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