27 August 2006


Every Sunday I go to the quiz at our local pub. There's a prize kitty. It sits in a safe and to win it you have to guess the code. There are two hundred numbers to pick from and each week the kitty builds up. Tonight, I had a winning line on my Bingo-like quiz sheet, so I went up to the bar fully intending to opt for the £10 winner's prize and forfeiting my chance to go for the safe. But the quizmaster - Leeds Mick - was persuasive and reluctantly I chose to try the safe. On the sheet, there were all these crossed out numbers staring back at me, but the number 136 was sitting on its own. I went for it. Leeds Mick tapped in the numbers and lo and behold - I won! How much? Two hundred quid - that's all! Two hundred f-ing notes! Yo! But as I always sit with Roy and Mike, I had to split it three ways and then there was ten quid for Neil and Dave's table to get some drinks and ten for Richard, Stan and Gibby - leaving me with £60 to bring home. Holy Mother of God! Such moments are rare. It almost made up for seeing Hull City unluckily lose their third home match of the season against a dull Coventry team, 1-0. This sixty quid will come in very handy when I jet off to Berlin on Tuesday - I might keep it to spend on a brilliant German meal of sausages and sauerkraut with black bread and a stein of Munchen beer. Some people are losers but tonight, I'm a winner! Autographs later! TWO HUNDRED! Yaaaaay!

24 August 2006


This is where tumbleweed rolls quietly through a deserted street while an eerie wind wails in the distance. Yes folks it's joketime! And to begin with here are some jokes about women - don't worry for the sake of political correctness, jokes about men will follow....
Why do only 10% of women go to heaven? Because if all of them went it would be hell.
How many men does it take to open a bottle of beer? None. It should be open by the time the little lady brings it.
Why do women have smaller feet than men? It's one of those "evolutionary things" that allows them to stand closer to the kitchen sink.
How do you know when a woman is about to say something really clever? When she starts her sentence with "A man once told me.."
How do you repair a woman's watch? You don't need to. There is a clock on the oven.
Why do men fart more than women? Because women can't shut up long enough to build up the required pressure.
What's worse than a Male Chauvinist Pig? A woman who won't do what she's told.
Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes a woman's sex drive by 95%.It's called a Wedding Cake.
In the beginning, God created the earth and rested. Then God created Man and rested. Then God created Woman. Since then, neither God nor Man has rested.


Now here's the promised jokes about men...
One day God called Adam to him and said: "Adam, I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like to hear first?""The good news," replied Adam."Well, the good news is I gave you a penis and a brain.""OK.." said Adam warily. "And what's the bad news?""I only gave you enough blood to operate one at time."
What do men and tights have in common? They're both apt to cling, run, and never fit properly between your legs.
Why is psychoanalysis so much quicker for men than for women? Men don't need to be regressed back to their childhood.
What do you call a man with only half a brain? Gifted.
Why does it take three million sperm to fertilize one single egg? Because they're too stupid to ask for directions.
Why is it so difficult for women to pick up men who are sensitive, caring and good looking? They're all gay
What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night? A widow.

Although I have pasted in the above for mild amusement, I have to say that this man-woman divide is all utter bullshit in my view. We're people trying to get by, trying to be happy, trying to make it to next year. Some people talk about the other sex in a manner which is reminiscent of racist ignorance - "Men! They can't multitask!" - "Women! They're always changing their minds!". It's all bullshit and everybody is different. No two men are the same and no two women are the same. As I write this I'm on the phone, drinking coffee and stroking the cat and I'm not thinking about that one thing that men allegedly always have on their minds... well I wasn't until I wrote that!

19 August 2006


It’s almost twenty seven years since my father died. I swear that not a single day has gone by in all that time without me thinking of him. In a way, it’s like he haunts me. He was born in Malton, North Yorkshire in 1914 so if he had been alive today he would, of course, have been a very old man. And yet I still miss him.

When he died in 1979, the village church was absolutely packed for his funeral service. I tried to sing “The Lord’s My Shepherd” but my voice quavered with emotion, refusing to be reined in – so frustrating because I wanted to sing it out for him, clear and beautiful. Instead I heard this strange garbled version of the psalm emerging from my choked voice box.

He was a good man. He did so much for the local community – little unsung acts. He was a church warden. He was President of the cricket club. When there were national or local elections, he ran the polling station. He successfully campaigned both for a youth club for local kids and drove the campaign to buy land for a village playing field and sports club. He discovered that the village church had ignored the wishes of a nineteenth century landowner by selling fields that were intended to provide bursaries and scholarships for village children. He won the case and established an educational trust. As I say he was a good man.

I was the third of his four sons but towards the end we were like mates together. I know that he saw much of himself in me. We talked about injustice and books and people. He told me about his war years in India and about his teacher training in York in the nineteen thirties.


I was the last person in our family to see him alive. He was in hospital in Hull. He had already suffered a massive heart attack. He was heavily sedated and he stuck out his yellowed tongue, uncharacteristically requesting a double whisky. His eyes were like black pearls staring out at me. He was already not himself and the next morning he was gone.

Every day I think of him. He got us up in the morning. He put breakfast out for us. He took me to see my first Hull City match. I helped him to plant potatoes. He found me collapsed in a drugged up drunken stupor when I was seventeen. He gave me my first tie before I embarked on my first teaching practice. He gave me some simple rules for living that I will never forget.

It hurts that he never met my wife and children. It’s like a shadow in my life. He would have been the best granddad ever. He was my dad and I loved him dearly. I don’t even have a photograph of him to share with you. Instead, I give you the school badge of Malton Grammar School where he was boy.

15 August 2006


I keep coming across this idea of things we ought to do before we die. In newspapers, I sometimes see stories about kids with terminal conditions being flown to Florida to either visit Disneyworld or to swim with dolphins. Swim with dolphins? I'd rather eat them with a rocket salad and sauted potatoes. Here's a typical "Ten things to do before I die" list, followed by my own alternative list:-

1. Stand on at least one mountaintop, even if you have to take the lift to get there.
2. Swim in at least one river, one lake, and one ocean.
3. Plant, grow, and use your own herb or vegetable garden.
4. Go camping in the real wilderness, away from other people and plumbing.
5. Travel somewhere far away by plane, train, and automobile. And boat. And bicycle.
6. Visit a country where you don't speak the language. Then eat something you've never heard of.
7. Eat a country dinner somewhere in Tuscany, preferrably prepared by an Italian grandma.
8. Drink fresh sangria on the riverside in Seville, preferably under the orange trees in bloom.
9. Walk along the beach, watching the sunset. And when the sun has set, enjoy how different the beach is at night as you walk home.
10. Learn how to say hello, thank you, and you're welcome in as many languages as you can. Then talk to foreigners when you see them!


My List:-
1. Clear out my drawers of socks and underpants I never wear.
2. Get rid of that damned "Virus Alert!" pop up box that keeps spoiling our visits to this computer.
3. Make a rear window car sticker that reads "Cheese on Board" (Not "Baby On Board"!)
4. Get the car professionally valeted.
5. Buy a pogo stick for adults to bounce on - mainly me.
6. Write "I Still Love Janice" in big white letters on the motorway bridge that connects the M18 with the M1.
7. Learn to do one of those high pitched whistles that involve thumb, finger and pushed back tongue.
8. Make a tray of homemade sausage rolls.
9. Learn to fasten shoelaces properly instead of making cumbersome rabbits' ears and crossing them over.
10 Get even with Brad the Gorilla and Reidski through devious plots that crush inflated self-esteem.

11 August 2006


Not all bloggers are lucky enough to be able to jet away for sunshine holidays, so relax and enjoy three more images from our holiday in Turkey - I'm such a benevolent kind of guy!...
The ampitheatre at Kas, looking out across the bay to the Greek island of Meis (Castelorizo).


This time - a Turkish hibiscus in the sunny back streets of Kas.


Kaputas beach, east of Kalkan - the turquoise coast.

5 August 2006


Captain's Log - Stardate August 8th...
Oooo! It's hot here ın southern Turkey. The food ın the lıttle restaurants ıs really delıcıous and served wıth love - lamb kebabs or stews, sea bream, chıcken ın varıous delıcıous guıses and beautiful salads. The apartment ıs lovely wıth a pool beneath. Today I walked around the ruins of the ancient Lycian cıty of Patara where centurıes later, after the ancıent cıvılısation had crumbled, St Nicholas was born - accordıng to legend... and the beach was long and smooth and utterly devoid of hotels... More when I return to Yorkshıre.
Captain's Log - Stardate August 11th
That's it. We're back in England. Last night the plane could have landed on time in Manchester - in spite of the newsworthy international air security situation - if it were not for dead rabbits on the runway! I kid you not. Now that's a helluva job to have - shovelling up dead creatures from an airport runway. I wonder what the rabbits' last thoughts were as the Boeing 757 that obliterated them came in to land - "Hey Brer! I thought you said the Paris flight was delayed!" or maybe "They never told us about this when we were training in Islamabad!"
Shirley and I had a great holiday in Kalkan. We swam every day - in the sea and the pool beneath the apartments. And we ate like royalty in rooftop terraces that overlooked the moonlit bay. The restaurant service was superb and the quality of dishes was usually unbeatable. Oh my Lord! That Ottoman lamb shank in an earthenware dish! That baked banana with the honey and almond sauce! That sea bass with bay leaves, lemon and sea salt - so fresh. The unusual and beautiful freshly baked breads that were brought to us as appetisers - garlic, coriander, olive and parmesan. It was partly little details that made these meals so special - the linen tablecloths, an olive twig on your plate, the complimentary melon and raki, the obligatory handshakes and farewells with the restaurant staff, the small pieces of Turkish delight - as a gentle breeze soothed away the searing heat of the day.
And there was the amazing gorge at Saklikent, the layers of history in the ancient archaeology of Tilos, Kas and Patara, the feral dogs and cats that briefly befriended us, the day boat trip aboard the "Sunset 2" with eleven passengers on board - swimming off Mouse Island and a delicious traditional lunch whilst at anchor and for the first time in my life I was shaved and massaged by another man - a traditional Turkish barber who let it slip that ten years ago he shaved the pop star Robbie Williams every morning he was in Kalkan.
Now that's a holiday to sustain you through the winter... and when we got home very early this morning it seemed that our abandoned kids have not wrecked the house but I will soon start looking in more detail for telltale evidence of wild drunken orgies - I mean I was young once too! Now to try to post a selection of pictures...


Mummy and daughter


The Roman theatre at Tilos




Saklikent Gorge


Middle-aged couple on holiday