PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH
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You may remember that my coach for my Woodlarks walk was 75 year old Fleet Street legend Brian Basham who himself completed the London marathon last year. My coach was in town yesterday and we met up for lunch. Uh Oh!
Both as a journalist and a PR man, Basham was at the top of his game. His contacts are just amazing. And as such he is an entertaining chap and we talked happily in central Bristol. But being old style Fleet Street it was over wine and then brandy. This is one reason that I do not go to London as there are others, like Brian, who can lead me astray. I remember my days of old style Fleet Street excess all too well but am too old, and too diabetic, to allow myself to go back.
These days I am imbibing well under five units a week. This week’s ration and some was consumed over lunch. I made it home and after a long shower was able to walk to pick up Joshua from nursery but there was no question of trying to go to the gym. I shall make amends today because I have stuck, fairly strictly, to my new regime of working out every other day. Either it is 30 minutes on the treadmill or the same time on the exercise bike doing 10 or 11 miles.
I cannot say that I am losing much weight and I need to up my game for Brian has agreed to join me on the Woodlarks walk next year, May 25 2019. That makes five confirmed for the full 33 miles (myself, Dan Levi, Lucian Miers, Andrew Bell and coach Basham) with one other – who is even older than Brian – joining us for the last six. And others, including Andrew Monk, are considering it. Should you wish to join us just drop me an email.
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On Saturday I shall try to walk 33 miles from Horse Hill to Woodlarks with Brokerman Dan and Lucian Miers, my fellow rogue bloggers. In this podcast I explain why I got involved so many years ago, what Woodlarks does and why all of you should donate to this great charity HERE. Please take 12 minutes out to listen and then make a donation.
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On Saturday myself, Brokerman Dan and Lucian Miers, aka the rogue bloggers, will walk 32 miles from the infamous Horse Hill “Gatwick Gusher” oil well to Woodlarks, aiming to raise £20,000 for that amazing charity. Reminder – Woodlarks needs that cash to up its income from just £126,500 last year, to close its deficit and keep doing its amazing work providing holidays for handicapped folks who would otherwise get none. Yesterday was my last long training walk…
I set off at 5.30 AM from the start of the Bristol bath railway cycle path and in the early morning I made cracking progress. The track passes by a couple of rough looking estates and from one tower block I could hear neighbours having a rather heated exchange and threatening each other. That spurred me to walk a bit faster and I did have a few questions as to whether I should really have departed that early?
As some consolation the early hour meant that I saw both a fox on its own and a mother playing with two cubs. Growing up in the country I know that foxes are smelly , evil, murdering vermin but these urban specimens and their cubs did look rather sweet. Fear not I am not going soft, it is just that I was not “carrying” – I do know that the only good fox is a dead one.
As the light improved the foxes disappeared and were replaced by lycra clad cyclists and fat dogs being walked by even fatter owners. I made cracking progress and before 7.30 was at the converted station turned café where, when Lucian and I had walked this path, we had stopped so that he could have a bacon butty and a fag at 10 AM. Enjoying my first nutri-bar and drink I felt smug and ahead of schedule and was almost tempted to call Lucian and rose him from his slumber by telling him. Instead I pressed on and before eight thirty was at the steam railway station of Bitton for another drink and the rest of the first nutri-bar. Eight and a half miles in three hours – not too bad – with two short breaks.
Before ten I had turned off the path having done c11 miles and was on what was termed the Avon cycle-way to Chew in the Somerset hills. This was meant to be eleven miles too. But the signing was just utterly dreadful and as far as I can see the walk was entirely on roads. Within three miles I had lost the signs, if indeed they exist, and was just navigating village to village by instinct.
At three miles I saw a sign to Chewton. Rather foolishly I hope that the Chews were like Midsomer so that Chewton would be near Chew Magna or Chew lake. A chap said I was about eight miles from the lake. Great. I strode off fortified by another bit of nutri bar and more fluids, confident that I would beat the Mrs to our lunchtime booking at “Salt & Malt” by a good whack. Hmmm.
Two miles after Chewton came a village called something like Susan Dando where I asked about the lake which I was expecting to be just five and a bit miles away. “It’s a long way, at least ten miles” said a lady as she laughed. It was getting very hot and sunny and I was not laughing. The roads were up and down, rather too m any hills for my liking but I strode on, village to village.
The countryside was gorgeous. As my second and final nutri-bar disappeared I picked a few blackberries for comfort and by eleven thirty reached a roundabout which “I knew” was very close to the lake, the turning was just around the corner and in that vein I drank my last water. Natch, the lake was still miles away but I just kept walking and about 400 yards from the lake the Mrs and Joshua pulled up beside m e and gave me a lift for the final stretch.
Bar a bit of dehydration I was fine. Yes. My feet hurt but I coped with the hills fine and know I could easily have done another five or ten miles without collapsing. A few years ago when I was a twenty a day man my lungs would have been burning after just a few miles but today, even on the worst of hills, I am never breathless I might pant a bit as I hit the peak but that is it.
After that walk with Lucian a few weeks ago I was stiff as a board and headed pretty much to bed as soon as I could. Yesterday was just a normal day. Yes I hobbled a bit as my body stiffened up but I made supper, and worked a bit and just got on with it.
So I shall do two more short five mile walks on Tuesday and Thursday with Joshua and then it is the big one. I feel as ready as I will ever be.
To those who have already sponsored the rogue bloggers I say “thank you”. You are giving money to an amazing charity in Woodlarks. To those who have yet to donate I ask you please do so now HERE
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My 32 mile walk for Woodlarks with my fellow rogue blogger, Brokerman Dan, is now just two weeks away and I am conscious that most of my training has been on the flat. What better way to prepare for the Surrey hills than to walk up a Greek mountain in the burning summer heat? And so at 8.30 AM off I set....
The first 5-6 miles were along the mountain road up to Kambos. I kid you not, it is uphill all the way. Having started at c10 feet above sea level I reckon that by the time I left this road I was at least 750 feet above sea level, plausibly quite a bit more. The views down to the gulf of Kalamata were spectacular but that was of little consolation. It was a slog.
Now and again, as I passed a blackberry bush where the berries are now starting to ripen I would pick a berry and think of Joshua. On the way home from his nursery we pass an enormous blackberry bush and while English berries are still green I know they will ripen. At that point Joshua will gorge himself at the bush and we will take more home for supper.
I had been dreading this climb, worrying that I would just find it too tough and be forced back but, although I am still a bit too fat, I seem to be surprisingly fit and by the time the Mrs called me and i stopped for a water and a protein bar break the village of Kouris was in sight. Greece being Greece it remained in sight as the road looped and looped again but before I knew it I was at the turn which saw me heading downhill to Megali Mantineia.
This village is prettier than my own, Kambos, and is also far closer to the sea. And it was made famous by "Things Can Only get Feta" and so it has a genteel feel of Northern European money that Kambos lacks. There is a lovely taverna with views out to the sea where the Mrs and I have eaten as we explored this region. I rather wished she was there and called her to say as much as I stopped for a coffee, for lots of water and to top up my water bottles. I chatted to my father and to his delightfully right wing, Trump loving carer Emma and headed onwards, always downwards to the sea.
As the sea started got closer I left the Greece of old stone houses and entered the Greece I'd rather not think about. there was "Harmony Village" a half finished development of four or five fake stone houses to contemplate. The weeds at Harmony grow long and a sign outside "For sale, investment opportunity" will, I suspect, be there for many years. Worse still are the houses thrown up during the "good years" when cheap money was being thrown at Greece by the EU. A ghastly concrete mansion painted bright pink with its own private modern church was the low-point.
At this point readers may wish to avoid the next two paragraphs. As I headed on to the sea with what the maps describe as the "rema mili" (the dry river which nearer Kambos is the murder gorge) to my left, my problems started. I have a stomach bug which can cause an urgent need to visit a lavatory. it is minor affliction which will, I am sure, go away soon, but at this point it struck. I tried to suck it in, I thought of how Paddy Leigh Fermor and Bruce Chatwin would have done a walk like mine in the mountains of the Mani, before an alcohol and nicotine fuelled lunch, and then done another walk afterwards. Somehow I reached the sea.
By now I was really struggling but somehow made it to the next village and to a taverna into which I rushed, found a loo and sat there letting everything go and sweating buckets. After that I felt I deserved another coffee. Frankly i deserved a medal as well. My body was empty and I headed back to Kalamata, stopping now and again to drink water or pour it over my head to cool down. It was with some relief that I made it back to my hotel where, after a quick shower, I feel utterly refreshed.
Could I have done another circuit? The answer is almost certainly "yes." My feet are fine, my legs are okay but in this heat I would have been a wretched specimen by the end of hit. As i write the temperature is well into the mid thirties.
Assuming I shake this bug, I'd like to do one more big walk before heading back to the UK - taking the mountain road another three or four miles onto just before Kambos before heading downhill to the sea and back home. I shall try to fit that walk around the arrival of the van from Bristol.
To all those thousands of poltroons who keep posting on Bulletin Boards or tweeting how much they hate me, surely today's suffering has brought a smile to your face? So for making you happy - and promising to do so again in a couple of days, how about you make a small donation to a great cause, Woodlarks, HERE
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It is now less than four weeks until myself and Brokerman Dan try to walk from Horse Hill to Woodlarks to raise money for this charity which I have backed for 16 years and which does amazing work as you can see HERE. Dan is far fitter than I am and sent late night texts on Friday saying that he had managed a 21 mile walk but was a wreck and needed a lighter rucksack. I know it is hot up in Manchester what with all those fires on the Moors but I think he is kidding me. It is all psychology. My plan was to do 26 miles on Sunday.
I set an alarm for 4.30 AM and hoped to be walking by 5.15. But the bed was jolly comfortable and when I did rouse myself I looked on my computer to approve Sunday articles for ShareProphets. I procrastinated but, looking at the donations page HERE, I was struck by how generous so many folks had been and determined not to let them down I called a cab. At 6.23 AM I started walking on the Bristol Bath Railway walk – along the old line – from its start near Temple Meads in the City Centre.
It was the route I had taken a week earlier with my friend Lucian Miers but with no-one to talk to as a distraction and almost no cyclo-nazis to dodge I made cracking time. By just after eight I had managed seven miles in record speed and despite being on a gradual climb and I was at the (not yet open) cafe where eight days earlier Lucian and I had stopped for a a 10.30 AM break and, in his case, a bacon sarnie and a fag.
My rucksack was heavier than last week, containing my laptop in case I fancied a spot of blogging, some bread and two litres of water. It was time for my first drink. Despite being double socked my left foot had started to rub and that pain grew as I headed on past Bitton where steam trains were running on the private railway, something Joshua would have loved. I crossed the Avon three times and by 11 AM had reached almost thirteen and a half miles. My foot was hurting and I fear – wrongly as it turned out – that a blister would result. It was – according to my phone 30 degrees and I was my backpack grew steadily lighter as I took on fluids.
I really did think, several times as I headed back from near bath towards Bristol, that I might call the Mrs and get a lift home but I just set myself a target of the next stop to reconsider. It was hard going and my pace slowed such that I was frequently overtaken by 70 year old joggers and three year olds on cycles. But slowly I retraced my route. The three bridges over the Avon, the start of the steam railway tracks, Bitton, the end of the railway tracks and then Lucian’s cafe.
At that point, still seven miles out I did feel a bit feint. As a diabetic I should have hat my testing kit but did not but just to be sure I bought a sugary snack and a coke and refiled one of my two empty water bottles. Like an idiot I then left that full bottle at the cafe; something I realised only as I finished the coke, five miles away from the line. But the snack gave me a whole new lease of life, the pace picked up and the last few miles were, very gently, downhill. I raced ahead and despite missing water in the last stretch finished the course in nine hours and thirty one minutes. If I add in 400 yards at the start from where V cars dropped me off at the wrong place, two detours to answer a call of nature and a wander around Bitton station looking at the trains, I managed, near as damn it, 27 miles.
I could have gone on. I am in no doubt that, given another two hours, I could have made it to 32 miles. But there was no need, doing a marathon in this heat was good enough. By the time the taxi dropped me off at home I was stiff as a board and last night I slept like a log. But today? I am fully recovered. I could walk again but shall not as 75 year old coach Brian Basham says I must rest my muscles. None the less my recovery times are improving as e very week goes by. So my next session is a short mid week walk, six miles on Tuesday, most of it gradient work at the gym.
I cannot help but feel a bit smug. Two weeks ago I struggled badly to do 15 miles. Last week I struggled to do 24. This week 27 was less of a struggle. Slowly but surely I am getting there. But gosh it is painful. The determination is partly one of pride but also not to let down all those folks who have sponsored myself and Dan. We have now raised £9,849.16 ( or £11,740.21 with gift aid) which will make a massive difference to a charity which had an income last year of just £126,000 and does truly amazing work.
If you have sponsored us already we both thank you. If not please would you donate now. Just a tenner from everyone who reads this piece would get us well over our £20,000 target so please take a few minutes and donate now HERE.
PS. Completing this trek and managing type 2 diabetes shows that it can be done and makes me all the more angry when folks like Diane Abbott use the condition as an excuse for their manifest failings.
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It started well. I had planned a route from the Conham River Car Park on the outskirts of Bristol, along the Avon to Bath. The signs said it was 14 miles. What could be more pleasant?
The first two and a half miles, to the Chequers Pub at Hanham Lock is my normal training base for my five miles during the week walks. The path is clearly defined and even at 8.30 you meet a constant stream of joggers (often shapely lycra clad young ladies), cyclists (invariably lycra clad men who could do with losing a few pounds) and stacks of folks walking their dogs. There is a rather glamorous older lady on a horse who I meet now and again.
Joy of joys, I saw a Kingfisher for the first time in the wild. What a glorious sight as it took flight. I rather assumed that the whole walk would be like this. It was not.
Shortly after Hanham the path rather disappeared and I found myself walking through fields. Sometimes patterns in the grass suggested there was a path somewhere, often there were no patterns. At the edge of each field a metal kissing gate gave me renewed hope that I was on the right track.
I ploughed on, making reasonable time but at the village of Swineford the track stopped altogether and I found myself staring at a road and a not yet open pub, the Swan. I could see no sign so wandered along the road towards Bath for a third of a mile and finding nothing wandered back again. I met a man and asked directions. I retraced my steps heading back along the road towards Bath as instructed. After about a mile there was a footpath market down towards the river.
I took the path but by the time I got to the village of Kelston I had my hands above my head as I pushed through deep nettles. I do not wish to sound like some angry townie rambler but, well, I was an angry townie rambler at that point. Cut back your fecking nettles Kelston. Wandering through Kelston I met other walkers: a young man who, like me. had a back pack and who overtook me and than raced on ahead and then four folks who looked to be about sixty who I overtook! Hooray. That was a first and I had nine miles under my belt already at that point. I paced on, conscious that the skies were darkening.
It was at this point that not looking in more detail at the route proved my downfall, for I should have crossed the river. I did not. As I continued, I noticed that the paths had disappeared altogether, that there were no walkers and that I was walking through fields packed with cows who seemed not entirely familiar with ramblers. The terrain got tougher and tougher. There were no paths. No kissing gates just rusty old farmers gates to mount but I convinced myself that keeping the river to my right would get me to Bath.
Eventually I reached a field with only one exit. I had to jump a stream, clamber over an old rusty gate that cannot have been used in decades and I found myself in field with grass up to my chest. As I wandered through it, I saw big red signs at the end “Private land No Entrance, Ramblers and working Class People will be shot!”. Okay I made the last bit up but I recognised the game was up and seeing an exit at the top of the field I started to climb a track that cannot be used more than once a month.
It was a hard old, very steep, climb of 400 yards or so which left me breathless but at the end I was at a road and I headed right towards Bath. The views overlooking the river valley far below were spectacular and pretty soon I reached the outskirts of Bath. I walked almost to the Centre where the Mrs met me with her motor.
Thanks to getting lost twice and my unusual route I easily managed fifteen miles. I really did worry at one stage that I was completely lost and that there would be no way out other than swimming the river. I have no blisters to report which is good. I know that as an ex smoker a few years ago I’d have been gasping for breath but my lungs seemed fine. In that department I could carry on all day. My feet and legs were fine at the end and I am fairly confident that I could have carried on at my 3mph pace for another couple of hours or so, without collapsing but by the time I got home they were sore and seizing up. So all the articles I planned as I marched past the cows must be postponed. It was straight to bed where I slept like a log.
On balance, I have learned a valuable lesson about reading maps more carefully but I take heart from my stamina and so plan a 20 mile walk this weekend coming up.
This is all in preparation for my 32 mile walk on July 28 with fellow financial journalist Brokerman Dan who, I suspect, is already doing twenty mile walks without breaking a sweat. He is a smug bastard! So far we have raised £7,639.16 ( or just over £9,000 with gift aid). As you laugh at the idea of me scrambling up a steep slopes through grass tall enough to get me panicking about snakes; as you consider the pain of my legs stiffening yesterday and ponder me staring carefully at each cow I approached to make sure that it was not a bull, I am sure you can donate a tenner to a great cause. Please do so HERE.
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I see that Brokerman Dan, who will be walking 32 miles for Woodlarks with me on July 28, has tweeted about completing a 15 mile training walk. In the smug looking selfie that accompanied the tweet the old bastard looks fresh as a daisy, as if he had just strolled to and from the local corner store. If only it were that way for me.
On Saturday or Sunday I shall be doing my weekend long walk. Last Saturday I managed ten miles. The target this weekend is 12-14 miles along the River Avon starting at bath and heading West. Do I stop at the Chequers pub ( 11.5 miles) or can I make it to the Conham River car park (14 miles) and get the Mrs to take me back to the pub by car? Decisions, decisions.
Pro tem it is back to five miles every other day – my weekday training. Yesterday saw me do just over 3.5 miles in an hour on a constant uphill gradient of between 4 and 7 ( whatever that means) at the local gym run by Perry the Tory here in Brislington, Bristol. The body builders who are the gym’s other clients did not giggle but at the end I was sweaty and smelly but not actually that breathless and easily able to walk straight to Joshua’s nursery and wheel him home. That involves a couple of steep hills as well so a good five miles in all and lots of hill work.
I worry that the Woodlarks walk has a lot of hills along the way.
I am not sure that the girls who look after Joshua at his nursery were that impressed by his sweaty and smelly dad. I tried to mumble something about training and a 32 mile walk but decided quickly that the best thing to do was to get him out of there as soon as possible with a promise that we could go visit the snakes and rabbits at Pets at Home over the way.
Today is a day off although I shall do the one and a half mile walk to pick Joshua up just to keep my hand in so to speak. Instead I have sent a few emails to encourage folks to make their donations. After about three weeks of fund raising Dan and I have raised £5718.16 ( with gift aid that is £6,815.210). That is 28% of our £20,000 (without gift aid) target so not bad.
But most of you reading this article have not yet pledged. To those that have I am grateful and will not let you – or myself – down. To those that have not, I am sure that you can spare a tenner. Go on, think of me trying to explain away how smelly I was to Joshua’s carers, think of the muscle men laughing at me, think of my humiliation, laugh and donate a tenner HERE
313 days ago
My Woodlarks charity walk training plan for today was simple. My training path is the 2.5 miles path along the River Avon between Conham Hill car park and the Chequer's pub. It is a splendid walk which on Tuesday I did alone both ways (5 miles) and on Thursday I also did both ways but with Joshua in his buggy. Joshua and I saw ducks, swans, a train on the hill, all sorts of boats, a heron, blossom, a horse, it was great fun.
Today I planned the five mile round circuit at which point cousin Johnny, a godfather to Joshua, would join us for a walk to the pub so leaving me having done a straight 7.5 miles. But Johnny arrived in his car and thus post lunch we had to walk another 2.5 miles back to that car so he could speed back to our house to dump it before heading off to the airport. Being a junior doctor he has vast amounts of time and money for endless holidays.
So thanks to Johnny my training walk today totalled 10 miles which is a bit more than i was expecting. I am feeling rather stiff. But with 49 days left to the 32 mile walk for Woodlarks I am feeling more confident about my ability to complete that trek on the day.
Brokerman Dan and I have now raised 28% of our £20,000 target for this great charity in just over a fortnight. If you have donated already I say thanks. If not think of my aching feet tonight and, I am sure you can spare a tenner to donate HERE
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In just under two months I shall be doing a 30 mile walk for the excellent Woodlarks Charity with my friend the blogger and former bank robber Brokerman Dan. Dan is rather fitter than I am and keeps tweeting messages about how he is just popping out for a quick 10 mile training yomp. I do not know if he is just trying to spook me or if he is serious but I have a horrible feeling that it is the latter.
Anyhow I did my first training walk just now. Don't laugh. Five miles. My advisor is the veteran hack turned PR guru Brian Basham who aged 74 years and nine months completed this year's London Marathon and so knows what he is talking about. Brian advises starting modestly - which I am. But building up steadily so that by two weeks before the big walk I am doing 20 miles with comfort. I must only do walks once every two days and my big one should be a weekend stroll.
So far so good. It was glorious to walk alongside the Avon just now. Dan may laugh at my pitifully modest start but I was comfortable with it and maintained a steady 3 miles an hour pace with ease.
I shall do the same again, but pushing Joshua as a bonus, on Thursday before finding a 7.5 mile walk to do on Saturday.
So far Dan and I have raised more than £5,000. Our target is £20,000 which will make a massive difference to a small and unfashionable charity. I am sure you can spare a tenner, please to donate HERE
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As you know I try to gain a real cultural understanding of life in the grim Northern post-industrial welfare safaris by watching Corrie. But even after this crash course I am still sometimes at a loss.
And so today my pal the convicted bank robber Dan Levi tweeted that he was going to “rip me”. I wondered what exactly the Lord of the Manchester slums meant by this. Apparently in the slums of Manchester this means to “laugh at” me.
In common or garden English the slum boy is going to be ‘avin’ a bubble at me. Now why could he have not put it this way so that we could all understand?
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When I left in February I tried to buy two cans of snake repellent to keep the 27 varieties of Greek serpent away from the Greek hovel. The man at the hardware store said “there is no point as they are asleep, when are you back?” I said May. He said, do not worry they do not wake up till June. What he meant was “I have none in stock.”
And so I wandered in yesterday and bought two of the cans which you position 10 yards away from two corners of the house and which emit a scent which scares away snakes. Except when like the one I met on my front doorstep last summer they do not scare them away. I asked if the snakes were awake yet, rather fearing that I knew the answer.
“Yes, the sun is bright they are everywhere” said my friend cheerfully. Great. As I drive up the long and winding road and track to the hovel I saw no snakes but stacks of very large and very small lizards. Winnifrith’s Rule No 1 of reptiles “when you see lizards on the road, snakes are lurking in the long grass”. My heart sank.
I approached the hovel nervously. I made load noises as I approached. The grass is now turning from green to brown but is long enough to be an ideal hiding ground for snakes. I will not be wandering barefoot across the lawn until I have put the strimmer to work. But there were no snakes. As I unlocked the door a lizard scuttle across my feet but as I looked inside nothing moved.
A dead rat lay on the floor. The vast amounts of poison I had left in February had worked although I cannot figure how the critter got in to start with. I tossed the rodent into the bushes hoping that a snake would gobble its poison filled body up greedily and grabbed some masking tape to attach the snake repellent to two trees. I sprinkled sulphur all around the house – my inner snake free redoubt and left. Give it 24 hours, thought I and I shall have a wildlife diversity free hovel.
Returning today I checked the bedding and disturbed a live rat. Seriously, Brokerman Dan you must come over to catch some treats for your kids in the Manchester slums. I do not fear rats during the day it is just the thought of them crawling close to my face at night that freaks me out. I wondered why it had resisted the temptation of the rat sweeties but chased it into a crack in the chimney. I quickly lit a fire and he/she is now roasted or well smoked or has wriggled to freedom. I kind of sense that he/she will not be coming back.
And now I sit in lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna in Kambos contemplating my first night in the hovel with darkness all around and the wildlife diversity making strange noises at all times. I think I shall “sleep” with the light on and a heavy spade next to the bed tonight.
1446 days ago
Give the many admirers that my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley has (well Brokerman Dan at least) it is time that the old boy got into social media and so as of today his very own facebook page has gone live. If you want to "friend" the creature also known as Benefits Street, you can do so here
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Anyone can set up a twitter account in minutes. And once on twitter you can shout out to the world what you want. Of course if you call a Police Horse gay, tweet a burning poppy or insult David Cameron the Old Bill might feel your collar if you happen to live in Airstrip One. But if your sole purpose is to insult non-celebs (i.e. Tom Winnifrith, rather than Tom Daley) you can tweet pretty much what you please.
And so it should be. I support free speech to the hilt. Some of the interventions by the Old Bill are disgraceful, a matter I have highlighted here before.
But free speech does not mean that I have to read what folks tweet. For instance I have a standard policy that if someone tweets out something that could be described as Jew hating or supportive of gay bashing I will not follow them They can rant on as much as they want about the wicked Jews being responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attacks or about how they want to string the poofters up from cranes. But I am just not interested in their views. And whilst I celebrate the odd mad lefty (Peter Tatchell, Brokerman Dan, my wife and my father) because they are interesting mad lefties and on certain matters are total heroes, folks who just rant day in day out about the evils of capitalism are of no interest. So I would not follow them.
But part of twitter is that you have the ability to force me to read your inane views by simply starting a tweet @tomwinnifrith. Freedom of speech means not only the ability to say what you want but also to choose what you listen to. And so if some loon starts tweeting his Jew hating, gay bashing or capitalist loathing views to me I have every right to block him.
Of course certain of my “admirers” in the Bulletin Board Moron community have also taken to twitter. And so daily I find a new account with zero followers tweeting @tomwinnifrith some sort of insult. Yesterday’s classic was “how dare you attack Quindell. How is the legal claim on the £100,000 you stole going? Hypocrite.”
Right: Four or five years ago I managed a fund which invested £100,000 in a company that turned out to be a fraud. At my insistence, all investors were fully compensated. The Regulator saw all documents and cleared me. I gained not a penny. Investors lost not a penny. So there is no law suit against me. That is al in the public domain yet the Morons insist otherwise. Why on earth would I not block such a moron? Or indeed wags who start their tweets @tomwinnifrith – why should I listen to a failed pizza delivery boy?
Why indeed? You are not obliged to follow me and I am never going to tweet to you and you do not have to read what I write. Feel free to ignore me as the ability to do so is part of the beauty of free speech. Equally you won’t mind terribly if I block you as you are a factually inaccurate bore, will you? Tweet your piffle to all of your zero followers but you have no right to make me read it.
1537 days ago
In response to popular demand (The Mrs, Mu, Darren, Martha and Brokerman Dan) I bring you a short video of my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley taking his morning exercise and negotiating the (extra large) cat flap.
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My wife, a lifelong devotee of Coronation Street was naturally devastated about the death of Anne Kirkbride who played Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street. This tragedy was not reported in her paper of choice, the Guardian, so it was left to me, skimming the red tops at the tobacconist, to break the sad news to her.
As I have admitted before, I have started watching Corrie myself to get an insight into what life is like in the grim, frozen post-industrial welfare safari park that is the North of England. As far as I can make out about one fifth of the population is a homosexual, most folks are on welfare or earn their living selling drugs, selling stolen goods or shipping stolen goods in white vans but a few work in factories making underwear. Everyone in the North lives in a house with a partner and some kids who belong to one half of another couple living elsewhere down the street. And someone gets murdered in the street every six months. It is all very baffling.
But now I read of “the pusher” a serial killer stalking the canals of Manchester. Apparently one young man a month has perished in these filthy waterways. Newspaper reports say that in dredging the canals to clear out the syringes, condoms, bottles and other essentials of every day Northern life, the old bill are now fishing out stacks of bodies. All male.
The police do not think that a killer is on the loose. They just say that the victims were all pissed or high and fell in. Other folks say that some of those perishing just found life too boring which – having now watched Corrie for a year – I can fully understand. But the rate of mortality makes even Coronation Street seem like a safe haven.
As if life in the welfare safari was not bleak enough it now seems as if it is plagued by a serial killer as well. Fearing for his safety, my Manc slum dwelling pal Brokerman Dan, is likely knock on my door at any moment claiming both economic and political asylum here in the hard working South.
1604 days ago
On top of my fireplace at the Greek Hovel in a picture I published the other day is a large bag of white powder. At once the self-styled Northern Barons my good pals Doc Holiday and Brokerman Dan were tweeting in a frenzy that I had a large stash of coke with me. Dan reckoned I was going to dose my Albanian workers tomorrow and get the olives harvested at record speed. I am sorry to disappoint the Northern gits.
For behind the bag is a box marked Tide. This is a product called “washing powder” which in the South of England we use to wash our clothes. In the North I guess they just hang their shell suits out in the rain until they are marginally less grubby and then leave them to dry next to the pigeon loft. The next time that my good friends trek down from the welfare addicted wastelands of the Grim North I will try to explain to them what this is all about.
The picture below is of the washing powder but also a larger bag of yellow powder which is Sulphur which I use on the edge of the garden to keep snakes away. For readers in the Grim North who might not understand what a snake is it is a bit like a Quindell shareholder. That is to say it has a small brain but some varieties are poisonous and no-one likes any of them. The only difference is that snakes can be worth a bit of money.
1635 days ago
In my weekly personal video postcard I look at the issue of the EU’s money grab on Britain, why UKIP is not the answer but why leaving the EU is.
In my financial video postcard I look at the kerfuffle and all the allegations about David Lenigas, Brokerman Daniel, Horse Hill. Neither of the two men are angels. For the avoidance of doubt neither do I claim to be a saint. However both Lenigas and Dan have come in for unfair stick in recent days and I explains why some of that criticism is so wide of the mark.
Yes both men are my friends but if you do not stand by your friends when they are under siege you are no friend. And some of the attacks made are well out of order. That video can be watched HERE
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We are ringing the changes at The UK Investor Show on April 5 in Westminster. One big change is the introduction of the bloggers café – a special area where writers like Brokerman Dan, Doc Holiday, Malcolm Stacey, Malcolm Palle from Mining Maven, Robert Sutherland Smith, Steve Moore and myself will spend much of the day, blogging, tweeting and just chatting to anyone who wants a chat over a coffee. Hopefully my fave Tory blogger Charlotte Argylle will also join us at the cafe.
Of course we are not the main attraction but this is another reason for you to book a seat at the UK Investor Show this year -. Why book in to attend?
* A top location: the QE2 Centre in the heart of Westminster
* A cracking line-up of big name presenters. Nigel Wray, Mark Slater, Evil Knievil and I am back from 2013. But we are joined this year by 40 other speakers including Terry Smith, the tech queens Vin Murria and Cassandra Harris; Mining gurus Amanda van Dyke, Dominic Frisby and Matt Suttcliffe and blogger supremo Paul Scott and now the Blinkx Destroyer Ben Edelman.
*Real variety – main stage sessions on value investing, Bitcoins, mining investing, crowd-funding, tech investing, oil & gas, shareholder activism and much more
*Better and more exhibiting companies. Last year 50 companies attended the UK Investor Show. This year we already have 90 booked in and counting – the latest booking came just today: Tangent Communications (TNG) - a very profitable AIM listed media company. And most of these PLCs will also do a 20 minute presentation in smaller side room for those who really want to know more.
You can get full details of the speaker line up HERE
You can get full details of the main stage presentations HERE
You can get full details of the exhibiting companies HERE
Already well over half the seats for this event have been booked with 4% of the tickets going yesterday alone!
To book your ticket go HERE
I look forward to seeing you on April 5 in Westminster
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2057 days ago
I am not sure that those singled out for praise will appreciate it coming from me. Neither will those who receive rightful opprobrium in what follows – my mind this afternoon turns to the world of financial PR. The dark side.
In the wake of our triumph with Sefton a few PR folks who would prior to today have not reached out to us because we are not proper journalists (i.e. folks who write stuff no-one reads on newspapers) have suddenly been in touch. Would Dan or I care to meet their clients they wonder? Shucks, they have woken up to the world of the blogosphere.
They have spotted Jimmyliar’s head on my mantelpiece and realise that what private investors actually read and act on is not necessarily the City pages of the Daily Telegraph. Welcome to the 21st Century folks. Naturally I am always happy to meet any CEO, I just cannot promise that I will be a fan.
The Sefton debacle, for me, exposed a divide in the attitude of PR folks. Some were switched on enough to spot that Jim Ellerton was a prize rotter and either openly or covertly expressed their support for Dan and myself. They can see that while it is easy to bank retainers acting for crooked AIM stocks it is actually immoral and wrong ‘uns need to be exposed.
On the side of the Angels, I place Gary Middleton, Jim Mellon’s PR man, Guy McDougal, Ed Portman, Hugo de Salis and all his colleagues at St Brides, Carrie Lun, David Bick, Damian McCrystal, Nick Rome and especially Katie Tzouliadis of Biddicks. Katie is of course a Greek bird so can do no wrong in my eyes. I should also add to that list the former PR man known as Killer Frogs. I am sure that all of the above have acted for poor companies at one stage or another but all realise that there has to be a line drawn in the sand at some level of villainy.
On the other hand one or two individuals, notably the prize shit who runs Yellow Jersey PR and a number of folks at College Group PR openly took the view that any company on AIM must be kosher and those who attack the establishment, the firms swimming in the AIM Cesspit must be in the wrong. They openly stated that my methods were unacceptable. Such folks cannot see beyond a system of comfortable living and cushy retainers. And they do not seem to twig why folks (their clients want to reach out to) read my stuff and that of Dan - it is because we are unusual and do not simpy follow the line that all articles must be positive puffery.
The Yellow Jersey prize shit told me that Sefton showed why no company should speak to me. Au contraire, only bad companies should avoid speaking to me, but they cannot then complain about what I write if they decline the opportunity to comment. The prize shit just assumed, without doing any fact check, that if an AIM company was suing a poor writer for libel the company MUST be in the right and the writer in the wrong.
Sefton has shown that AIM Regulation is a pathetic joke and that there is a crying need for aggressive investigative journalism. With the odds so heavily stacked against folks like Dan and myself and in favour of bent AIM stocks we are forced to adopt a novel approach. To those who are not on the side of the Angels, I ask you to examine your conscience. Do you still think that Dan and I were shown to be bad guys by what happened with Sefton?
And to the Angels, I hope you don’t mind being praised by me. Thank you.
2062 days ago
2063 days ago
In light of the dynamite revelations from Dan Levi this afteroon HERE I have made a few adjustments to the Undertones classic Jimmy Jimmy and republish below
If you need a reminder of the classic original which has to be part of my all-time 200 the video is below:
With apologies to the Undertones:
Little Sefton boy
He was very very old
It took thirteen long years
To find what he had stole
Jimmy Jimmy - Oooh
Poor little Jimmy wouldn't let go
He'd stay awake at night
Lying in his bed
No one ever listened
To a single word he said
Jimmy Jimmy ...
Such a silly boy
Jimmy Jimmy ...
Now little Jimmy's gone
He disappeared one day
But no one saw the prison van
That took little Jim away
2097 days ago
My comrade Brokerman Dan urges me to read an article in The Guardian about “The hidden Greece – the Cyclades” There are a number of reasons why I shall not do that. And the main one is that this is not the Real Hidden Greece
There is of course the obvious point that anything in the Guardian is by definition rubbish. I cannot think what a sensible fellow like Dan is doing polluting his mind in this way. But then there is the corruption of travel writing. The economics of travel supplements are thus:
1. Journalists are often flown out by a Tourist board to be taking on a lovely jolly. It is not in their interests to write bad things or they will get few invites so they usually write sycophantic crap.
2. Supplements make money by selling adverts. Any region which has a stack of people able to afford to advertise in the Guardian is by definition not hidden but developed.
As it happens the Cyclades are well work tourist destinations. So how about this as a “hidden Greece” trip:
Fly cheapo Easyjet to Corfu and get a bus (with ferry trip) ticket to Ioannina in Northern Greece where you hire a car and drive towards Arta (50 miles away). The road takes you through the mountains and your first stop is the Loutos Springs. These were one of many entrances to Hades and are the source of the stunning Loutos river which tumbles through the gorge as you drive down to Arta.
Next stop – Dodoni – a religious site started 2,600 BC where there is an amphitheatre (from much later) and many spending buildings remaining, totally ignored by the tourist.
After that a couple of days fishing for trout in the Loutos. As you then head towards Arta I spotted a semi-ruined Byzantine Church (6th Century?) – I know nothing of it but would like to investigate more. The area is dotted with such churches and monasteries. And finally to Arta and its splendid bridge (see here).
Give me a free week and I would be relaxed, stimulated and untroubled by other tourists. Perhaps the Ioannina Tourist Board would like to fix this up for me?
2108 days ago
Over on the ADVFN Sefton thread it appears that one or two folks have a few bad things to say today about Jim Ellerton and Sefton Resources (SER) following Brokerman Dan’s shocking new revelations (which you can read here) and my own expose which you can read here.
But Sefton has its defenders. Jellyman 2 lashes out at one critic with this post:
To have contempt for je and sefton is fine, IF you are a holder and are loosing ££££'s. But to spout bollox and ridicule people for losing money shows what small minded, lowlife animal fuckers you really are!!!!!! and all because your gay lovers bmd and tw ARE too SCARED to post here.
Cripes. I think I am pretty open minded when it comes to sex. My partner is after all from the Grim North and is a Guardian reader. I mean how frigging tolerant does that make me?
But a gay threesome involving Dan Levi and some unnamed BB poster? Dan is a very nice fellow but there are limits to my metrosexual liberal open mindedness.
But what is it with BB Morons that they think that being gay is some sort of word of abuse? You will remember that some other BB Moron insisted that I spent my life in gay bath-houses (I have never been to one in my life, for the avoidance of doubt).
There is nothing wrong with being gay. It is not an insult. It is not something to be ashamed of. Now outing yourself as a Sefton shareholder on the other hand… yuk. But I suppose Sefton shareholders are adults who have consented to being financially buggered. If that’s what floats their boat…
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Under the UK’s libel laws if one is served with a libel writ one must file your defence with the High Court but also with the Plaintiff or whichever lawyer is acting for them. And so this morning Brokerman Dan sent his 1200 page skeletal (i.e. there is more to come) defence over to Helen Skinner, the lawyer at uber-expensive City firm Pinsent Masons which is acting for Sefton Resources.
Oh dear. Ms Skinner replies that Pinsent Masons systems cannot cope with an XPS or text file (they are “not compatible with our systems”) and so can Dan reformat as a PDF or send over a hard copy? I doubt that he will. He is not obliged to. My super cheap laptop can open an XPS or text file and so with Partners at Pinsent Masons on a charge out rate of £750 an hour I suggest that they splash out £420 on a cheapo laptop ( with all licenses) at PC World.
This begs a further question? Will Ms Skinner bill Sefton for her time in sending a letter to Dan ‘fessing that her firm’s IT systems are not as capable as my £420 laptop (with full licenses) from PC World. Pinsent Masons normally charges for a minimum of ½ hour slots and so if Dan can keep this conversation going for another couple of emails then Skinner can trot down to PC World buy the laptop and effectively stiff Sefton’s lucky shareholders with the bill. Problem solved.
Do you think I should invoice Pinsent Masons for my consultancy on this matter? Er that will be ½ hour at £750 an hour – call it two snotty emails to Dan on behalf of Sefton. I cannot say fairer than that.
Of course Pinsent Masons also earns large fees acting as company secretary to Sefton. I shall be turning to this matter and claims made on the Sefton website next week. Watch this space.
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I see that myself and Brokerman Dan have now been labelled “The gruesome twosome” by Bulletin Board Morons on Sefton Resources threads. I wonder am I really gruesome? I am certainly not a twosome.
I am not a twosome in that Sefton has launched separate libel proceedings against myself and Dan. He is my friend but he has made certain claims which he is defending and I have made others which I am defending. Lucky Sefton shareholders get to pick up the tab for two totally different cases.
Am I gruesome? Well possibly in many respects I am. The word is derived from a Middle English word meaning “to make one shudder” and is defined as “Causing horror and repugnance; frightful and shocking.”
Physically I am not everyone’s cup of tea but on balance I reckon that is a bit harsh. And so I guess this is a reference to what I am writing on this company. Is what I say shocking? To those who have stick their head in the sand for a decade losing 99.97% of their investment while management has trousered millions I suppose some of my revelations about the history of Sefton’s assets, misleading RNS statements on production, executive pay and the location of Jim Ellerton’s luxury Hawaii mansion must be shocking. It must cause horror for Sefton believers to discover the truth and for its management to be exposed. Being a Sefton shareholder must be frightful per se.
Repugnance? I think that is a tad strong. But I suppose The Sefton Board won’t be sending me any chocolate eggs this Easter so maybe they feel repugnance. But if I was a Sefton shareholder (and I am not and never have been) my repugnance would not be with a journalist who has been writing about this company for eight months exposing its skeletons but for the management that has spent ten years creating those skeletons.
2224 days ago
2236 days ago
Long term readers will know that my relationship with the Daily Torygraph City Diary has not always been of the friendliest variety. First there was gorgeous pouting hackette Anna White but when she left her shoes were filled by Fleet Street kitten Harriet Denys. Neither has been exactly kind to me and so when I learned that this column was to write a piece on my little spat with Sefton Resources ( the company that says its output is going up when it was in fact falling and now sues me for libel for suggest that this might be misleading) I naturally feared the worst.
Oddly Ms Denys did not actually call me for my side of the story. Last time she covered Sefton she claimed that Brokerman Dan was only being brutal because he was short of the stock, citing sources, i.e Sefton’s loathsome PR machine, for this utterly defamatory and unfounded allegation of market abuse. And so I thought I better call pouting Harriet to put my side of the story.
I pointed out that Sefton had said output was rising when it was falling as it prepared to raise money by issuing shares. I asked her if she thought this was misleading? She admitted that she did. Clearly I must call her as an expert witness in the forthcoming libel trial.
Do I expect a fair report in the paper tomorrow? Er…no. I am sure that Sefton’s PR machine is far more charming than I am. And for the Telegraph City Diary to be even balanced towards me would break the habit of a lifetime.