Tuesday 31 January 2017


At the weekend I was eating with friends and there a discussion about what T.V. programmes they would like to see me on. There was a lot of laughter about putting me on "The Undateables" which turns out to be a dating program for people with mental and social disabilities.

It was nowhere near as clever, funny, insulting or meticulous as an insult that my oldest friend paid me over the course of a decade.

When we were young, to walk from his house to the fields you would pass a garage, a post-box, a hairdresser, a wool shop, a pet shop and the school for children with special needs. My friend moved away but I kept in close contact with him. I ended up going out with his girlfriend's best friend and she eventually moved to Plymouth to live with me. My girlfriend and I were walking in the area that I grew up. We walked past the garage (which no longer sells smurfs), the post-box, the hairdresser, the chemist (which used to be a wool shop) and the sandwich shop (which used to be a pet-shop). When we got to the building site that used to be the special school she asked, in all seriousness, how come I used to go to that school when M----- went to the one up the road.

A decade earlier my friend had told his girlfriend that that's where I went to school (which I hadn't) and deliberately omitted that it was for the special needs children (which I wasn't), hoping that she would ask me about it. In fact she mentioned it to her best friend and ten years later her friend unwittingly made a joke at my expense with seemingly perfect local knowledge of a town she'd just moved to.

Richard "Downham" B

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Four Symbols

I'm no good at impressions. I can do a passable "The little plastic diver from the last contraption in the Mousetrap boardgame", "The noise the Torpoint chain ferry used to make before they replaced the main sheaves", I look a lot like The Birdman and that's it. This weekend I accidentally added a new physical impression to my repertoire.

When I moved into my house I wanted a beech hedge, but I somehow ended up with a pair of Kentish Cob Nuts instead. These damned trees need pruning every winter and you end up with a massive pile of sticks to dispose of. In the past I have cut the sticks into length and taken them to the tip in bags. This year to save time I lined them all up and wrapped them into a bundle with bungee cords.

I just managed to carry the huge bundle of long straightish sticks to the car and I assume that while I did so I looked exactly like the bloke in the picture on the front of Led Zeppelin Four.

Richard "clang-clang-clang-clang-clang" B

Wednesday 18 January 2017


This weekend I ha' mainly been drinking and eating with my family. I can remember three jokes that were told. Stop after the first two if you are easily offended.

"I was thinking about buying a Labrador."
"You must be crazy – have you seen how many of their owners go blind!"

"What's the most common owl in the UK?"
"The teat owl"

"Knock Knock"
"Who's there?"
"Bigish who?"
"NO. Fuck off and get a job"

Richard "LOL" B

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Bit Rot

I've just finished one of my Christmas presents. It was a big hardback book called "Bit Rot" by Doug Coupland.  He's a visual artist writing about (mainly) the human experience while digital technology and connectedness advance. It's a collection of essays and short stories and it's this structure that made it so compelling.  The stories' settings range from the wildly fantastical to the everyday (with a preponderance of end-of-the-world and time travel scenarios). The essays are mainly about the digital world, how it has developed, how it is developing and how these changes affect people (usually from his personal experience).

The book is not without its problems but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  He strays into economics where he is clearly clueless. He writes about digital technology and information systems (where I work) and his understanding is - shall we say - superficial. He uses mathematical terms in an unfathomable alien way (perhaps it's artistic).

The stories are good, easy to read, fun and short. The essays are thought provoking and entertaining and again short. Reading the book felt like binging on box-sets on a wet Sunday. I got to the end of every chapter (generally only a few pages) and thought either "That was fantastic – I'll just read one more" or "That was stupid/wrong/not as good as the rest – I'll just read one more to make up".

Richard "TLS" B

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Happy New Year

I needn't have worried about my big family Christmas, it turned out to be great. Among my favourite gifts were an amazing seasonal suit, my new favourite cardigan, and an incredibly apposite T-shirt.

I met my pseudo-nieces (step-neices? Nieces-in-law?) and they were charming.

My oldest niece got absolutely lashed up on Christmas eve. In a large and well appointed kitchen the most suitable thing that she could find to drink water out of was the blender. She woke up with the blender (half full of water) beside her bed.

My sister's melancholy reminiscence about lost innocence: "I remember being that age and all you had to worry about was horses and homework. Then you discover cider and lipstick."

My oldest brother's transformation into a pirate continues. He ran away to sea a couple of years ago and he's now crew (and chief engineer) on a tall ship. The last time I saw him he had a big beard and a salty tan and he had taken (un-ironically) to drinking rum. This time he had got involved in a bar-fight in Rotterdam.

Richard "Bah! Humbug!" B