He who laughs last, laughs… erm… last

Ha!

Ha, ha, ha, ha!

You all thought I was bonkers when I posted this public service announcement about the British National Space Centre’s new address didn’t you?

Yes you did.

But looky here my friends, look upon this information from my blog stats and be stunned – nay, be completely amazed (I’ve put the important bits in bold just to make it easy, lol!).

This is the power of public service internet  🙂

Visit 2,600
Domain Name   (Unknown) 
IP Address   192.102.214.# (Qinetiq Ltd)
ISP   Qinetiq Ltd
Location   Continent  :  Europe
Country  :  United Kingdom  (Facts)
State/Region  :  Bracknell Forest
City  :  Farnborough
Lat/Long  :  51.2667, -0.7333 (Map)
 
Language   English (U.K.)
en-gb
Operating System   Microsoft WinXP
Browser   Internet Explorer 6.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; QinetiQ IE6 V02; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; InfoPath.1)
Javascript   version 1.3
Monitor   Resolution  :  1024 x 768
Color Depth  :  32 bits 
 
Time of Visit   Sep 10 2007 12:42:13 pm
Last Page View   Sep 10 2007 12:42:13 pm
Visit Length   50 seconds
Page Views   1
Referring URL  http://www.google.co…sc new address&meta=
Search Engine  google.co.uk
Search Words  bnsc new address

Visit Entry Page   http://brennigjones.com/blog/?p=169
Visit Exit Page   http://brennigjones.com/blog/?p=169
Out Click    
Time Zone   UTC+0:00
Visitor’s Time   Sep 10 2007 12:42:13 pm
Visit Number   2,600

B.

Unwelcome, unlate

06.25 Sunday.

I awake without an alarm.

I notice two things.

The very cold mug of hot chocolate that I fell asleep before drinking.

My bed is broken.

I can do something about the hot chocolate – but instead I resolve to drink it cold as soon as I’ve eaten breakfast.

I can’t do anything about the broken bed.

It’s broken because I am the only occupant.

Is that why I’ve woken up so early on a Sunday; because my body and/or mind have noticed that The Lovely S isn’t here?

It’s 06.30 now.

I’m too knackered to get out of bed but I force myself to.

Downstairs I stagger about the kitchen and cobble together the ingredients of a mug of tea and a bowl of porridge.

I return to my broken bed.

And read – pausing to eat and drink tea.

Miss her.

B.

From one country to another

an account of Saturday’s return leg – having delivered The Lovely S to Aberystwyth University

I’ve dropped her off The Lovely S.

I won’t see her until Thursday; five days away.

As I leave the campus and drive through the twisty, turny, narrow bits of Aberystwyth and begin the long trek home to Bromsgrove I realise that with each passing mile I begin to feel more like a bachelor.

I really can’t explain the feeling other than to say that it’s almost as if I’d been at a posh ‘do’ all day but now I’d got home, kicked off my shoes, pulled my tie down and undone the collar button of my shirt. Very peculiar!

We (my car stereo and I) leave the town and drive towards the open countryside at speed.

My sunglasses are on and both windows wide open, Bobby Darrin’s jazzed-up version of the old French classic ‘La Mer’ (Beyond The Sea) is blasting out, deafening the sheep as we speed past.

The speed-induced wind whips through my hair; I rethink my earlier description because it wasn’t quite right.

Instead I try this one for size: it’s kind of like being the end of school term – which is a bad description because it makes me sound glad that The Lovely S isn’t going to be at home with me every night.

I’m really not glad at all! I need to think about the description of this feeling some more.

Bobby and I belt out the words to ‘Beyond The Sea’ at the top of our voices as we leave the Welsh coast behind and head for the hills.

Having made the long climb skywards we cut across the tops of the Welsh mountains.

The heather looks brilliant up here; I follow the road that weaves its way through the peaks and around the lakes.

The colours look fantastic and once again I regret leaving the camera behind. The stunningness of the mountains as they thrust themselves out of the valley floor; its almost beyond description.

Then there’s the browny, bluey, purpley, greeny colours of the hills and how these million shades throw the deep, rich verdant greenness of the valleys (that nestle between the peaks) in to stark contrast.

The palate in my eye is in danger of overload.

We cross into Powys at Eisteddfa Gurig; the open countryside looks like good horse country – not for the Thoroughbreds that I own, but for the sturdy, sure-footed Welsh Mountain Cobs that run wild and free up here.

It’s beautiful and it feels like home because it’s so similar to the more southerly Welsh mountains where I lived my early years.

But would you want to live here?

Dramatic isolation coupled with being at the mercy of the elements?

The total absence of public transport?

The lack of shops?

These things, together with the natural beauty of the area, combine to make this the kind of place that everyone should visit.

But very few people would actually want to live here.

And the roads…

Up until a few years ago I would have cursed these mountain roads; places where I couldn’t get up a decent head of speed and where opportunities to overtake the dawdling motorists are almost non-existent.

But now, having lived in Spain’s La Alpujarra/Sierra Nevada range of mountains (and thanks to my hopped-up Sierra Nevada-specified car), I know that these Welsh mountain roads are actually brilliant speed highways and that the natives of those regions of Spain would consider Welsh mountain roads to be of motorway quality.

The trees that cling to the side of the mountains are short and stumpy – a malformed testament to the almost yearlong winds and harsh weather – they are little more than scrub bushes.

Much later – as we move out of Rhayader and head towards Leominster – the countryside begins to transform, starts to flatten.

The mountains become less mountainous and more hill-like; the land takes on an air of being cultivated rather than being ‘tended, but natural’.

Trees grow stronger and taller, heather gives way to green fern and the further we get inland the more we move away from the extremes of wind and rain.

As we enter Herefordshire – and England – the place names change; there are more vowels, fewer consonants and the road signs stop being bilingual.

I’m home.

And yet I’m not.

B.

Guilty pleasures; guilty secrets

I enter the house.

Alone.

I stand inside the front door listening to the quiet.

It somehow seems illicit to be here.

I breathe softly as if I’m in the act of committing a crime.

The house smells clean and fresh but the roar of the quietness is almost overwhelming.

I peer in to the lounge, it’s immaculate – looks like a magazine cover.

I check my watch but I don’t need to – I’m in the house by myself and I know I won’t be disturbed.

So I do the inevitable.

I do what every man in my position would do.

Grinning like a loon I climb the stairs.

I can feel my heart pumping with the excitement, the naughtiness, the thrill.

I walk quietly across the landing to our bedroom.

I sit on the bed and fumble for the zipper

My fingers – trembling slightly in anticipation – find the zipper tab and ease it down.

I sigh with bliss as I slide my hand carefully inside.

It’s there, so smooth yet so firm to the touch.

I take hold of the neck, tenderly yet securely.

I relish the grip, flex it gently; love the feel of holding it in my hands.

Almost get a sense of power from it.

I rearrange myself on the bed.

And when I’m comfortable and I’m sure the moment is right…

I let rip.

KERRRAAAAAANG!

God I love the way that D-Sus-4 chord sounds on my slightly detuned guitar.

D-Sus-4 to G4 to Em to warm up and then suddenly I’m off and running.

Brown Eyed Girl.

Followed by Wild Thing.

And then onwards, deeper in to my repertoire.

Forty minutes later I put the guitar away, fingertips tender but not sore.

I’ve ripped my thumbnail while overextending for a hurried change.

I’d started off hard and fast and then gradually slowed as my dexterity improved.

The slower passages were harder to begin with but as my slightly rusty ability returned, so did my confidence.

And now I feel wonderful tonight.

Just like Eric Clapton.

B.

Writing news at the speed of light

An email flutters in.

It tells me that ‘Horse of a Different Colour‘ has won another award: ‘el mejor cuento extranjero‘ (best foreign short story) as voted for by the readers of ‘Tiempo‘, a literary magazine published in Mexico Distrito Federal.

I have been invited to attend the award ceremony in December in Mexico City.

Sadly I shall have to decline but I have offered the publisher a webcam chat or – if the time zones work against us – a recorded interview.

The amusing point about the prize is that the piece was put forward not as an English work but was presented to the publisher in Spanish.

But it is, if you’ve read it, clearly set in Spain, not in Mexico – hence the award.

I hope they opt for the recorded interview; a live web-conference in the version of Spanish they speak in Mexico could, in retrospect, be way over my head.

Of note: I entered California Dreamin’ at the same time but at 3,500 votes it polled at less than half the number the winning piece attained – and was so far down the list of places as to be embarrassing.

Shame; I thought it California Dreamin’ was the stronger piece of writing – much better descriptive narrative.

Perhaps my translation was less good.

Hmm…

B.

1917

1917

This was the year when:
* Germany announced that its U-Boats will open up to unrestricted submarine warfare (i.e. target civilian ships as well as military vessels)
* The first woman was elected to the US Congress (Jeannette Rankin, Montana)
* VI Lenin returned to Petrograd (now known as Saint Petersburg) from his exile in Finland
* Forty-eight people died in riots in Illinois as lower-paid black labourers clashed with whites
* The British Royal Family changed its name from ‘The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’ to ‘Windsor’ in the face of anti-German sentiment
* An explosion at a munitions factory in London killed 73 and injured over 400
* The sea defences at the Devon village of Hallsands were breached leading to every house becoming uninhabitable (some things don’t change)
* A fire in Thesaloniki, Greece destroyed a third of the city leaving 70,000 homeless (some things just don’t change)
* Sir Edward Elgar wrote ‘The Fringes of the Fleet’.

Joining us on this planet in 1917 were:
* Anthony Burgess
* Vera Lynn
* Raymond Burr
* John F Kennedy
* Dean Martin
* John Lee Hooker
* Arthur C Clarke and
* John (Jack) Griffiths – who much later became grandfather to The Lovely S.

Leaving us that year (amongst others):
* Mata Hari the Dutch spy (executed)

There’s a reason for me doing this digging around.

Today was the funeral of John (Jack) Griffiths, the late grandfather to The Lovely S.

And it’s difficult to comprehend the events that have occurred during his lifetime, hard to imagine the things he’s seen.

The political, social and economic events.

The achievements of human endeavour.

The technological, governmental, medical.

I didn’t really know him – except well enough to judge that he was a very individual person.

He’d had a wide-ranging, varied life and – undoubtedly – had experienced some interesting times.

I’m sorry for the lost chance – the missed opportunity that has passed me by.

I had access to an invaluable source of information and I kept thinking ‘I’ll get around to it’.

I failed to get around to it.

B.

New Rules of the Road

Owing to the number of motorway accidents the National Committee of Common Sense (that’s me) has investigated the rules, found them insufficient and has updated sections of the Highway Code (the British book of the road) and the Road Traffic Act (the law) with the following legislative changes.

These changes come in to immediate effect.

1. All HGVs will be confined to the left-hand lane.
This is simply a logical extension of cool, cold, calm common sense.

Look, as all HGVs are limited to a maximum of 56mph isn’t it stupid for other road users to be stuck behind an artificially-created moving roadblock that appears without warning when the driver of one HGV travelling at 56mph has – for some unfathomable reason – decided to attempt to overtake another HGV also travelling at 56mph.

The word ‘overtake’ gives the wrong idea of the manoeuvre that occurs when this happens. ‘Wear the other lorry driver in to the ground through a state of inflicted boredom’ would be a much more accurate, but less snappy description.

The implementation of this new rule (together with other changes in this piece of legislation as set out below) will ensure that all lanes of the motorway are used with common sense and to maximum efficiency.

2. No towing vehicle is allowed to exceed 56mph.
As the speed limit for towing vehicles is currently 60mph it’s a further extension of logic to reduce that speed by 4mph to enable towed vehicles to fit in with other slow-moving traffic. This change goes hand-in-hand with the next piece of new legislation.

3. All towing vehicles will be confined to the left-hand lane (as per HGVs).
Time to put towing and towed vehicles where they belong in terms of traffic flow – i.e. not in the overtaking lanes!

4.  All towed vehicles (caravans, trailers, horseboxes etc) will be subject to MOT inspection and testing.
All aspects of the towed vehicle, including its braking systems and towing linkages, will be thoroughly checked.

5. The towing vehicle will have its headlight adjustments checked with the towed vehicle attached and then checked again with the towed vehicle unattached. If the driver/registered keeper of the towing vehicle is not able to demonstrate they are able to adjust the lights correctly for both types of driving, the towing vehicle will be deemed to have failed its MOT inspection.
Badly adjusted, blinding or ineffective headlights become things of the past through this change.

6. All towing vehicles will be subject to periodic inspection that will include ensuring headlight adjustments can be made.
Just enforcing the law, dude.

B.

Accommodating decisions

Decisions, choices.

There are too many of them in this hyped-up, consumer-led world.

For example; supermarkets.

I don’t mean that there are too many brands of supermarkets.

Or even that there are too many supermarket outlets.

But you go inside the supermarket and boy is there too much choice!

Want some washing-up liquid?

How long have you got?

Because over in aisle 13 we have four rows of washing-up liquid.

And those are just the lemon, lime, banana, strawberry, mango and/or orange flavoured products.

Over in aisle 14 we have 9 types of 5 brands of Eco-washing-up liquid.

Good grief.

Anyway, want some peas?

In aisle 31 we have 18 types of 9 brands of frozen peas.

Whilst over in aisle 33 we have 5 types of 31 brands of tinned peas.

But back at the greengrocery counter we have a selection of freshly grown peas.

Yet just around the corner at the specialist greengrocery we have a selection of organically grown fresh peas.

Sigh.

Back in the Spanish mountain village where I used to live, the ‘supermercado’ shopper has two choices:

‘Do you want this one, or not?’

And life as a consumer was just so much simpler.

So the thing that teases my brain as I cruise down the M5 in the early morning light this Tuesday, listening to the Chris Moyles ‘brand new cheesy song’… I have my own decisions.

About where I’m going to sleep.

You see, the place I’m working for the next few months is borderline commuting distance from home.

But I’ve been creeping home more frequently.

To The Lovely S.

To my own house.

To my own bed.

And when The Lovely S has been working late, I’ve been able to go straight to the yard to spend some quality time with the boys, tidy the lorry and then ride Vinnie.

But the situation changes next week.

The Lovely S will be away at a Welsh University, working on her MSc.

So do I make the trip home every night next week?

Distractions are well… distractions – whether the distractions are children’s toys or just ‘alien’ noise.

This isn’t about ‘not commuting’ or staying locally.

It’s about being in my own environment – a place I know; not having a shared one.

It’s about spending time with my own horses – force-feeding them apples (ha!) even if I choose not to ride.

And about choosing whether or not to cook pasta in my kitchen.

Where I know where the knives, forks and plates are.

Hmm…

As I read this back it looks as though the choice is making itself with very little input from me.

🙂

But a whole week at home by myself?

What will I get up to?

ROFL!
B.

From the Strange but True department

This just in…

William Shakespeare is dead.

It’s official.

William Shakespeare died on the evening of Monday 3rd September 2007.

Died near Dalton-in-Furness, south Cumbria.

As if these statements aren’t bizarre enough, here’s some more to go with them – and hold on to your hats kids because they’re all related!

As you may have guessed by now, the William Shakespeare in question was not the William Shakespeare (butt of many Bard and ‘you’re barred’ jokes).

This William Shakespeare was… (wait for it)… a water buffalo.

Oh yes my friends, a water buffalo.

And as if that’s not weird enough.

William Shakespeare lived (and died) in the well-known hang-out of water buffalos – south Cumbria.

For those looking in to this blog who may be unfamiliar with either the natural habitat of the genus ‘water buffalo’ or the locale ‘south Cumbria’ I should explain that ‘south Cumbria’ is to ‘water buffalo’ what ‘water buffalo’ is to skydiving.

Apparently William Shakespeare (the water buffalo) was a privately-owned animal that had escaped from his pasture.

When I say ‘escaped’ I mean ‘meandered on to the busy road known as the A590’.

Where, as he strolled about – no doubt thinking complicated water buffaloesque thoughts – he was brutally mown down.

By a Nissan Micra.

Sadly (as previously stated) William’s condition was fatal.

I suspect the Nissan Micra’s future was terminated too.

The driver of the Micra was cut from his car by the Fire service before being removed to hospital where he was treated for injuries.

And who said life on this planet is boring?

Source

B.