Monday 18 December 2023

Slippery When Wet

 Motorists using roundabouts are too impatient. A couple of years ago my sportscar shed its luggage on a roundabout and a lot of it got run over before I could retrieve it. A couple of weeks ago I slipped off my motorbike on a wet roundabout. The second that I had picked myself up and started pushing the bike towards the kerb people started using the roundabout again, paying no heed to my top-box, the bits of my mirrors that were left behind, or the items which had fallen out of my pocket.

It was the classic low-side and it happened at a nice low speed. I was dressed very defensively and I was pretty much uninjured. I took most of the impact on my right hand and right hip, but somehow managed to bang up both elbows!

Richard "leathers" B

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Fridge Magnets

 In my old house I sort of collected fridge magnets. In my new house there is nowhere to stick them. The fridge-freezer is concealed and everything is made from wood, plastic or stainless steel. I have found one small place on each oven that will support a magnet so I have picked two which are dear to me for the kitchen and left the rest on steel shelving in the workshop.

I chose the Osborne Bull (from a holiday to Spain) and the Legendary Cock of Barcelos (from Portugal). Sadly they fit in so well with the décor that it looks more like one oven is specifically for meat and the other for poultry.

Richard "magnetic attraction" B

Code Name

 I've been climbing for about 18 months. I'm doing what's called bouldering (or low altitude indoor free solo) where you climb artificial walls at a gym with a thickly padded floor. You never get particularly high so there are no harnesses or ropes involved. I'm not particularly good at it, but I'm much better and stronger than when I started.

One of the moves is called a "mantle". It's where you grab something at (say) chest height and you start off by pulling down on it but end up pushing down on it at waist height. Like part of a muscle-up except you're allowed to use your feet too.

A couple of Saturdays ago I made friends with a Brummie who liked my solution to one of the climbs and said I made it look easy. I thanked him but pointed out that I couldn't do the mantle without making a silly little noise. It was completely involuntary and it was more than the sound of an old man getting up out of a sofa, but much less than the sound of a professional tennis player serving.

My new friend then climbed the same problem using my beta (set of moves) and made the same little noise during the mantle.

We then watched another climber do the same problem, but he didn't have to make the same noise so we agreed that he must be stronger than us.

I told this story to the guy I usually climb with. He used to be a professional athlete, and he's enormously fit and strong. He didn't need to make the noise, so he's now got a very cool gang name. "Silent Mantle".

Richard "quite fireplace" B

Monday 20 November 2023


 I wanted a strop for chisels and plane irons, and youtube encouraged me to make my own. It's only a scrap of leather glued to a flat bit of wood. So this weekend I took the radio and a cup of coffee out to the workshop and did some recreational woodwork.




Makeshift shooting board


Polishing compound ("soap")



Richard "Walking on the razor's edge" B

Friday 17 November 2023

Long Service Award

 For at least 30 years, there was an undisputed genius in engine tuning in Plymouth. His name was Alan Jeffery and you would hear stories, told in reverent tones about the godlike works that he had done. An ex-girlfriend's dad told me about the time that Alan Jeffery took a screwdriver, pressed it to the cylinder head and inlet manifold in many different places while listening to the handle and then told him (correctly) exactly why his car was running badly. When we were young, everybody with a good souped up Escort had had it tuned by Alan Jeffery. The man from the Vehicles Inspectorate who looked at my Caterham talked about him (and his skill with Webber carburettors) in nothing but glowing terms.

In early 2016 Alan Jeffery worked his magic for me, over the phone! My Caterham wouldn't pass the emissions tests. When I rang up he asked me to read the numbers off the failure certificate, and then told me exactly what was wrong (a clean air leak into the exhaust system). He never saw the car and he tried not to charge me.

His workshop was at the end of Valley Road but more recently it changed its name to Enginetuner Ltd and started concentrating on Subarus and Mitsubishis. I went there a couple of weeks ago to ask for advice on working out how worn my Caterham engine is (it has something like 200 hours on track). The receptionist said "Oh for a Caterham you'd be better off talking to Alan, he'll be there on Thursday". Alan Jeffery, semi-retired, well into his 70's with at least a 30 year glowing reputation showed me around the workshop, looked over my car, and essentially said "if it aint broke don't fix it", but "aint broke" involves oil consumption, temperature management, and emissions tests.

I'm delighted that he's still going, but rather sad that all the youngsters who work there are concentrating on modern cars. When Alan's gone, who's going to help me with my Caterham engine? Who's going to tune cars with carburettors?

Richard "Two first names" B

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Bolingbroke Suite

I just bought a slightly battered silk lampshade from the charity shop, but it doesn't fit the pendant in The Bolingbroke Suite. To the workshop:

Bottle Top

Bottle Top with Groove

Bottle Top with O-Ring

Bottle Top at Drill Press

Bottle Top with Hole

Lampshade Adapter

Bolingbroke Suite

Richard "False Economy" B

Thursday 2 November 2023

Food Culture

 This week I present to you a couple of food based thought experiments. We have all grown up in a culture of food that has weird and subtle rules. We all know them but they're never said out loud. For example coffee and cake would come in the morning while tea and cake would come in the afternoon. If a group of people are ordering from a Chinese takeaway then no main dishes are duplicated, but the same rule doesn't apply at the fish and chip shop. No hot drinks with hot food - except at breakfast time.

I was supposed to be cooking brunch for one of my friends on Sunday, but it was cancelled at the last minute so I have an unexpected glut of sausages and bacon. The first question is are you happy to eat a meal of fried bacon, sausage, egg (maybe mushrooms, maybe potato) in the evening? I absolutely am, but my brother finds the idea repulsive. The next question is can you have a glass of red wine with it? I know a woman who does, but I find the very idea abhorrent.

Richard "Breakfast for Tea" B

Breakfast of Champions

 I'm getting used to cooking on an induction stove, and I'm getting used to cooking in a heavy carbon steel frying pan which I bought to go with it. After my house warming party I successfully fried an egg in it for the first time. I got it unstuck easily, I flipped it without breaking it, and it came out beautifully. What I don't know is what was the critical factor that lead to my success. Was it my new, thin fish slice? Was it that the pan had built up enough of an oily layer on its surface? Was it that I'd just drunk most of a bottle of champagne and a quarter of a bottle of gin? I hope it's not the last one because that would make cooking breakfast wildly inconvenient.

Richard "Chef" B

Thursday 12 October 2023

Ostentatious Wealth

 I have just sold my old house, so I'm not longer in debt, and I have some money to play with. There was some discussion about what I'd do when this happened. My boss thought I might buy a new Caterham, I thought I might buy a new cardigan. Anyway I have indulged myself a little – there are now two Bentleys in my garage, one vintage and one brand new!

Readers added context they thought people might want to know:

The Charles Bentley company manufactures brooms and brushes. I have owned a Bentley broom for many years and I have just bought a large Bentley dustpan and brush to go with it. They are both currently in the garage.

Richard "Rich" B

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Moving Day

 I've been moving house for the last month and I still haven't finished. All my friends have rallied around to help, and on the main moving day even my god-daughter was involved. I think my favourite bit of the whole experience was finding one of the boxes which she had packed. It contained my (flashy new carbon-steel) wok, my (flashy new carbon-steel) frying pan and various oven trays. It was labelled "greasy crap".

Richard "de Buyer Carbone-plus frying pan" B

Monday 25 September 2023

Small Bench

 I did a little bit of woodwork at the weekend. I started with a scrap of mahogany that I inherited. It was originally the top of a bench at Plymouth Polytechnic (now university), my father rescued it from the skip  in the early 80s and I ended up with what he hadn't used by the time he died.

I turned it into the top of a very small workbench by fixing it to the legs for a bench grinder. Then I bolted my bench drill on top of it.

Measuring tape

Rip saw

Smoothing plane

Smoothing plane

Block plane

Old pants

Old pyjamas


And now it's a floor standing drill

Richard "you never know when it'll come in handy" B

Wednesday 13 September 2023

The Very Hungry Caterham

 At the end of last week I was at a race circuit celebrating my birthday and a racing car ate my trousers! I took my own sports car, but I also hired a track prepared Caterham for the day. It was very impressive and a lot of fun to drive. It had a full roll cage which I had to learn to climb in to and it had 4 point harnesses with which I was completely unfamiliar. The two shoulder straps were quite easy to put on and adjust, but the waist straps were awkward. Once they were fastened you pulled on the loose end to take up the slack through a roller buckle by your hip. It was a hot day, but you're not allowed to wear shorts on a racetrack so I was wearing lightweight linen slacks and I had to take everything out of my pockets to even fit in to the seats. On my first trip out in the hire car I wound my trousers into the buckle and couldn't get out of the seat again without tearing my trousers.

Richard "Consumables" B

Monday 21 August 2023

Security Policy

 I spent a lot of time in the bank on Saturday. I had to go there in person to organise transferring the price of a house from one of my accounts to my solicitor. I was expecting it to be a slow process, but my nosiness and belligerence made it take nearly all day. While they were setting up the transfer I witnessed an information security incident. A bank laptop, which had already had the Windows password entered was left unattended with a customer (me). When it finished the (very slow) login process I had access to Microsoft Teams and email but not the banking system.

When I questioned the banker about what was going to happen I was unconvinced that they understood their ISO27001 process for reporting an information security incident, so I insisted that I would witness the incident report. It was boring, but it looks like they did take it seriously and they did follow their process correctly.

Richard "Karen" B

Friday 18 August 2023

Name all the members of The Band

In some anti-misandrist corners of the internet there's the idea that men receive so few compliments in their life that they pretty much remember every single one. I don't know how true that is, but I was complimented in about 2012 and I still remember it. At the time I took playing the electric guitar quite seriously and I was OK at it (nothing special, good enough that I would occasionally get paid, good enough that people would sometimes dance at a wedding or a birthday party).

A good friend of mine said about my playing "You sound like Robbie Robertson". The compliment is doubly moving because the guy who said it really could play electric guitar, and Robbie Robertson played in a way that I very much admire – an absolute virtuoso and incredibly versatile but he played nothing too showy or self indulgent and pretty much never played a note that didn't need to be there.

Anyway Robbie Robertson died last week at the ago of 80 and you should go and watch The Last Waltz. It's the best film that's every been made about live music. The Band had decided to retire, the show was so sold out that tickets were rarer than unicorns, the list of guests who played with them on stage that night is an absolute Who's Who of the music world. Martin Scorsese filmed it and did a couple of interviews, and there was some very professional sound recording. There's nothing else to it!

If you go and watch it – which you should. You'll hear about 90 minutes of live music with not a single mistake, loss of tempo, bum note, or in fact anything at all to criticise. You can hear and see Robbie Robertson play perfectly for Neil Young in the style that the song requires, and then transition to playing with Eric Clapton, in the style of Eric Clapton, only rather better (I kid you not)

Richard "farewell" B

Friday 11 August 2023

Slow Tidying

 I've been cleaning my house getting ready to sell it. On Sunday I spent some time "spring" cleaning the kitchen. My more careful cleaning of the knobs in the gas hob led to grimy water getting down inside the mechanism that light the gas. It short circuited and started going haywire. To get the gas hob out you have to first take the oven out. To get to the ignitor you have to completely dismantle the gas hob. This little bit of wiping down led to 4 or 5 hours of difficult, stressful and dirty repair work.

 Richard "having first drained and removed the fuel tank" B

Monday 7 August 2023


 At the weekend I saw "Barbenheimer" in the cinema. We watched "Barbie" and then "Oppenheimer" with a short break in between. I was later told that that's the order a psychopath watches them. I think we chose that order mainly so we could fit lunch into the programme.

Oppenheimer was good, but slightly disappointing. Too long, too noisy, too complicated. I was hoping for this generation's "The Right Stuff" about the Manhattan Project. That section was only about 45 minutes long, the rest of it was a political drama. And it was all told out of order, like a boring "Reservoir Dogs".

"Barbie" was a lot of fun. It was funny and it looked amazing. A lot of people have been talking about whether it's sexist or woke or anti-woke. For my money, those people must have gone into the cinema with wildly over-sensitive sexism detectors. My sacrilege alarm went off way before my sexism alarm ever would have: You've got a real yet unreachable magical realm that is concerned with the wellbeing and development of mortal man. You've got an emissary from there who visits us, is betrayed, is sent back, and then after a short break comes back to Earth. All well and good so far, Christ and Batman are the two origin stories that nobody every stops telling. What I spotted is that She was chief (or at least most angelic) among the angels, so I think that would make her Lucifer. She visited out of selfishness and vanity, not love and duty. When She was caught and her hands were just about to be bound She lost her nerve and ran away. When She returned to Heaven / Barbieland it was to wage war, not to absolve the sins of all mankind.

Wait a minute! Did I just watch a sequel to “Paradise Lost”?

Richard "Milton-Gerwig" B

Tuesday 25 July 2023

House Bodging

 I've been tidying up and painting my house ready to sell it. As I know that it will soon no longer be mine, I haven't been doing it very thoroughly. But is it still really bodging if you do a half-arsed job to a very high standard?

This cupboard door is slightly twisted and doesn't close properly.

I made these oaken wedges.

And braced it with an aluminium channel

And it's now pretty straight.

Richard "homes under the hammer" B

Friday 21 July 2023

Too True

There are certain anti-truths that people tell you because they sound so fantastical, or because they never questioned them when they were told. When I was younger there was a long standing rumour that (80's quizmaster) Bob Holness played the saxophone solo on the song Baker Street. I've been told that (Welsh singer) Duffy is the daughter of (Welsh singer) Shakin' Stevens. I met someone who claimed to have played the swanny whistle part in the song Groove is in the Heart, and to honour him I will sometimes tell people that my father supplied a recording studio with the angry goose that you can hear on the Herb Alpert's song Tijuana Taxi – it's not really a goose, it's a baritone sax, probably played by Bob Holness.

Sometimes I get told something so specific and unlikely that I assume it’s one of these anti-truths:
"The singer La Roux's mum played June Ackland in The Bill."
"I used to know they guy who played (80s TV icon) Roland Rat and he also ran a fetish and leather club."
"Me and my friends developed the Hot Coffee mod for GTA San Andreas and cost Rockstar Games millions of dollars."

This weekend I was told that during the 60's Demmis Roussos was in the same prog rock band as Vangelis.

Richard "Aphrodite's Child" B

Friday 14 July 2023

To Coin a Phrase

 I was messaging my friend about how I didn't know when I was going to be available and the predictive text came up with such a lovely new phrase that I left it in the message. I told him that my plans were "all up in the air fryer".

Richard "I do most of my proof reading after I hit sned" B

Tuesday 4 July 2023


 At the weekend I went on my celebratory speed awareness course. I mostly enjoyed it. My luxurious breakfast in the hotel restaurant was spoiled by the presence of two coachfulls of dithering geriatric tourists. The queue took about 10 minutes, and on the three occasions I reached the head of it there was no coffee available. When I complained they instantly gave me a full refund which I took to the coffee shop on the other side of the car park.

 I learned a lot on the course, and I took snacks and fancy napkins for all the participants. There was, however, a point at the beginning of the course where nobody wanted to answer the question about why we thought these courses were being offered. After a conciliatory speech by the instructor about how there were no wrong answers, and how the course would only work if we all got involved I put my hand up. I was then spoken to very harshly, It turns out that there WERE wrong answers and that the course WOULDN'T work if people were negative about it. I had suggested that I was offered the course so that I could be charges £100 instead of the statutory £60 fine.

 Richard "300mm repeater sign" B

Thursday 29 June 2023

The High Seas

 At nerd-club I was talking about my theory that I don't fit well into any social class, or rather that I seem to fit badly in to all of them.

Upper class: I naturally use a posh accent and sesquipedalian vocabulary. My surname is old, hard to spell, and all over English history and Shakespeare. I hold physical gold and don't really have any debts.

Middle class: I have a degree, and do a very sedentary job. I live in my own house in the suburbs and I worry about house prices and pensions.

Working class: I go out to work every day to pay my own bills. I swear freely and expressively. I like beer, fast food, and motorsport.

The guy I was talking to homed in on just two items from this description (the gold and the swearing) and decided that I was actually a pirate.

Richard "Arrr" B

Monday 5 June 2023

Dog and Pony Show

 I'm not one of those houseproud people, so if I get guests without warning I'm usually embarrassed by unhoovered carpets or a large holding pattern of washing up.

 I'm also not one of those carproud people. I wash the car very carefully once each year so that I can put a coat of wax on it, and after that it gets a slapdash wash on the rare occasions that I can be bothered. At the weekend I unexpectedly exhibited it in a car show. The marshal on the gate persuaded me that I should exhibit rather than attend as they needed the support, it was the same price, and I would get a better parking space. The car was embarrassingly dirty. You could clearly see finger marks in the brake dust on the wheels from the last time I changed them. The front numberplate was pretty much illegible from dead insects. The bodywork was covered with a layer of dust, grime and tyre marks. Worse the dashboard still has a bits of masking tape with hand written checklists on them. It was displayed amongst very clean and well presented vehicles.

 I had, that very morning, taken some of the dead insects off the windscreen and headlights in a concession to road safety.

 Richard "chillin' in the car they spent all day waxin'" B

Thursday 1 June 2023

Breaking the Law

 I'm going to turn 50 at the beginning of July, but the intricacies of hiring a racing car for my friends at a convenient circuit means that my birthday celebration won't be until September. As such I need some little event to celebrate the day. I'm glad to say that Devon and Cornwall police have organised something for me. I have been invited to attend a speed awareness course, and judging by the price I guess it must be very luxurious. It's in a hotel with a restaurant so I'll start the day with a lavish breakfast, and I think it would be only decent to travel there in my loud and impractical sports car.

Richard "25 in a 20" B

Had a Fall

 If a prat falls in the forest and no one sees, it is still funny?

I've had two funny looking falls at the weekend. I started indoor climbing last year (low level bouldering where you fall onto a deeply padded floor). The padded floor is carpeted, and while they hoover is twice daily it contains a lot of chalk dust (everybody puts chalk on their hands and a lot gets spilled). I fell from the top of an overhanging problem, my arms were spinning round and round, but I landed flat on my back with a loud thud, a loud "huh" noise as the wind was knocked out of me, and I kicked up a huge cloud of chalk dust. I think it would have looked about like when Wile E Coyote falls in to a canyon.

The very same night I fell over dramatically in my own house. Before I go to bed I check that I have locked the front door by trying to pull it open. If you do that vigorously the bolt will make a satisfying and confidence inspiring clunk inside the frame. On this one occasion the door wasn't locked and I violently flung the door wide open and fell over backwards into my hallway.

I wasn't hurt either time.

Richard "what are you doing down there" B

Monday 15 May 2023

This is normal? Right?

This is the sort of thing that normal people do when they've got an hour to kill on a Friday night isn't it?

 Oh, you don't recognise what I'm doing? Well I don't have access to a centrifuge, so I have tied the nearly empty bottle of expensive hand cream to a rope with a small plastic bag over the open end. Then I went out into the garden and flung it round and round to get the last of the hand cream out of the bottle and into the bag.


Richard "money saving lasso" B

Wednesday 10 May 2023


 I've been insulted three times over the long weekend. I had breakfast in a café with table service with a couple of friends. I was asked to pay as soon as we ordered. In the old days they would have trusted me with the about £30 worth of breakfast and coffee until after we'd eaten and were ready to leave. Do I really look that untrustworthy?

I had a dream (I don't remember all of it) where I got told off by somebody at a polling station about a political argument that had got out of hand. What bothers me is that the person telling me off was an NPC that I had conjured up in my own mind and he was right. I woke up feeling chastened and naughty.

Some of my friends think I drink too much and we happened to be watching a sitcom about recovering alcoholics. "Is this what the AA meetings are like?" they asked me. "He wouldn't know, he's not in recovery yet, he's still a functioning alcoholic". It's not the (mickey taking) suggestion that I'm an alcoholic that bothered me (I'm not), it's that they didn't describe me as a "high-functioning alcoholic"

Richard "You wound me sir" B

Friday 5 May 2023

LED Conversion

 I'm a cheapskate and I used to be an electronics engineer. These two facets of my personality gave me the tools for an interesting project over the weekend. The reversing light and the fog light on my car have gone wrong. The bulb holders are very inferior and they have got a bit corroded and a bit loose so I would like to do away with them entirely. LED bulbs for automotive applications are quite expensive and they still rely on the bayonet cap so they wouldn't be much more reliable than the current set up. I noticed that domestic G4 capsule bulbs run on 12v and that LED versions are cheap, readily available and have exposed legs that you can solder wires on to. My reversing light is now an G4 LED, soldered permanently in place, and drilled and glued to the reflector. It might never go wrong again.

Richard "Not E Marked" B

Tuesday 25 April 2023


 I'm not much of a gamer, but I want to recommend a computer game to you. It's called "Universal Paperclips". It's available for free in a browser, or for $2.00 as a mobile phone app. It's a simple text based game, but it's incredibly compelling and there's a wonderful science-fiction story inside it. It takes between 6 and 10 hours to play it (world record speedrun is a bit over an hour and a half) and I could hardly put it down. It would make a perfect distraction on a long flight or some other boring journey.

Don't look it up, don't start reading about tactics, or how to finish it, everything is a spoiler. Not understanding the game mechanics is part of the fun. This is all you need to know: It's called "Universal Paperclips". You are an artificial Intelligence who has been created to make paperclips.

Richard "Value Drift is the new Blue Shells" B

Friday 21 April 2023

Cover Your Eyes

I've lived in the same house since 1998, but last week I discovered something new about it.

If the bathroom door is open AND the bedroom door is open AND the bedroom curtains are open AND the guy next door is working right at the top of his decking on the right hand side he gets to see you getting out of the bath.

I wasn't sure what gesture to make when we saw each other. Is that a nod? A wave? A hurried slamming shut of the bathroom door? I looked away, quickly readjusted my towel and damply shuffled off to where he couldn't watch me drying myself.

Richard "line of sight" B

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Easter Egg

 I've never thought of egg hunting as part of the Easter experience, but this year I accidentally took part in three Easter egg hunts. There was one at the office that I hadn't entered. One of my friends was unable to attend so she let me compete in her place. I found three eggs and won three prizes but they were all small and low status.

 I found myself eating breakfast in the pub on the Saturday of Easter weekend (because the café was closed, not because I'm a high-functioning alcoholic) and there was another Easter Egg hunt. There was a sign up beside the till that said if you could spot an egg behind the bar then you would win a prize. I pointed out an egg in one of the optic hangars and won another small chocolate egg.

 The weirdest hunt was one that fate and circumstance set for me. I wanted to cook cremes caramel for my friends, but I didn't have enough eggs to make the custard. The local Co-op was closed for Easter, the Tesco Express was open, but had sold out of eggs. The little Tesco by the roundabout was open but had sold out of eggs. Thankfully the convenience store in the Texaco petrol station had eggs to sell me. Buying them felt like a real achievement.

 Richard "happy zombie Jesus day" B

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Do Not Want

 I was talking to my brother about reading menus. We both think that there are often too many words, and we both don't like to keep people waiting, so we will speed read the items and quickly pick something that we like. He asked me what term you could miss at the end of the description that would completely change or spoil the dish you thought you were going to get. I thought the question was hypothetical and was quite proud of my answer: "... flavoured sauce".  It turns out that the question wasn't exactly hypothetical and that it had once happened to him. He thought he was ordering a lobster bisque. Lobster blah blah stock blah blah vegetables blah white wine blah blah blah. He missed the critical last word which was “FOAM”.

 Richard "garden path sentence" B


On Friday I checked in to the nicest hotel room that I've ever been in. To welcome me there was a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates and a bottle of prosecco. When I talked to my siblings who were in equally expansive suites they hadn't got welcome gifts. I took the booze to my brother's suite where we shared it. I gave the flowers to my sister in law because we assumed they were intended for her as her and her husband had made the bookings. I didn't mention the chocolates and have been slowly munching my way through them.

 When I handed the flowers to my sister in law we saw that there was a small card with them. It read "To my darling Ruth. Happy Birthday". None of us is called Ruth and none of us was celebrating a birthday.

 It turns out that there was a no-show in my suite the night before and the housekeeper hadn't felt the need to clean it again.

 Richard "The chocolates were lovely" B

Monday 20 March 2023

Ghetto AA

 At the weekend I was exceptionally helpful, but also somewhat cruel to a stranded motorcyclist. I have decades and hundreds of thousands of miles of experience on motorbikes. The youngster that I bumped in to had been on bikes for less than a year and still had L plates. He knew nothing of chain maintenance, so his chain was rusty and stretched to the point that it had come off the rear sprocket. I had all the tools and knowledge to get him moving again and he was less than a quarter of a mile from my house. "I can fix that for you, we just need to push it back to my place" I told him. When I started pointing out where we were going I saw just how much of a hill we had to push his bike up. "actually" I said "I'll take my bike home and then I'll walk back and meet you". When I did meet him he'd done all the hard work and was out of breath, I was as fresh as a daisy and easily pushed the bike the rest of the way (level and downhill).

 I showed him how to adjust the chain tension. I refitted his chain, cleaned, lubricated and adjusted it and sent him on his way. The bargain that I struck with him was that he'd lubricate and adjust his chain each month, and that he'd stop and offer to help the next stranded motorist that he saw. I bet he'll also be much more wary of even slight inclines when he's moving a motorbike around by hand.

 Richard "Let this be a lesson to you" B

Sunday 12 March 2023

Public Address for Sale

This is a complete public address system that has been used to great effect for a number of years. It was the PA for "The Kicks" function band, "Supersonic" Oasis tribute band, "The Backbeat Beatles" tribute band, many weddings, pub bands, and it was the PA for the Holbeton festival for a couple of years. It would suit a working band, a co-operative of working bands, or a venue. It has a power rating of 1kW front-of-house and 0.5kw foldback.

Mixing console, amplifiers and EQ:

Soundcraft MFXi analogue mixing console with Lexicon effects unit. 12 mic channels, 2 stereo channels. 2 aux busses, 1 FX/aux bus. 1 stereo subgroup. LPF and 3 band EQ with swept mid on every channel. Very high quality mic preamps.

2 single channel 15 band graphic equalisers.

1 Yamaha P5000S 1kW stereo amplifier (front of house)

1 Yamaha P2500S 0.5kW stereo amplifier (foldback)

All fitted into custom made cases.


4 Shure SM58 vocal mics (one with rhinestones for some reason) (dynamic)

1 Shure Beta 58 supercardioid vocal mic (dynamic)

2 Shure SM57 instrument mics (dynamic)

2 AKG C1000S overhead mics (small diaphragm condenser)

1 AKG D112 bass drum mic (dynamic)

All mics are in soft cases in a flight case, except the overheads which are in their own hard cases.

DI boxes:

4 IMG Stageline passive DI boxes. These are packed in the same flight case as the mics. They are very sturdy units in heavy steel cases and they do not require batteries or phantom power from the desk.

Mic stands:

3 K&M tripod stands with boom.

3 K&M tripod stands with telescopic boom

3 generic low level mic stands.

The K&M stands are absolutely superb "touring" quality stands with heavy bases. The 3 low level stands are of moderate quality. All the mic stands pack into 2 bags.

Speakers and monitors:

2 Mackie passive speakers. 2 way reflex with 12" bass driver and piezo horn. Superb quality high power crossover. These speakers just require 1 speaker cable, no power supply or external crossover wiring.

2 Wedge shaped floor monitors. 2 way reflex with 12" bass driver and piezo horn. These were manufactured by NJD (now defunct) using Celestion drivers and a high quality English built crossover. The cases are MDF with a steel grille. These speakers just require 1 speaker cable, no power supply or external crossover wiring.


Mic leads
Speaker cables
Input cables
Patch leads
Snake - stage box, 20m multicore and tails with 8 inputs and 4 returns 
 All the main cables are very high quality using Neutrik plugs, oxygen free copper, and high quality jacket materials.

Spares and emergency replacements:

Behringer 8 channel powered mixer with 500W amplifier built in.
Warrior 800W stereo amplifier.
I have never needed to use either of these.

Tuesday 7 March 2023


 There was a wonderful line in a Victoria Wood comedy series where, among one of his other complaints, a character complained that he was half way though a tube of toothpaste that I don't like.

I've got similar low grade annoyances.

  1. The washer bottle on my Fiat Panda is nearly empty. It doesn't matter how often or how far you fill it up. There's a leak somewhere, but not at the very bottom of the bottle, within a day there will be about half a pint left. It's not quite bad enough for me to spend the time to fix it, but if you go on a long journey you're guaranteed to run out.
  2. I've got a bunch of grapes where every other one will brake at the stalk rather than the stalk pull out of the fruit. You get a little gritty bit of stalk in your mouth, or you have to try to carefully extract it from the grape with your fingernails.

 Richard “I need the big light and my reading glasses – I’m going to eat a few grapes” B

Sunday 5 March 2023


 My favorite breakfast is poached eggs on toast, very simple but when done well delicious. The problem I have is I'm terrible at making it and it's disappointing so I rarely do it. When I was in a boujie coffee house in London, as a treat and knowing it would be done expertly, I ordered poached eggs on toast and it arrived looking almost perfect. I rhetorically asked "how do they do that?" making a mental comparison with my crappy efforts and my dining companions raised an eyebrow like I was an idiot and said, together, "cling film". As it turns out I am apparently the last person in the developed world to not know that everyone makes poached eggs using cling film (saran wrap). Obviously I don't need to explain it because everyone (except me) knows how to do it. And yes it works brilliantly well and you don't need to wash the pan up either. Which leads us to a very important breakfast question: Why don't the French have two eggs for breakfast? Because, in France one egg is an oeuf.

Doug "Google it" B

Wednesday 1 March 2023


 This weekend I bodged round a problem on my sports car. The control for the cabin heater had got very stiff. Lubrication and cleaning fixed this quite easily, but the forces I'd used to turn the heat on and off had bent and dislodged part of the heater. Frankly I'm amazed that it doesn't leak.

 I leave this piece of information here just so that humanity doesn't forget it. I got this tip from a Haynes manual for a Kawasaki Z series motorbike (not the Z1000, I think that was in a different manual) and I haven't seen it anywhere else. The manual was probably from the late 80s or early 90s:

You can make a funnel out of Plasticine and use it to run oil through a Bowden cable if you hang it upright. After and hour or two the whole cable will be lubricated. If you use light oil and leave it overnight you can get a surprising amount of dirt and rust out of the cable. Don't do this is the cable has one of those plastic sleeves between the inner and the outer. I don't think Plasticine exists any more. Blutack doesn't work because it dissolves in the oil. I used automotive detailing clay.

Richard "Or buy a new cable" B

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Sewing Box

 The gas meter at my house is more than 20 years old and the battery in it is flat so it needs to be replaced. It's not a smart meter and there isn't room in its box to put a smart meter in.

 I got these instructions from my energy supplier.

“To help our metering team understand more about your situation, please reply to this email with a video of your meter. The video needs to show you pressing a button on the meter. Once you’ve pressed it, take a step back so the video shows the full setup of your meter and the area around it.”

There aren't any buttons on my meter, but this was easily solved with a quick trip to my sewing box.

Richard "Malicious Compliance" B

Thursday 16 February 2023

Dick Measuring Contest

 There are lots of phrases in the English language, but we often don't give them much thought, we just learn them, like words, when we are children. For example I wouldn't know whether someone "toes a line" or "tows a line". I was struck recently by the absurdity of a "dick measuring contest". It's a MEASURING contest, note, not a SIZE contest. How would you win? By measuring the most? By measuring them most accurately? It can't be about the speed with which you measure them otherwise it would be a "dick measuring race" so I'm going to assume that it's about style, panache and technical ability, and that there's a panel of expert judges, like at diving or Olympic figure skating.

Richard "Program Component's Score" B

Tuesday 7 February 2023


I've just come back from a cruise. It was great and slightly surreal. I mainly spent my time watching the world and the calendar go by. I've eaten too much. I've had a hangover in just about every major north sea port. I've been in a force 8 gale at sea and it was smooth enough to shower, shave and attend a beer festival. We ended up with force 10 winds (only 4m seas) on the beam and the rolling motion was quite violent - the decks were closed, the swimming pools were drained and the deckchairs were lashed down.

Richard "floating all-inclusive hotel" B


Back in the day I used to play guitar in a function band. Most of us stayed in the band for the whole time, we changed bass players once, but drummers were more slippery. We lost them to: Was too good for us and couldn’t really be bothered. Was rubbish and had to be replaced. Moved to Exeter with Yoko. Finished his degree and moved away. Emigrated in response to a pandemic.

 Richard “choked on vomit, bizarre gardening accident, exploded on stage” B

Monday 23 January 2023

Sealed For Life

 When I started driving pretty much every car battery said either "maintenance free" or "sealed for life" on it. That was to distinguish them from the old fashioned batteries where you were in charge of maintaining the level of the battery acid. I don't think I've seen that written on a battery in a decade or two and I haven't had to top up a battery in all the time I've owned my own cars. Or so I thought.

After about 3 years the battery in my Caterham failed. I bough a new one and didn't think much of it because the car lives in a cold garage for the whole winter and isn't used. So that I wouldn't have to buy another battery so soon I also bought a posh battery charger and conditioner (made by CTEK). Another 3 years have passed and when I came to service the Caterham the battery was dead. Not only dead, but as it turned out - bone dry. After £85 and a humiliating lesson in battery maintenance I now know that the battery in my sports car is not maintenance free and that I should have been topping it up every 3 months. Let's hope that this one lasts a bit longer.

 Richard "de-ionized water" B

Wednesday 11 January 2023

I've Been Working on a Cocktail

 I've been making cocktails and I'm trying to perfect a drink called a Metropolitan Brandy Cocktail. It's brandy, sweet vermouth and sugar. I prefer it with a dash of bitters. I think it tastes better shaken, rather than stirred, but it looks worse - it gets a slightly scummy foamy head on it. This would be like saying "I like guinness but I don't like the white foam on top" but I decided to try to make a shaken Metropolitan without a head. My research turned up various techniques to either physically skim off the foam or to try to inhibit its formation. None of them worked well, and seemingly none of the people who tell you how to mix drinks on the internet have a background involving laboratory glassware. I went out and bought a separatory funnel and it works perfectly. I shake the drink as normal, but pour it into a sep-funnel. I then let it stand (in the fridge of the freezer) for a couple of minute so that all the bubbles rise to the top. I then drain the drink from the bottom of the funnel into a glass (it should be a coupe but I don't own any) and stop just before any of the head flows out.

Richard "faff" B