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Archive for June, 2012

Gateau Moment In Greenwich

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Dear Rachel

You can’t have fat mods.   It’s not allowed – understated tailoring doesn’t work over 160 lbs, and scooters are harder to control at low speeds – and while I am not a fat as such, I am increasingly unthin.   In my usual direct manner, I recently decided that instead of dieting in the conventional way, I would simply stop eating.   Or rather, eat as little as I could for as long as I could every day, and see what happened.

One of the things that happened – although probably unrelated – was finding myself refereeing a dispute between Danny and Keith over post-trading beverages at Greenwich Market.   Danny and Keith have argued about almost every single thing on earth, although are always happy to explore new ground.   As if to prove this, the lyrics of ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’ by Lonnie Donegan were being called into question.   Danny withheld that the correct chorus was ‘He wears gor blimey trousers and he lives in a council flat’.   Keith, however, maintained that the trousers were ‘brown corduroy’, and that Danny was deaf and an idiot.   Lonnie Donegan was also responsible for such deathless classics as ‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight?’ and ‘You’ll Have To Speak Up (I’ve Got Beans In My Ears)’, but these remained unreferenced as Danny said ‘I left a book of Lonnie Donegan lyrics round your place when I was having a go on your mrs the other day, I’ll give her a quick bell and we’ll sort it out’, in a favourite debating strategy of his.

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Podcast 2: Bears And Cans

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

It’s another podcast.   This time, we learn about implausible business advice, baldness cures in Victorian London, and causing delays on the Northern Line by throwing children about.  It’s longer than the last one, but I kept it short by reverting to my normal talking speed – ie, very fast – halfway through in order to get everything out of the way as quickly as possible.

If you fancy it, brace your earflaps and click here.

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Standing Clear Of The Closing Doors

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Dear Rachel,

Few things are as disconcerting as having your hair cut by an angry barber. So far, this has only happened to me once, quite recently, at Hobbs, an excellent barbers in Borough Market. I was first endeared to Hobbs not only because of their strict employment guidelines – I don’t want a heterosexual cutting my hair, especially a male one – but also their habit of providing bottles of Becks to patrons if there’s a queue. This provides an additional bond between barber and client, not unlike that team building exercise where someone falls backwards and trusts their colleagues from Accounts to catch them. I’ve often been well lit up when I’ve taken to the chair, and have yet to receive a haircut I didn’t like, or at least eventually get used to.

Anyway. As an argument between the two barbers raged – it was about the conduct of a third, unseen barber, as far as I could tell – I took my mind off all the sharp things and capacity for injury by contemplating a traditional race between traders from Borough Market and Smithfield Market. I learned about this from an old poster on the waiting room wall.   Each market would put forward a team to push a barrow from London Bridge to Brighton Pier, and in 1956 the Borough Market traders winning time was 11 hours and 13 minutes. Brighton is 54 miles from London, and this feat is especially impressive when you consider that while stealing a similar barrow from Petticoat Lane, my old flouride-dodging Camden Lock sparring partner Plastic Dave took all night to push it to Camden, just three miles away.

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Podcast 1: Alchemy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Slightly shaky but nonetheless very exciting (for us) attempt at our first podcast.   After a bit of initial rattling on, we discover the importance of speaking slowly and clearly, and how to make money from, well, not old rope as such, but old bits of pork shoulder and a buccaneering approach to ethical practice.   Bon appetite!    Podcast 1: Alchemy

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Save Me, Lady Constance

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

The phrase ‘Bomb Scare Drill’ consists of three unappealing words arranged to describe an unhappy event in an uncomforting manner.    We used to have Bomb Scare Drill at school when I was a child, and it involved walking calmly to the playground when the fire bell rang, answering your name as it was read out by a teacher, and then playing truant for the rest of the day.    Bomb Scare Drill was also an excuse for teachers to impress the evils of such truancy upon us, by presenting the horror story scenario of telling your old dear that not only had the IRA blown the school up, but that you were missing, presumed detonated.    In a great many cases, the parents concerned would simply have said ‘Well no, he’s upstairs smoking my bloody fags again’ or ‘I’ve sent him out shoplifting, he’ll be back at six’, in order to soothe the jangling nerves of teachers and social workers alike.    I thought my social worker was a teacher for several years, and questioned the overall validity of Bomb Scare Drill in the first place, on the grounds that if a bomb had been found in the building, assembling the entire school eight feet away from it was unlikely to do much good.    A further irony was that our school was a designated shelter in the event of nuclear war – this was the eighties, remember – and so leaving it because a bomb had been reported seemed illogical.

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You Are My Sunshine

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Dear Rachel

Consider this list of items: dogs, medallions, vans, wholesalers and sunshine. These are all things to be enjoyed in various degrees, according to the taste and preferences of the participant. Get them in the wrong order, though, and the results can be catastrophic. Take the example of Fruity Eddie from Greenwich Market, whose medallion repeatedly caught the sun while he was transferring stock between two trolleys outside a fruit and veg warehouse in Upminster last Thursday. The resultant beam of light projected into his van, which is three weeks old, to the furious and astonished amusement of Luca, his Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who is seven.

The age of Luca is immaterial, however, as any canine will chase a beam of light around a confined space for hours, never tiring until it eventually succumbs to hunger or fatigue. Not content with merely chasing the light, Luca had actually attempted to dig it out of the upholstery at the various points at which changes in Fruity Eddie’s posture had served to make it disappear. Luca was significantly prouder with the prolonged effects of this activity than Fruity Eddie, or indeed his insurance company, who don’t pay out for such things. I did mention that at least it was nice to see a bit of sunshine, to which Eddie replied that the next time Luca was bored, he would shine a sunbeam onto my balls, and see how funny I found it then.

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