Holiday Posts

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At some point in the recent past, present or near future, I am (have or will be) on holiday for two weeks with the certain conviction that I will not be following my usual writing routine whilst I am away.  Consequently, I have to approach (or have already done so) the two week gap with six posts up my sleeve which I can schedule to entertain you in my absence.  Some of you, I’m sure, will spot them (or you may already have done so) generally, I would guess, because of what they don’t say, what they don’t address, and although I will try (or possibly have already done so) through my lack of response to comments.  For that, I apologise in advance (or possibly retrospect).  OK, enough of this tense hopping nonsense.  Whenever I am writing this, it is ‘now’ to me.  Before, after or during, the more perceptive amongst you will probably have worked it out long ago anyway.

When I have the time and my mind is in the right place – e.g. not turning itself inside out over things upon which it can have absolutely no influence (everything) – I can write copious amounts.  It doesn’t make it good – for me passable is always a triumph – and editing out the bad bits and tarting-up the decent takes much longer.  Pieces that I like might hit the blog on the day of writing whilst more troublesome pieces can take many days and much ink before they pass muster (e.g. I’ve got nothing better).  Consequently, the pieces I have left to post whilst I am away are generally those that I have been fussing over for weeks: adding jokes, removing jokes, cutting, pasting, deleting, retrieving, unknotting Gordian Knots of syntax, trying again until I lose all sight of whether they have anything to offer or not.  Because I have rewritten the gags a thousand times, I see them coming (which is just as well as most people don’t see them even after they have long gone) and the whole thing becomes polished, but lifeless (like Donald Trump’s head).  You understand what you are looking for now?  Good luck with that.

The strange thing (for me at least) is in realising how different my tastes are to your own, because very often these holiday pieces are received very well, getting more likes and comments than the pieces that, in my excitement, I can’t wait to get out there.  I have tried sitting on everything whilst I work on it, but that generally means that by the time I post it in all its polished glory, time has completely passed it by.  I am seldom topical, never on-point and there would be no point in publishing a tract about, for instance, the insanity of a country having a complete buffoon for a leader, when the two biggest have already gone.  (You work it out.)   Topical gags, like a summer oyster, have a very short shelf life and can, in retrospect, have similarly distressing after-effects.  Things that are funny now, should remain funny for all time and that can be accomplished by avoiding topical gags, demeaning language and satire.  (Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Father Ted, Fawlty Towers and Dinnerladies*)  Sexism and racism are never going to win you friends (except, of course, the kind that nobody wants).  I try very hard to avoid satire as it has a troubling tendency to appear spiteful in print (and I’m not bright enough to fully understand the difference between satire and sarcasm anyway) and I am not: I am chilled, relaxed, laid back, happy and on holiday (or was, or will be…)  You decide.

*The Office, Dad’s Army, Extras, The Royle Family, Blackadder, One Foot in the Grave, the oft forgotten Rev and the truly wonderful Mum

So, Should I Remain Truncated?

I am by nature a bit of a windbag; a short, fat sockful of inconsequential whining.  It is my sole gift and I giveth of it freely.  And that, as you will be fully aware, is my downfall.  At least I think so.  I have been told many times and by many people – some more politely than others – that I do bang on a bit, and so, of late, I have been trying to bang on a bit less.  I have tried to reduce the word count in my average blog by something around 50% (a bargain in anybody’s books) and it is now time to take stock.  I earned a crust (or more accurately augmented my topping) for many years by contributing a pithy one thousand words a pop to any magazine that would pay me (for my younger readers, these ‘magazines’ were numerous sheets of paper, containing prose and pictures, lovingly stapled together, folded in the middle and sold through the newsagents that used to be where the takeaway now is) and it became a rut into which my brain happily fell.  I have many different ways of writing these little nosegays, but whichever way I choose to approach them, they always resolve themselves after the allotted one thousand words (+/- 10% for good behaviour) which is, by all accounts, far too long for a blog post.  It’s a peculiar thing.  Being very old I write in longhand before typing onto the laptop, I then print a hard copy which I proofread and correct in various hues of felt pen, before editing on the laptop and posting.  I read through the printed article many times before I post it and it always appears to be much shorter on paper than on the screen.  It is the transition onto LCD – or whatever it is that forms the images on my laptop, tablet and phone (phlogiston for all I know) – that makes them too long and, quite obviously, nothing to do with me.  My inability to use one word when twenty will do is not to blame.

In general I find humour in drifting off-piste – something which, in my current abridged form, I may be unable to do quite so often without falling off the edge – and if I’m honest I have no idea of whether the shorter pieces work at all.  I am fully aware (I would like to give thanks to my wife and children etc etc) that where I am concerned, less is definitely better, and writing these curtailed pieces is certainly less taxing.  A single idea is easier to follow and the knowledge that wherever I may get lost, the end really is just around the corner is a comfort.  If I’ve lost anything in this process, it could be that it is something I should have lost years ago.  I’m keen to know what you think, is 500/600 words a better target for me?  Maybe you think zero would be more appropriate.  I must be honest, if you tell me that I should pack it all in, I will probably ignore you.

After all, what is the point in being choc-full of hot air if you can’t share it with the world?


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Last year I procured a couple of wooden pallets from which I salvaged sufficient wood to make my grandchildren a mud kitchen and a bug hotel and so, flushed with success – something which, of course, would generally only happen to the contents of a toilet – I managed to bag a couple more with which I planned to make some Rustic (badly finished and not put together properly) Garden Planters with which to keep my wife similarly happy.

I have only a very small car, but having removed the child seats and dropped the back seat I pushed and cajoled the pallets into the space created, having previously spent no more than a couple of hours assuring my wife that they would contain no spiders with plans to transfer their silken little abodes into the space underneath the passenger’s seat, from where they might startle and alarm a woman of delicate disposition.  (For the record, I am assured that in this country spiders do not, by and large, bite humans, but merely frighten them from their tuffets.)

Some time later, having pulled into the front drive of my house with a suspension that gave up the ghost several miles away, I discovered that I have now unearthed two absolute truths which I can reveal about pallets:
1. They hide spiders very well
2. They are much easier to get into a car than out of it.

In the end I spent some considerable time pondering the options: either take the pallets to pieces inside the car, or call the fire brigade to remove its roof.  Eventually I did manage to remove the pallets complete from the car which, as it turns out, is even more fortunate than it sounds as I have since spent several hours armed with an arsenal of hammers and jemmies, attempting to retrieve usable timber from the aforementioned frames only to be left with a mountain of splintered firewood and more cuts and abrasions than a Saturday night in A&E.  As it turns out, disassembling the car may well have proven more practical than dismantling the pallets in situ.

So, now I have two giant wooden trellises on my lawn that I am totally unable to strip down into constituent parts, due to the manufacturers decision to use what appear to be six inch nails hammered into place with 81mm mortar rounds, and after the merest sprinkling of rain I am now unable to lift them without an unprecedented hike in the NHS physiotherapy budget, a surgical truss and the loan of an industrial grade crane.  I may leave them for the bugs to eat, they are, after all, making a perfectly passable job of my shed, but they are currently a) somewhat mid-crease in my grandson’s cricket pitch and b) preventing me from getting the lawnmower out so, sooner or later I will attack them with an axe and, pausing only to put any severed limbs on ice for later reattachment, set fire to what remains prior to having the lawn re-laid.  I will get the seed whilst I am at the Garden Centre buying Rustic Planters…

Rain, Rain Go Away, Come Again Another (Or More Likely Later in the Same) Day

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Upside: this is a beautiful, lush green place in which to live.
Downside: it rains – a lot*.

As a nation, we in the UK are used to rain, but we are never prepared for it.  We have a national summer sport which relies heavily upon something we very seldom get: up to five consecutive rain-free days.  The enduring image of an English Test Match is that of the covers being pulled over the wicket and water being pumped into the drains as the last few sturdy supporters struggle to make hats out of soggy newspaper.  How often do we get through a fortnight of Wimbledon without a long and excitable TV discussion about how efficiently the courts are covered at the advent of a downpour?  These are sports that rely upon dry conditions, and the only logical place to play them here is in the pub.  When Test Matches and Wimbledon coincide (as oft they do) the price of tarpaulin goes through the roof.  Insurance companies withdraw all investment from North Sea Gas fields and search for an umbrella manufacturer to support.  If it is essential for us to have an outside national summer sport, we should consider bog-snorkelling or mud wrestling, but no, we have cricket and tennis, the only two sports known to humankind that become totally unplayable in the rain.

We know what to expect from the British Climate – it forms the basis of all conversation in this country – and yet the vast majority of any summer sporting audience will turn up with no method of fending off a downpour other than the plastic bag in which they brought their sandwiches.  I have myself spent many hours at Silverstone draped in a black plastic bin liner watching a slow motion procession of Formula 1 cars locatable only from the dense cloud of spray that follows them and totally engulfs all that is behind them.  Have I ever had a hat that does not disintegrate in the rain?  No.  Instead I have had mirrored sunglasses and jeans that are capable of absorbing a bathful of cold water until the moment I sit in the car to drive home, when they release it in an instant.

So, what do we do when the sky turns black and the heavens open upon us with a force that has not been experienced for… well, sometimes for days?  Well, we sing.  We do that a lot.  Loudly and tunelessly.  We troop off to get a pint of beer that refills much quicker than we can drink it, and then we return to our seats lest we should miss something should the monsoon ever abate.  We carefully observe the people in charge of the covers, reading the weather forecast with every twitch of their readied sinew.  These people can get the covers off – and often on again – even quicker than the weather can change.  They are highly tuned athletes in their own right.  They are capable of 0-60 in less time than it takes a sodden F1 crew to change a tyre; they can drag a huge tarpaulin faster and further than Ben Stokes can swipe the ball; they can raise a court-covering canopy quicker than a normal mortal can fortify a watered-down Pimms with a swift glug from the hip-flask – and all whilst wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  When your only job is to be prepared for the rain, why on earth would you possibly wear a coat? 

*Normally. The current heatwave has been accompanied by a long dry spell that has left cars unwashed, hanging baskets unwatered and everybody else’s lawn looking as bad as my own. Every cloud…

Having My Cake

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I’ve never been able to quite understand why, when a cake is cut into equal portions, I always manage to get the smallest one.  It has to be a matter of perception, right?  When I was a child, my brother and I had to share most things – it was just the way it was – so my mum had a rule: one of us got to cut the portions, the other one got to choose.  I was the eldest so, naturally enough, I got the knife, and no matter how hard I tried to make the segments exactly equal, my brother always got to choose the biggest one.  (Unless, of course, I was portioning tinned sardines when, not unreasonably, my brother would choose to take none on the grounds that I had ruined them, and I would be left with the task of finding somewhere to hide the whole can of fishy mush.  Something which I managed so successfully that we never had any visitors for about six years.)  It is very much a sign of age that, when somebody offers a slice of cake, you may say ‘Could I have a slightly smaller piece please?’  (That is ‘you may say’, of course, because I would never say such a thing.)  Those words would never pass the lips of anybody under the age of sixteen.

I am very much of the ‘Are you leaving that?’ generation.  Anything left on a plate (unless it was green, of course) was fair game to anybody around the table who had already finished what they had been given.  It was definitely not advisable to take a short rest during meals: one break for a contented sigh and by the time you looked down your last sausage would be long gone.  We were not encouraged to rush meals – that was definitely frowned upon – but we did need to keep our wits about us at all times.  I was not around for the end of rationing – it ended in 1954 – but I was no stranger to privation.  Waste was definitely not tolerated and children were right down the pecking order – with women – so you took whatever you were offered.  A slice of bread soaked in gravy often took the place of the meat – which only stretched far enough to feed the men who ‘put it on the table’ – at Sunday lunch.  There was loads of veg – every back garden was full of it – but nobody ate just veg did they?  It was always meat and two veg (at least one of them, sometimes both, being the ubiquitous spud) or three for the overtly rich.  They were definitely the Harrison & Starr of the gravy dinner world.  If I’m honest I can still to this day eat just about anything if you put enough gravy on it.

And gravy dinner – Sunday Lunch – brought with it the only pudding of the week: occasionally jelly, but more often cake and, if we were lucky and the cake was on its second week, custard.  I remember that a decent sized cake could take quite some time to transit from moist, to just about palatable, to palatable with tinned (evaporated) milk, to needs custard.  I didn’t care.  I could (and can) eat cake in any manner it is offered to me and, as I am now a mature adult, in any portion size I am given.  Although it doesn’t mean that I don’t still envy the person with the biggest slice. 

A Little Fiction – Five Minutes in the Car

“…So, do you think that bees know that they’re going to die when they sting you?”
“I don’t think that a bee knows anything.  A bee just is.  A tiny tangle of neurons with honey-making facilities at one end and munitions at the other.  They are driven purely by instinct – like a man at a free bar.”
“If they did know they were going to die, would they still sting you?”
“But they don’t.”
“So, there they are, settling nicely on your nose when they decide they might just give you a bit of a dig and they never, not for one second, think to themselves, ‘Actually, this might not end well for me.’  Nothing inside of them says, ‘Hang on, if I do this, much of what I currently have inside of me will then be on the outside of me, and wearing internal organs externally is never a good thing.’?”
“I don’t think a bee is quite that rational, no.”
“We had a swarm of bees in our garden once.  The sky was black with them and the noise was horrendous, but when they settled they formed a ball about the size of a football.  It was nice, kind of sleepy, just a gentle buzz to it and a few little stragglers flying lazily around it – until I went just one step too close.  Then the whole thing got angry.  The buzz became irritated.  It throbbed.  It was a clear threat: ‘just one step closer!’  So I stepped back and suddenly the whole thing became calm again.  It was definitely thought through.”
“I think it’s just instinct isn’t it?  A reaction to perceived threat.  There’s nothing they can do to affect it.”
“It’s a bit of a stark life though, isn’t it, being a worker bee?  Up at the crack of dawn, flying from plant to plant collecting nectar to feed the young; mind that hornet; dodge the man with the folded-up newspaper, knowing – or, if you’re to be believed, not knowing – that if you wanted to sting the annoying little kid with the cricket bat, it would be the last thing you ever did.”
“Well, it’s not something that you would ever have to worry about, is it?  All the worker bees are female.  The male bees are called drones because they are boring, energy-sapping users who exist solely for the opportunity to mate the minute the virgin queen drops her guard.  They are useless wastrels who sit around doing nothing all day and get fanned and fed by the females for their trouble.  They don’t even have a sting in their tails.  Remind you of anyone?”
“Well, it seems to me that if these drones just lounge about the hive all day being fed and watered before popping out every now and then for a bit of nooky with royalty, maybe they’re the ones with brains.”
“Well, it’s not all beer and skittles.  It’s a single-use penis, I’m afraid.  A couple of seconds of frustration for the queen and then the drone dies.  I suppose it saves him having to help raise the kids.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I like insects.  It’s why I married you.”
“You have to feel sorry for male insects, don’t you?”
“Do you?”
“Yes, like those spiders: one chance to mate and then straight away afterwards the female eats him.  It’s not very romantic is it?”
“Romantic?  It’s life isn’t it.  You forget that males are here for only that one single function.  If you didn’t contain sperm, we’d have no use for you whatsoever.”
“Oh yes, so who’d open your jars?”
“I’m sure there’s a gadget for it.”
“What about checking your tyre pressures, your oil level?  What about topping up your windscreen washer fluid?”
“Gadgets for all of those, I’m sure.”
“Ok then, what about a woman’s other needs?”
“Oh, there’s definitely a gadget for those…”
“You say that, but can you actually imagine a world without men?  …Well?”
“I’m sorry, I was just imagining…”
“There are loads of things that women can’t do you know.”
“Really?  Outside of getting women pregnant and peeing standing up, what might they be?”
“When did you last clean out the pond pump?  When did you empty a mouse trap or de-worm the cat?”
“Choosing not to do things is not the same as not being able to do them.  I choose not to fart at the dinner table, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it.”
“Well, even if you’re right and all that men are good for is making babies, that, at least, is one thing you can’t do without us.”
“Yet…  We’re working on it.”
“Well maybe we’re working on having babies without you.”
“Really?  That will be good.  Who’s going to change their nappies?”
“…How far have we got to go?”
“Before we can make babies without the messy bit?  Well, we can do that now can’t we?”
“I meant before we get to the hotel.”
“Why, do you need the toilet?”
“Oh, very funny.  I can’t see the sat-nav.  I just wondered how many near-collisions we might have before we arrive…  Don’t you think you were a bit close to that cyclist?”
“What cyclist?”
“The one on the…  Oh, very funny.”
“We’re about an hour away.  Look, the doctor told you that you needed to rest your ankle, why don’t you give your mouth a rest too?”
“You hate driving in silence.”
“I can put the radio on.”
“You hate the DJ.”
“I can change the station?”
“Not since you broke the tuning knob when you decided that you hated the song that was playing.”
“Oh…  Well you’ll have to talk to me then.”
“What about?”
“I don’t know.  Perhaps we could avoid the bee conundrum for a little while though.”
“Right, so…  Do you think that wasps know that they’re not going to die when they sting you?…”

Running In, Please Pass

I have loved football all my life and I continued playing it until my late fifties at which point I started to become rather over-agitated when kicked by children, deciding that my subsequent reactions were not always beneficial for my blood pressure.  I found being kicked by people of my own age so much more acceptable, but so few of them were still at it.  And I don’t want you to think that I was totally averse to a bit of kicking myself, but when those you are kicking are younger than your own children, it all starts to feel a little odd.  Frustration started to take hold and I considered it wise to heed the signs that it might be advisable to call it a day.  We are not talking elite football here; there were no uniformed paramedics on stand-by.  If I had suffered a heart attack, somebody would have had to nip round to the local Co-op on their pushbike to find out whether the community defibrillator had been nicked again.  I fear that the black shroud would have been tightened around me long before the hands of the on-call doctor.

Anyway, I stopped playing and I should be able to say that I thought no more about it, but that would be simply untrue.  I think about it all the time.  Not going back of course.  I am sixty three and even though I know that I am fit enough to do it, it is the reaction of the other players, potentially a quarter of my age, that I fear.  The possibility of not being tackled, lest I should break, is not something I choose to consider.  The possibility of not being substituted by the manager whilst having a mare, lest I should be terminally upset, is not something I would ponder.  There is definitely no going back. 

So I now need to contemplate ‘Walking Football’ and, it may be a sign of my softening brain, but there are times when it almost feels like a good idea.  There are also times when I question the entire rationale of taking myself off to play a game with a bunch of old codgers who cannot run anymore.  Me, an old codger who can run, sometimes for seconds at a time.  Is it really appropriate?  Could I play football without, at least, breaking into an amble?  Would I be forced to chase the ball like Benny Hill chasing a scantily-clad nurse*?  How fast is it possible to walk without breaking into a trot?  Is there, perhaps, a maximum walking speed and, if so, how is it measured?  It all sounds just a little too complicated to me.  Maybe I need to look for some other form of low impact sport to replace those that propriety dictates I can no longer do.  What about cricket with a foam ball and a rubber bat; tennis with no opponent, but with the ball on a length of string; perhaps touch rugby could be slowed down by tying boot laces together and wrapping the ball in Velcro.  Maybe I should take up Crazy Golf, I’m sure the walk would do me good. 

*If anybody below the age of fifty is reading this – although God knows why they would – they may need to Google Benny Hill and watch Youtube in order to understand what I am getting at.  I wish it to be known that I cannot be held responsible for attitudes that were fifty years out of date before Mr Hill started employing them.  Just saying…

A Peep Into the Future – The Hope is in the Past

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

So, it started with me finding this little article on the internet which explains that mental acuity does not start to collapse until the age of sixty and, being sixty three, it set me off thinking about what I might already have forgotten: what might, quite recently, have become beyond my mental capacity.  I cannot complete a Sudoku, but then I never could.  I would ask you to remember that my own understanding of mathematics is only just a little less tenuous than Boris Johnson’s grip on reality.  I constantly end up with two sixes in the same block and a corner, somewhere or another, with nothing but the numbers they gave you to start with and ‘fuck fuck fuck’ scrawled across it in ballpoint pen.  I’m not totally certain whether this is a symptom of a rapidly deteriorating brain, but then I wouldn’t be, would I?  I’m trying very hard to remember what I could do a mere forty-two months ago that I can’t do now and the only thing I can come up with is the ability to remember what I was doing forty-two months ago.

What I am able to do with alarming frequency is to stumble across internet stories that predict my all-to-imminent decline and demise.  Seconds after reeling away from the realisation that whatever my brain was once-upon-a-time good for, it no longer is, I stumbled onto this little beauty in which scientists seek to relieve the anxieties of the ageing by revealing that they are close to discovering why people suddenly become frail at the age of seventy.  This is six and a half years away (I cannot work that out in months without a calculator, and I’ve no idea where I’ve put it).  Less than the delivery time on the average SCS sofa.

And now I discover that, at sixty three, I should actually be long dead – although I’m not entirely certain what, exactly, an Airedale is*?  According to the Bible I’ve got six and a half good years left in me yet – although, if I’m honest, I don’t think the Bible actually says how good they will be.  It just gives me three score years and ten to play with (although no idea of why that’s not three and a half score years) but no idea of how I would be best placed to employ them.  I could really do with some kind of timetable for my life:

  • 0-20 years – grow up
  • 21-40 years – teach my children to grow up
  • 41-60 years – teach my grandchildren to grow up
  • 60+ years – grow up.

If I have less than seven years left, I have no intention of spending them like a ‘grown up’.  I truly hope that my mind and body will not retreat fully into childhood, but I’d be very happy to recapture the spirit of ten-year-old me.  He did not spend a single second worrying about ‘decline’.  If I’m honest, ten-year-old me didn’t waste a lot of time fretting about the future at all, he just got on with today.

Of course, ten-year-old me didn’t have the internet, but I’m pretty sure that if he did, he’d have had the common sense to ignore it.

*It’s a dog apparently, so I guess that means that I’m ok for a while yet, although by my calculations – I found the calculator in the fridge – if I was a dog, I would actually be 441 years old and therefore far less keen on ‘walkies’.

N.B. as I write this, two and a half years down the line, a growing sense of some sort of natural immunity and here I am with Covid.  My wife succumbed three days ago and since that time we have lived in face-masked isolation, swabbing down and disinfecting for all our worth.  Oddly, my symptoms are completely different to hers: is this a different strain or merely a different reaction to the same one?  I have no idea, but rest assured everyone, unlike 5G masts** I don’t believe there has ever been a case of Covid being caught from WordPress.  Please read on – normal service will continue.  As much as it ever did…

**Yes, this is a joke.  I have not gone completely mad!

Too Much of A Good Thing

The worst part of going home is always the journey there.  Our own journey today is a fairly modest one, but add together the several hours spent kicking our heels between hotel check-out and taxi pick-up, forty five minutes en-taxi, three hours at the airport IF the flight is on time (note that is a big ‘if’) four and a half hours in an airborne Pringles tube, an hour standing around the wrong carousel waiting for a suitcase that is already on its way to Addis Ababa, followed by an hour’s drive once we have managed to find the car (which, as if by magic, never appears to be where we left it) and it all adds up to a proper old pain in the butt.  Add in the stress factor – Will the airport be hot and packed, will the flight be delayed, will the taxi driver attempt to kill us all? – and the return journey really has very little to recommend it.

The ultimate destination is, of course, home and getting there means mounds of laundry, shopping and the dreaded return to work.  I love my work, but none-the-less, working with the knowledge that ‘Yesterday at this time I was drinking an ice cold beer in a beachfront tavern’ is not always productive.  There is no place like home, but there is quite often, somewhere else you would rather be.  Whilst it is perfectly possible to get too much of a good thing, it is a whole lot easier to get too much of a bad one.  One short snatch of ‘Lady in Red’* is enough to ruin anybody’s day.  A short snatch of ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ can ruin a whole Christmas.  I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever had too much of being on holiday, but I have very often had a hatful of getting back home again.

So, I’m writing this in the bar, cradling my one small pre-journey beer of the day, popping salted peanuts and wondering how long I would have to stay here until it really did feel like too much of a good thing?  Before the call of home became too loud?  Perhaps I have an in-built need to decorate that I am not currently aware of.  Maybe I have a suppressed need to grapple with the day-to-day logistics of matching net income with gross outgoings.  Maybe I have a natural disposition towards self-harm (or D.I.Y and Gardening as most people call it).  Maybe a week is just enough.   Although, if I’m honest, I would very much like to reserve my decision until I’ve had a second one.

Anyway, there you have it.  I will (unlike most of my country it seems) be back to normal next week.  I cannot promise that my posts will be any more considered, any more logical or, indeed any more amusing, but – and here’s the big thing – there will only be three of them.  I do hope that’s a good thing.

*Chris de bloody Burgh

…And I will, of course, also be able to settle down to read some of your own blogs – I can never have too much of that…