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Sesquitriursine Grottylocks On:2003-03-14 05:22:13

Hello children. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. . .1
Once upon a time in a charming little cottage in the middle of the big wood there lived three and a half bears.

There was Daddy Bear who was big and gruff, and Mummy Bear who was medium and sweet and Baby Bear who was small and cute. And then there was Uncle Sigebert Bear who used to work in the saw mill.

The three and a half bears lived a quiet, pleasant life, apart from the occasions when the wind would freshen and catch Uncle Sigebert unawares and he would fall with a loud and unpleasant slap onto his flat side.

One morning the three and a half bears went out for a long walk in the forest to work up an appetite for breakfast. Daddy Bear went lumbering and Mummy Bear tripping and Baby Bear skipping and Uncle Sigebert Bear hopping.

A little girl saw them from the eves of the forest where she had been collecting ... um ...'magic' mushrooms. This little girl was ---on account of her being a big fan of Bob Marley, and additionally on account of a certain cultural discontinuity when it came to the whole 'dreads' thing---called Grottylocks. Now Grottylocks being, of course, a thoroughly modern child, as soon as the bears had variously lumbered and tripped and skipped and hopped out of sight, she decided to break in, so quietly humming "Get Up, Stand Up" to herself she made a dash for the door. The bears having a less than state-of-the-art security system---it consisted, truth to tell, of nothing but a doorknob, she was in in an instant.
Casing the joint with a practiced eye she made for the kitchen where she found the bears' breakfast neatly laid out ready for their return. She tried a spoonful of Daddy Bear's porridge, but spat it out because it was too hot and salty. "Ampersand, Commercial At Sign, Squiggle, Squiggle, Star, Exclamation Mark"2 she said (she was THAT sort of child). She had a similar reaction to Mummy Bear's porridge because it was too cool and sweet. Pausing briefly to wonder why there was a bowl broken in half with porridge leaking over the table, she tried Baby Bear's porridge which was just right so she ate it all up. (Well those magic mushrooms really give you the munchies). She then spotted the Bears' chairs. She tried Daddy Bear's Chair but it was too hard so she burnt it all up. Then she tried Mummy Bear's chair but it was too soft so she jumped up and down on it till it was flat. Ignoring the two legged chair she sat on Baby Bear's chair but she broke it so she left it and went upstairs where she found the Bears' beds. She tried Daddy Bear's bed, but it was too hard. She tried Mummy Bear's bed, but it was too soft. Too tired to even think about Uncle Sigebert's bed she got into Baby Bear's bed which was just right so she fell into a deep porridge and mushroom induced sleep.

When the bears returned home and saw all the mess and the damage---AND the rather smelly tangle of hair on Baby Bear's pillow with (Yeuuughk!) a rather smelly tangle of girl under it, they immediately called the Police. After a rather tense half hour the Police arrived, accompanied by a loud wailing (maybe they were Bob Marley fans too). The poor bears never did get justice though, you know how specist the Police can be in some forests, and they never really take bears' complaints seriously, and to add injury to insult, when they saw Grandpa Bear drive up in his bearskin to give the bears moral support they arrested him for driving while bare.

So Grottylocks got off with a warning and left the forest for the Big Apple where she started a very successful second career as a 'before' character in shampoo ads.

Cheerio for now from
Richard Howland-Bolton


1 This is a reference to the wonderful BBC programme "Listen with Mother"

2 Not that it has anything much to do with her expression; but back in the ancient days of early computernerddom, when huge herds of vaxen wandered freely across the darkling plain and metal was always heavy and DEC was--well just was, there was composed this delightful poem:
or for those whose Old Nerdish is rusty or absent:

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

The onlie begetters of this delight being I believe Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese of Calvin College & Seminary of Grand Rapids, MI

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Letter to America: Scythe à Go-Go On:2023-03-07 05:10:29

My Dear Americans,
    Memory is a funny old kettle of terrapins, and as you get older it gets funnier. You mayn't remember what happened last Tuesday, or even why you just went into the kitchen, but thirty, forty years ago... well...

Picture the scene, it's back in the day getting towards the end of the last millennium and I'm in the studio having just recorded my broadcast to real reel-to-reel tape; with actual physical sliders on the board and for some strange and obscure reason, a colour television in the corner switched on to the Weather Channel with the sound off.
Waiting for my piece to air, half listening to the music that was proceeding it I happened to notice, along with all the rather Monti-Pythonesque advertisements for tree transplants and the like which ran along the bottom of the screen, that there actually was a real advertisement, just like ones one used to get on normal television. Anyway this real advert started off with a scene of a man scything clumsily at some long grass, we’ll call this (the scythe man) “man A.” Man A was then passed by another man, “man B,” who was wielding or rather wheeling a mechanical scythe, a sort of Thing with wheels and knives. [Very quietly the music starts]¹ It was red, and it went churning along, chomping the grass like there was going to be no tomorrow. And then, all of a sudden man B left the garden for the woods, and started chomping down dense undergrowth and small trees.

It so happened that at that very moment, the station was playing Sir Arthur Bliss’s score to the science fiction classic "Things To Come", which is a very dramatic piece of music. And so with no sound from the screen, and this grand sinister music playing, man B with his mechanical scythe took on the aspect of a mechanical Grim Reaper who would go on, after the advertisement had finished, through his forest, cutting down progressively bigger and bigger trees, and then on and on and into people, hacking them down,: into cities, whole universes, all falling before his mechanical maniacal machine. All the time Robert Oppenheimerically crying 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds'.
[Abrupt end of music]
But let me get back to man A, the guy with the non-mechanical scythe, he’s the one who really got to me, because this man obviously did not know one end of a scythe from the other, which is why, the next week, he was going to be in all the Band-Aid commercials. Man A was barely using the thing. He was sort of tentatively waving it about in front of the grass, hoping that the fear of the thing would itself cause the terrified plants to fall over and break their stalks. Now, I have actually seen real men using real scythes. Really! And I can assure you that they are much better than the mechanical scythe. Much, much, much better than the guy who was "pseudo-scything." You see scything is one of those wonderful, rhythmic, gentle, elegant human activities which we are losing from the world.

Scything makes most professional ballet look like heavy-weight wrestling. Scything is elegance itself: it is suavity, and even as I speak, it's beauty is being lost and my memory wanders even further back to the Landsdowne Pub, just off of Primrose Hill, in Chalk Farm, in London. This pub was renowned for its exotic dancers. Now it wasn't a club or anything like that, it was just an ordinary pub where anybody over the age of eighteen, or whatever the drinking age was then, could go and be, if that's the right word, regaled. I remember how this place changed over time. It started off with amateur exotic dancers. They would dance on top of an old grand piano, a Broadwood of about 1884, with the most beautiful figured maple case. Now, I must make a confession, I have sinned. I have lusted, lusted after that piano, it was, if the truth were known, actually the only thing I ever did lust after in the whole bloody pub. But alas! It went and the entertainment progressed, if that's the right word, from those romantic beginnings to a far different, strangely-lit, disc-jockeyed establishment, and the dancers went from amateurs to professionals. And I can assure you from personal experience that exotic dancing is one of the few trades that is better performed by amateurs than professionals, the professionals are far too mechanical, but I am prepared to bet that even that will not be better when performed by a mechanical scythe.
Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!


1 Things to Come: Attack on the Moon Gun (now, there's a title you don't see every day!)
Broadcast on 2/18/23
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Letter to America: Beccles Gunslinger On:2022-10-29 10:02:40

My Dear Americans,
    I suspect that I am one of the very few people who have moved from Texas to the UK to learn all about guns. Of course I didn't do it TO learn, and it's certainly not All about them, but...

You see my home town of Beccles has a world renowned gunslinger, I mean gunSMITH (and I bet he's never ever gone around slinging guns, might hurt someone, or even worse hurt the gun).
His shop R Tilney & Son is on Smallgate in the centre of town and has been since before the Civil War1, and from almost my earliest youth I’ve passed it with intense curiosity tinged, I must admit, with considerable fear that acting on that curiosity might not be advisable.

Then I left Beccles for various points, mainly south and for University, Photography (not to mention Design) and eventually, for America.
Time passed, the millennia passed (Oh! OK only the one2) and, as you know by now, I retired, returned and eventually regurgitated that long lost curiosity, this time sans fear and plus age (if not maturity).
Georgia, as wives of the retired will in desperation do, endeavouring by any means to get me out of the house (not to mention her hair) chanced upon the Beccles Camera Club3, and on pain of not getting the new Nikon she dangled before me induced me to join. Gentle reader (I mean listener) the camera was mirror-less! And way complicated!!4
So I had no choice.
And now all things concatenated and degrees of freedom were whittled down to a nubbin. You see during the third meeting I attended, a competition was announced to (drum roll, please, and dramatic pause) to take a photo of something beginning with G.
I thought of (and rejected):
   •  Georgia (who would fairly certainly take it in quite the wrong way);
   •  Random Girls (ditto Georgia’s likely response, only more-so);
   •  Gastropods (far too slimy and sluggish, and probably couldn't sign a model
     release to save their lives.)
Then, then, in a flash of inspiration that would make the Big Bang look like a flash-in-the-pan, I remembered…
The very next day I took a walk down Smallgate, in the centre of town, and there, as it has been since at least 1860 was R Tilney & Son, Gunsmiths (with a G), so I fearlessly entered whilst coining the phrase "long-time passer-by, first-time caller"5 and met Mr Tilney, whom I can only think of in dynastic terms: Robert son of Lindsay, son of Harry, son of Robert.

Hmmmm, Robert, great-grandson of Robert? Now that could be an interesting reversal of the time traveller's Grandfather paradox6. Anyway.
The only really gunslingery thing about Robert is his moustache, which would’ve stood him in good stead in the gun fight at the OK Corral or the one at the Top-Notch Corral, or even the one at the Meh Corral. It made my moustache whimper quietly and crawl off into a corner of my face to hide.
His workshop is incredible, and fully justified my youthful and considerable fear.
It has the most guns I’ve seen in one place since we visited the Texas Rangers Museum7, in Waco.

I’m not really a gun person, I think I’ve only handled one once, while presenting at a conference in Palm Desert, CA when they took the presenters to a restaurant with a no tie policy (apparently enforced with a pair of scissors) and various dude-ranchy activities, including a quick draw competition. These guns weren't loaded, or possibly even real, which was a good thing for my foot and my survival as I was lousy at it.

Robert (son of etc, etc) who apart from being a Master Gunsmith is a Law Society Expert Witness on Firearms and Ballistics AND one of the Antiques Roadshow expert presenters8 (whence the fame) gave me a fascinating account of British shooting history, but since I had come primarily for a photo I'll only mention the bit that ended up as my entry. He showed me a flintlock by Wogden9 made in 177510 and demonstrated the flint sparking. That was to be my photo and it took quite a number attempts (as he said, "I've got plenty of flint and time") but I got it! I wonder how it'll do at the next meeting?

Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!


1 I mean yours
   American Civil War, 1861–1865
not ours, among which are
   Despenser War, 1321–1322
   Wars of the Roses, 1455–1485
   First English Civil War, 1642–1646
   Second English Civil War, 1648–1649
   Third English Civil War, 1650–16521a

2 Well the most significant figure changing is a big deal.

3 Beccles Camera Club

4 Drool!

5 Not to be confused with he phrase "long-time listener, first-time caller", mine is completely original.

6 Grandfather paradox

7 Texas Rangers Museum

8 Antiques Roadshow

9 Wogdon & Barton

10  Yup, it's one year older than America!

1a a.k.a. the Anglo-Scottish war of 1650–1652

Broadcast on 2/11/23
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Letter to America: Love and Marriage... On:2023-01-24 05:37:53

My Dear Americans,
    [Sings] "Love and Marriage. Love and Marriage...
...go together like malign and disparage" Oh! I don't think I got the words of that song quite right, but I do think I got the timing just right.

Yes, this is the time of syrupy cards and syrupy verses and syrupy sentiments: as Chaucer put it
For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make¹
Though Valentine's day was strictly for the birds and that sounds decidedly un-syrupy.
Yes the birdies were choosing their mates long before we got round to it, but we eventually caught up with them, hence the seasonal syrup.
Did you know that Georgia and I met a bit before Valentine's day and we married shortly after it—not the same year of course, in fact there were several years in between, but it does still mean that this is the time for us to commemorate such events, as well as the mediæval birds and the creators of syrupy cards.
Now it seems to me that G always forgets the anniversary of our first meeting, and I admit that this is possibly because of my annual joke that on that day she goes and shoots out Diana's porch light, Diana being the person responsible for that first meeting. On the other hand she does usually remember the wedding anniversary, in spite of me also making an annular joke: the one about the court of the judge who spliced us having a big stop sign with the slogan "think before you speak. there are no good excuses" and us ignoring it and going through with the ceremony anyway, so I've always been a bit suspicious of her mnemonic inconsistency.
This led us, the other day, to have a serious discussion as to which was the more important date to anniversary-ize, the meeting or the marrying. I was for the former, she for the latter. And once I got out of hospital—no, I exaggerate, well just a bit, mean there were no broken bones and not too many contusions or gashes, and most of those were to my self-esteem.
So, not daring to revisit the debate and risk ending up with third anniversary to add to the mix (that of our divorce, or more likely my murder) I thought I'd broach the subject here on the air and with a good deal of water between me and any possible counter arguments.
So here goes...
Admittedly, I’ve met a lot of people, so meeting qua meeting, which we may call 'the Meeting Simplex', is not of itself necessarily of memorial value.
Indeed these meetings have included a number of women and girls, some of whom I have even dated, this being 'the Meeting Duplex'.
Almost all of the above persons I've met, I haven’t married for various reasons.
But, but, and here we come the crux, the crucial datum, the fact that turns all that has gone before on to its head: I have never married any person I haven’t met!
That final meeting category we shall call 'the Meeting Complex'.
Thus the Meeting Complex absolutely MUST be the sine qua non, the determining step, the reason for us to be celebrating anything at all, especially celebrating it together.
If we hadn't met that first time, we in all likelihood would not have met a second time, nor indeed a third... and so forth down to the one in front of the judge.

This seems irrefutable evidence for the primacy of that prime meeting, and the fact that I finally made an honest woman of her (or rather and probably more accurately that she made an honest man out of me) seems merely formalistic and legalistic and other things ending in '-istic'.
Surely you agree with me...
And so, to sort of end as we sort of began: [Sings] "Love and Marriage. Love and Marriage. go together like a sale and garage."...
Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!


1 "Parlement of Foules": ll, 301, 310

Broadcast on 3
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Letter to America: Damn Dam On:2022-11-22 03:20:08

My Dear Americans,
    I do like to go for a brisk walk of a morning, one of my favourite routes being that to Gillingham: note that it is absolutely vital, before we go any further for us to know that Gillingham (/ˈɡɪlɪŋəm/) is pronounced with a hard 'G', and that it is in Norfolk and almost exactly one mile away from my front door1: pronounced with a soft 'G' (/ˈdʒɪlɪŋəm/), however, it would instead be 113 miles away, or 119 going the pretty way, and in Kent, and instead of taking just under a quarter of an hour to walk to, it would take at least one day and fifteen hours 2.

But that's only an initial problem, as you'll see...
You see, as I said Gillingham is in Norfolk, and I live in Suffolk and although there are no border controls (merely the river Waveney) folks on either side of that divide consider folks on the other side as foreigners, as THE OTHER and other terrible things. Indeed it is not unknown for persons unknown in times of flooding of these low-lying areas to nip over to the other side of the river and breech the banks to ameliorate conditions on their own side
I have even heard it said that the Beccles campanile, which looms over the whole area and has three clock faces facing South, East and West, but no clock facing Norfolk because there is reluctance to even share the time of day with THEM!

Now the road my route follows is called Gillingham Dam, though it does not in the slightest way resemble, for example Hoover Dam, there are no vast bodies of water being retained, certainly no hydro-electricity generated: I mean it's only a few feet above sea level. No, this is just a slightly elevated road, hardly even a causeway, through low marsh-ish not-quite marshes replete with cattle (no doubt lowing in a suitably bucolic fashion), most notably a type of longhorn that, though the horns aren't really THAT long, takes me right back to Fort Worth (in our small island there isn't enough room to have proper Texas length horns). There are swans in the dykes, the occasional swine on a bike (who thinks peddling like a maniac gives him right of way), the odd pheasant et cetera all in all rather pleasant (apart from the cyclist).
The only other downside to this route is the vehicles that hurl down it at breakneck speed, regardless of its narrowness and of the accompanying sidewalk's even narrowerness (which probably explains the sidewalk cyclist, though it in no way excuses him). This morning, for example, a hurtling hearse (now there's an expression you don't use every day) a hurtling hearse barrelled past, thundering from behind me down the damned Gillingham Dam, though I suppose so was I (though at considerably slower rate). Very disconcerting, though it did nicely illustrate that old phrase "The quick and the dead".
As evidence of the inadvisability of too much of this vehicular peddle-to-the-mettling was the crashed car stuck in a bank a month or so back that resided there for at least a week loosely swaddled in police tape and with a rather odd, though endearing, sticker on its side window reading "authorities aware". It's nice to know that they aren't unconscious or asleep or looking the other way.

After a summer of drought and heat-ish waves we are back to proper English weather, with rain punctuated with periods of dampness. This makes walking briskly a bit more pleasant, though no less sweaty.
Which reminds me that when walking in the rain there is absolutely nothing worse than seeing a vast and presumably deep puddle ahead, centred on the road's verge and a car coming to pass through it at the very moment that one is certain to pass oneself, and so running like hell to get to the other side of it before the car hits it and makes a veritable tsunami of puddle, only to have the driver, with a vicious politeness veer out into the middle of the road to avoid splashing you.
Well, I suppose not running and being soaked by a less polite, though more vicious, driver, would be slightly worse, though then I'd end up less out of breath and aware of my age.
Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!

An excessively alliterative comment from Sue Williams:
A hurtling hearse, having harvested a has-been human, happened by in its haste to hand over its haul to the Here After.




I think the Cartoon Syndicate is spying on me!
This appeared a mere eight days after my essay.

...who knows? Who cares??

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