Friday, 16 March 2012


I've mentioned George before.  He's the demon barber of Bermondsey Street.  He's been here for ever I suspect, and is one of the last bastions of traditional Bermondsey...a little run down shop that hasn't seen a lick of paint since England won the World Cup.  You my recall that I tend to go there when the naked girl on his calendar changes.  The last time I was there he showed me the calendar that had been donated by the local garage.  Obviously times have moved on because rather than being an elegant collection of  naked girls carefully posed to hide the very last vestiges of their modesty, this one was full of girls who had obviously got confused and had ended up at the photographers studio, rather than the gynaecologist where their poses would have been more appropriate. Fortunately George knows the difference between what's acceptable and what belongs under the mattress, so he didn't put that one up...he put up one from 2005.   I must say that over the last few times I've been there, George has been losing his touch slightly, and I've ended up with several nicks...always explained away as "You must have had a scratch" and I've gone with the flow.  This time, I asked for my usual... a Number three on top and Number two on the sides.  George clipped the blades on started the trim.  Immediately I knew that something wasn't right.  There was just too much hair falling on the floor.  Though he denies it, I swear this was a Number two on top (may be a number one even), and I came out looking like a Millwall Football supporter.  I can see my scalp through my hair, and feel my skull if I rub my hands over it.  All I needed was a pair of braces, white T shirt and H.A.T.E to be tattooed on my knuckles, and I would blend in with the locals nicely.  And I got a little nick to go with it. I no longer have my beau locks.

One of the odd results is that when I cycled in this morning, for the first time ever I could feel the rush of the air over the skin on my head.  It was odd.  It may have been this that distracted me, so that when I had to get off to carry the cycle up the steps of the bridge at Bow Locks, my feet didn't unclip properly and I just tumbled over.  No harm to me but I smashed my new cycle lights.  Bollocks.

To compensate, the Police had closed Rotherhithe Tunnel to traffic, and so I was able to cycle through as the only vehicle in the tunnel.  An odd but exhilarating experience.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Another brick in the wall

When I was just a young lad, Grandma in Cyprus bought me an Encyclopaedia Britannica.  It's always been something I have treasured, especially as it was quite a sacrifice for her to buy.  Although my memory of the times is hazy, it was I believe not long after she and my father were divorced and I am sure money was tight.  I came home from school one day, GinC wasn't there, but there was a note which said "There's a mess in your room can you tidy it up please".  Of course, as there was always a mess in my room, I ignored it until it was too late.  She arrived home before I went upstairs, so I somewhat spoiled the wonderful surprise.  The Encyclopaedia was never easy to use because it wasn't (in 30 volumes) in alphabetical order.  No that would be insufficient for the intellectuals wouldn't it?  Instead it was divided into two sections - ten volumes in the first and twenty in the other.  In order to find anything that you wanted to know about, you had to first look it up in the first section to find the reference in the second.  Getting to the bottom of any query was a labyrinthine challenge.  That was part of the fun.  Did it teach me anything?  Well yes, probably that the harder you work for something the better will be the reward.

When I moved to Brighton the Encyclopaedias eventually followed me.  In fact I think they nearly killed Grandad in Cyprus as I had moved in to a top floor flat with no lift and he helped bring them up.  In fact he may have carried most of them up.  There were over a hundred steps to the top.  Each part of the Encyclopaedia is thicker than a telephone directory (oh do those still exist?).  Legs, arms and hearts were well exercised that day.

They sit now in the 'library' - the small box room that we've given a rather grand title, as an icon and testament to a slower age.  It still gets thumbed through...although it looks pristine.  And the information is woefully out of date...but it is still an object of beauty.

Yesterday I read that the Encyclopaedia in print form will exist no more, replaced instead by a 'media rich knowledge experience'.  Yes I know there will be more in it, it will be interactive, there will be videos to go with the words and pictures and it will be constantly updated.  But, but, but will it have the stature and status.  Somehow I doubt it.  That's a shame.

When I was younger we had Lego.  Everyone had Lego.  It was a brilliant toy that stimulated the creative juices.  That was in the days when Lego simply consisted of rectangular bricks of different sizes and colours.  There must have been wheels too because I remember that in addition to all sorts of different buildings we used to create cars, vans and trucks...although there was no way to make the wheels steer.  Rockets and planes didn't require wheels.  Boats and ships were not very waterproof and mostly sank like the Titanic.  Each was carefully designed by my brother or I in our heads in about thirty seconds.  Built in ten minutes and then driven, flown and more importantly crashed over and over and over.

But in more recent memory, and presumably due to a decline in the creative spirit amongst small people, Lego has taken to selling 'kits'.  Fabulous constructions...often themed around the latest film sensations (Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc).  But all this you know.  I always felt this was a shame, although it didn't stop me buying the kits as gifts for kids of friends and family.  And from Lego's point of view it was the saviour of the company.  It was the way to compete in a digital age.

Then, last year I was bought a kit.  Not a Bionicle, not a Harry Potter, nor even The Death Star.  The Muffins bought me the Guggenheim from Lego's Architecture series.  Each one comes with a comprehensive set of instructions (IKEA please take note) and a booklet which gives loads of background.  Proper educational it is too.  We bought a second one (only another ten to go) and yesterday constructed the Rockefeller Center in a couple of hours.  If it took God six days to make the earth, and Rome wasn't built in a day, I think a couple of hours is quite good.  I didn't do it alone.  For both buildings, The Cat's Mother has equal billing.  The results are fabulous, and they're now displayed in our treasure trove room.  If I worked for a proper company, the HR department would probably describe it as a team bonding exercise.  Perhaps it is.

P.S. If Lego wants to send me one for "Review", I'm prepared to make the sacrifice....Fallingwater looks interesting

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Off with their heads

It would be an exaggeration to say that Camilla nearly ran me over today, but it is true that her motorcycle out-rider did stop on the zebra crossing just as I was about to step out, and her car swept by but a moment later.  What on earth she was doing in the back streets of South London I have no idea.  It must be nice being ferried around everywhere completely out of touch with reality.  Much like a teenager then.

It's a Royal week this week as next weekend we are going to a charity fund raiser that is diamond jubilee themed.  This will leave me in a dilemma.  The Cat's Mother is part of the organising committee for the NSPCC, and helping children is a good thing (although on some days, I do wonder) so attendance is a pre-requisite for staying at the family home.  But she seems disinclined to allow me to go as Charles I's executioner, so I need suggestions for a costume.  Any will be welcome.

Monday, 12 March 2012

An Olympian effort

Sat here at my desk on Monday morning, I'm feeling weary.....and no wonder.

Below is the Sportstracker from my cycle into the office today.  Yes evidently I really was cycling at an average speed of 1752 km/hour for 202 km.  Only slightly different from last week's journey of 30km at 24km/hour

I was missing Auntie Gwen who hasn't put finger to keyboard for ages it seems.  So I sent her a text to find out what was going on.  Evidently her broadband is supplied by her company, and they have banned her blog.  Too much porn and fecking (which is one and the same really). Poor Auntie Gwen...I hope she finds a way round it - I would suggest a proxy server, but don't really know what that means or how to go about it.....

After a bit of a lull, our busy social life has begun to pick up again.  Friday night we went to see Florence and The Machine.  The last time we tried that, it nearly ended up in tears as the tickets we had been sent were was only through the sterling efforts of the ticketing agency that we managed to get new ones and got to enjoy a brilliant show.  This time it was easier...did I get them through American Express, I may have done, it was certainly without problems.  We four went with The Spanish Girl and her husband and went for a delicious meal first.  I'm not sure that fine dining really goes with a gig, but hey ho.  She was performing at Ally Pally, which if you've never been to is an absolutely splendid place with one of the best views of London you can imagine.  She performed brilliantly, faultlessly with a band that included a string section and a chorus.  We weren't as near to the front as I'm used to...but the days when it was just The Boy and I and we would arrive early and shoulder our way to the front are long gone, but standing on tip-toe we could generally see her (well I would have been able to if I'd brought my glasses).  Amazingly she still comes across as a rather pleasant girl from suburbia.

On Saturday, whilst The Boy went off on an inter-school United Nations event  The Cat's Mother and I went off to the big shopping centre at Westfield Stratford...which was the sort of mindless exercise we needed being so tired that we could have spent the whole day asleep.  The only thing to report from there is that SHE wouldn't allow me to buy a new camera, which seems quite harsh following on as it does from being told not to buy a new motorbike.  I'm feeling hard done by, but less broke than I would if I'd been encouraged.  Although The Boy didn't fully explain it, the event he was at was one where several schools get together to discuss matters of international interest.  The Boy was representing the USA, which was always going to be an uphill challenge.  Everyone is supposed to follow the views of the country they are representing.  We received some interesting texts from him during the course of the day including "Don't they understand, the USA has a hangover" and "China and N Korea are knobs".  Anyway, fortunately World War Three was narrowly avoided, even if the world order seemed to have changed - which included Portugal supporting North Korea, and some inappropriate and quite undiplomatic advances from Mexico.

Yesterday was spent at an Edwardian breakfast.  And it was a fair reflection of those times that it started at midday.  Whether it was authentic I have no idea.  I do know it was scrummy.  There were around thirty of us at Butchers Farm.  Which is owned by a baker.  There was no sign of the candlestick maker.  Breakfast consisted of:
Grapefruit (with red wine)
Porridge (with whisky)
Kedgeree (with white wine)
Eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding, baked beans potato fritters, tomato (with port)
Pastries (with cognac)

As the clearing up started, the boys all plonked themselves in front of the TV to pass judgement on the English team and the French-speaking Irish ref.  Their view of the French team was decided long before kick-off.  The wine flowed throughout, especially as it was a nail biting game.  No wonder we were poured into the taxi at the end of it.

Sat here at my desk on Monday morning, I'm feeling weary.....and no wonder.  Oh, have I said that already?