To Flea Or Not To Flea

October 27, 2016

Is it wrong to creep up on an unsuspecting adorable black and white cat while she’s sleeping and apply flea treatment when she least expects it?

If so, then today I have done wrong.

The flea treatment was two-fold really. I mean, first and foremost she needed treating. I think I was about a week late in the application this month, but I didn’t want her thinking she could just become flea-ridden.

And secondly, I wanted to change the bed and Peppa was snuggled up at the bottom of the bed like lady muck. It’s hard enough making a bed on your own – fighting with fitted sheets and inside-out duvet covers – without bringing cat wrangling into it. Peppa has a habit of hopping up onto the freshly applied sheet and just standing there, looking at you.

By applying flea treatment, though, not only is she protected against itchy insects, she’s also got a major league strop on with the person or persons responsible for squirting the back of her neck with smelly chemicals. Which, on the whole, means she will go away and sulk for an undetermined length of time (how long does it take to crap in a shoe) before returning to you for loving (probably in the hope you’ll rub the flea stuff off with an exuberant stroke.

I was still trapped in a duvet cover…

The Final Bake Off One

October 26, 2016

Of all time. Probably. Because sod it when it goes to Channel 4.

Anyway, it’s over.

And it was one of those really tense finals where it could have gone to anyone in that tent. But it didn’t. It went to my secret favourite. Which was amazing. And she was amazing. And her bakes were amazing. And her pug was amazing. And, yeah, I was pretty happy with the result.

But holy moly it was tense. From the first round the standard was ridiculously high, with a double handshake in the first round and one contestant left wondering why they hadn’t been invited to the club. That must be demoralising, though, when there’s only three of you and you’re the only one that doesn’t get the goods. The technical was equally tense. And the showstopper was a) bloody ridiculous and b) tense. So tense.Like 49 individual items of cookery tense. “We want you to bake a picnic…” they say.

If Tom had been there he’d have just made a load of fougasse because, you know, it’s the go-to snack food of our time.

But the most important thing about the final wasn’t who won. Nor was it the revelation that Val is going to Aiya Napa. It was the fact that Candice and Jane are planning a baking road trip.

I need to see that baking road trip.

Because I reckon it will be all kinds of wonderful. Jane and Candice have struck up a brilliant friendship in that tent. They’ve spent the weeks trying to out-do each other but, at the same time, looking out for each other in the face of Paul’s stares and wotnot. And the thought of a show featuring those two and baking is just brilliant. It’s must see TV, I’m excited about seeing it and it doesn’t even exist.

And probably won’t exist, except it a few Instagram posts on Candice’s feed, or the odd online blog somewhere in cyberspace.

But, really, it needs to exist. It has to.

Trump Film Club

October 25, 2016

I worry, sometimes, that Donald Trump has fallen asleep during too many movies, and that their plot lines have seeped into his brain through some sort of subconscious osmosis. Like when you’re a student and you always hear someone suggesting you record what you’re trying to learn on tape and play it back to yourself while you’re asleep.

For starters, there’s The Siege. A film which I found to be amazingly dull but which centred around some sort of terrorist act and then a knee-jerk reaction in which every citizen of a certain nationality or religion – I forget which, but one of them was Mr Monk off of the telebox) ¬†was rounded up and held captive inside cages erected in sports stadiums. Which, you know, sounds like the sort of terrible thing which would never happen in the United States.

Unless you’re Donald Trump and you put the film on and then fell asleep. Then you wake up thinking it’s an amazing idea and come up with a million and one ways to keep Muslims out of the country and, indeed, chase away the ones that are already there.

And then there’s The Butterfly Effect, a film based on the concept that a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere and this leads to a hurricane somewhere else. This time, however, when Trump napped through it, he woke up convinced that everything that is currently being done on US soil, or by US citizens in other parts of the world is to in some way distracty people from the Presidential Election.

Because obviously. Trump has, this week, accused Obama of organising some sort of military offensive (which the US has very little to do with, as it turns out) as a way of showing how powerful he is as President and to take something away from Trump.

Not the limelight, obviously. But something. Something about distracting people from the campaign Trump is currently running.

You get the impression that Mr Trump is somewhat of a spoilt brat, or as much as you can be when you’re as old as he is. And that for the last 70 years he has been used to getting exactly what he wants every time, either by buying it or just annoying the living bejesus out of whoever it is that has the thing he wants. Or, in some a lot of cases, just snatching at it without asking. Repeatedly.

A bit like, say, Sid from Toy Story. Presumably another film Trump has slept through and woken up thinking it’s alright to be a complete arse. To take things and do with them what he wished until, eventually, spurred on by one person, they all rose up against him and made him run away screaming.

Here’s hoping…

The Waking Bed

October 24, 2016

Carole got up at 5.30 this morning so she could watch the first episode of the new series of The Walking Dead.

Through some unusual cunning, she had discovered that the episode was on at 2.30 in the morning and figured that if she recorded it then and watched it before she went to work then she would not fall victim to any level of spoiler, would be able to use the internet and generally go about her day.

She declined to watch it “live” at 2.30 because she said that she would never be able to get back to sleep afterwards. And, judging by her face when I saw her at just after twenty past six this morning, she was probably right.

Obviously Carole getting up to watch TV at 5.30 involved me being woken up by her alarm, so I got to lie in bed in a sort of snoozy state until my allotted waking hour of six. Before she went downstairs, I reminded her that it was still the early morning so she should refrain from her usual habit of shouting at the TV when things surprise or shock her. For example, during any episode of Strike Back she would shout “He’s got his cock out!”.

So, when faced with the prospect of someone being beaten to death with a baseball bat you know she’s going to have something to shout. Probably a long drawn out “No!” or something of that ilk.

And, bless her, she restrained herself beautifully. Not a peep was heard from her.

And then my phone buzzed, rousing me from my not really sleeping snooze.

Rather than shout out her cry of surprise, she’d text it to me instead. So instead of disturbing any of the neighbours with her shouts of protest – because they really shouldn’t be disturbed, what with them being so quiet at other times – she had, instead, chosen to wake me up again.

I hope there’s no more cliffhangers this season… I want my sleep.

Don’t Tell Him, Pike!

October 23, 2016

Jimmy Perry passed away today at the ripe old age of 93.

Jimmy Perry was a hero of mine before I knew who he, or David Croft, were. Because among the things that Jimmy Perry brought into my life was Dad’s Army.

And I bloody love Dad’s Army.

As with many of these things, I was encouraged to watch it by my dad, although I’d like to think that I’d have fallen upon it myself anyway and been in stitches within minutes. I’ve seen every episode a ridiculous number of times. And, unlike the constant repeats of Friends or Big Bang Theory which we seem to be subjected to these days, Dad’s Army is funny. Every single time. Not funny in a wry smile as you remember a punchline funny. But actually, genuinely laugh out loud funny.

And we have Croft and Perry to thank for that.

Sure, they did other things, like It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot Mum and Hi De Hi, but nothing has the same lasting appeal and comfy familiarity as a bunch of creaky old timers standing to attention in a church hall. And, of course, a beat later Jones standing to attention. It’s funny every time. I can’t explain why, but it is.

As is the gun drill in the newly weaponised butcher’s van. Or the sight of the platoon walking down Walmington High Street while Jones has a grenade in his pants. Or every single time Wilson says, “Is that wise, sir?” Jones dressed as a tree, Mainwaring saying “You stupid boy!”, Walker’s black market sales or Hodges’ desperate attempts to get the best of “Napolean” Mainwaring.

And Dad’s Army is, ever so slightly, autobiographical. With the character of Pike, the young man with the curious blood disorder and a scarf his mum makes him wear, being based on Jimmy Perry’s own experiences with the war. Although I’m sure that Perry wasn’t to be found one afternoon sitting atop a ladder merrily singing “Whistle while we work, Hitler is a berk…” only for his name to be added to a list by an angry German airman. And you’d like to think he wasn’t daft enough to get his head stuck in a gate…

And who didn’t want to go to the Novelty Rock Emporium, eh? As one of the crucial patrol points on Walmington’s coast, the Rock Emporium was almost a character in itself. Always mentioned, but never seen I like to think that the Rock Emporium was thrown in to show the sort of very British things that the Home Guard protected. Seaside rock is an institution that must be saved from all invaders.

So thank you, Jimmy Perry, for the countless half-hours I have spent in the company of your characters. And for the time I will continue to spend with them.


None Too Shabby, Abbey

October 22, 2016

Fountain’s Abbey is gorgeous.

It is. And I don’t even “do” buildings, or ruins thereof, as a rule. In much the same was as I don’t “do” musicals but will happy watch The Showstoppers until the cows come home.

I think part of the magic was in the autumnal colours all around the place – the leaves on the ground, the leaves on the trees and the posh people picking sweet chestnuts as though they weren’t going to eat tonight if they didn’t get a bag full by 4pm.

As ruins of Cistercian abbeys go, and I have seen less than two, Fountain’s Abbey is probably the best. From planting Russ Abbot’s song about loving a party with a happy atmosphere in Carole’s head, to our constant attempt to out-do each other with the best autumnal picture for a National Trust competition (for which there is NO prize) it was a good afternoon of roaming around, water features, ruins and deer.

And children who, Carole remarked incredibly loudly, looked feral.

I mean, they did. They were caked in mud, running rampant in just t-shirts and shorts, waving sticks around and shouting a lot. If someone had come up and said that these children had just been found in the woodland foraging for mushrooms then I think I would have believed them.

And you can’t think that when those monks set to and built the abbey that at some point in the future it would be a beautiful ruin spoiled only by the sight of a small boy riding a bright orange bike across the grass.

I’ll be honest, though, there was a part of me that was looking at it as the most amazing place to have a game of laser tag. I mean, obviously, I wouldn’t just rock up with a couple of laser guns, sensor packs and the like and start blasting, unlike the girl with the nerf shotgun who was camped out waiting to pick off her family members but if the National Trust ever decided that instead of a late night of choral music they would let two teams of people shoot photons at each other across the ruins, I would be so up for that.

Bagsy that little walkway above the refectory!


A Mars A Day

October 21, 2016

I imagine that when it comes to the manned misson to Mars, a conversation will take place which goes something like this:-

“Sorry, who… erm… which space agency are we going up with?”
“Um, this mission is…”
“Please don’t say European. Not the European lot. No. I’m not doing it!”

Because, lets face it, while the European Space Agency are pretty good at getting to the planet, they’re not all that cracking when it comes to the landing part.

Beagle 2 ended up in a crater. The only crater for miles around and it went pretty much straight into the middle of it. And this latest one slammed into the planet from about four kilometres above the surface. Hard. And explodey.

What I like to imagine is that right now, on Mars, there’s a bunch of authoritative aliens desperately trying to convince a variety of other aliens that it was a weather balloon. Even though it clearly wasn’t, and no-one really believes that. Nor do they believe the story that the little robot they’ve seen trundling around the Mars-scape is a fox or a particularly reflective badger. Or the Mars equivalent.

And then the other aliens will set up a variety of tourist traps in the area, all themed around the alleged extra-terrestrial incident. Or extra-Marestrial. Or whatever it would be. Either which way it would be substandard coffee at a massively inflated price because there was a badly drawn picture of a human on the cup.

At the rate we’re slamming bits of equipment into the planet, if there was any sort of life there they’d be getting really, really pissed off. It’d be an intergalactic version of having to ask someone if you can have your ball back, with the first man on Mars being forced to go round to Old Man Jenkins’ farm to apologise for detonating his cows and smashing all his windows.

Or the Mars equivalent.