Friday, December 31, 2004

(Nick Bradbury)

The Number 1 single was:Procol Harum - "A Whiter Shade Of Pale"

The Number 1 album was:Beatles - "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

These two were top of the charts on the day I was born, what a top choice of music. Find out the chart toppers for your birthday at the UK Top 40 Hit Database
"Dear RSA,
When I'm at home, I like to masturbate with a Hitachi Magic Wand, but it's kind of noisy and now that I live in a dorm I'm afraid my roommate will hear me. What vibrators are quiet enough to use in a dorm room?
Annika, Penn State"

Oh dear, the trials and tribulations of the modern day student, you can read the advice from the Resident Sex Advisor Here.
A blog by a Christian Soldier in Iraq including a very amusing secular Christmas greeting.

A blog entitled Cooking for Engineers, it does exactly what it says in the instruction manual.

Diary Entries.




DAY 752
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the satisfaction of ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

DAY 761
Today I attempted to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking and almost succeeded. Must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust these vile oppressors, I made myself vomit on their favorite chair... must try this on their bed.

DAY 766
Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to strike fear in their hearts. They only cooed about what a good cat I was. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768
I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time it included a burning chemical called "shampoo". What sick minds could invent such a liquid? My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

DAY 771
There was a gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could smell the foul odor what they call "beer". More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to my power of "allergies". Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774
I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his confinement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time.

(Nicked from I Have A Crazy Wife)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Last night I met the Yorkshire Ranter and his good lady, we had a wide ranging and interesting discussion including, but not limited to, ID cards, MP's wages, why I'd rather be represented in Parliament by a Lhasa Apso than Chris Leslie, Yorkshire, Paris. All very pleasant it was.

Then I had to run off and meet the family at Tubby Wadlow's, which was closed. A quick phone call to find out we are now meeting at the Cow & Calf, so I popped in to Escape to wait for Mrs.YS to pick me up.

I was quite happy, sitting at the bar reading, when a crowd of drunken youngish blokes pile in. They all order double brandys. Then there's a shout.

"Oy lads, this bloke's reading, a book." I liked that pause, it's almost as if I could have got away with reading if only it had been something normal, like the Daily Sport.

"No, it's ok lads, he's only looking at celebrity tits, phwoaar, that Abi Titmuss is a goer int' she ?."

I get left alone for a few moments, then drunk shouty bloke leans over my shoulder.

"You want to be talking to us mate not reading a book."

"No, I'm quite happy thanks."

"What is it anyway ?" The book gets yanked out of my hands, and with admirable bad timing, my mobile phone goes off, so I'm trying to talk to Mrs.YS whilst simultaneously rescuing my book from drunk shouty man.

"It says," he announces to the beered up mob. "How to know if you're dead. Easy mate, you stop breathing, you're dead." General laughter, I might have joined in, but I'm feeling the teeniest bit intimidated now. Anyway, I get my book back, sup up and leave.

Drunk shouty bloke might be a perfectly nice guy, when sober, when drunk though, he's just annoying.

Things to remember, for drunk shouty types.

I have chosen to read this book, not because I'm waiting for some beer monster to some and break the monotony, but because I want to read it.

The book is more interesting than you are.

I am not lonely, friendless, billy no-mates, saddo or, professor bookworm.

Although you have now asked me the same question three times, I would still prefer to read the book than to talk to you.

I still don't know how to know if you're dead, beacause YOU WON'T LET ME FINISH THE FUCKING CHAPTER!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What a fantastic test match. First south Africa make very short work of England's first innings. SA's initial innings looks to be going the same way, have they created an unplayable pitch ? No, stand forward the formidable Jacque Kallis who proceeds to make the batting look easy as he pushes on to a magnificent 162.

SA take a lead of nearly 200, could it be a matchwinning lead ? No again, enter the best England opening pair for ages, Trescothick and Strauss. SA toil away all day, 273 runs are on the board before Trecothick goes for 132.

Strauss has gone early this morning leaving England on 300-2, about a hundred runs ahead. Vaughaun and Butcher at the crease, more centuries please.

What an odd wicket though, it had all the hallmarks of a really low scoring test, but then seems to have flattened out and become good for the batsmen, what will it do on days 4 & 5 ?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Walking Yorkshire - Ilkley Moor

Today I was out and about on Ilkley Moor experiencing a most Yorkshire weather phenomena. Sometimes in these parts people might tell you that the weather is 'changeable'. This means you can set out in t-shirt and shorts, but take snow shoes just to be on the safe side.

Today was very changeable, and none of the changes were for the better.

You can't see the rain in this picture, but I can assure you it was there. It even looks bright and sunny, look, you can see my shadow, this is a ploy to get you to remove your hat. Seconds after doing so you will be pelted by horizontal hail propelled by rail gun.

Those clouds are ten miles away, they are dropping sleet, the wind is so strong that the sleet still manages to hit me. I struggled up and over the moor to Twelve Apostles, on to Dick Hudson's then along to East Morton and back over the moor.

The moor road here is a disgrace, we live in one of the most beautiful places you could wish to be, so what do car drivers use it as ? A rubbish tip. Take your bloody litter home you rabble, don't just bung it out of the window as you tear arse along.

Perhaps slowing down a little would prevent scenes like this, mother and fawn lying dead a few feet from each other at the road side. I had two close calls whilst walking a couple of miles along the road, the first with a car full of teenage boys, the driver was looking at the passenger as they crested the hill in front of me. The second was one of those bloody huge Rangerovers. This is a dangerous road for pedestrians of all species.

Flowering gorse on the moor, probably the high point of today's walk. On the way back, close to the radio station, I attempted to cross a section of man-eating bog and sank up my waist. This gave me quite a fright, but I managed to haul myself out and get back home. The last hour was miserable, a steady sleet had set in, I was freezing, I had soaked my gloves pulling myself out so couldn't keep my hands warm, why do I bother.

We're strange folk us Tykes, I've been up on the moor on beautiful sunny summer's days and seen nary a soul, but today, with sub zero temperatures and high velocity hail, the moor was packed, there were queues at every stile.

All together now...............

"Tha's gonna catch thy death o' cold, death o' cold,
On Ilkley Mooar baht'at."

Monday, December 27, 2004

Feelings of impending doom.....

Hoop - work in progress

Well, I'm up to page 34, here is another small chapter...............

"Think spider, think spider. Too’amolous See’a’crisst lowered itself down the wall, toes and claws finding little places to hold in the bricks and mortar. Two pigeons, disturbed by has passage, flew up in a beating cloud of wings, Too’amolous hooted back at them and shook his head, shaking his mouth tendrils, the pigeons flapped away into the darkness. Checking for holds, Too’amolous continued his descent.

He was nervous, something else moved across the rooftops behind him, a half seen shape, spider legs and strange, spicy scent. It had followed almost from The Mine, he had caught it’s cloves and oranges smell in the alleys of Averslee, and again along the canal. Too’ had sought to gain sight, but the follower could climb better than him, and the sudden ascent of the Tower of Glass had not thrown the creature off. Too’ had been much afraid when on reaching the upper levels he caught a glimpse of the spider creature descending from the lighthouse.

He had dropped down, risking a slide down over the viewing windows in an attempt to put the creature off, but after hanging breathless from a high balcony he caught the thing’s strangely attractive smell and ran.

Now, after an hours chasing up and down walls and across rooftops he was terrified, the creature was clearly tracking him. Any number of switchbacks and leaps had failed to put the creature off. It seemed he could not outrun it up here, neither could he continue onwards to deliver his message, it might not be the message that his hunter required, just proof of communication between two parties. Down to the ground then, groundwalkers would not know from whence he came.

Too’ dropped the last ten feet, hitting the ground more heavily than he might have liked he stumbled, then regained his balance and ran. His long toe claws clicked on the cobbles, slipping here but then catching on a crack and propelling him forwards. See’s’crisst were most ungainly sprinters, but nevertheless could manage a fair turn of pace when the situation demanded.

He ran down a street, almost slipped again at the corner and surprised a young human couple walking hand in hand, the girl shrieked, the boy shouted profanities, but only at Too’s vanishing back. He ran in and out of pools of light cast by lanterns and torches, past the yawning black mouths of alleys and ginnels where death awaited with bright eyes and sharp knives. On he ran, keeping the mud and compost smell of the canal in his nostrils. As a bridge loomed at the streets end ahead of him he put on a final burst of speed, pounding up the bridge’s incline, fleshy arms pumping and fists clenched he reached the center. Without pause he hurled himself over the parapet and dropped, a moments freefall and then he crunched down onto a mound of stone, coal by the smell, he skittered down the heap until his feet rested on the barge’s lipped side.

It was minutes before his breathing calmed down. He breathed deep and drew in the cold, damp, oil smell of the coal, the rich, eye watering scent of new pitch on the barge boards, a faint waft of smoke from the pipe of the watchmen at the prow, and the man’s vinegar sweat, and the rich and cloying stink of cloves and candied peel.

The spider shape rose up silently from the other side of the coal heap, two forelimbs waving in the air, it was silhouetted in the faint light from the city, and as the first of the flashes from the Glassworkers Lighthouse illuminated whitewashed buildings, it stayed dark, absorbing light.

Too’amolous See’a’crisst could not swim, nevertheless he stepped calmly backwards and toppled into the cold, dirty water. There were worse deaths than drowning."

Feedback appreciated................

Oops, heavy snow falls on Ilkley Moor Christmas Day, look what happens.

Did you all have a good Christmas Day ? I had a wonderful time, with my wife and family, all seventeen of them - it was a busman's holiday on Christmas morning, and my Godchildren running around, utterly fantastic.

Thankyou everyone for all the presents, I received a goodly amount of red wine and whisky, a revised 5th edition of Andre Domine's Wine, an excellent addition to my bookshelf as my old 1st edition is missing many new trends, wineries and vintages.

Young whippersnapper Chris got me a bottle of Barolo, which I enjoyed immensely with last night's roast duck and parsnip croquettes.

I love my 'Big Red Boyz' t-shirt, are we dressing up in these for the flight ? I'm presuming everyone else got one ?

Christmas dinner was ..........

Gales Private Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Brut, Luxembourg - a little treasure found on my holidays, creamy and smooth with a fine mousse.

A bottle of pink Cava (a gift from a supplier) which turned out to be badly corked.

Prawn cocktail served with Montes Alpha Reserve Chardonnay '99, what s superb wine, full of rich, buttery flavour, really big for a white.

Roast Turkey and Beef with cranberry stuffing, roast potatoes and parsnips, creamed potatoes, carrot and swede mash, sprouts and cauliflower cheese.

The main course wines were.........

Chateau Musar '91, I'm almost lost for words to describe how wonderful this was, the very archetype of smooth power and mature fruit, brilliant.

Pesquera '98, my final bottle of this vintage, very nice.

Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Shiraz '99, a big, black beast of a wine.

Christmas Pudding with cream, then a board og Quicke's cheddar, wensleydale, stilton and chevre with.............

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttunyos '99, caramelised oranges and sunshine in a glass.

Domaine de la Voute Grande Reserve Champagne Cognac, the lightest, most finely scented and flavoured cognac I have ever tasted.

Followed by my annual game of terrible snooker, much running around with the toddlers and just a very good time. I'm especially glad that Grandad decided to come, at 94 he can only put away about three pints, there were times when he wouldn't have left the house for less than ten. We're all glad that Mum was well enough to attend, may we have many more family Chirstmas' together.
Oh dear, some superb bowling from Ntini and Pollock and a vastly improved performance from Steyn left the Enland innings in tatters on the opening day. Some of England's batsmen should also be looking at their shot selection and promising never to do that again on a sticky wicket.

South Africa end the day 70-3 and must be hoping for better batting on the 2nd day.

It does not look like England can make it a glorious 9.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Christmas to everyone, have a great day, I'll see you again on Boxing Day or the day after.
It's always a problem when Grandad's hooked on smack, trust the ever inventive dutch to come up with a solution.
"But the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns -- oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest -- no, the hand was cupping her entire right -- Now!"

Tom wolfe wins the Bad sex in literature award for this garbled bit of non porn, does this do it foy you ? No ? Me neither. Mr Wolfe declined to accept the award in person, we can only hope he has taken himself off to a high class working girl in order to brush up on what he has so clearly forgotten.

The South Africans have been keeping this lovely young filly all to themselves, the swine! The enjoyment of seeing England beat South Africa was enhanced by the delightful Kass Naidoo presenting the post match awards.

I think it would be traditional to announce........I have no pictures of Kass Naidoo naked, donations to the usual address please.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Michael Jackson's Favourite Things, safe for work I suppose, but very non PC.
Disco Hitler, the best little animation I have seen in a while, safe for work.
Chefette's Christmas Party

This nice little cartton was drawn by barman Rob and handily describes chefette's evening.

8.30pm Full of the joys of Christmas, happily eating, chatting and sipping.

11.30pm Full of the joys of a bottle of Malibu, can't actually walk properly, speak anything intelligible or understand what is being spoken to her.

1am Wasting Christmas dinner by vomiting profusely, luckily she was steered into the toilets first, whilst I'm trying to stop her puking into her own hair, she throws up into my hands. Lovely.

1.30am Sent home in a taxi, with sensible Clare to ensure she actually gets home.

The funniest point of the evening happened whilst we were all sat around the fire, chefette sat on the floor, waiter Elliot kept touching a lump of coal in the scuttle, and then under the pretence of stroking chefette's hair, decorated her as an early 80's Adam Ant without her noticing.
The Staff Party

Most of the Ilkley Club Staff gathered for our annual bunfight on Tuesday night, I couldn't blog about it yesterday, eyes wouldn't focus on my computor screen after two bottles of shiraz anf half a bottle of Absinthe, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Nick 'bats like a duck' Cockcroft looking most festive.

Carol looking all funned out.

Jonathon improving on last years octoman balloon stunt.

'Swinging' Ric Blears entertains the party. If only you'd kept your mouth shut later on Ric.

Robyn and Rachel, before the hideous drinking games began. A good night was had by all, too good in one case. Thanks to all the staff for keeping IGC running for another year, the committee think they run the club, but we know who really keeps it going.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Here is a list of foods, voted as the 50 things you must eat before you die by BBC viewers, (found at Eat Your Carrots ). How many have you eaten from the list ? I've missed out on Guinea Pig, Reindeer, Barramundi and Durian,

1. Fresh fish
2. Lobster
3. Steak
4. Thai food
5. Chinese food
6. Ice cream
7. Pizza
8. Crab
9. Curry
10. Prawns
11. Moreton Bay Bugs
12. Clam chowder
13. Barbecues
14. Pancakes
15. Pasta
16. Mussels
17. Cheesecake
18. Lamb
19. Cream tea
20. Alligator
21. Oysters
22. Kangaroo
23. Chocolate
24. Sandwiches
25. Greek food
26. Burgers
27. Mexican food
28. Squid
29. American diner breakfast
30. Salmon
31. Venison
32. Guinea pig
33. Shark
34. Sushi
35. Paella
36. Barramundi
37. Reindeer
38. Kebab
39. Scallops
40. Australian meat pie
41. Mango
42. Durian fruit
43. Octopus
44. Ribs
45. Roast beef
46. Tapas
47. Jerk chicken/pork
48. Haggis
Well done England on a stunning victory over the South Africans in the 1st test. Andrew Strauss now has centuries in his debut match against three test nations and deservedly won man of the match.

Hoggard and Jones both had some great spells of bowling, Simon Jones also took a truly stunning catch to dismiss the South African captain. It's clear that the the English batsmen are not yet firing on all cylinders despite the performances of Strauss and Butcher, when Vaughaun, Trescothick and Thorpe hit some form then the Proteas could be in for a torrid test series.

I was harbouring some hope of England regaining the Ashes next summer, but looking at the Australian slaughter of Pakistan and McGrath's almost single handed demolition of the touring side's second innings, well, now I'm not so sure. I still think we will put up a better fight than has been the case for the past couple of decades though.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Something for the weekend Sir ?

As a young man, I had this girlfriend, and to put it bluntly, we were at it like rabbits every chance we could get. One weekend we had the chance to go up the Dales and use a friends farmhouse for the week.

"Are you doing lots of hiking ?" asked my mother.

"Uh, yes," I replied, whilst thinking that hopefully we wouldn't actually get out of bed, unless we fancied doing it on the settee.

I went to Boots in order to purchase vital supplies for the week, condoms. Now remember, I'm a nervous teenager trying to buy condoms, I've already hovered close to the service counter counter for a few minutes waiting for a gap so I don't have to speak my request in front of other customers and now, hurrah, a space.

I stand in front of the counter and manage to mumble a request for condoms, the lady chemist indicates the array of coloured boxes behind her and says , "What size pack?"

At this point my brain freezes, I've got five pounds in my hand ready to pay, I'm all geared up for the financial transaction bit and wasn't expecting to have to make further conversation. There are a number of things I could have said, a value pack perhaps, the bonus pack please, in a fit of sexual bravado I might have said "Give me the largest box you have."

But no. I opened my mouth and almost of their own accord the words spilled out, nice and loud, in front of the lady chemist and four pretty teenage shop girls I said................


A family pack, of condoms, sadly the ground did not open up and swallow me.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Hoover Dam

This is Boulder city, the town that was built to house the workers who made the dam, Lake Mead (the lake created by the dam) can just be seen in the background.

It is mightily impressive, if you get down to the Nevada/Arizona part of the USA, I would hearily recommend that you visit the Hoover Dam.

One of the Angels of the Republic designed to commemorate the spirit of the dam workers.

Looking back at the dam from the Arizona side, you can stand with one foot in Arizona and one foot in Nevada in the centre of the dam.

One of the water intake towers, the water level when we visited was the lowest for 25 years or so, a further fall of 55 feet would force the closure of the generators.

Angled pylons holding the conducting cables away from the cliffs. In a few years time there will be a road bridge crossing the canyon behind these pylons, construction has just begun.

It's a long way down. You can see swirls of bubbles being produced as thousands of gallons of water are pushed through the generating turbines at the bottom of the dam, see all those little things close to the water's edge, those are cars and vans.

The dam from the Nevada side, with the visitor centre on the left.

This is the lifting equipment that allows really heavy stuff to be transported down to the work area at the bottom of the dam.

Lake Mead, the white stone shows the normal water level of the lake, the rocks having been stained by dissolved calcium in the lake water.

A marina on Lake Mead. The lake is an official recreation area with all sorts of water activities plus hiking and camping. Usually you can camp on beaches at the water's edge, but with the rather low level of the lake this year your beach may be some distance from the water.
Just Another Working Day

'Lovely' Robyn, as in "You can't shout at me, I'm lovely."

Racheal, she's lovely as well, she just doesn't use a catchphrase.

Ric (children's entertainer) and Yorkshire soul (official frightener of toddlers).

The first law of fight club, you start a water fight with chef, you get wet.

Jonathan and Santa, who arrived late after being detained in six or seven hostelries along the way.

Oy Santa, get yer mits off my missus!

All Ready for Christmas

The private cellar at Yorkshire Soul mansions well stocked for the festivities.

In the deepest, darkest corner, hiding behind the Filsell Old Vine Shiraz '98, the wax topped bottles of liquid gold, Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos '96 and '98, these will last for decades in theory, in practice at least one of them won't see Boxing Day.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Don't know whether this is some sort of avant garde Christmas decoration or some bizarre form of bondage.....

I can't remember if I have posted this link before, but I have made various rants about just how not punk most so called 'modern punks' are, this article about GG Allin vs Good Charlotte sums up everything I feel about punk boy bands, and it's very funny, and it will offend people who get upset by phrases like 'raping angels' and 'buckets of cow semen.'
First day of the first test, Hoggard produced a superb second ball to remove the vital wicket of Smith, Harmison did well to remove the equally dangerous Kallis.

England had a good first day, South Africa struggled all day to make headway against the English attack. Rudolph looked good and played a well thought out innings, rescuing his side from what could have been serious trouble, but if he played at a slowish pace then watching Dippenar bat was akin to seeing paint dry. South Africa may have pulled themselves out of the fire in the afternoon session but it was a most tedious period of cricket.

Hoggard could congratulate himself and the team after England took three more wickets after tea, Hoggard ending the day with figures of 15 - 3 - 41 - 3 (1nb). England should mop up the tail fairly quickly, although we know from experience that this isn't always the case. The English batting line up is a strong one, if everyone is on form, captain Michael Vaughaun says he has no worries about the batsman.

Dare we hope for the record 8th ?
Armed robbery by moron, found at Aftergrog Blog

Thursday, December 16, 2004

After returning from the USA I wrote to Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, to make a suggestion that car drivers be banned from using their horns between 11pm and 6am, thus allowing visiting country boys to get some sleep, this morning he wrote back..............

"Dear Mr. Yorkshiresoul :Thank you for your email and for sharing your suggestions regarding honking regulations.

I am so pleased to know you enjoyed your recent visit to New York City. It is wonderful for me to hear stories like yours, as I want all visitors to feel welcome and safe when they travel to our great City.

I hope you have many more opportunities to visit the Big Apple!


Michael R. Bloomberg

What a nice chap. So the mayor of one of the world's major cities is whilling to wrote to me when I make suggestions about his city, when I write to my local council to make suggestions about the town I live, I am utterly ignored. I have written to Ilkley Council to make my point about the Christmas (or rather non-Christmas) lights, their response..................I'm still waiting.
"Wharfe is clear and in the Aire lithe -
Where Aire drowns one, Wharfe drowns five" - Trad.
Is this why I don't get invited to babysit any more ?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I went to Leeds Bookcrossers last night, which is the sort of hardcore element of Organised by Nia Daemonwolf (real name, no, honestly!), and attended by a broad cross section of written word addicts, it was good fun, although oddly for me I was a little quiet at first.

I was supposed to take a pile of books and come back with just the one (orders from Mrs YS who saw Bookcrossing as a good way of clearing out my office/library), but failed. After all, what avid reader could fail to gather in a vast armful of novels if they're all free.

I was quite happy that all six of the books I took were snapped up, I suppose you go along to these things with a slight fear that your taste in 60's sci-fi might be ridiculed, but at the end of the night any spare books are hoovered up by Ms. Daemonwolf, who apparently makes assault courses from them for her cats.

Came back with...............
The Third Eye - David Knowles (from The Green Man)
Want to Play ? - P J Tracy (from Phantomcougar)
Songs of Earth and Power - Greg Bear (from Well Read Rob, and with free photo of Sting, how odd)
Playing The Moldovans At Tennis - Tony Hawks (from Phantomcougar)
Demons & Dreams 1 - Ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (from )

If you're a bookish type, they meet on the second Tuesday of each month at the Angel in Leeds city centre.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"If you have travelled on foot from Hawes to Ingleton you are a walker ; and if you have braved the autumn winds tearing over those moorland miles, you are also a wrestler" - Lois Victor Coppin

Monday, December 13, 2004

I didn't do NaNoWriMo, but here is the start of a story I wrote earlier this year...............

"Karsten sat on the dyke overlooking the West paddy. He was deeply troubled,
although by the expression on his weatherworn visage he looked merely thoughtful.

Karsten held a half eaten mango in his left hand, in his right was a thin china pipe, its
curved stem flowing into a rosebud bowl. The spring rains had brought more destruction than normal this year. On his own land he had lost hundreds of metres of walls, ditches and dykes, swept away when the Spring Tide pushed millions of litres of water up through Brack Fen and into the shallow valleys beyond.

Karsten still counted himself lucky, although the old stone farmhouse he shared with Willja and the children had flooded as it did most every year, forcing the family to move in with the Gastaads in their upland goat farm, there had been no loss of life.

In the parts of the valleys bordering the Brack there had been devastation. The spring rains had arrived a good two weeks early, the rain set in hard on the first day, two inches falling in the first hour alone. It had rained for three and a half days with no respite.

The floods came quickly, paddy fields filled up and overflowed as their trickling water channels became frothing torrents, the little streams and becks that characterised Kendip transformed into surging mud flows. People were of course prepared to some degree, those whose homes flooded annually were well into the process of packing and moving.

Most farms owned boats, and as the swirling waters rose at an alarming rate on that first day of rain they put their families and most treasured possessions into them. Alec Danfoss, who farmed land not a kilometre from Karsten had placed his children, Jenny and Julia the six year old twins, and their eight year tainted brother Randall, into his dingy and lashed it to the back of his ox cart. With the two beasts of burden pulling the cart they had set off, the water already being nearly knee height, as they rounded the turn at Willow Forge the seething waters ate into the roadway, the cart skewed sideways and turned over, Alec and Kaz pitched into the water, the cart rolled after them dragging the bellowing oxen with it.

Kaz was pinned under the cart and as the panicking, drowning Oxen fought to free themselves she was pushed further into the mud. The carts rear had smashed in its tumble down the banking, the wheels had sheared away, and when Alec looked up from his frantic attempts to save Kaz the little dingy with its cargo of children, were being swept away.

Alec later told Karsten that the twins were crying and holding each other, looking back and screaming for their parents, Randall however was stood in the boats prow, leonine face into the teeth of the storm. A week after Alec told this to Karsten he killed himself,
putting the barrel of an illegal rifle into his mouth he had pulled the trigger with his toe, even then he hadn’t been lucky, he was still alive when a farmhand found him, the rifle had been angled and the bullet had smashed more teeth than grey matter. Alec lived on for three weeks as infection ran rampant in his shattered mouth and head, a series of seizures took him in the end, it had been a bad way to go.

Absently Karsten took another bite from the mango, it was over ripe and orange juice ran over his lips and into his beard, more juice tickled its way across his hand, under his wrist and inside his shirt. Two weeks after Alec’s death he sat on the mans land, newly granted to him by the Guild, and looked at trouble. Not the broken dyke, workers and golems could fix that, and he felt no guilt over the acquisition of the land, good land could never go fallow, not with the Hoop to feed, no, it was the tile that worried Karsten.

He’d found the tile in the lowest part of the broken ditch, his shovel ringing against it as he made a few peremptory thrusts into the broken soil. He washed it off in his drinking water revealing a square ceramic plate six inches on a side, dull grey on one side and lightly charred on the other. Thinking nothing of it Karsten had then chucked the thing to one side, but as he made further investigation into the foundation of the side four more tiles had come up. They now sat in a neat stack behind him. Five items of an unusual nature were enough to file a report. He sighed deeply, the broken dyke would not be repaired in time for the next planting."

...............any good ? Would you read more ?
Rape And Murder as Entertainment ?

Whilst surfing for interesting/bizarre bits of stuff to put up on Yorkshire Soul, I came across a short video, perhaps a minute long, which apparently showed a man being brutally beaten to death with a fire extinguisher. The footage looked to have been shot with a hand held camera, in some sort of dingy, underground sex club, I was convinced that I had just seen a snuff film, it left me sickened, shaking and physically upset. I turned off my computer and went quietly to bed, where I lay restless and disturbed for a couple of hours before managing to sleep.

Checking back on the same website today, I found a comment which identifies this footage as part of a film called 'Irreversible' by the French director Gaspar Noe. Noe claims to have been delighted with the audience reaction to the film at cinemas, many hundreds walked out during a nine minute rape sequence. I don't think I would have made it to the rape sequence, I'd have left after the night club killing.

Earlier this year I saw an equally brutal French film 'Baise Moi', which also includes a sickeningly realistic rape scene and numerous scenes of violent death. What does underground French cinema have such an obsession with this level of degradation and brutality ? Although I sat through all of 'Baise Moi' I felt hollow and unsettled afterwards.

I have no objection to films leaving you disturbed if they are opening your eyes to something, notable movies in this category would be 'Cry Freedom' and 'Schindler's List' . I am mostly against censorship, but I can see no worth in these two French movies at all, they are not entertainment, they are not highlighting important social or political issues, they are just nasty and brutal. Neither movie can be said to glorify killing, but (as far as I can tell with Irreversible) neither do they seem to be making any valid point at all.

I can understand the compulsions that lead people into all the many areas of art, there are many and varied forms of art that I cannot abide, but provide pleasure and/or stimulation for many others. The compulsion that has driven the directors of these movies is beyond my understanding.
I've got a really cool idea boys, let's st up my sisters trampoline, then jump off the garage roof onto it wow, broken ribs ? Head ? 10 out of 10 on the moronomiter.
Unfair parking ticket ?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Man catches falling tree, sort of, safe for work, unless your boss objects to you pratting about like this when he's paying you.
Book Review - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke****

Good Lord! This is a first novel ? There must be some brave and adventurous types at Bloomsbury. This is a mighty tome, nearly eight hundred big pages densely written. How to describe it ? Well Neil Gaiman says it is "The finest novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years." And he should know.

As the Napoleonic war rumbles on, a magician, the first in near four centuries, arises in England. Why has English magic vanished for so long ?It is not clear, and the magician, Gilbert Norrel, seems intent on making it even more of a mystery. It is clear though that Norrell is indeed a real, as opposed to a theoretical magician, in a showdown between himself and the theorists of the York magic society, he brings the numerous statues of York Minster to chattering life, the theorists are exposed and he demands that they disband their society.

No sooner has one magician appeared than another one arrives, Jonathan Strange, who apprentices himself to Norrel, which seems only wise, after all Norrell seems to have made it his personal quest to buy up every magical tome in England.

They work together for a while, but soon quarrel, and Strange heads off to help fight the war against Napoleon in Portugal. And strange things happen. Norrell brings a woman back from the dead, but at a terrible cost. A Faerie Lord swears to make a black servant the king of England.

It is fairly hard to describe this book, it is rich with character development and detail, you feel truly immersed in the day to day life of Napoleonic era London, Yorkshire and Faerie. The story seems to be rather slow moving in parts but the attention to detail engages the reader in the whole situation in a way than most novels do not.

Norrell and Strange are ably supported by a cast of characters, amongst whom Norrell's manservant John Childermass is my favourite, read this, then watch Master And Commander, the ship's cook, that's Childermass.

I couldn't tell throughout most of the book just where the plot was heading, and at the end, I was pleasantly entertained and surprised. Gaiman was quite correct in his description of Clarke's book, it is of the fantastic rather than a fantasy. Clarke's treatment of magic as a dreary and time consuming practice only undertaken by cantankerous old duffers makes for a breath of fresh air, it's an absorbing read, and all the more worthwhile for it.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Further problems for DSP Andy as he finds this roaming his garden......

Kennamatic has been redesigned.

Kitteh has sold her soul to MSN

Ric is actually remembering to blog Including this rather sharp piece......

"On a further note. The English cricket association announced that if the Ukraine government started to use political propoganda and decided to starve over 50% of the population to ensure people voted how the government wanted then The English 1st team would be on the 1st plane over for a test match!"

Ha ha, good call!

Friday, December 10, 2004

One of the succesful applicants for for the waiting on job,

oh bloody hell, she's gone and put ice in my red wine, never mind, she's got a couple of redeeming features.
Queen and Scots Soldiers

Honestly, you'd think Her Majesty would see enough pricks what with Tony Blair calling round all the time. (Photograph kindly donated by MR)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Kitchen Refit

We had an enforced weeks layoff last week as the kitchen was refitted with a new floor and range.

As it was.

The old range can be seen just behind the bain marie, a flat top (which hadn't worked for years) and a four ring hob, both with ovens beneath, I've manged functions for up to 110 people on four rings and two ovens.

Another view, with evidence of Yorkshire pudding making, to use up all the eggs and milk, I made about 400 puddings on the day.

With half of the gear moved out, the truly shoddy state of the old flooring can be seen.

With all the large equipment removed, crikey, we could play cricket in here now.

The contents of my kitchen looking like a garage sale in the Card Room.

The heavy equipment making the Dining Room look like a fly tip.

Wahey! A week later and I have this, a twelve ring hob with two deep ovens, new flooring as well.

Look at the pretty lights, it doen't half kick out some heat, thanks to the club for my early Christmas present.