Friday, 6 December 2013

World record attempt at tangental rambling

I've just got around to watching John Gray's little video of the gale-force winds currently battering Wales and other places. He might have gone out to fart, but the dogs stayed in the confines of the car, albeit with the windows open.

I read the questionnaire of some well-known, old buffer a while ago, and when asked what his most unappealing habit was, he answered, 'making personal attacks on the ozone-layer'.

I've since found out that nitrous oxide is about 120 times more damaging to the ozone-layer than methane, so next time I catch a bunch of kids inhaling whipped-cream gas from balloons in my car-park (yes, they do) I am going to point out the irresponsibility of their actions - never mind the risk of a collapsed lung or all the little metal siphon-bottles they leave strewn around the place.

The balloons themselves - being latex-based - decompose quite quickly, but can do serious damage if ingested by the other notorious, cud-chewing methane-producers - cows. Farmers really don't like those village fetes which have charity balloon-races, where you write your name and address on a bit of card, tie it to a helium filled balloon, then let go so it can float up and away. The winner is the balloon which travels the furthest distance, of course.

I once found a deflated balloon with one of these cards attached to it right outside my rural workshop, and read that it had been launched the day before by a young child - about a quarter of a mile away.

The next day I was due to go on holiday to Italy, and I took the card with me. I posted it back to the launcher from somewhere in Tuscany, saying that I had picked it up at my villa on the mountainside, several days after the launch. I never found out if the kid won the prize or not, but I hope they did. They owe me.

The other little trick with helium balloons is the old one of taking a lungful from them, then trying to talk in a normal voice. This only works with adults, so that kid did the right thing by letting it go at the village fete. You can get a collapsed lung by doing that as well - something to do with the imbalance of pressure inside to out.

One of the strangest and most pointless jobs I have ever had was to drive to the Goodwood racetrack in a huge Landrover at dawn one morning, then fill and launch a giant balloon with helium, tether it to the front bumper of the Landrover, then sit there all day until the last race had been run.

The actual balloon was about ten feet in diameter, and had the word 'TOTE' written both sides of it, just in case anyone had forgotten the name of Britain's biggest bookmaker.

Have you ever sat in a car for 8 hours without anything to do other than read newspapers and watch a giant balloon lurch around in the sky, 100 feet above your head? If not, take it from me that time does not fly under these circumstances.

At some point, I remembered that Cro had told me almost 40 years before, that Goodwood Week is the correct time to pickle walnuts. It's funny how certain things stick in your head, and it's also funny how he is still busy pickling away down there in France, all these years later.

We watched coach-loads of toffs in top-hats arrive sober around 8.00 am, then stagger out as pissed as farts at around 5.00 pm. We were approached by countless Gypsies selling little sprigs of lucky white heather for a fiver a go, but - not having the opportunity to even see a race, let alone bet on one - we declined the offers and received a curse from each instead. Judging from what has happened to me in the intervening years, they must have been mighty powerful curses, and are still active.

One little ragamuffin approached me through the open window on the driver's side and asked, "Lucky heather, Sir?" When I wearily refused, he made his way round the car to my companion, who was buried in a newspaper, half asleep. He was - and still is - about 4 years older than me.

"Lucky heather, Old Pops?" asked the lad in a chirpy sort of way.


That - believe it or not - was the highlight of the day.


  1. So was that more than four years ago? And if so, does that make you an Old Pops now?

  2. I have never sat in a car for 8 hours or read newspapers. This has resulted in a very ignorant old man with a little worn seat in his car.

    1. Your seat is a little worn? Think yourself lucky, my is as saggy and worn out as... er....

  3. I used to do "whip-its" when I was young and worked next to an ice cream vendor. Explains a lot.

  4. You really do seem to see life in all its facets Tom. I presume from reading today's post that you and Cro have been buddies for a long time. That would explain a lot about your blogs!

    1. Yes, we went to art school at the same time - 1969. He did painting, and I did nothing.

  5. Reading a post from you replaces my need for any other read. I get history, cooking (pickled walnuts? Is that code for something?) humor and gypsy curses. No wonder I am exhausted when I leave your blog.

    1. You must be exhausted before you start - I read your blogs too! Cursed Gypsy walnuts are the best, but difficult to digest. Gypsy Creams are easier.