Wednesday 28 March 2012


My band played on Saturday, amongst the required pub-rock standards we try to play one or two tunes with some genuine interest. To make up for the Chelsea Daggers, Sweet Home Alabamas and Sex on Fires of the evening, we played a Primal Scream song called "I'm losing more than I'll ever have" which I firmly believe is the most beautiful song ever written[note1]. Bizarrely I didn't spot how wonderful it is until I'd been playing it weekly for a couple of months. The song starts as a ballad with a single guitar and male voice, and by the end has another guitar, drums, bass, brass section, and backing vocals. You'll know the final section because it was remixed to become "Loaded"[note2]

During the song I get five bars of glory. When it's just the male voice and gentle guitar I play really loud distorted stab chords in an odd syncopated rhythm. It's completely unexpected at that point in the song, shocking and exciting at the same time. Those few seconds are often genuinely the high point of my week.

On Saturday during the song I steadied my nerves, counted myself in, fingered the chord, and hit the strings hard and sharp. To my surprise and massive disappointment it came out as complete silence. I then had a verse and chorus in which to do some very rapid faultfinding before the song, and my evening were completely ruined. It was better the second time around.

[Note1] If I were the woman scorned for whom it was written, I'd have forgiven him.

[Note2] Yes you do remember "Loaded", you heard it all the time in the early 90's, it starts with a sample that goes "Just what is it that you want to do?...."

Richard "fan of the soprano soloist" B

Wednesday 21 March 2012


My life is too full. What with work, social occasions, guitar practice, rehearsals, shows, elderly parent(s), and housework I barely get a minute to myself. It is several years since I knew the cloying embrace of boredom. This weekend I was bored. I didn't work on Friday afternoon and didn't go out on a planned date on Friday night. By tea time on Saturday there wasn't a single thing left in the house that I could iron or wash-up and I'd watched two feature films. I'm half way through a novel that I'm not enjoying, there wasn't a single thing worth watching on tv, I'd had a bath and a stroll, and I couldn't have had another cup of tea [note1] if my life depended on it. I eventually did something else that I haven't done for years. Sit down and listen to music by myself for the sheer pleasure of it. It was good.

[note1 For "cup of tea" read "students' ovaltine", "nescafe handshake" or "blowjob off emu"]

Richard "the hot chorister had a headache" B

Friday 16 March 2012

Jump the shark

The proud era of the date report is over.

I apologise to my regular readers and the fans of my date reports, but they have to stop. I'm going out on a first date tonight, and I want to be able to try to enjoy myself and to pay attention to what she says, rather than trying to compose a funny blog article in my head. First date reports have got me into trouble in the past. Date Report 2 became a photocopier and fax-machine phenomenon and very nearly made its way back to the woman's mother before we'd even been on a second date. I have never even been allowed to publish Date Report 3 or 6.

We all wish that there had only been one 'Matrix' film, that they'd never made the fourth series of 'Coupling', and that George Lucas had given up after either 'Empire Strikes Back' or 'Return of the Jedi'. Rather than spoil the legacy of the extant date reports with a deteriorating series of shabby copies, we'll end it on a high. Date Report 8 is the best yet. Rather than pining for more of the same, let's promote it to "Best Ever".

Date Report 1
Date Report 2
Date Report 3 - Unpublished
Date Report 4
Date Report 5
Date Report 6 - Unpublished
Date Report 7
Date Report 8

Richard "wish me luck" B

Don't Read This

This blog post is highly offensive. Stop reading now.

Orifice Capacity Scale:
  • Paper Cut
  • Mole's Eye
  • Mouse's Ear
  • E Minor 7
  • E Minor
  • A Major
  • E 7 Sharp 9
  • Clown's Pocket
  • Wizzard's Sleve
  • Hippo's Yawn
  • Ripped Out Fireplace
Richard "pc" B

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Instruction Manual

Congratulations on taking ownership of your new worn-out and modified Atco cylinder lawn mower. A few decades spent familiarising yourself with the operation and maintenance of the machine will pay dividends in the coming months.

The machine is fitted with a seriously worn Briggs&Stratton Villiers F6 two stroke engine which should have been thrown away in the 1970s. It will provide rattly and unreliable power to both the cutting blades and the roller.

  1. Charge the battery.
    The magneto failed in the early 2000s and was replaced by a lead-acid battery and a dc coil. There is no charging system fitted to the mower. Connect the battery to the charger and turn the charger on at the mains. You will notice an old light bulb soldered precariously into the charging circuit. This provides both a visual indication that the battery is being charged, and some degree of current limiting.
  2. Mix the fuel
    The annotations of the correct fuel mixture have been illegible for many years, instead use the black mark on the greasy polythene jug (supplied with the mower) to measure the petrol. Use the scratch on the side of the 35mm film canister (supplied with the mower) to measure 2-stroke oil.
  3. Fill the fuel tank
  4. Food the carburettor
    Open the fuel tap. Depress the float valve override until fuel drips out of either the venturi or the float chamber. If fuel does not drip out, proceed to the section "Rebuild the carburettor"
  5. Prime the engine
    Ensure that the ignition switch is OFF. Set the throttle to 75%. Fully close the choke. Briskly pull the starting handle twice. The kick start wore out in the 1980s and was replaced by a large pulley and a length of sturdy cord.
  6. Start the engine
    Turn the ignition switch to ON. Set the throttle to 25%. Open the choke a crack. Briskly pull the starting handle twice. In the unlikely event that the engine fires you should instantly start operating the choke and throttle such that the engine neither stalls nor floods. If the engine is now running proceed to the section "Cutting the grass"
  7. Rebuild the carburettor
    The machine is mainly assembled with whitworth fasteners, except for the ones which wore out in the 1970s and 1980s which were replaced with A/F fasteners. Fasteners replaced in the last 20 years are mainly metric. The kit of tools (supplied with the mower) contains both pre-war and post-war whitworth spanners so their markings don't correspond with the fastener dimensions.
    You should usually only need to bebuild the carburettor once or twice for each lawn that you mow.
    Disconnect the fuel hose from the float chamber. Withdraw the carburettor from the crankcase spigot. The carburettor body is deformed and the spigot is corroded so it is very difficult to remove the carburettor. Remove the float chamber. The set screw which holds the main jet in place has stripped so the main jet should now have fallen out. clear the main jet, reseat the needle in the float valve, clean the float chamber and reassemble the carburettor.
  8. Cut the grass
    The clutch lining is absolutely irreplaceable so operate the clutch as little as possible. In particular you may not open the clutch to turn corners or to turn around at the end of a run. The tick-over adjustment is broken, instead simply try not to close the throttle so far that the engine stops. Open the throttle a little to increase engine revs and close the clutch. Cut the grass. Close the fuel tap approximately two minutes before you finish cutting the grass so that the float chamber is empty. Turn off the ignition.
  9. Clean
    Use the toothbrush and broken china teacup of oil (supplied with the mower) to lubricate the cutting blades.

Below is a list of common faults, their causes and cures:

SympomsPossible causeRemedial action
Fast tickover, low power partially blocked main jet Rebuild the carburettor
Poor starting, runs badly partially blocked main jet Rebuild the carburettor
" partially blocked float valve Rebuild the carburettor
" partially blocked fuel filter Rebuild the carburettor
" dirty spark plug Clean spark plug
" poor seal at spark plug Re-seat spark plug
" accumulation of oil in crankcase Drain crankcase
" poor seal at crankcase drain Re-seat crankcase drain
Does not start too numerous to list Diagnose and rectify
Not interested in lawnmower preservation ? ?

Richard "text flirting with a hot chorister" B

Tuesday 6 March 2012

How am I coping?

Almost a decade ago I used to go out with a very nice young woman, beautiful, cheerful, friendly, fun, incongruously large breasts. Every month she would visit a theme park that I didn't understand, and spend a couple of days riding a terrifying emotional roller-coaster. Within seconds she would plunge from glee to misery, in moments she could travel from callous to tender, talkative to taciturn, argumentative to loving.

My dad died a couple of weeks ago and we had the funeral on Friday. People ask me how I'm doing, and the only honest answer I can really give is "up and down", I have a much better understanding of Redacted's roller-coaster. I was really proud during the service, and very very sad to see the hearse driving away with the coffin. At the wake I found myself surrounded by friends, family and pasties with a cold beer in my hand. When I caught myself enjoying it I felt quite guilty.

On Saturday night I played in my band in front of a lot of my family and friends, and I played well. I was really full of joy, and the audience drank and danced. It was a bizarre, yet strangely fitting end to a very poignant weekend.

Richard "up and down" B

Thursday 1 March 2012

Eulogy - drb

J.A.H. Redacted
February 22 1920 February 18 2012
My Dad was a very modest man. He never took credit for the great things he was responsible for. When something worked out well as a result of his meticulous planning or skill, he preferred to give the credit to fate and say that we had been lucky.
A man of very simple pleasures, he enjoyed listening to Jazz music, the occasional glass of wine, a really hot curry and a cigar at Christmas. His real loves were his family and his boats.
Hard work, honesty and integrity were very important to him, not only did he live by these values, but expected it of those around him. Always an early riser, if anyone appeared for breakfast after 8 o’clock they were dismissed as having “missed the best part of the day”.
He was very intelligent and knowledgably and would amaze me at his breadth of understanding of an enormous range of subjects, from classical music, to ancient history, to foreign languages, to wine making, it seemed there was nothing he didn’t have some understanding of. In contrast, Dad was also very practical and enjoyed working with his hands, tinkering with electronics and his boats. Not many people would happily disassemble an expensive Swiss watch confident they could put it back together.
Dad was a very resourceful and determined man almost to the point of stubborn. If he could not mend something with what he had at hand, then it was either impossible to repair or so inferior that he would make something better himself. We used to joke that it only took one Redacted to change a light bulb, but the rest of the family to try and mend the broken one.
His preferred medium was the back of an envelope. Whether it was drawing a circuit diagram, designing a self-steering gear or writing a shopping list, if it couldn't be contained in the limited area of 3”x 8”, it was too complicated.
He was born in 1920 on the Isle of Wight in the Solent, the salt air and maritime environment must have got into his blood at an early age as boats and the sea were to become a huge part of his life. His father, John Redacted, died when he was 8 and he moved to Eastbourne on the Sussex coast with his mother, Mable. Dad went to school in Hasting’s making the 14 mile trip along the south coast by bicycle. At 16 he took his school certificate and started at Hartley-Turners as an apprentice working in the very early days of high quality sound reproduction, what would eventually be known as Hi-Fi. It was at about this time that he gained his HAM radio license; we think he was the youngest in the UK.
He served his country during the Second World War, joining the Royal Air force at age 19 and due to his previous experience with electronics and radio he was immediately selected to work in the ground breaking and top secret RADAR technology that was so vital during the conflict. His training manuals were kept and are now in the RAF museum. Throughout the war, his work was absolutely cutting edge and he traveled across the UK, Europe and after liberation India, by this time promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

In 1946 he left the RAF and returned to live with his Mum in Richmond, South London where he kept his first yacht Cathrine and embarked on his first continental cruise to Holland. By now he had met Noel Bevan to become a lifelong friend and who he would later sail with in the Fasnet race, beating the MP Ted Heath.

In 1950, after a few years dedicated to sailing and HAM radio, He started work at HJ Leak, renowned for the latest technology in amplifiers and public address systems where he met Ted and Alma Ashley who also became lifelong friends.

He returned to sailing full time in 1953, Cathrine was sold and Dad bought Monie (Virtue # 3) a true ocean going yacht designed by the famous Laurent Giles. He joined the Cruising Association to use their library for navigation information and taught himself astro navigation, he was now confidant enough to sail single-handed from the Hamble to Gibraltar. He advertised in the Times newspaper for a sailing companion for the return voyage Dick Tizzard a Cambridge professor responded and they became close friends and later business partners.

He thought he had better go back to work and in 1955 and joined Electronic Instruments as an engineer involved in a huge range of process monitoring and control from cigarette manufacture to letter sorting. Dad made a significant improvement in the design of one piece of equipment and registered a patent for a measurement pump still used in and hospitals today.

It was around this time that my Mum “breezed in” to his life at Electronic Instruments and in 1959 they went on their first date to a promenade concert to see the Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony. They were married in 1960 and with total predictability he planned a sailing holiday in Monie for the honeymoon. The weather was very bad and they arrived in The Channel Islands in a thunder storm so severe it made the papers. During his time with Electronic Instruments he traveled all over the world, but with enough time at home to start a family.

In 1961 he replied to a job advert for Griffin and George. He was attracted to Plymouth for the ease of keeping a boat and going sailing, but it was rumored, to get away from his mother in law. He was given the job and in 1962 sailed from Portsmouth to Plymouth to start work.

Following the closure of the Griffon &George factory in 1964, Dick. Tizzard and Dad took the opportunity to set up Plymouth Sound Yacht Services in Turnchaple just as sailing became increasingly popular. However, the demands of his young family by this time Mary, John and I, the need for a larger house and nearby schools made him decide to sell his beloved Monie and move to Furzehatt Road in 1966 where he would spend the next 46 years.

After 5 years of running the boat yard, he decided that his hobby was not a good occupation and he sold it as a successful business. He took a job with the Plymouth Gas Processing Plant in Oreston This gave Dad more time to spend with his family and the opportunity to have a boat again. He found Bathilda a Norwegian 18’ open motor boat in a state of disrepair in Stonehouse creek. After restoring the boat it was used for many family outings and Dad gave up weekends to serve as Plym Yacht club’s rescue boat.

With a ready-made crew, in the early 70’s Dad bought “Wandering Star” a 26' steel yacht that over the next 10 years was to cruise hundreds of miles around the Devon and Cornwall coast and be the source of many happy family holidays to the Channel Islands and Brittany. He was by now working for Plymouth Polytechnic helping students with their project work, well beyond his role of a lab technician. And, to the surprise of all of us, and the delight of my Dad, Richard was born.

In March of 1982, Dad had a heart attack and decided to retire. He kept himself busy with a huge range of projects, including designing and building plywood pram dinghies for friends and those lucky enough to get on the list. With his children moved away he replaced Wandering Star with an 18’ Plymouth Pilot, “Mimosa” and would use this boat to cruise the inland waterways of France. The peace of the canals and rural France appealed to him as did the 35 franc 3 course dinners.
John, my father, Dad, “the Old Man” was a quiet and often private person. He was very modest about all these achievements and his humility is probably the characteristic that describes him most completely and the one that I will remember him for.
Aren't we lucky?