Beeped hello at the local racist as I drove past him walking his dog, or hobbling with his dog as he has a walking stick that he brandished aloft in response to my beep, only then I thought he could fall over, which I might remember for next time I beep him.
Everyone’s painting at the mo. Bill opposite is painting his back gate, what colour he doesn’t know as he’s colour blind, ‘mint green’ I told him, for what it’s worth, while that also galvanised me to put the undercoat on our back gate, a repaint that I’d put off for a while knowing the bastard at No. 7 would very likely dawb it with shit or something (they did as well, the infamous Shitgate, which got me waving down a police car to have them stop me go over and smash his face in). He and his poisonous alchie wife have since moved out, even taking their door number off their backgate when they moved. Did they take the light bulbs and floorboards as well?
Anyway, back to neighbourhood gate painting, and most spectacularly, the Finnish woman over the road and her bloke have spent days creosoting their 50-yard-long fence. Well, creosote colour, real creosote is hard to come by. Hughie has a secret supplier but it comes at a cost of several pounds a gallon, he’s told me. Creosote must rank with petrol and Swarfega for top shed smells. Ben the mechanic told me everyone who comes to the garage, they get a niff of Swarfega and get all excited as it throws them back to childhood Saturdays, with dad doing something DIY-ey.
Painting the Finn’s fence near black (she’s called Rikka, does she talk like Raikonnen, who talks like Key-op off Battle of the Planets?) reminded me of the episode of Huckleberry Finn when Aunt Polly demanded Tom whitewash their back fence, which he finds a deadly bore of a chore, but somehow enough passers-by thought it fun enough to want to have a go, which he allowed on commission of nickels, apples, a comic and wotnot, and they get it done in double-time for which Aunt Polly rewarded him all the more. Still funny 40 years later. I told Bill about this, then lo, an hour later, I saw him standing there as Helen Stupid from two doors down helped paint that gate – not sure what he got her to bribe him with though. Swarfega, painting fences, such things that do it for people.
The people opposite the front of the house, also recently painted their front gate, and so carefully rebuilt the fence, painting that plank by plank before assembly to ensure there was paint even where no-one could see. For such fastidiousness, the shame is the fence they’ve built looks OK only cos the paint’s fresh, but will shortly look very cack indeed. It is very DIY. They also had an interesting dilemma as horizontal planks from the neighbour’s fence crossed onto their side, with an ever so slightly different shade of green (see pics below). Would they leave the planks, paint them half-way, or paint full across? Someone suggested they paint half the planks but horizontally, which would be great. In the end they painted the next door gate and all the fence the same colour. Which is kind of cool of them, but in another way they must have gone to their neighbours’ and made some case for how it’d look better, i.e. currently it looks shit and most options to remedy it would look shit, too, except the option of the neighbour allowing them to paint his/her gate and fence their colour, which is both rude and expansionist.
Don’t know if I’d want to live next to people like that.
Glad I live opposite. Much easier for them to see me twitch my curtains at them.
It is curious how one person painting a gate could provoke so many others to do so, as I said to Bill, I’d been meaning to finish the back gate but was only spurred on to do so by him doing it, too.
Curiously, too, observed Her Indoors, we all live in the line, the fence annexers, us, Bill, then Rikka Raikkonen. A lay line? Curiously enough, I remember from a few years ago the story of a motorway in Germany where there was one particular black spot, accident after accident, and it didn’t matter what they did, speed restrictions, warning signs, alterations to the road, they kept happening, until a druid approached the authorities and said the road cut straight through some confluence of lay lines and too much energy was confounded on either side, but he had a solution, place quartz pillars either side and allow the energy to cross. What the Hell, thought the Big Guns, we’ve smashed up the kitchen enough times, might as well throw the sink. And … it worked.
Was zum Teufel.
Ha! Found it, from the days when The Telegraph was a proper paper and didn’t illustrate commemorations of the Battle of Britain with Luftwaffe propaganda photos (see earlier blog).
*Austria, not Germany. Ach.
I was in Montenegro earlier this year, end of April, stopped off in Podgorica for one night then on to Kotor for one night. It was sunny and warm, while the flight to the capital we passed over many mountains still heavily cloaked in snow, and it looked like an amazing landscape for hiking and skiing.
There was a handful of small to medium sized jet at the capital airport, with proper farm tractors on hand to shunt them about. To get into town, with no Metro, train nor even a regular bus, you have to get a taxi, and I was picked up by the very nice young man I’d booked online before coming, who offered to take me to scenic spots around the city.
To be blunt, in Podgorica itself, there really isn’t a lot a to do. At my perfectly serviceable hotel, at which I was the only guest, one site I was pointed to was a clock tower up the road, so going via a very cheap cake shop I went and had a look, I found out the time, then strolled a few hundred yards to the bus station to buy my ticket to Kotor (again, cheap), the station itself was an interesting brutalist building, with an overhanging roof of curled up concrete, then I investigated a derelict hacienda-style building – a prison? – next to the station.
I stopped off back at the hotel, and learned some dialect off the staff as we watched local TV, which was all folk songs, then trundled into town, crossing the cable bridge over the shallow, lazy Moraca river, people hanging out on the stepped ravine and slopes of grass going down to the water, then on to the town centre, a non-descript square where folks milled back and forth or relaxed by its fountain.
That was it. The whole city had the ambience and charm of a sprawling, crusty cafe, a mosque here, a pretty church there, a large grey concrete government buildings and flats from the Yugoslavia days . Nice enough as a base to explore landscape sites around the area, a lake, waterfall, beautiful valley and a monastery, all most easily done on private tours, then move on. For a capital city, it makes Bratislava look like Hamburg. And the people were all chilled, and friendly, and most notably, not aggressive at all.
My trainers seem to have an bottomless stash of small stones to release under my feet, doesn’t matter how many times I take them off, bash them on a fence and see something fall out, another interloper appears seconds after putting them back on, like there’s some malevolent hamster’s cheek pouch within, deftly releasing these tiny mines to hinder my journey, a constant foray of Maquis attacks on my Panzer division as it proceeds home.
I’m sure there’s a Greek myth of someone being punished by the Gods with stones in their shoes. There’s one about a guy having to roll dice for ever with a small pot that has no bottom. And the bloke pushing the rock up the hill that rolls down again. Pretty unpleasant as deities go, for all the hanging around they do on chaise longue, eating grapes in Doric-columned gazebos surrounded by cloud, playing chess, watching the Mortals through the water of a bird bath. Why don’t they do nice shit?
Fucking Hotmail shit. I’ve been locked out of my Hotmail account for hours now, and they’ve blocked me again, seeking to filch email addresses and subject headings out of me by way of verification – which I don’t know because I’m not in the fucking email and I don’t carry this shit in my head, while the Microsoft site for shit like this says ‘send an email.’ You wankers. I used Hotmail more these days since Yahoo! went wank, and they did that in the teeth of so many complaints, people saying the meddling had bust up a working system.
Fucking dickheads. It’s a conspiracy, as my father might say.
Some months back I reported on the death of my novel, Mr Whippy Goes to Schaumberg. Like all great deaths, it was exaggerated.
I have as of 7 July 2018, finished it, 160,000 words on the first draft. Obviously some editing to do, but I’m very happy with it. In fact, it’s 10,000 words for each year I’ve been writing the damn thing.
Hip hop hooray, ho, yay, ho, yay …
I’ve had to come back to England due to our beloved labrador Ben being ill, he’s lost a lot of weight in recent months, and there’s something not right with his liver in terms of what the scan’s thrown up – but, liver function test came back very normal, strangely so for a dog his age, said the vet. So it’s not wholly clear now how ill he really is, so we need more tests.
Meanwhile you do what the ads on Channel 5 recommend, ‘peace of mind’, ‘save a few bob and stress for your loved ones for when the day comes’, and start looking at funeral arrangements, because when you’re old and got nothing to do but watch daytime TV you want constant reminding of how close you are to being on your way out.
I don’t mean funeral arrangements for Ben as in invitation lists or caterers for the wake, but options. No-one seems to do burials, no pet cemeteries a la Stephen King (we’ve nowhere to bury him ourselves, except the allotment, and we don’t want him dug up with the cabbages). Seems to be all crematoria, but no Viking longboat pyres, which is what I want, I want my pallbearers to have ankle-length cloaks that sway as they carry me along, singing the somber Viking song, then being out to sea aboard a blazing ship.
Anyway we visited a perfectly nice one today, glossy brochures of caskets and urns with paws printed on, or ones in the shape of the animal that’s died, even the breeds of dog, although we weren’t taken with the labrador one as it had its paws crossed in a fay way that Ben dog just doesn’t do (I don’t mean he’s too butch or owt, it’s simply not a mannerism of his. Also caskets for horse ashes, which weren’t on display, but must be huge. You’d need some massive curry tureen to carry that, and a ladle to dish out the ash). Anyway the striking thing was, the woman showing us around, very nice she was, but she’d always pause, ‘so you know, when the vet comes to, … *excuse me* do the deed’, ‘but when … God forbid … the time comes,’ ‘You might want to consider – but I hate to be so cold – but you might want to consider …’ ‘There are – I hate to say this – other options…’
Yes it’s obviously a job that requires delicacy and tact, but I kind of think you can overplay it. ‘God Forbid’ doesn’t make sense. He’s going to cark it, like we all are, that’s why we’re here. On that, the little funeral shop that’s opened opposite is officially in business, we know as the guy who moved into the house next door to the parlour when Prat and Ginhead moved away, died only a few days ago, and is I think the parlour’s first customer (no he’s not, his wife is, he’s not really in a state to do business What do undertakers call the dead? Simply the deceased? Clients? Stock? Meat? Meat stock?), and was until today held in the mini morgue they’ve built. Must have just hoyed him over the wall. Maybe slid him out the window aimed at next door, he speared into the yard. Even the local racist who told me this sad news had to add, ‘Well, that’s handy.’
Back at Pet Crem Inc., a big selling point is that they distinguish between pets, i.e. if you want your pet to go up in a pyre with a load of others (images of bulldozers in death camps come to mind), that’s one way, but if you want it individually done they do individual cremations so you’re sure the ashes you get are those of your pet (to whit, they don’t divvy out the mass pyre ashes, if they stick it on the grill with the others that’s the last of it). Big dogs can take four hours to go up in smoke.
They also have scatter tubes for the ashes, like big pepper pots (although they’ll have already done the grinding of any remnants I hope, you don’t want the thing bunged up by chunks of charred hound, and then have to turn the top the grind the rest out. That could go wrong in many ways, don’t leave it in the kitchen). And scatter cushion things, made of wicker, which I thought at first were scatter cushions, but terribly designed because surely every time you sat on one plumes of dog ash would seethe out of it.
So many nuances to all this.
Why wouldn’t you want to wake up feeling like this every day?