Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Don't start! I can hear your groans from here. I too thought I had finished with this little tale after the denouement in"Nesting (Part two)" in which I revealed that the fidgety little birds nesting in my garage roof space turned out to have been mice (two nests) who had long gone without paying their bill.

However, something odd has occurred without knowledge of which, your life will be a little duller. Furthermore, as you will shortly discover, there will almost certainly need to be a "Nesting (Part Four)". Please curb your unseemly enthusiasm.

On news of the evidence of mice, my wife having smartly withdrawn her offer of help, it was left to me to deal with the situation. I began by taking all the old floor carpet to the dump (no more Mr. Nice Guy) and was then able to drag furniture out of the way so that every inch of the floor could be mopped with neat bleach.

The garage is still warm and dry but a little less cosy than hitherto. Just in case the little chaps decide to check back in to Mouse Hilton, I planned to have a little surprise waiting in the form of mousetraps. Being me, this required a certain amount of research and whilst dining with friends, I brought up the subject of my mouse problem which undoubtedly helped with everyone's appetite.

As country dwellers they were experienced in this field... and many other meadows - (sorry - irresistible) and first told me to use peanut butter as bait. They then informed me about hi-tech electronic mousetraps which were more humane than the spring version but cost over 10 times the price. My host went to fetch one to show me which turned out to come complete with dead mouse. I mentally reviewed the elements of the meal we had just eaten.

In the end, I decided to take the cheaper, heartless route and three loaded mouse traps were strategically placed in my garage which I then proceeded to check almost daily. Which brings us to the reason for this piece of writing. Yesterday when I checked the traps, one was missing! Gone without trace. I moved furniture to check underneath and behind it but nothing. Presumably there exists a damaged mouse with mouse trap attached and since I can't believe that there is a hole big enough for this strange creature to escape, it must be there somewhere - surely? Watch this space...

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Just when I think all is well in my life - Wham! I get my wallet pinched.

After exhaustive searches it is clear that it fell out of my pocket in one of two places. In both cases, there is a nearby office where it could have been handed in, so since they didn't do that it's clear that someone has found it and kept it. They may have taken the cash and tossed the rest away or may have set to using my credit cards and proof of identity cards and the worry for me is that I don't know which.

What did I lose? Well the biggest loss is two precious photos of my wife and daughter which I had no copies of. This reminds me of the advice which the Australian government gave out during the bush fires to people about to flee their homes. The advice was to grab your photos as a priority, because most other stuff can be replaced.

They also got some cash - I don't know how much, various credit cards and membership cards, my bus pass and driving licence.

What do they now know about me? They know I'm a "senior" and they know what I look like. They know my address and birthdate. They know I play darts and bridge, belong to the National Trust and the R.A.C.

What do I know about them? I know that the person who found my wallet is a thieving piece of dog's mess.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


The story so far: I have transformed my garage into a cosy den by installing heat, light and carpets so that I can practise my darts and become a professional player. Well I can dream can't I?

Along with my new found darts interest, I also took up feeding the birds when I retired. (See previous posting). I bought large quantities of bird seed and treats and then of course I needed somewhere to store it. The garage (or 'junk store' as it is more truthfully named) was the answer. Day after day I scooped out the seed and since my deftness with the scoop was matched only by my darts prowess, seed flew about all over my newly laid garage carpet.

The good news was that my darts scoring was improving. I joined a darts team. This meant that I needed even more hours of practice in my garage/den. I had made the garage really warm and cosy now but soon realised that some of my beloved birds had discovered this. Sometimes when I was throwing my darts, I could hear them fidgeting in their nest which was presumably in the roof space of the garage.

Years passed and the junk piled up. My darts area was increasingly under threat as I had to kick clutter out of the way in order to throw. In time there was only one answer. I would have to clear out the garage. My wife offered to help 'if the weather was right' so we waited another year until we finally had a day when the temperature was exactly 19.3 degrees, the cloud cover was broken and the winds were light and balmy.

I started work. 'let me know when you need me' said my wife as she settled down to read her magazines indoors. I took everything except the larger furniture out of the garage so I could sweep the floor. Soon I discovered that I had spilled more bird seed than I thought. It wasn't wasted though. Most of it was just husk so the birds had obviously found it. But what were the strange small black seeds which remained uneaten?

The truth dawned. It wasn't the birds who had been eating the seed it was mice and these were mouse droppings. I gingerly moved furniture away from the walls and looked underneath. I found a mouse nest which I proudly rushed to show my wife like a cat bringing it's owner a dead bird. She immediately withdrew her offer of help.

Shortly afterwards I found a second nest. My guess is that these represented two generations of mice. The mice themselves were long gone. I wondered why. After all, I had laid carpet to provide good nesting material, given them a lovely space heater to keep them warm and cosy and even spilled large quantities of bird seed to keep them well fed.

To be honest, I feel a little hurt at their ingratitude.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


I suppose that there are some people who actually keep their car in their garage. How very short-sighted of them. Do they not realise what a valuable commodity a garage is for the storage of all kinds of junk?

I have no such myopic vision. I've been keeping my various garages well stocked with junk for many, many years. Old bits of furniture, wine, garden tools, beer, sun loungers, wine and beer, beach equipment, beer and wine - it's a very long list.

However, when I acquired my present garage it came along with my retirement. Now when some guys retire they buy a Harley or have a pond stocked with coy carp. I'm a little more frugal than that so I decided to put up a dart board. This required a bit more space than is usually available in my garages so the junk was pushed to the edges, or up in the rafters or hung on hooks. Eventually, I had a long, narrow space in which to begin my journey to becoming a professional darts player.

I soon found that my darts were not going where I aimed them. I needed better lighting. The electrician was summoned and soon the dartboard was bathed in light. This didn't improve my scoring though. Then I realised that it was the uncomfortable floor I was standing on that was causing the problem. I found some old but clean carpet and laid it down. It looked odd as a long strip so I expanded it to other areas of the garage. The garage had become a den!

So how come I was still getting low scores? The answer was simple. It was too cold in there. I dragged my wife off to Costco and we returned with a nice shiny space heater plus a large number of essentials which we'd not realised we needed but which my dear wife had discovered whilst I was analysing and comparing the various types of garage heaters.

I switched on the heater and now I had finished feathering my nest. It was warm, dry and very cosy. From this haven of tranquility a new life would spawn. After a hopefully short period of incubation, the world would witness the birth of a new darts phenomenon. Wouldn't it?

Watch this space....

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Bob Hope once said.... "People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy". I wonder what he'd have thought of all the xxx's in our modern texts and emails.

Some people seem to throw their xxx's around with gay abandon not to say over-enthusiasm......and it worries me, especially where the different sexes are concerned.

I mean just what is the proper etiquette here? If a female sends me a message and adds an 'x' after their name is it OK for me to 'x' them back or I am being too forward? Does it count as infidelity?

Is it OK for me to 'x' them first time round or is that grounds for divorce? What if I 'x' them and they 'xx' me? Is that a come-on? I need to ask Tiger Woods - he seems to be the expert on these things.

Then there's the whole question of quantity. Presumably a single 'x' is a light peck on the cheek, a double 'xx' is a longer cheek kiss, three 'xxx' would be the same but with an embrace, four 'xxxx' must be a kiss on the lips, five 'xxxxx' will be tongues and any more than that has got to be full on sex.

All I know is that when I email my daughter, I give her 'xxx'. Any more than that might be construed as incestuous!

Sunday, 11 April 2010


I can't remember when I last had a bath. Before you go running off holding your nose and squealing 'eeeeeew' what I mean is, I prefer to shower.

I find it so refreshing and energising standing under a torrent of water. While letting the water cascade over me I like to imagine that I'm a sort of muscle-bound Tarzan figure showering under a waterfall in the rainforest.

For me, entering the shower cubicle is like Clark Kent popping into his phone box and emerging as Superman - except in my case I become Superwrinkly.

I know that some people prefer to have a soak in a bath but I never got on with bathing. I can remember as a child being forced to go and have a bath by my mother who stood outside the bathroom door to preserve my modesty but ensure that I complied. Being the little devil I was, I ran the bath and then splashed my hand around in it a few times to simulate me having the bath though I remained standing by the side of it. OK, this time you can say 'eeeeew'.

Apart from the fact that showering uses less water so is more environmental friendly, I hate the thought of wallowing in my own dirt. Also, I remember the unpleasant feeling as the water got colder and colder. The hot water was limited in those days.

I also have unpleasant memories of baths since someone dear to me tried to kill themselves by slitting their wrists in one. In fact baths are very dangerous places as Jean-Paul Marat discovered when Corday killed him in one.

So I will stick to the safety of my lovely, refreshing shower. Ooops! I just remembered 'Psycho' ... eeek!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


One of my greatest pleasures is going to the theatre. "Oh no it isn't!" "Oh yes it is!" Yes, like most of my generation, it all started when I used to go to the pantomime. I used to go to the Saturday cinema club as well of course - and that was brilliant - but it didn't have that special magic that live theatre brings.

When I was a little older, we studied Shakespeare at school and our class went to Stratford-on-Avon to see 'King Lear'. I was entranced. It was one thing to read the rather dull book in lessons but quite another to see it brought to life on the stage by those brilliant actors. It became my favourite of all plays and I have now seen it several times, the last when I took my daughter to see the great Sir Ian McEllen's version. As we left the theatre, I remarked that I felt I never wanted to see 'Lear' again having just witnessed what I regarded as the definitive version.

My wife and I are lucky to have some excellent provincial theatres to choose from and have joined the Malvern Theatre as 'Bronze' members. As a senior citizen, this costs just half of the normal £35 and gives me £3 discount for our tickets plus priority booking for the best seats in the house. I regard this as a brilliant deal and we have enjoyed many superb productions there, several of which were on their way to the West End.

Imagine my sadness then, as I read that the future of theatre is in grave danger. Apparently, some 90% of audiences are over 50 years of age and there is a genuine worry about where future audiences will come from. I am lucky to receive such a good discount on my theatre membership but clearly many members of the audience are of an age where the cost of attending is prohibitive when living on a small pension and going out at night is more worrying than it used to be.

It seems to me that theatre lovers must make a real effort to sell it to the young if it is to survive. We may well be witnessing the beginning of the end of an entire art form.

So in the words of the great Noel Coward, "Don't put your daughter on the stage Mrs. Worthington"... but for heaven's sake take her to see a play so that she can discover what joy is to be had from live theatre.

Sunday, 4 April 2010


Let me take you back to the 19th century. Picture if you will, or even if you won't, the drawing room of a country estate where sits the lady of the manor taking tea. She looks up at the maid who waits upon her and dismisses her saying that she won't require her services for an hour or so.

The maid goes up to her tiny room at the top of the house, taking the back stairs of course, and sits herself down with her sampler. For anyone who doesn't know, a sampler was a framed piece of sewing, often of the alphabet, or of a poem or picture, which Victorian ladies would spend hours doing - thus idling their time away. In this respect, it was the Victorian equivalent of our computers.

The maid in my story is busy creating the following poem, which I discovered in my grandfathers album entitled simply 'From a sampler'.

"I pray that risen from the dead,
I may in glory stand,
A crown perhaps upon my head,
A needle in my hand.

I never learnt to sing or play
So let no harp be mine.
From youth until my dying day
Plain serving's been my line.

Therefore accustomed to the end
To plying useful stitches,
I'll be content if asked to mend
The little angels' breeches."