Monday, January 31, 2005

I am very anxious about binge drinking.

Apparently, if you consume more than five units of alcohol in an evening then you are called a 'binge drinker'.

This applies to me, but the 'binge drinker' label strikes me as ludicrous, as that amount seems perfectly normal and healthy, and most people would not recognise it as excessive. It is as unfair as branding somebody a 'sex addict' just because they masturbate more than five times in an evening.

I brought this up over dinner on Saturday, and our guests seemed embarrassed and upset. Perhaps they are secret binge drinkers. Or secret sex addicts. Either way it is troubling. I have always tried to be a responsible member of society and now I find that a mere dictionary definition has locked me into a Hogarthian downward spiral, destroying all self-respect and more than likely turning me into a delinquent and a purveyor of petty crime.

Truly I am just like that Pete Doherty from the Libertines pop group, with readers coming here every day perhaps to marvel at my creative brilliance, but really to see whether I have finally crashed and burnt after more than two and a half pints in the Village Pub.

Except that I have not shagged Kate Moss. Which if I'm honest is unlikely to happen (as she lives in London and I live in Norfolk.)

(Although there are trains every hour and I would be able to stay over if she wanted).

Friday, January 28, 2005

My wall has been flattened!!!

The LTLP admitted she 'may have scraped it' on backing the car into the drive.

I go outside to investigate. It looks as if it has been caught in a collision between an articulated lorry and Matthew Le Tissier.

I shake my head. At this point it would be a cheap shot to have a go at 'woman drivers' etc, but actually it is a fact that they are much safer than men drivers and have fewer accidents. I think this is probably because we listen to proper driving music in the car, whereas they have Dido, Norah Jones etc, which makes them go slower.

Plus, some hard core male drivers get themselves illegal back-street lobotomies, so they can enjoy BBC's popular 'Top Gear' programme on the television.

I didn't like the wall much - it was architecturally undistinguished - but I did prefer it to what I have now, which is 'some bricks'. I pick some pieces out of the street and sort of balance them on top of each other to create a temporary wallette. The kerb appeal of the house is not restored.

I put 'rebuild the wall' on my list of DIY jobs to do in the spring. It will be exciting. I have never built a wall before, and I am eager to give it a go.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I have discovered what the police dog teams and armed response units were doing in the village.

It was not a Dennis Hopper type homicidal maniac at all. It was a man stealing lawnmowers!!!

He had been at work in one of the villages further up the coast, and was tailed by a vigilant constable as he attempted his escape. Other policemen headed him off at the pass.

I expect you will soon see it on 'Britain's Wildest Police Chases'.

It was unfortunate for the lawbreaker AND LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU ALL that if you commit crime round here the closest police unit is often the royal protection squad at Sandringham. These officers are always very bored, as when they're not protecting us from the royals they have little else to do. I imagine it is really exciting for them to have to run through bushes chasing a proper criminal.

If I were them I would have cornered the villain before whipping out my gun, waving my badge and shouting "Sweeney Todd!!! Flymo Squad!!!"

For my part I am relieved that Mr Blair and Mr Brown stopped fighting each other long enough to catch this particular offender.

Sometimes I think they do not understand that whilst they flick guacamole at each other at their Islington dinner parties, serious crime like this is running rampant.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Being part of the European Weblog Award thing has humbled me as I am very ignorant about other European countries.

The chap who is currently in the lead, for instance, writes his blog all in French. I could not manage that.

I went to Paris once and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was just after the LTLP and I (grammar) first met and we loved it even if there was lots of dog shit everywhere, including one bit in the supermarche (that is French for supermarket) by the deli counter.

I am also a big fan of Georges Brassens, Jacques Tati and Daphne du Maurier.

As I am falling behind in the voting a bit I have decided to make an extra effort to appeal to a wider audience, so I was up all night painstakingly translating this.

When I'd finished, I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever read.

But then I'd had a couple of beers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Another rabbit insurgence.

There - munching on a pot plant, stuffing his insolent rabbity face.

I stare at him through the French windows. (French windows are like normal windows, only oral.)

There is a fundamental lack of understanding between us that I can solve either by brute force or by diplomacy. I'd prefer to do the latter, however communicating with the rabbit kingdom is proving tough. I cannot get my 'do not eat the plants' message across.

I have a brainwave and start preparing a PowerPoint presentation.

What I'll do is start it off with images of a human and a rabbit side by side. "A presentation to - THE RABBITS". Then I'll do a couple of 'Key objectives for today' slides and a bit of background on how we've coexisted peacefully for the past few years.

I'll probably get the letters flying in from the left with a typewriter noise. That is always useful. Then I'll conclude with a recap of what we've discussed and a 'Thank you for listening' slide.

I will then hand out copies of the presentation. (It is important to do this after I have finished as otherwise they will read them first and not concentrate on what I am saying).

There will be an opportunity for questions.

It's like the BAFTAs and the Oscars all in one!

Monday, January 24, 2005

I have an issue with the rabbits.

The rabbits are generally entertaining. They frolic around the garden. Despite my being a hard-hearted alpha male, they amuse me with their rabbitty ways.

In return for this, I allow them the run of the lawn and do not eat them.

It is a good arrangement that has worked well over the years. But for the first time, they have started eating my plants.

I don't know what has provoked this, but I cannot just stand idly by. They have struck at the very heart of my world. In fact, I am concerned that they have formed some sort of wild animal axis of evil with the rats that have been spotted in Short Tony's garden. I may have to capture some and take pictures of them in some sort of rabbit pyramid or engaged in simulated sexual acts.

That will teach them. But they will probably not mind the latter, as they are rabbits.
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Friday, January 21, 2005

"Look. I'm going to ring the sheep man up."

We have decided to buy a sheep. A whole one, butchered and cut up into joints for the freezer.

"Do we really need to pay for one? There are loads in the field up the road that we could... acquire."

I look at Short Tony, wondering whether he's serious. He takes another swig of red wine. I take another swig of red wine. He takes another swig of red wine. I have always been quite competitive so I take another swig of red wine and pour some more. The LTLP and Mrs Short Tony sip their girls' drinks, daintily.

We agree that it would be possible to wait until the dead of night, drive up to the fields, select a juicy looking sheep, bundle it into the back of the Land Rover and smuggle it back into the garden.

"How would we butcher it?" I ask. "You'd have to be the one to shoot it. I only have an air rifle. That would be no good. All we'd have would be a slightly bleeding and very annoyed sheep."

"According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall," pipes up the LTLP, "the meat is better if the animal is not stressed when it is slaughtered."

We ponder this. "We could take your Jag," I say. "That would give it a smoother and more comfortable ride home."

Short Tony is unenthusiastic about having a sheep in his Jaguar. We drink some more red wine. I have a brainwave.

"Rohypnol!" I announce. "That's the answer. I'm always getting emails trying to sell me Rohypnol. We get hold of some, find a sheep and doctor its food. It will be dark, so the sheep will not notice that there is a blue tinge to it. Then we carry it into the Land Rover and bring it back here."

"Additionally," I continue, now enthused, "there's another advantage. If we bottle out of the slaughtering bit and have to take the sheep back to the field, the Rohypnol will mean that it won't remember anything."

A pause, before Short Tony pipes up.

"If you've given it Rohypnol, will you be..."

"No." I state, firmly.

I pour some more wine.

"It would probably be better just to buy one, wouldn't it?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I am handed my bar tab.

The Well-Spoken Barman passes it over with an apologetic look. The envelope seems particularly thick.

I like my bar tab. It is very useful for those of us without local cash machines, and with interest rates being as low as they are at present it is really just another way of saving money. Plus I can cry 'put it on my tab please, barman!' in a jovial voice, which is a good way of being manly.

I note the total with alarm. I appear to have saved a great deal this month.

Short Tony and Big A look awkwardly to the floor.

I check the amount. Then I check it again. Then I check that it is not George Best's. Then I check that the Well-Spoken Barman hasn't accidentally handed me the entire inventory list that the brewery leaves behind with them. Then I check the exits.

They have included the individual till receipts from each evening. Reluctantly I conclude that they tally with my visits.

"Hang on!" I cry, spotting a major discrepancy on two till rolls of a particular long nature. Each roll has to be signed off by me at the end of the night. These two have a different signature!!!

"Was this you?" I demand sternly of Short Tony.

"No!" he denies.

"Or you?"

"Absolutely not!" says Big A.

Doubly-reluctantly I conclude that I'd been in there on those nights, but had been incapable of writing my name.

I give a long sigh.

I quickly glance about the pub to check that the LTLP is not about to leap out from behind some curtains. I hand over our joint credit card.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


We go to Big Hairy Pete's party.

Big Hairy Pete runs an excellent pub in Hertfordshire. It is about two hours away. The people there would be more my friends than the LTLP's, and I am grateful for her coming, so I offer to split the driving equally.

Thus it is that I drive there and she drives back.

Last time we went, I got shouted at a bit for getting drunk and sleeping all the way home. This time I am determined to be a better travelling companion, and plan a schedule of witty and urbane conversation.

It is, as expected, an excellent do.

I know when it is time to leave, and zigzag to the car, sinking comfortably into the bucket seat. We set off. The dialogue goes something like this:

"God, isn't this just a great CD?"

"Yes, I quite like it."

"It's an absolutely stonking track. Stonking."

"It's a bit loud."

"But isn't this just the best CD?"

"Yes, it's all right."

"I need to go for a wee wee."

We drive on until we reach a suitable field. I go for a wee wee. We listen to the rest of the CD.

"Isn't that one of the greatest records ever made?"

"Well it's all right I suppose."

"I'm going to put it on again."

"Can't you put something else on?"

"I need to go for another wee wee."

She takes a deep breath and drives on. We reach a dark secluded bit and she pulls over.

I get out of the car. Into a ditch.

I extricate my leg, sway about a bit and go for a wee wee. I return to the recently-valeted car. I shake a bit of muddy water off, but can't avoid treading filth on the carpet. I am dimly aware that I smell of ditch.

I engage her in a bit more conversation about the CD. I'd like to say that she was very patient and understanding with me, and she probably was, but I fell asleep at that point and only woke as we were backing into the drive.

"Come on," she says. "Get your shoes off. I'm really tired."

"I'm hungry," I say brightly. "Is there anything to eat?"

Monday, January 17, 2005

High drama in the village!!!

Blue flashing lights over the road. Short Tony rang the doorbell to let me know.

"There's a dog unit and everything!" he burbled. "And another one just round the corner! And they're searching peoples' gardens!"


"Mrs. Big A's just called me. Apparently there's some sort of armed response unit as well."

This was a slight concern (but also quite exciting as well). After some discussion we concluded that it was unlikely to be another stolen trailer, and was probably a homicidal maniac.

"I think I'll search our garden," I said. "Just to be safe."

On reflection I decided to leave my gun indoors so that I wouldn't be shot accidentally by the police. Instead I took a powerful torch, which I would shine aggressively at any Dennis Hopper type madmen I found lurking in the woodshed.


Returning to the house, I realised that leaving the front door wide open was probably a mistake, as a lot of heat was escaping from the kitchen. I gave a full report to the LTLP, explaining that I did not wish to be another Tony Martin but protecting my house and loved ones was paramount.

That Mr John Redwood was on Question Time only last week, complaining that householders are unsure of what they can do if they walk into their living room to find a swivel-eyed maniac loon in front of them.

Fortunately I was aware of my rights, and slowly and calmly switched off the TV.

Later on I slipped round to Short Tony's to see if he had an update on the situation. He was holding a large iron poker, but I couldn't help noticing that he'd got Mrs Short Tony to actually answer the door.

The police had gone, but we decided that it would not be a good idea to go round to Big A's in order to ring the doorbell then hide in the bushes.

I shall be sure to purchase a local paper tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Continued from yesterday.

We chug towards home at a steady forty miles per hour. Short Tony looks at me strangely.

"I don't want to alarm you," he says, "but the accelerator's stuck."

I smile at his little joke, and make some mental calculations. We probably have twenty quid's worth of logs in the back of the Land Rover which is not bad for five hours work between us. If I can get away with not paying him a share of the diesel I will be even more up on the deal.

"No - it really is stuck."

So if that represents three fires' worth, and we have a fire every day, and I still have half a shedful at home, and we do this logging thing every weekend, I probably wouldn't have to pay anybody for more wood this year.

"Look!" he explains, lifting his feet from the pedals.

We career down the single-track lane, out of control, the engine revving away of its own accord. I start to realise the gravity of the situation. Short Tony kicks the pedals. Nothing happens.

I frantically rummage through the front shelf to see if there is a note from some Dennis Hopper type madman from the film 'Speed'. I cannot see anything from a Dennis Hopper type madman from the film 'Speed', and I have left my phone at home so don't know if he has left a message.

An expensive looking BMW is coming towards us in the opposite direction. Short Tony removes the ignition keys and steers us up onto a verge. The engine runs on slightly, but we shudder to a halt and alight ruefully.

"That was exciting," he breathes.

I agree, with the proviso that we are now in the middle of nowhere in a broken car. It suddenly seems to be getting a bit dark and I don't want to be stuck here and have to spend the night in the woods, especially if Dennis Hopper and his friends are lurking out there, chuckling quietly.

We open the bonnet and poke around. It seems clear what is wrong - there is a dingly-dangly thing that is not connected to a pokey device, which means the engine is stuck on maximum RPM. We make some abortive repair attempts, but it needs a man with a tool.

Theremin music drifts from the woods.

With nothing else for it, we decide to forego engine control for the journey home. We work out that there are only two T-junctions to negotiate and some stretches of single track lane - the steering wheel still works, and we have the option of either turning the engine off again or waving our arms to warn other road users.

We hurtle off, a fast banjo soundtrack playing in my head.

Lucky with the traffic at both junctions. it works a dream, and we drift to a halt in front of Short Tony's garage door. We sit for a moment in quiet reflection. I am still gripping the seat.

"Fancy a beer?" he asks.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

It has been windy.

Short Tony and I decide to go collecting wood in his Land Rover.

Land Rovers are the bestest transport ever. There is something about being in one - the smell, the harsh ride, the history, the Englishness, the sense that you're riding in the purest and most uncomplicated combination of a diesel engine and two seats, the utter dependability of a won't-let-you-down workhorse.

It won't start so we postpone until the next day.

Collecting wood is great. We buzz round the country lanes scanning the horizon for trees that might have lost branches, then make a beeline for them, shuddering to a halt at the sight of a fallen log. Then it's a graceful leap out of the Land Rover, some stamping, bending, bashing or sawing, chuck it in the back and we're off again. We have constant big smiles on our face.

We really do make our own entertainment around here.

Our modus operandi is to not spend too long in one place. Neither of us knows much about UK wood law, and we don't want a man to appear and start shouting at us.

For overseas readers I should explain: Englishmen can be divided neatly into two categories. There are those who are utterly self-confident and direct (probably the descendants of the people that put the Empire together). And there are those who live their lives in perpetual anxiety that if they do something slightly different from the norm, a man will appear and start shouting at them.

We continue on our quest, the Butch and Sundance of arboriculture.

"This bit won't break. Shall we leave it?"

"Let's try driving over it in the Land Rover."

The wood survives intact, but a bit of Land Rover falls off. Short Tony shrugs, and sticks it in the back with the logs.

Continued tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

We have a disagreement.

"You make me out to be a right whinger!"

I deny this vehemently, stung by the unreasonable accusation.

"Yes you do! I only ever appear when I'm going on at you or complaining about something," she complains.

Honestly. I could construct a whole career on writing about the things the LTLP and I argue about.

"Yes, but the whole point is that you are quite a normal person," I explain. "And as I write about the frequently tragic episodes in my life, they tend to be the times when any reasonable person would be having a go at me."

She does not look convinced.

"The readers aren't stupid. They have a lot of sympathy for that," I continue, optimistically reflecting on the selection of circus freaks that inhabit the comments box. "After all - well - I... I can be a bit of a fuckwit occasionally."

I am quite big on self-analysis these days.

I resolve to respect her wishes this year and write positive things about her. I know that she is sensitive to being featured, but I never talk about our sex life or her ballooning weight problem or anything that would be discourteous.

She makes a harrumphing noise and returns to The Da Vinci Code.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

We decide to buy a sheep.

The economics of this are sound:

Four legs of organic lamb plus lots of lamb chops plus two shoulders plus belly, neck and all the other funny bits = lots of money;

A whole sheep = £78

I speak to the man, and he assures me that it will come already dead and shorn and stuff, and he will even cut it up into the various appropriate joints (see above).

Otherwise it would look odd in the freezer, and would be awkward to get in the oven.

Plus, I will be sharing it with Short Tony, and I didn't fancy having to saw it in half myself, like some dead and skinned ovine Debbie McGee. I am still trying to work out what gives me the best deal - if I should take the front half or the back half, or split it sideways down the middle.

Presumably, I get slightly more if I get the side with the heart. If anybody knows which side this is then I would be grateful to know. I don't actually like those offally bits but there is a principle at stake. Plus I guess it would come in useful if I ever want to build a monster.

(Note to local readers - I do not necessarily want to build a monster, it would just be nice to have the option. Plus you should never rule anything out in life. If anybody wishes to donate their body to me then that would be useful.)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I have a Very Important Meeting tomorrow. Which means I won't be here.

Back Tuesday.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I go to hospital, with my arse problem.

I have an appointment to see Norfolk's premier arse specialist. It has been arranged for several months - do not worry, it has not suddenly flared up again.

I park at the hospital car park and pay my £2. It is better that the hospital raises money like this rather than taxing people, as I was able to make my own choice whether to drive or use one of the myriad public transport options available from the village.

As I walk in I feel fine, but the hospital is currently hosting an epidemic of Mysterious Vomiting Disease, which is a bit alarming. I rub my hands in the special disinfectant gels provided and sit and wait my turn. People keep getting up and leaving the waiting area, but I can't work out whether they are being seen by the doctor or running out to vomit and then dying in horrible circumstances, like on The Andromeda Strain.

I casually keep my hand over my mouth.

The waiting area is full of broken legs and things, as the arse chap also does other bits of the body. Everybody seems to be a pensioner instead of me. My name is called, and they look in curiosity at the person who isn't called 'Albert', 'Doris' or 'Wilfred'.

"Now you see - your condition can normally go one of three ways," explains the specialist. "It can either get better all by itself." (This sounds encouraging). "Or you can find that it gets worse by itself." (Less so).

"Or else it can just stay the same."

I thank God for his medical expertise.

After explaining that I've been feeling fine for the past few months, I lie face down for him to give me a healthy prod. Discomforting, but not painful. And he officially pronounces me cured.

I am joyful, and leave with a spring in my step.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

"You are NOT buying that!!!"

"What?!? Why?!?

"Put it back."

Normally I can think of several things that I would rather do than joining the post-Christmas Oxford Street bargain hunters. Accompanying Robert Mugabe to a Stereophonics gig, for example. However, I have promised that I will go the whole day without moaning. It is my extra-special Christmas present to her.

It is therefore unfortunate that she is being so negative about a rather snazzy T-shirt I have spotted.

"It's really good!"

"Put it back."

It is bright red, and depicts two ladies engaged in a lesbian leather bondage session. I have quite an eye for fashionable clothing and this garment caught my attention immediately.

"Where, precisely, would you wear it?"


"Out where?"

"To the village shop," I reply lamely. "And next door."

Her stare could best be described as 'withering'. I explain that these T-shirts are clearly all the rage, and that Selfridges is a very trendy shop indeed, and would only sell artistic stuff and nothing tacky. Indeed, it is a good reflection on how far our society has come that the ladies are empowered to be featured on T-shirts and are not forced to conceal their practises underground.

She forbids me to wear it outside the house. I am both surprised and disappointed by her homophobia.

"It'll be good for wearing onstage," I explain at the checkout.

"When, pray, will you next be going 'onstage'?"

I pay for the garment, feeling good that through my action we are one small step closer towards being a more equal and tolerant Britain.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"What do you mean, 'it'll be ready at half past eleven'?!!!"

The shouty voice from downstairs dimly nagged at my barely awakeness. Christmas morning is so much more civilised as an adult.

"Half past eleven??!?!?"

Oh! The luxury of lying in bed hearing the LTLP shouting at somebody else. Especially as I'd been concerned that the previous evening's shouting (object of shouting: me, subject of shouting: misunderstanding about time of return from Village Pub) might drag on into Christmas Day itself.

And that would have been disrespectful to the little baby Jesus.

The situation gradually clarified itself as I listened on. Without going into too much family detail, I'm sure at some point you've joked about old people getting up in the middle of the night to put the roast on.

Generally, however, they have the courtesy to do this in their own home, with their own roast. Rather than, say, with my Christmas turkey.

I pulled on some trousers and went down in search of tea. The luscious smell of cooking filled the house.