Tuesday 29 March 2016

R.R.S. Feed

The British public can be relied upon to take the mickey – it runs in our blood like queueing and drizzle. When the Environmental Research Council asked us to name its new ship the top suggestion was "RRS. Boaty McBoatface". I hope they stick with it. If I'd put a name forwards it would have had to have been something you'd see written on a skip.

Boats are expensive so it can be lucrative as well as rewarding to build your own. In the 90's My father and I built a replica of a Grand Banks dory. I was using it on the Plym when I went to rescue a man who had been set adrift in a rubbish skip. When I got close enough to talk to him I realised that he wasn't actually in a skip, it was wooden, it had thwarts and rowlocks, it didn't quite have a skip's distinctive sheerline, and the "castaway" was sitting happily fishing. I complimented him on his handsome vessel and confirmed my suspicion that he'd designed and built it himself.

When I told the story one of my brothers was very taken with the idea of setting out to sea in a hired skip. He picked up an imaginary VHF and transmitted "Brixham Coastguard Brixham Coastguard this is the pleasure vessel 'Light No Fires' departing Plymouth harbour for St. Peter Port."

Richard "RRS. P. E. C. T." B

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Where did you last see it?

I'm not as bad as Fast Eddie, but I can be quite absent minded. This weekend, as well as nearly setting the house on fire by putting an empty steamer on the stove, I accidentally left my vacuum cleaner at someone else's house.

Neither of those is as bad as the time that I misplaced my car. I went to my garage one day and it wasn't there. It didn't seem likely that it had been stolen because the garage was still closed and locked. I have learned that when you lose something, rather than going round in circles looking for it, the best course of action is to sit down and think carefully about where you last saw it. It turned out that a week or so previously I had driven my car to the supermarket, left it in the car park and walked home with my shopping. The car was still there waiting for me when I walked back.

Richard "not paying attention" B

Tuesday 15 March 2016


The human auditory cortex is mysterious and complicated. What you think you hear has already been analysed for spatial information and enhanced and modified to conform to expectations of the listening context. The only practical application of this is that when you're ordering drinks you can say "salted penis" and the barman will invariably hear it as "salted peanuts".

There are another two standard bar jokes: At the weekend I ordered a round of drinks comprised of three different pints, three different soft drinks, and a bottle. When I finished reciting the order, the barmaid should have asked "in the same glass?". She poured all the drinks and asked me if I wanted a tray. The correct answer is always "Don't you think I've got enough to carry?".

Richard "McGurk Effect" B

Tuesday 8 March 2016

The End is Nigh

One of my friends is an absolutely world class drummer and at the weekend I will be hearing him play his band's album launch at The Borderline in Soho. I don't know if it still is, but playing at that venue used to be kind of a big deal. As a teenager he was in a band that was very popular locally. His mum, with wonderful bathos, said they were like the One Direction of Carshalton. He told me how he knew when their fame had waned. At the end of a show he would throw his sticks out into the dark auditorium where they would be caught and treasured by screaming juvenile fans. One time, instead of excited screams, he heard the sticks hit the hard empty floor. He went and picked them up and used them at the next show. It wasn't much longer until the band split up.

In a very similar way, my friend and co-author "Chunky Ginger" knew that my relationship with the bouncy trampolinist was doomed before I did. It was when I said of her "She's waging a one-woman war against silence – I guarantee you that wherever she is right now she's either talking or snoring – loudly"

Richard "shhh" B

Tuesday 1 March 2016


This weekend I have been visiting friends and I heard a fantastic drinking story.

My friend was drinking at home and drunkenly decided to open another bottle of wine. He couldn't open it because the corkscrew wouldn't bite into the cork. He decided to remove the foil to try to make life easier for the corkscrew. He eventually found a foil cutter and took the circle of foil off the top of the bottle. The cork was completely missing and he had no choice but to drink the whole bottle.

In the cold, hard, hungover light of day he discovered that what had actually happened was that he had opened a screw-top wine bottle with a foil cutter.

Richard "Someone's taken the cork out of my lunch" B