Archives for category: Badman

I know I’ve used that title in the past, but it was then because daughter was off on a trip around Asia.  This time however, it’s quiet because there’s just not a huge amount of work for me to be doing. It’s starting to become a little frustrating. 

 

It’s fair enough that I’ve just come back from a week’s holiday, and so there’s a pile of email to work through. But once you’ve done that, then what?  Well in my case – not a lot. Pooh’s got a couple of jobs on and he needed some help making up the numbers (which as we all know is what I’m here for) so that’s been some blessed relief from the tedium that is online education. He’s also having to round up the Indians which is a perilous job especially if youre on the run for robbing trains and banks and the guy in the white hat is following you…

 

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“They can’t track us over rock. They’re begining to get on my nerves. Who are those guys?”

 

I shouldn’t complain – because when it’s busy, it’s very very busy, so some natural downtime is something to be grateful for – but there’s only so much a chap can take. On top of which it starts my paranoia monkey fidgeting. I start imagining that IM is cleverer than I know him not to be and that he’s actually scheming the downfall of the house of ball. It’s ridiculous.  I’ve thrown another banana in the cage to keep him (the monkey – not IM, although from a distance you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart) quiet, but for how long, who knows?

 

At least I have something kicking off towardds the end of the week… providing cover for someone who’s providing cover. They must be desperate (who rattled that Monkey’s cage?)

 

On the social front, it’s ben a non-stop round of spending money I haven’t got – and it’s not scheduled to end anytime soon. There’s a wedding next week and a wedding anniversary in a couple of days time which is bound to be fun. Wool. I thought I might get her a jumper šŸ˜‰ Only kidding Mrs G. Perhaps a sheep?? Oh no. I’ve got it.  A slap up lamb dinner and a lovely bottle of red. Perfect.

 

Looking at the tech news there’s been rather a lot of disruption lately.  It seems everyone’s being hacked, passwords are going astray, software rollouts are failing causing the banks some frustration and the mobile phone networks are just switching themselves off.  If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d say the government are very busy hooking into every system they can get near via their crack hacking team – known as “anonymous”.  Of course, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or paranoid (oo oo eek eek), so I’m quite sure they’re far too busy watching my every move and logging it into a database somewhere to be involved in any of that other stuff.

 

We’re also a matter of days away from Apple releasing the next version of OS X (Mountain Lion). Rumor has it somewhere around the 25th July – a Wednesday, much like today.

 

Before that we have “The Dark Knight Rises” hitting UK cinemas on Friday. There’s every chance I’m going to try and see that on the big screen, but it’s all about time and money and all that jazz. Just as a quick aside on the subject of films…  I’ve recently seen The Woman in Black, The Iron Lady, The Thing and The Awakening all of which were far better than I’d anticipated. 

 

If I were to criticize one of them in particular it would be “The Thing”. The DVD extras include the bits they cut out of the cinema release – and that edit is a travesty IMHO. The missing scenes are the ones that put the film in context with the earlier John Carpenter version – which is a masterpiece of horror. Without them, the newer film, while looking the part just feels like a bit of a poor remake, which is clearly not it’s intention.

 

Back to the tech then and the latest iOS app not to reach our shores just yet is “Twist” – a genius idea that means you won’t have to hang around for your friends or relatives anymore. Live ETA’s…  Here’s the video:

 

 

And finally – on the subject of video… (and not really on the subject of Tech, from which we seem to have strayed)  I’m sure you’re as sick of this song as I am, but you can never be sick of Star Wars.   Enjoy….

 

 

Until next time – The force will be with you, always.

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
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Thursday nights are (as the regular readers know) reserved for the Wednesday/Thursday Club – or WTC for short – which is basically a bunch of like minded individuals who go to the pub and relieve themselves of the pressure of the working week by bitching about it and generally putting the world back into perspective. 

Last Thursday’s WTC almost co-insided with one of our numbers birthday – namely Stan – who isn’t actually called Stan – but then that’s the whole point of nicknames. 

Sadly, the horrendous planning that’s been happening of late has meant that I’ve had to get in the car and attempt to drive through the snow to my not-so-local office for the day on Friday. This means that I had to scale back my participation a little to account for an early start – ie: I had an (almost) early finish and a sensible amount of alcohol. 

That said, there was still plenty of frivolity, some banging Ska music – exactly how Stan likes it – and truth be told, how everyone likes it once it gets going.

He was also, the lucky recipient of the WTC Birthday Present, which has to be the most awful smelling aftershave you could ever hope not to sniff.

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….and that was almost a week ago…  And then it was Friday and as I’ve eluded I had to take a trip up to my not-very-close office to have a handover from the Badman who is off galavanting around Wales (if such a thing is possible in Wales). 

The job is a very similar shape to one that he and I completed last year and so should be relatively straight forward.  However – I’d somehow forgotten just how stressful it is to not be fully in control of the destiny of those that work for you on a job like this.  We’ve reached Thursday afternoon now and I’ve got throughmost of the pain relatively unscathed.  I’ve spent some time explaining to Clive what’s going on – nothing he didn’t already know, but then he has to have a reason to be here.

As a team, we’ve had to deal with two changes that have effected more of the work than had been anticiapted. No matter how hard I might try to get things in a reasonable shape for the end of the week, you can almsot guarantee that some numpty somewhere is waiting behind a photocopier or desk, to jump out and stick thier proverbial cat amongst the pidgeons at the last minute.

I’ve also been reminded how obnoxious the rest of Europe can be – I’m amazed that I’d forgotten, but I can only surmise that it must be akin to the memories of people that are involved in very serious accidents, and that thankfully have no recollection of them whatsoever. I too have no recolection of ever having to deal with the people of Luxembourg….  it was that painful.

On top of that there’s the commercial aspects of a job like this – and that is almost entirely about who is going to get paid for doing what – or not.  Extremely frustrating. But we carry on rewardless. It’s enough to leave you scarred for life….   See What I did there ?  ;-D


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Those of you with a keen ear, will recognise the line from the Wizard of Oz, and one thing is for certain, this most definetly isn’t Kansas anymore, by which I mean, things have changed…..

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If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Winnie-the-Pooh and I have been on a great adventure.  High up the hill above the village, we’ve seen woodland creatures of all shapes and sizes and we’ve run-off from the hedgerow in search of that mystic and majestic beast – the neliphunt. For our (sort of) first expedition, you’d expect this to be a ramshackle mess of a journey with nothing going right and everything going wrong. In truth, this hasn’t quite been the case.  There have been moments of danger, but generally speaking all has gone very well.  So it comes as a great surprise to all and sundry about, that we have actually caught us an neliphunt which is as I speak locked up in Pooh’s cellar while we decide what to do with it. I may have said too much already – although anyone with half a brain and a google search box might be able to figure it out. 

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We both need a bit of a rest ofter all the excitement, (Pooh probably more than I as he’s had to patiently ignore my obvious observations and listen to my less obvious one’s with apparant interest) so he will be off to the New World for a break, while I have the “Change is as good as a rest” option, to cover for him while he’s gone. Luckily for me, the cover means I too, will get to see the New World by way of a handover.  I think this means I’ll have to be sharing the tusks with our cousins, but so far that’s not being made very clear.  It’s been 4 years since I’ve been across the pond.  I’m both daunted (Not sure how I’ll get on with tusks in customs) and very much looking forward to it. While I’m not in love with it, I do realy quite like America…. a lot….  But that’s in the future….

Our friends of the fruit – Mr Jobs & co, have unleashed Lion upon us.  Now, me being a tigger (and tigger’s are wonderful things) I’m not in the least bit daunted.

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Many apple folks of old have warned that being an early adopter can cause pain – and having been an early adopter of technology for many years, I am all to aware of that fact.  I only have to think of the agony of a failed recording of Coronation Street thanks to Microsoft’s Media Center glitches to bring it all flooding back.  Personally, I wasn’t the least bit worried about a missed episode – but hell hath no fury… as the saying goes.

Still, unpreturbed – or perhaps that should be unhindered by hindsight – I was amongst the first to hand over my 20quid to download the latest offering for the App Store.  A very interesting move by Apple to have walked away from traditional methods of software distribution.  This is a first for such a major OS, and not something I could imagine MS doing (given their control freakery).  Besides, MS probably want to justify the extortionate prices they charge – but what do I know?

So how did it go?  Is my mac now a quivering jumled up mess of bits all over the floor, failing to boot up and awaiting new drivers for some piece of hardware I’ve owned for 5 years without any problems ???  (See MS Upgrades elsewhere for more on that).  Of course not. It’s awesome. And it’s encouraged me to spend a further sixty quid with them on a magic touchpad.  Now that my firends, is some darn clever marketing. 

My interation with the OS is now all swipes and hand gestures (no, not that one) – and it really does feel surprsingly natural. Pinching and zooming (just like the iPad, iPhon and iPod) is great, and a two fingured swipe to the right while web browsing is the most natural back button in the world. I’m suitably impressed.  On top of that, the full screen apps make great use of my desktop real estate and the whole system feels snappy and smart.  

So – no pain at all???  Well, one thing – and it’s a tiny one.  Internally on my home network, I run a web server to share various things – and after upgrade – I wasn’t able to get this working again.  At this precise moment I still haven’t figured it out – but that’s due entirely to having to work for a living and not being able to procrastinate all day long.  I’m sure I’ll have it sorted on Sunday.  I am tempted to take the “clean install” approach, just because upgrades are known for doing the unexpected. I’ll give it some thought.

Google+ is also with us, and I’ve prattled about it here already. The iOS app arrived this week, which you can pick up here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google/id447119634?mt=8 .  If you haven’t got on it yet – it’s up to 20million users now (in about 3 weeks – it took Facebook three years to do that) and I’d highly recommend that you become one of them: http://plus.google.com. Feel free to add http://gplus.to/golfyball to one of your circles.

Mrs G and I have had our Wedding anniversary as well – all good… Choclate and Iron.  I didn’t buy her an Iron as violence often hurts, and I would have been subjected to some if I had.  Today however, will see us off to a food festival.  and I’m starving just at the thought of it.  http://www.gloucesterquaysfoodfestival.co.uk/

Toodle-pip old bean!


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Most of the time I really can’t agree with Scott’s sentiment in today’s Dilbert. Occasionally he’s bang on.

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Yesterday, involved a trip to the local-ish Starfleet base for Badman and myself to sharpen up our sticks and make a plan for the next couple of months worth of playtime. When I put it like that, it seems like an age. “A couple of months” is forever… except we both know that in this case it’s about 30 seconds. Simply far too short an amount of time given the amount of work to be done. Still, we have a good team and many hands make like work. Christopher Robin’s direction is helpful and ultimately we all have the same goal in mind so I’m sure “it’ll be alright” – as I keep telling myself. As the song goes, “there may be trouble ahead”… so now it’s time to face the music and dance.

Aside from the worky bits, Badman’s chickens are providing an outstanding crop of eggs at the rock bottom price of a few cups of coffee. Awesome.

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Mrs G has the whole week off. This all started because we’d half planned to have a week in Spain with A,B & B. As it turned out, it wasn’t to be and so instead we found ourselves at a funeral in Wiltshire on Monday.

Sadly, L’s father passed on and naturally we wanted to be there to support her. It was a fine military send off, which was both dignified and respectful and even included the theme tune from the Dambusters in a very RAF way. L’s brother M read the ever popular (can something be popular as part of a funeral? – seem like the wrong choice of words) “All is well” by Henry Scott Holland . It’s a very moving piece and I’ve included it here for those of you that haven’t heard it, or don’t recall it.

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

They also included John Gillespie Magee Jr’s “High Flight”, also known as the Pilot’s Poem, written during WWII. All very fitting words and sentiments.

After the sadness of the day came the celebration of life and it did involve rather a lot of imbibing. By Tuesday lunchtime, everything was back to normal, and our work there was done. Mrs G and I trundled back up country and I shuffled back to work only to find that not very much had changed at all.

Everything remains exactly as it was…. All is well.

And here we are at Thursday morning. Thursday!?!? Already!!?? Hell’s teeth, we’re running out of time fast and worse still, Monday is a bank holiday. It’s actually a very special bank holiday as it’s the one that usually contains the Cheese Rolling. Officially, once again it’s not to be. Of course, to a local (and while I’ve only been here for 10 years – I do feel like a local) it’s abhorrent to think that such a long standing tradition is ever likely to disappear.  You can read about the fight here: http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/2011.htm A very sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we’ll take a walk around the Cooper’s Hill Nature reserve anyway…..  just for the walk šŸ™‚


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

And so it is that the Badman and myself have now had enough time sitting in the tree waiting for our bear trap to be sprung, especially when it turns out that our trap has actually been sprung and we have snared a beast within.

The trouble for us now, is what to do with it? It appears to be a bit of a monster and that will be our first problem to try and overcome. The second problem is all about how much of it we can see from our vantage point. We’re not able to readily observe quite how sharp it’s teeth are from this distance or example . It may well be that we need to get up close and personal with the beast, just so that we can plan it’s demise in a safe and humane way.

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To recap: It’s Enormous and Fuzzy. Our work is cut out. According to an evangelical group in the good old U.S. of A, the apocalypse is due to start on Saturday the 21st May… tomorrow. The badman and I tend to think it might have started yesterday.

In other news….

Auntie S has moved on from M and bought a dog. Don’t worry. If this sentence makes no sense to you, it’s probably not supposed to.

Mrs G took her friend S to the hospital for her bone marrow scan yesterday. It’s not an intrusive procedure, but it’s not any fun either. As she says, you just have to get on with it and fight the good fight. Very stoic. The next phase is the chemotherapy and of course that will be much harder. Our thoughts are with her along with all the practical support we can lend her and her family.

The weekend is almost upon us. Saturday should be reasonably restful, although mother-in-law is car-booting on Sunday and I believe we have a table that she’ll be wanting for that little job. She also has a lawn mower that she wishes to pass on to us, so it’s a straight swap at Checkpoint Charlie. The rabbits won’t let her in by default. I have to press a special override switch. Daughter has been angling for one of “Grannie’s Sunday roasts” as well, so looks like we may be trying to organise that for Sunday dinner as opposed to lunch.

This pre-supposes that we make it to Sunday, what with the apocalypse looming and all that. The best bet is to stay in on Saturday and monitor global events from the relative safety of the volcano I think.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Finally made it as far as Wednesday, and to be honest I’m feeling worn out already. It’s been hectic in the wake of the Badman and I’s recent bout of sitting in a tree and waiting.

Monday night found me whizzing off in the roller skate to Kate Middleton’s educational hometown of Marlborough.  Needless to say she wasn’t about, but good old Johnnie was along with A (who’s father-in-law has passed on, and we will be visiting with next week for the funeral – just as an aside, there’s been alot of that about lately, and here’s hoping that we’ve seen the end of it for a while).

So having spent sometime with Mrs H and the kids, including a particularly enjoyable bedtime story in the form of Mr Mischief, we headed off to a local curry house in the middle of nowhere.

The Palm Indian Restaurant is an excellent eatery, and highly recommended should you find yourself “out in the sticks” and in need of sustenance.

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We ate and caught up with the general goings on which when all is said and done made for a superb way to spend an evening. Clearly something we don’t do often enough, but then if we did it all the time, I suspect we’d appreciate it far less. We rounded off the evening with a quick beer and a game of “Heads or Tails” (far more complicated than it sounds) in “The Lamb Inn” on the parade in Marlborough.

Tuesday had the badman and I meeting up at my hollowed out volcano.  As we’ve been playing the role of a sleeper cell so well for the last week or so, it was long overdue that he should get the grand tour of our armaments and in particular the sentinent rabbits that patrol the grounds on the look out for agents trying to infiltrate the base and gain knowledge of the grand schemes within. He’d passed the background security checks, and was blindfolded for the last leg of his journey to the hidden base, so luckily he still doesn’t know exactly where it is.

He also had to get his Bike serviced at a local garage, so it made perfect sense. 

We got some good work done and had a bite to eat down at the docks before returning to the lair and planning an assault on a local Starfleet office on Wednesday.

In point of fact, the Wednesday trip was all about our Mid-year reviews with our soon-to-be-retired manager. I for one will miss him, just because in the short time I’ve worked with him, he’s helped me through one of the toughest times I’ve had since joining the Starfleet crew.  I’m not going to go on about it – you can get snippets of it from elsewhere in the blog – but he’s been a most helpful rock, along with the badman. Without them I’m pretty certain I would have lost all faith in the exploration of deep space and probably have beamed down to an isolated planet to be consumed by tribbles (and troubles no doubt).  As a result of their efforts my eyes have been opened to the wider, more useful and appreciated elements of Starfleet and as such I’m no happy to be here.  

The review went well, and past pain is all but forgotten. I feel I can’t let this moment pass completely without giving a nod of thanks towards Stretch as well, for it was he who pointed out the need for the role that I now fulfil. As such I owe him more than just a couple of beers of thanks…. possibly as as many as three and a half.

But he can save them up for the next time our paths cross. They won’t be forgotten.

In the evening, being in such a good mood as a result of the review I decided to treat Mrs G and Daughter to a visit to one of our local eateries for a spot of dining out.  A “trip to the teddy” actually means we’ll go to the King Edward the VIII public house for a bite to eat and a go at the quiz.  Food was poor as was the quiz, but we didn’t care. We have eachother and so a good time was had by the three of us.  Good times.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

So now it feels like it’s properly April although after such stunning weather over the weekend you might well have thought it was summer already.

This one’s just a quick diary catchup, just so I’m keeping track of the comings and goings, the why’s and wherefores, the strikes and the gutters. In this case, that means what the hell have I been up to in the last week? I mean I’ve mentioned a few things, and there’s been a couple of photo’s, but I do appear to have somewhat slipped from the habit of writing an entry everyday.

In part this is because of the distractions that the new year has brought. Work has changed dramatically and so I’ve been re-aligning myself to it. Bizarrely, I’m starting to get a bit of a kick out of it again. Something that hasn’t been the case for more than a couple of years. However, I’m all too aware of the fragility of the place. Things can disappear as quickly as they arrive, and vicky verky (which roughly translated means vice-versa)

Perhaps I should resolve to return to 750words.com, which is after all, what got me into this mess in the first place. I might take a poke around at it if schedules permit, but let’s not count any chickens.

The other thing that’s diverted me is the use of instagr-am. Without doubt the coolest photography app on the iPhone, I find myself using it to document goings on without writing anything. I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but then they say all sorts of things don’t they. Many of which are just old wives and grandmothers tales. The immediacy of posting a photo to the blog is a big draw and apparently so much so that it is becoming my shorthand for writing an entry of any substance. It’s not a situation I’m particularly over-the-moon about.

I like words. No, that’s not right. I love words. They are solid concrete things that explain how the world around me looks, and feels and works and yet at the same time, they are malleable and as such I can bend them to my very will. I can use them to create beautiful structures, bold sentences and bull sh1t, as well as alliteration. (I see what you did there -Ed) They are immensely powerful and instantly disposable. Just like the old newspaper saying: “Today’s headline is just tomorrow’s chip wrapper” *. From Shakespeare to swearing and back again, words are a heavenly device, hence my feeling I should write more and photograph less.

For the geeks who were wondering how that hangs together…. A photo in my library or taken from within instagr-am itself is posted to the instagr-am site, Twitter, Posterous, Facebook and if it has location info attached to it, checks me in on Foursquare all simultaneously. The Posterous entry can then also create entries for Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. You can see the appeal. Click-post-disseminate. Simples.

None of this is telling you about my week though is it. It is just procrastination which avoids the subject and diverts us away from the stated aims. So let’s get to it….

Monday – work, Tuesday – work, Wednesday – work, Thursday – work (and WTC very poorly administered by Jugs), Friday – work. I would like to expand on the work details, but I’ve signed an NDA, so I could tell you, but the I’d have to have you “taken care of” to put it as politely as possible. Besides that, the Badman puts it so much better than I. You really should take a look at http://badmansjournal.blogspot.com/.

Friday night was a short bike ride (4 miles) with daughter on which I nearly died. I kid you not. At the time I was very concerned about my health and felt I might actually have been near some sort of heart malfunction. After some recuperation however, I’ve drawn the conclusion that there were actually four factors that contributed to my in-the-region-of-death experience (it wasn’t that near).

1: Illness. I’ve had a cold/flu thing over the last couple of weeks which I haven’t fully shaken off. It’s definitely on the wane now though. I suspect that my oxygen flow was far from at it’s peak with much coughing and spluttering.

2: Daughters Pace. She is after all, only 21 and as fit as a preverbal butchers dog. I probably shouldn’t try to out run her.

3: Weather. It was damn hot on Friday and I was no doubt a little de-hydrated, compounded by the fact that Fridays inconveniently fall after Thursdays (WTC). And finally…

4: Bike. Turns out the crank shaft bearings have gone, and so to keep pace with any normal bike, you end up pedalling almost double time, and there’s little or no free wheeling. It’s a (potential) killer.

Saturday started with some lawn mowing, and general garden tidying while daughter and Mrs G ran some town based errands. It then completely skipped over the Grand National which I had on my initial list as something to have a look at and then morphed into a spontaneous Bar-B-Q. Who knew?!! Mrs G, Daughter and I just thought as it was such a nice day we’d have a few friends round, open up the hot tub, fire up the bar-bee and crack a few tinnies, along with some carefully selected wines.

It’s on days like that that the hot tub shows itself as the sound investment it was. In fact, more of a cool tub on such a day. Having turned it down to a mere 30 degrees, it made for a most refreshing dip from the heat and was especially fun for the kids. The adults enjoyed the weather and frivolity. The bar-bee passed it’s first run of the year, and the iTunes DJ feature got a good testing. No party should be without it in this day and age. Most entertaining.

Sunday had the same weather again. We’d unfortunately had a rather sleepless night caused by some engineering works on the nearby railway. I understand that night time works are the least disruptive to the network, but they are still the most disruptive to our sleep patterns. On the plus side, Sunday meant we allowed ourselves a lie-in and I actually felt my cold/flu/thing lift a little.

So much so in fact, that Mrs G and resolved to cycle into the city and back out and over to her offices. The logic with a ride to her offices is in preparation for her daily commute. She’s intending to cycle with daughter and wanted to gauge the timing. Naturally after Friday’s events I wasn’t overly keen, but in point of fact, I had nothing to be concerned about. 2 out of 4 of my previous issues were dealt with (it was still hot and I have yet to have the crankshaft bearing replaced) and as a result, it was a most enjoyable outing. About 8 miles round trip – felt like 200 yards – a doddle.

For the final leg, Mrs G and I swapped bikes. What a dream it is to ride on a decent set of crankshaft bearings (said the actress to the bishop). The repair is imminent I feel.

And here we are, back at Monday. What does this week hold? Well at least one day will spent with the Badman in another Starfleet office. My diary has a few conference calls and meetings throughout but beyond that… I have no idea.

I’m hoping for a week as smooth as my new bearings will be. Have fun.

* For the American audience, I feel this one really needs a proper bit of explanation. Back in the day, the Brits used to buy “deep fried fish with french fries” on a Friday night as “take out”. The french fries would be wrapped up in yesterday’s newspaper. Waste not, want not. Today, Mr Health & Nanny State Safety, wouldn’t dream of allowing such a thing to take place, not least because newspaper ink is probably more toxic now than it was 30 years ago. Instead we have plain boring chip paper. Where’s the fun in that?


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Unlike sex, politics or religion, folklore is a perfectly suitable subject of conversation for the dinner table. I do love a bit of folklore which, if you’re wondering comes from the words folk (meaning: People) and lore (meaning: Learning) so people-learning then. There are hundreds of myths and legends that fit into the folklore category, but there are a few, and only a few, that must never be spoken of.

It’s a bit like that scene in an American werewolf in London where the two American hitchhikers enter the local pub (for local people) on the edge of the moors. The silence that hits “The Slaughtered Lamb” is almost audible. “Strangers? Round here?” and the local darts player misses the board just to emphasise the things that will not be mentioned.

Now, I know I shouldn’t be mentioning these things, but, what the hey. It’s 2011 for heaven’s sake. We’re all grown ups and really, what’s the worse that can happen? For those of you of a nervous disposition, or a weak stomach, or more importantly, that are likely to believe some of this drivel…. Look away now. For the rest of you, good luck, and stick to the road. Keep off of the moors.

First up is the story that’s local to Gloucester and that prompted me to write this entry in the first place. The Bear. Anyone from the Gloucester area that’s ever visited The Forest of Dean (or to give it it’s more colloquial name, simply ‘the forest’) will know that under any circumstances you must never, ever mention the Bear. Even today people still say it with an air of mystery when someone says they’re “Going down the Forest” … “Really?.. Don’t mention the Bear!” and the conversation halts.

It turns out that this is all about two Russian bears who came to the Forest in 1889 with four Frenchmen. The story goes that the bears had been on display in Cinderford, and that whilst en route to nearby Ruardean, they were chased by an angry mob. There were rumours circulating that the “foreign” (and therefore dangerous) bear-keepers fed the animals on the flesh of children and that the animals had killed a child and mauled a woman in the nearby village.

As a result, some of the residents attacked the troop, slaughtering the innocent animals and belting the living daylights out of two of the Frenchmen. Witnesses from Ruardean came to the rescue, took in the injured Frenchmen and nursed them back to health. Those that carried out the attack, were heavily fined, but during the case, they were only ever referred to as “residents of Ruardean”.

To this day, if you’re down that way, it really is best not to mention the subject at all.

Next up… And I have to tip my hat to the Badman for pointing this one out to me.. “The Monkey of Hartlepool”. I know you think I’m making this stuff up, “but it’s all true I tell thee, and I’m not looking forward to the journey home neither”

Around the turn of the 18th century while the Napoleonic Wars were in full flight, a French ship was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. Naturally the British were ever fearful of a possible French invasion at the time, and so also, ever vigilant. The local fishermen of Hartlepool observed the shipwreck and kept a close eye on it while it was dashed and battered and eventually sunk by the sea. As the wreckage was washed ashore one of the fisherman spotted a survivor, that of the ships pet monkey who was dressed in a naval uniform and had presumably clung for dear life to the wreckage.
Being “brave and upstanding countrymen” the fishermen took it upon themselves to question the monkey and held a “kangaroo court” (although that should probably be monkey court) on the beach. Naturally, they’d never seen a frenchman, let alone spoken to one, so the opinion they derived was that this was clearly a French spy and as such must be sentenced to death. And so it was that the monkey was hung from the mast of a fishing boat in the bay of Hartlepool.

Just like the bear, it’s suggested that you probably shouldn’t ask who it was that hung the monkey. But it’s up to you…


And finally the Tregaron Elephant. Now you’ve probably heard about this one on the news this week. This time, it doesn’t involve any Frenchman (which makes for a nice change) and is actually not quite as dark and desperate as our two earlier tales. Here’s the breakdown straight from good old Aunty….

Archaeologists having started digging up a pub beer garden in search of a legendary Victorian circus elephant.

The Tregaron Elephant has long had its place in local folklore, and is thought to have been buried behind the town’s Talbot Hotel after dying on tour. The elephant was said to have fallen ill after drinking contaminated water in the Ceredigion town in 1848. It is believed to have been part of Batty’s Travelling Menageries, a circus troupe which entertained widely in the area that year.

The small-scale excavation started on Saturday morning and the hunt for clues about the animal’s final resting place will continue until next Thursday. About 10 people from the University of Wales Trinity St David are taking part. The dig has started in the beer garden at The Talbot in Tregaron.

Dafydd Watkin and his partner Tracy Batt are licensees of the Talbot Hotel, and they said about 30 people had watched the start of the dig. Mr Watkin said the archaeologists were working in the hotel’s beer garden, but had found nothing so far.

“They started digging this morning and they’ll be here until next Thursday,” said Mr Watkin.

“There’s been quite a crowd here. About 30 people have been in and out watching the dig in the beer garden, and we’re expecting more people over the weekend.

“Before the dig started the local councillor Catherine Hughes said a few words.”

Mr Watkin said he was not worried about losing trade because of the dig, and added that it would probably draw in more customers.

The dig is part of a wider project by the University of Wales Trinity St David’s archaeology department. Dr Jemma Bezant of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology is heading it up. She said last month that the project was about celebrating the story of the Tregaron Elephant and less about “finding out the truth”.

She added that it was likely the effort would generate more questions than answers. 

 

Now if that doesn’t sound like a jolly good wheeze to enable the Archaeology department to get few sherberts down their necks while sitting out in the sun, I don’t know what does. I’m sure they’ll be fine as long as they steer clear of the water.

I could go on at length about the Beast of Basingstoke, The Panda of Penge, the Unicorn of Barry Island or the Lions of Longleat, but then you’d know I was just making it up.

Until next time. Don’t mention the (insert animal not from round these parts, here).


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

It’s that time of year again… Well, perhaps I should be more specific. It’s Cheltenham Festival week! Even that may need a little explanation especially if you don’t know one Cheltenham festival from another. As I’ve mentioned before, Cheltenham has a wide variety of festivals throughout a year, but he one that stands head and shoulders above the rest is “THE Cheltenham Festival” which is all about horse racing. If you’re not local or not interested I can imagine how boring it must be. It’s not something that ever captured my interest until I lived here. Since then, it’s not only difficult to ignore, but actually completely fascinating and an unmissable sight to see. The atmosphere is unlike any other. The town becomes a different place, a party prevails and the price of everything goes up.

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This year has been no exception. Due to circumstances beyond my control Mrs G and I didn’t visit the course this year, but we did enjoy the people watching, an excellent lunch and had a couple of flutters on the races. No massive wins, but no massive losses either. All in all, a grand day out with BBB and Mrs BBB as well. Fun times.

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The day didn’t pass without a little guilt on my part though. The Badman has been working like a demon with some assistance from me on his current mission and sadly, things went slightly pear shaped on Thursday afternoon. I felt bad about leaving him to deal with it, but having checked in on my return this afternoon I see to my surprise and no doubt his surprise and delight that all has come good and we’re back on the road to success.

I fear there is still very much to do, but nothing that can’t wait until Monday when I’m sure we’ll both be feeling at least a little refreshed and it’ll be ‘Once more into the breach’ and all that. In the mean time I believe he has an appointment with a Mr Blofeld and a Mr Scaramanga, both of whom have been looking for property that he has on his books… In fact, somewhere around here I have a fully comprehensive list of potential customers that I must dig out for him. I think it’s filed under “World Domination, Plans for”….

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This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Great start to Mrs G’s day off in the form of a round of “Badman Bacon” sandwiches.

Look closely. They are some THICK rashers of bacon. This means they are almost steaks and really a whole meal can be derived from one rasher.  Not one to be perturbed by such a challenge and having eyes that are bigger than my stomach, two rashers seemed perfectly viable as you can see. One did the job nicely, and the extra had to be halved. A filling meal that left me feeling more than setup for the day.

Thanks Mr B – awesomeness….  I saved two for the next available hangover cure.  By the way, for those of a more curious nature, this work of culinary art started life off over here: http://badmansjournal.blogspot.com/2011/01/bbbb.html

If only our european cousins made this the standard Bacon, but then that would require a certain amount of joint common sense across the EU, and that’s something that’s not always very forthcoming.  They’ll understand it better once it’s been explained to them šŸ™‚ and I shall leave it there.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous