Tuesday 30 September 2014

Meat Free

Dear Sir Paul McCartney,

I read with interest your campaign for Meat Free Mondays. The goals as I understand them are to reduce the pollution and the energy and land usage associated with meat production while not forcing people to give up meat. I fully support these goals. You may be a quite wonderful bass player, and have been pivotal in perhaps the most important rock band ever, this doesn't detract however from the sad fact that you're a fucking idiot. If there's one day of the week that the meat eaters of the world are going to cook a joint of meat or a whole fowl it's Sunday. If we are serious about making efficient use of the meat which is already produced, then Monday is the day when we SHOULD be eating meat – leftovers from our Sunday roast in sandwiches, stews, pies, soups and stir-frys. Perhaps too many years of vegetarianism and wealth have left you out of touch with the kitchens and dining tables of the real world, perhaps you just value alliteration more highly than practicality. Either way it is clear to me that you have picked the wrong day of the week.

Yours faithfully,

Richard "roast beef sandwich" B

Tuesday 23 September 2014


This weekend I found the minutes from a fake awards ceremony. The ceremony was held when the band I played in went out for a Christmas meal and drinks, and drunken karaoke in 2010.

The Award for Outstanding Commitment

  • Rxx for making the wedding show happen.
  • Jaxxx for never being poorly since his operation.
  • Juxxx for doing The Cherry Tree with a cold and sore throat.
  • Paxxx for forsaking Oasis tickets to play the fucking Wheelers
  • Paxxx for jeopardising  his marriage to play the Thistle – making it three gigs in three weeks.

The Award for Moodiest Bastard

  • Baxxx for not coming tonight.
  • Pixxx at The Underground when the lights were in our eyes.

  • Paxxx for the whole day of the wedding at Borringdon.

The Award for Filthiest Mouth

  • Paxxx’s reply to the text about being double booked at The Underground.
  • Rxx when he missed the descending run at the end of The Chain.

  • Juxxx saying 'have you got a little bit of thrush?' to  a wedding guest when she shouted for 'Sex on Fire'.

Richard "Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence" B

Tuesday 16 September 2014


I have just come back from a fantastic holiday in Seattle, and it's the first time that I have seen my old school-friend's new house there. I'm glad it's not my house.

It's too big and it's beautifully carpeted - the hoovering alone would take forever, specially around the spiral staircase. The TV's too big and the picture's too crisp. The cooking arrangements are complicated - I wouldn't know whether to cook in the beautifully appointed kitchen, or on the barbecue outside on the deck. Similarly I wouldn't know whether to eat at the inside or the outside dining table, or which garage to park in.

The view is even worse, the lake and its island completely ruin the view of the golf course. Bald eagles and Canada geese are flapping about endlessly, and the mobile phone mast is added to and befouled by the ospreys who have made their nest there.

The garden is so big that it requires a ride on lawn mower and bird scarers. The garden is on a lake and has its own pontoon but you have to share it with ducks and herons. The tranquility is spoiled further by the frogs in the rushes, the dragonflies, and the endless quiet fishing.

Richard "the sofas are perfect" B

Thursday 11 September 2014


Twice in my life I have been outwitted by a rabbit. The first one belonged to a conjurer who was performing at a birthday party, the second one appeared to be a lost pet and I failed to capture it. This week, while I was out on a date, I was outwitted by a fountain.

I promised my girlfriend that when I came back to Seattle I would take her up the Space Needle. A couple of days ago we caught the bus down there to discover that the Space Needle and the EMP museum were closed for a massive corporate event. We decided to ride the monorail instead, but we couldn't get near it even after we sneaked through the security perimeter of the corporate event.

The Seattle Centre also has a fantastic fountain with bewilderingly complicated displays synchronised to music. On my first trip I tried to touch the fountain without getting wet and nearly succeeded. On our date there was a long gap in the fountain's program and my date easily walked down and touched it. I didn't dare for fear of getting drenched, and it started up in earnest as soon as she'd bettered me.

I wasn't able to give my date any Dicks and we caught the bus home unsatisfied and hungry. I cooked a perfectly nice meal but there wasn't anything in the house for dessert so we still had to go out to a restaurant.

TLDR: Date fell severely short of what I had promised, she played "touch the fountain" by herself.

Richard "Lyle Lanley" B

Monday 8 September 2014

8oz Americano and Leave Room for Some Half and Half

I'm in America for the second time in less than half a year. They speak a language deceptively similar to our own, and I foolishly thought I was starting to be able to make myself understood. After a great deal of tuition I can now buy a cup of white coffee. What's confusing is that you have to decide whether the place you're ordering it is a coffee shop. If it isn't (say you're in a cafe that sells breakfasts based on bacon, waffles and pankakes) then you can order "coffee". If you're in a place that sells mainly coffee, then that word becomes meaningless and you have to recite a nonsense mantra.

A couple of days ago I found myself in a worse dilemma than entering a valid tar command on the first try. I ordered a breakfast that consisted of bacon, egg, fried potatoes and toast. The waiter asked me how I wanted my eggs cooked. You are supposed to choose one of two dozed codewords which aren't listed or specified anywhere, and which mainly have non-obvious meanings. "Fried" isn't one of the accepted answers. Neither is "What form of words can I use to encourage you to leave my table and go and start making my breakfast?", "I'll let the chef decide", "surprise me", "I don't want eggs", or "baked into a motherfucking quiche".

Richard "fry them until the white is set, and then spoon hot fat over the yolk until the proteins in the membrane denature" B

Thursday 4 September 2014

Bolingblog Book Review - Les Misérables

Today I finished reading Les Misérables. It's a long book and it has taken me quite some time. My view is that it's a random collection of long and boring essays interspersed thought the best book I've ever read. The plot is brilliant, far reaching and spans decades. The myriad threads and characters weave themselves together in both unexpected and painfully inevitable ways. This process is spoiled however by countless plotless detours into, for example, the history of the battle of Waterloo, the architecture of a monastery, the history of the Paris sewers and language of criminal gangs.

The characters are compelling and tragic. Their transformations are both enormous (in some cases) and believable.

I read an English translation, but even so the writing was beautiful, sometimes breathtaking, and expressive. I give you as an example "Everybody has seen how cleverly a piece of money, dropped on the floor, runs and hides, and how artfully it makes itself undiscoverable. There are thoughts that play us the same trick."

The foreshadowing that takes place is subtle and brilliant. The amount of planning and preparation that sets all the characters and attitudes in place for the centrepieces would put a chess master to shame. When one of the main female characters is introduced we are told how beautiful her hair is. It is mentioned again a couple more times over the next several chapters. We all know that she is proud of her long and beautiful hair, but we would never expect that she would have to cut it off and sell it, or that that would be the turning point in her tragic downfall and death.

Apart from the huge swathes of storyless and characterless prose I have one other criticism. Victor Hugo peppers his writing with phrases like "As is so often the case" "It always happens that" "There is no denying". I think it is supposed to lend authority. Unfortunately to me it made him sound like a proud know-it-all. Sir, I simply refuse to believe that you are the unquestioned expert on the temperament of beaten children, pneumonia, the Bastille, civil unrest, every language known to man, those bloody sewers, Napoleon, disguises, criminality, and the dozens of other subjects that you hold forth on.

One of the most tragic acts revolves around woman (the one who sold her hair) sickening and dying just before her mistreated daughter could be restored to her. The last few pages of the book are genuinely touching when you realise the complex and deep symmetry with that plot.

What the English speaking world needs is a good modern translation and a sympathetic abridgement. They should start with the title. I can't be the only one to notice that "Les Misérables" is still in French. Kurt Vonnegut offers us "The Miserable Ones" and while that's a start but I don't think it's right. "Misérables" is obviously a noun in its own right and a class of person. My best suggestion is "Poor Unfortunates".

Richard "apparently there's a musical" B

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Wish Me Luck

I have a date on Thursday! I'll set off on Wednesday and drive to Farnham where I can leave my car with a friend. Then I'll go to Guildford and break my journey overnight. On Thursday morning I'll get a lift to Heathrow and fly to Seattle. A friend is picking me up from the airport and taking me to his house in Edmonds. Then I've got a few hours to relax, shower, shave, and get ready, before I get in a taxi and go to meet the woman.

A small part of me is starting to wonder if beauty and intelligence are overrated and whether I should turn instead into a proximity fetishist.

Richard "look at the postcode on her" B