What To Do When Going Bonkers: Part Next

Last time it was rugging the cat and digging up the musical past.

Today and yesterday, with the ridiculously lovely weather, a pink moon that wasn’t

And social distancing being re-branded as individual distancing, I carried on the deep spring clean that this place has needed for several springs.

In doing so we found, at the back of the dresser our previous Dog’s ashes.

Blitz was a rescue, like Dog, who died suddenly in the autumn of 2011 of an undiagnosed heart condition. I even tried mouth to mouth on him, so sudden was it but the logistics of that defeated even my determination. Still we’d had eleven good years and when we received his ashes the kids were both away so we kept them for the right moment.

That was yesterday. The kids stood outside the gate and watched as we fed the garden with essence of darling Blitzy. It was all rather lovely even if we couldn’t all take part, there was a shared memory.

It rather put me off the clean, though, so today we spent it in the garden, the Textiliste and me, building three huge tripods for what we intend to be the most spectacular of floral mountains – sweetpeas, black eyed susans and morning glories as centre-pieces for the potager bed we have planned – there will be veg in abundance – peas and beans, courgettes and squash, tomatoes and corn; there will be sunflowers and calendula, poppies and geraniums, oh all sorts. Fitting that Blitzy should be in there helping them grow when he spent a significant part of his life peeing on my lawn and burning holes in it.

taken by the Lad at a sensible distance…

And this is what last year’s looked like – hopefully these will be even better..

this year the larger bed should allow them really to flourish…

I wonder what will happen next?

PS, as I wrote this the eagle-eared Textiliste heard a hissing. She tracked it down and, blow me if we don’t have a water leak. My natural inclination to do nothing at the best of times, compounded by the current dilemma had me on the side of ‘let’s leave it till this is over’. The Textiliste, who hates wasting water with the passion of a parched dromedary pointed out that ‘over’ may be weeks off so we now have a Thames water plumber appearing tomorrow. We will all keep our distances and thoroughly clean everywhere but I’d prefer it if this didn’t happen.

Life is a bit of a bugger right enough…

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Making Friends And Nylon Pyjamas #university #bristol

In 1975 I began my three year odyssey at an undergraduate law student at Bristol University. Those first few days as I settled into university life remain very vivid. Today I recall my first evening in hall and a life changing encounter.

I was more than a little nervous, going down for the briefing and then dinner. I’ve never been great in new situations. My imagination was both vigorous and unusually for me pessimistic. I had managed to kill time until the scheduled start at six but as we all know, one of those lesser Newtonian laws applies to every clock: the speed at which you want the hands to turn is in inverse proportion to the speed at which they go. Hours soon became minutes and by five forty Time was in danger of going so fast I might well have gone straight into tomorrow. Not that that wouldn’t have been welcomed.

In my time killing moments I speculated on who my immediate neighbours might be. There were two other rooms at this end of the corridor, the remaining space being taken with a shower, a bath and two toilets. Convenient if occasionally smelly.

At just before six I heard voices. It sounded like they came from the room opposite, a burst of hearty, not to say horsey laughter, the sort two confident familiar men of a private school background might make.

I shrunk back into my shirt. Not only did the chap opposite sound like he played polo and had staff but he already had a friend around. Not much chance of me finding a like minded spirit there, I thought. I waited until the sounds disappeared and steeled myself to make an appearance. This was sure to be ghastly.

I don’t at this distance remember the briefing. Some worthy hairy confident men wearing beards beyond their ages spoke. They made jokes that weren’t, tried to sound like everything was just so much fun, much like dentists convince you that any discomfort is entirely coincidental. But of the substance, Nope nothing sticks.

Similarly the dinner. The dining room was modelled on an Oxford college hall, a comparator with which I was marginally familiar from my failed attempt to secure a place there – like so many Bristolians I was a failed Oxbridge candidate – a badge of inverted snobbery in later years. All it did however was emphasise how out of place I felt.

After whatever we were served – and generally the food was okay in my time there – some of us newbies decanted to the bar. You passed the TV room and headed for a gloomy converted corridor lacking windows and, from the smells, competent plumbing. I bought a pint, sat on my own, spoke to a large sticky ginger headed scientist from Kent who was trying to remember the name of the one person he knew – or so he said – and swore blind that the course he was taking – which may have been Chemistry, but equally it could have been Applied Bollocks – was so easy he was a shoo-in for a first. He dropped out after six weeks having spent most of his time in the bar drinking his grant and still failing to remember his friend’s name.

After half an hour and shortly before nine I headed for my room. I cleaned my teeth, put on my nylon pyjamas and sat on my bed, assessing the day. Yes, I was that cool.

Overall it rated a three. Out of quite a large number. Tomorrow, when we registered at our faculty at least I’d meet other first year law students and have something in common with them. Maybe I’d find someone I liked and, better still liked me.

I picked up a book – I tended to absorb sci-fi back then so it was probably an Asimov or Clarke or Bradbury – and prepared to write off day one, hoping for an uptick on the morrow.

Thump! Thump!

Someone who must be escaping the Stasi or about to give birth hammered on my door. Before I could think of answering or getting up to open it, it flew open.

Swaying briefly as if surprised he’d managed the challenge of turning the nob, a grinning man with sleepy eyes fell across my room and was only saved from a complete collapse by the intervention of my desk

‘Hiya. I’m Dave. I’m across the corridor. Who are you?’


My visitor having returned to the upright now wobbled uncertainly back towards the door in an uncontrolled attempt to push it closed. He hung on to it grimly, as if at sea in a gale. I silently admired the fortitude of its hinges. ‘I’m drunk. What are you doing?’

I made the correct assumption he didn’t need to explain the concept of reading in bed and said, ‘Law.’

‘Me too. That’s brilliant. I…’

He lost grip on the door and disappeared into the corridor, his progress apparently arrested when he crashed into the wall opposite. This must be one of the hooting Henrys I’d heard earlier, I surmised.

Dave reappeared, holding his elbow and grimacing ‘See you tomorrow. I’d better…’ once again he left my room as if tied around the waist by some malevolent elastic.

His absence was momentary as he returned, catapulting himself across my room, wishing me a good night before pingponging back into the corridor and disappearing.

I got up to shut the door. I checked the corridor. He’d gone, who knew where.

Oh well, I thought, at least I’d know someone at registration, even if they were an uncoordinated drunk with a laugh like a horse with haemorrhoids. Little did I realise how inseparable good friends we’d become.

Posted in Bristol, history, memories, miscellany, university | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Things To Do While We Go Bonkers part whatever

First my daughter the Vet decided her cat Bozzy could do with a groom and with some help from their neighbours moggy which also got a groom, we get…

A trumpcat

Next it’s my cousin, a nurse (many cheers) who asks what my quarantine song is. To find out i just need to check what was no. 1 on my 12th birthday….

Oh effing great… the theme song from The Good The Bad And The Ugly. Very appropriate

It could have been a bit more upbeat…

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Bucket Listing #carrotranch #loganandmorgan

‘What are you looking forward to, Morgan?’


‘You’re going to the States and that’s top of your bucket list?’

‘It’s the home of great pizza. That and fruit.’


‘They have the biggest apples…’


‘I’ve seen it on film. Their pizzas are as big as…’



‘Isn’t Italy the home of pizza?’

‘Nah. That’s like saying curry comes from India.’


‘No listen. Who are in all those American films? You know, the history ones?’

‘I’m sure you’ll tell me.’

‘Indians. So if Indians come from America then why not pizza?’



‘You’re an idiot.’

https://carrotranch.com/2020/04/03/april-2-flash-fiction-challenge-2/This week’s carrot ranch prompt has inspired a return of the two latter day philosophers, Morgan and Logan

April 2, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes pizza. It can be an original pizza pie (or slice) or something pizza-like. Go where the prompt leads!

Posted in carrot ranch, creative writing, logan and morgan, miscellany | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

The Beachcomber And The Alien #writephoto


‘Bloody hell. You made me jump.’

‘Pretty empty, isn’t it?’

‘It was.’

‘Sorry? Oh I see. You mean before I came along.’



‘You said that.’

‘You’re a bit…’

‘Snarky? Pissed? Justifiably aggrieved?’

‘I was thinking precious.’

‘So you’re not really sorry, then?’

‘It’s just a.. you know, figure of speech?’

‘Really? I was brought up believing it was a basic apology. It has meaning.’

‘Are you not from here.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, the British.. English anyway, we’re always apologising for things we haven’t done wrong.’

‘You think I’m some sort of illegal alien.’

‘No, it’s not… look, I am sorry to have upset you and all but this beach is huge, there’s just the two of us, at least a mile of sand, a fantastic sunset so can’t we just ignore each other and enjoy being outside and then go our separate ways?’



‘You aren’t prepared to let me stand here and watch the sun go down?’

‘You have to leave.’

‘Why? Or maybe, given how literal you seem to be, how will you make me?’

‘Let’s stick to the why. You really don’t want to here the answer to the how.’

‘No, go on. Surprise me.’

‘The sun. What you think of as the sun. It isn’t.’

‘That round yellow thing that has been in the sky throughout my life isn’t the sun?’

‘It’s bait.’

‘Bait? As in fishing?’

‘Well done. That’s exactly right.’

‘And you’re fishing?’

‘I’m a monitor.’

‘We had them at school. They brought in the milk.’

‘That’s not relevant, is it?’

‘No, I suppose not. It just popped into my head when you… look, I think I’ll get on. You’re clearly busy.’

‘I thought you wanted to see the sun set?’

‘I do. Did. But if I’ve learnt one thing in my years on this rock it’s that interacting with a loony doesn’t usually end well.’

‘I see. So when you’re confronted with the strange, what seems like the inexplicable you choose to call someone mad rather than have your assumptions tested?’

‘Yes. That’s about it.’

‘You don’t want to hear about the how, then?’

‘I’ll pass thanks. Bye, then. It’s been… interesting.’

‘Bye… Pillock.’

‘Hi, Glod? This is Prend. The human’s gone. You can drop the bait and we’ll see if that bloody Kraken will bite this time.’

‘What? The how? I thought a vaporising ray gun or a flesh eating slime might have done the trick.’

‘I know. I’m such a tease. Though next time can we avoid England? You never know if what they’re saying they really mean. It’s infectious.’

This was written in response to this week’s writephoto prompt

Posted in #writephoto, creative writing, miscellany | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Truth, Lies And Verbal Grouting

The lies came early, came often.

‘You’ll like this.’

‘This won’t hurt.’

‘The tooth fairy won’t come if…’

‘Santa will be here tonight.’

Not yet five and already losing credulity. And yet hanging on, keeping a sliver of the faith.

And still they came.

‘You’ll like school.’

‘Maths is fun.’

‘You can do it.’

So much duplicity had to rub off.

‘I didn’t do it.’

‘It wasn’t me.’

They stopped hurting, except…

‘I love you.’

Even that soul-deep deception wasn’t as bad as…

‘It’s nothing.’

‘I’ll be fine.’

That’s when you realise it’s the truth that really hurts.

not sure where this came from; maybe I need a few of these pictures to remind me of the upsides

or this

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Punchenello Tillingdown

I grew up with dogs. Or rather a dog. The worried mutt above was the son of the family dog when I was born. But Rusty didn’t survive for me to remember her. She was a pedigree boxer and so was Punch, hence the extraordinarily pretentious name you see in the heading. I have no idea why my parents went for anything so fanciful as that for his registered name but maybe they’d been at the cooking Madeira again.

He terrified people who called. Some because of his sheer bulk; others because of his reverse hydration. If you’ve seen the Tom Hanks film Hooch you’ll know what I mean.

Punch was a huge presence in the family, from his love of huge logs and massive stones which he’d carry for miles in his drooling mouth to his inability to get traction on the kitchen lino when someone knocked on the front door – when, finally some sort of grip was achieved the build up of kinetic energy often sent him hurtling into a pair of legs, the kitchen table or once the back door which forever after had a dent in the panelling.

In the custom of the day he’d be turfed out in the morning and go roaming the district with his doggy mates. My mother received the complaints about his behaviour with an resigned sigh and scolded him but she didn’t mean it.

One common complaint involved him and whichever neighbouring female hound that was on heat. My mother would patiently explain to the owner that they needn’t worry since Punch, while perfect in every other way only had one testicle and therefore the chances of his siring any offspring was remote. Of course, this is bollocks – or perhaps bollock – but mum would baffle the complainant with science: ‘he’s a mono-orchid, you see’ since in 1960s Surrey one knew when and with whom to use the word ‘testicle’ and Mum wasn’t about to break that verbal taboo.

This did lead to one near neighbour trying to explain to her husband why Punch’s unlooked for covering of their beloved Fifi Trixibelle wasn’t likely to be a problem: ‘You see he’s a, a… erm a mono… that is… oh he only has one tulip.’

No doubt, whatever mum said, he sired a fair few non-pedigree pups but mum wasn’t about to restrict him, mainly because he didn’t do well cooped up.

The above picture of him trapped with a face that launched a thousand mortgage repossessions bears witness to that fact. He needed a lot of love and attention when he was freed.

The same goes for all of us, I suspect when these social distancing measures are relaxed.

Though I don’t suggest we adopt Punch’s relaxation of choice with the nearest Fifi Trixibelle however many tulips we may have.

Mum with the rascal, circa 1960
Posted in dogs, family, memories, thought piece | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments