee, gossip, superb South Indian curry lunch, gossip, a detour round the villages, gossip, tea with Katy's parents and her kids and more gossip. A good day!

02 May 2011


So, the US claim to have removed Osama bin Laden permanently from the game, something they have wanted to do since George W Bush came out of his log cabin looking for bears after 9/11. They got their man. The man supposedly** responsible for a large swathe of anti-western terrorism.

So now America, a devoutly Christian country, is whooping and hollering in celebration that they killed another human. Aren't these supposed to be tolerant Christian people who love their enemies and abhor the taking of life, any life?

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of what al-Qaeda have done, and of the US murdering Osama bin Laden, does anyone else find the partying and celebration going on right now in America obscene?

** I say "supposedly" because the only evidence we have is what the US (and its allies) care to release to us. We do not (know that we) have enough information to be able to make a correctly informed judgement. I wonder if anyone actually does?