Posted on October 29, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay30 Comments »


You want my opinion of this story?  Andrew Sachs is cool.   Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand are so not cool.

It happened a fortnight ago, but it’s now in the news again because both Ross and Brand have been suspended from their jobs at the BBC pending an investigation, and Brand has now resigned.  Both men have had the grace to apologise – Brand has yet to apologise personally to Andrew Sachs’ grand-daughter – but both have sunk very much lower in my estimation over this classless piece of crap.

Andrew Sachs, on the other hand, could not have been classier.   I’ve always loved him as an actor, and now I admire him even more, as a true gentleman.

At the end of the long interview which he granted to the press outside his house today (a piece of which is in the above link), he turned and said:

“Can I go now?  I’d like to introduce myself to my dogs!”

He can’t even bring himself to be rude to the paparazzi, bless him.

Posted on October 29, 2008 in Johnny Depp, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay41 Comments »

I had a lot of good ideas for today’s ABC Wednesday post – I did!  But I’ve been out all day, and then there was the Colts/Titans game this evening and it’s funny how time slips away, isn’t it?

But worry not!  I do have some nice ‘O‘s for you, and I think we’ll start with the clever ones and then it’ll be all downhill from there.


See that little creature?  She’s a Dark Bush Cricket.   You want to know how I know it’s a she?  Well, that curved thing at her back end isn’t a sting, and it isn’t a decorative hook, it’s an ovipositor.  She’ll use that to place her eggs deep into the soil, where they’ll be safe until they hatch.

Now, I was going to show you a picture of Johnny Depp’s olecranon process, but I couldn’t find one.  Of all the pictures I took of him at the Dead Man’s Chest premiere, when he was wearing short sleeves, not a single one shows his elbow!  So you’ll have to have his olfactory organ instead!


There it is!  I thought you’d like to have views showing both sides, because it’s really rather a cute nose, don’t you think?

And talking of Johnny Depp, there is just one movie with a title beginning with ‘O‘ -


Once Upon A Time In Mexico, in which he plays a very smooth operator, Agent Sands.

And talking of movies, here’s one of my favourite pieces of jewellery.


Can you guess what it is? No?

It’s an opium tools necklace. It may not have been intended to be a necklace, more probably it was hung on a belt, chatelaine-style, but it makes a very pretty necklace and makes a nice soft tinkling sound, too.   The little round piece is actually a little box for keeping a small supply of opium in, and the tools were used in the process of preparing it for smoking and perhaps for cleaning the pipe with afterwards. Or so I’m told.  I wouldn’t know!

Here’s something else which doesn’t get much use.


It’s my overlocker.   If you live in the USA, you’ll call it a serger, but over this side of  The Pond, it’s an overlocker, or overlock machine.  The reason it doesn’t get much use?  I hate to admit it, but I’m nervous of it.  It goes very fast, and it has four reels of thread and a very sharp blade that moves up and down in a blur of viciousness right next to my fingers!   Also, since it trims the seams it stitches as it stitches them, there’s little room for error.  I have used it.  I have.  But just not very much.

Maybe if I remembered to take my vitamins and supplements my nerves would be steadier.  At least I do make sure I get enough in the way of Omega 3/6/9 oils.  I take the capsules, but I also rather like the seed mix sprinkled onto my cereal.


Of course, I’ve stopped buying the stuff with hemp seeds in, since I broke a tooth on one a month or so ago.  There’s only so far I’ll go in the pursuit of steady nerves.  It’s a bit of a Catch-22, isn’t it?  You need steady nerves for the dentist, but the omega-rich seeds you eat might send you there.

Posted on October 27, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay24 Comments »


While walking the dogs yesterday I saw this little poster, and I thought ‘Maybe I’ll pop along to that later … oh, fff … darn it.  Perhaps not.’

For, as you see, this event took place last weekend, not this one just gone.

The Exotic Pet Refuge is not too many miles from here, and does exactly what you think it does.  It takes in exotic pets that people no longer want, have room for, can be bothered with, or find entertaining*.  And there are a stunning number of them.

So what I want to know is this.  Why do perfectly ordinary people living in perfectly ordinary houses suddenly take it into their heads to buy a jungle cat?  Or an alligator?  Or a silver fox, a peacock, a turkey vulture, a giant fruit bat, or any of the other creatures that end up with Pam and her family?  The pythons, Madagascan hissing cockroaches, turtles, and various exotic birds I can almost understand … but why would anyone consider an unmodified three-bed semi in Leicester (for example) a suitable environment for a wild cat or a giant reptile?  I have no idea.

But the sad fact is that many owners of three-bed semis in perfectly ordinary towns and villages do think that they can care for an exotic animal.

Perhaps they take them on without too much thought. Perhaps they think that a tiny crocodile is really cute and would be no trouble at all in the family bathroom?  Perhaps they’re offered one down the pub and feel sorry for it, and think they’re saving it from becoming an illicit handbag a few months down the road?  But the fact is that having taken on the young croc, they soon find that a) it becomes a bit of a chore finding all that dead meat to feed it, b) it’s an extremely messy eater and can’t be housetrained, and c) it isn’t actually a terribly suitable bath toy for junior.   And what happens then?

What happens is that they often get offered to zoos and public animal collections, but many are refused due to lack of space or overstocking – and you have to remember that a zoo is a business and not an animal shelter.  So then what?  Well, some of the lucky ones will be taken to an Exotic Pet Refuge – of which there are sadly few.  In fact, I only know of this one.


These pictures were taken a few years ago.  I had attended one of Pam’s open days, and I asked if I could come back with my camera because I was doing a City & Guilds photography course at the time, and she graciously gave me permission in return for a small donation.  She had just moved her refuge from an ordinary family house to a smallholding, and was still in the process of building and expanding.  Being a very small charity, progress was slow, and because all available cash is used for the animals, it wasn’t pretty – it was functional.  I don’t know what it’s like now, but I imagine it’s similar because Pam is a very down-to-earth lady and almost certainly still not into the window dressing.


Anyway. Please disregard the lack of hanging baskets and fresh paint.

Pam will also take in injured or sick British wildlife and she can work miracles with them.  I have taken sick hedgehogs, wild birds and injured toads to her (they tend to get run over by lawnmowers, poor things) and she never fails to take them in and care for them.  She is a wonderful and dedicated lady.


There isn’t much information on the internet about the Exotic Pet Refuge, but this article from the local paper will give you an idea of what it’s all about.  It’s an old article, but trust me, it’s still facing all the same difficulties, not least of which is a bill of somewhere over £45,000 a year for food.

If you’d like to see a picture of Pam with one of her residents, go here.



* And that, dear friends, is a zeugma – which  might sound exotic, but isn’t.


I can hear you all thinking.  The little cogs are whirring, are they not? You’re all wondering what’s so special about that fairly ordinary looking pre-packaged cheddar in the chiller, aren’t you?

Believe me, it’s special.

You see, some time ago in a stealth move, totally unpublicised and therefore mostly unchallenged, our government (forgetting for the moment that they are the servants of the people and also that this is supposed to be a democracry) decided to do away with England.

Oh, people in Scotland, Ireland and Wales are safe. They have their ‘cultural identity’ to protect, you see.  Actually, I have no argument with that at all, I believe in protecting cultural identity – our history, culture, language, customs, etc are what makes us interesting and unique.   Yay for the Scottish, Irish and Welsh!!

But wait!  Wasn’t there a fourth country in the United Kingdom?  I thought there was.  In fact, I rather thought I was born in it … I was rather fond of the old place, doncher know.

Yes.  You remember now, don’t you?  England.  That’s right!  Well done.  But you see, according to the latest political maps, England doesn’t exist any more.  Nor do you get a choice on most forms these days to choose ‘England’ as your country of origin, or ‘English’ as your nationality.  And do you know, I feel rather aggrieved about that because I’m ENGLISH.  I’m not Scottish (though a fair amount of Scottish blood runs in my veins), I’m not Irish, and I’m not Welsh.  I’m English, and I like being English.  And I resent the fact that our country, culture and flag have been sneakily removed and made Politically Incorrect.

I hate political correctness anyway, but this is The Last Straw.  So any time I find someone willing to stand up and be counted as English, I say ‘Hurrah!’

BPictureThat cheese counter up there may look ordinary to you, but if you look closer, you’ll see that the labels on the cheese say ‘English’, and I count that as a small victory, because mostly what you’ll see in supermarkets is ‘Scottish’, ‘Irish’, ‘Welsh’, even ‘Canadian’ and ‘New Zealand’ cheddar – but no ‘English’.  It’s the same on the meat counters, only there you’ll see ‘British’ instead of English, and I’m sorry, but that simply won’t do.

Apparently Tesco ran a survey and came to the conclusion that they needn’t bother to put ‘English’ on their produce, because people ‘identify more strongly with ‘British’ than ‘English”.  Well, Tesco, I have news for you – I will no longer be shopping at your stores unless I’m desperate, because I prefer to shop in places which proudly display the label ‘English’ on food which is indeed from this country.  And that means I’ll be going to shops like Marks and Spencer, Asda, and now Waitrose – the owners of the cheese counter shown above.

Who’s with me?

Click on the small thumbnail to see a close up of the cheese label.

For those who are confused over the difference between England, Britain, British Isles and the UK, go here for a nice clear explanation – with pictures.