Tuesday 26 September 2017


I'm very inexperienced at dealing with small children, and I find them difficult to spot. They're low down, they creep up behind you, and unlike cats and dogs, they don't seem to instinctively scuttle away from your feet. I was at a primary school summer fair once and took a few steps across the hall. In doing so I knocked about half a dozen children over like so many fleshy bowling pins.

I'd like to think that my actions are purposeful, but my friends would tell you that I'm heavy handed. Apparently I knock on the door like a debt collector, I use the light pull in the bathroom like I'm trying to climb it, and I put the iron onto the garment like I'm stamping a passport.

I was leaving a café where the door had been shut tight against the wind, the door opens inward. I opened the door briskly and to my surprise there was a small child attached to the outside handle. He'd reached above his head to grab it just as I opened the door and was whisked off his feet and thrown into the café. He flew gracefully at first, like an immature super-hero but he landed in a crying crumpled heap.

Richard "I'd make an excellent father" B

Tuesday 19 September 2017


A while ago I lived for a couple of years with my then girlfriend. It's a period I look back on very fondly, but I also describe it as a reign of terror:

  • No smoking inside the house.
  • Front door to be kept locked at all times.
  • All laundry to be placed immediately into the designated basket.
  • No coming home too drunk to keep your dinner down.
  • All washing up to be done on the day that it is generated.
  • Clean bed linen every single week.
  • All carpets and surfaces to be kept clean at all times.
  • "Strictly Come Dancing" to be watched attentively and in its entirety on the day of first broadcast.
  • Differentiation between soup spoons and dessert spoons to be carefully observed.
  • No snoring.

One day during the reign of terror I came home, unlocked the front door (even though it was my own house and somebody else was at home) and had to ask "What the fuck are you doing?". She said later that given the situation it was a fair question and eloquently phrased.

She was on her hands and knees in the kitchen, mopping the floor, wearing only her bra and knickers. This wasn't some sexy roll-play acting, this was earnest housework in a state of undress.

In my absence she had made a large jelly, balanced it on the top of the fridge freezer, and then before it was set, knocked it down – drenching herself and most of the kitchen in sticky liquid and mandarin orange segments. She put her wet clothes straight into the washing machine and wiped it all up before stepping into the shower. I came home in the middle of that process.

I used to car-share with my boss. My girlfriend says she's very glad that he didn't come in for a cup of tea that day.

Richard "No animals behind the sofa, no gnawing on the skirting boards, no urine on the carpet" B

Tuesday 12 September 2017


I often complain that in the days before mobile phones people were more careful to meet their appointments. If you said that you'd be somewhere at a certain time you had to be there, otherwise you'd be keeping somebody waiting or miss them. What I forget is all the times that I got delayed or detained.

"Where have you been? I've been waiting here for three quarters of an hour."
"I'm really sorry, we got lost in a maze"

In the early 90's I was living in Crystal Palace with my sister and we walked down to Penge to meet our friend for a drink. We walked through Crystal Palace Park, which, as well as the ruins of the crystal palace, a football club, formal gardens and dinosaur sculptures contains a hedge maze.

We were a few minutes early so we walked a little way into the maze, not really expecting to find the middle, not expecting to get lost. Which we promptly did, resolutely. It was quite a surprise when we retraced our steps and found a dead end rather than the entrance. The hedges were so carefully planted that you couldn't force your way through them – I tried earnestly. All the junctions look so similar that you can confidently say "we've already been here" even when you haven't. It was dark, cold, and there was nobody else in the park. The only thing that gave us hope, as we wandered deeper and deeper, more and more hysterically and started seriously considering how we should sleep and wait for daylight – was that (to the best of our knowledge) there wasn't a minotaur trying to kill us.

Richard "Caught in a trap" B

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Will you marry me?

On the bank holiday I was invited to witness a proposal. I thought these were private intimate events, but one of my old school friends wanted me to watch him propose to his American girlfriend at the Mayflower steps while they were visiting the UK. I really like of the symbolism of using the Mayflower Steps for an Englishman proposing to an American, it’s spoiled slightly by the knowledge that the entire foreshore has been rebuilt since the Pilgrim Fathers left and the most likely spot that their ship last touched the UK is now the toilets in The Admiral MacBride*

He invited several of his friends and family and a photographer and he booked a venue for celebratory drinks. He was so cocksure of her answer that I really rather hoped she would say "No" – she didn't.

It wasn't clear from the invitation whether we should have been present when he popped the question so I ended up in a large group of people hiding half-heartedly behind "Prawn on a Stick"*

The most bizarre part of the event was that there's an odd bloke who hangs around on the Barbican dressed as Sir Francis Drake. He carries a sword and a pistol and accosts the tourists. He molested the happy couple and "knighted" them with his sword – all while wearing the most enormous codpiece.

The bride to be is charming and beautiful and – unusually for a septic – has a keen and sarcastic sense of humour. We were talking about names for things and she said "yes that's an excellent name for it. Did you think of that at a tea party with your dollies?"

*The Admiral MacBride is one of the few really rough pubs left in Plymouth.

*"Prawn on a Stick" is a well known sculpture and landmark in Plymouth. I believe that the sculptor gave it a much more pretentious name but that it was soundly ignored by the Janners.

Richard "Damn Yankees" B