Saturday, 18 March 2023


Having gone over 68 years knowing nothing about Rabelais, I fear I have come to him too late to take maximum advantage.

It surely suffices to draw attention to his list of candidates for toilet paper (appended here) - among my favourites are "Mother's gloves" and "A cormorant".

Of the goose, Rabelais notes But to conclude, I say and maintain that there is no arse-wiper like a well-downed goose, if you hold her neck between your legs. You must take my word for it, you really must. You get a miraculous sensation in your arse-hole, both from the softness of the down and from the temperate heat of the goose herself; and this is easily communicated to the bum-gut and the rest of the intestines, from which it reaches the heart and the brain.

  1. A lady's velvet mask
  2. A lady's hood
  3. A lady's neckerchief
  4. Some earflaps of crimson satin
  5. A page's bonnet, all feathered in the Swiss fashion
  6. A March-born cat
  7. His Mother's gloves, well scented with maljamin
  8. Sage
  9. Fennel
  10. Anise
  11. Marjoram
  12. Roses
  13. Gourd Leaves
  14. Cabbage
  15. Beets
  16. Vineshoots
  17. Marsh-mallow
  18. Mullein, which is as red as your bum
  19. Lettuces
  20. Spinach-leaves
  21. Dog's Mercury
  22. Persicaria
  23. Nettles
  24. Comfrey
  25. His Codpiece
  26. The Sheets
  27. The Coverlet
  28. The Curtains
  29. A Cushion
  30. The Hangings
  31. A Green Cloth
  32. A Table-cloth
  33. A Napkin
  34. A Handkerchief
  35. An Overall
  36. Hay
  37. Straw
  38. Litter
  39. Cow's Hair
  40. Wool
  41. Paper
  42. A Kerchief (again)
  43. A Pillow
  44. A Slipper
  45. A Game-bag
  46. A Basket
  47. A Hat... and some hats are
    • Smooth
    • Shaggy
    • Velvety
    • Of Taffeta
    • Of Satin
    ...though the best of all are the shaggy ones
  48. A Hen
  49. A Cock
  50. A Chicken
  51. A Calf's Skin
  52. A Hare
  53. A Pigeon
  54. A Cormorant
  55. A Lawyer's Bag
  56. A Penitent's Hood
  57. A Coif
  58. An Otter
  59. A Well-downed Goose

Wednesday, 4 January 2023


To Llundain, to see in the new year, inter alia.

Thursday 29th was an outing to Fulham to play in the EBU Year End Open Pairs event. Partner was the ever understanding Jerry F, who tolerated a number of schoolgirl errors on my part to allow us 49% in the morning sesion and 47% in the afternoon. I count this as a triumph and know we'd beat 50 in another outing. Jerry, if he as as wise as I suspect, probably wouldn't permit another outing to occur: here is a picture of Jerry in motion, warming up for the day, and the record of how it went.

Friday 30th, to Holborn for the latest of a sequence of beery chats with P and J. Whether the world will actually improve as a result of our analyses of its problems is unlikely, and perhaps the world didn't even know we were there. We last attempted this in 2018, so perhaps of most interest is the before-Covid/after-Covid comparison. Can you tell which is which?

Saturday 31st, to Ashford and around for a Porkrun, and to make the Yuletide visit that was kiboshed by a mysterious esophegeal complaint. Urban highlights were an elegant OOU Post Office,and the partially restored Burton, now a splendid Polish cafe:

And a very jolly visit to the Enkelkinder
Blywyddyn Newydd Dda - let it be better than its predecessor. At the very least, let's not break any ribs.

Monday, 10 October 2022

Two things

Two things I have just learned:
  1. A very rare instance of a Welsh word finding its way into English: penguin. originally, of course, pen-gwyn - white head. Except penguins have black heads.
  2. A committee is sitting in the Vatican considering what to do if and when extra-terrestial intelligence makes itself known to us. Of course, there is but the one God for the entire unverse, but it's not clear whether JC is Saviour of the human race, or all intelligent races. Either way, there will be a need for some sort of evangelism, post discovery. Tricky.
These things wre discovered during the most recent Offa expedition, a worthy project interrupted for 2.5 years by, you guessed it, Covid-19. This leg was from Four Crosses to Trefonen, which - on paper - was "just another leg" but as ever in reality turned out to be stunning. Flat bits, up bits, down bits, view bits, golf courses ... I could go on.

Inter alia, we saw

  • Evidence that Offa got the boundary between Wales and Lloegr in the right place.
  • Views to left and right. Or right and left if you're going the other way.
  • Many fungi. One of our number said he knew which were which, and he is still alive.
  • The Montgomery Canal.
  • Evidence that Oswestry was once railway central.

Culminating with a pretty VR wall box as we relocated our transport.

We are now more than 2/3 of the way up - here we come, Prestatyn.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Terminalia 2022

Is it just me, or does Terminalia seem to come round earlier each year?

Finding myself halfway between Peter Hammill and Henning Wehn, circumstance caused me to celebrate the festival in Scrobbesburh, which was especially exciting as the town was partly submerged as a result of storms Derek, Eric and Fuckwit arriving in a 6 day period. Rudimentary Internet research revealed the course of the largely pillaged town walls and so I advertised a circumnvagation, fully expecting a 25 minute solo perambulation. Imagine my surprise to find Andrew, Andy and Kate the Pipe ready to join me at the start.

Andrew knew a lot already, and we had the most marvellous document prepared by the Archaeology Data Service. Coupled with Kate's enthusiasm to engage everybody in conversation ("We're doing a tour for Terminalia ...") this turned into a much longer and really fascinating trip. I think we fulfilled all the aims of the celebration, and I don't recall us mentioning Brexit, Covid, or Ukraine once.

There's no secret about the tour, so anyone could do it. Just the odd picture may communicate the enthusiasm of the day:

  1. Fragments of the wall can be seen in many places, together with some intact sections. These were at their best when they were not really accessible and you had to take sneaky looks ... On the way (1), On the way (2); a secret bit; in a pub garden; a surviving, rather pretty, tower. God bless Kate Humphreys, although how did she come to own it in the first place?
  2. We met a very nice chap who owned property on the course of the wall; he had been very badly flooded but took a long time to explain to us how the area had once been.
  3. A collection of wall and other stones had been assembled near a very wet bridge. One was not of the local sandstone, but was very smooth volcanic rock. There is an unflattering picture of Kate smoothing it a little further.
  4. Stopping for welcome refreshment, Kate showed us her current plan, which we followed as best we could.
  5. Throughout, we were awestruck at the quantity of water flowing down the Severn (more properly Afon Hafren, since it rises in mid-Wales) in the wake of Storms D, E and F. This picture fails to capture the awe: on a normal day, this shot would have had no water visible at all

I wonder where Terminalia 2023 will be observed.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

H to He

To Manchester, to experience a much postponed concert by Peter Hammill's Van der Graaf Generator. Given the fellow's age (and mine), this is one of those experiences to slot in as soon as you reasonably can. Fate, in the form of Storms Derek, Eric, and Fuckwit nearly intervened, but it was OK in the end.

The trip also took in the valedictory running of Blake's 52More Score #10, and a celebration of Terminalia 2022, both of which are detailed elsewhere.

This trio that has been playing together for ... err ... 54 years so we needn't be surprised at a very polished show. There's no doubt that the absence of a saxophone left a saxophone shaped hole where a saxophone ought to be, but they rang the changes rather well. Having been unfairly tarred with the "prog" label, they managed to dip toes in quite a range of genres, and the man's voice has lost none of its power and almost none of its range. A very few imprecisions, but hey - that's why you go to hear people live.

It tells you something that they didn't play any of Killer, Man Erg or A plague of lighthouse keepers - they have quite a songbook to choose from. For this reviewer, Scorched Earth was the standout. The setlist is at

Hammill and Fripp are part of a generation - I believe they get on well together. In contrast to the lip-zipped Fripp, Hammill was happy to banter. Pausing for an interval he noted "It's quiet when it stops, isn't it?"

I think the jury is out on which of VdGG's albums is most memorable/influential/best but it's inquitous to compare stuff released in the 21st century with that from over 50 years ago. From early days, it's hard to better Pawn Hearts[1], but my introduction to all this was in Pat's back room and H to He, whereat I first met the proton-proton fusion reaction. In preparation for the gig, I chose to manufacture my own merchandise by customising a black hoodie thus

I think this all worked rather well, even if it does undermine the principle of bands selling massively overpriced garments at their pension fund boosting gigs.

[1] Pawn Hearts, wherefrom Man Erg. How well known is it that this synchronises wonderfully with Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou? Check it out.

Friday, 19 November 2021


Some years ago - more than 50 in fact - I read an SF book, probably on my friend Jonathan's recommendation, that I found to be rather good. Predictably, there were sequels of monotonically decreasing merit and I wisely stoppped after the first such.

Attempts to film this story have either foundered or been poorly received, and none of my shekels have been diverted to viewing any of them. This year, the most recent such attempt has been well received so we went to give it a spin this week. Yes, it was rather good.

One of the absolute highlights has to be Leto being ceremonially led onto Arrakis by a bagpiper, but the quality of the thing actually pervades: the visualisation of the various worlds is good enough to make you think "yes, it was like this", and - modulo 50 year forgetting interval - I think it was remarably faithful to the text. There were too many details to capture, but I think I noticed them using both metric and Imperial distance measures (didn't the 'thopter have to rise more than 5000ft?), which is admirable. And the worms were pretty good, leaving a lot to look forward to in the [predictable] sequel.

Before I saw it I chatted with a 15yo friend who told me he had seen it, and that he had read the book. I told him I was his age when I read it, which I rather liked. In retrospect, perhaps I was spoiled because I came to expect that all SF was of the quality that Herbert, Brunner and Trout generated, but this is false.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Score #10

I subscribe to the Walking Artists' Network, which is ironic as I am not an artist and find much walking constrained by circumstances. Anyway, therein Blake Morris solicited participation in his 52 More project. Ever one to jump first and look second, I said "why not?".

Blake explains all this very well himself so I won't duplicate: suffice to say that I synthesised a score as

  • Always move away from the restrictive
  • the passage of time investigates — rather than celebrates
  • find materials to make an old-fashioned archive and check the accuracy by touching something
or, if you prefer, here is the original in cut-ups:

Blake and I will perform this on the last Tuesday of every month until Terminalia (23rd February, as usual - the last outing will be 22nd February). He suggests an invitation be sent to anyone interested, and so over a period of months we cannot fail to collect an old fashioned archive of some interest.

So join in. Blake will be pleased to hear from you.