Monthly Archives: March 2016

He’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy!

loons

Look, I realise that you have deeply held beliefs, that these things are very precious to you. I realise that you may even have built your sense of self-identity around them, but frankly I’ve got to the stage where I don’t care.

We have politicians. You appear to be devoted to one lot and to kneel in awed wonder at their feet whilst abominating ‘the other lot’ as evil destroyers of all that is good and decent in society.

Yet further down my Facebook feed there is a post from somebody else who shares exactly the same deeply devout regard, only it appears that they give their worship, their loyalty, to ‘the other lot’. (Who are also worthy of awed wonder, whilst the lot you worship appear to be evil destroyers of all that is good and decent in society.)

Now then, it may be that you genuinely believe that the leader of ‘the other lot’ has sex with pigs, copulates with demons, bites the heads of kittens or whatever. This profession of faith you cling to might possibly tell the rest of us who don’t share your fascination with politics rather more about you than it tells us about ‘the other lot’.

Now I realise that the ‘the other lot’ are wicked evil people who are striving to destroy civilisation, but isn’t it time you just sat down in a darkened room somewhere and chilled for a while.

 

Right, let’s start from the beginning. We might have one of the least corrupt political systems in the world. (Somebody even wrote an article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12189003/Britain-has-most-honest-citizens-in-the-world…-because-politicians-are-less-corrupt.html) and the nice thing about it is that we, as the British people, are the decent honest lot we are, partially because our politics isn’t corrupt. So in reality, we’ve got a lot to the thankful for. Yes we had MPs fiddling expenses, but we jailed them. That doesn’t happen in most places.

 

Right and let’s look at the individuals. I will take Jeremy Corbyn as an example. In reality he is not the antichrist, nor is he the one honest man in politics. The fact that he’s frantically removing blog posts written in the past that recommended we got out of Europe is almost touching. Firstly that he’s as naive as to believe that merely removing a blog disposes of the evidence. But more importantly he’s starting to show political maturity, perhaps for the first time in his life he’s accepted that as a member of a political party, elected on the party ticket, he really ought to bend his opinions to fall in with the party line on major issues. The fact that he was probably right previously and is now wrong merely adds to the pathos of the whole situation.

 

So look, I realise you have your deeply held beliefs, but be a good boy or girl and try to understand that for a large part of the population your tribal and cultic posturing is merely a source of irritation. Not only that but it’s counterproductive.

Think about it, you’re slagging off the political leaders of ‘the other lot’, saying they are evil etc.

‘The other lot’ are slagging off your political leaders telling us they’re evil etc.

So for those of us who are agnostic in this debate, all we learn is, frankly, the two lots are both tarred with the same brush.

 

Now in an earlier, wiser era, politicians used to treat each other as if they were honourable (if possibly mistaken) individuals who could be relied upon to see reason. Indeed on many occasions MPs from all spectrums have worked quietly together for the good of their constituents, away from the sectarian howling of their supporters.

In this, our ancestors were wise. Because they realised that if you build your politics on hate and contempt, for the vast majority of the population, this just means you end up holding all politicians in contempt.

 

As you were.

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A further exploration of the problems caused by patrons by Tallis Steelyard

I confess that I have, over the years, come to the conclusion that some patrons, quite frankly, don’t take their responsibilities seriously. Indeed there are times when I feel that I have been take…

Source: A further exploration of the problems caused by patrons by Tallis Steelyard

The way is shut

images

They’ve shut the main road to resurface it. Signs were put up a week or so back to ensure that people knew and could take the diversion. Did this fine example of Highway’s forward planning work? Well sort of.

Our lane (single track, and would have grass growing down the middle were it not winter so we have mud down the middle) has been blessed by an assortment of visitors.

There have been grim faced white van drivers who know this is a swift short cut to avoid the road works. We have serious ladies driving four by fours with stickers on the side proclaiming the firm that has hired the vehicle. We have the illiterate and the just plain lost.

So far it’s not too bad. They’re attempting to come through in dribs and drabs, so perhaps the warnings have been heeded.

But already we have seen a fair range of individuals. Like the chap who, rather than wait for me to shut the gate and fasten it, before I got on the quad and drove off, decided to drive past.

Now obviously the paint work on the quad trailer isn’t something I worry about too much, but had he bent anything I would have been a little miffed. But still, by running one wheel half way up the dike cop he managed to squeeze through and saved himself a full twenty seconds.

Then there have been those bemused individuals who stop you and their opening words are “Excuse me but….”

Yep, they’ve ventured down the lanes and they’re lost already. Then there are the others who just sit in their car and glare at you because you’ve got the audacity to be travelling on the same lane as them. Finally you get the helpless or hapless who just follow the first vehicle they see on the assumption it must surely know the way out. This is not necessarily true when the vehicle in question is a quad bike pulling a trailer full of silage.

But still, we’ve got several days of this, who knows what we will be blessed with.

The open door to opportunity, or further examples of what best selling authors get up to.

door handle

 

It’s not all swilling Piña colada with bikini wearing starlets you know! Neither is it eating a series of business lunches with high powered literary agents and publishers.

No the great writer is more than just an artist, more than just a craftsman (or craftswoman depending on how you wish to self identify) of words. There are other skills that are also vital important.

So it is that after spending a jolly morning feeding sheep in the snow and the rain I ended up being called upon to fit a door handle. Now the door in question is vital for the warmth and wellbeing of those working in the kitchen. When it holds the door closed properly, the kitchen remains warm. There are no icy draughts from the ‘utility room’ where freezers and fridges dwell, wood for the fire huddles close to the Wellingtons to avoid the sodden waterproofs dripping promiscuously over them.

The previous door handle had ‘come apart in my hand’. I closed the door and was left holding a door handle. To be fair it had lasted about thirty-five years, but we needed another. So I went out and bought another. Or rather I bought set which has two handles, their plates and the spindle. Now was my chance to earn eternal gratitude, or at least a word of thanks, from she who graces my ever so humble abode.

So I set to work. The plastic packaging was a doddle, the bits were soon spread over the kitchen table (said gracer of my humble abode being absent for the day) and I immediately removed the old handles and face plates. Leaving the old mortice lock in place, I put on the new handles and faceplates.

Now about the handles; a lot of thought had gone into the handles. She who knows these things pointed out that a lot of handles turn up at the end. These are uncomfortable, and she wanted handles that turned down. Hence I acquired the only set of downward turning handles the trade counter had available.

Now with plates in place, all I had to do was to screw them to the door and the job was done.

Except it wasn’t because these didn’t have screws, it was ‘bolt through.’
Now bolts and nuts have hexagonal ends for a reason. It’s a lot easier to get a grip with a spanner and get them tight. These abominations had a screw head at one end, and the ‘nut’ is a cylinder with a screw head for the other. When fastened and flush it looks like it’s screwed from each side.

But the cylinder ‘nut’ has a blocked end; it has to, to take the slot for the screwdriver. This means that if the bolt is too long, you end up with the ‘nut’ as tightly fastened as you can get it, and the handle plate still wafts gently in the breeze.

So first I have to drill the door (do it from each side and waggle the drill bit about so the bolt is easier to push through.) Then push through the bolt. Discover it’s too long. Guess how much needs cutting off. Then it’s out to the farm workshop, (dashing through the rain) stick it in the vice, hacksaw the appropriate amount off, take off the ‘swarf’ with the bench grinder so that the thread can bite, and voila! Robert’s your Father’s sister’s live in lover!

Only of course it helps to have a small modelling file to hand just to open up the end of the thread. And then you find you haven’t quite cut the first one short enough so you have to do it again. Still it’s easier to cut another bit off than have to clag a bit back on because the bolt is too short.

Still the job is done. Of course the plate is a different size and shape to its predecessor and thirty-five years of wear and paint lie revealed where the plate doesn’t cover. But still, it works and whoever changes it next can make sure they get a larger handle plate.

 

And now, having awarded myself another cup of coffee and a chocolate mini-roll (no names, my agent has not yet decided which of the companies clamouring for my endorsement is offering the best deal) I sit at ease near the fire I laboured over this morning. Or at least I will until the next job leaps up and down and attracts my attention.

 

But still, what are my labours compared to yours. You have had a tough day and deserve a reward. Go on, treat yourself. Buy yourself that copy of Tomb-yard Follies you’ve been waiting for.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tomb-yard-Follies-Port-Naain-Intelligence-ebook/dp/B01BU40ZJU

 

Because you’re worth it!

So this is what best selling authors get up to

(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

I know many people have asked whether the easy wealth and international jet-setting lifestyle will spoil me so I thought that I’d better give you some idea of how my morning is spent. Obviously palm-fringed beaches, the pool, the beach-bar, the beach babes all come into it at some point, but remember this is Cumbria, not the Caribbean.

So first I clean the ashes out of the fire bottom and get the fire going. I take the ashes outside and it’s raining. Such is life. On Sunday the ground was drying up nicely, on Monday when I fed sheep the ground was so dry it was a pleasure. Then it rained. And it rained, and, in case you missed it, it rained.

So breakfast, coffee, and out. Except that it isn’t raining, it’s snowing; huge sodden flakes of it which don’t so much flutter down as splat on impact. Never mind, waterproofs were designed for days like this. Get the quad out, put it on the trailer, and up to the barn where some of last years lambs are being housed in the vague hope that inside they might put on weight. Feed them and put silage in the trailer for a bunch of ewe lambs who are still outside and hopefully will run with the tup next back-end. Chop a bit of fodder beet over the silage to boost the energy and off we go. The minute I leave the road we indulge in the ‘bambi on ice’ experience. It isn’t merely that the snow has melted (and it’s now raining again) but the ground is sodden. We’re on top of a hill here, the soil is well draining, and there is water standing because it’s nowhere to go. So I find a relatively dry bit and scatter the silage about for the ewe lambs who at least greet it enthusiastically.

Then it’s back to get some fodder beet for the lambing ewes. Their silage is already in a ring feeder and that’s still got plenty in.

So eventually, I’ve seen everybody, made sure everybody’s fed, and of course by now it’s stopped raining. So peel off the soaking over-trousers and hang them up so they’ll be dry next time I need them. Peel off the soaking jacket and put it to dry. Take off shirt and jumper and put them on the cooker rail so their wet patches dry. Make coffee and drink the same.

You know what, this international fame and stardom, plus of course the compulsory adulation of the masses, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Hence if you get a chance, then do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of ‘Tomb-yard Follies.’

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tomb-yard-Follies-Port-Naain-Intelligence-ebook/dp/B01BU40ZJU

 

Then you achieve two important results. The first is that you have something fun to do rather than watching telly because the weather is miserable. The second is that you help give me a chance to prove to the world that I am so well grounded that unimaginable wealth (or at least my share of your 98p) will not spoil me.

Treat yourself, you know it makes sense.

White Van Man

clean me

 

 

So we were driving home. The A5087 Coast Road is a pleasant drive with the sea on one side, pleasant countryside on the other. You can average 50mph, and there are places where 60mph is not unreasonable. And not long out of Ulverston, heading south, a white van appeared in my rear view mirror.

Well in truth, he didn’t merely appear, he filled it. Had he been any closer he would have been sitting in the back seat of our car. I commented on this briefly to my daughter who was travelling with me and then gave my attention to the road.

Now this road has corners, a number of blind bends, and a reasonable amount of traffic coming the other way. Not only that but I was myself slowly catching up with two cars ahead of me who seemed to feel that 50mph was a sensible speed.

A number of times I could see the van behind me pull out, only to have to fall back when a car appeared in the opposite direction, but finally, after four or five miles, he overtook me.

Now I dropped back a little, on the grounds that if he was going to hit something, I wanted room to react. But I still had a ringside seat for his next actions. After all he still had two more cars to overtake.

Eventually, on a length with two shallow S bends, running into a third, blind bend, he made his move. He accelerated, pulled out, overtook the first, silver grey car, and was making a move on the second, red car when out of the blind bend appeared a lorry heading in our direction.

Our white van man immediately pulled in, cutting up the silver grey car and forcing it to break, and then once round the blind corner; he accelerated again, overtook the red car and disappeared.

Fair enough I thought, ‘that’s the last we’ll see of him.’ So a mile further on I slowed down to turn right into a lane running inland. The silver grey car in front of me also indicated to turn right. Once in the lane the silver grey car slowed down and indicated that they wanted to turn into the drive of their house. This would let me past, down the lane and home.

Except, in their drive, there was parked the white van which had just cut them up not five minutes previously. The car in front couldn’t pull into the drive to let me past. So obviously the car driver wound down his window to ask questions. As far as I could hear the white van man had something to deliver to one of the three houses in the vicinity but he wasn’t entirely sure which one. But they rapidly confirmed that he didn’t want to deliver to the couple whose drive he was occupying.

At this point he was suggesting that his best course of action was to leave his van in the drive, walk to the next two houses and see if the package was for them. The fact the rest of us were sitting round in the lane waiting for him wasn’t seen as a problem.

So the lady of the house got out of the car. He said something to her, and in a clear voice she replied, “Or alternatively, you will move your van!”

He didn’t seem keen, and I heard the lady’s husband comment that perhaps, after all, if he reversed the car so it was across the front of the van, then that would let me through. With me out of the way then husband and wife could go into the house, have a nice cup of tea, contemplate supper, and see if there was anything on the telly. Obviously they’d move the car next morning when they went to see her mother.

It was at this point the white van man decided that he probably ought to be going about his business, moved his van, the householder parked his car, and I waved cheerfully to everybody and drove on.

An every day story of country folk, or just a pleasant tale with a nice uplifting moral ending?
Still if you fancy another tale, a mystery with an interesting ending that might even be uplifting; how about purchasing ‘Tomb-yard Follies.’ Just published today for a mere £0.98

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tomb-yard-Follies-Port-Naain-Intelligence-ebook/dp/B01BU40ZJU

 

As the blurb says…

“Mapping an old family graveyard was a technically complicated job Benor expected would take him some time. But then he hadn’t allowed for getting caught up in a world of intrigue, vengeance, and arbitrary justice…”

 

Go on, you know you want to. Treat yourself.