Monday, 2 February 2009

Statues of Doom

This childhood 'gem' turned up over the weekend in the course of a parental house clearout. I can only assume that Steven Moffat has taken to raiding Sussex homes in search of his Dr Who storylines.

I'll admit his title was an improvement.

Statues of Doom

Martha and Julia were walking through the park. It was a warm, sunny day, and the grass was shiny green. They were going round the park because four new statues had been put up, and they wanted to see them.

A few minutes later, Martha and Julia saw the statues. They were standing around a stone pillar, with their arms by their sides. Julia suggested that they should take a closer look.

Then, when they were by the statues, something willed them to step onto the pillar. They felt themselves stiffening. The statues creaked, and joined arms.

The next time the mayor came round, he was puzzled.

"How come there are six statues today, when there were only four yesterday?"

21st November 1989

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Things I learned from a London cab driver

I learned some important things from my cab driver today. I was on the way to a meeting with a colleague and we were discussing house prices when the driver chipped in.

“Ah, house prices are a sin,” he said. “But it’s no fluke you know. The government wanted us to get into debt so they made us take out mortgages that were six or seven times our salaries. It’s all part of their plan.”

“The government may have some culpability,” I said, cautiously, “but surely we as individuals are ultimately responsible for the decisions we make? If we choose to take out mortgages of 100%, don’t we have to accept the consequences?”

“That’s what they want you to think,” he said, giving me a very intense look in the rearview mirror. “But they’ve been working towards this for years. That’s why women’s lib was started, you know; no offence to you of course. The whole reason they allowed women to start work was so that they could tax them too. And now you’ve got two people working in a house, taxes have gone up, and the economy’s falling apart. Now we’re dependent on the government – we’re following in the footsteps of American policy, and you know why? Because of the politicians. They’re all part of the same group, the [B---]* group. They’re all in it – Blair, Brown, the Americans, Thatcher. It all started with Thatcher, of course – haven’t you ever wondered why they all pay her so much credit in public? Because of the [B—] group. They’re the ones who control global political policies and they’re the ones who decide the price of oil. That’s how they keep their power, you see.”

In the back of the cab things were getting a bit speechless. Unfortunately, it didn’t do us any good.

“You’ve gone very quiet on me,” he said accusingly. “You need to do research on this yourself, then you’ll understand. I found it all out on the internet, it’s all out there for anyone who wants to look for it. But they don’t think you’ll do that, so they don’t bother hiding it.”

Luckily, at this point we arrived at our destination.

I feel positively enlightened.

*eds note: I can’t remember what it’s called. Google for ‘secret rulers of the world’ if you want enlightenment; it's probably about as reliable as he was.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

“First and the last of the Morgan SLRs”

This week, after two years of very hard restoration work on the part of some of the country’s top Morgan mechanics (and I’m not just saying that because they patched up Connery after Emily made me run him into a pillar) the Morgan SLR is finally making its first public appearance at the RAC Club, where it will be on display for the rest of the week.

If you've been reading this blog for a while you may remember that I’ve talked about the SLR before. Since then I’ve learned a bit more about where it came from, courtesy of dad's research.
It’s one of three SLRs designed and built in the early ‘60s by Sprintzel Lawrence Racing (can you guess where the name comes from now?:). Chris Lawrence, one of the brains behind the Morgan Aero, intended the car to be a high performing sports car based on the Morgan +4, whose chassis, suspension and running gear frankly kicked the competition to the kerb.

And it was worth it, right? This is one of the earliest photos dad's been able to get his mitts on, from (we think) the car's second incarnation - no pun intended.

Of course, as is the nature of such things, the car’s first owner wrote it off almost instantly. Chris then rebuilt it
after the other two had been completed – making it both the first and last SLR made. It was raced competitively by a series of its owners and in the mid 70s was painted fire engine red by Sir Aubrey Brocklebank, after it and he were singed in a fuel leak which caught fire at Silverstone!

In the late 70s the car was then exported to the US by a gentleman called Bill Fink, who raced it at Monterey and other circuits for almost 30 years.

Two years ago its current owner (my esteemed parent) brought it back to the UK and had it restored to its original condition by various fabulous people* – just in time for this year’s Morgan Motor Company Centenary.

Isn’t she lovely?

*To name names: restoration and race preparation by Brands Hatch Morgans of Borough Green, Kent; bodywork by The Historic Coachworks (formerly Rod Jolley Coachbuilding) of Lymington, Dorset, and paintwork by Panel Craft Elite of Sittingbourne, Kent :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas, Commitment and Cooking

The Boy and I moved another step closer to Serious Commitment with this weekend’s purchase of our very own Christmas tree. Given that my beloved flat, while awesomely located, is only about 2ft square, installing a whopping great tree may seem rash - but it’s an essential part of the festive season. What would I do with all that tinsel otherwise?

He looked rather alarmed when I told him that as far as I was concerned this was a much bigger relationship hurdle than moving in together. It’s the first time I’ve ever committed to joint tree ownership with a boy, whereas moving in together is something I’ve done with just about anyone in the past (with inevitably erratic results). Luckily he shook it off in time for Saturday night, when a bevvy of lovely ladies descended on us for an evening of wine, wine and a rather tasty three course meal whipped up, believe it or not, by the Boy himself.

For a man who doesn’t cook I have to say he did rather well – foie gras parfait followed by roast duck stuffed with wild boar, and tarte au citron for dessert. God bless Borough Market, says I; we’ll have do this entertaining lark more come the New Year.

Although given that I set the frying pan on fire last night trying to make pasta, I might leave the actual cooking part to him.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Mostly Harmless

For about the last 12 months, in every photo of me taken after midnight, I seem to have my lips planted firmly on the cheeks of the nearest unfortunate soul - usually with a massive grin on my face and a half-empty glass sloshing around in my hand. In one or two forums this persistent trend has gained me a reputation that I suspect may be quite hard to shake, not to mention my own growing concern that I might be turning into some kind of crazy cougar wannabe.

This weekend, nursing yet another festive hangover and reviewing the latest batch of photos on Facebook, I realised the happy truth: it’s not that I’ve turned into some kind of minor sex pest, it’s actually all about the cheekbones.

No, really! Puckering up to the person next to me is the only absolutely guaranteed way of faking the bone structure that genetics failed to grant – and as an added bonus, it hides the second chin that certain relatives (who shall remain nameless) tell me is the curse of our family once we hit our late 20s. (Well, that and the raging alcoholism.)

I have to say, as strategies go, it’s really not that bad.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A moral tale (on slippery foundations)

Well, O Best Beloved, I have had full-on horrible man flu for five days, during which time I missed the entire start of the festive season, including the annual reunion of my University posse - on what would, this year, have been the ten year anniversary of our first meeting. I am utterly gutted and therefore rather annoyed that this morning life added injury to insult by tripping me up on a piece of invisible ice outside Caffe Nero.

It did however teach me a valuable lesson: at the time I was thinking how irritating and noisy school children are and focusing my silent hatred on a particular group standing just in front of me. All of a sudden out went my feet and over I slid, cracking my elbows and throwing my ginormous coffee half way up the street. And who is it that rushes over to help me up and send me back to Caffe Nero for a free replacement? Yep, you guessed it. Those very same irritating and noisy school children, who actually turned out to be rather sweet. We slid up the street together to my office where I waved them goodbye and skated in with my tasty new coffee and a series of rather fine bruises up my elbow.

What do you mean, there's a moral to this story?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Oh so Special

Let us pause for a moment to reflect on the unsung genius behind the Special K marketing campaign. Well, what's your first thought when a woman in red appears on your TV screen? For me at least it's always the same - "ah, must be Special K".

So ingrained is that pernicious “stay special” message that even when the newer chocolate-loaded or honey-soaked varieties find their way into my shopping basket they’re accompanied by a definite feeling of virtue, like I’ve made the healthy choice and picked up something really wholesome.

Today, munching Oats ‘n’ Honey out of the box as my virtuous post-dinner snack, it crossed my mind to wonder whether this was actually the case. 3% fat really sounds too good to be true: what’s the catch?

I can only assume it's stuffed with crack.