Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poor People "Cannot Afford Things" Says New Study

A study published by Professor Dave Obvious (Chair of Conspicuous Evidence, Cambridge) seems to show a definite link between people's income and what they can afford to spend.

"There seems to be a marked correlation between the income level of a household and the goods and services they are able to purchase," said Prof Obvious earlier.

The survey shows that many middle income families cannot afford luxury 200ft ocean going yachts, and that almost nobody in the low income bracket has been able to purchase a Bentley Mulsanne or take month long holidays in Andorra (with the exception of Frank Dodgy of Cleckheaton who is currently under investigation by HMR&C and DI Steve Brutal of the Serious Crime Unit).

"This means something," commented Prof Obvious as he accepted yet another large wad of public money to carry out further research.

Professor Obvious' previous reports include It Looks Increasingly Likely That The Pope Is Not Protestant and Ursine Creatures May Indeed Defecate In Areas With Heavy Tree Growth.

5 down, Lord Of Darkness, Six Letters

By Tribs at b3ta.

Next Week's ODI Results In Full

England win by 165 runs at chester-Le-Street

Salman Bet 16 b.Broad arr. Inspector Knacker of the Yard
Mohammad Helpyourself 8  b.Finn  c.Out by the News Of The World
Imran Skybet  0  lbw. Anderson (no appeal from Anderson, but Skybet insisted he was out)
Mohammad AsifyoucanbelieveanythingthePakistanteamdo  b.Collingwood  c.himself

England's total of 367 included 85 no-balls, 54 wides and a big 0 from Kevin Pieterson. 

After the England tour Pakistan return home to face South Africa where they will lose heavily in the 2nd, 4th and 5th tests, then it is on to New Zealand, a side who is it rather difficult to look crap against.

13 Years - You'd Get Less For Murder Etc.

Yes, 13 years ago to this very day I was married to the woman of my dreams and we have had 13 years of pure unalloyed happiness ever since.  It was a rather surreal day, I had a huge Southern Comfort induced hangover, Princess Diana died, it rained in a Biblical fashion delaying Meg's arrival, and Stuart who was supposed to be an usher arrived last of everyone and only managed to ush himself into the wedding room.

I made the right choice though, so long as Keira Knightley keeps the Harassment Order against me anyway, and we seem to get along today as well as we did when we first met.  We are also one of those rare couples who spend our working lives together, and running the business would be so much harder without Meg's organisational skills. It's been a pretty good 13 years, tonight we'll be raising a glass to plenty more.

Oh Why Couldn't This Be True

When I glanced at at this headline and missed the smaller explanatory headline below it I did think to myself  "Posh Spice has killed 14 people with her hair straighteners and it isn't even on the breakfast news ?."   The good news though is that the shy retiring couple have not sacked any of their 8 PR advisers, so we can look forward to many more vacuous headlines like this in the tabloids for some years to come.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Book A Week In 2010

Done it.  The 52nd book was a rather slim tome given away free with Classic Rock magazine, entitled Let It Rock, and whilst I have read some other lightweight and low page number books during the year, I also managed to finish the epic War And Peace which is easily worth any eight or nine normal novels (or one hundred and fifty six chick lit books).

High points of the reading year so far have included...

The Millennium Trilogy - Stieg Larson : Densely plotted Swedish revenge tale

The Terror - Dan Simmons : There is something very nasty indeed lurking in the Arctic dark.

Legend - David Gemmell : a re-read, and a really great fantasy war story with a great hero

Waste, Uncovering The Global Food Scandal - Tristram Stuart : Why we throw away half of our food

The Last Of The Mohicans - J Fenimore Cooper : Rip roaring action all the way

Dark Shadows Falling - Joe Simpson : Top climber examines the cult of extreme mountaineering

The Grapes Of Wrath - John Steinbeck : A perfect encapsulation of rage and injustice

If This Is A Man/The Truce - Primo Levi : The Holocaust and its aftermath from a survivor

And hopefully many more good books to come.

Currently reading...

Cider With Rosie - Laurie Lee

Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

Chamber Book Of Days
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Can Any IT Wallahs Sort This Out ?

Pakistan Plunge Cricket Into New Scandal

Salman Butt

So England won the test series against Pakistan 3-1, and at times looked to be in quite devastating form, especially with the ball, but after spot-fixing allegations were made in the News Of The World yesterday against numerous members of the Pakistan team we were all left wondering if we beat a team fairly, or whether money changed hands to ensure Pakistan's disastrous batting.

Although the allegations have not yet been tested in a court of law, the NOTW have produced a recording in which no balls bowled during the 4th test are predicted with accuracy.  On Test Match Special one of the no-balls (and a preceding wide) was greeted with some astonishment by Christopher Martin-Jenkins.  No balls will not in themselves have a great effect on the outcome of a test match, but if you can induce a bowler to bowl badly at specific times, can you not also persuade batsmen to lunge at balls they should really leave well alone.

So far four Pakistan team members have been named as being in the pay of Mazhar Majeed, the man arrested and bailed yesterday for arranging the betting fixes. Captain Salman Butt, named as one of the conspirators, gave a very strange press conference yesterday in which he appeared tired, nervous and hesitant, so hesitant in fact that team manager Yawar Saeed constantly stepped in and answered questions on Butt's behalf. Butt sidestepped every question put to him about the fixing allegations, most telling perhaps was this exchange...

"The allegations involving you - are they true or false?"

Butt - "I haven't heard any allegation except someone just taking my name. There is nothing that I've seen or shown on TV, nothing that involves me."
To my mind, an innocent man would have given a clear and unequivocal answer here, a simple and resounding "I have done nothing wrong, I have accepted no payments." 
Butt's manner during the interview, and his and Saeed's skirting of the main issue have done nothing to allay fears that the Pakistan captain has been involved in match fixing.  Despite this, Pakistan insist that the ODI and 20-20 matches will go ahead, but to what point, for whatever happens in the forthcoming matches the pundits and public (and possibly the police) will be examining every loose ball, dropped catch and wild shot and wondering if it was real or induced.  The remaining matches are going to be newsworthy for all the wrong reasons and they place Pakistan in a no win situation.  If Pakistan play as badly as they did during the majority of the test series then people will wonder if match fixing is still going ahead, if they play well and start to win games then the public will think that the test series was a sham and that Pakistan deliberately lost the series.
All of these events are a great shame for England, who have produced some great cricket during the test matches. They have been patchy with the bat, although Morgan, Prior, Cook, Trott and Broad have each scored a century (and the last two were closer to double tons), but good with the ball, Anderson's 11 wickets in the 1st Test was memorable, and he was consistently threatening throughout the series, Broad got a few wickets, and Swann produced some quite devastating bowling spells.  Trott and Broad in particular may feel aggrieved after producing a match winning and record breaking stand to put the final test beyond Pakistans reach, their wonderful achievements are now always going to be tainted by the scandal that broke on the final day.

I love cricket, it is a quite wonderful game, and whilst a betting scandal in football or rugby would have made me a little exasperated and annoyed, yesterday's news left me feeling angry and very sad.  The whole of this test series has been tainted by the spot fixing allegations, we don't know if anything we have seen if true or not, we are left unsure as to whether the results, and therefore our enjoyment and emotions, have been cruelly tampered with. 

Michael Holding was scathing in his criticism of the cricket authorities yesterday, Holding is the coolest, most laid back bloke in cricket, when you have managed to wind him up to the point where he is almost spluttering with rage then something really is seriously wrong. The TMS team members and former England captain Nasser Hussain pointed out inequalities in the pay structure of Pakistan, especially when compared to super rich neighbours India, that makes them easier targets for bribes and fixing, but it is still unforgivable to damage our wonderful game in this way.  We need a clean sweep of any cheats, even if this involves a life ban for Pakistan's captain and other team members, and then an even more rigorous system for eliminating cheating from the game.

The very soul of cricket depends on the ICC getting this right, if we cannot trust the results from games then sponsorship will be switched to other sports for fear of tainting the companies involved, fans will not pay to watch games where results may have been pre-ordained, TV companies will find their coverage a harder sell.  The game of cricket must be fair, and must be seen to be fair, there can be no refuge or leniency for anyone caught altering the result, or any changing of the direction of a game, at all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sleigh Bells "Infinity Guitars" LIVE at HARD NYC 2010 7/24/10

MASTODON - "Iron Tusk" HD

Mystery Books

Walking Yorkshire - Askrigg Common, Crackpot, Gunnerside

Askrigg Common road
A decent weather day, no large parties due at the club, the moors and high places beckon. I drove up to Askrigg Common and parked on the road side, it was a cool and breezy morning and to the West a line of beaters were working their way across the heather, driving the grouse to the waiting guns.   That at least decided which direction I had to set off in.

I set off along the road for a while before thinking the road was a bit dull and instead plunged off NE across the moor towards the screes of Keld Spring Edge.  My GPS map for the first part of the hike shows me walking in a reasonably straight line, but the moor around Middle Tongue and Black Gutter is a maze of boggy patches and channels forcing a walker to move forwards in a series of zig zags and to do much back tracking.

The walking was easier around the drier ground and loose stone at Keld Springs Edge and I walked up to the nice cylindrical cairn at Blea Barf, which I stupidly forgot to take a photo of.

Looking to Muker from Keld Springs Edge
The weather remained overcast nearly all day, but had warmed up quite a bit since I set off.
Cottage below Blea Barf
This cottage is set high up a mile or so from Gunnerside, a two room building, the fireplace still visible, the walls still whitewashed but mouldering and decaying.  Parts of the roof have fallen in and nettles have covered the floor, but this lonely place was once home to someone, perhaps a shepherd and his family dwelt up here on the moor.

From Blea Barf I dropped down into the tiny hamlet of Crackpot, which is one of a thousand such 'blink and you miss it' places in the Dales, and then a steady bit of road walking down to the River Swale and to Gunnerside where I stopped for a pint of Golden Pippin and a rather excellent black pudding, eggs and home made chips at the Kings Head.

Swaledale from Gunnerside Pasture
The only customers at the pub on a Wednesday lunchtime seemed to be hikers, me doing my figure of eight walk and various groups of people doing the Coast To Coast.

After lunch I did a loop of Gunnerside Gill, Lownathwaite, Swinner Gill, but rather than doing the perhaps visually more pleasing but harder walking up the valleys, I took the shooting path for a somewhat easier circuit of the moor.  Despite having an external battery pack for the i-phone, it was still in danger of running down so I didn't stop at the red marker for a kip, I'd just switched the phone off.

Barn and bench near Ivelet Bridge
13 miles done, and about another 6 to do to get back to the car, it had been warm and muggy nearly all day and I must admit I was a little tired now.  Dropping down into Ivelet meant I had to do a third climb of the day back to the top of Askrigg Common.  From the hamlet of Satron I walked up Lousy Hill, panting and sweating, only to find my way up blocked by a herd of cows and a rather large bull amidst them.  I'm not keen on cows, big dumb things they are, so I edged along close to the wall in case I needed to make a scrambled getaway.  The herd stopped walking and all turned to watch me as I moved past.

The final section of the walk took me along the top of Oxnop Scar to the top of the Common, and then back along the road to where I had left the car, I was so pleased to see it.  A good day's walking, about 18 miles covered with some steady climbs amidst the beautiful hills, moors and valleys of Swaledale.  Apologies for not inviting anyone, but some days I just like to be my own company.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Paprika And Garlic Chicken

With caramelised onions, sweet chilli sauce, black olive cous-cous, crisp fried flatbread, yesterday's ladies team dinner.

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Book Review : Millennium Trilogy - Stieg Larson 9*

Dragon Tattoo, Played With Fire and Hornets' Nest have been the publishing sensation of the decade, and rightly so, Larson's tight writing and intricate plots are gripping stuff.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the plot of the three novels follows the fortunes of dark anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander.  At the start of the first novel she appears almost peripheral to the main plot where journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to seek out the truth about a four decade old disappearance.  As the story in Dragon Tattoo unfolds, Salander takes an ever more important role, and as ugly truths and malicious lies are uncovered it becomes apparent that Salander is central tot he story but the story id much, much bigger than her.

Larson handles plots and sub plots with aplomb, and whilst the numerous side stories may seem baffling and abstruse at times, he has a deft touch when it comes to tying all the strands together.  The Millennium trilogy is populated with a host of great characters, from the honest and brave journalists and police officers to the scheming and criminal secret police, the characters are well penned and believable.  My only beef with the whole series was the rate at which women got into bed with Blomkvist, a book written by a male journalist in which a string of beautiful women are bedded by a male journalist ? On the other hand, maybe the Swedes just behave like that, I wouldn't know.

Millennium is far and away the best thriller I have read in ages, the plot is compelling, and perhaps more so because it takes its inspiration from actual events in Swedish political history.  Lisbeth Salander is a fine literary creation, with her absolute black and white view of the world she carries her own moral standard and never wavers from it.  This trilogy was published posthumously, Larson had written the series almost as a hobby away from his investigative journalism and did not live to enjoy the massive world wide success his novels have become.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Today is the third anniversary of the death of Sophie Lancaster, a young girl who was kicked to death by a group of young thugs.  Sophie was murdered because she was a goth, because she was a bit different, because she didn't fit in with what their pathetic world view was.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation works with young people to try and bring understanding and tolerance and to reduce hate crimes, they're a good bunch, buy a t-shirt.
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Album Review : We Will All Evolve - Our Last Night 5*

For Fans Of : Trivium, Circa Survive, The Bronx,

Post-hardcore, exciting new (ish) hard rock format or first resort for the musically capable but creatively challenged ? I am afraid that the whole sub genre is tending towards the latter and Our Last Night are a perfect example of this.

On their second album, Our Last Night do all the post hardcore stuff perfectly, alternating sung and screamed vocals parts, juddering drums and shuddering guitars, everything is executed admirably.  It's just that the album shows a complete lack of ambition, the band are happy to follow an extremely well worn path and this lack of expression undermines their musical talents.

There is nothing really bad about We Will All Evolve, but there is nothing that really stands out either, we have all heard a hundred albums like this before.  WWAE is a bit like having a post hardcore album explained to you by Wikipedia, all the relevant points are correct, but where is the passion and verve ?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury (Very, very, NSFW)

A Level Results Day 2025

Well, YS is pleased to report today that the Education Board is expecting a near 100% pass rate at Grade A and above, we're going to cross over live to Ilkley Grammar Sci-Tech School where 18 year old Pam Sibbings is about to open her results.

(sound of paper tearing and excited screaming)

YS - "Did you get what you expected Pam ?"

Pam - "Yes, I'm into Newcastle Uni with a A*** in Film Studies, A******* in Soap Operas and A∞ in English Literature."

YS - "That last one, really ?"

Pam - "Oh, I specialised in Heat magazine studies."

YS - "And what do you suppose your job prospects are with those qualifications ?"

Pam - "Quality control on Big Brother or researcher for the Chris Moyles show, either really."

YS - "And there you have it, the UK once again leads the world in eydukation."


Denton Bridge. The bridge crosses the River Wh...Image via Wikipedia
I went out running again this morning.  I rather thought that after completing a couple of five and half mile plods earlier in the week that today's run would feel a little easier, it was not so.  A storm had just passed over leaving extremely humid conditions behind it and a short distance into the run and I was struggling for breath.

4.64 miles in 48.19 minutes, and each mile noticeably slower than the preceding one.  Didn't enjoy today's exercise at all, running on the main road is noisy, and the road from the bridge at Ben Rhydding is filled with cocks in Porsches going way too bloody fast and swerving minimally so you think they might just be trying to clip you.  I think I'll go back to the quieter route along to Addingham next time.

Full sad and geeky run details here.
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Album Review : Album Sampler EP - One Night Only 8*

For Fans Of : Human League, The Killers, The Sunshine Underground

Oh hello, is it the 80's again ? Because Say You Don't Want It opens with some keyboards styled very much after The Human League, and the 80's rock pop feel continues throughout the EP.

The 80's, era of cheesy pop and embarrassing power metal . yes, but not only.  It was also an era of well written and well played rock and pop where real talent and musical ability (largely) superceded disposable ten a penny wannabe stars.  So if One Night Only want to hark back to the better parts of that decade, then that's a good musical choice.

One Night Only are a 5 piece hailing from Helmsley in North Yorkshire, they play very commercial soft rock with great harmonies and they don't want to be yet another whiny indie rock mob, hurrah for them. The four track EP has four great songs with fabulous clear vocals, pleasing harmonies, catchy hooks and easy to pick up sing-a-longs, they really ought to be massive.

Album Review : Treats - Sleigh Bells 8*

For Fans Of : Mad Capsule Markets, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Crystal Fighters

Blending the more rhythmic elements of dub step with some distinctly industrial drum machine noise, heavy techno keyboards and mightily fuzzed up guitars, Sleigh Bells do sound like someone dug up Sigue Sigue Sputnik and gave them them a more hip 21st Century (Boy) make over.

On the alternative dance scene, Sleigh Bells share more similarities with Spain's Crystal Fighters than they do with The Prodigy, but there is enough blurred guitar noise and a generally heavy feel on many tracks to keep industrial fans interested.

Treats itself seems too slow to either dance or mosh to, but the damaged guitars and rock slide drums are as heavy as you could wish for.  Singer Alexis Krauss has a wonderfully clear voice which acts in perfect counter point to the death knell rhythms. The other half of the duo, Derek E Miller, provides guitars and production to the mix.  Straight A's is a more frenetic romp and the most warped and distorted industrial mayhem on the album.

Some songs are built with more pop sensibilities, Run The Heart and Rill Rill minus a little of the guitars would fall somewhere between Little Boots and La Roux.  The discordant, rallying cry guitar calls at the start of of the awesome Crown On The Ground shift, (as per the Inverse Intro Rule) into a rock solid skip rhythm drum and keyboard mix, Infinity Guitars has vocal repetition that nods to Toni Basil over slamming drums and more mutilated guitar.

Treats is a joyful and exuberant post industrial pleasure, noisy and addictive and lots of dirty fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Level Results Day

The University of Cambridge is a prestigious i...Image via Wikipedia
Some children today will be really happy, some not so happy, some will reap the benefits of their efforts, some will realise they should have partied a little less.

What will be happening at schools all over the country though is that children are given no real choice in the direction of their education, at many schools the advice given is that it is A levels or nothing.  All the young people that work for me say the same thing, they are herded into taking A levels, advised and told that A levels are the only thing they should be working towards and that taking this particular set of exams completely defines whether they will be a success or failure in life.

I asked all my young staff whether they were given serious advice about other possible educational routes, college and learning a trade for example.  They all say the same thing, A levels and universities are all that schools are interested in.  Of course, school funding and teacher bonuses are linked to A level passes, so they are not really going to advise otherwise.

This week it is being reported that upwards of 170,000 children who have been advised to take A levels as the pre-requisite for university places will discover that there are no places at university for them.  660,000 university applications have been made for 482,000 places, and last year only 48,000 places were found during clearing.

When you get to university, you really do need your parents to be a reasonably well earning middle class couple to help you cope with vast debts you are going to accrue through fees, rent, bills and spending four years partying hard and earning nothing. What awaits you at the other end, for some it will be a good job and career, for others....

The owner of a small call centre was talking on R5 last week, he employs 18 people giving technical advice over the phone to customers who have bought a particular brand of machine, the average wage paid was £280 a week. He employs, out of his total workforce of 18, 14 university graduates.

Please don't read this as an anti-education rant, because it is quite the opposite, I don't want less education but more proper choice.  Our school to university system is failing large numbers of children through no fault of their own.  In five or six years when many people will be saddled with a £25,000 debt, unable to secure a mortgage on their salary, wondering why all their hard work in securing a degree didn't lead to brighter prospects, and the pipe under the sink is leaking, the plumber charges a £35 call out and £35 an hour, whilst he was fixing the pipe he chatted away merrily telling you all about his new holiday home in the South of France and how he thinks his BMW is much better than the Mercedes he used to have.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Camel - YS Wiki

So, what I know about camels is this...

“When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive.” - George W. Bush

The constellation Camelopardus, which lies down from Polaris and a bit to the right of Bode’s Nebula, is somewhat misnamed, having been so named after the giraffe, or leopard camel as the ancient Greeks called it. The ancient Greeks didn’t name the constellation though, that was Jacob Bartsch, a German astronomer, who named it in 1624 for the real camel that brought Rebekah from Haran to Canaan to marry Isaac (Genesis 24:61).

The word camel may originally have come for the Arabic word jamala which meant “to bear.”

Camels make numerous appearances in the Bible. In Genesis, Rachel tricks Laban by hiding idols in a camel skin cushion. John (the Baptist) wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. Saul was ordered to destroy the Amelekites down to the last “man and woman, babe and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Saul though wavered from his divine orders and kept the best of the sheep and cattle for later sacrifice, it appears the camels died in the initial ambush.

They are also a regular feature, as may be expected, in Islamic writing. In the Qur'an (Surah lxxxviii. 17), the institution of camels to ride upon is mentioned as an example of God's wisdom and kindness: "Do they not look then at the camel how she is created." As a proof of the great usefulness of the camel to the Arabian, and of the manner in which its very existence has influenced his language, it is remarkable that in almost every page of the Arabic Dictionary Qamus , there is some reference to a camel.

The dictionary of dreams has this to say about camels “To see a camel in your dream, denotes that you need to be more conservative; you are carrying too many responsibilities, burdens and problems on your shoulders. Consider the common phrase, "the camel that broke the camel's back". You tend to hold on and cling on to your emotions instead of expressing and releasing them. Learn to forgive and forget. Alternatively, the camel represents your stamina.”

In sexual slang, if you have enjoyed a camel night, you may have had an evening of humping, fnarr, fnarr.

Camels lend their name to a move or position in ice figure skating which is a modified arabesque position. ‘To make the camel dance’ is slang for making something go all the way, to smoke a cigarette down to the filter, to get the very last drop from a bottle of beer.

“Three metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Camel were an English prog rock band from Canterbury who formed in 1971 and are still going, they have released over two dozen studio and live albums. Their biggest chart success was a #22 position for their album Moonmadness in 1976.
Sopwith Camel

What do you call a farm that produces camel’s milk ? A dromedairy.

“The Camel, when he saw the Bull adorned with horns, envied him and wished that he himself could obtain the same honors.” – Aesop.

• 1 whole camel, medium size

• 1 whole lamb, large size

• 20 whole chicken, medium size

• 60 eggs

• 12 kg rice

• 2 kg pine nuts

• 2 kg almonds

• 1 kg pistachio nut

• 110 gallons water

• 5 lbs black pepper

• salt


Prep Time: 2 hrs

Total Time: 1/2 day

1. Skin, trim and clean camel (once you get over the hump), lamb and chicken.

2. Boil until tender.

3. Cook rice until fluffy.

4. Fry nuts until brown and mix with rice.

5. Hard boil eggs and peel.

6. Stuff cooked chickens with hard boiled eggs and rice.

7. Stuff the cooked lamb with stuffed chickens.

8. Add more rice.

9. Stuff the camel with the stuffed lamb and add rest of rice.

10. Broil over large charcoal pit until brown.

11. Spread any remaining rice on large tray and place camel on top of rice.

12. Decorate with boiled eggs and nuts.

13. Serves a friendly crowd of 80-100.

The Wal-Mart camel is the bone fossil of a prehistoric camel found at a future Wal-Mart store in Mesa, Arizona. Workers digging a hole for an ornamental citrus tree found the bones of a camel that lived 10,000 years ago. Wal-Mart officials agreed that the bones will go directly on display in a museum at Arizona State University. Camels lived in what is now Arizona until 8,000 years ago.

Follow That Camel was the 14th Carry On film, starring Angela Douglas, Joan Sims and Bernard Bresslaw amongst others. It was a parody of P. C. Wren’s novel Beau Geste and outside the UK it was released as Carry On In The Legion.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Just Another Normal Day

Breakfast, lunch and dinner for 24, nice weather so quite a few members and casual visitors playing, I went running, and decapitated a rabbit (picture in photo below).

The running went better than expected, although I moved at my normal rumbling/plodding pace, I managed to cover five and half miles running on grass.  I was a bit stiff afterwards, and my left knee is grumbling a little this morning.

The poor little rabbit was sat at the top of the car park, in bright sunshine, its eyes were swollen and inflamed and the creature was listless and didn't struggle when I picked it up.  Myxomatosis, that great Australian idea for culling wild rabbits, is a bloody awful disease.  You can often see rabbits with Myxi around the Dales, stumbling around blinded by the illness, unable to eat, gradually wasting away and suffering intense pain from the myxomata swellings in the head and genitals, and from the fever and pneumonia the infection brings on.  Death can take up to two weeks, or a couple of seconds via a big bloke with a shovel.

Monday, August 16, 2010

YS - Death of Rabbits

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"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery - French writer and aviator, 1900-1944

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tales of Hoop - Don't Look At The Doll

Courteny heard and felt the drumming at the back door almost, but not quite as much as he felt the awful throbbing and pounding in his head. He had tried pulling the thin sweat soaked blanket over his head, but the dank covers did nothing to drown out the bastard who was slamming his fist relentlessly against the door.

"Alright, alright," Courteny yelled and grumbled as he peeled himself out of the covers, as he swung his legs over the side of the cot the room did a flip around him and for a moment he thought he was going to vomit on himself.  The pounding from below continued. "I'm coming you bastard." He wrapped himself in the sheet and stumbled down the stairs.

The door was rocking on its hinges, little spirals of dust twirled in the on off beams of light that flickered as the wood moved under the constant pounding from outside.  Courteny felt physically sick both from his excesses of the previous night, and from the dread of whoever was outside his home.  He could not remember seriously offending anyone the night before, but then again he could not really remember anything much at all after about seven bells.  Courteny considered for a moment leaving the door locked and doing a runner from the gable window, but the thought of falling to his death from the rooftops terrified him more than the thought of opening the door and receiving a beating from an angry boyfriend or husband.

He fumbled the bolt with shaking fingers and almost fell out into the yard as the door was yanked out of his hands.. Courteny took a half step forwards, almost overbalancing and falling to his knees, if it had been one of his drinking friends calling on him for an early morning prank this might have appeared almost comic to him, even in the dire hungover state he was in, but the sight of the strange quartet stood in his yard had an instantly sobering effect.

Three huge man, he had to assume they were men, but all three of the hulking brutes wore rough jek'ral masks, each one of them could be fleshwerked or less likely but even more frightening, daemon. Standing in front of the three was the most disconcerting figure of the four, the three thugs were easy to understand, they were the tough guys, and at some point in the near future they were most likely going to administer a hideous beating to Courteny in order to to teach him the error of his ways.  The purpose of the little blond girl in the blue dress was a mystery, and an unknown that sent a shiver of real fear through him.

The little girl was six or perhaps seven years old, unusually for a a gutter brat or gang child, for who else would consort with the muscle standing behind her, she was clean and healthy looking.  She wore white face paint in one of the more recent sensai styles, itself a jarring feature on one so young, and she clutched to her chest a china doll.  The doll was as dirty and damaged as the girl was washed and made up. It had once worn a dress, but the fire that had charred and cracked the porcelain flesh of the doll had taken with it all but a few charred scraps of material.  Soot and smeared fingerprints further marked the doll, and Courteny had to shake his head to clear his own blurred vision, but he could swear that thing was leaking tears.

"Don't look at the doll." Number two, or perhaps number three, had spoken.  The voice was human enough, city sounding with a hint of a Sisters accent.  Courteny's eyes drifted across the three masks and were then pulled back to the awful face of the doll.

"I said stop looking at the fucking doll." Number three moved far faster than Courteny would have thought likely for a man of his size, he stepped nimbly around the girl, raised one arm and gave him a slap that bounced his head off the door frame with a dull thud.  His vision swam and he felt the bile rising again.  Courteny raised his right hand in an attempt to stop the giant from hitting him again, but the man caught his hand and turned it over, twisting it until he could feel the tendons in his shoulder straining. The pain was intense, this time Courteny did throw up, spewing thin bitter liquid down himself and spattering the giant's smock.

"Dirty bastard," the giant gave his arm an extra twist and slammed his head into the door again.  Courteny thought the girl was smiling at his distress.  "Now listen closely mister ladies man, because I am going to give you a warning.  Stay away from the girls on Pell Lane, if you don't, then you are going to die in a very nasty manner indeed.  Do you understand ?"

Courteny nodded as he coughed up threads of saliva.  The giant grabbed his hair and smashed his head off the door again, Courteny sank to his knees.

The quartet turned and filed out through the yard gate. "I told you not to look at the fucking doll," offered the last thug as he left.

Tonse removed his hood as soon as the gate closed behind them.  "Cheers lads, I thought that went well."

"You think ?" said Booth as he stuffed his own mask into his pocket. "Will he listen then."

They walked on a few paces, Kiesis turned the doll over and over in her hands.

"Well, if he doesn't," Tonse mused. "Then it won't be us that kills him."

(Painting - Tavern Interior by Pieter de Bloot)

Making Bread 6

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Making Bread 5

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Making Bread 4

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Making Bread 3

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Making Bread 2

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Making Bread 1

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Friday, August 13, 2010


"Go to work, send your kids to school, follow fashion, act normal, walk on the pavement, watch TV, save for your old age, obey the law. Repeat after me - I am free"

I came across that quote written as some spray painted street art/vandalism, what is it from ? Is it a Paul Simon lyric ?

Ey Up, The Yanks Are Invading

I think this is a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, or Dakota, but I am not 100% positive.  It made 3 large circuits of Ilkley Moor when I was out walking last week.

12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles is a ancient stone circle on the Dalesway Link atop Ilkley Moor.  Local historian Arthur Raistrick noted that early in the 20th Century only three of the stones were still standing and that the then current stone circle probably bore little relation to how it was originally planned. Raistrick said that the circle consisted of no 12, but 20 stones, set in an earth bank, with a larger stone at the centre.

The stones have suffered repeated acts of vandalism mostly from being uprooted and knocked over, but one of the larger stones was snapped in two in 2005. Heritage Action have tried to get English Heritage to survey and excavate the site and then to protect it, but short of surrounding the stones with a huge fence I can't really how they can be protected from mindless vandals.

The second photograph shows part of the 12 Apostles with a view across the Wharfe Valley, the odd looking white globes are part of RAF Menwith Hill, which is controlled by the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, or Yank spooks.  They're supposed to be on the look out for bad people and incoming nuclear missiles, but they're probably playing Farmville and spying on your e-mails.

King Of Marmite

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Thursday, August 12, 2010