No Longer Known At This Address

This will be the last post to appear on this blog – but don’t despair (in the unlikely event you were thinking of despairing) I shall be continuing to write at my new address, which is, so retune now to stay in touch.

This has partly been forced on me, in that this blog is now full – not of words (I can have as many of them as I like) but of images.  I didn’t want to delete old posts (out of sentimentality, mainly) and other options, such as archiving some of the posts elsewhere, seemed too laborious, so I’ve decided to make a clean break and begin a new site.  There is something rather exciting about starting with a completely blank slate and it would be nice to think it might help me recapture some of the joie-de-vivre I seem to have had when I began this blog, what now seems like many years ago.

Older readers may be reminded of the time Radio 1 switched its frequency from 247 to 275/285.  If I had any space for images left I might try to find one of their DJs of the time wearing one of the t-shirts they produced to publicise the switch.  Or perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t have the space.

It goes without saying that I’m immensely grateful to everyone who has followed, commented on, helped to publicise or simply read this blog over the last six years and I hope you’ll continue to do so on the new site.

See you on the other side!

Five Years : An Anniversary (and the latest on Ned Eckersley’s beard)

Five years.

As David Bowie once observed, “it’s not a lot“.  I think he went on to add “it’s all we’ve got” and “my brain hurts a lot“, so there was obviously some serious pencil sucking going on in Beckenham that evening.  I mention this only because WordPress has this week reminded me that I’ve been now been blogging for five years and I decided to commemorate this anniversary by taking the day off and going to the cricket instead of writing anything.

On the other hand, I realise that many of you out there in Internetland will be tuning in hoping to find out the latest on Ned Eckersley’s beard.  I don’t wish to disappoint, so here is the state of play as of this afternoon.


Eckersley's beard 27.4.14

The beard appears to have been pruned back and now, I’d say, gives its wearer something of the look of Errol Flynn playing the part of an Elizabethan sea captain.  More on the beard, and my month in sport, to follow in due course.

Stump Watch for May 2011

We interrupt the cricket coverage to bring you this month’s edition of Stump Watch.

Strange how writing a blog intensifies one’s awareness of the passage of time.  It was in the first month of this blog’s life (May 2009)  that I first complained about the cutting down of this tree.  Now it is, at least, a sizeable and rather attractive bush.  By the time it is fully grown again I do wonder where this blog and its author will be.  Quite possibly at one with Nineveh and Tyre.

Cycles in the sporting world are slightly shorter, I suppose.  I see that I wrote on 2nd May 2009 –“good news from Lords – James Taylor … one of Leicestershire’s bright young things, has registered his  first  first class century and helped save the  match”.  (In fact it wasn’t at Lord’s, but Southgate).  Two years on, Taylor has eight first-class centuries (and three list A ones) to his credit.  If he retires at – say – thirty-five, this blog will have to run for another fourteen years to mark the end of it.

It also occurs to me, incidentally, that when Mark Ramprakash reached his hundredth century, there was unanimity among the commentators that he would be the last to achieve this feat.  If Taylor plays for as long as Ramprakash, could up his current rate slightly and avoid playing too much international cricket, he should exceed it without too much difficulty.


Apologies, folks (if any). 

I have been forced off air for the last few days by those rogues at Talk Talk.  I must say this organisation seemed to me to function much more efficiently when it was called Tiscali and run by a gang of banditti from their mountain stronghold in the wilds of Sardinia.

I hope to be back soon though, God willing, with more of the latest hot news concerning tree stumps and so on.

Exterminate all the brutes?

As I think I’ve mentioned before on a couple of occasions (in my Pollyannaish way), this is the time of year when thoughts begin to turn to the Spring, to the return of life to the bounteous earth and so on.  In a recent post the poet Francis Meynell was musing thus – “I keep this time, even before the flowers/ sacred to all the young and the unborn /to all the miles of unsprung wheat“.  It’s time we saw a lamb or two : the birds are in song in the early morning and are eyeing up suitable locations for their nests (e.g. my roof).  Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day and the young uns have got a bit of a glint in their eyes.  You get the picture.

It does seem, though, that some people’s thoughts are turning in quite a different direction.

A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I read the following alarming piece of writing on the blog Stumbling and Mumbling – A modest proposalIt’s too complex a piece to paraphrase accurately (and, as always, frighteningly brainy) but it asks why, if we accept three commonly accepted beliefs (that the population needs to be reduced, that public spending needs to be cut and that there is a self-perpetuating criminal underclass) we should not be in favour of the compulsory sterilisation of those who are likely to produce feral children.  As the title of the piece implies, the author isn’t actually advocating mass sterilisation, and, indeed, states explicitly that he is against it (though he doesn’t exactly seem to be motivated by savage indignation about the idea either).  But I do find it alarming (and baffling) that the thought came into his head in the first place, and equally so the calm and rational way in which the debate proceeds in the comments.

There are any number of rational arguments against this proposal, but I don’t think I can get past what I think the author means by ” The Urgh Factor“.  Imagine what it would feel like to be a woman with few other prospects who had set her heart on having children, only to be informed (presumably by some government functionary) that she was to be carted off to hospital and sterilised instead.  At which point the mind of anyone with an ounce of sensibility would  indeed revolt and go “Urgh – what a disgusting idea”.  And that would be an end to it.

I might have forgotten this, if, a couple of days later, the comedian Ricky Gervais hadn’t come out with the following, in an interview with The Times –

“Should we impose a limitation [on having children], then? “Yes, based on … stupid, fat faces,” he snarls. “If there’s a woman in leggings, eating chips with a fag in her mouth, sterilise her.” (Why leggings, incidentally?)

I do realise that Gervais – as a comedian (that new clerisy) – is only joking, but it’s still worth noting how many people seem to agree with him – though perhaps they too are only joking.  The most highly rated comment on the Mail Online, for instance,  is “you know how the saying goes…’many a true word said in jest’! I’m with him on this one 100%” and there is a frankly flabbergasting discussion on the official Richard Dawkins fansite  –

I might also mention in this connection the enthusiasm expressed in a couple of comments on this (excellent) post – This article is not witty– for the idea that castration is the way forward in dealing with those who are likely to perpetuate a cycle of abuse.  The slight difference of emphasis here (castration rather than sterilisation) is, I think, down to the commentators being women rather than – as in the case of S&M and the Mail – mainly men. 

And then again, at a slight tangent, we have Master Amis’s latest amusing thought experiment – that we should set up euthanasia booths for the elderly to prevent “a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops.”

Now of course S&M is really saying something about the nature of managerialism.  Gervais is only joking and Amis is being satirical, but I do find it shocking quite how many people there seem to be going around with this stuff swilling around their heads – this fear, this disgust, this contempt for the poor, the feckless, the old even and quite how little permission they seem to need, once the unsayable has been said, to indulge in these weird fantasies of mucking about with other people’s reproductive systems.   Slowly the poison the whole bloodstream fills …

Mind you, I do quite like the idea of “The Urgh Factor” and think it could work as TV programme.  The aim would be for a succession of controversialist bloggers – contrarians, sweary libertarians, what-iffers and general loons – to see who could make the panel of judges  – all bleeding heart liberals – the most angry and upset.  Bonus points would be awarded for the superficial plausibility of the argument, but making the panel physically sick would ensure instant victory.


Yours truly, Angry Mob – or Mr. Pooter joins the commentariat (reprinted)

This week’s hot topic in the quality prints and elsewhere seems to have been mobs – hashmobs, flashmobs, hatemobs, lynch mobs.  You can take your pick of the articles, though Dominic Sandbrook, writing in the New Statesman, offered a historical perspective –  Mob rule.

I threw in my two pennorth last week – Gately, Moir & Fry. (I see this morning that Mr. Fry is at least considering cutting down on the Twittering, by the way – Fry to nix Twitter? – because of all the “unkindness and aggression”. Wouldn’t  blame him one bit).

I thought it might be worth reprinting my own first hand account of how one innocent citizen found himself caught up in a virtual lynch mob.  This was one of the first things I wrote on this blog (back in mid-May) and I doubt whether anyone read it at all, so I trust I’m not boring my loyal readership, if any.

I learnt my lesson, incidentally, and have never been near Comment is Free again.



In which I make some amusing remarks and find myself caught up in a lynch mob

Curious experience a couple of nights ago.  Tiring slightly of my  backwater I decide to venture out into the mainstream (or trickle or torrent, whatever the technical term is) of the blogosphere.  I decide to give the world the benefit of my views on a couple of subjects via the medium of one of the better known blogs.

Put soberly and rationally (and I wasn’t perhaps entirely the first of those, at any rate) the point I was intending to make was that I was surpised that the revelations concerning MPs’ expenses had caused quite the furore they have as compared to all the other things that they have done collectively over the last thirty years or so, and how very likely it would always have seemed to me that they would get up to those kinds of tricks.

I first of all try the BBC news website where, as you might imagine, there was already a considerable body of comment on this subject.  I make my point (aware as I am doing so that I am wildly exaggerating my strength of feeling on this question) and post it.  I then realise that the post won’t be published for several hours, if at all, so decide to head off in the direction of the Guardian’s Comment is Free to try my luck there.       

There I see Alexander Chancellor’s article about Stephen Fry’s alleged comments on the matter on Newsnight (which I managed to miss, but it’s fair to say aren’t going down particularly well) so I decide to throw in my two penn’orth there.  Having got a taste for it now I look around for another blog to comment on and my eye falls on an article by Polly Toynbee “Brown must go now”, or something along those lines.  I find that this has attracted so much comment that it has been closed: I then spot another, newer comment by Toynbee saying that once Brown has gone, in line with her instructions, Alan Johnson must be appointed forthwith.  For some reason I find this quite enraging and post a derisive message, in which I say that in 35 years of reading the Guardian I have never managed to finish one of her articles.  This cannot possibly be true, although it is true I rarely even begin to read the ones she writes currently (the ones under the cartoon).  I then return to my comments re. Chancellor, Fry and the expenses and add an even more provocative comment saying that I think MPs should actually have their expenses increased.

I then go back and read the other comments on Toynbee’s article.  These make my jeering sound like a model of sweet reason.  She is getting the bird in no uncertain terms.  Collectively we make up a virtual lynch mob.  I then realise that this article is one that is due to be published in the next day’s paper, and that it has already managed to attract over a hundred hostile comments. 

Why is it, precisely, that we are all so angry?

  • Some are genuinely angry about the expenses scandal.
  • Some are genuinely angry about the way that Nu-Labour has traduced the better traditions of the Labour Party.
  • We are mostly frustrated that our various points of view have no effective representation in the mainstream of political life.
  • But also, I would guess, we are angry (if only subconsciously) that the much-vaunted democracy of the blogosphere does not mean that our views are given the same prominence as P. Toynbee.  If she says that Brown must go, or Johnson must come in then she expects to be taken notice of.  If we want to be taken notice of then it is a question of strength in numbers, swarming like angry bees.

Still, feel slightly (very slightly) regretful and atone by leaving a message of thanks to Frank Keating for a nice mini-memoir of Colin Milburn. 

Perhaps I’m better off in my backwater after all.

And now, a word from our Sponsors (Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup)

There does seem to be a good deal of debate at the moment about the extent to which bloggers should be compelled to reveal any commercial sponsorship that they receive – see this, for instance, from last week’s Guardian Technology Supplement – this.

For anyone who can’t be bothered to click on the link, here is an extract –

“The long-running debate over freedom of speech on the internet took a new twist yesterday, when America’s most important regulators – the Federal Trade Commission – decided to approve new rules to stop independent bloggers from hiding their links to advertisers.

Payola schemes – where web users are offered money or gifts to write about certain services or products – have increased in recent years, as marketers realise that there’s a lot of hay to be made by using freebies and cash incentives to encourage bloggers, web users and forum contributors to produce reviews or testimonials. At its worst, it is a form of astroturfing, the pernicious practice of trying to trick people into thinking that has widespread support from ordinary members of the public.”

Well, I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide whether I’ve received any payment for this,  but I should like to offer a testimonial for the following product – Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup. 

This almost miraculous substance has the power to transform the dullest dish, and is particularly efficacious at this time of year in lending a smoky autumnal note to stews and risottos.

It is available from Sainsbury’s for £1.19 – very reasonable, considering the use you are certain to get out of it  (and it is, no doubt, available from other reputable retailers too).

Here is a picture, and a description, in their own words:


“This rich-tasting sauce was the secret of success for many Victorian Cooks with Steak and Kidney Pies and Puddings, Roast Meats, Sauces and Soups”.

If I were you, I’d pop out and buy a couple of bottles tomorrow – I guarantee you won’t regret it!

A brief intermission

It’s been a busy weekend of sport, as they say on the BBC (one and a half days of cricket and one of football*)- not to mention My Daughter’s Birthday Part 2 and Back to Church Sunday, so I now have a great deal to write about but no time to do so.

For any readers who may worry that their set’s on the blink, and feel tempted to bang on the top of their computer and ring the man from Rediffusion, here’s something to look at until normal service is resumed –

* I had Friday off, which is why the weekend lasted more than 2 days.

“Mention of cat”

A snapshot of the search terms that have led searchers after knowledge to my blog during the course of today : as follows –

These are terms people used to find your blog.


Search Views
cricketers underwear 2
stornoway guardian 2
englands got talent i could have danced 1
“top cat” judaism 1
que es big close en television 1
football allusion sit 1
slipknot swine flu 1
old testament allusions 1
ivan massow 1
trends for autumn winter 2009 topman 1
english cricketers pose boss 1
colonel wintle image 1
writer of am in market harborough. where 1
“lynsey hanley” 1
The one I particularly like here is ‘ “Top cat” Judaism’.  This is a topic I have been meaning to address at greater length for some time, but here is an added incentive to return to it.
The search I’ve had in the past – apart from the ones that would have caused a sharp intake of breath in the Krafft-Ebing household – that still haunts me somehow is the person who searched for “mention of cat” (their italics) more than once.
“Mention of cat”?  Which cat? Any cat?
I don’t even have a cat.
Perhaps they meant this cat?
Top Cat

Top Cat


(Apologies here for the layout – it seems to have taken on a life of its own).