Thursday 29 December 2011


You will see more of the light of reason if you stick your head in a pig than if you take the motto "post hoc ergo proctor hoc" at face value. It means "following the event therefore caused by the event" and it's now cited as a logical fallacy. I like to think that some lazy bugger in one of the ancient civilizations made a gash translation and set philosophy and jurisprudence back a thousand years. "Does anyone know the Latin for 'does not necessarily imply'? - oh f**k it 'ergo' must be close enough".

I had very many items on my todo list before Christmas and when I actioned "Cards for neighbours" I thought that I had stumbled upon a new and fundamental truth. The woman with the Hooters shirt, the bloke next door and I are all single. The family on the end and the couple with the barky greyhound are both still married. On the other side of the road the hot single mum, and the bloke who's wife and van I used to admire are single, the families on both ends are still married.

"Sh*t the bed" I said "The secret of a happy marriage is having a 3 bed house with a dining room!" It works for everybody I know in my street, my parents, and all of my friends' parents that I could think of. However correlation doesn't imply causality, the sample is statistically insignificant, and having a dining room is probably a proxy for something that comes with a happy and successful marriage. Oh Man, I'm never going to win a Nobel prize.

Richard "steganographic blog post" B

Monday 26 December 2011

Christmas Schizophrenia

From now on in this blog, you might think that my writing style and subject matter has become rather varied. You might wonder from one article to the next whether I'm a professional software enginner or a fifteen year old schoolgirl; man or woman; middle aged or college age? I haven't lost my mind. In the spirit of Christmas I have invited most of my family to be authors on boligblog. Let me introduce "m.e.b" for example, she's the younger of my nieces, she's still at school, plays band and hockey to an improbably high standard, and has written some excellent articles elsewhere.

Welcome one and all.

Keep following us. You'll get an insight into just how crazy the whole family is - it's not just me.

Richard "editorial control" B

Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

I'm a screaming homosexual, for christmas I got a newfound insight into exactly how gay I am.

Mary "Rainbow Flag" B

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Cat and Mouse

When I was growing up my mum kept a big muscular tomcat called Willy. One day Willycat brought in a mouse which promptly escaped to the cupboard under the stairs. We shut the cat in the lounge and rescued the mouse. When the cat was released he mewed and clawed outside the cupboard until we opened it for him and he then spent about quarter of an hour in the cupboard searching in minute detail for the mouse. He did the same thing again later that day, and did the same thing again once or twice daily for the next eight or ten years. He never found the mouse.

I was in Guildford this weekend, and one of my friends up there had bought two chocolate bars, eaten one of them, and lost the other. It's very hard not to keep looking in the places that you think something should be, even if you've already looked there. He arrived home from work peckish, and looked down the back of the microwave for his Double Decker for the fifth time in as many days and said "I know exactly how that poor bloody cat feels". It wasn't there.

Richard "where did you see it last?" B

Tuesday 13 December 2011


My sister knows their manager so I was on the guest list to see 'Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra' on Saturday night. Among the musicians was Rico Rodriguez - reggae and ska legend - best trombone player (trombonist? tromboner? trombonologist?) in the world and a hero of mine.

Coincidentally I'm reading a book about 'The Specials' written by their bass player, he talks about when Rico started playing with them, the reggae crowd accorded him slightly more respect and adoration than if he'd been the second coming. He was also a massive marijuana smoker, and mainly a very laid back character.

On Saturday night after the Jools Holland show we went to their hotel to say hello to the manager. Outside the hotel I could smell grass being smoked, and when we got inside there was Rico, checking in and signing for his room key. I wanted to say "YoureMyHeroILoveEveryNoteThatYouveEveryPlayedThatSoloOnTheLongVersionOfGhostTownIsTheBestThingIveEverHeardWillYouAutographEveryThingThatIOwn" but restrained myself slightly and started to say "Good show tonight". He stopped me after less than a syllable and said "Dankyou sooo mush, you doo kaind." and that was very clearly the end of the conversation. I suppose he's had over thirty years to learn to deal with gushing sycophantic idiots.

My brother tells me that a couple of years ago he was going to another Jools Holland show and ended up in the same cab as Rico. My brother asked him about touring with 'The Specials' and all he said was "Dey wer'.... laively boys."

Richard "starstruck" B

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Early night

I once saw an episode of Futurama where Fry had to write and produce a season finale for Ally McBeal to save the world. The joke that particularly made me laugh was when they ran out of script after about a minute. Fry said "It took half an hour to write, I thought it would take half an hour to read out."

At the weekend I was helping out a young and inexperienced band and virtually the same thing happened. They had miraculously got themselves a paying show in a pub. They were playing from 9 'til 11 and were allowed a 20 minute break - a very easy show and a nice early night. They came off stage half an hour after they'd started:
"How long have we been playing for?"
"About 30 minutes, just under"
"Shit you're joking"
"No, look <showing wrist watch>"
"Shit. I thought we'd been up there at least an hour. It took much longer than that in rehearsals"

They didn't have anywhere near enough material and it was all slightly embarrassing. However I has home and the van was unloaded before midnight which was abject luxury.

Richard "send on the Patagonians" B

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Don't Read This

This blog post only contains 2 deeply offensive phrases. Stop reading now or you're going to be offended.

"It wasn't rape, your honour, it was a struggle-cuddle."

"Diversity in the workplace means not calling a spade a spade."

Richard "pc" B

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Time to kill

A couple of weekends ago RichI and I had a couple of hours to kill and we were chatting. I knew that he used to be involved in bands, and that he used to play bass pretty well, I didn't realize just how famous and how homosexual he used to be:

RichI: The archbishop of Truro asked me to turn my bass down once.
RJB: What were you playing?
RichI: The Bass.
RJB: No, where were you playing?
RichI: Truro Cathedral.
Young Jamie: I bet that sounded awesome.
RichI: <sarcastic>Yes the acoustics were like a fucking... Well... Um... cathedral.
RJB:  <exasperated>Yes, but in what group you were you playing, why were you there?
RichI: That thing I used to be in where we did YMCA.
RJB: You were one of the Village People?
RichI: Yes, I was the bent copper[1].

[Note 1]RichI wasn't in the Village People, he was part of a church sponsored youth orchestra which was supposed to teach both muscicianship and the Christian message[2].

[Note 2] It failed.
Richard "no sleep til Christmas" B

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Paradise Misplaced

A couple of authors and songwriters that I admire often make references to Paradise Lost, so I thought that I should read it. Knowing that I wouldn't understand it by myself, I looked for an annotated version, and stumbled across one by Isaac Asimov, all round genius and one of my favourite science fiction authors. It's a good job that I don't have Amazon one-click ordering because only one edition was printed, they're rare, and one in pristine condition costs about £4000.

I jokingly asked my mum to borrow one from the library. Unsurprisingly Plymstock public library didn't have one in stock, but they put out an "Inter-Library Loan Request". Believe it or not, the British Library sent their copy down for me! It came with a fantastic note saying that this is a valuable book, and forms part of the UK's national document collection, and they'd quite like to have it back on time and in good condition.

I don't think I could have understood Paradise Lost by myself, but with Asimov explaining it, and ripping apart the religious doctrine and ingrained sexism it was fantastic. With apologies to John Milton and biblical scholars, this is the important bit, and it's just an exercise in passing the buck.

God: What are you doing wearing clothes? You've eaten the fruit haven't you? The one thing I told you not to do.
Adam: Eve had already eaten some and didn't die. She was worried about how you'd punish her, and wanted me to keep her company, so I did eat it, but I ate it out of love and solidarity.
God: Perfectly understandable, good for you, you're still cursed though. Eve, what the fuck were you playing at?
Eve: The serpent tricked me into it, he said he'd eaten it.
God: You're cursed. Serpent, what have you got to say for yourself?
Serpent: Don't look at me, I haven't even got the power of speech to tempt Eve with, I was possessed by the devil at the time.
God: That's no excuse, I'm confiscating your legs. Satan, did you tempt Eve into eating the fruit?
Satan: Too right I did, it was a legitimate protest. Anything to show how fallible you are. We have serious concerns about your leadership. You're obsessed with this vanity project in Eden, you've promoted your son above all the more qualified applicants, and you have no concept of forward planning. Worse than that, rather than discuss these things with us you used force of arms to condemn us to a life of misery and pain in Hell. If you were really all knowing you'd have seen how easily I could tempt Eve into betraying you.
God: I'm God, sing my praises or fuck off.

Richard "shredding and fret-tapping for people in dinner suits and ball gowns" B

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Oven Door

I'm friendly with one of the little girls who lives on my estate, partly because she has a very beautiful, and as far as I know single, mother. I once rescued a shoe for the little girl and some months ago, at the little girls urging, I asked the mum on a date, she laughed at me and turned me down. Since then the mum has suffered a very serious loss of peripheral vision, she will in fact walk straight past me on the pavement without even noticing me, yet miraculously she can still drive a car.

At the weekend she knocked at my door and asked whether I would go over to her house and help her with something. I assumed she wanted me to help her try on lingerie, but in fact there was a problem with the hinges of her oven door. I was able to fix the oven, she was very friendly and thanked me profusely, I even think she might be able to see me again.

I can only imagine the gnashing of hands and wringing of teeth that she went through before she asked for my help. I'd like to think that as I write this, she's publishing an allegorical blog post where she's Odysseus, Scylla's a broken oven, and Charybdis is the weirdo who lives accross the road.

Richard "I can play the guitar" B

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Time is Money

People say that time is money, but I'm not sure that it's true, and if it is the conversion is bewilderingly complex. Last week I did manage to turn a twenty pound note into two hours of professional cleaning in my house. If you saw how much she did, and knew how ineffectively I clean my own house, you might think I had created four hours of free time, but it's not that simple, I could just as easily have chosen to live in squalor.

I have been asking my hobbies to pay me back for the time and expense that I've lavished on them, but they have all threatened to default and negotiated very favourable repayment terms. For example I turned six hours of guitar restoration into a tenner and a pint, five hours of roadying and sound engineering into £25, and 10 minutes of knife grinding into a haircut.

What this seems to mean is that I'd be much wealthier if I could declare cleaning and tidying as one of my hobbies, and that I'd be a millionaire if only I could find an infinite supply of barbers with blunt kitchen knives - and I could exchange haircuts for goods and services.

Richard "play that tambourine properly or not at all" B

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Forbidden Planet

I went to Surrey for a long weekend, and on Friday we went up into London. Amongst other places we stopped at Forbidden Planet on Shaftsbury Avenue. It's a shop that sells comics, graphic novels, books, memorabilia, and anything associated with cult entertainment. There was for example an adorable cuddly Totoro that I couldn't afford. I picked up a sci-fi novel and took it to the counter to pay for it. The woman who served me was wearing a white blouse and a very small black waistcoat and when she stepped back to let the till open it became distractingly apparent that she wasn't wearing any trousers. In fact she had on fishnet hold-ups with lacy tops and black pants. (I suppose it could have been the bottom of a swimming costume, or some sort of dance-wear. I'm going to assume that she was dressed as some manga heroine with whom I'm unfamiliar). I was so transfixed that I lost the powers of speech and hearing, and I fear that I might have been staring. I was eventually transported back from my delightful reverie by the question "DO. YOU. WANT. A. BAG?" And the strongly implied "My face is up here."

Richard "The Count" B

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Round of Drinks

"Never ascribe to malice that which can be reasonably explained by incompetence." I went on a drinking expedition on Friday, and in the early evening a very nice, pretty, very drunk, and mildly crazed young woman latched on to my group of friends. There was great competition among the single men to spend time talking to her. She joined three of us who went to the rock venue to listen to a very loud metal band. At the venue she ordered a very elaborate round of drinks involving a small glass of spirit submerged in a larger glass of something else, and a bottle of strong beer for everyone. When the barman told her how much it would cost (nearly £20 for three people) she opened her purse and discovered that it was virtually empty. I paid for the drinks and she gave me the rest of her money (£1.04). I can't believe the nerve, skill, and timing it would have required to pull off that trick deliberately, but I also find it hard to believe that she would mistakenly order a millionaire's round when she didn't have enough money for a bag of chips. To answer your follow up questions: No nothing happened, she was very definite in her decision not to get the last bus home with me.

Poetic swearing
(stop reading now if you are offended by adult language). My band played on Saturday night, and uncharacteristically the rhythm guitarist made a glaring error. We made fun of him all through our cigarette break, and would probably have carried on until about 2015. He got rather tired of the subject and turned his knowledge of the Profanisaurus to devastating effect saying "Can we talk about something else now? I think we've wanked that one dry."

Richard "two nap weekend" B

Memorial Quiz Answers

Q1: Name a Goss team member who shares a surname with the creator of a well-known programming language.

Acceptable answers were either Rob McCarthy or Bob McCarthy. Computer scientist John McCarthy invented the LISP programming language to pass the time while chained to a radiator in Beirut.


Q2: Which Note is out of key in this chord sequence?
Fm7 Ab Fm7 Bb Cm Bb Ab

The answer that I was expecting was that the piece is in the key of Ab, that the Bb chord should have been minor, and so the wrong note was d (which should have been d flat). If you look at the piece it starts on a change from the related minor to Ab and it finished with a descending cadence that resolves at Ab. It looks very much like a piece in Ab.

I now realise that it was a poor question, an equally correct answer is:
Nothing is out of key, it's in Eb major, but played as the Dorian mode of F
Fm7= [F,Ab,C,Eb]
Ab = [Ab,C,Eb]
Bb = [Bb,D,F]
Cm = [C,Eb,G]
Key of Eb = [Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb,C,D] = three flats
Key of Ab = [Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb,F,G] = four flats


Q3: Which singer shares initials with a part of the London transport system and a technology developed by Microsoft?

Flamboyant Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth shares initials with the Docklands Light Railway and the Dynamic Language Runtime. Surprisingly, this fact is not mentioned anywhere in Diamond Dave’s 384 page autobiography "Crazy from the Heat".


Q4: You cut a 2cm border off 3 sides of a square and you are left with
3/8 of the original square. How big was it to start with?

There are several ways to answer this question, the most practical seems to be trial and error, I also like the idea of a spreadsheet of widths and heights, but for those of you that enjoyed maths at school, I'll show you the algebraic solution:

The original square had a width and height of x cm, and an area of x^2
After the border had been cut off it was 2cm shorter and 4cm narrower.
The remaining area is (x-2)(x-4)
The remaining area is 3/8 of the original area so:
(x-2)(x-4) = (3/8)x^2
x^2 -6x +8 = (3/8)x^2
8x^2 -48x +64 = 3x^2
5x^2 -48x +64 = 0
(5x -8)(x -8) = 0
So either x=8cm or x=(5/8)cm. We will disregard the second solution as it isn't big enough to cut a 2cm border off from.


Q5: Calcium and Potassium are important nutrients, mix them up with tin to make something to eat.

This is an anagram based on the symbols for the chemical elements named in the question. Calcium = Ca, Potassium = K, Tin = Sn. These can be rearranged to give "Snack".


Q6: How many times do you have to roll six dice before the odds of them all coming up 6 are evens?

This piece of probability theory was probably too hard for this quiz. There are 2 ways to calculate it, you either have to understand and use the Poisson Distribution, or follow this convoluted reasoning:

The chances of having seen a win once or more is the complement of never having seen a win.
The chances of never having seen a win are the chances of not seeing a win on the first turn AND not seeing a win on the second turn AND .... AND not seeing a win on the last turn.
The chances of 1 dice coming up 6 is (1/6)
The chance of 6 dice coming up 6 is (1/6)^6 = (1/46656)
The chances of 6 dice NOT ALL coming up 6 are 1-(1/46656) = (46655/46656)
After n rolls, the chances of NEVER having seen a win is (46655/46656)^n
(46655/46656)^32339 > 0.5
(46655/46656)^32340 < 0.5
So the answer is 32340


Q7: A French city annoyed the poster shop by giving a piece of fruit to the 2nd planet. Which war followed?

The Trojan War.
This was a clumsy cryptic reference to a story called the Judgement of Paris. It involves the Trojan shepherd prince Paris (a French city), Athena (the poster shop), Aphrodite (Venus in the roman pantheon), and Hera. It's a story so petty, titillating, and hackneyed that you'd be embarrassed to see it on a soap opera, but it's actually a significant bit of the Greek myths. The three goddesses ended up squabbling over a golden apple inscribed "to the fairest" and eventually agreed to have an impartial mortal decide who was most beautiful and award the apple.

The goddesses were taken to Paris on mount Ida. These are the goddesses of ancient Greece remember, not fishwives. Every one of them firstly posed naked, and secondly bribed the judge. Aphrodite's bribe was that Paris would have the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris picked Aphrodite, royally pissing off the other two goddesses, went to Sparta to pick up his new wife Helen, who - wait for the plot twist - was already married to the king!

Helen's husband, also not best pleased, teams up with Hera, takes his army to Troy, and politely asks for his wife back.

As an interesting side note, there is no reference in the bible as to what the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil looked like, but the Apple of Discord was so well known that religious artists have always represented it as an apple.


Q8: Correct these sentences for grammar where necessary:
"Thank god he gave the appointment to my wife and I."
"None of us was ready."
"If I was in charge of the practise, then I would have rung."


"Thank God he gave the appointment to my wife and me."
Ai)God is a proper noun and needs a capital letter. I'm sorry if you don't believe in Him, but if you're going to write correctly in English, then you're bound to a Judeo-Christian monotheist ideology.
Aii) "my wife and I" are the object of the sentence, not the subject, so you have to use the objective form. If I wasn't married, you'd have had no difficulty knowing that he gave the appointment to "me" not to "I".

The sentence is correct. "none" is a contraction of "not one" so "One of us was ready" "Not one of us was ready" "None of us was ready"

"If I were in charge of the practice, then I would have rung."
Ci)The sentence is hypothetical, so we have no choice about using the subjunctive mood. "If I were a rich man" is correct grammatically.
Cii)"practise" if something you do, "practice" is a thing. Don't try to argue that this is a spelling error and not a grammatical one. It's the wrong word spelled correctly.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Memorial Quiz

Dear fellow GOSS employees,

Before he sadly passed away, Nic Fish had been looking forward to organizing a GOSS quiz. The GREAT team thought it would be a nice little tribute to him to have a quiz in his honour. Tom and I produced the questions, submit your entries to me and I'll send out the answers when someone has got them all right. Google is permitted - you'll use it anyway and so is conferring because you will anyway, perhaps you will want to enter as a team or department! No prizes, it's just for fun.

Q1: Name a Goss team member who shares a surname with the creator of a well-known programming language.

Q2: Which Note is out of key in this chord sequence?
Fm7 Ab Fm7 Bb Cm Bb Ab

Q3: Which singer shares initials with a part of the London transport system and a technology developed by Microsoft?

Q4: You cut a 2cm border off 3 sides of a square and you are left with
3/8 of the original square. How big was it to start with?

Q5: Calcium and Potassium are important nutrients, mix them up with tin to make something to eat.

Q6: How many times do you have to roll six dice before the odds of them all coming up 6 are evens?

Q7: A French city annoyed the poster shop by giving a piece of fruit to the 2nd planet. Which war followed?

Q8: Correct these sentences for grammar where necessary:
"Thank god he gave the appointment to my wife and I."
"None of us was ready."
"If I was in charge of the practise, then I would have rung."

Best of luck,

Richard B

Fond Farewell

Nothing funny happened this weekend, and if it had I don't think I'd be writing about it. Last weekend something decidedly unfunny happened. One of my colleagues died. His name was Nic Fish, and, like most of the people in this industry he was a little bit of a weirdo. He was also a completely decent man, there was not a grain of malice or deceit in him. I can't pretend that I was a friend of his, but I saw him virtually every day and I've worked with him on and off for over a decade. He had a dicky ticker since the day he was born, and he took some pleasure in telling people that in his case you couldn't say "He's got his heart in the right place". He was very intelligent and had an incredible memory, particularly for films, tv, and music. I used sometimes to use him as a kind of interactive verbal equivalent to the Internet Movies Database. He was so constant and reliable that I find it almost impossible to accept that we now live in a world without Mr Fish in it, and I can only think that it's a worse place because of it. My deepest sympathies go to his family and those he left behind.

Richard B

Saturday 8 October 2011

Comedy Timing

The most important element of comedy is timing, and on Friday night the most perfect set of circumstances and timing ended in one of the funniest things that any of us had every seen. We were sitting around in the pub drinking and telling stories. To understand any of what follows you have to know:
  1. Cameras used to contain photographic film, and your pictures were printed in a laboratory.
  2. I had to be circumcised as an adult (painful and inconvenient).
  3. I was once fellated in public on the street in Mutley Plain (It was New Year's Eve).
  4. I'm not immune to embarrassment, but my threshhold is much higher than for normal people.
The story that they were telling was about me and a photo that the young woman on Mutley Plain took. She thought it would be funny for the owner of the camera to find a picture of male genitalia a week later when he got his pictures back from the chemists.

"...and that was the only picture of my cock before I had my foreskin removed" I said. At that second I realised that the young, pretty, and sober barmaid was standing at our table collecting glasses. She had obviously heard what I'd just said and she was staring at me in horror. I was so embarrassed that I would have happily disappeard through the floor - even if I'd been standing at the gallows with a noose around my neck. In fact I just said "Um, Pleased to meet you."

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Birthday Party

This weekend my friend and ex-rock-star Troy Tate celebrated his 60th birthday. It was a fairly self indulgent party with 3 bands playing, he played with every single band. I played, and was part-time soundman. 3 snippets of conversation have stayed with me from the night:

Sad but true
The scratch band that Troy put together just for the night was completely wonderful, I could have listened to them all night. Our own Barry "Fender Precision" Fender joined them on bass and did admirably for a man who didn't know all the songs. Troy was 60, most of the rest of the band were pushing that. I was watching rapt with my friend Paulo, we're both sneaking up on 40. I said to Paulo "do you think we'll be this good in 20 years?". He looked back at the stage and listened for a few more bars and turned back to me smiling and said "No".

Sage advice
When I was being the soundman a man came up to me and said "That advice you gave me, that was the most useful thing anybody has ever said to me" which was a surprise because I had no recollection of ever having met him before. Instead of "Who the hell are you?" I managed to say "You'll have to remind me what I said". It turns out that he sings in a band and I'd given him a very quick lesson in microphone technique. I can now just about remember talking to him, and I fear that what I actually told him was "that mic doesn't work by the power of the fucking mind - you need to sing right into the front of it".

Vocal microphones have a tendency to pick up moisture, saliva, and even food particles out of the breath, and can, over time develop a certain odour. As she left, the girl singer out of my band spoke the most wonderful sentence. Note the playful use of a proper noun as a verb, the brevity, the expressiveness, the wonderful simile, and the imagery: "this week can you Dettol my mic, it smells like arseholes."

Richard "Dettol" B

Monday 26 September 2011


This weekend I went to Guidford to visit my friends there, and to help with some DIY. As I arrived I was issued with a pass and a small piece of cheese.
The jokes are that, according to my friends, I shouldn't be allowed out in public by myself, and that I have a habbit of planning what I'm going to eat several meals in advance. When I went to an all inclusive destination resort in Corfu, I found it liberating and relaxing that there was a huge notice board advertising what activities would be available at different times of the day. I completely switched off my brain for the whole holiday (with the help of the self-serve red wine dispenser) and just did what the notice board told me. [1]

Late on Saturday night, after ceremoneously listening to Nirvana's 20 old 'Nevermind' we noticed 2 large tour busses[2] struggling to make their way up my friend's road. We went out to see what was happening, and met some of the entourage of american rock band Wheatus[3]. Their support band and their crew were struggling to attach a horsebox to each bus's tow hitch. The crew said they were trailers full of gear, but they looked like horseboxes to me.

It didn't seem like a big deal to me, but my friend Redacted was deeply starstruck when one of Wheatus' support band's crew came into the house to wash his hands (after manhandling the dirty horsebox).

I asked the support band (who's name I have now forgotten) for a card or any merchandise with their name on it, they had none, and were too ashamed to go and tell their manageress that they weren't carrying any merchandise. Instead he gave me his pass for the venue, but it still didn't have his band's name on it.

Obviously I gave him a card for my crappy little covers band.

[Note 1]
I didn't participate in "Morning Stretch 9.00-10.00" which was a very gently form of yoga lead by a very beautiful and flexible young woman, but if I was up that early I'd go to the same poolside area for "Morning Letch"

[Note 2]
Neoplan Starliners with 11litre cummins engines.

[Note 3]
Yes you do remember them, they did "Teanage Dirtbag"

Tuesday 20 September 2011


One of my more obscure interests is sharpening, I'm proud to be able to bring a cutthroat razor up to a shaving edge and to be able to shave with it. Yes I have cut myself. No I've never opened an artery. Last Christmas I bought myself a low speed water-cooled grinding wheel. Sharpening knives and chisels is now so routine that I decided to learn to sharpen scissors, and I can bring dress making shears up to a perfect edge.

The highest office in the scissor world is held by the hairdressing scissors, and they are very hard to sharpen. My barber has been incredibly indulgent and let me practice on a few pairs of her scissors. The first pair that I did weren't up to scratch, but this weekend I had my hair cut and received the verdict on the last pair of scissors that I had sharpened for her. I thought nothing of it at the time, but the rubber stop between the finger rings was missing and the blades closed so far that the points were crossed and the edges protruded past the backs of the other blades.

"How were the scissors?"
"Well the edge is good, they feel really nice, cut really well, everyone here is impressed, but then...... I wiped some hair off them with my hand and cut myself really badly."

I have repaid my barber for her trust and help by giving her what was essntially an unsheathed knife, and expecting her to work with it in her hands for hours at a time.

Richard "'Nevermind' can't be 20 years old this week, that would mean I was almost 40" B

Friday 9 September 2011

Welcome to Bolingblog

The fondest wish of my old friend (and inveterate douchebag) Haynes-Brown, was that I should be followed around by a BBC camera crew for a year, and then the funniest things that I had said or done could be broadcast. He still laughs about me giving a running commentary of the gifts that I opened at my 30th birthday party, ("Ah excellent, this is a ten inch flat bastard file made by CK in Germany. A printed cotton Ben Sherman shirt, short sleeves, and the yoke is cut on the bias, thank you very much....." ) and the time that I found a wallet and mobile phone and left messages for all the saved contacts trying to locate its owner. I couldn't see it myself, but apparently the messages were comedy genius.

In retrospect it sounds like he'd have liked not to have wasted all that time hanging around socialising with me, and would have preferred to just watch the highlights show.

Anyway I haven't got a BBC camera crew following me around, nor one from channel 4, nor a journalist, but the forth next best thing has happened. I'm publishing my blog. All the emails I have sent to the lottery syndicate, all the first date reports that I have written, the news letter articles, and the quizzes. They are all published right here on I will continue to add articles every week as I send emails to the lottery syndicate, and when anything funny or interesting happens to me.

Monday 5 September 2011


This weekend I bought a diary. Not a diary as in "Dear diary, today I was full of pointless self-important angst which makes it feel worthwhile to record the minutiae of my meaningless life so I sat down and wrote this diary entry" but a thing like a very small folded up calendar with no pictures. The idea is that it will tell me what I'm supposed to be doing on different days. I'm already part of two google calendars which tell me when I'm supposed to be playing in a band or helping another band but as I don't have an internet connection, or a computer, or a tablet, or a smartphone, my access to them is somewhat erratic.

When something really bad happens, it's quite common human nature to overreact and try make sure that it can never happen again. The last time my washing line fell down I replaced all the pulleys and chain plates with chandlery for ocean racing yachts; they started the League of Nations after the first world war; they started the United Nations after the second world war; and on numerous Sunday mornings I have declared that I'll never drink again.

Last weekend I stood my friend Redacted up, and had she not rung me to ask if I was on my way, I would have been exactly a week late. Never again! I'm going to write all my appointments in a diary and check it every single day. At least until I forget.

Richard "techno-luddite" B

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Psuedo-Sunday Club

If some set of behaviour has been going on for long enough then it can seem completely normal to everybody involved, but odd to an outsider. I'm not in a cult or an abusive relationship, I cook for a small group of friends every Sunday evening. It's been going on for about 15 years, and it has incrementally evolved to the point where it has a name, a schedule, entrance criteria, traditions, and a rival chapter in another part of the country.

A friend of a friend who has recently moved temporarily back to the UK asked me what I was doing on Monday evening. My three word answer "Pseudo-Sunday Club" didn't really mean much to her, nor the fact that she could come along but only as a "special guest".

"Sunday Club" takes place on a Sunday evening, except on bank holiday weekends when it usually moves to Monday and takes the name "Pseudo-Sunday Club".

Entrance to Sunday Club is limited to Founder Members, persons sleeping with Founder Members, and Special Guests. You cannot join Sunday Club although we did give special dispensation to "Paying a mortgage with, but no longer sleeping with a Founder-Member" and "Living in the house where Sunday Club takes place."

The meal is served at 7.00pm sharp, more than 30 seconds variance from this is a serious breach of etiquette.

A far inferior version of the club exists in Guildford, theirs is common, boozy, badly organised, and mildly sexist. It takes place in a pub, they drink a minimum of 4 pints (a maximum of 5), they admire the dizzy barmaid, and they turn up pretty much whenever they want. It should properly be called "Renegade Sunday Club" although they call it "The Real Sunday Club". Our own (treacherous) Rob Mccarthy has been to Renegade Sunday Club a few times, and he chose it as the best Sunday Club without even bothering to come to the original.

Richard "The first rule of Sunday Club" B

Tuesday 23 August 2011

House Guests

I've had a long weekend, and I've had house guests from up the line. One of my guests was in Devon for "fibre-fest", a fair for all forms of textile fibre preparation: Shearing, combing, carding, spinning, knitting, weaving, killing. Killing? No, no killing[1]. At our Sunday evening meal I left the dining table, walked to the kitchen, picked up a cake, and walked back to the table. When I got there the entire gathering was laughing so hard that they were incapable of speech for several minutes. Apparently the conversation involved my sister asking what everybody had done for the weekend. My sister has a medical background, and when she heard "fibre-fest" she thought "dietary-fibre-fest" and asked if it was full of people with constipation.

Shameless self promotion: look at my band

If you don't understand why I added "killing" to the list of activities at fibre-fest, then you didn't watch Spaced. It won't make any more sense to you now, but here's the relevant dialog.

Richard "Nearly paddled across the Erm" B

Monday 15 August 2011


I did various things this weekend, some more masculine than others.

  • Fell off a motorbike, picked it up, and carried on;
  • Used a pocket knife, the blade of which I had made, hardened, tempered, and ground at home;
  • Approached a stranger at a party and had her make me a cigarette;
  • Carried nearly 200kg of audio equipment into a van by myself;
  • Performed in a rock band.

Less manly
  • Cooked a crumble;
  • Slipped off a small commuter motorbike at less than walking pace on a wet manhole cover;
  • Didn't have strong enough finger nails to pull a drawing pin out of plasterboard and needed to use a knife;
  • Gleefully accepted the offer of a menthol filter tip on my cigarette;
  • Put all the audio equipment in the van early to make space to hoover the carpet where it had been.

Richard "Rowley Birkin QC came to the wrong pub and failed to meet me" B

Monday 8 August 2011


On Saturday night I was in a pub helping a gay tribute band to set up, and for a few tenths of a second I found myself in an A-level physics problem. I was trying to find the end of a loudspeaker cable, and pulled the cable quickly towards myself, going hand over hand until I found the plug at the end. We can assume that the plug is heavy compared with the cable, that its mass acts as a single point, and that the cable doesn't stretch. It is trivial to show that once the plug is off the floor it will fling itself around my hands faster and faster as the cable gets shorter and shorter. Hint: analyse the moment of inertia of the system in terms of the length of the cable, then use the constant angular momentum to calculate velocity. Most pupils should also be able to explain that by pulling on the cable I was adding energy to the system which manifested itself as the speed of the heavy plug. What I didn't see coming, and I doubt that the combined intellects of Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Dr Sheldon Cooper could have calculated, was that when I had about a foot of cable left, and the plug was going very quickly indeed, it would strike me squarely in the bollocks.

Richard "Rowley Birken QC rang me at the weekend" B

Tuesday 2 August 2011


I've been on holiday for a week, amongst other things I saw:
  • My sister
  • 7 consecutive sunny days
  • dozens of dragon flies
  • London Boris-Bikes
  • a young couple on a romantic Saturday afternoon boriscycle
  • a kingfisher
  • all my Surrey friends
  • a barber
  • 450 miles of A and M roads
  • my old London friends
  • Henry IV Part 1
  • nowhere to buy a pair of shoes that I liked
  • a public roof-top garden with real grass
  • a squirrel's dray and a young squirrel opening a pine cone
  • a man who is so used to soft-close cupboards and drawers that he compulsively slams everything
  • a swan washing and preening meticulously
  • a toilet with a soft-close seat so glacially slow that if you wished to reconfigure it from standing to seated usage there would be time to make a cup of tea between
  • three common lizards (which despite their name are vanishingly rare)
  • the Royal Festival Hall in a new light.

Richard "Big Chief I Spy" B

Monday 25 July 2011


On a few occasions I have been an amateur soundman for local bands. This weekend I turned pro, I was paid (a pittance) to be soundman by "Supersonic" - Plymouth's first all gay Oasis tribute. I was quite nervous, wanted to do a good job, and to look like I knew what I was doing. I introduced myself to the woman who had booked the band - this is unusual in my experience of talking to good looking women in very short skirts - the conversation quickly turned to microphone selection, polar patterns, amplifier power ratings and impedance. It turned out that not only had she got a huge amount of experience in sound engineering, she'd got a degree to prove it. An honest to goodness bachelors of engineering in the very subject in which I was busy pretending that I knew what I was doing. As if that wasn't bad enough I also had to do sound for her support act which included an acoustic guitar with a very low quality pickup, a fiddle, and a young woman with a pretty but quiet voice. I basically had the choice between mains hum, feedback through the fiddle, and feedback through the vocal mic. I did OK for the main band though.

I though it was going to be great getting paid for being in the pub on a Friday night, in fact I was no richer on Saturday morning, and I felt thoroughly unwell.

My dog's got no nose. How does it smell? It uses a sniffer dog.
My wife didn't believe I could make a car out of spaghetti, you should have seen her face when I was driving pasta.

Richard "going on a summer holiday" B

Monday 18 July 2011

Car Keys

On Saturday evening a friend drove me to another friends house, where we had a takeaway meal, and watched low quality TV. The couple we visited have a nearly-three-year-old daughter who takes great pleasure in playing with car keys and mobile phones. When it was time to go home the car keys were missing. We checked pockets, looked in the little girl's toy box, and asked her where they were. We didn't find them. All four adults then spent the next 25 minutes doing a search of the house that would have put a police forensics team to shame. I removed all the dvds from the shelves to look behind them, I checked every food cupboard and draw in the kitchen. We didn't find the keys. The little girl was asked several times where the keys were, with differing levels of sympathy, her most frequent answer was "not here daddy" no matter which room she was in. Eventually the owner of the car washed his hands after having emptied the kitchen dustbin and not found the keys, the keys were hidden underneath the towel that had been left on a radiator near to the wash hand basin. "There they are daddy".

Childish game of the week
Replace the word "heart" with the word "arse" in song lyrics and titles. Eg. Blondie's "Arse of glass" and Gene Pitney's "Something gotten hold of my arse". Don't send me your suggestions, I have been doing this all weekend.

Richard "stop the clock, I've got the keys" B

Monday 11 July 2011


I don't really understand how it happened, but in a conversation with one of my female neighbours (not the one whose daughter's shoe I once rescued) that lasted about 10 seconds, I seemingly called her flat-chested and poor.

There is a chain of restaurants in America called Hooters. They are found on normal high streets, and are family friendly, but they distinguish themselves from the competition in that every single member of the bar and waiting staff is a busty attractive young woman. Their brand image revolves around a stylised owl (and its large eyes) and the double 'O' in Hooters.

When I got home yesterday I bumped into my nextdoor-but-one neighbour on her doorstep. She was wearing a yellow T shirt with the hooters owl on the front, large eyes (small pupils) front and centre. "Is that a Hooters shirt?" I asked, imagining she would say it was a souvenir, or a gift from an expatriate relative. I didn't expect her to grab at an imaginary pair huge boobs and say

"I haven't really got the assets for that have I?"
"Errrm [note1] I wouldn't say exactly that, I thought maybe it was a souvenir, or something"
"No, Topshop finest, all I can afford." and with that she went back into her house.

I believe that this is a conversational labyrinth that every man who has ever talked to a vain woman has been trapped in. It consists of a single forked passageway where both choices lead to a minotaur. It takes many many forms but in essence it goes like this:

"I look fat/stupid/ugly/old."
"No no, you look wonderfully slim/wise/beautiful/young."
With that you have rejected her opinions and dismissed her concerns out-of-hand. A massive argument follows.

"I look fat/stupid/ugly/old"
You offer sympathy, support and advice.
With that you have tacitly supported her original position. A massive argument follows.
Richard "home jewellery repair" B

Monday 4 July 2011


I had intended to omit this story from my blog, thinking that it was the most crushing and humiliating experience of my life, but over the weekend, one of my close friends easily demonstrated that it was at the absolute worst, the 2nd or 3rd most humiliating experience of my life, so here goes:

There's a little girl that lives on my estate, who has a very beautiful, and as I far as I know, single mother. I previously rescued a shoe for the little girl. To my mingled horror and delight, the little girl and her friend hatched a brilliant (yet childishly transparent) plan to set me and the mum up on a date. I received an anonymous love letter (written by a child), the children pestered my about my correspondence, and then the friend conspiratorially told me that the letter was from Redacted's mum - a bare faced lie. The children then pestered me about whether I liked Redacted's mum and whether I would go on a date with her. When the children weren't about I visited both mums and explained what had been going on, and that I would rather not receive love letters from small children. When I was visiting the nice mum I also asked whether there was a grain of truth in their plan, and whether she would actually have liked to go on a date with me.

Her response was two syllables. The first, "Ha" was completely involuntary, and demonstrated how ridiculous she thought the idea was. The second "No" was laced with scorn, absolute authority, and the kind of exaggerated gesticulation and annunciation that you would usually save for an errant dog, a half-deaf elderly relative, or a foreign waiter. I made my excuses and left.

As if that's not bad enough, when the little girl pesters me in my garage, she now makes fun of my having asking her mum on a date, so I can only assume that her mum has been laughing about the whole thing with the little girl. I've gone off them slightly.

Richard "laughing stock" B

Monday 27 June 2011


It doesn't get as much coverage in the music press as it should, but this weekend I was involved with the main rival to the Glastonbury Festival - the Oreston Primary School Summer Fair. Piers and I did the sound, our friend and ex-rock-star Troy Tate put several very good acts on. He played in most of them. He told us about a time when he was still a yet-to-be-rock-star. His band was so keen that they should be able to take any booking, no matter how late, that they used to practice packing and unpacking the van against a stopwatch. It sounded like they should have been added to the list of 999 emergency services along with the police, ambulance, fire brigade, coast-guard, bomb disposal etc.

Operator> 999 emergency, which service do you require?
Caller> Rock band.
Operator> Putting you through...<click>
Operator2> Emergency rock band. What seems to be the problem.
Caller> Oh god, we haven't got a band, I just rang them and they're not coming.
Operator2> Can you tell me the address of the venue?
Caller> It's the um, I don't know what we're going to do, the um, Break For The Border - Tottenham Court Road
Operator2> OK, and how big is the venue? Do you know the fire capacity?
Caller> It's 800 people, you've got to help, what are we going to do for a show?
Operator2> It's OK. Don't panic. I'm dispatching a band now, they'll be with you in 15 minutes. Don't worry I'll stay on the line until they arrive. Now can you tell me, is there somebody with you that can open the bar?....

Richard "orest-fest" B

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Cool Smoking Pouches

When you buy a microphone from Shure it comes with a "case". The case is much like a very high quality leatherette pencil case to protect the mic from dust and from getting scratched. I sometimes rather wish that I had occasion to need a pencil case so that I could use one of these microphone cases. When you buy a microphone from AKG you don't get a case with it, and so I needed to find something to protect an AKG bass drum mic that I own. It amused me to use an actual pencil case, the cheapest and best fitting best was a "Hannah Montana" one. In this pencil case, along with the mic lives tobacco and cigarette papers. At the end of one of my band's shows you now have the wonderful sight of the singers, who for the last couple of hours have looked for all the world like rock stars, without a hint of irony or embarrassment, producing a lilac Hannah Montana pencil case (with a silver star on the zip) and rolling cigarettes out of it.

You learn something every day
I had already heard of Calvinism, and the Christian reformer John Calvin, but only yesterday did I hear of English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes of Malsbury. All of a sudden the names of my favourite schoolboy and anthropomorphic tiger make a lot more sense. What a disappointment to be in your late 30s and find out that your education is below the level assumed for the audience of a mainstream an American cartoon strip.
Richard "I &#9829; my MFXi-12" B

Monday 13 June 2011


I do believe that I'm starting to understand what people like to read in the paragraph about my weekend. I suspect that it's not the quality of the prose that you appreciate, but the ridiculous and humiliating situations that I find myself in. You don't want to know that my band played in front of two or three hundred fierce looking bikers, and our very real fears that we were "too fucking lightweight". You won't be interested that we actually stormed the show, or the magical way that our straight rock version of "Tainted Love" separated the audience into 2 groups - women on the dancefloor, men at the back.

What you want to know is that my overcoat is a traditional peacoat peacoat made by French Connection and very expertly altered by the ex-seamstress mother of an ex-girlfriend. They are double-breasted and have two rows of buttons down the front. It was raining hard on Sunday so I wore my coat to the co-op when I went to buy some food. I hung a basket in the crook of my elbow so that I had a free hand to hold my shopping list. When I got to the checkouts I discovered that I was securely buttoned to my heavy shopping basket, and that I didn't have a free hand to extricate myself.

Monday 6 June 2011

Motorcycle Maintenance

People often take cues for what to do with their time from what they see on television. The snooker halls are full during the world championships, you see more runners when a big marathon is televised, and more people play football in the park at the beginning of the football season. The Isle of man TT races are running at the moment, so I expect lots of motorcycle enthusiasts are busy treating the public roads like a race track, and putting themselves and the public in danger. Not me, I seem to have inadvertently based my weekend on the TT pit crews.

My motorbike developed a serious fault on Saturday, and I am in the enviable, but heavily constraining position of having my own garage with light and power, a fair set of tools, and a good wandering light. When all decent god-fearing folk should have been falling out of nightclubs into taxis and kebab shops, I was staying up well past me bedtime, and getting up at dawn, trying to get my bike ready for race day commuting on Monday.

Richard "seized choke cable" B

Tuesday 31 May 2011


The ornithology-voyeurism dilemma

I'm very luck where I live to be visited by house martins each year. (No not the 80s band with the teenage Fatboy-Slim on bass) They are sweet little birds that hunt flying insects. They are a bit like swifts and swallows but small and stocky, and with a very smart white body, and black wings. Imagine a cross breed of a swallow and a killer whale. They are rare, and they fly all the way from Africa each summer. Miraculously some of them build nests on my street and I can watch them hunting out of my bedroom window.

A stupid pair of these birds has started making a nest that clings to the top edge of a window on the other side of the road. It's a window that opens, so the nest will be destroyed the next time that happens. I should go and tell the householder about the nest, and they could either lock the window, or clear away the nest before the birds lay any eggs. However the house is occupied by a young woman that I rather like (who's daughter's shoe I once rescued), and I don't really want to go round there with news that rather implies that I spend a lot of my time looking at (or through) her bedroom window.

Richard "birdwatcher" B

Tuesday 24 May 2011


This weekend we celebrated my sister's 50th birthday. Shortly before we went out for lunch I developed a nosebleed and got blood all down the front of the only smart shirt that I had packed. My sister, something of a domestic goddess, instantly started to wash the blood out from the shirt. Her boyfriend, an acupuncturist, said that he could help to stop the bleeding. When the rest of the guests arrived, wearing their Sunday best, I was shirtless and barefoot, clutching a bloody handkerchief to my nose, and sporting a hedgehog of needles in my left foot.

Much later that day, after the pubs and shops had shut, everyone was still thirsty. We had drunk everything in the house. The wine was finished, the lager was finished, the bitter was finished, we'd even drunk all the damson vodka (it was like cough-mixture). There wasn't a drop of alcohol anywhere - except for one of her birthday presents which was a whole case of champagne.

Richard "Grand Cru" B

Monday 16 May 2011

Playing Tennis With Yann

Several months ago my friend Fast Eddie declined to meet for lunch because he was playing tennis with Yann. At the time I neither knew that he played tennis, nor that he had a friend called Yann. Amongst my group of friends the phrase "playing tennis with Yann" became a sort of modern equivalent to "I can't come, I'm washing my hair" replacing any fabricated excuse.
I went on a date last week, it was disasterous and ended up with me getting shouted at for not giving her my full attention, and for dominating the conversation. However, before I got told off, we had been talking about going out again (clearly I didn't realize how badly it was going), she was unavailable next weekend because she was speaking at a conference in Copenhagen.
Disappointed though I am with the whole experience, I'm glad to say that it's added a certain richness to the lexicon. "I'll be at a conference in Copenhagen" is already starting to displace "playing tennis with Yann" as the favourite obviously fabricated prior arrangement.
Richard "Unexplained Drinking Injury" B

Monday 9 May 2011


When I got home on Friday the children that live near me were playing in the street. I do my best to be friendly with them, mainly because one of them has a very beautiful, and as far as I know, single mother. "Are you playing football?" I asked. They explained that they weren't supposed to play football anymore in case the ball went over the wall into one of the gardens. Apparently the couple who live behind the wall are cross with the children and now refuse to give their balls and toys back. Unfortunately the children took my question as permission to play football. I kicked the ball about with them for about five minutes taking great care not to let it get too close to the wall. The little girl who's mum I like then stopped the game in great anguish because she'd kicked her shoe off and it had gone over the wall. The children put it to me that as an adult I could knock on their door and ask for the shoe back with impunity. I was disinclined for several reasons:

  • I was chicken;
  • we shouldn't have been playing football in the first place;
  • It would be clear that I was acting as the agent of the children when they retrieved a child's shoe; and
  • I'm already in dispute with them about their hedge growing over my driveway.
One of the children lent over the wall with a small fishing net. It was neither strong enough, nor long enough to get the shoe back, but I thought the solution was brilliant. I went to my garage and attached a steel hook to the end of my broom with tie-wraps. I lent over the wall, holding the bristly end of the broom, and of course the handle fell out, leaving a child's shoe, a steel hook, and a broom handle in their garden. It was at this moment that the mum emerged from her house, having found out that her daughter had lost a shoe. I don't think I made a very good impression on her.

Unbelievable I've got a date this week with a young woman that sings in a local rock band. I'm already worrying about what albums I'll "just happen" to be listening to in my van when I pick her up.

I didn't see it myself but everybody has been talking about the Primal Scream documentary on the 'Screamadelic' album and associated tour. One of the recording engineers said he knew that the acid and ecstasy had got out of hand on the Australian leg of the tour when one of the road crew found him crawling around in the lobby of a hotel looking for the steering wheel for the Sydney Opera House.
Richard "Everybody knows you drive the Sydney Opera House with a joystick" B

Tuesday 3 May 2011

I Didn't Watch The Royal Wedding

As much as I appreciated the day off, I had no interest in the wedding. My plan for Bank Holiday Friday was to do absolutely nothing (except sleep, read, listen to music and watch snooker on TV). I very nearly managed it, but I ended up falling slightly short of my goal, and doing virtually nothing instead. I ended up having to buy some food and do a little bit of washing up.

In the queue to see St Peter at the pearly gates this weekend, I'd like to think that Osama Bin Laden got into a fight with Henry Cooper, and then of course Ted Lowe was there to give a very slow and whispered commentary on it.

Richard "I didn't think American special forces would be taking the bins out on bank holiday Monday" B

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Happy Easter

One of my parents is essentially Christian, and I received some "Religious Education" at school, so I should be able to remember the stories attached to Easter. Jesus died on the cross in agony like a mortal man, I'm confident of that much. I'm pretty sure that he had a direct line to his dad and could have just said "bugger this" and gone home, calling forth terrible retribution if he'd felt like it. Where I get hazy is his motivation. It was either to atone for the sins of all mankind, or so that the people of Europe would get a four day weekend, and cinnamon-spiced fruit buns for breakfast.

Important further reading:


Richard "theology B

Monday 18 April 2011

Swimming Pool

I know that some of you positively look forward to my lottery emails, and expect some enlightening or entertaining paragraph about my weekend. Well this weekend nothing interesting happened. I washed my car, did the hoovering, changed the bed linen, and worked on a couple of guitars. I did go to the cinema to see "Sucker Punch" to which I was completely indifferent. My only lasting impression is that whoever made it must have seen "Pan's Labyrinth" and said "well that was good, but what it was missing was a load of good looking young women in short skirts with samurai swords and machine guns doing battle with fantastical CGI monsters.

I was reminded of something that happened several years ago when I was staying at my mum's house in Plymstock. A woman knocked at the door carrying a bucket.
"Hello - I'm collecting for the Plymstock swimming pool"
"Err, do you want me to go and run that under the tap for you?" I asked.
"No, I'm collecting money for the Plymstock swimming pool" she said rattling the coins in the bucket.
"Really? I didn't think there was a pool in Plymstock"
"That's the whole point, we want to build one"
"Brilliant" I said wracking my brains for somewhere in an expensive and sought after suburb they could fit a pool. "Where's is going to be?"
"Well we haven't actually identified a suitable site, that's one of the things we need money for"
I gave her some money and went back to the lounge and explained to my parents that there had been a crazy woman at the door collecting for a swimming pool that didn't exist, and didn't even have a proposed location. It turns out that my mum has lifetime membership to the same completely notional swimming pool.
Anyway the Plymstock swimming pool committee celebrated its 18th birthday last week, or as I charitably think of it, 18 consecutive years of failure.

Richard "nothing to report" B

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Silver crowd surfers

I've been to a few concerts with different age groups in the audience. In the mid 90's I drove to Cardiff to see the original line-up Monkees. We were split about 50/50 between drunk students/twenty-somethings and little old ladies. A few years later I found myself amongst the old folks. I saw Muse at the pavilions when I was about 27, apart from me, Fast Eddie, and somebody's dad it was completely full of children, most of whom weren't old enough to use the bar.

This weekend I saw The Undertones on their 35th anniversary tour. They haven't stopped playing and touring since the first wave of punk in the late 70s, and they were fantastic. Half of the crowd were too young to remember it first time round, and the other half were in their early 50s. It was the balding, greying, and middle-aged-spreading fans who knew how to enjoy themselves. They were the ones who pushed their way to the front, they were the ones who drank like fishes, danced, pogoed, pushed and shoved, and who were bedraggled and running with sweat. When I see someone carried aloft by the crowd I usually think 'whatever's just fallen out of your pockets - you're never going to get that back' and 'don't you think these people would rather be watching the show than trying to support your weight'. On Saturday I found myself thinking 'sombody's going to get properly hurt - oh hell, I'm probably the soberest fist aider here'
Richard "teenage kicks" B

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Date Report 8


  Academy of Training Certificate of Education
APRIL 2011         BASIC LEVEL

Subject Title:  Love and Relationships
Paper No/Title:  Passes and First Dates
Subject Code No: DATEREPORT8

Forty Five Minutes
Multiple Choice

Answer every question by marking the letter alongside the most appropriate answer.
Some questions have already been answered correctly to help you.

1) Man R approaches woman A in a bar and attempts to make a date by explaining that he doesn't have enough time to spend chatting, flirting and buying her drinks, but instead asks outright if she would ring him. Does this demonstrate:
  • A Charming Honesty
  • B Stupidity
  • C Drunkenness
  • D Therminic emmission
2) Woman A is sitting on a stool in a public bar wearning full makeup, a short and well fitted dress and heavily patterned fishnet tights. Man R steps completely out of character to approach her. Is he attracted by:
  • A Her legs
  • B Her implied personality and character
  • C Her legs
  • D Her legs
3) Man R supplies woman A with a card printed with contact details for a local band. He explains that he is not promoting a band, but is using it because the first contact number on the card is his. As a result man R is asked about the quality of his musicianship. He says that he is "Nothing special in the grand scheme of things, but much better than most people who play." Does this response demonstrate:
  • A Hubris
  • B Charming honesty
  • C Adiabatic expansion
  • D Drunkenness
4) Upon learning of R's musical talent, woman A says "Maybe we'll make beautiful music together." Would you assume that she was:
  • A Drunk
  • B A musician
  • C An idiot
  • D Flirting
  • E Taking the piss
5) After hearing the line "Maybe we'll make beautiful music together." man R says "Oh fuck off, you're not on 'Blind Date'". Would you assume that he was:
  • A Socially handicapped
  • B An idiot
  • C Taking the piss
  • D Youngs modulous
6) On a Friday night a man specifically asks a woman to telephone him on Sunday. Should she:
  • A Never contact him again
  • B Ring him on Sunday
  • C Text him on Sunday
  • D Email his band's website the next day
7) A man has been hosting a weekly dinner party for approximately 15 years. He cancels the dinner party with less than 8 hours notice in order to make a date. is this:
  • A A travesty
  • B Normal
  • C Shameful
  • D Charmingly impulsive
8) A woman arranges a first date at a pub within 1/2 a mile of her house. She expects her guest to make his own way to and from the date. Is this:
  • A Convenient
  • B Rude
  • C Normal
  • D Selfish
9) A woman arranges a date for 6.00pm on a Sunday. Her date arrives approximately 90s early. When does she arrive:
  • A She is already there
  • B 6:03
  • C 6:08
  • D She appologises by text at 6:05 and arrives at 6:21
10) A woman travels approximately 1/2 a mile to a date by car. Is she:
  • A Lazy
  • B Running late
  • C Avagadro's number
  • D Wearing 6" stilleto heals
11) How much perfume was woman A wearing when she arrived at her date?
  • A Enough
  • B Too much
  • C Far too much
  • D 3x10^8 l/m2
12) Man R first meets woman A approximately 4 pints into a heavy drinking binge. 2 days later he meets her sober but severely deprived of sleep. He was unable to remmember what woman A looked like. When she arrived was she in fact:
  • A Familiar, but rougher than he hoped
  • B Unrecognizable
  • C within acceptable limits
  • D Unbelievably beautiful
13) Man R habitually wears handmade leather boots. On his date with woman A it transpires that she is a shoe enthusiast. How does R's choice of shoes influence A's impression of him?
  • A He was wearing the wrong shoes
  • B She saw them as soon as she entered the pub and loved them
  • C No influence
  • D Majority carrier conduction
14) A woman announces on a first date that she's a vegetarian who eats fish and occasionally chicken, and that she never ever cooks.
i) In the short term is this:
  • A Charmingly ideosyncratic
  • B Fucking bizarre
  • C Isothermal compression
ii) In a relationship would this be:
  • A Charmingly ideosyncratic
  • B Fucking bizarre
  • C Intollerable
15) On a date a woman happily acknowledges that she is extremely beautiful, and that she gets a lot of attention from men. She tells her date that she only decided to meet him because he is musical. She also says that she will have to hear him play. Is this:
  • A Acceptable
  • B Rude
  • C Shallow
  • D Charmingly honest
16) Man R and woman A decide to eat at a pub and read the menu at the bar. Woman A orders their food while man R is visiting the toilet. She does not tell him that their food has been ordered until after is has been delivered to a table. Is this:
  • A Charmingly impulsive
  • B Efficient
  • C Taking charge
  • D Weird
17) After eating on a first date woman A reapplies her lipstick and perfume. How much perfume is she now wearing?
  • A Too much
  • B Far too much
  • C It was litterally dripping off her fucking throat
18) By the end of a date woman A has drunk 3 large glasses of wine. How does she get her car back home?
  • A Drives it
  • B Picks it up the following day
  • C She has her date drive it home, then shyly changes into flat shoes, and then walks with her date back to the pub so that he can drive her home a second time in his own car.
19) Why wouldn't woman A drive her own car home while drunk?
  • A It's illegal
  • B It's completely unacceptable
  • C Frightened of getting caught
  • D It's immoral
20) A woman is slightly older than a man, has a much more senior job, and is obviously very much wealthier than him. Is this:
  • A Irrelevant
  • B Advantageous to the man
  • C Advantageous to the woman
  • D Slightly galling
21) On a date in a pub, woman A is friendly with the bar manager who is responsible for booking entertainment. She gives the manager a promotional recording of her date's band. Will their date be accompanied by:
  • A Hubbub from a crowded bar
  • B Songs from the jukebox
  • C Brownian motion
  • D The promotional CD being played several times interspersed with random 60s soul songs
22) On a first date, physical contact should be limited to:
  • A Nil
  • B One brief kiss
  • C prolonged kissing and petting
  • D sex
23) On a first date, the man should not kiss the woman's neck:
  • A In any circumstances
  • B If she tells him to stop
  • C If his lips suffer chemical burns from all the perfume
  • D Raleigh scattering
24) On a first date the man should not remove the woman's blouse:
  • A In any circumstances
  • B Unless dictated by a medical emergency
  • C If she tells him to stop undressing her
25) Woman A would reject proposed follow-up dates with R because:
  • A Out of town with work
  • B Will be in Cuba
  • C Will be watching the Grand National
  • D Too tired
  • E All of these
26) By the end of a first date where the woman has drunk considerably more than the man the woman has spent at least an hour telling the man how intelligent and sucessful she is. She has also advised him on what car he should drive, how he should promote his band, how he should kiss her, and what excercise he should do. She also seems not to have stopped talking for 2 seconds together. Is this:
  • A A natural consequence of the different levels of drunkenness
  • B Her style of conversation
  • C Rude
  • D Irritating
27) Shortly after a date in a pub where the bar manager had been given a demo CD his band, a man receives a phone call from the bar manager. why?
  • A To book the band
  • B Garment left in pub
  • C The couple had left the pub without paying for their meal
28) Approximately what is the speed of sound in air at sea level?
  • A Chalk it up to experience and don't call her again
  • B 340m/s
  • C Organise another date where both people will be drinking
  • D Leave it up to her
29) After a first date, should the lingering impression be:
  • A Rejection
  • B Mild irritation (social)
  • C Mild irritation (chemical)
  • D Lust
  • E An odd combination of all of these.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Middle Names

Important literature news
There is a new date-report on the way, I might have finished typing it up by lunchtime, and I really feel it's going to be the best yet! Use the voting buttons (If I have managed to add them to this email) to request a copy. It's interesting to note that I am more excited about, and have spent longer on, the report than the date.

Middle names
As well of signing each lottery email with a pretend middle name, which I try to make funny or illuminating, I am sometimes assigned a joke middle name. When my band plays, if the audience seems to be indulgent, and we have played well then the female singer will introduce the band. Almost invariably we're assigned an embarrassing or insulting middle name based on something we've done. I have been Richard "Love Rat" B; Richard "cotton bud up the eurethra" B; Richard "peado" B amongst others. This week I was introduced to a reasonable sized audience of my colleagues, friends, and strangers as:

Richard "Milfhunter" B

Monday 28 March 2011

British Summer Time

I don't send children to school, my work doesn't rely on daylight, and the office is pretty flexible about what hours I work. For me Daylight Savings Time is nothing but puritanical bed-time police telling me that I'm getting up too late in the mornings, and going to be too late at night.

Richard "forgot to bring my sandwich" B

Monday 21 March 2011


Knut the polar bear, who was hand reared in the Berlin zoo after being rejected by his mother (and namesake to a stuffed polar bear that I won in a raffle) died this weekend. He was found dead, floating in a pool in his enclosure.

Richard "I blame Micheal Barrymore" B

Monday 14 March 2011

Plympton is going to rack and ruin

I went to a fundraising event at the local community centre, it was the middle of the day, there were loads of kids about, and I saw a really really nasty fight. Some poor woman was getting beaten up by her husband, and when a policeman tried to break it up, the man managed to grab his batton, knocked the policeman out with it, and then went back to beating his wife up. As if that wasn't bad enough, then a crocodile turned up and stole her sausages.

Richard "weekend rock-star" B

Monday 7 March 2011

2011 Lottery Emails Omnibus

Each week I send an email to members of the lottery syndicate. I sometimes include a joke or observation, and I usually assign myself a joke middle name. These are my names from 2011:

Tue 04/01/2011
I will send the new year's day results after I have set up a new spreadsheet for 2011. Good luck to us all.
Richard "excel" B

Tue 04/01/2011
Richard "back to work" B

Mon 10/01/2011
Richard "my bike's got front brakes again" B

Mon 17/01/2011
Richard "It was supposed to say 'The Kicks' above 'Puppet Show'" B

Mon 31/01/2011
Richard "stayed up past my bedtime" B

Mon 07/02/2011
Richard "pub quiz champions" B

Mon 07/03/2011
Richard "geriatric nurse" B

Monday 28 February 2011


This weekend I watched "Scarface" for the first time. I now see why the phrase "say hello to my little friend" pops up so frequently in popular culture, and have a much better understanding of a very dirty joke that an ex-girlfriend once made with it. My favourite scene was when Al Pacino was arguing with his wife Michelle Pfeiffer, by that point he's a crime lord, a murderer, a cocaine addict, a drunk, and he's been rude to his mother. His wife's main complaints seemed to be what he chose to watch on TV, and that he swore too much. Some arguments are seemingly universal.

Richard "Are Hannah and Tony Montanna brother and sister?" B

Thursday 24 February 2011

Formalities and procedures

I try to keep this lottery syndicate as informal and friendly as I can, however, I need to keep track of who paid what and when, and I need records of a standard that will hold up in court when we're arguing over hundreds of thousands of pounds. Ideally you should pay me in person, at my desk. I will sign your receipt while you watch, that is your legal record. Sometimes I'm not at my desk when you want make a payment, when that happens you can leave a payment with one of my colleagues, preferably Helen, and you must email me to tell me how much you left and when. If the timestamp on your email, and Helen's account match, then I'll happily accept that you made your payment before the draw.

Yes, someone could conceivably notice that their number has come up when they're not paid up, and then persuade Helen to presenting the payment as though it was made before the draw, and convince Rich I to turn back time on the email system while they sent me a notification email, but it's not a risk I'm prepared to guard against.

Richard "dictator" B

Monday 14 February 2011

Can anybody lend me Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' on CD?

First they came for Rival Records, but I didn't speak out because they were a bit patronising in there.
Then they came for Our Price, but I didn't speak out because Virgin Megastore had just opened.
Then they came for the music section of WHSmiths, but I didn't speak out because the selection was terrible.
Then they came for the classical and jazz section in Virgin, but I didn't speak out because I didn't listen to either.
Then they came for MVC Music Club, but I didn't speak out because MVC was crap anyway.
Then they came for Purple Haze, but I didn't speak out because there was bound to be a good record shop when they rebuilt Drake Circus.
Then they came for Virgin Megastore, but I didn't speak out because I was still cross with them over that back-order fiasco.
Then they came for Woolworths, but I didn't speak out because Woolies music section was just for children.
Then they came for Zavi, but I didn't speak out because it was only Zavi.
Then they came for HMV on New George Sreet, but I didn't speak out because there was still an HMV in the new Drake Circus.
Then I came to buy a Fleetwood Mac album, and there was nobody left to sell it to me.
Richard "no chocolates, no flowers, no romantic meal" B

Monday 24 January 2011

My "middle" name

Last week in my lottery email I signed myself as Richard "It was supposed to say 'The Kicks' above 'Puppet Show'" B. For those of you that didn't recognise the reference I was talking about a favourite scene in the film "This is Spinal Tap" - a mockumentory about Britain's loudest heavy metal band. When the band go to play a show at a fairground the puppet show gets higher billing than the band.

I went to "The Staddy" on Saturday night to hear the band and see what it was like as a venue as I'll be playing there this Saturday. On the main door there were 2 posters, one advertising my band, it said "The Kicks - retro indie and psychedelic rock". The other poster, above ours, said "Missing Cat - Charlie is a 13 year old black tom..."

Richard "Life imitating art imitating a documentary" B