Posted on July 31, 2009 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay15 Comments »


Unearthed from the depths of a dusty old suitcase thrown up into the loft somewhere around 1990, one small and decidedly grubby stuffed cow.

This is Ashley, once the dearly beloved ‘cuddly’ of Son No. 2, who named her after the little girl who lived next door to us in New Zealand.    The same little girl who pushed him down the steep driveway on her trolley, gathering speed past the pongas and chirping cicadas and the bright bougainvillea, to end up underneath her father’s truck with his face smashed against the petrol tank and pouring blood.

I remember carrying Son screaming (him, not me) into Ashley’s Mum’s kitchen for her to look into his mouth because I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  She sat him on her counter and swabbed him out and pronounced him okay, except for a cut and black bruise on the gum above his front teeth. So, that would be why his teeth grew through as they did, and why they still lean inwards to this day, despite the braces.  But it could have been much worse, because the truck could have been moving.

Anyway, Ashley (the little girl, not the cow) didn’t do it on purpose, and they remained firm friends until we left.  I have a charming picture of the two of them sitting in front of our bungalow.  Ashley in a pretty dress, Son No. 2 in nothing but one of Ashley’s necklaces, which she had given him.   Well .. he was only four at the time.

And Ashley (the cow, not the little girl), has spent a decade or so in the loft, shut inside a suitcase.  She looks pretty good on the whole, doesn’t she?

Though she might not last too much longer.  Sid has been eyeing her covetously!

Posted on July 30, 2009 in Hounds, Oddities, The Home Front by Jay23 Comments »


I was sitting here tapping away at my laptop and minding my own business, when something made me look up.  There was Sid, sitting bolt upright in his bed*.  And he was giving me the Evil Eye.

Looks like he has a bone to pick with me, doesn’t it?  What’d I do, Sid?



*Most greyhounds won’t sit by choice. If you look at a greyhound in a normal ‘sit’, you will see that their backsides don’t actually touch the ground, so all the weight is resting on those bulky thigh muscles and there’s a lot of strain on the knee joints.

Posted on July 28, 2009 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay38 Comments »

Back in February, shortly after we lost The Pirate, I was feeling pretty low.   The house was so empty without the dogs, and I got to the point where I couldn’t bear to be indoors where I was constantly reminded of the fact that they had both gone, and so suddenly.  If I’d been healthy, I could have just got into the car and taken myself off out, but I was still not allowed to drive at all following my shoulder surgery.

So one day I asked OH to drive me to the railway station, and I bought myself a ticket and took a train to a little market town in Rutland called Oakham.  Naturally, I took my camera, and when I was looking through the archives for this week’s ABC Wednesday, I found a few that I took on that day.

Often the first things I’ll notice are little things.  And one of the first things that caught my eye that day in Oakham was this bell push.


You see this kind of thing all over the place in our older towns and villages.  Boot scrapers,  old air vents in the bottom level of stonework, balustrades on little balconies .. They all fascinate and bemuse.

One of the larger, but no less fascinating, structures in Oakham is the buttercross.  It was hard to get a good picture with the winter sun being so low and the shadows so deep, but here it is.


You’ll see that the old stocks are still there.  I had to kick a few bottles and beer cans out of the way before I took that picture (there were no bins nearby) and there’s still some paper blowing about. I wonder if the stocks would have been used to belittle anyone who littered, when they were in use?

When it was time to go home, I spent a while waiting for my train on this charming platform.  You’ll notice the bridge for foot passengers spanning the tracks.


And also the lovely blue wrought-iron benches.  So lovely are they, that despite their bulk, the authorities decided that they needed not only bolts into the ground – but big chains to the wall as well!

Signs of the times, I suppose.  But here is a blast from the past for you –


A little bubblegum machine, standing outside a tiny curio shop in a back street.  Does that stir memories for anyone? It did for me.  My brothers used to buy those little sugary balls with their pocket money, but I was never allowed to.  Apparently girls don’t chew gum.  Who knew?


We’ve been having a long overdue garage clear-out.  Well, actually, Son No. 2 has been clearing our garage with our supervision (let’s be honest) and I’ve been busy pronouncing on what to throw away and what to keep, and rescuing stuff from the skip.

Meanwhile, here’s something that won’t be getting listed on Freecycle


I found a box of old singles and EPs dating from the sixties onwards. There is the usual stuff you’d expect, including David Bowie, The Beatles, The Stones, The Hollies, Cliff Richard etc. And that one up there was one of my early purchases: Virginia Plain by Roxy Music.

I was a huge Bryan Ferry fan.  I even went to a Roxy concert back in the days when I was earning the princely sum of £6.06p per week, and ‘broke’ was my permanent condition.  And the interesting thing about Virginia Plain was that it didn’t appear on one of the standard albums. It wasn’t available – except as a vinyl single – until the compilation albums started coming out.  It’s probably a collector’s piece by now, but I’m keeping it.  Ah … the nostalgia.  This is from the days when I kept a Bryan Ferry poster under my bed and sneaked a look at it most nights.  Well … my parents wouldn’t let me hang posters.  They ‘damaged the walls’ …

Other interesting finds was this one


‘Popcorn’ by Hot Butter.  Now that was an appropriately named one-hit-wonder if ever there was one!

And this is one of my Embarrassing Moments.


Wandrin’ Star by Lee Marvin.  Old Gravel Voice himself.  Why did I buy it?  I can’t tell you, but I must have liked it. A lot.  Remember how broke I was?

When OH saw it he sucked his teeth and said:

‘Oooooooh, that might have been a deal-breaker if I’d seen that before we got married!’

There was a slight pause, and he added:

‘Gary Shearston was bad enough … ‘

So, passing quickly over that one, did you buy any records you’d hate to admit to now?  Go on. You know you did!