Monday, 20 December 2010

Top Of The Pops

Buying music is not the same as it used to be. That sense of expectation going into 'The Sound Of Music' to see if The Jam's new single had arrived, or the feeling of disappointment when 'Ciren Sounds' were still waiting for the delivery of Anita Ward's 'Ring My Bell' (I hope that was intended for a present for someone else but I fear it might not have been). Everything seems to be available at the click of a mouse now.
I know the Top 40 is still announced at Sunday teatime, but are the listeners still there like we were, nervously waiting to hear the new number one ( whilst probably naughtily taping the best songs)? And then there was the excitement of knowing the Christmas Number One. This has largely been taken from us by the X Factor influence. TV has sabotaged the whole process, and no longer will we have the opportunity to enjoy previous christmas number one classics such as Bob The Builder, Mr Blobby, Lily The Pink, Ernie(The Fastest Milkman In The West) and Two Little Boys. Ah . . .

Working in a Winter Wonderland

After two weeks of sub-zero temperatures, I finally gave up struggling with frozen stone and ground. And now the site is covered in about 20" of snow with more to come and no sign of warmer weather.
Fortunately I have a second career at times like this - that of the local snowplough driver. Well, the farm has the council plough, and right now the cows need all the help they can get, so no-one is free to drive it. So far it has been local roads in the village only, but last year I was asked to go all the way to Cirencester. On my own.
The reaction generally is welcoming, though there are some not so far away who say I remind them of the picture below. Can't think why.

Friday, 3 December 2010

It's A Bit Parky Out

Winter has arrived early this year. Fortunately The Cotswolds, so far, has not had the heavy snow, and the wall I am working on is long enough that there are sections that aren't frozen solid. OK, I have seven layers of clothing, the kettle won't boil and the local policeman stops by to check my sanity, but at least I have still been able to work.

I was warmed today by the bizarre 999 call reporting a stolen snowman. Perhaps, finally, Aled Jones can move on. The police sent two of their smaller special branch officers, to see if they could get a drift of what had happened. After a light dusting they found no fingerprints. They did apprehend a youth rolling a snowman away just down the road from the victims house, but let him go when his snowman was found to be much larger than the stolen one. They looked for witnesses, but some people sledging nearby turned out to be aussie cricketers. They are now concerned that the stolen article will just melt into the background, but will continue to plough on through the evidence.

So that this type of crime doesn't snowball, the police will try and work with the local community, but are unsure whether to use the carrot or stick approach.

Meanwhile, one snowman says to another - "Can you smell carrot?"

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Mop Fair

The Annual Mop Fair hits Cirencester on the two mondays either side of the 11th October, except for those years, like this year, when Monday is the 11th, there are three. Traditionally a hiring fair, the name Mop comes from the housemaids that were amongst the potential employees, and not from the equipment now used to clear up the likely result of mixing candy floss, hot dogs, spinning rides and generator fumes.
And so on Monday evening, I found myself clamped into one of the 4 seats bolted on to each end of the 50m long spinning arm of the Buzzin ride. I justified my decision by categorizing it as one of those things to be done before you die, hoping that the two events would not be synchronised in any way. As it was, the ride was fast, exhilarating and the only cold feet you should get is if your shoes fall off. Even being stopped right at the top when the other end changed over, wasn't too scary, and gave a panoramic nighttime view across the town. To think that I was doubtful about going on the Big Wheel years ago - the ultimate thrill ride that I remember growing up with. Toffee apple, anyone?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

In Memory Of Steve

I attended a funeral last week and I am still smiling about it. An odd reaction, I know, but the ceremony was quite unique and special. It was a Humanist funeral and was a true reflection of Steve's life and character. He lived in his handbuilt barn with no mains electrics or water, and loved the countryside around him. The funeral featured wild flowers, birdsong, a wicker coffin and touching and funny speeches from those who knew him or were with him on his last day. We were able to add our own thoughts, to the sounds of one of Steve's favourite songs. Listen to it from the link top right - you can then, perhaps, understand the smiling.

And then after, Steve was loaded on to the back of his beloved tractor and trailer, and secured by straw bales, driven off through Bourton on the Water, to be laid to rest in his own field, surrounded by the trees and shrubs he had lovingly planted over the years. I shall always remember seeing and hearing the tractor moving away. Thanks, Steve, for your weekly running coaching sessions. We are all better runners because of you.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Where's Waller?

Last summer I casually looked up as a vehicle passed by, and thought 'Isn't that the Google Street View Camera car?' So this picture showing someone casually looking up with an 'Isn't that the Google Street View Camera car' look on his face, is now visible to all - if they can find it - on Google Street View.

At least I wasn't just emerging from the Portaloo. Actually, I rarely used it. Entry was at your own risk from others on the site. A quiet moment was usually interrupted by thrown stones, water down the air vent, a rope tied around it or simply a gentle rocking motion from side to side. It has been known on larger sites for one to end up at the top of a forklift.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

View From My Office Window

I am very fortunate that I get to work in some very lovely locations. As you can see above, the current site is no exception. I am also lucky to be able to glimpse a range of wildlife. Apart from a single duck, this particular stretch of stream has until today been very quiet. Though there are crayfish and trout elsewhere along this river, none have ventured close. Maybe my hammer is too noisy.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard some splashing today, and I looked around to see an animal that I understand is starting to move back to the local rivers. As you can see below, I was able to capture the moment on my camera phone. It's not a great picture, but if you look carefully you can just make out the familiar form of a water otter.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

No Auto-tuning Here I Hope

Thoughts led recently to the first LP I bought. Ignoring the narrated Cinderella album (which I think was bought for me), as a ten year old I inexplicably spent my own money on The Carpenters Singles 1969-1973. Was it the fetching brown cover, or the fact that Karen Carpenter looked a bit like my best friend's Mum? I don't know to this day why I was drawn to it, but never regretted doing so.
And then I heard the Rumer track on the radio, and it took me right back to that 70's sound. Hope to goodness that this girl's voice hasn't been passed through the Auto-tune box set to Carpenters mode, because her voice sounds that good. Check it out yourself on the link top right.

Having just searched through some Carpenters images, I am not so sure about admitting to my involvement. More cheese than Wallace's larder. Maybe I should have gone straight to one of my later albums - by The Wombles.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Praise for a Psychic Cephalopod Physio

Lot of excitement for Paul the Octopus, who predicted the winner of the World Cup by picking the appropriate clam from a choice of two glass boxes, repeating the uncanny successes of the previous rounds. But surely credit must go to his physio, who managed to get him fit for every game throughout the tournament, even though Paul was always pulling a mussel.

And the treatments were done by the physio, knowing he had the added temptation to use the injured octopus to pay off some of his debts - 'Here is the sick squid I owe you'

Sunday, 13 June 2010

I have seen Professor Brian Cox OBE!

Took Milly and Joe to the Cheltenham Science Festival today and we really did see the man. Tickets were gone ages ago for his Planets talks, but we actually saw him going into the tent. Not that there is a man-crush thing going on or anything. Great day out - I love the buzz of these Festivals and you always see faces you know, famous or otherwise.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Any Votes Cast After 10pm Will Not Count But You May Still Be Charged

I am enjoying the ongoing Election dramas. Right from the Exit Polls at 10pm on Thursday(which were described as wrong at the time but later proved accurate - note to self for next election - go to bed then) through all night to see the demise of Lembit Opik and and David Dimbleby introducing Kirsty Wark as 'stuck-up' in Cheshire. And now the ongoing negotiations.
Richard Bacon on 5 Live had a funny Blind Date spoof on his radio show with Lembit Opik ( what is he doing now?) pretending to be Nick wooing reps for the other two.
Lots of pros and cons for whichever alliance is chosen, but the papers are already enjoying the prospects for a ConDem link and any LibLab pact that includes Lord Adonis would surely create a well hung parliament?
I hope Nick decides soon. I am off to China later this week and I am a bit worried with the current climate about not being able to fly back. Not because of the Ash cloud though - if the one Green MP gets included in the coalition she may negotiate a condition which closes all the airports.

Friday, 30 April 2010

The Car At Fault Is A Toyota

Started a job today and the remains found left no doubt as to which type of vehicle caused the damage. This might have been a direct result of either the brake or accelerator problems that lead to the recent vehicle recalls ( in which case wallers could be added to the list of trades to benefit from said problems - one other, of course, being those responsible for glass replacement on garage forecourts) but actually was just another one of those unfortunates who hit a patch of ice in the winter.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Funniest scene I have seen

This is one of the funniest things I have seen this year, though Gordon Brown's expression when Jeremy Vine played that tape to him ran it very close. Just look at the expressions on the character's faces in this clip from Ashes to Ashes. Very funny.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Minute of Mayhem

Fitting tribute today for Malcolm McLaren's funeral, when we were all asked to respect a Minute of Mayhem in his memory. 5 live played some Sex Pistols at noon, and then asked what songs the listeners would chose at their own funerals. Usual fare of Going Underground, Down Down Deeper and Down, Firestarter and strangely I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.

Set me thinking - and I have come up with this Peter Gabriel offering. One of Randy Newman's best songs, and actually 'That'll Do' is really quite apt.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Things I like to hear or see

Thanks to my good friend Steve I now know how to add links to this new section - see top right of page.
My first offering is Lisa Hannigan - I just love the way this song has been put together. Live music at its best. I always feel good after I have seen this. Hope you do too.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Spring Has Arrived

Working in a T-shirt today and The Masters on the TV tonight - Spring has finally arrived. It has been such a long hard winter. Surely 'In The Bleak Midwinter' must have been inspired by conditions similar to the ones seen this year. I checked this out, and sure enough, in the year 1872 when it was penned, the Met Office had indeed forecasted a mild dry winter.
The snow particularly stopped me from walling, so I wanted to use the free time wisely. I tried skiing - I started off OK, but it was downhill after that. I asked a ski instructor about cross country skiing and he suggested trying a small country first. Spent quite a bit of time sledging, but it wasn't the same without some Aussie cricketers to insult.
So the warm weather has been welcomed and makes my job so much easier. Working alongside a lane today, which has the most enormous pothole in it, causing cars to slow and swerve. I rang the council about it and told them how large it was - they said they would look into it. I did think perhaps about getting a job fixing the roads - saw an advert for one, but it wasn't permanent, it was just filling in. Apparently the job has been given to a former pest control officer - he had the experience of dealing with road dents.
And finally the daffodils are out. Their lateness isn't actually anything to do with the winter - it is because we have to use low-energy bulbs.
One other point - if the AA men go on strike, who will the negotiators turn to if the talks breakdown?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

My new blog

Thought I would give this blogging thing a go. This post is mainly to check that I can indeed successfully post an entry. So if it works out OK, why a blog? Two of my best friends have them now and they both look great( as do the blogs ).

And what will I write about? Anything and nothing probably. But I love to write - just finished my first novel - which, after its first review, might be rewritten as my first novel or the lessons learnt applied to the second. And I try a bit of comedy from time to time - Andy The Limestone Cowboy comes from the name I use for sending scripts to Ken Bruce on radio 2, so I may use this medium to expand on the material that has been used on the programme for a number of years .

So I am going to publish this now, and see what happens!!