Monday, 28 September 2009


Only the weak show no weakness.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Like many tiny businesses or self employed individuals, we make use of a lady who does the books. Our lovely bookkeeper turned up in a right panic yesterday morning. The reason? She has discovered that she now has to register as a bookkeeper. She has to read an absolutely incomprehensible guide to do so and fill out half a million forms. If she's in any way unsure about the need to register she can apply for, and be charged another small fortune for, a test. The test will tell her if she does need to register but not definitively if she doesn't. She has to sign complex anti money laundering informant promises she doesn't understand. She has to formally notify the authorities of the names and details of each and all her clients (they are all micro businesses) and has to pay a fee of £95 for the right to be registered and, naturally, inspected as the bookkeeper of each and every one of them. She's not sleeping well.

Yup. It's the enterprise economy.

If this were an isolated example of this kind of administrative complexity that would be one thing. But it isn't. There are countless examples. Most of employment law. Most of Health and safety regulations. If this government can find a way to tie everything for running small (and I imagine, larger) businesses up in red tape, add bureaucracy, rules and regulations and generally screw things up, they'll do it.
Oh, and if you are mad enough to try and actually make a go of it, they'll tax you half to death (and, thinking about it, actually beyond the grave too) to pay for all of their self serving, nonsensical interventionist crap.


My advice to anyone wanting to start their own business? Emigrate.

But I think the root of it is this: we have career politicians running the country. Largely, they have no real contact with the enterprise economy; no real personal experience of entrepreneurialism. Hence, when they reach for solutions, those that come naturally and most easily to hand come from their own frame of reference - that of cumbersome, overburdened processes and procedures. The longer they spend in politics and the more senior they get, the worse is this syndrome.

And............... (one for the cynical) .......... enlargement of the state is a route to a huge potential tame vote bank, and therefore to the only thing these people are really interested in - self protection and the prolongation of their own "power".


........... is the nasty livid welt swelling up under your left eye. Gift from that vicious little uppercut in the 4th.
“It’s nothin...” That’s the cornerman. But he’s working.
The referee looks through seen it all eyes and shakes his head.
Not your day.
A punched out day. A day in defeat.
Blood. Sweat. Canvas.
Not your day, mate.

Friday, 25 September 2009


............ skulks up wearing a turned up collar, dirty leer and nicotine stains. Bloodshot eyes at the fag end of a hard night's lessons at the card school. A draw on a fag and there's a glowing stop light. A long outbreath. Smoke. No stopping now. There's more trouble to be had, behind more of those smoke clouds.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


This post is unusually barbed.
A proper cyclist:
  • holds a line
  • moves legs not upper body
  • knows how to hold a wheel
  • and lead another on his wheel (see first point above)
  • has a rudimentary awareness of wind direction (see foregoing points)
  • has a clean drivetrain, emitting little noise
  • is intolerant of mechanical squeaks, grinding and grating. Fixes them.
  • knows that gears are for changing
  • knows that junction etiquette is more than simply keeling over sideways
  • does not suddenly brake at the sight of a corner
  • appreciates that having been provided with a twenty speed bike there is little point in using only one gear
  • prefers riding on the road, as opposed to in the ruts beside it
  • does not make erratic changes of direction
  • enjoys the upright position rather than diving into the path of oncoming vehicles
  • refrains from unseemly shouts of "6!" and "7!" when passing young ladies
  • does not tinker with things they know nothing about (e.g. complex derraileurs)
  • is amusing at all times

Companions take note.

Monday, 21 September 2009


By being no better I get better.

Saturday, 12 September 2009


I got an email which contained a quotation. I'd never seen it before, though I don't doubt it may be well known. I can't find the derivation of it either. Perhaps it is because of the foregoing post that it stays prominent in my mind, and I can't get rid of it. Anyhow, here it is:

"I was crying that I had no shoes,
When I met a man who had no feet."

Friday, 11 September 2009


When Associated Press release an image of a US marine on the point of death in Afghanistan, there is a furore.

It is, of course, a horrible image.

War is horrible. Unthinkably horrible.

I wonder if we were less protected by editorial and state censorship, whether the imagery of real warfare would act as a cultural deterrent to warfare.

Maybe, the more shocked, the better.

And, if you want to be shocked, try this:

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Of all the deceits worked on you by parents, amongst the cruelest and most enduring is that of your name.

"Hello," you say. "My name is Arthur Farnsbarn, Priscilla Fotherington-Hamperful, Nathaniel Babywipe." Whatever.

And you believe it. A precious thing - your name. Indeed, these days, you've even got to protect it, allegedly, from identity theft.

But it isn't your name in any real sense. It's been given to you. Or rather, foisted upon you without your choice. And the choice of your name reflects all of your parents' prejudices, snobbery, expectations, preferences and cultural assumptions that, likewise, are shoved onto you without your consent. It's their name, not yours.

Does it matter? I think it does.

The first thing a name does is separate you. Not great, from a cosmic perspective. Then it places you within a stratification of societal assumptions. Then its permanence suggests an unchanging identity that is neither accurate nor helpful to one of the key determinants of mental health - the ability to embrace inevitable change. Its nature also subtly reminds you of your parental expectations of you - again, a key limitation in true self determination.

I'm in favour of having naming ceremonies. When you feel ready you could abandon your child-name and adopt your true name. Native American tribes such as the Coast Salish and the Sioux had this practice. In modern society it could be linked to an awakening process about awareness of the parental and societal assumptions and limitations placed upon you, and your own decisions about which, if any, you want to enact in your own life. That would be a major contribution to road-of-life safety.

Perhaps too it would be a new source of linguistic beauty, and along with it, a new, more lyrical and truer definition of respect for the individual. Again, Native American practice might lead the way, with their naming conventions suggesting what is self evidently true, yet almost universally forgotten in modern life - man's intimate connections, as with any other animal species, to the natural world.


Beads Of Water Make Grass Shine Under Morning Moon.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


  • Allow.
  • (Can't think of anything else right now)

Monday, 7 September 2009


We were hard up when I was a kid, living in Norwich. We therefore went on holiday to places like Great Yarmouth and Pakefield rather than places like Amalfi, or Mauritius, which on the whole are rather nicer. Though I note that some marketing wag has branded the Suffolk seaside "The Sunrise coast". I ask you! If the only benefit that you can find is that you face East, you really are lost. Perhaps the marketeer would be well advised to target the Moslem community.

Back to my childhood, though. Once ensconced in our caravan or other crap holiday accomodation on the Sunrise Coast, we would embark on a range of adventures. We could scarcely contain our excitement as we went to the boating lake, the swings and slide, or for an ice cream. And sometimes we would go on excursions that ventured further. Once, my Dad splashed out for us to go on a mystery coach tour and I have to admit that for a while, as the mystery was unravelled, it did have appeal. And finally we arrived at our destination. Norwich!

Thursday, 3 September 2009


Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness, innit?
That means its crumble time, raiding the orchard or hedgerow for whatever I can find as the base layer and then wallowing in flour, sugar and butter to make it. Recipe: Fruit. Chop, cover with a bit of water and stick that in the oven whilst you make the crumble layer. Flour, a bit. Butter - more than you think would be healthy then double it. Sugar - most of the jar, then the rest. Rub as you would a sensitive part of your lover. Put crumble layer on base layer. 15-20 mins in the Aga. Bob's your uncle and vanilla ice cream's your Aunt.
It also means meat - a large joint fragrantly roasting. And I'm not talking about one you've rolled yourself.
That brings me to the season of grumble. Some time ago I signed, with a full heart, a pledge to buy my meat from local butchers. In part my motivation was to support my friend and neighbour who raises beef stock. In part it was a quality thing. I like going to the local butchers. I like the sawdust and blood stained aprons. I like to talk to someone who has actually slaughtered the animal he is about to sell you, or at least has a good working knowledge of what a carcass is and how to use it. I'm not talking about the people employed by Messrs. Sainsbury and Tesco now on their butchers' counters, good though they may be. I'm talking about Mr. Laverack of Holme upon Spalding Moor, Mr. Sissons of Pocklington, and other fine gentlemen of the butchery persuasion who display in their shops the blackboard upon which it is chalked "Today's Beef - Mr. Smithson, Ellerton; Today's lamb - Mr. Halliwell, Aughton; Today's pork - Mr. Blackhouse, North Duffield." I like that. I like to visualise the actual farm, and the actual field in which the animal was roaming that has given its life for my nourishment. I like the difference between supermarket meat and that I buy at the butcher's. You can tell the difference, and it's all in the slaughter and hanging. And it's in the conversation you have around which end of a joint you want, what purpose you want to put it to, and exactly how you want the meat cut for use before you. Most of all I like eating quality meat that has been properly butchered.
So I'm a big fan of local butchers.
And when I hear that local butchers are going out of business by the score, I grieve.
But then there is the other side of the coin. Go, on a Saturday afternoon, around any of the villages and small towns in our area, and you are hard pushed to find a butcher's open. Likewise, at other odd times of the week. Tough one, that. For the average punter who works all week, Saturday is prime shopping time. So it seems to me that the butchers are butchering themselves. It's a competitive world, and if local butchers are to bring to market their excellent quality, they must move with the times in customer service too.


"We're going on a one day team building event!"

No. You're not. You're going on a surface scratching exercise at best, and, at worst, you're wasting your money to go and play with some planks and oil drums.

Teams are people. People feel close to each other, or they don't. They FEEL close. Or they don't. Geddit? It's about FEELINGS, EMOTIONS. Durr.

Think you're going to get to those in a day of welly boots?

Think again.


I like getting up to see the dawn.

Yesterday's was like someone had dipped a rag in petrol and set fire to it.
This morning's was like approaching a very large pink mountain from a long way away.