Friday, 20 October 2017

The thankless duty of being a know-all

Last night's little tiff was all to do with how I am always right. I try to stop myself from pronouncing the best way to do anything; from explaining the reason why condensation runs down some kitchen walls but not others; how putting the lid on a pan of boiling water with potatoes in it does not stop the steam from coming out (actually, I am not 100% sure about this one, but don't tell her I said so), but when you are infallibly right about absolutely everything, it can be difficult to stand by and keep your mouth shut - to accept the flawed and inferior opinions of others.

Being a man who has an almost infinite knowledge of the universe and all its arcane workings is one of those endearing little traits that I mentioned in the last post.

This is the new heater - delivered double-boxed. I am quite proud of myself for getting it up three flights of stairs on my own. Mind you, I could hardly walk for about 15 minutes afterwards.

Thursday, 19 October 2017


When I was much younger, I always had one male friend who I spent a lot of time with. There were many friends like this over the years.

I suppose you could say that I had a crush on them, but there was nothing sexual about it - I was always chasing after girls for different reasons.

Most of the time I would be blind to their faults in the same way as people in love can see no wrong in the object of their adulation. If the faults were so obvious - such as physically or verbally attacking people in public for no obvious reason or similar boorish behaviour - I would classify this as amusing idiosyncrasy.

Of course, there would always come the time when one of us would fall out with the other, and this was often a mutually arranged disagreement to terminate the relationship. Just like a marriage which has gone wrong, the little traits and habits which used to be almost endearing would become the source of deep and un-ignorable irritation.

I ran into one such old friend from the time when everyone - especially us - would sit around listening to Lou Reed records (on vinyl) the other week. He lives on his own because he is a sociopathic wife-beater - you know, those little endearing traits which I tended to ignore.

He was complaining about somebody, saying that he still had certain activities which he should not be doing at his age, and he actually said, "I quoted Lou Reed to him - 'You're still doing things I gave up years ago'..." He just couldn't see the irony.

Thinking about it, I suppose everyone - including women - had these sort of friendships. Usually, if they did not come to a natural end, they were put on hold by marriage and/or children and usually never taken up with the same intensity as before. "We really must get together for a night out soon..."

More often than not, one friend will just not get on with the other's chosen partner, and vice versa. This is quite often rooted in jealousy. I had one lost friend whose new wife actually said to him just after the marriage, "You don't need him any more. You've got me." Maybe he didn't read the Terms and Conditions small print.

Thinking about it even further, I have remembered quite a few female friends who I related to in just the same way. One in particular was a woman of about thirty who was on the same Foundation Course as I was when I was sixteen. I suppose she would have been considered a 'mature student' then, because everyone else was between sixteen and twenty.

Everyone hated her and she hated everyone. I liked her and eventually she came to like me. I suppose she couldn't be too picky under the circumstances, but we got on very well until she left, having decided that Art School was not for her.

I don't know what this post is about really. I am just thinking out loud until the new water heater arrives and I carry it upstairs...

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Tsin Tskaro - Hamlet Gonashvili

Well I need to listen to this even if you don't. At some point in my life, I want to drink Georgian wine from Georgian pots, in Georgia.

Not too much to ask, eh?

The real reason for the red sun

I was saved from the embarrassment of showing you the red sun yesterday that you all saw with your own eyes, because my iPhone isn't talking to my iMac. I did, however, send it to Green Eyes in London as a message, because I thought it was a local phenomena. I can just see her rolling her eyes whilst mumbling something about 'silly old man'.

I expect you are wondering what the situation is regarding my leaking water heater, aren't you? Well having spent days and weeks researching tankless ones because I have received no advice from any plumber or even plumber's merchant (they are scared of giving the wrong advice), I have bought the modern equivalent of what we already have. At least I know that it ought to work and if the worst comes to the worst, I can connect it myself. I am now waiting for a water heater to turn up as well as a hat.

After weeks of gleaning snippets of caveat-laden advice via the net and from people in the pub who gave the matter a full two seconds of unqualified thought, I was beginning to have my doubts about a tankless heater even working at all in our compact but adorable city apartment. One dealer (who insisted he was a real human being called 'Harry') considered my circumstances on a live chatline, and came to the conclusion that I needed two units, neither of which should be more than one metre away from the hot tap.

As I set out yesterday to go to a few plumber's merchants in the area (including Chippenham and the higher numbers of the Bath postcode) which I had not yet tried, the sky darkened, casting a ghoulish and unearthly pallor over the land, and a strong and unseasonably warm wind picked up. Something strange was happening.

When I got back to my workshop with the intention of making a few more calls to plumbers who I have never - and will never - met/meet, I looked up and was shocked to see a brilliant red moon glaring down on me through the fast-shifting, red clouds.

That was when I gave up on the idea of a tankless water heater for our house.

I am flattered to think that God put all those other people to trouble and needless worry, just so He could warn me that I was heading for domestic disaster.

I should have listened the first time weeks ago, when I was vainly waiting for the original plumber to come round one night and make the assessments. In the end, God had to shout.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Who was Herbert van Thal?

Some Brits have been telling some Americans that Halloween is no big thing here, but I used to love it when I was a kid and our pub makes a big thing of it too. Any excuse for a party.

I once had a school friend round for baked beans on toast by candle light, down the stone steps in our wine cellar. Yes, we had a wine cellar, but no wine was ever in it. The spirit of austerity and frugality (remember that?) which kept it permanently un-stocked also meant that my father refused to waste a real pumpkin for the night, so I had to make do with a turnip instead. This was the same spirit of frugality which meant that I had to make do with a steel-framed racing bike.

I loved everything to do with ghosts and ghouls up to the age of about 15. Actually I still do, but these days horror-films usually revolve around the spilling of blood, and we have enough of that in our every day lives as it is. I want escapism.

I read all the Pan Horror books as soon as they were published, and I was extremely disappointed when Sherlock Holmes proved that the Thetford Vampire was nothing of the sort. In life, Conan-Doyle was extremely superstitious and even believed in fairies, so it is odd that his hero was so logical.

I don't care about Halloween these days, of course - mainly because I am not so fascinated/confused/scared of death, and I don't need an excuse for parties.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Spirit of place

In the compilation of the 17th century writings of John Aubrey that I am reading, he describes the town of Slough (near Eton) as being 'very dirty'. He also says that the very name, slough, means 'a dirty place' in Welsh. He proceeded John Betjeman by about 300 years - 'come friendly bombs and fall on Slough...'

Peter Ackroyd is right. Places never lose their original spirit of place or purpose, no matter how visually changed they become.

Since Roman times, Bath was one of the first tourist towns for rest and recuperation, attracting all sorts of people seeking simple diversion from their everyday lives. It is only a few miles from Bristol, but the difference in atmosphere is striking. Bristol was built on commerce, but Bath was built on gambling and sex.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Seen through green eyes

Green-Eyes's childhood depiction of the dog and Carpaccio's version to compare. I very much like both, but for different reasons.

Her grandmother has always copied the Old Masters: