Thursday, 24 July 2014

Be careful what you wish for


You may remember me having a little moan about the blue smoke and smells of cooking belting out of this cylindrical chimney over the new Caribbean restaurant recently, and how I and a few loved-ones got a free meal as a result of my polite complaint.

The smoke carried on as normal for a week or two, so I made another polite - very polite - complaint to the manager, who told me that the wrong filter had been fitted and that the correct one would be installed this (last) Monday. He also gave us another free meal which we have yet to eat.

I was beginning to think that he was fobbing us off with excuses - until last Monday, when a few blokes began lugging several huge, black metal units up onto the roof and assembling it to make the gigantic contraption below.

It is difficult to understand the size of it from these photos, but suffice to say that the longest side is about ten feet.

I first thought that this restaurant might not last very long due to a sort of lack of commitment, but I have changed my mind since - they obviously mean business.

I had to laugh as it was being built - it was, after all, me who asked for it!


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Mathematical genius


Didn't I always say that Carol Vorderman had a great arse? Well if I didn't, I aways thought it under my breath.

Well she has just pipped some young X-Factor starlet to the post in the arse-stakes to scoop the much-coveted 'Best Arse on T.V.' award, and apparently it's not for the first time. She's not just a pretty face.

Maybe my thoughts are turning to this sort of thing because of the weather, which has settled into a very Mediterranean coastal pattern of a stiff and refreshing, incoming breeze in the morning, and an outgoing one in the evening, or maybe it's simply because I really have turned into the filthy old pervert of John's lurid imagination.

Talking of stiff and refreshing, I counteract the day's sweat-drenched activity of my job with an almost deserved couple of cold beers in the late afternoon, but since I do this right through the Winter as well, I  can only describe it as 'almost' deserved.

I'm off to select yet more white marble today, and tomorrow I am going to view some antiques in a yard in Dorset. Both these trips will be in the Volvo, which will have the windows right down the whole way, because the air-con gave up on the old bus years before I bought it.

This plays havoc with my coiffure, but I have never been a slave to fashion, which is why I have never, ever, taken an undignified tumble on the cat-walk. When your whole life is as undignified as mine, you don't need to stand on a dais in front of the world's media to prove it.

About two months ago, I was idling in some traffic in the Volvo and happened to glance at the odometer (this is the 'mile-ometer', and not an onboard device which tells you the state of your armpits in the cramped confines of the cockpit), and saw it read 1260020.

I thought at the time that this was not a great deal of miles for a car as old as mine - I have friends with the same age Volvos, and they have over 250000 on theirs.

Then yesterday, I was idling in some slow-moving traffic again and gave the odometer another glance. It read 1260020. I set the trip to all the zeros and continued for another three miles. They remained at all the zeros and the main meter still read 1260020... You don't have to be Carol Vordeman to calculate this little anomaly.

Unless I run this car into the ground as I have all the others, I might be faced with a moral dilemma when it comes time to sell.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lusting after your Great, Great Grandmother


Yesterday seemed to be a book-acquisition day - three big tomes: one on Velasquez, one on Hokusai and one on English, Scottish and Irish antique table glass, not that I need it.

They are all reference books, so I need not feel guilty about not reading them from cover to cover, though I did once buy one on Scottish Jacobite glasses which included a very well-written historical background which read like a period thriller.

The Art books once formed part of the collection of an art-collector friend of mine who died a few years ago. His wife died shortly afterwards, and the other day I found all the books piled on the pavement outside his house, with his son selling them for 50p each - a bit sad. That Hokusai book originally sold for £40, sometime in the 1980s.

I arrived a little too late to get the book of Victorian photographic pornography, but the buyer says he will give it to me when he has 'finished' with it.

It is fascinating to look at, especially when you understand that all the beauties contain within have been dead for at least 120 years. Also, most of the images are stereoscopic, so all 'you' will need to do is to slot the double images into one of those hand-held, twin-lensed viewers to take a trip back in time with sepia-tinted glasses.

I love those old stereoscopes - mountain passes, famous buildings, long-dead people - clothed and unclothed - all in 3D so realistic that you feel you can reach out back in time to touch them.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Butterflies or Georgian Bath


Sir Richard Attenborough has asked all us Brits to count the butterflies this Summer, so I had a go one lunchtime last week, out at the rural workshop, not having a garden here in central town.

I got up to four Cabbage Whites and one coloured one before I began to suspect the one of the Whites was doing the old schoolboy trick of running from one side of the panoramic camera to the other so as to be counted twice.

We considered capturing each butterfly and ringing it for identification before releasing it back into the wild, but decided against it - life is too short, especially for the butterfly.

If there is one plant which evokes a long, hot Summer, it is Buddleia - possibly the butterfly's favourite plant. I love almost everything about it - the colour, the smell and the abundance of long-lasting blossoms, and it's ability to survive  - thrive - on the meanest of soils. It chooses places like bomb-sites as a favoured habitat, but thankfully we are relatively free of those in this part of the world at the moment.

I say 'almost' everything about it, because there is one negative attached to Buddleia which is directly associated with its ability to thrive on virtually no soil. Miraculously, one seed will drift through the air and settle in a tiny crack in the mortar of the masonry of a building, and take root very firmly indeed.

The roots will travel through joints of no more than one-eighth of an inch thick, then somehow suck out enough nutrient to produce a massive bush of flowers high up on the side of a Grade One listed building, as if feeding on the air alone. This is good news for butterflies, but bad news for the architecture.

Buddleia loves rocky, alkali places, and you can't get much more rocky and alkali than Bath.

The roots creep in between impossibly tight places in buildings, then exert tons per square-inch pressure in an outward direction, pushing the blocks apart and carrying out a slow demolition process.

Whenever you see a healthy-looking Buddleia high up on the side of a building, you know you are also looking at neglected masonry in danger, which is why I pulled these young plants out of the footings of the pub yesterday before they had a chance to flower, and before I would be too weak to be able do it.

Sorry, Butterflies.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Something evil this way comes


The wonderful and awesome (literally, this time) electrical storms which have been sweeping over the South (3000 lightening-strikes in 2 hours the night before last) have knocked out many automated electronic systems like cash-registers, but I haven't heard of any more obvious damage.

I tried to put some petrol in the car, but although the pumps were full and working, they wouldn't talk to the tills in the shop, so I had to take my custom elsewhere. The first thing that is going to happen in WW3 is the deliberate, complete and utter knock-out of the internet, then we will have to go back to buying vegetables on the street from stalls. Rumours will replace 24-hour rolling news, just like the old days.

After they have disabled all but the crudest of communication systems, they might want to set off a few neutron bombs. These bombs are brilliant, because they kill absolutely everyone - and their pets - who has not hidden in a lead-lined chamber, whilst leaving all the architecture and white-goods completely unharmed.

The ratio of washing-machines to humans will be about 50-1, and the housing shortage will be a thing of the past. The government - who have all been hiding in lead-lined chambers - will have their work-load dramatically reduced, as the population will consist of a handful of radio-therapists who hide in lead-lined chambers as part of their every-day job.

Ok, I am awake now, but these are the sort of thoughts which preoccupy my sleeping hours, especially at weekends. Last night it was not all dystopian visions of the future - it was much more basic.

I was on a large, earthen dyke behind a massive, wood-fringed field in the twighlight, when a small dog came running from the edge of the wood in sheer panic. Its owner went toward the wood to investigate, and then ran screaming in my direction. Something very big and very nasty was coming out of the wood.

I ran up the bank to try to escape it, and when I reached the top, I was horrified to see a gigantic, black dog appear at the crest which would have put the Hound of the Baskervilles to shame. There was nowhere to escape.

I waited for the inevitable attack, but the huge hound just ran straight past me.

At first I felt a huge sense of relief, but then it dawned on me.

The massive beast was running away from whatever was coming out of the woods...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Little me and little her



Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't I?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A hot Summer night in 1959


The Mint leans up against the wall with its hands in its pockets, looking bored and watching the Night-Scented Stock dance.

The white, helmeted Water keeps an eye on the situation.

Outside on the roof, the West Indians sit around smoking in the warm, open air, like they did back home in the Caribbean.

Everything is as it should be.