Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Proof; if needed.



I recently wrote about the disgusting habit 'travellers' have, of tipping rubbish all around where they stop for a while (until being kicked out).

You will notice in the above photo of me and a couple of my children, sitting in a friend's old Irish Lot wagon, that there is not a single sweet wrapper on the ground; no different to around my own home, a few metres away.

The owners of the above wagon stayed with us for about a month. Their horse 'Joe' ate our grass, and the owners helped around the place, before heading off again for the south coast where they eventually sold the whole caboodle.

When they left, the field I'd lent them was spotless, and being such tidy folk they'd found absolutely no problem finding other places to stay every night on their way down.

Not something one could say about the white van and caravan brigade!



Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Auld Hemp.



This dog above is a distant relative of Billy's.

1893 was a significant year in the canine/agricultural worlds. It was the year when Auld Hemp was born, and his birth changed Sheep-farming for ever.. 

Bred by Adam Telfer in Northumberland, he was the first pukka Border Collie (Northumberland is on the 'border' between England and Scotland; hence the name). He was also the first sheepdog who followed orders precisely (or could be trained to do so).

Auld Hemp died back in May 1901 aged 7, but his progeny live on. 

Border Collies are fast becoming one of the most popular pet dogs. Previously Labs were No 1, but I've noticed over the past few years that, in adverts, Border Collies are appearing more often than Labs. Our Billy has a lot to live up to.


This was him playing in the sun yesterday. One thing he certainly hasn't learned from his glorious ancestor, is how to sit still for a bloody photograph. I despair.

Monday, 20 January 2020

'Me too'.



I was reading that the UK's famous 'left-wing comedian' Frank Skinner had recently consciously avoided helping an attractive young woman at an airport who was obviously struggling with her heavy suitcase. He was worried that it could be seen as harassment, and wreck his career. It reminded me of an incident several years ago.

I was on my way (alone) shopping when I came across a car by the side of the road; a woman was standing by looking at a flat tyre. Although I didn't know her, I recognised the woman as being from my village.

Of course I stopped and offered to help, and after about 20 minutes managed to replace her wheel, and send her on her way.

So, would I do the same thing today? If I was by myself (as I had been) CERTAINLY NOT; I would drive straight past. However, if Lady Magnon was with me I might, even though doing such things these days is not as easy for me as it once was.

The 'Me too' movement has made men think again about chivalry; whereas once we would not hesitate about helping a damsel in distress, these days you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would.

Personally I find this very sad. I'm sure the 'Me too' founders didn't foresee this, but it's a natural consequence of what they started. As we all know, accusations against innocent men for the most innocuous of actions has now become endemic; not unlike mentioning the name of a certain 'Duchess' and being instantly accused of 'racism'.

Being caring towards women is sadly something we men are no longer permitted to do (you'd do so at your peril), and most men will be sympathetic with Frank Skinner's reluctance.

A modern by-product, of an otherwise very good cause.

Welcome to the 21st Century.


Sunday, 19 January 2020

The Sunday Story: Cro Meets John, and Sells Out.


In 1967 I was running a small antiques business in London's Chelsea. I dealt in rare early European wood carvings; mostly polychromed religious artifacts (that no doubt had at some time been 'rescued' from abandoned or bombed-out churches). Angels, Cherubs, Saints; all manner of imagery passed through my hands. My only criterion was that it was old, beautiful, and either French Spanish or Italian.

One lunch-time a youngish man came into the shop, gasped, gasped again, and then asked if I would kindly NOT SELL ANYTHING until he returned about an hour or so later.

I agreed to his strange request (I'd never been asked that before), and he returned as promised after about two hours.

The man was an Italianate-American, and he proceeded to buy EVERYTHING I had; it seemed as if my taste was his taste. He explained that he was working temporarily in London, and he didn't want to take money back home. He wanted to buy things... Antiques... My Antiques.

He was renting a small cottage in Chelsea, about two hundred yards from the shop. An exclusive little property in a highly desirable street. We took all his purchases back by taxi, and unloaded them into his kitchen, where, on the table I was slightly perturbed to see a Thompson Machine Gun!

I hadn't yet been paid, so I began to worry. Then a small boy entered the room (he was introduced as Nick) and asked 'Have you been shot yet daddy?'.

I became even more worried. Then the man explained that he was actually over in London making a film. I asked the obvious question, and his reply was 'The Dirty Dozen'.

He paid me in cash, and we half-heartedly arranged to meet-up for a beer in the near future (which never happened; I was too busy), and that was the last I saw of him.

I saw the film 'The Dirty Dozen' a few years later, and discovered my young Italio-American to be John Cassavetes. In my ignorance, I'd not previously heard of him.

I often wonder if he kept the antiques that I sold him, or simply cashed-in back in the US, and made a quick profit. Somehow I imagine that his son Nick still has them. I'd certainly like to think he does.

Cassavetes was a really nice guy. No airs or graces, no big movie star rubbish, just a guy who loved antique wood carvings. As for me, I had no more stock.... nothing to sell, so I quit the antiques business and went to college. I just wish I'd made time to have a few beers with him, but as he later died of cirrhosis; maybe it was good that I didn't.

I don't know the date of the photo above, but that's EXACTLY how I remember him.


Saturday, 18 January 2020

Travellers fly-tipping TONS of household and building waste on Tesco car park.


I suppose there are two things that I hate almost more than anything else; cruelty to animals, and fly-tipping.

For those who are unaware, the UK has two lots of laws; one for those who live 'regular lives', and another for 'travellers'.

I don't know quite why it should be, but 'travellers' seem incapable of pitching camp on any village green, cricket ground, or supermarket car park, without leaving behind an unbelievable amount of rubbish.

They stop wherever they please, behave like pigs, and dump vast amounts of rubbish.

If I had my way, this bastard below would be strung-up by his 'nuts'.

What a disgusting individual.



Friday, 17 January 2020

Labour Leadership.



I must admit to having become quite perturbed that the Socialists were going to elect a new leader who might actually have brought them back from the wilderness. For a while Sir Keir Starmer looked to be leading the list of hopefuls, and it seemed as if common sense had prevailed; not something we expect from Labour.

Luckily, dear reader, I now hear that Rebecca Long-Bailey has crept into a 5 point lead, and it's back to normal. 

A die-hard Corbynite (she's backed by Momentum, John McDonnell, and Diane Abbott), if elected she will follow the same crack-pot policies of her predecessor; many of which she herself devised for their last year's Party Manifesto. She might have nicer hair than Corbyn, but her crazy version of hard-left Marxism/Socialism is exactly the same.

Phew; for one nasty moment I thought they were trying to make themselves electable again.... thank heavens I was wrong!

I do hope she wins the leadership race. Don't let me down Rebecca!

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Fiddling on the Roof.



Lady Magnon has been following a particular play on TV, and she was extremely annoyed when our Satellite TV failed. It looked for a while as if she would miss her final revealing episode.

There were nasty storms in the UK, and we did think it might have been related, but I asked around and others had no problem with their Sky reception.

So, we started to hunt for the problem. We started with all the connections at the back of the various boxes; nothing. We re-wired certain bits that looked as if they needed re-wiring; nothing.  Next we went up onto the roof to check that the dish hadn't moved; all looked OK.

Then Wills (my youngest) asked if there were any connectors between the dish and the Sky box; yes there were TWO. The coaxial cable was in three separate bits, connected by two lots of connectors; the first one was fine, but the second one was found to be totally corroded; we'd found the problem. We didn't have any spare connectors so Wills fiddled with the wires, twisting them together in a Heath Robinson fashion. It worked. We'll fix it properly later!

Amazing, isn't it; the very last thing that could possibly have been at fault, and there it was!

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