Anyone who had read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Books by Douglas Adams know well this quote:
A fabulously beautiful planet, Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete whilst on the planet is surgically removed from your bodyweight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory there, it is vitally important to get a receipt.
So, forty years ago, Adams knew how to tackle the knotty problem of sustainable tourism.
But much as…
It was early evening. Instead of using my tickets to see “The Dammed” at the Students Union hall with a friend, I was in the University library in the publications section trying my hardest to study for an exam. I had flunked the “Economics” module and was told unless I did well in the exam paper the next morning, I would have to repeat the year.
So, as I slumped on the low slung red plastic foam chairs my Sony Walkman cassette player dangled from a cord around my neck, yellow foam headphones abandoned on the chair next to me/…
I was clearing out our garage and taking stuff to our local recycling centre when I came across this sign. “Please Follow Staff Advice At All Times”. Being the pedant that I am I immediately took offence at the language. It’s not “advice” if you must follow it at all times. The use of the word “please” does not help make the implied threat any less potent. If you don’t take the “advice”, even it is wrong, then there will be consequences. …
My father and his friends would often swap their funniest stories whilst under the influence of alcohol, so it is no coincidence, now that I recall them, that they were mostly about alcohol.
The ending, “… and he was as drunk as a lord …” seemed to be the invariable punchline.
Occasionally however, the story was not funny, but serious enough to engender murmurs of sympathy and reflection before swigging down the rest of the whisky. This was one of them.
British Aluminium was an American company that turned bauxite into that eponymous metal. In 1971 for very little reason…
My father was a great story teller. His story telling art was honed in weekly parties held with friends, all good storytelling experts themselves. We children would hang about the upper landing and listen to them cackle and bray into the small hours.
When I was much older, I gradually extracted a large number of them, which I record here. For posterity. Or a kind of memorial.
Arthur, a distant relative, was fat. He was also a dedicated drinker and frequented every pub within a few walking miles of Camelon in the industrial mining belt of central Scotland. At his…
“Mulligatawny” — n. a highly seasoned soup orig. from India [Tamil milagutannir pepper-water]
Mulligatawny soup is one of my favourite things. I came across it when I was a child, watching it being decanted like an illicit substance, from a tin made by a popular UK manufacturer of soups. It was a bit like, but not much like the original Anglo-Indian concoction popularised by returning British troops from Colonial India. Essentially it is a tomato and onion curried stock with small beef morsels and carrots cooked to a deep reddish brown. It’s an acquired taste.
I suspect the tinned version…
There are hollow things,
Like the papery caverns of dried oranges,
Or the casing of decayed logs
Draped with blankets of moss.
These hollow things make no sound,
Perhaps a tap from a bird,
Elicits an echo, faintest reverberation of air
Dying away into the dry evening.
These hollow things can ring
Or scream a harsh cry or
They are made of metal,
And poke harsh needles into ears.
But this hollow thing is flesh,
Made parchment and dust,
And puffs of air are let out
In the seemingness of life.
I am a hollow thing,
But over there, water and soil,
Warmth and light
Are waiting to fill me.
I’m sorry, but the world does not have hostile aliens or mad scientists who want to rule the world. We have no need for an obvious good hero whipping and hammering, punching and flying or setting stuff on fire. I want a superhero for these things:
George Homer’s House in Somerset, England. Built c. 1670.
Deep in the English County of Somerset in a landscape of rolling fields, hedges and trees which hide the scars of the quarrying of the pale cream limestone that was used to build the City of Bath, lies a derelict house.
It can’t be approached by a road and instead can only be reached from the nearest ancient village by walking across fields, past the old fish ponds now pocked with small trees reflecting in its still waters. …