Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Now sadly departed, Zymchuk, or 'Ymch' as he was known to his friends, was a traveller of international renown. He boasted that he'd deported from nearly all of the countries in the EU and also the Baltic States on account of his appalling hairstyles and unfeasible facial hair.
He always attributed his extreme longevity to his diet of Reckitts Paris Blue.
He did have a very shiny forehead. Unfortunately, last Monday a passing stork saw the gleam and, mistaking it for a fish pond, dived downwards in an enthusiastic manner in order to enter the water.
This effectively poleaxed Mr Feofilakt. A passer by, Venomus Pling, informed ambulance staff: "He already had this really dreadful hair, but once that bird with the long legs got involved his whole head looked 100 times worse. He couldn't even pretend he was wearing a fascinator rather than a hat!".
Sunday, 20 April 2014
Our gardening expert writes:
Soil always gives problems in gardens and should be replaced by the kind of proprietary growing medium available from all good garden centres or, better still, 3 ft of quick-set ready-mix and a topping of Cotswold paving.
With winter rains over and the last of the year's frosts safely behind us, now is the time to get busy with the concrete mixer, re-surfacing and laying new beds for the future. It's a grand time to be outside, every garden buzzing with strimmer, stump-grinder, chainsaw, power-wash and mechanical flail, each competing to outdo its neighbour with the sounds of Spring. Hover-mowers are most people's favourite for decibels, though I once had a diesel-powered rotary that could shake the china in houses more than two streets away. In past centuries it was the job of small boys to wave rattles and bang saucepan lids in order to keep scavenging birds off crops and gardens. I've found these days that leaving the concrete mixer to turn all hours of daylight works just as well. To be doubly sure, leave a good radio alongside, tuned in to a local station.
Fruit-bushes are particularly prone to attack from insect-forms that crawl up stems, be those aphids, thrips or the devilishly cunning scale-insect. Traditional counter-measures work best and now is the time to be fitting those grease-bands that will save your crop from devastation. It's a tiresome job getting the collars on to the little perishers, one that calls for nimble fingers and a steady hand.
Summer pruning of soft fruit: stick to simple basics, intercalating to third bud of south-facing spurs on new season's growth, whilst taking care not to spline secondary shooters beyond 45 deg in alkaline conditions without cautionary pre-dusting of Bordeaux with soft-hair sable no more than 13mm beyond blench where splashing has occurred.
Next month: re-ordering that Hot Tub that still hasn't arrived.
Friday, 18 April 2014
Justin here, and in a world torn by tragedy, conflict, avarice, greed, lechery, cowardice and cruelty, our thoughts naturally turn to The Greatest Story Ever Told – not necessarily the film of that name, although I was taken to see that cinematographic milestone as a boy, by an especially devout maiden aunt, who went “Oooh” and “Aaaah” a lot. It is a long film and I had TWO ice cream tubs – the ones with little wooden spoons. In fact, a childhood friend, Donald Rossiter, once got a nasty splinter from one of those lodged in his tongue and had to be taken to hospital to have it removed. Ever afterwards, he answered the register by saying “Yeth thir.”
But I digress. For a man of the cloth, the way each religious festival is presented is very important and whilst I will celebrate Easter in the traditional fashion at the Abbey, my thoughts turned to the question of perhaps organising and presenting a more public event which might attract not only the devout, but also the unengaged amongst us.
To my surprise, the young man with the wire in his ear took an immediate interest. I had resigned myself long ago to his apparent agnosticism, but he was very swift in suggesting what he called “a crucifixion sort of thing”. He proposed enlisting the services of some of the local homeless men and dressing some as apostles, some as Romans, and one as Jesus. This last, suggested the young man with the wire in his ear, should “look a bit like Rambo”, whoever that is. His enthusiasm was infectious and he went on to describe the scenario, aided by some enthusiastically sketched pictures of Our Lord being bloodily scourged, whipped, abused and finally nailed to the Cross.
My lady wife and I thanked him very much, but were taken aback when he said, “Ah, but it doesn’t end there!” Before I could congratulate him on his knowledge of the scriptures, he went on, “No. You see, just before they nail him to the Cross, he head-butts the geezer with the hammer, shoves a nail in his eye, knees his mate in the goolies, leaps down and grabs the centurion’s spear, does for ‘im, then all his mates do the same to the rest of the Roman guard – blood everywhere – an’ a dyin’ guard says to camera – “Surely this man is the son o’ Gawd. Uuuurrr.” Then Jesus and his elite crew hunt down Judas and do for ‘im and the whole thing closes with JC and mates heading for the Roman HQ and a seriously bad end for that pilot bloke."
There was a brief silence until my lady wife said, “What a load of gratuitous nonsense. We will have nothing to do with it. You silly boy!” – this last delivered with enough passion (excuse the pun) to upturn her mug of Drambuie.
So instead, we’re having an Easter Bonnet parade.
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
I'd heard of this new-fangled device for seeing through brick walls - I believe it's called a window - and thought I might install one in my basement flat. Hence reason for sale.
I know it's a crap piece of craftsmanship, but if you smoke a lot of weed and then sit and look at it, I think you'll agree there's a lot more to it than you first thought.
Mortgages can be arranged; otherwise please send your sealed bids to me at:
18889 Short Street
P.S. COMING SOON: Very badly iced bit of wedding cake.
Monday, 14 April 2014
Dear Lady Violet,
I think my boyfriend may be seeing someone else. He went off to a wedding (without me) a couple of weeks ago, and when I looked through the photos afterwards, he seemed to be the bridegroom. He's been off on a business trip - supposedly - for the last two weeks, but I've just got a postcard from him in Barbados when he told me his business trip was to Milton Keynes.
What should I do if he comes back? How will I explain the mess in the flat to my landlord once I've beheaded him? (My boyfriend, that is, not the landlord).
Yours in anticipation,
Emmeline Gunge (Mrs)
My Dear Miss Gunge,
First, a few words of sympathy and admiration - the latter for your bravery in retaining such an awful family name, and the former for your bravery in retaining such an awful family name.
As for your first hand experience of male shallowness, it is quite natural to think of various forms of retribution, including beheading. But I would counsel against such a course. It is a very messy business and could possibly get you into quite serious trouble with the authorities, let alone the effect the results may have upon your landlord.
No, I do not think you should chop your boyfriend's head off. You might instead consider two alternatives. One; accept what has happened and pull your landlord. Or, two; if your landlord is unavailable, unattractive or broke, engage the services of your local La Cosa Nostra killer. Most towns have at least one and details are to be had at your local Citizens' Advice Bureau.
Dear Lady Violet,
How can I stop my tom from marking his territory behind the sofa? It was bad enough when it was just the cat doing it.
Dear Miss Cobb-Webbi,
Pepper, broken glass, and floor anchored razor wire usually do the trick in these situations, but a deeper understanding as to precisely why your male persists may be found in Dr P J Whimbrel's excellent study, "They Do it Standing Up", available at all good book shops and through the online supplier, Amazon.
Dear Lady Violet,
It's not often that you receive enquiries from shrubbery, I expect, but given that you have a name of a vegetal nature I felt that you may be sympathetic. I have been troubled recently by this disgusting little bastard by the name of Nerd, who insists on rolling around on me. I wouldn't mind but he doesn't seem to change his underpants very often.
How can I get him to roll around somewhere else, and leave me alone?
Rhoda DendronBalsall Heath Park
Dear Miss Dendron,
You are correct. Enquiries from greenery of any sort are rare. I did have some awfully sad letters from several roses , most of whom wanted to know how they might avoid dead - heading, but that was years ago.
I have thought about your problem long and hard. Given that plants, like humans, communicate with each other, you might try to attract the attention of any yew trees in your immediate area. As you know, these are extremely poisonous trees which might be persuaded to lean down and brush against your tormentor, thus placing him in a dead situation.