trump, me, neutrinos and bargains

Donald Trump and I have a lot in common. I don’t really care about anyone but me. I have a thin skin, I can be a racist and a misogynist, I don’t read, I am not very intelligent, I am scared walking down slopes, I watch a lot of telly, I have a big mouth and I don’t know where Antartica is. Then again it doesn’t matter.

When the neutrino that just penetrated Antarctica escaped the super massive black hole a gazillion years ago it certainly didn’t matter that Donald Trump would one day emerge from a human birth canal and grow up to be a president. Presidents don’t matter, anymore than determined neutrinos. Nothing does. Except of course getting a Build A Bear at the price of your child’s age. Now that’s a bargain!


It always began with an object – Part 2

So I was wrong actually it sometimes starts with a place.

In this case it’s the place I was born and a slither through time from a nearby scenic hillside near the North Downs in Kent to the garden of a flat in Forest Hill.

I was born on a hill. It was posh enough to be called a ‘Rise.’ Across the road from us was a wood and until very recently I had no idea that during WWII the rise was a mooring point for barrage balloons. Despite never knowing this I repeatedly dreamt about them as a child and continued to  do so as an adult and yes they are the stimulus for several poems as well as a small collection of books and memorabilia – isn’t that wierd? Or rather – in a sincere but quizzical voice – is that wierd? Find out in an as yet to be broadcast episode of this blog.

Walk through the wood and up the hill like I did with my mum and our dog

turn L at this

and keep walking up as high as you can go – swivel NW and there is London. For me as a child this WAS weird. My home was the bucolic idyll in which roads were paths and pavements were verges. London was somewhere, someplace else, Dixon of Dock Green lived there and he got shot, it sure wasn’t ‘just over there.’

Travel 50 odd years by Tardis (more about that in a later episode). My youngest and his loveliest rent a flat in 2018. The flat has a small narrow garden and a sliver of a splendid view out toward Kent.

In the centre of the view is my hill


is that weird?

It always began with an object – Part 1

I suppose I have always had one foot in the past and one in a glorious imagined future. Boy was I/am I deluded. The present has always been a place to dream from rather than a place to do things in. To think about doing without doing is my greatest pleasure but also my undoing in terms of seeing my glorious imagined future through to fruition.

It always began with an object.


As a small child I Ioved old, solidly made things rather than toys. I particularly liked gadgets given to me by Uncle George (an ex army horse vet, marksman and collector of junk). Things like lighters, telescopes, musical instruments, oil lamps, cameras, radios, all the things I still love to play with now. He would just give them to me when we visited or send them to me for Christmas. I still have most of them. They had layers of dirt that were satisfyingly easy for an eight year old armed with a sharp screwdriver, a brush and a tin of Silvo to worry away at, to reveal polished brass, leather, silver, Bakelite and glass. I tackled dead insect grime, flints that had decomposed to a sticky grey dust, ancient hand-made screws that had not been loosened in 100 years, electronic components that had literally waxed away to a caramel gloop.  I was an avid and effective cleaner but I almost never fixed them. I could not be bothered to learn how, it seemed unimportant.

I still have this camera. It’s still broken.

I liked to peer into the viewfinder (very tricky you have to do a  sort of sideways glance into a magnified tarnished mirror) and see a future that starred me as its inventor. The fact that the camera had no film did not stop me taking pictures and I still have those tucked away in my head nowdays appearing as a mediocre pieces of poetic nostalgia for nobody to read. As I say my efforts to restore lost functionality were incompetent but that didn’t matter as the goal was to transform these objects into something magical, usually some device with no relationship to the original, utterly meaningless to anyone but me, or if things didn’t go so well, a tin of small disconnected parts labelled ‘parts’. 

Here are two survivors.The labels fell off.

I still don’t actually know how computers work and I certainly cannot fix them. I cant be bothered to learn how… but the dream to make a magic future-transforming-object out of old junk still motivates my computer voice work today.

Hence the phone box – ah so now it makes sense.

To be continued.

Smoked haddock syndrome

I have been avoiding blogging. I just went off it. You know how it is like you go off smoked haddock or mutton. I don’t think I am back on it yet but when the news of my health is generally quite good I do feel more like sharing. Numbers went the wrong way last cycle which pissed me off because I had been quite ill on the treatment (usually a sign that it is working) and quite hopeful that I could be done with it in three cycles. Now the numbers are going in the right direction but I might need another dose to send my light chains back down to where they should be. I collapsed a week or so ago, 999 and whatnot (aborted after a heroic and mumbling-I-am-fine-while-not-feeling-it crawl to the settee), bare arse in the air, Jeremy Thorpe style, in front of my daughter-in-law (she will never erase the image of her father-in law on the bathroom floor deflated, damp and pale like a forgotten sun bleached swimming pool toy) but generally the chemo course has not been too bad. It’s a long time since I haven’t been awake and up by about 4:00 am but I don’t really mind that because me and the no-longer-feral-cat sit on the loggia drinking coffee watching the sunrise. It a favourite thing to do actually, it feels quite Angela Carter. I expect the trees to bleed golden wedding veils in time with my morning yawning and the cat purring.

Here is a truly disgusting photograph I am rather proud of. I am not sure which is more disgusting the meat or the drugs.

It would be so useful if you could predict your response to chemo and plan ahead but you can’t. I guess your body’s response to each dose is impacted by so many variables you are bound to get different experiences each time. In addition it may be a cumulative effect as it does appear to have a bit more impact the more cycles you have. The first one can be a breeze while the fourth can make you quite poorly. Then again sometimes your body seems to get used to it. In summary nobody can prepare you in advance  so you rely on the patience of family, friends and colleagues to just put up with whatever monstrous mood manifestation the chemo presents. Daily chemo life is framed by the uncertainty of how you might feel that particular day but you have to avoid prefacing every plan, invitation, commitment  with ‘well I will… BUT ONLY if I feel up to it.” Quite rightly people think you are making a fuss. Actually chemo is a great excuse for not doing the things you don’t want to do. Despite the potential for overuse, the chemo excuse still carries a good deal of weight – I still find the inhibited in the community will flinch at its mere mention. For example, I am obliged at the Uni to report every sick day and when I return to work I have to meet with my boss and we both have to fill in a form (a stupidly bureaucratic process) so when I took two days off after the Jeremy Thorpe arse in the air incident I duly reported my reason as ‘side effects of chemo’ – I could feel the admin staff digitally splutter as they reluctantly churned out the stock response the uni requires to such confessions. I strongly suspect that what they wanted to say was ‘shit! I am so glad that isn’t me! How does he cope? And why are we making him fill in this stupid form. Anyway I didn’t fill in the form and no one complained. Little victories – stick it to the man!

I have a few other things I want to talk about but instead of a giant post I will do several short ones over the next few days and weeks.

Death by pie

I was feeling a whole lot better yesterday so I celebrated by eating lots and lots. I started with a two portion bowl of savoury mince washed down with a Magnum (the ice cream not champagne) then I hit Maria’s family recipe Easter Pizza, followed by another Magnum – an alternative flavour.

You are imagining an anorexic crust, a feather of rocket, a smear of Jamie’s fresh tomato sugo and a droplet of XXXXXXverginoil.


It looks like this and we have two!


Last night I was up sitting on the sofa for four hours contemplating how appealing death was.

Today I shall have some more pie.

In the spirit of confusing my readers and more particularly Google I have relocated this site again.

The permanentish url for this blog will henceforth be

Google will take months to catch up – ha!

Punctured pussy

I cannot be bothered to mess around with my tenses. I wrote some of this a couple of weeks ago and then completely forgot about it so instead of fiddling around I have simply provided headings to indicate what bits are old news and what bits are also old news but written today – the day I post it.

Two weeks ago…

I was off work for the last week with a cold. Chemo delayed while I get over it and the consultant decides on the best treatment. No urgency apparently so that’s reassuring although I would quite like to get on with it. Most of my colleagues are on strike but I am not. I am very conflicted and quite troubled by the whole situation but in the end I believe less in joint action and solidarity than I do in the notion of striking for causes worth striking for. I was all for a strike against redundancy, students fees, against the commercialisation of higher education even in support of academic freedom but I cannot support a strike to make sure that privileged middle class professionals continue to enjoy privileges in retirement. It makes the academic community come across as having lost touch with what really matters in society. If we only assemble in the cold around our braziers when we are being ripped off rather than other more worthy individuals are being ripped off, our shaky stature as a bunch of people who think about ‘big, important stuff’ can only be made shakier. I am not proud of my action and I am genuinely in two minds but as of this moment it is how I feel. It just seems too easy to be always looking up the ladder at to those that earn more and feel envious, like vice chancellors, while not bothering about those who are clinging on to the rungs below you wondering what it must be like to earn £45,000 for talking about stuff. So I am a scab.

Along with scabbing I have felt quite lost this week and rather in limbo. Partly it’s an energy thing. I have very little. My lungs got really congested and sounded like a badly played squeezebox. The cat at one point thought I was miaowing at him and looked confused. He is quite used to being addressed by the other cats (usually abusively)  but for me to suddenly acquire fluency in cattish, clearly flummoxed him. He actually crawled away as if I had said something brutally offensive about his freckley lip, which I must say I find rather unattractive. It looks as though he has acquired cat leprosy or has forgotten to wipe his mouth after eating chocolate sprinkles.

Moving on …..from my bed I decided to try to prep my software skills in advance of being tripped up by my more dexterous students. Anyway this became quite obsessive and the more I tried the more I realised how little I knew. I realised that learning software without any specific creative goal is like learning piano scales but never playing a tune, deeply frustrating and unmemorable. So I have decided to invent a project, needless to say it will involve my telephone box, that combines all the software I need to learn, in order to teach, utilising the software I need to use in the project. I have yet to come up with the perfect combination but it’s on it’s way.

Written today – the day I post it but retrospecively.

Got a puncture on the way to work two days after returning to work after my cold  – result of the hedge clipping season around this ere bucolic parts. We end up with a road full of razor tipped spines that would be effective at stopping a drug runner’s Cadillac in an episode of Hawaii 5 0h. Fortunately I was within yards of a Renault garage and after pulling my favoured ‘I have cancer in the back and cannot do lifty strong things like repair punctures’ strategy, an incredibly nice team of car sales people fixed my puncture – after some wildly guilty tipping – I was on my way – sadly by that time it had to be back to York (more missed teaching might as well have been on strike) to spend an uncomfortably cold two hours while a tyre place failed to fix my stuck tracking dodads. 4 new tyres later at a 300 pound bill I retired to the restaurant in Waitrose where I opened my vains over the shadow of myself in a cup of indifferent flat whiteness surrounded by the Yorkist pensionable community of ‘free tea or coffees for the over 60’s on Tuesdays’ – ahhh the blood did flow as anaemically as the coffee.

Another 300 pounds. Vinnie got roughed up badly by a black and white farm ruffian who we had seen for the first time the day before. Found Vin in the piano room badly blooded, fur matted with god knows what and very, very frightened – so bad at first I thought he was dead. Yelled for Maria to come down for no particular reason than I was so upset and panicky and needed moral support. We shouted at each other while we ran round the house and up in the loft in pursuit of a cat box, blanket and eventually the cat who was well enough to leg it as soon as he set eyes on the box. It was Sunday but fortunately we found an emergency vet who sedated him and patched him up. He had puncture wounds on his ankle, armpit, ears and neck – he had to be shaved in the relevant spots given antibiotic and pain killers but no stitches. He came home looking like someone who had had ‘enjoyed’ a couple of summers of love at Woodstock – his pupils were like black snooker balls, he was completely stoned but ALRIGHT!!!!! Yep 300 but so so worth it.

He is back to his old self. Looking less like a Crufts cat than ever, but fully recovered. Scabs (yep scabs again) are falling like autumn leaves. He is unenthusiastic about going out and has wee’d in the warm comfort of indoors once or twice – unfortunately he hates getting his paws wet so the current deluge of rain and snow has given him an additional excuse to widdle on the setee and in Mitch’s sleeping box – a somewhat undeserved insult for ‘leader of the house.’

I was all ready to be put back on the chemo last consultation, and the one before that, but it has now been scheduled to start on the 30th March. It’s another of the mustard-gas based goodies but the regime is not too arduous, it’s all pill based and apparently its normally well tolerated. It will last about 3 – 4 months if all goes well.