476 days ago
The scene below is from the front hall at the Welsh Hovel. The paints and other materials belong to the decorators who are hard at work on the final touches to the restoration of what will be a magnificent living room from the mid 1600s. But the half barrel? That is me being just so goddamn green.
490 days ago
It is only a few days ago that I was bemoaning how the true meaning and heritage of All Soul’s Night or Hop-tu-Naa had been lost into another alcohol fuelled consumer-fest that is Halloween. Now the Mrs thinks that I am turning into Peter Hitchens as we approach Guy Fawkes Night, or as it is known these day Bonfire Night. My thoughts turn to my childhood, forty five or more years ago and a different world.
1085 days ago
My mother used to bake all of our bread back in those hippy dippy days of self sufficiency in Byfield in the 1970s. As a diabetic it is not perhaps top of the skill set I seek to acquire as I consider my own future after the world of shares but none the less the Little Kitchen is a small local cooking school about 500 yards from where I live and I was delighted when daughter Olaf said she had enrolled me on a course there as a birthday present. I headed off through the snow yesterday to join four other souls who had braved the weather, and our teachers.
1444 days ago
Dad and I got back from the hospital and were sitting down to lunch. water for me, wine for him. After a morning with a range of Shipmans he deserved it. Who should bound in but the vicar from our old village of Byfield. I told him that I had recently written an article about wringing his neck HERE. He then gushed out a stream of left wing views on Trump, Brexit and other matters that were so barking mad that even my Guardian reading father was a bit taken aback. A bitter attack on Uncle Chris Booker was the final straw. No wonder the CofE is going to the dogs. On the podcast that followed I cover Orogen (ORE) where we are in and backing Adam Reynolds again, Nyota (NYO), Audioboom (BOOM), Andalas Energy (ADL) and Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO).
1467 days ago
Having been deprived of chocolate and sweets for most of the year, late October until November 5th at Butterwell Farm, Byfield provided some greatly appreciated treats.
1468 days ago
One day we woke up and there was an old style gypsy caravan, the ones with a rounded wooden roof, parked in our field at Butterwell Farm in Byfield. Next to it a horse stood gazing. My mother, a free spirit of the 1970s, had offered out our field to a couple called Rob and Maggie who spent their lives as new style gypsies.
1469 days ago
Perhaps it explains why I have picked up such a sweet tooth later in life but, in my early years at Butterwell farm Byfield, chocolate was a real rarity and sweets were just non existent. This was my mother at work.
1470 days ago
I have mentioned my Godfather Vicious in another context elsewhere, that is to say his tendency to fall for lesbians, something that has somehow passed on to me. During our time at Butterwell farm Byfield when I was a young boy, Vicious was in a "between lesbian phase", that is to say his wife who became a lesbian had left him but he was yet to hook up with the mother of his daughter who then left him for another woman.
1488 days ago
As a father, I know how useful the goggle box can be as an assistant parent and thus after my mother's death my father understandably relented and bought us an old black and white TV. Who can blame a newly single parent from seeking assistance in this way. But for the first eight years of my life we lived without a TV and I think that I watched just three, or maybe four, programmes in that time.
1491 days ago
Above the main field at Butterwell Farm in Byfield was a smaller field. On one side was a continuation of the dry stone wall that separated our land from that of Mr Peter Thompson, on the other the extensive gardens that my mother worked to create. At the bottom ,separating this land from the main field, was a giant old barn which contained a wooden three-seater lavatory seat among other gems. At the top there was another barn which in turn formed one half of one side of the yard behind our house. We we worked hard to turn the barn into a fox proof hen-house. and then started to build up a flock of chickens with the odd bantam picked up along the way, for fun.
1491 days ago
My father says that he remembers the name of the man who liberated goldfish, hastening their swim to meeting their maker: it was Mr Hutt. Winnifrith Senior 1 Alzheimer's nil. This surprising defeat of the Alzheimer's creates a long discussion, was that Fred Hutt or was Fred his brother or indeed related at all. Fred, who I am sure was not the goldfish liberator and who I am far from certain was a Hutt, but was certainly called Fred enters my memories of Byfield for two main reasons: he had only one arm and he was a bell ringer at the Church.
1494 days ago
At the bottom of our big field at Butterwell farm in Byfield was a stream. For a small boy the bank on the other side, that led up to a metal fence and onto the Daventry Road, seemed very steep and since it was lined with nettles I regarded the stream as the border of our lands.
In the summer it trickled gently on from Mr Peter Thompson's field and open country beyond, at one end through our field and on to a neat, wire mesh lined, hole in a brick wall which separated the bottom part of our land from a small house where an old man lived. In the winter the stream became a bit of a torrent, often more than a yard and a half wide. One year it flooded almost all the way up the slope of the field and must have been thirty yards wide.
1495 days ago
I know. I know. I have made minimal progress at all with learning Greek or with the novel based out in Greece so why start a third project? Well I shall make progress on both of my major tasks this summer as I take six months away from full time writing to work on a building site, that is to say the Greek Hovel. So before I get Alzheimers...
1505 days ago
In the high Pindus mountains of Northern Greece is a small village called Anelion, a place where we spent a number of childhood holidays. It was home to a man who was a friend of my father's, Mike the Vlach. It may still be, I have no idea if he is dead or alive. I was dreaming of Anelion last night and feel a very strong urge to go.
I am not sure how dad got to know Mike. I think that the first person to meet him was my father's mother Lesbia. This is a woman named after a Greek island and whose brother, David Cochrane, died falling down the mountain opposite Delphi. Greece is in the blood in our family. My grandmother had a real love of Greece and of languages and so it was she who introduced my father to the world of the vlachs.
1784 days ago
The picture below could have been from any demonstration over the past thirty years but as it happens it was when the rent-a-mob went after Dodgy Dave after his spot of bother with the Panama Papers. Do not for a minute think that I condone the way Dodgy Dave failed to come clean on arrangements available only to rich folk like him to reduce tax. I think it shows him to be a slippery member of the 1% but that would not make me hit a rozzer, male or female.
I suppose that we on the right just dont go on "demos" very often, whoever is in power. maybe it is because we are too busy with things like holding down ourjobs or maybe we are smart enough to realise the futility of such action. I suspect that it largely boils down to the fact that we accept the democratic will of the people and so if MPs vote for a measure it has to be pretty appalling to rouse hard working right wingers to go on a march. The last great right wing demo was for life, liberty and the countryside.
I went on that march with my, then baby, daugher on my back.