Friday, September 29, 2006

How much can you pack into a life?

I ask the question because Mrs W's grandfather sadly died recently, aged 99. He was desperately close to making his century, which seems rather cruel. But no one could say that Syd didn't have a full life.

As well as having a number of tough and dangerous jobs - working in the North-Eastern shipyards, repairing bomb-damaged properties during the war and so on - Syd also found a fair bit of unusual employment. Stage wrestling, for instance, in the days when it was done for real. A spell playing for Charlton Athletic on a weekly wage of £3. (Not sure how Darren Bent would respond to that kind of contract.) But the highlight is surely his time treading the boards with "Gaston and Andree".

Andree was a young lady who apparently posed naked in a cabinet at the start of a theatre show. She was then thrown about the stage by Syd, who was a little stronger than your average fella. So strong, in fact, that he'd broken the British weightlifting record in 1933, with an overhead lift of 300lb.

I only met Syd once, when he was already well into his nineties. He had a mini-gym and weights in his bungalow in Sunderland and worked out every day. He'd recently taken up painting and was pursuing courses in computer studies and English.

And according to Mrs W, he was lively right until the end. A couple of weeks before he passed away, he asked to be taken for a walk on the seafront. His eyesight was still good enough to comment on the fine features of young lady passing down the promenade.

A lesson to all of us who feel over the hill in our late thirties.

Crusts Away!

As someone with two kids who habitually leave the crusts when given a slice of bread or toast to eat, I should no doubt be rejoicing at the Crusts Away! product from Kingsmills. Somehow or other though, I feel my heart sinking at capitulation to infant blackmail.

If there are any bread manufacturers reading, my kids would also like:

  • Malted bread without the malt
  • Bread with added oatflakes, except with the added oatflakes taken away
  • Brown bread without the brown colouring

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sir Bobby Robson's garden centre

I dreamed last night that I'd visited some kind of garden centre run by none other than former England football manager, Sir Bobby Robson. I explained to him about one of my current gardening problems - a thicket at the front of Woodford Towers that was rather overgrown. (I hacked at it for an hour or two recently, but it's a b****y nightmare and probably needs an attack with a chainsaw or poisoning from the roots.) Anyway, Sir Bobby agreed to come and sort it for me for just £3. Even in my dream, I realised this was silly money that wouldn't begin to cover his costs. Nevertheless, I was very grateful.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Who's the daddy?

I took the mini-Ws to a local playground this morning and a little toddler started waving to me and calling "Daddy!"

I explained to his mother that I wasn't aware of any paternity issues connected with the child.

She replied that she couldn't recall any connection either. The kid was blonde, so the chances seemed fairly remote.

Come to think of it though, my youngest daughter's blonde as well.

Homicide? Or just insecticide?

My dad was on a bus recently and some young guy started getting jumpy when a daddy longlegs made an appearance. The nervous youth said that the creature was freaking him out, as it skedaddled its way down the vehicle.

The insect passed my old man and he swatted at it. He didn't actually hit it, but it still seemed to come to some kind of halt.

The youngster was elated. "You've done it," he said. "Murder one."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

There won't even be time to say goodbye

My old friend Ropey has brought a rather alarming story to my attention.

Crazy boffins are set to recreate the Big Bang in a particle accelerator called The Large Hadron Collider, which is situated in Switzerland. Protons will be smashed into one another at something approaching warp speed and some people think we may get a glimpse into other dimensions.

I should cocoa.

Apparently, the probability of destroying the planet through the creation of a mini black hole is 10 to the minus 40. The good news is that we'd presumably know nothing about it. One nanosecond, we'd be posting a blog. The next, we'd be zapped to oblivion by some nutter outside Geneva. You'd think there might be some kind of discussion at the UN about all this. But the Swiss do tend to go their own sweet way (see blogs passim).

Washed and ready to eat: have your say. Well, sort of...

Two Washed fans have contacted me this week to say that they've tried to post comments, but were put off by the bizarre registration process. Quite understand. I couldn't be a**ed with that kind of thing either. In a bold step, I've enabled the comments function to allow you to post feedback on your favourite blog. There is, however, a catch. I'm moderating the comments. Otherwise it would be a free-for-all, with people like George Galloway and Nikki off Big Brother 7 chipping in.

Please treat this facility with respect or it will be withdrawn.

If you're struggling to think of anything to say, a few sample comments are posted below, which you're welcome to cut and paste.

"Phil, thank you for the blogs (the others are minging). Thanks for all the joy they're bringing. Who could live with out them? I ask in all honesty..."

"I never knew there was so much in it."

"Washed and ready to eat is an intellectual tour de force from one of the UK's most respected bloggers." Superblog Weekly

"This bloke should be put away before his ravings get any more extreme."

That last one was a trick to see if you were still reading. It's just the kind of thing that I would moderate out.

Comments may be recorded for training purposes. Posts can go down as well as up.

Anything else I can do for you, sir?

I don't want readers to think that I spend my life swanning around London in some kind of decadent social whirl. After my post about London Fashion Week, I'm reluctant to admit this, but I went for lunch today in the Terrace Restaurant at Harrods. Nice food. Weather so good that they had all the blinds drawn.

Anyway, I went to answer a call of nature and found uniformed men welcoming me into the luxury washrooms. As I completed my ablutions, one of them actually dispensed the soap for me onto my hands.

Now that's what I call service. I gave him 40p.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I might just get a taste for this...

I was fortunate enough to be taken by a client yesterday to London Fashion Week at the Natural History Museum. Can't reveal too much about the assignment, as it's under wraps for now. What I can say is that I immediately felt right at home. As I meandered from the Lavazza coffee bar towards Juicy Couture Accessories and Linda Farrow Vintage, I could see a lot of people staring at me. Clearly they had mistaken me for a catwalk model and I thought it was only a matter of time before I was ushered back stage to a changing room. Then Mrs W phoned to tell me she'd left her keys at home and she needed me to hotfoot it back to Woodford Towers.

I'll pop into Gap next week and pick up a couple of t-shirts.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Loyd's words of wisdom

Loyd Grossman® on his Tomato & Wild Mushroom pasta sauce (a distinctive sauce of tomatoes, with wild mushrooms and garlic):

"The mushrooms in this sauce grow wild in forests. I chose them for their robustness and earthy flavours - they work perfectly with the tomatoes."

Missing pet

A kid has posted a notice on a lamp post near my home pleading for the return of a lost rat. "Ratie" has apparently gone missing and we're encouraged to phone mum if we see him.

As opposed to Rentokil.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Warsaw? Let me tell you what I saw...

Interesting sign of the times. I spotted this Adshel poster for "The world's local bank" on a bus stop in South-West London. When I were a lad, all t'ads were in English.

Poles apart: HSBC targets ex-pat customers with a striking message. I'll have to check out their Wejdz site and see what it's all about.

Dogs and their teeth

It's Pet Smile month, courtesy of Pedigree. Take your pooch to a local participating animal dentist and have his canines polished. You can read more at www.petsmile.com

A vet's practice near to me is involved in this, so I'm going to sneak a peek through the window and see if there are any German Shepherds being taught how to floss.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Unusual spam

Virendra, the Sales Manager of Ashoka Handicrafts in India, writes to me as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam,

We wish to introduce ourselves as one of the leading manufacturer and exporter of all kind of GLASS BEADS, WOODEN BEADS,STERLING SILVER BEADS,STONE BEADS,CLAY BEADS,CHARMS & PENDANTS,BUTTONS,BANGLES,METAL FINDINGS, METAL BEADS,CORDS,RESIN,CHIP BEADS,SEED BEADS, JEWELLERY MAKING TOOLS,SEQUINS,WOODEN SMOKING PIPES, JEWELLERY BOXES etc.


More Ashoka Handicrafts products information, please refer to our website http://www.beadexports.com

We are able to supply different type of quality beads made of different materials and can customise according to your needs and even produce your own designs also.There is no MOQ restriction for initial orders.

Looking forward to your early favourable reply.

No MOQ restriction, eh? Aren't I the lucky one? But sorry. I always source my chip beads and seed beads elsewhere.

Tesco's Finest Limited Edition Chicken & Asparagus Pie

Generously filled with succulent chunks of British chicken and asparagus in a rich creamy Champagne sauce, finished with a butter enriched shortcrust pastry.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A visit to Kew

Took the kids to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site at Kew Gardens yesterday - not a million miles from Woodford Towers. The place was looking pretty good on a remarkably warm September day. We also had a little wander around the locale. Nice manor, if you don't mind aeroplanes.
Sitting pretty: Kew Gardens is an urban sanctuary for lovers of wildlife.


A new bridge in the Gardens was finished this year. They tried their best to make it straight.
A couple of million to spare? Why not consider a property near Kew Green? I'm still a fiver short.

Pets do alright round here. The affluent neighbourhood in South-West London is able to sustain some rather unlikely businesses, including this mobile grooming service for pooches.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

How to silence a hoodie

There's a bizarre recruitment ad on the telly for Police Community Support Officers. It's an animation in which various street scenes are played out - a kind of 'day in the life' of a plastic policeman.

The bit that makes me laugh is when the PCSOs approach a group of ASBOs, who are loitering on a street corner somewhere. Plod says - more in sorrow than anger - "Come on now. Other people live around here..."

What exactly do you think the reaction of the hoodies would be to this particular approach?

Would it be:

(a)
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, officer. How inconsiderate of me. I'll move on now."

or

(b)
A momentary look of incomprehension followed by the flash of a blade.

Answers on a postcard.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Strange classified ads in my local paper

Two caught my eye this week. The first is entitled "Girl hopes to track down boy" and tells an emotional rollercoaster of a story about furtive glances across a Boots branch in south-west London.

The lady who placed the ad has strangely written it in the third person and ranges across different tenses. But we can't all be perfect. Or should that be pluperfect?

"They had passed each other in the shop...the young woman works Saturdays every fortnight...the young man is tall with a light brown complexion..."

The second ad is very different, but equally arresting. It's entitled "Rent a gent", but it's in the business services section, rather than personal services. The copy reads: "Bored, retired quantity Surveyor offering a range of practical help and services. Including building maintenance, pension advice, help with letters, power of attorney and more." Jack-of-all-trades Mike leaves his mobile number. So if ever I'm about to write a letter signing over power of attorney to a builder without a pension, I'll know who to call.

I have a skeleton in my cupboard

No, I really do have a skeleton in my cupboard. I bought it for Mrs W ten years ago when she was training to be an aromatherapist and studying anatomy on a university course. In those days, she used to palpate me and identify various bones and suchlike and draw on me in pen. She said it was for educational purposes.

Anyway, for her birthday in 1996, I bought her a pre-packed skeleton made of card that you could assemble into a model. She never got round to it and it's been in the cupboard ever since. I am going to package it up for her birthday again this year and have another go.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Things you find in the sticks

I won't name the hotel, just in case they're breaking about 25 different regulations, but these pictures were taken at the weekend in Oxfordshire. Outside my bedroom was a fire extinguisher that might easily have been mistaken for a museum exhibit. The good news was that it had been tested and refilled by an engineer. In March 1972.

Last officially checked when I was four years old. A comforting find for any visitor to the Cotswolds. Click on the picture to enlarge the image.

That crocodile bloke

You know that Aussie guy who got zapped by a stingray?

I can't help thinking that we share some kind of risk-taking gene.

He wrestled with reptiles.

I bought a different flavour of Actimel for the kids today in the supermarket, knowing full well that it was going to cause ructions.

My mate Ropey says that stingrays can grow to be 13ft long. Now, I know it's easy to be wise after the event, but my suggestion is you just don't mess with a fish the size of a car.

Incidentally, did you see the footage of the antipodean adventurer dangling his baby in front of of a croc? It made Michael Jackson look normal. And that's saying something.

Port Salut cheese

I noticed today that the ingredient list starts as follows:

Milk
Salt
Bacterial Culture

Mmmmm. Healthy and tasty.