Monthly Archives: April 2021

Partners, Pills & Princes – Week 17 : 2021

The Favourite Eldest and Youngest Daughters often get a mention in the blogs but their partners seldom do. T’other weekend in Manchester saw some time being spent with the chaps. Matt probably got the best value out of me with my helping to sand the dining room wooden floor. There were several coats of stain and varnish patchily covering a large area that needed to be removed. This took us a day and half of application and I was delighted with the results. Matt then varnished the planed floor. Katrina is still dealing with the dust.

(I’m holding a sander not a table tennis bat!)

Harry indulged me in something a bit more pleasurable. A fabulous spin just south of Manchester in the countryside and through the expensive satellite towns containing footballers’ multi million pound properties. We were even passed by a wonderful vintage (about 1928) supercharged Bentley… if only I could have got my phone out in time for a snap.

It looks like, that despite the partial relaxation of the lockdown, we’ll not be getting abroad quickly on holiday. However I can recommend a trip to Waitrose to partially satisfy your desire for sun and exotic places:

Truth be told then I’m happy that there are a lot of poor farm hands making a living planting and harvesting these vegetables and then packing them onto airfreight. But let’s be frank that these imports are stupid if we’re trying to save the planet. (All supermarkets import vegetable not just Waitrose.)

I was amassing 17,000 steps by delivering a leaflet for a candidate in the election for the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner around our sleepy village. You’ll be unsurprised to learn this imminent event hasn’t lit up the locality into an excited frenzy. I think most of the leaflets will probably make it into recycling fairly swiftly. A couple of folk engaged with me on the topic. One noticed that the candidate was committed to ‘targeting county lines drug dealers’ and observed that some of this pond life had been spotted in the local pub carpark. I expressed genuine astonishment. I commented that the village had too many old people to be interested in all this stuff. Another person quipped ‘that may be true but there’s lots of folk taking drugs in the village but mainly in tablet form on prescription!’

I was sorry to note the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh. He never had delusions about his importance but brought great authority, leadership and energy to his role of supporting the Queen and the various good causes he was the patron of. As I sign off I thought I’d repost, from an earlier blog, an episode concerning a letter he sent to my workplace…

“About 25 years ago I sat atop of a large department of employees at Moores Furniture Group who’s job was to deal with customers quotations and orders. It was an era before the internet and we lived in a sea of paper. I saw this daily forest after it’s opening and sorting. One morning as I’m perusing the letters and forms I came across a small letter on something like blue Basildon Bond. This was not the way most contractors, in Co Durham, communicated when seeking replacement hinges for a damaged wall cabinet. On closer scrutiny it was a personal letter to our former owner, George Moore, from Buckingham Palace.

Mr Moore following his disposal of the company for about £70 million had devoted himself to various activities including charitable ones. Such beneficiaries included one of the Duke of Edinburgh’s causes. The letter said little other than thank you and was simply signed ‘Philip’. This was how he signed all his letters!

I studied this letter and instructed it to be redirected to Mr Moore who resided elsewhere on the estate and did reflect that it was a little unfortunate that this letter, that he would no doubt be delighted to receive, had a date stamp, thanks to the mail room, plonked right across HRH’s moniker. If nothing else then Mr Moore could be confident in telling friends and family the date on which it was received.

Record Of The Week # 112

Maia Sharp – Mercy Rising

A move to Nashville from LA with the end of a long term relationship and the coming to grips with a new home fostered a desire to move on in many ways. This confessional album muses on relationships coupled with many wry observations and desires about those around her. She’s a great wordsmith and the music nods to several genres with singer songwriter being the most evident although this sits comfortably in the country/americana orbit. Sharp has made her living by being principally a writer for other artists; credits read the (Dixie) Chicks, Trisha Yearwood, Terri Clark and Kim Richey (whose sound she is probably closest to on this latest album.)

Her voice is a siren call: warm with an impressive range that’s conveys emotions that come thick and fast through ten songs. From the sarcasm of “Nice Girl” to the lustful “Not Your Friend” she sings over a sophisticated soundtrack of smooth beats and the varied, sublime guitar sounds of Joshua Grange. The arrangements are uncluttered and you feel that every note has arrived in just the correct place after considerable collaboration. Sharp herself is accomplished multi-instrumentalist and wearing her producer’s hat, she demonstrates impressive mastery of the controls.

Continue reading Record Of The Week # 112

Record Of The Week # 111

Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia

On YouTube you’ll find a video of the band in Nashville’s RCA Studio A easing their way into “You Hear Georgia”. It shows a band of 20 years laying down a butt-stirring rock groove whilst Dave Cobb cheerleads from the sidelines, no doubt pleased at the magic that’s being created. Cobb is still the prolific go to producer for Americana. Such is the demand that apparently he’s booked up three weeks after he’s dead. The latest album from Georgia’s finest is the very essence of 70s Southern Rock: a bluesy rock platform, soul vocals, an irresistible bass line and some raw electric guitar riffs; it contains all the vital ingredients. If you care to add occasional honky tonk piano and a soaring slide guitar you’ve elevated your dish from the ordinary to fine dining. Grab a napkin.

The jagged guitar riff on the opener “Live It Down” commands your attention the instant it sounded. This is classic blue collar rock – “Reachin ’up from the bottom / I tell ya it’s a bitch / It’s a helluva thing to break yo back / Just to make another man rich” sings principal song writer, vocalist and guitarist Charlie Starr. Next we’re into the title track, still as dirty and soul stirring but slower, giving more space to the funk and the backbone-debilitating snare rhythm. Starr says “Lyrically, the song is about the South being misunderstood. It’s obviously a rough and tumble world, and there’s a lot of bad people. But there’s a lot of good people too.” To add to the groove there are some scintillating electric guitar passages. I knew this was going to be fabulous 40 minutes.

Continue reading Record Of The Week # 111

Hot Shot, Mint Sauce & Dead Donkeys – Week 12 : 2021

The badger is back. Clearly not a cause for celebration but a cause for more expenditure. Additional fencing over tens of metres of up to three feet high, in places, has been erected. This solution was decided on after our garden lawn man said you can’t remove the bugs that entice the animal into the garden. In fact he demonstrated their prevalence by digging up the turf randomly and exposing these little blighters. Apparently we just have to wait for the bugs to go, it could be years.

In sharing this update with neighbours we heard that the male urine strategy is being widely pursued. One lady has been diluting her husband’s urine and pouring it copiously around the perimeter of their property. If we’d read about this activity in a remote African village we’d assume the women lived in a mud hut, ate missionaries and had a bone through her nose! Her husband was all for shooting the beasts (or was he taking the p***?). I could subscribe to this management technique but they’re are a protected species.

I completed the transposing and copy editor job with Eric’s life story and am missing it badly. It was an unfolding story of 20th Century history as well as a personal journey of an interesting life. He’s not yet finished the story and I await the next instalment with interest. I worry that my own life story would include too many long afternoons spent in dreary meetings talking about Y2K , computer upgrade improvements, the roll out of health and safety initiatives etc. Such was a corporate life.

Leeds United have been a lockdown tonic. Of course I am remorselessly pessimistic about every game but we have accumulated enough points to survive this season in the league and go into the next with hopefully a bigger squad of players and options off the bench. As LUFC flourish in the top league after 16 years of ‘hurt’ (as the song goes) then another former player has passed away. Peter Lorimer was a wonderful winger with a remarkable, hard shot. I well remember the crowd chant of ’90 miles an hour’. I noted with some pride that his loss was so profound that the national news headlines included this sad event and social media lit up with lots of footage of epic strikes from outside the penalty area.

I’m still fascinated by the local WW2 history which is so evident in the surrounding areas of where we live. The RAF had many airfields accommodating heavy bombers that flew nightly sorties to mainland Europe. I’m reading the following book pamphlet.

Amongst many things it covers it recalls the high jinx that went on on the bases to keep up morale. These cohorts were made up of young men who spent much of their time frightened, frozen, wrestling unreliable and dangerously unwieldy aircraft or probably or when on the ground, in a foreign country, far away from their homes, bored. An extract from the book truly astonished me. There was a camp donkey at RAF Pocklington which grazed in the corner of the airfield and was fed titbits from the cookhouse and NAAFI. The extract goes:

“Sadly one morning, one morning word got around that the donkey had died during the night. The problem now arose as how to dispose of it. It was finally decided that one of the crews would, that night, take the unusual additional payload and dispose of it over the Third Reich… ours was the lucky crew who drew the short straw. As I recall it was the navigator and engineer who, with much heaving and pushing, dispatched it as soon as we were over German territory. I’ve often wondered what were the thoughts and comments of those on the receiving end 16,000 feet below.” 

Anna, when I read this out to her, worried that the falling carcass might have killed somebody. As the Halifax bomber was already carrying nearly 3 tons of bombs then the odd falling dead donkey was the least of the problems for the population I suspect.

Talking of yet more four legged creatures the lambs are back in the fields near us. I think I’ve said that I wasn’t aware of a lot of nature until, thanks to the lockdown, I started to walk around. These delightful gambolling creatures soon lose their fun and will follow their mothers around the grassy fields eating for a few months until they nearly get to their mother’s size and then we all know what happens next, especially to the male of the species. I don’t eat lamb, as it seldom comes up on a menu, or buy many woollen goods so I wonder who they’re being bred for? Answers on a postcard please.