28 February 2006


Left - Bam Margera.
Right - Tony Hawk.

At first, Dave just skated his board for fun. The city streets were his playground. He learnt to ollie and could soon carve downhill like a snowboarder, shooting uphill like a rocket. Dave was so good that other skateboard dudes hung out simply to watch his moves - grinding on the steps of the city hall, sweeping down the railings like the great Tony Hawk.
By chance, Dave was spotted by the Vice President of Deuce Surfer Ltd - an American based skateboard design outfit who were intent on expanding into Europe. "Far out!" gulped the Californian VP as Dave performed his street magic.
Well, one thing led to another and Dave was signed up by Deuce Surfer. He was flown transatlantic to West Chester, Pennsylvania - the hometown of Brandon C. Margera - otherwise known as Bam - the guy who replaced Tony Hawk as king of world skateboarders. Bam had grown rich on his tricks - starring on MTV shows, performing Jackass-style pranks that nobody else would dream of attempting. Deuce Surfer Ltd had challenged Bam to a showdown with their brave little Yorkshire pudding and laughing his socks off, Bam had accepted the challenge. "Easy money!" he chortled.
"Let's go for insane terrain!" said Dave in a combative tone.
The whole crew drove out to an abandoned power station on the outskirts of Hershey.
Champion and frozen pudding warmed up, swooping and diving as the growing crowd went ooh and aah! Then the biggest challenge of all called them upwards, inside the concrete lining of the great cooling tower. They climbed up and up on opposite sides of the tower until they reached the very top. They were over two hundred feet above ground level. Nervously, Dave gripped his customised Deuce Surfer Board. His name had been sprayed on it graffiti-style - "Superpud"
"You scared Yorkie?" called Bam from the other side - his vinegary voice echoing around the great industrial chamber.
"Go to hell Yank!" yelled back Dave.
The referee counted down and little beads of beef gravy appeared on Dave's brow. 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and then they were off, plunging down like diving seabirds, crouched, their boards barely rolling on the concrete walls. They hit the concave floor of the tower at a hundred miles an hour and it was just too much for Bam, his knees buckled with the impact as Dave went zooming up the other side. Hurray for Dave! Bam lay in a crumpled heap. Dave had become the new world champion in extreme skateboarding.
Soon Dave had his own MTV skateboarding programme. There was "Superpud" merchandise to buy and even a video game called "King Dave". Sadly, Dave's brilliant career was foreshortened when during a promotional interview with a New York Times reporter in Washington Square Park, an unleashed Afghan hound called Taliban bounded past the fountain where on Sundays musicians often gather and raced straight towards Dave's bench. Just like a dog biscuit, Dave was gone in a moment, right down Taliban's gullet.
The dog's owner came panting up saying, "Naughty boy Taliban!" - not even realising that his hairy hungry hound had just ended the career of one remarkable frozen Yorkshire pudding. You're in your grave little Dave... Rest in Peace little fellow! Rest in Peace!

27 February 2006


This is the third episode of the gripping tale of "Dave the Frozen Yorkshire Pudding". Thanks this time to Tallullah for moving the story on. Any other offerings? C'mon - don't be bashful...!

Dave the Pudding was feeling a little less full of himself - no doubt a direct cause of gravy loss - but was still keen on some adventure. He meandered along until he came upon an abandoned skateboard. Climbing onto the skateboard, he noticed it move.
"Hmmm," he muttered, "this might prove to be an interesting way to get about."
With one tiny foot on the ground, Dave started to propel the skateboard and was soon ambling forward with ease. Unfortunately, he didn't see the hill until it was too late. At the crest of the hill his skateboard began to picked up speed. All Dave could do was hang on for dear life.
"Oh, mother of God! Will it never end?" he wailed into the night. Clinging to the skateboard, Dave began to enjoy the scary ride. He discovered that if he leaned to the left or right, the skateboard would veer in that direction. If he moved to the back of the board the front would rise up and he would be riding on two wheels. If he bounced, the whole board bounced too. It didn't take him long to discover real thrill with this frenzied ride.
"Woohoo! Look at me! I am so loving this!" he screamed into the wind. I want to be a skateboard rider for the rest of my life! That marked the beginning of Dave the Pudding's rise to fame as an Extreme Skateboarder.

26 February 2006


Brad the Gorilla in Seattle Zoo >
Thanks to Brad the Gorilla for advancing the story of "Dave" - I have adapted the continuation slightly. The story is still not complete. Please - in Visitors Comments - I invite anybody to either write the next phase of the story or to give me an outline plan. To be continued....
Dave, newly free, wandered around in the moonlit garden, feeling gradually lost and not a little lonesome. All of a sudden he stumbled over the hob-nailed boot of the great and fearsome Hitman B, a strange hairy, metamorphosised version of the famous blogger, Hitman J.
"Watch it!" Hitman B snarled, and then his eyes lit up. "A little Yorkshire Pud! I'm gonna eat ya, little fellow."
"No, no," Dave the Pudding said. "I don't want to be eaten. I want to go to America and see all the casinos. I crave the bright lights and the warmth of a Las Vegas sunset."
"Stick with me, kiddo," Hitman B said. "I'll put you up with a nice dame who will treat you right and you'll run one of my little casinos until you prove your worth."
"This dame," Dave the Pudding said, "She doesn't..." he gulped, "She doesn't have a convection oven, does she?"
"No," Hitman B said and then chortled, "But she does have an Aga range."
"Noooooooo!" Dave the Pudding cried, and he began to run.
As he ran, he sweated gravy, and Hitman B in hot pursuit was momentarily deterred. Like a hungry beast or mental defective, he started to lick those delicious puddles of beef gravy from the damp ground. Feeling a little like Pinnochio, Dave got clean away from the evil gorilla who reminded him so much of those wicked robbers that the wooden boy met on his journey. Once again, Dave stood in a pool of silvery moonlight wondering what lay ahead of him.


24 February 2006


Once upon a time there was a little Yorkshire pudding called Dave. He was a frozen pudding and he lived in the back of a family freezer. He had fallen out of some plastic packaging years before. The freezer door would open and close, open and close, daylight or electric light streaming in brightly but nobody ever reached to the back of Dave’s shelf. He felt very neglected and unwanted. “Nobody wants me,” he said, whereupon the frozen peas and frozen prawns would giggle ungraciously.

Then one day, someone who lived in the house left the freezer door open. It was probably the teenage monster. Dave felt the electric light on his frozen surface and he thawed just a little – just enough to flex his little legs and arms. Very gingerly, he clambered out of the freezer, finding himself shortly on an expanse of terra cotta floor tiles.
“Which way shall I go?” wondered Dave.

Ahead of him he saw a plastic cat flap in the green external door. He reached up, huffing and puffing, pushed and then he was out, outside in silver moonlight. After all those years in the cooler, Dave was free.

22 February 2006


Ode on Yorkshire Pudding

How simple thou art, risen through the years
I recall you marked my Sundays
Fat laughter and glass tears
Golden wert thou - a vessel for mum’s gravy
Mashed potato memories
Brown ocean for a navy
Of minted garden peas

What an ordinary pudding you are
Milk and eggs and plain flour
In a hot oven for half an hour
You’re even made now by the famous Aunt Bessy
Supermarket packaging being not quite as messy
As beating those ingredients
In an old mixing bowl

You bear my county’s name
My land of hopes and dreams
From Flamborough’s chalky cliffs
To Barnsley’s deep coal seams
But in googling the world wide web
I find your fame at last has spread
From Timbuktu to Kalamazoo
The Yorkshire pudding rises…

21 February 2006


My last blog entry and photographs deliberately sought to put a little tourist gloss on my trip to Spain's capital. This blog entry, while not attempting to construct a negative/opposite view will look at this journey from, how shall I say it, a more common perspective.
Take the metro system in Madrid. It's really good. Clean, efficient, cheap, easy to use. But as I looked down the carriage on my way back to Barajas Airport, I noticed that everybody on board was Spanish and white. This would never be the case in the cultural melting pot that London has become over the years. On any London tube journey, you could guarantee to be in the company of brothers and sisters from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
My hotel was called Hostal Persal in the Plaza Angel. It was spotlessly clean and the staff were most efficient. They gave me Room 319. The window view was of a concrete well between buildings. Beneath my window there was an air-conditioning unit that served three or four rooms which also overlooked this well. It hummed annoyingly at night - like sleeping on a ship. The room was always so warm that I removed all my clothes whenever I was in it. I sprawled out on the bed reading "Saturday" by Ian McEwan and "The Sea" by John Banville or watched some CNN news on the little TV that had had its volume control somehow curtailed - more crazy religious fanatics using the Danish cartoons as an excuse for releasing bitter and obnoxious venom.
Nearby was a little Filipino supermarket or "Alimentacion" where a Filipino guy seemed to sit for twenty hours a day. His gossipy wifelet had a very long fingernail on her right index finger and I wondered why. I plunged into their fridge half a dozen times to retrieve cans of San Miguel or Mahou beer. I was suffering with a head cold during my days and nights in Madrid and I really didn't fancy night-time forays into the bars near Plaza Angel. They looked fun places - social places - tapas and beer and friends and conversation and laughter and music - but when your temperature's up and you're blowing your nose every five minutes - being an English stranger in a Spanish bar isn't the best entertainment recipe.
In the Prado, I waited and waited to see Hieronymus Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights" close up but there was a Spanish Art teacher there with her twenty eighteen year olds, crowding the picture. She spouted her appreciative lecture to half a dozen of them while the rest sniggered and looked around quite uninterested in the amazing painting in front of them. The saying that you can take a horse to water but you won't make it drink is a very true saying. With her tied back hair, worry lines and fancy scarf, the teacher seemed utterly oblivious to the rest of us, hovering, waiting to get to this incredible work of art. "El Bosco" had an imagination which heralded Salvador Dali and Monty Python from four hundred years back in time.
On the return flight to Liverpool, I realised that a young Spanish guy in front of me was heading for the University of Sheffield so after we had landed, I offered him a lift. He was twenty three and his name was Roderigo. He had never been out of Spain before. We arrived in Sheffield at around 10pm and I took him directly to the Harley Hotel near the university. I realised when I left him there that he only knew my name. He didn't know what I do for a living and he didn't know my family circumstances. But I knew all about him - his eleven year old brother, his mum and dad, his apartment in Madrid and his old car and how he supports Athletico Madrid but had only seen them play live once. Funny that. It wouldn't be the first time that I have come across somebody who doesn't bounce with you during a conversation - revealing plenty about themselves but entirely lacking curiosity about "the other".

18 February 2006


Walking out that first night looking for somewhere to have dinner, I noticed a handmade poster in a bar window not far from the Puerta del Sol. It was advertising a televised game between Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza. What? When? Tonight? But I had checked the Real Madrid website! Yet this wasn't a scheduled league game - it was a cup match - Copa del Rey semi-final second leg. The time was eight o' clock and the match was due to kick off at nine. Forget dinner - I was down the Metro steps and on my way to join an army of 75,000.

And then I was there - outside the Bernabeu Stadium, minus one essential aid - a match ticket! Greedy ticket touts tried to squeeze £100 from me. I asked people, waited at turnstiles, went to the ticket offices but no use. Time was ticking away. It looked like I'd be having dinner after all. Then the guy behind the pre-paid ticket counter called me over - "No, no money... It's a gift from Real Madrid to you!" And there I was like Charlie outside the chocolate factory with my golden ticket. Rushed up the steps of Torre C, right up to the third level then out into the light, a sharp intake of breath beholding the finest soccer stadium in the world. The players were out and tumultuous noise filled the night air - horns and chanting from "The Ultras". The game was utterly absorbing. Madrid were three up within twenty minutes. Beckham's visionary passing was a delight to behold while Zidane was strong and determined right till the end. The "meringues" won 4-0 - sadly one goal short of their target having, quite incredibly, lost the first leg 6-1. For a lifelong football fan this was a truly unforgettable experience.
Other highlights of the trip - The Museo America (Pre-Columbus artefacts from the Americas), The Reine Sofia Art Gallery (Contemporary art - including Picasso's "Guernica"), The train ride to the winding medieval streets of Toledo where I ate stewed quail and of course the three hours spent in the Prado National Art Museum - many stupendous exhibits.
Here's my album :-
From the top: Tio Pepe sign over Puerta del Sol square, Statue and communications tower by the Museo America. Statue of Neptune, Atzec carving in Museo America. Happy dog in Toledo, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Segment of "The Garden of Earthly Delights" - Hieronymus Bosch circa 1500 (Prado), Toledo rooftops. "Fabula" by El Greco (Prado) & Yorkshire Pudding boozing in Toledo street.

13 February 2006


Dear Visitors - Blogging pause so that Yorkshire Pudding can have a well-earned break in Madrid, Spain. I'll be back at the weekend with news of this little Spanish adventure.... Buenos dias! YP


This is a little challenge I picked up from another blogger. I am sure we have all dipped into the mind boggling library that is Google Image Search. Now the thing is to select images from the very first page you call up - no cheating by checking out succeeding pages. See the headings below with my results.
City and Province/State/County where you were born. Current town/city of residence.
Your names - first and last.

Grandmother's first name.

Favourite food.
Favourite drink.
Favourite smell.

Favourite song.

10 February 2006


Okay, so when my masked band of cellphone vigilantes begin the planned assault on mobile phone culture, we will make certain concessions. For example, people who live in remote areas - like Amy in North Carolina - will be able to possess them and the People's Anti-Mobile Committee will also recognise their usefulness with regard to children's safety - thanks to Jane in Northampton UK. Kids will still be allowed to phone home in emergencies and parents will still be able to contact them. We also accept that busy businesspeople and tradesmen - like Brad in Seattle - often find mobiles useful in respect of work.
Steve, the Manchester City fan (Occupied Country) , appears to think that mobiles - instant interpersonal communication - were part of a science fiction vision that people shared in the sixties but that was never my vision. I am more drawn to the lifestyle of the original Australian aboriginals - naked, unchanging, at peace and in harmony with their often harsh environment. They lived like that for at least ten thousand years. That's my dreamworld.
Regarding concessions, I recall the story of a couple I know. They had been walking in the fells near Ben Nevis in Scotland. She didn't see a rocky hole beneath the heather and in a painful moment broke her ankle. He had to walk about five miles over rough terrain to the nearest house with a telephone, leaving his wife shivering in a wintry hollow. With a mobile, I guess they might have been able to summon help more rapidly. So, the Anti-Phone Fundamentalists will allow hikers and mountaineers to possess them for use in emergencies.
In the UK, a troubling phenomenon has hit the papers in the last few months. It is called "happy slapping" and it involves nasty teenagers attacking innocent strangers while the incident is recorded on mobile phone cameras. There have even been some cases of serious sexual assaults being captured - presumably for the titillation and amusement of the cruel and morally bankrupt perverts who engage in such disgusting behaviour. After the mobile phone fatwah begins, anyone found to have used their phones in this way will be coated in sheep's blood before being transported to the Amazon basin to be used as piranha bait.

9 February 2006


In America, I believe that they are known as cellphones. Over here in the UK we know them as mobile phones - or more latterly, "mobiles". Whatever they are called, I hate them.

I have never owned one myself and I hope to end my days having never felt the need to purchase one of these moneysuckers. And yet I seem to inhabit a world where just about everybody else is glued to the damned things. In the morning, as I drive to work, I see people walking down the streets, standing at bus-stops, sitting in cars or buses, all gabbing into these technological comforters. Who the hell are they talking to anyway? At eight o' clock in the morning, I don't want to talk to anybody.
At night-time, there are ads for mobiles on the television, programmes sponsored by mobile suppliers - while at the pub, twenty-somethings arrange flashy mobiles next to beermats - waiting for Wall Street or lost cousins to call. Surely, this defeats the idea of going out - to get away from it all - instead these people are sending out a visible message - what I'm doing now is not enough, I need a call from outside to spice up the moment.
Then there's texting. Millions of messages in moronic English, dancing through the atmosphere -"cn i c u?", "lol", how r u?" reducing our wonderful language with its endless possibilities to ugly, functional soundbites.
It used to be that when a telephone rang, there was an insistent and unaltered ringing call that endured through the years. Now all these annually updated mobiles have their own "ringtones". I have lost count of the number of meetings I have attended where mobile interruptions have occurred. Pretending embarrassment, phone owners scuttle for their bags to the sound of "God Save The Queen", "Crazy Frog" or "Greensleeves". They grin their sorries while the rest of the meeting grins back as if to say - "Oh it's happened to me before now - aren't they devilish little things?" - all except me - glowering back as if to say, "You f***ing moron! Next time make sure that goddam thing is switched off and change your f***ing ringtone to a tune that fits your personality - you know something like Three Blind Mice or The Death March!"
In my house, I am afraid I have to concede that there are currently three mobile phones. Shirley, Ian and Frances each have them. With Ian especially, having a mobile has been like agreeing to tax himself further each month. He pays out around £2 a day. The bloody thing is always going off. He has texted so often I am surprised that he hasn't got repetitive strain syndrome - you know those delicate little muscles and tendons at the base of the thumb - they surely weren't designed for all this activity. It's a health timebomb.
I'm thinking of forming a terrorist group to rid the world of cellphones. Dressed like masked superheroes, my followers will snatch the offending articles wherever we go. We will scramble all text messaging so that readers only see Martian like symbols and nobody will be able to register any ringtone other than The Birdie Song and the powers that be that are tracking our every move through mobile phone location, won't be able to find us any more.

3 February 2006


I post this cartoon at great risk to my personal safety, in the full and awful knowledge that it will cause enormous offence to any visiting Christian bloggers. As word gets round about my heinous offence against the Almighty, I fully expect crowds of placard carrying religious zealots, nuns and Seventh Day Adventists to crowd outside in the street chanting for my blood. But I don't care - publish and be damned is what I say! There God sits at his computer, playing with our destinies like a teenager zapping aliens in a shoot-em-up computer game. This isn't the benign, all-seeing God of the established church and The Bible but a mischievous technological overseer - "as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport". Yes, I know, I'm wicked! Perhaps this is because long ago, men in longboats came from Denmark and colonised Yorkshire. The evil was already in my Viking veins... (Pause) Oh Beelzebub! They're already outside burning the Yorkshire flag and smashing my car with baseball bats, grey haired women in cardigans, choirboys, Catholic priests and charity shop helpers shouting "Death to All Cartoonists!". Gotta go...

1 February 2006


"February made me shiver/With every paper I delivered"
They said this British winter would be one of the harshest on record - by "them" I mean the meteorologists and the dumbass newspapers. I wish I'd kept some clippings of their scaremongering reports. We're into February now and to me the winter has seemed pretty mild, rather green with very little precipitation in January. Okay tonight it is chilly - my thermometer is saying minus one - but to some people that's camping weather!
I have become a little obsessive about feeding wild birds. Lord knows when this habit crept in to my daily schedule but for months I've been out there night and early morning replenishing the bird table and scattering leftovers in the middle of our lawn - well out of the pouncing range of local moggies like our Boris. Even though we're only a mile out of Sheffield city centre, we get a good variety of birds. My nourishment campaign has attracted a growing gang of sparrows and there are wood pigeons, magpies, a jay, blackbirds, a little wren, a robin, bluetits, collared doves and crows. If I ever miss a day, I feel guilty:-
SPARROW LEADER: Hey guys, where's the seeds today?
SID SPARROW: Lazy bastard! Bet he was up late for work again.
BRAD SPARROW: No time to chuck us a few scraps.
SPARROW LEADER: Ever see that Hitchcock film, "The Birds"?
MAGGIE MAGPIE (circling menacingly) Now there's an idea!

With February, the days lengthen. Even this morning as I stumbled into our bathroom, I noticed that the grey light was less grey and when I got downstairs the birds were already beginning breakfast. Far ahead I can see summer barbecues and me lying on the lawn again staring up at swallows dancing on the air under cauliflower clouds. Time moves on, day by day. It's hard to believe that my brother in France will be fifty five this week. It seems like yesterday when we were all boys and there was mum and dad and Oscar the cat and Joe Grubham swept the village streets and Mrs Austwick sold us homemade sweets and fireworks ahead of Guy Fawkes Night and we made dens in haystacks and there was Doctor Baker and Mrs Jordan with her rosy cheeks and the summers were golden and endless... but this was all long ago, long ago.