Crazy or what?

It is said if you love and trust someone enough to look after your dogs, and they yours, then you have a friend for life, especially when they trust you with either of their debit or credit cards to use. I have been blessed to have that such person in my life, I am not quite so sure that I personally could trust anyone else like that as much, apart from that same person. The fact that my life insurance came into force last week has nothing to do with todays events, but, just for the record, if I should disappear under strange and mysterious circumstances, then remember, if any of you Jessica Fletcher or Columbo type wannabe’s are on the case ….. Remember, you read it here first, the clues are in the words.

Early kick off today, a text just before 08:00 informs us that the new silver appliances for the kitchen arrive in twenty minutes. My plan to treat Chris to breakfast will now come to fruition, a time space we can use between installation of “non white goods” and the estimated time of grocery delivery. A steady perambulate from our homes, down toward the coastal path which directs us to the outdoor seawater lido. Shoals, is a new establishment, specialist dishes containing freshly caught local fish, the café on the lido stands on an elevated position facing slightly off North, affording great views and inside features comfortable surroundings, its quiet this morning, just two other customers, we settle in our seats, fixated by the beautiful contrast of the calm azure waters of the pool and the wildness of the sea beyond. Choice of soft pan-fried scallops, black pudding and streaky bacon in a sweet Brioche bun, Orange Juice and filter coffee are made, this is pleasant, it is also peaceful, a perfect start to a perfect day, life doesn’t get much better than this.

… Enter Parker, again. Most of you will remember that Parker is our trusty steed, and when let loose, will be as naughty as he is allowed, he’s also tends to lead one astray.

One of the albums I have recently downloaded from the big iLibray in the sky is Patsy Cline, her strong warbling voice resonates as if it was her last ever performance at the Grand old Opry, now transmitted by a technological marvel known as Bluetooth which attempts to extrude her voice out of the speakers like a terrible party political broadcast. Like any government in power if it (bluetooth) works, it does it well, if it doesn’t, well then you’re stuffed and today, Parker is as reluctant to oblige as lemon spray at a mosquito fest, he’s far too busy monitoring tyre pressures and communication with EE  …….

Normally I would only listen to her whilst doing the ironing (as if) and drinking Gin or contemplating suicide, (not really) as some of her tracks are synonymous to her sad and depressive, now depleted lifestyle, however, … I’m in a jolly frame of mind, my persona changes as I adjust the rear view mirror and put my seat into a comfortable laid back F1 driving position. Flexing my fingers backwards, my horn stumps break surface just above the temples, I select drive, flip sports mode, my right foot hits the boards, soon everything seems to be flying past me, or are we flying past them?  I warned you about Parker, he’s a beast.

I lip-sync  with her to “Crazy” as she shares my drive out of Fishtown just as if we are in a car-pool karaoke club, bemusing many strange looks from oncoming drivers. Should I turn the sound down?  Maybe I shouldn’t have all the windows open!  Someone once told me that fuel consumption improves when the air-con is off, so go figure that one, but I don’t care.  Not ten minutes ago that handsome blue Barclaycard was shoved into my grubby mitt, I have an important task, I was off, I tried hard to say “are you sure?” but, as hindsight, that’s an old gesture I didn’t want revoking.

The small piece of paper on it scrawled the words, ‘two ends for work-top (black), screws (black), two flexible pipe ends for tap, sealant (black), blank plug for sink, and a general peruse, at the bottom it read (don’t forget anything)’ B&Q is my destination, these parts are urgently required to finish renovating my honourable mates kitchen, list now firmly tucked inside my credit card wallet. Now there’s a claim for non truth of a trades description act, as I don’t have any credit cards left myself, all are either maxed out, part paid and also enduring the humiliation once of having one cut up in public with not a hopes chance in hell of it ever being restored to normal service means a definite NO.

Hastily we speed along the only vehicular artery worth taking toward the next town, which once had the proud honour to host a Woolworth store and Timothy Whites. The former now a pound shop, the latter yet another charity outlet with a cross above the door, not that I have anything against them, but, honestly, what’s the percentage chance of me buying a red sweatshirt with the words NEXT in blue for one pound, and turning up to pick my offspring up wearing same and my ex-wife giving me  the daggers look as *it*, would you believe, had actually been hers! So, instead, I just tend to purchase once thumbed through autobiographies and lavender joss sticks from those kind of establishments, and if I should see anyone selling pick and mix, I get flashbacks of being slapped on my thigh by my mother after fingering the all-sorts.

Not an hour earlier I had mentioned I might like to purchase a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses for our holiday in September, and before I had the chance to describe what style I wanted I was sternly informed that I already had one pair, but hey,  (that was rich coming from the male equivalent of Imelda Marcos, at least eighty pairs of footwear once adorned his shelves and cupboards) one pair would be for long distance, the other, reading, well, that’s my excuse, perhaps that was the reason I was given his card? Perhaps not!

The town centre is crazy, not a sign of a place to park, not even a double yellow line to abuse, its Friday afternoon, everyone seems to be of the opinion its hip to be seen to be out. A tight squeeze is made between a grey muddy Volvo and a Transit. I depart from the parking scene pleased that my reversing skills are still on form, I decide its time for a short back and sides whilst im out, after inaign chitchat about politics, (Eu’k) and weekend activities, and the usual “did i want anything for the weekend’  I depart the establishment much tidier around the follicles, my eyebrows trimmed so my vision is better and my hearing slightly more in tune, getting older punishes reward of strange places for hair growth. I notice in the morror just how aged I look, … ‘thinks .. must do something about that’  Exchanging cash for a tissue I wipe loose strands from my face and aim my feet towards an old haunt.

Recognised immediately by the attendant as I entered the Tanning salon, her skin now golden and slightly burned, the result of continued top ups of her free daily allowance, she bounces around to the piped music, vivaciously keeping order of her ‘beach side kiosk’, and after my many months of absence she rewards me with exchange of lip against cheek, knowing that not all her clients receive the same salutation as myself, I feel privileged. Such is as a civilised and modern greeting as Europeans tend to do. (Oh!  Just a thought! does brexiting the EU mean we can’t do this anymore?)  That’s bound to cause such a kerfuffle with the lovelies and the many thesbians (Sorry, I mean thespians ) …. Honestly, don’t you think it’s all gone PC mad now?

There’s now a queue a mile long, well not quite, just a few people, they like myself require our dose of Vitamin D from a fluorescent tube, we vie and laugh position for cubicles to vacate. I’m quite the happy bunny, I’ve been entrusted with an umpteen thousand pound piece of plastic in my pocket, and, to be honest, im not afraid to use it! …..

I dream of a million miles away, suddenly my raffle ticket is drawn, I’m on, it’s showtime. Time to singe my bunz and gyrate to some traditional sounding Ibizan beach folk music, and no, you cannot twerp on a lay down bed …. Or can you? … Perhaps next time!  I’m now in holiday mode, its just nine weeks away ….. and a sixtieth birthday to look forward to, watch out Mallorca, I do hope I make it?

‘Hi, I said.   ….. Staring, Chris replied ‘see you had your hair cut and your fifteen minutes of fame then ….

… Forget anything?’



Circle of Life

img_2915Amazing just where our passage of time goes, before you know it, not just five minutes ago our children were just that, constantly learning and asking questions, and now, twenty five years on, they are now almost as old as I was when they were then.

As previously written, I explained there was to be a Christening in the family on Sunday just gone, a private service in the Church where myself and most of my cousins were christened too, the traditional “them and us” happened, them being the in-law side of the family and the friends we did not know, we positioned ourselves in a Dragons & Dungeons style start of campaign like two waring armies in the pews opposite each other, divided by the central passageway, muted comments were made about the Ladies-wear and hats and shoes and the general discord hung low like a very bad fart in a Zulu situation.

My Aunt, the matriarch of the family made comments which obviously were heard by those who were not wearing their ears for beauty and fits of giggles enthused, oblivious to the conversation I had eyes elsewhere, and passed comment that my cousin John looked like my Father and my other cousin looked similar to his uncle, my Dads brother. Well, Matriarch is was matriarch does and she, quite seriously and constructively said, well, of course, thats because of your noses, all the noses run in the Stamp family, (there is a joke in there somewhere).

Strangely, during the course of the ceremony, I noticed a lack of mobile phones being used to take photographs, it would seem, only by my observation, that the selfie seems to be dying a natural death, and lo and behold, a solitary digital SLR and a video cam were being used, so much more civilised now don’t you think!  Long gone are the days of the Grundig reel to reel tape recorder stood on a chair with a microphone placed discretely behind, or in a display of flowers recording the whole event, apparently, it was technology to the max in the late ’50’s.

The main common factor was that the newly christened baby, Holly May, was wearing the family robe, seventy plus years of care and intermittent storage bought this beautiful artefact out into the twenty first century and then reminded us youngsters that we too had been given our first names wearing same such outfit, more giggles bought shushes and frowns from the elders, sharply reminding them that I, as the youngest of, my title is heir apparent to Patriarch. Finally, a crown to wear, even though I am not possibly liken to King or a Queen.<grins>

Purposely I left my iPhone at home, and during the many conversations throughout the afternoon at the bun-fight I was asked when I last heard from my own offspring, surprisingly, during this space of time, my dear little fruit bat had left a message asking to be picked up from Exeter Airport at stupid o’Clock the following evening …….

So, in true Dad style ….. The school run I never took part in now becomes the late night old man rush bus!

….. and so the circle of life continues ….

Under The Influence

Its been sometime since I was last on here, and they say retirement is supposed to be relaxing! …far from it, goodness knows how I managed to keep not one, but two jobs going when I was actually working, talk about being pulled in different directions, that’s North, South, East AND West, oh, and the extremes of heat as a candle is burned at point Zero, between the cracks right under my ass.

Today starts a new chapter in my life, at almost sixty years old, and finally with the aid of a gracious monetary gift I have been able to order a bespoke iMac, it has arrived, been unpacked and here it now sits in front of me, pouting and sending love and virtual hugs to you all out there in WordPress land and to all of my dear dedicated followers on the many social media sites I tend to loiter and frequent.

I’m taking a few days off from the manic scenario that seems to have exploded on Berry Head Road recently, my mates flat is having new carpets, a new kitchen is being fitted in-between everything else going on, our normal routine has gone awry and everything scheduled on our busy social Calender has been shunned to one side to set this thing of beauty up.

This Saturday evening brings a still calm sea, Brixham is awash with visitors this Bank holiday weekend, Brixfest is being hosted in town and tomorrow I air my new suit again as the latest addition to our family is christened, family gatherings are rare these days especially as I have disowned my maternal family, so, its good that the paternal side seem to be breeding like rabbits which makes a good excuse for a decent bun-fight, being manhandled with tight (for goodness sake let me go I cant breathe) hugs, polite hand shakes and lipstick kisses on foreheads.

Hearing the latest news and gossip is always good, well, what other real reason is there to attend, apart from making sure that you let everyone else know that you are still very much alive!

James Morrison plays “Undiscovered” …… all seems good with me, mine and those in my world.

May 28 2016

Friday’s Fishy Tail … 5 of 7

I’m slightly annoyed today, that the notes I made to WordPress via my iPhone last evening have just disappeared, this is becoming quite a frequent event, and yes, its happened again.  Just hoping that if I give my my web-cobbed brain and inner sole a good trawling with a net, something may just come a tumbling back into its correct plaice.

So, today my blog comes from an alien kitchen on the waters edge here in Brixham, the recipe I’m trying to re-create is by the talented Dan O’Doherty, as featured above, from the famous Duck & Waffle Restaurant which is a perch’d high above on the fortieth floor of The Heron Tower, London.

(If you haven’t noticed yet, some words have been given a twist with really bad fishy puns, well, to be frank, thats all part of todays irony)

I promise I won’t ling’er too long on this subject, but, instead of my many usual senior blonde-ray moments I’l keep the bull’huss to a minimum, and give this story a bit of a turbot charge before I begin to start Breaking the ice.[1]

A whole baked Sea Bass (from Aldi and not one from Evelyn Harpers Drawer [2]) with spring vegetables will hopefully look as brill on my plate as much as his picture bream’s in the recipe book, I’l keep from floundering and carping on too much and make sure I mullet it over properly before I start to even think about skate’ing on very thin ice, perhaps I am tope’ing for far too much from this?

Right, the Bass has been split down through its spine and the pin bones removed, potatoes, tomatoes and the courgettes are now blanched, all that remains is a case of buttering them up, adding them back into a sturdy stock, reduce it to the thickness of a grey thick lipped mullet and to get myself skate’ing back into action, this whole dish looks like a ray of sunshine and not the cods pollacks as many might think, just imagine how much squid you’d have to pay for it in a restaurant?

 I’m not quite so sure that any of you are actually hooked on this blog and that its starting to wear quite fin’ly, so, I shall stop procrastinating and talking scallops, come to think about it, so, as i just heard someone quote for fucks hake shut up, I’l agree that i think that we have all haddock enough, and infant to be honest, I think it was really eel’y quite bad.Have a lovely fishy Friday folks, I have had a whale of a time today.                                           ….. Courtesy of the Happy Hooker

[1] Frasier (S2, Ep20)                                                                                                                                     [2] Evelyn Harpers Defence, (S5, Ep20)

Dairy Diaries II

This particular summer holiday was the last before I was to attend the big school, I did not have to do the eleven plus test, and thankfully I was not picked for the Grammar School, so, gladly no separation from my friends that I had long made from primary school, we were destined to travel the poor route of the Secondary Modern and its weak syllabus. Long trousers, shirt, blazer and a tie were to be the norm, I would hiss at the school uniform each time I saw it as it hung on the side of my single wardrobe, I was hating every moment of counting down the days before I would have to wear this “badge of conformity”, never mind, another four weeks of sunshine, and being a kid, surely that time would seem like an eternity, however, in the following weeks, little was I to know, there was to be a saving grace, …. no long trousers for me!

One sunny afternoon I was sat on the stairs, one of *those* where I had nothing to do, chewing a Mars bar I watched my Mother and Aunt in the shop, I noticed a silver grey Ford Executive pull up outside, the fourth stair gave a great view of the shop window and door,  I was car crazy even then, and as a cheeky young lad such as myself I needed to know who this car belonged to, a portly gentlemen in a sharp dark suit got out and came into the shop and asked for cigars, I remember saying, “is that your car mister?” … “d’er”, “can I have a look please?”, … staring into the rear passenger window a round face stared back, he stuck his tongue out at ME and laughed out loud, he looked familiar, the two other guys maybe, but, I was not so sure.

The man purchasing the cigars was laughing with Mum & Doreen, he was obviously flirting and the two sisters offered a great double act together, bigging up who he was, reaching to open the shop door, this mysterious man beckoned the three men from the car into the premises, I can just see my Mother and her sister swooning, the trio, made up of Max, Syd and Val, these three were an apparition to behold before their very eyes, talk about hysteria, Val Doonican was double billing with Arthur Askey at The Princess Theatre Torquay, a Summer spectacular pulling in thousands of holiday makers into a theatre every night of the season, Max Bygraves was at the time living in Torquay and Syd James was making surprise appearances.

Of course, the sisters, who were almost inseparable, could not believe this, Doreen offered them Ice creams which they took, two crooned together and Syd adlibbed a short set for them, obviously an often used scenario, much licking of cornets and what might be considered these days as innuendo in the form of *double entendres* took place, all were in fits and giggles, the manager asked if we would all like to come to the show and that he said he would send tickets to us by post, Mr Important took his camera, a Pentax SLR out of its case and got all five adults to line up outside of the shop front, whilst he adjusted his exposure and shutter speed the ladies stood either side of Syd James with Val and Max on the ends, who would believe this? ..  These sort of things are read about in the newspapers, but not actually happening here at the sleepy end of the universe that is Brixham.

The showbiz mafia said their farewells, got in the V6, with its engine burbling, it sped out of sight …

To think I was more impressed with that car than the actual stars in it, who were by the way the topic of conversation that evening.



Dairy Diaries I


Life in Brixham in the late 1960’s was a wonderful time of my life as a young lad, aged 10, most of the summer school holidays I spent with my Mothers dear Sister, Doreen, her husband Les and their two children, David 13 and Sandra 11, Simon their poodle and my dog Penny, she was a mutt and a half, always by my side, my parents were struggling over many things including who would look after me whilst my Dad worked a twelve hour night shift and Mum split hours between being milk woman, part time shop keeper and waitress at the Fish & Chip Takeaway & Eat in Cafe down toward the town, living in Drew Street was certainly lively, the street constantly appeared to be on the move, cars would always park on the pavement and a steady stream of customers would make the shop door bell ting, the street was the main vehicular artery direct from the Brixham fishing port and town centre, on wards up into St Marys square, consisting of a small hub of retailers which included the Post Office, Newsagent, General “Spar” store, Ironmongers, Sweet shop, two public houses, each as different as chalk and cheese, as of the punters, a Butchers and the renowned St Marys Bakery. Each of these establishments owned by a character charming or otherwise, made of their own means and others’, all working under the shadow of the Norman built Church of St Mary The Virgin which still stands and rings today when the bells are tolled, proudly she dominates the square, facing west where the road then furthers on toward the affluent area of Hill Head and down to Kingswear and the River Dart beyond.

Drew street its self was a tiny community, it was my stomping ground, as were the limits of my paper round, down to the end of Greenswood road and up toward Milton street, this included the public house “The Three Elms”, Lears Coal delivery, Mr & Mrs Reeves’ small family cottage industry which baked bread, made fancy cakes and pastries and just a few doors up on the right was number 37, “Drew Street Dairy” my summer home, it held so many memories, some good, some not so.

The shop itself had a double frontage similar to Arkwrights, as featured on BBC TV, a large counter stood inside to the right of the door, at eye level I had to stand on toes to see over, it dominated the shop space, and the floor behind was raised so that who ever was actually keeping shop looked down onto the customer, the whole floor space was no bigger than your average sitting room, nothing but a hairs width between stalls and shelves, every available space was covered with items for sale, as the shop was originally a dairy, items such as were a main seller, but, as with time and progress, fruit and veg, sweets, cigarettes and even firelighters were sold, and much to the annoyance of Mrs Lear, Smokeless coal, an element far safer for the environment then, steadily available in 28 & 56lb bags, they stood by the side of the entrance, much cheaper of course and with delivery available, gone now were the days of Paraffin and oil heaters and having to take your own steel containers down to Mr Kendrick to be refilled.

Adjacent to the shop stood a small piece of rough ground, access was between a pair of tall stone pillars and the ground was of scrub and stone, often we played King against the back wall or just booted about an old semi inflated ball for hours on end, taking care not to damage the two family cars, one a Ford Anglia, banana yellow and white and a red Triumph Herald, both had, in this day an age, registrations probably worth a mint, many a time during the day someone would shout out “if you hit one of those cars, your Dad will “have you”” (yeah yeah right)! off to the side, was the gate to the rear of the dairy store and the entrance to the family home was off the other side through the lean too kitchen, both ways accessed off a concrete yard which often reeked of strong bleach, this cleansing routine was frequent, it was to remove the stains of many a heavy foot traipsing through milk and and the weathered grime and damp with milk crates stacked high, to the left was a side lean, stacks of Corona Soft fizzy drinks bottles, each one with a golden thru’pence deposit on it, (many a time I took them back round to the shop and got my monies worth), off to the right stood a stone barn with a twisted door in a rotten wooden frame, the inside, we were led to believe was haunted, well, as a child ones mind and psyche could be and was easily scarred, and admission to the barn was only if escorted by a n other, looking back, I do believe now it was probably for safety reasons as the first floor was off limits, (or so *they* thought, as we spent many a happy hour leaping over the rotting boards).

Much of the stored produce was of worth and freshness was paramount, we had to pass the large crates of fresh eggs and cream and wire milk crates piled high, tip toeing toward the darkened end of the barn, off to the right was a small dark alcove which stank of aged damp, where we, that is my cousins and myself would set up camp, a small candle on a saucer was the only source of light, quite a dangerous item if not careful, we were young, fear was not on our agenda, we sat on wet cushions and ate white bread and tomato sauce sandwiches and yesterdays cakes from “Ma” Reeves, previously having loitered outside the shop peering into the window and over the small gingham curtain waiting for a “curled” finger to beckon us in and let us pick our choice of the days end products which had not sold, we hid behind an old blanket hanging from the beams making plans of our adventures which extended daily way out into the countryside and down to a secluded beach called Mansands, “our world” at the time consisted of nothing greater than a radius of two miles, we were the luckiest kids alive.

Fresh air and walking miles kept us fit, and bought us home early many an evening to a fully cooked meal, even in the height of summer.  Of course, my Mum was here, there and about, either behind the counter with her sister, or delivering the milk on what was known as “number two round”, carting about each crate holding twenty glass pint bottles, climbing the many flights of steps to properties down around the harbour area, and of course collecting money. I would see Dad occasionally, but, only if I had returned from playing early before he headed off to the factory.  Three evenings a week Mum came home stinking of cooking fat, but, often with the added bonus of a newspaper full of chips, oh the excitement of a surprise late night supper.

We as kids were self maintaining, doing exactly what we said we were going to do or go where we intended, and return at the time we said we would, we were then living in an innocent era where parents would not worry too much about us. Number 37 was always a hive of industry, a young girl who lived opposite the shop was employed part time to fill shelves or do the dishes after we were fed, Les would often return home from The Long Bar in town with his sorrows erred and slightly squiffy after losing Euchre to the landlady, *she* was a bone of contention, Doreen was a tough cookie, she had to be, to be married to Les, but, and many times felt threatened by this larger than life “Mid West Saloon” character, we would often sit *tight lipped* whilst the two of them argued or watch her throw his dinner into the bin, funniest thing I remember, was him being crowned with half a dozen fresh eggs, and in a drunken stupor replying, “oh duck, look what you have gone and done now”.  Hard earned money being squandered over a pack of cards was bound to cause problems, yet, this was all part and parcel of the day to day running of the household, (I remember in later years hearing my Aunt shouting to him “you should not have married me if you knew that I would steal the lose change out of your drunken pockets”) we just sat around the fully dressed dinner table and got on with it, even with all this drama we still all ate as a family.

Uncle Les was up before the crack of dawn every morning, often he would awaken empty stomached, four and five a.m. starts he got into his old red wagon, and headed toward the milk distribution depot, passing the bakery en-route, always noticing a dim light burning at the rear of the property, there too were other people up early ready to make a living, life was hard, but, you never heard anyone complain, they just got on with it, first port of call on his rounds was the Pontins “Dolphin” holiday camp kitchen, milk safely delivered and in the cooler and empty crates on his wagon, he would then reward himself a smile as he munched into his fully loaded bacon and egg sandwich, butter steadily oozing from the soaked bread and swigging the finest Guernsey milk from a *Goldtop* bottle.

To be continued …