Monday, 24 January 2022


 Sometimes the pre-requisites for a job include other jobs that have their own pre-requisites. Sometimes the stack of things to do before you can make a start gets DEEP. I remember years ago a friend of mine asking me why I was buying timber. I needed to level a small part of my garden so I could put up a plastic shed, so that I could store some stuff out of my garage, so that I could empty my garage, so that I could store some stuff out of my mum's garage, so that I could empty my mum's garage, so that I could paint the floor, so that I could work in there without getting concrete dust all over my car.

Last week one of my team reported that he'd been shaving yaks for the whole of the previous day. It wasn't  an expression I knew, but the idea is that the stack of things you need to do first only has to get a couple of items deeper than my shed project and you find you have to shave a yak before you can carry on.

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

Thursday, 20 January 2022

He Had Ten Thousand Men

 This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I feel rather sorry for the Grand Old Ex-Duke of York - and not just because he came back from war unable to sweat. Prince Andrew is going to court in America accused of all manner of misdeeds and the Queen has stripped him of his royal titles and patronages. The thing is that at this stage he's only been accused, not found liable. "Innocent until proven guilty" is an important principle in civilised legal systems (and the American one) and I think we would be unwise to abandon it. However Andrew York (I assume that's his name now) has been cast out by the Queen already so that the indignity of defending himself in court doesn't reflect badly on the crown. I'm glad that my mum wasn't that cold with me. After all anybody can accuse you of anything at any time. Elon Musk once kicked my puppy over a hedge.

Richard "Freddy Star ate my hamster" B

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Bottle Opener

 At Christmas I opened a bottle of vintage port with red-hot tongs (and a shaving brush full of ice-cold water).

I haven't had a lot of free time recently, but when I did get some time to myself I decided to spend it  doing one of my favourite things - pissing about in the garage. What I wanted was a quicker way to get the tongs up to temperature, so I made a miniature forge.

Lid off

Front view

Lid on, just lit


Richard "hamster farrier"

Wednesday, 5 January 2022


 I remember a comedian talking about class. He said it wasn't so much being stabbed in South London that upset him, but the fact that the mugger was holding the knife like a pen. I had some similar thoughts at the weekend.

I was driving my hopelessly slow and gutless car on the A38 and I tried to overtake another car. I was pressing the pedal into the carpet but my car was going faster than the other one by much less than walking pace. During the torturously long time that I was overtaking, the other car was weaving around in its lane and nearly strayed into mine at one point. When I was level with it I turned to glare at the driver. What annoyed me wasn't that she was rolling a cigarette, but that she was doing it badly. The paper was almost flat (not folded), there was too much tobacco, and some of it was spilling out the end.

Richard "If we're going to die in a car crash for the sake of a cigarette, I want it to look like it came out of a machine" B


 When I was at Primary school we had to do a little presentation and I talked about Drake repelling the Spanish armada. I'd obviously been drilled in what to say, and so as a small awkward ginger child with a ludicrously posh I accent I got up and said something about "...superior knowledge of local wind and tide..." This was apparently funny and memorable. It's more than 40 years ago, but I still get reminded of it often enough.

At the weekend we had our work Christmas party, among other things it included a very good sit-down meal. I was talking about a meme whereby you form your super-hero name from the colour of your shirt followed by the last thing you ate. I was Blue-Scallop and Black-Camembert asked me what my superpower would be. It seemed to me that it would have to be something about sea water, and it eventually dawned on me that it would be "a superior knowledge of local wind and tide".

They say that not all heroes wear capes, but Black-Camembert actually does. I thought to start with it was a shrug or a cardigan worn off the shoulders, but it was a cape. I'd quite like to read the graphic novel about her, but they're bound to make it into a Hollywood film.

Richard "Paisley Muesli" B

Monday, 20 December 2021

Least Said

 I know that the youtube comments section is the cesspool of the internet. This weekend I was made aware of the story of "Rush E" and the comments section of somebody who tried to play it. It's a piece of music for piano that's so incredibly complex and intricate that it couldn't be played by a person. Somebody simplified it, re-arranged it, played it and uploaded their effort to youtube. While most people were impressed one troll was rude about it and denigrated the performance. Unlike the vast majority of trolls who criticise other people's efforts, when somebody called him out along the lines of "I'd like to see you do better" he did. A couple of weeks later the troll uploaded a better arrangement that he played absolutely incredibly.

It reminds me of  a time I got into an internet argument about how to tie shoelaces. I'm far too interested in shoelace knots, I collect them, and I think that a good proportion of people are tying their shoelaces wrong. I came across someone who claimed to have invented a new and better knot and who tried to name this new knot after himself. He was wrong and I told him so. There's a copy of the Ashley Book of Knots at my parents' house, I said I'd go round there, find out what the knot was called and prove that it was already known in the '40s. When I got round to my parents' house the internet knot wasn't in the book. To my shame I never replied to the messages and just dissolved into silence. He was right (probably) and I was wrong.

Richard "Ghost" B