Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I've sorted out my garage.

Man-space, oh yeah.

It needed it. If you took a stroll through the Aladdin's Tip of crap it was before I tidied it up, you might have noticed the vestiges of organisation I'd attempted, but it wasn't impressive.

Come on, walk with me.

With only floor space to work with (no shelves), I would, every now and then, organise it into categories so that bit over there would be for the mower and associated gardening paraphernalia (a hammer), the bit near the door there would be for motorbike stuff including chain wax and a spare helmet too small for anyone but a microcephalic budgie. Watch your step there folks, and you can see the territory marked out for camping equipment and a miscellaneous area where I put stuff I don't know what to do with DON'T OPEN THAT!

Ahahaha! No reason. Just leave Lonely Drawer alone. It's for . . . er . . . other things . . .

Moving on.

Over the months, the miscellaneous area got bigger as I forgot or couldn't be bothered to put things back where I got them, so that eventually, the whole garage became a miscellaneous area.

The rabbit would wander in, get lost for a couple of hours, before emerging covered in snow and tattoos depicting a lost world, where sabre-toothed hares would hunt woolly foxes under a distant pair of weak blue-tinged suns.

There is a tumble drier in there, which I class as a compromise between manly goodness and domestic necessity, and is present because of a detailed and objective cost-benefit analysis that I did, balancing the pros and cons of its presence versus its absence:

Reasons for not having tumble drier in garage :-
More manly man-space. More room for goodies. More space for practicing on unicycle. No noise. No fluff. No excess heat.

Reasons for having tumble drier in garage :-
Wife told me it was going in the garage.

Admittedly, the testosterone-fuelled manliness has been dulled a little by the addition of this laundry appliance, and I had to incorporate said device into the new regime of tidiness. I'm not saying that men shouldn't do laundry, but that it should be done somewhere other than the man-space. It's like asking a lady to set up a circular saw in her cushion room.

Ladies have cushion rooms right?

One thing I do have, which weights the manliness ratio back in my favour a little, is a plastic chair with an Ikea sheepskin draped over it. Aside from the unsettling mental image of the flat pack sheep that it may have come from, the resulting effect is to turn a simple green garden chair INTO A THRONE OF AWE!

The Throne of Awe will be complete as soon as I can find a mug made out of an upturned human skull to drink my cocoa out of. Until then, I shall continue using my cup with ukulele chords printed on the side.

The man-space is not just about storing big toys and mending stuff, it is also a place of contemplation. The garage, like the shed (which I don't have), is a place of meditation and pondering.

Apart from the usual stuff like "What's outside the universe?", "Why isn't there a god?" and "Why aren't there any other words for Thesaurus?", one can think about some of the big questions in life, like "What's for dinner?" and "Is it really dangerous to swallow gum?".

One cannot brood in a messy muse area.

For this reason, I coveted the tidiness of other chaps garages. Some had outlines on the wall around tools so that, if one was missing, you'd know what it was straight away or what should go there. Some had separate little drawers for different size screws, rather than a big bucket with anything metallic and smaller than an axe chucked in it. They didn't have a half-melted recycling box full of old bulbs in it, or a mountain of out-of-date weed-killer. None of them had half a spade.

My (sadly late) neighbour, Cliff, had the most immaculate shed I've ever seen, which was a reflection of his mind, the result of a lifetime spent working in precision engineering. Occasionally, he would come round just to stare, horror-struck, at mine. I got the impression it was like a rich westerner visiting a poverty stricken, war-torn third world country and then going home to tell his friends that there were some unbelievably awful things happening out there, beyond the borders.

Cliff epitomised the maxim ' a place for everything and everything in its place' whilst I tend to go with 'everything placed anywhere'. It didn't make for an appetising man-space.

Then I got hold of some surplus industrial shelving units, and managed to store all my stuff on a less horizontal axis, leaving me with a proper area for a table, and places for putting my tools so that I can re-use them without having to buy new ones because the old ones are lost under a veritable tectonic plate of shifting clutter. And lo:

Look at that! You can actually see the floor. The Throne of Awe is tucked under a clear desk. Tools within easy reach and all ready for a Project.

Note the capital P.

All I have to do now is decide on a suitably red-blooded Project to undertake. I'm thinking of something that harks back to the primeval nature of Man the Maker, when grunting hunters with furry backs, who probably hardly winced at splinters let alone went to their local A&E, would make stuff out of wood and sinew, translating the image in their hairy minds into a three dimensional object in reality. I want to recreate a time where we were at one with the materials around us, where we began to mould our environment to suit us rather than vice versa. Back to the dawn of our accession to the pinnacle of the food chain, when we claimed our rightful place as dominant species on the planet.

I, dramatic pause, shall finish my spoon!

It's okay, I don't need applause. Just the knowledge of taking on a piece of beech and whittling it to within an inch of it's life will be enough to get me through.

Oh, go on then. Just a little clap.


In addendum, the missus has said that the man-space is actually a pleasant place to be now, and she can envisage spending time in it herself.

Hmm . . . not sure how I feel about that. Next she'll want to park the car in there.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beer Den

And here, in a safe haven located by its parent, the young cub waits, surrounded by the familiar sounds, sights and smells of its day to day environment. Even though it's currently alone, it can feel secure in the knowledge that its father will almost certainly return, perhaps unable to communicate coherently, but probably carrying with him sustenance in the form of half chewed Pepparamis and a slice of cheddar with brown sauce smeared on one side.

Yes, I lost my kid in the beer aisle. In my defence it was only temporarily, and he seemed happy enough when I got back on Thursday.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brithday Suit

My mortality has come into sudden, stark focus. I am on the cusp of either despair or joy. A peak, or maybe trough, of dawning realisation that life is either a journey of unexpected occurrences to be experienced with optimistic joie de vivre, or a long slow slide into the open gaping maw of the cold, cold grave.

It's my birthday.

As a newly qualified 38 year old, (which is 13,528 in Mayfly years), I've now been on the planet for nearly 4 decades, so it behoves me to consider what I've achieved in that time.

Well, I've finally used the word "behove" in a sentence, so I can be proud of that.

What else? I must think of something from my past that represents one of these peaks, a frothy wave-top on the ocean of experience, through which I danced like the rainbow-speckled dolphin of life.

I had a wee next to Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at Alton Towers once.

True story.

We nodded but didn't speak or make more than the briefest of eye contact because that would defy the unwritten law of toilet manners, or bog etiquette. This may come as a bit of a surprise to some ladies, but it's just not done for chaps to talk whilst attending to their micturitionary needs. It's like a more draconian form of lift protocol, where you must stare straight ahead and not engage in any form of interaction with other humans at all and just goes to show how unlikely a scenario is depicted by Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator".

It's even more difficult in male toilets though, because they generally consist of more than just standing motionless in a simple cube. In a line of urinals, one must leave at least one empty urinal between yourself and the adjacent gentleman, and preferably take position at the far end of the row so as to be as far away as possible from any other urinators, lest you be mistaken for a couple. If there are only three urinals, and the middle one is empty, you wait till one of the end ones has been vacated before taking that place and pointing Percy at the porcelain.

There were only two urinals in the Alton Towers pissoir, which is why Mr The Eagle and I were standing next to each other, and not because we were about to engage in any sort of homo-erotic love fest, which is presumably what happens if you have a wee next to someone when you don't have to.

Okay, let me just check my lifetime achievement list; Behove used? - check. Eddie the Eagle urination and gay sex denial story? - check.

Right. I think I'm done.

So, it's pretty clear that I'm a high achieving, goal orientated type. I like to work hard and play harder. I'm a hedonistic go-getter who don't play by the rules and don't give a good gosh darn for the sensibilities of no-one, no way, no how, no siree. I gots me a job to do and I'm's a gonna do it, and if you don't likes my methods you can just go aheads an fires me, cos I ain't taking no hassles off of no pencil-neck pen-pusher downs at city hall.

Actually, please don't fire me. I have a child and a mortgage and a motorbike that needs servicing. I'll be good. I won't pluralise inappropriately again, honest. And that pencil-neck really goes with that tie. Brings out the beige in your eyes.

I don't actually mind working, although if I can avoid making it hard I will do because I'm a human male. I don't like it when I end up sweating because of some hefty bit of legwork. I don't mind bleeding on the job, because that takes little effort, but sweating usually indicates exertion of some sort, which shouldn't happen at work outside the circus, porn and Guantanamo Bay.

So, on this, the anniversary of my body's birth, a spot of quiet reflection via snatched minutes tapping away at this blog has taught me that I'm an achiever who doesn't mind work too much, lives in a house, has a kid, urinates regularly and shares a birthday with Brian May out of Queen.


To celebrate, I am going to go to a great chinese restaurant tonight in our local itty bitty city. At least that's the plan, but the local papers are full of the news that Customs Officials "swooped" last night and detained six illegal immigrants who were working there.

Two things trouble me about this. The first is the idea of any government agency "swooping", because that implies a sort of raptorial grace and possibly the ability to fly. This would indicate a level of competence and efficacy I don't think any authoritarian organisation has outside of the Brownies, and if they were that efficient it would mean they were being funded too much. I want low taxes and a government that makes it's sub-divisions get by on their bare minimums. They do it for the army.

The second is that I hope one of those detained wasn't the guy responsible for the hot and sour sauce or the cheesy squid, because those are delicious enough to warrant a fake passport any day of the week.

Wish me luck. I'm hungry.


Ooh - picture!

I seem to have set a precedent by posting various virtual photographic plates taken with the utter expertise of the random blogger, and although I shouldn't feel beholden to put one in just for the sake of it, a post sort of kind of seems a bit naked without one.

A picture expresses. A picture confirms. A picture represents.

I shall scroll through the esoterically ordered directory I have entitled "Pictures", which has subdivisions called things like "Slalom" and "Fancy", but are now jumbled up because I can't remember why I called them that in the first place, and see what I can find.

Er . . . how about a slightly blurred picture of my hand, which I took to check contrast settings on my camera, and is not at all in any way intended to resemble any sort of body part other than the hand it actually is, because doing that would represent a dodgy state of mind, and if you see anything else in it then that's entirely your anus problem.

Make of it what you will.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I tort I tor a witch's hat

Awooga booga!



Feeling better?
Well you should, because I've just been using my new integrated holistic detoxifying chant transcript on you which, through the medium of this very display unit what you are currently perusing, will rebalance upset chakras, dilute your humours and nutritionalize your bile, resulting in you being in harmony with your cerebrospinal fluid.

And before any of you detractors and naysayers get all argumentative on my arse, spouting vitriolic mumbo-jumbo like "evidence" and "efficacy" and "potentially harmful side-effects", this is all scientifically backed up by objective research I did on Wikipedia not twenty minutes ago.

That'll be eighty quid please.

I'm thinking about setting up a clinic, where I can practice as The Jules, PHD (Paid Holistic Diagnostician) and embezzle help people by seeing how they react to blue crystals in comparison to red ones. If they pay me enough, I'll look at their poo and tell them it shouldn't be that shade of brown (or black, or green, or red), and that they should take my thrice-whacked water, which was once carried through a field of nettles at sunrise to absorb the memory of stings so you get the nerve-tingling goodness without the pain and rash. Stat. It's only £8.99 a bottle, but you do get a certificate saying you bought it. It comes out of the till at the top here.

Nettles are natural, so they're good for you actually, because Mother Earth is a benificent spirit. And curare doesn't count.

Of course, if I'm going to set up a clinic, it's all about location location location location, and the analysis of ley lines on my OS map suggest that there is one place where the barely detectable energies of Gaia intersect with the radon-infused goodness of underground magma.

Of course, this is a bit far away, so I'm considering the second best location in England; Glastonbury.

Initially famous because King Arthur allegedly did some fictional stuff there, it's more usually associated with the Glastonbury festival, where you go to get stoned and incidentally listen to some bands for £150, although the audience are often so wasted they wouldn't know any difference if they were in their parents' basement listening to the tumble dryer.

Glastonbury is also well-known for its alternative scene, from alternative music to alternative healing to alternative policing using a uniformed ferret called Wonder-Nigel.

Actually, no-one else saw Wonder-Nigel, so I may be mistaken.

I did inhale.

Anyhoo - Glastonbury is rather lovely, in a historic sort of way, and it's worth going to climb up the Tor to St Michael's Tower and look at the plains dissapearing into the distance yonder.
If you're there to set up a thriving business of esoteric therapy though, you're in for a surprise, because the kaftan-wearing flower-tonguers that profess to live for the beauty of the soul and the ethereal benefits of altruistic love and peace have got the competition sewn up tighter than a gnat's chuff.
I took a few snaps as we walked down the main shopping street, and it wasn't long before I came across this:
The oldest healing centre in Glastonbury apparently. Does the local GP surgery know about this? It was a very professional sign, and I took note. They do astrology as well, so it's good they've branched out into astrophysics. Some of the signs are obviously playing on the stereotypical ideas that alternative folk generate, like this 'un:

A proper witch shop, that was. I popped in and the 'witch' had cunningly diguised herself as a hippy, selling things like flowery dresses, plastic pens shaped like twigs (although with the advantage over real twigs in that they will last forever because they won't biodegrade) and ceramic mushrooms. By a locked display cabinet trying to make glass fairies seem more valuable than they actually were there was an earnest discussion going on between the proprieter and a big-hatted customer about the "vibrating properties" of a crystal.


Also a lot of self-help books, although if you're using a book to help you, it's not exactly "self" help is it? It's "ill-informed author" help.
I was particualrly impressed with this chap's sign:

Why use a stereotypical drawing of a typical moustachioed, long haired, leather-hat-wearing-indoors pasty bohemian if you actually are a typical moustachioed, long haired, leather-hat-wearing-indoors pasty bohemian. Kudos to Brian then.

It looks like a sign is important. If someone asks, "Give me a sign", as they hobble down the street, hindered by a deformed yang, they want a board with words on it, not a burning bush or a voice in their head. Let's face it, they've probably got a voice in their head already.

It's not all tat and flappery, though. Some of it is rather tasteful. Glastonbury might be a handle short of a broomstick, but they do a good line in talented buskers, ones you actually
want to listen to. They also have a decent flair for decoration, like this ivy and butterfly motif on the outside of a shop which has yet to be despoiled by a paint-can scrawler who thinks he's Banksy:

Unfortunately, it looks like opportunities for setting up succesful alternative healing franchises in Glastonbury are available in homeopathic amounts only, meaning I might have to think of an alternative fleecing empowering organisation. How hard can it be to start a religion do you think? If a second rate science fiction wrter can do it, then surely a second rate blogger can.

Right, I'm going to start interviewing for High Priestesses. Not sure how high yet.

Five eleven maybe?

And off their tits on disco cigarettes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Mystery of Work

Work has once again got in the way of an appropriate blogging schedule, with the tawdry necessities of feeding and clothing my family forcing me to prostitute too much of my precious time for the interests of others.

I'm very lucky in that I actually enjoy my job, and don't mind going to work, although one or two shifts a month would be preferable, just to keep my hand in. In the absence of a lottery win (made even less likely because I only did the lottery once when it first came out, and gave up as I didn't win even one million quid), I have to make my presence felt three or four times a week, for twelve hours a time. And because I'm a bit skint at the moment, I have to go in even more for the overtime.

It's not very fair, when you've got blogs to write, ukulele's to play, the park to mess about in and camping trips to go on, but the powers that be seem oblivious to the emotion in my emails on this subject. "Not our problem" they reply, and "Please stop emailing the chief exec with your rants." they opine.

I would complain, but they threatened to pay me what I was worth and if they did that I'd probably have to live in a hedge and lick the insides of abandoned crisps packets to survive.

I'm not greedy though. I could get by on just one billion.

Pounds, not crisp packets.

Work then. My presence was felt, and we were clearing the garage out because one of my colleagues is pregnant and therefore has decided that she can't bear the thought of any clutter on the premises whatsoever. It's called nesting, I think.

She was initially threatening to throw all the personal mugs out, including mine, simply because it's washed so infrequently that the build up of tannins inside has left an almost solid block of cup, with a small hole down the centre where the next brew goes, like pushing a test-tube into a cylinder of soft clay.

My argument that it gives a beverage some character if you only rinse a mug out every couple of months or so didn't have quite the appeasing effect I was hoping for, so we diverted her by saying how cluttered the garage was at the moment, and perhaps she should go and have a look.

She did, and then announced that it was no good, it needed clearing and we would all just have to chip in and do it.


So, there we were, finding paperwork that had been stored safely in a box under the sink and now resembled something you'd put on a plinth in the Tate Modern and call 'Essence of Chaos", mucking out the cleaners cupboard which is paradoxically the filthiest space in the area, and tentatively opening sacks of bulging items with the faint but tangible fear of finding the King of Rats holding court in it.

There was quite a lot of crap.

There was quite a bit of unidentifiable crap as well. Some of it from vehicles that we hadn't used for years, some from equipment that was now seen as a potential health and safety risk, and the occasional abandoned Tupperware lunchbox with labels proclaiming them to be the property of long dead colleagues. Opening them was a bit like the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where tormented, screaming souls erupt from the pretty box and tear apart Nazi's in a blaze of of mediocre special effects, but apparently can't get through Indiana Jones's closed eyelids.

There was also a BabyBel cheese, which was still edible. Well, as edible as they ever are.

One thing I did find was this:

It felt sort of heavy and expensive, and looked like it belonged to a kit of some sort. If I had to describe it in terms that everyone could relate to, I suppose it was like holding the spine of a robot monkey that had overdosed on diazepam.

I passed it around for people to have a look at, hoping to be enlightened as to it's function. In return, I recieved various explanations ranging from a Homeresque "Ahdunno." to the frankly inspired "It's one of those things you use to, you know, thingy."

The mystery wasn't helped any more when I found another one, so they're either a useful thing or they're breeding.

Any ideas anyone?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mon chair

Who'd have thought there'd be so many ways to put an arse on a seat?

In our Crawley hotel they had made a real effort with some unusual furniture. I think they were trying to give their guests something to look at inside seeing as the view outside was . . . well, Crawley.

As well as stuff to look at, you can also give your (predominantly business-folk) guests something to do inside. Rather than install a Wii in every room, they've gone for the cheaper option of allowing some unnoticeable horizontal recreation between colleagues by providing an "affair door" between adjacent rooms:

Ours started rattling at three in the morning, but if you think I'm going to open it when there's a distinct possibility of a horny accountant being on the other side, you've got another thing coming. I'd rather face the manic axe clowns that live under my bed than that.

"Heeeeeere's Coco!"

Mostly, though, the rooms were fairly standard en suite jobbies, with most of the effort having gone into the public areas. They had a six metre tall waterfall downstairs in their foyer-cum-cafe-cum-waiting room-cum-vaulted space.

That's a lot of cum.

In addition, they had installed some interesting chairs.

Having just typed that, I think that could be a contender for the most boring sentence on the t'internet, just after "Bookkeeping is usually done by a bookkeeper." and on a par with "The adventure began with wallpaper."

Still, I'm gonna go with it, because what's the worse that can happen?

No, don't go! I'll be interesting, honest. I'll post some pictures so you don't have to read, you can just let your brain absorb information, like by all osmosis and that. You like pictures don't you? That's it. Come back. Yeeesss. Pictures.

Of chairs:

Look at that. Eggs! Those chairs are like eggs which have been over-boiled so that the yolks have gone that funny mix of yellowy-green and black where you're not sure if it's okay to eat them, but you don't want to waste it because a chicken suffered to push that out of it's straining cloaca for you, and would be quite upset if it's unfertilized ovum was simply wasted, so you sort of eat it with a frown because when the yolk falls out of the white it looks like one of those little rubber power balls that's been held in a grubby child's dirty mitts on a hot afternoon.

Happily, these eggs were for sitting on, and the yolk even folded in and out for easy storage. They looked interesting, and my son played with them for forty minutes whilst I sorted out a pint of Kronenburg and the missus had a glass of her current favourite tipple, baby Guinness, which is a Tia Maria and Bailey's poured so one rests on top of the other like a tiny pint of the Black Stuff.

Tastes like sweeties.

So, we've established that the hotel had chairs like eggs. They were about as comfortable as sitting on a pile of half-open laptops, but they were more for decoration so it's okay.

But, be still my beating heart, there was another type of chair that I actually thought was quite groovy:

It's a hand. An hand. In an hotel.

I actually thought this was fairly clever, especially as they'd managed to make arm rests out of opposing digits without warping the anatomy unrecognisably (although you try making that shape without having fingers deviating from arthritis and you'll end up having fingers deviating from arthritis).

It was a bit more comfortable as well, feeling like you'd simply sat down on some barnacles that were clinging to a giant King crab.

Now there's an idea for a chair.

Fascinating (?) though the furniture was, people were mostly sitting on the comfy sofas, possibly so they could look at the other furniture, which sort of defeats the object of those objects.

From the hotel's point of view however, they must have been considered a success, for I actually saw some daft tourist taking photos of them. Madness! I mean, how sad is that, to go to a hotel and take photos of the furniture?

Er . . .

Happily, I am above lowly, mortal considerations of decorum and personal space, because I serve a higher power. *


*For all your self-justifying needs, come to the Gravel Farm (Nazi's and Estate Agents need not apply, unless they're very rich).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Secure banking

I like this gate:
It was opposite a park we went to the day before yesterday, and it's all rusted and closed; even the modern padlock and chain that have been used to secure it look dated. And perhaps unnecessary looking at how stuck fast it is with rust and vegetation. Actually, the very presence of a padlock at all seemed a tad overcautious to me, because the only thing on the other side of the gate was a bank.

I don't mean as in the money-hoarding, jargon-wittering, friendliness-faking profiteering style of bank that litter high streets up and down the country with their self-aggrandizing existence where they try and force us to view them as important when, at the end of the day and with interest rates the way they are at the moment, they're little more than an old mattress like the one your great Granny used to keep her life savings in.

You know, where you go in to pay off a credit card bill and, for the third time that month, they ask you all about your mortgage and whether you'd like to swap it for one of theirs, and you think not only do you not wish to swap it, and not only can't you remember who your mortgage is with at the moment, but surely no-one wants to talk about mortgages if they don't have to because it's the dullest subject in the world, and if they offered instead to chat about their Aunt Vera's prolapse and subsequent inability to ride her bicycle, you'd be all ears if it just meant avoiding a discussion about house payments.

You know, where you pop in to say you've accidentally gone overdrawn without arranging an overdraft, but as it's only by forty quid would they consider waiving the fee and setting one up now seeing as you've been giving them your business since you were eighteen, back in the day, when you could withdraw £5 for a night out, and still have change for a quarter-pounder on the way back to your student digs, and they look at you as though you've just asked them to fellate a humpback whale whilst explaining quantum M-theory to Sarah Palin, and then send you a letter telling you you're now sixty quid overdrawn because they charge twenty for letters telling you you're forty pounds overdrawn.

Not one of them types of banks. I mean a grassy, overgrown one, with all bluebells and wild garlic stuck on it.

The good sort of bank.

There's a name carved into the stone pillar on the left. "Dimmelsdale" apparently. There wasn't a house though. Just that mossy wall of plant and soil about four feet back, extending away to either side. One of the internets says that there is apparently a cottage there, but unless it's disguised as a hillock, I couldn't see it.

It was a mystery that required all my skills of analysis and deduction to solve, and requires the use of raging anthropomorphism.

Behind that gate lives a six-foot pipe-smoking badger wearing a pair of golfing slacks, a white shirt and a sleeveless yellow jumper, and probably called Barry.

Barry Jones.

His house is the bank. Behind a difficult-to-see oak door is a long corridor with a sort of 1950s country gentleman motif going on, leading to a book-lined study containing an open fire, a desk with an old green lamp on it and a pen made out of a feather which seems a bit odd as surely the ink would just spread out all over the place, like a rubbish brush. Maybe that's how badgers write though.

Barry will be a single bachelor, but not in the eyebrow-raising Cliff Richard sort of way, and generally tough but friendly. Wise in the ways of the world without ever seeming to have left the valley. No telly, but occasionally listens to Radio 4, and shakes his head in wry amusement at the antics of humanity, with a gentle laugh that sounds like "Huff huff huff" as he winks a twinkling wink and repacks his pipe, a peaty, home-made blend that actually cures lung cancer if smoked. He enjoys reading a broadsheet, with tiny half-moon glasses that perch precariously on his black twitchy nose, occasionally emitting a gruff tut, which sounds like a euphemism for a fart but is in fact an avuncular noise of disapproval.

His favourite hobby will be digging up baby rabbits and eating them whole because he's a badger.

Case closed.

Maybe not. A six foot badger would be quite noticeable round these parts. Especially one doing something as antisocial as smoking indoors.

The gate probably isn't that ancient, but it's embedded in an old wall and has that pleasant, gently wild and overgrown look of faded grandeur that people like taking black and white photos of because it creates an atmosphere and must be why there are so many monochrome moon shots.

We're good for old buildings and ageing premises round this locale, with lots of converted woollen mills from the area's extensive wool producing history littering the landscape, making a pleasing mix of industrial and rural construction amidst fairly extensive green fields, rivers and canals.

In keeping with these woolly traditions, and perfectly segueing from the above topic to the next without being a barmy non-sequitur, I would like to share with you the following image, taken this very morning whilst being ordered to read aloud and "do the punny noises" by the sprog:

Apparently, it's little Bo Peep doing some tenuous tail-grafting, but taken out of context it could be much funnier.

Captions, anyone?

Other than " 'Ave it!" I mean.