Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where have I been?

Oh well, you know how it is....Christmas, trouble at mill at work, egregious slithering activities resulting in hole in my bank account the size of Northern Rock's defecit and the a slight limp I am publicly attributing to overdoing it at Le Palais Du Sweat (Gym).

However my time is a little more liberal at the moment and I am able to blog once more. Now, I know that if you leave these things alone for a bit, your readership dies out. However I am uplifting it again.

In general news Donna Da Lodga was furious with me over the Elvis post. I shall say no more on it though. That what needed to be said was said. And we are chums again. I shall be more circumspect in wittering about my muses in future.

But a new year brings new challenges, fresh starts and old light through new windows. or is it New light through old windows..... oh well.

First challenge is renewing one's insurance. There is scant pleasure in handing over wads of treasure to the blinkered thieves of St Mary's Axe in town so they can parcel it out amongst themselves only to refuse payment on the flimsiest of grounds.

One fragment of joy is the discovery of the minor inclusion in my contents policy, in that it now includes liability for injury to 'Domestic Staff'.
Presumably should I take it upon myself to administer a thrashing to the scullery maid and the witless socialist takes it upon herself to sue me in some kangaroo court of leftieness in Europe, I'm covered - as she probably deserved it?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Elvis has left the Building

I'm caught in a trap....there's no way back

I was eating a late supper when the phone rang. It was Donna-da-Lodga's grandmother wishing parley with her grand-daughter.

Passed phone over and in moments her face fell and she started crying uncontrollably. Through the sobs she said 'when did you find him?'. I naturally thought she was talking about her grandfather. I was very concerned and offered her team and sympathy as one quite rightly would.
She finished the call and I said gently - 'was it your grandfather?'

'No', she sobbed. 'It's Elvis.'

'Elvis?? what, like in Graceland? And this has just reached you?'

'He's My Nan's budgie.'

'He's called Elvis??'

'Yes', she sobbed - 'I tamed him.'

'You tamed him? Was he Wild?' (he was probably livid - hat tip to Rowan Atkinson's Gerald the Gorilla for that gag)

'No, from when he was 7 days old. They are very timid when they are chicks and I taught him to like people. He's like a doggie to them. .

'What, they take him for walks?'

'No but they let him fly around the house.'

'On a lead?'

'You don't understand what it is to love animals like we do in my family - look at my sister's
love for her rabbit.' (Sister's rabbit has had a hysterectomy - how they worked out it was menopausal is beyond me - let alone the outpourings of grief attendant with the procedure)

The conversation tailed off at this point…as the futility of reasoning and rationality became obvious - as her love for the quadrapedical slobber machine that is her dog is evident so much that she feels the need to keep him cooped up all day, doesn't change his water, wash his dinner bowl between feeds and needs nagging to walk him daily.

A reprise to the conversation came this morning when she asked me what had happened to the butterfly which had taken up residence in the light fitting in the bathroom.

'Donna, I put him out of his misery'
Her face clouded, tears begin to well.

'Look, I picked him up, he had two legs left and a broken proboscis. Attempted to feed it with some glucose solution and it couldn't feed. It was only right that he was dispatched.'

'You weren't cruel where you?' (Ye gods is there no end to this?)

'I buried him at sea', I said eyeing the Loo.

All this apparently makes me cruel and obviously I know nothing of animal husbandry. Anyway. Not enough meat on a budgie for my liking.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

History repeating itself

It is oft said that a rummage around a cupboard indicates much of an individual and the colour of their character.
I wonder what it could mean, then, when I am forced by a necessity to delve into a cupboard that Donna da Lodga has made her own.

The cupboard beneath my sink was claimed as hers when she moved in. She also claimed other drawers and the like in my clean minimalistic kitchen of epicurianism for horrors such as Smash, instant noodles and an unearthly amount of stale cake mix.
I haven't had the occasion to delve into such a well staked out territory until the other day. I will divulge why later. Suffice to say the cupboard under the sink has been her preserve for a while and it was with a slow childlike wonderment that I cast open the door and had to move out the stocks within.

Being an organised soul it seemed natural to sort out some of the contents. I shall leave you dear reader to fathom the inner workings of the dear girl's bonce - but there was either a degree of hoarding or reflex purchasing going on.
4 separate (and full) bottles of bleach. Various flavours.
6 Magic tree air fresheners
30 assorted spongy scourer things (all unused)
cotton and thread, velcro fastening strip
4 bottles whiffy fabric softener
3 tins spray air freshener
Bounce - one box
Persil sachets - loads
Two bottles dishwasher rinse-aid
Vanish granules - large tub
Shake and vac - two tubs

This is a girl who is clearly fearful of some cleanliness catastrophe in the very near future or one which believes we may face wartime-esque shortages and is panic buying.

Why was I under the sink?

Plumbo Jumbo needed access.

With a grim certainty of the circle line failing to work; DDL cooking and using the waste disposal following the Boy lard's attempts to plug my drains with filler had the effect predicted.
A sure as eggs is eggs I was awoken from my slumber on Sunday afternoon to behold a sink full of brown and wet not going anywhere.
I attached the plunger to the spotlight in the garden, shone the silhouette onto the clouds and waited for the pink van and chap with turbo-reamer to arrive.

It was bound to happen, sooner or later.

PS: yes I know I have been away. Been terribly busy. Slithering and work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Joy of DIY

Now the dust has settled and I can admire my handiwork I can reflect on the madness I unleashed in my domicile.

I was so focused on the 'deliverable' I didn't have time to log on and comment about the latest fiasco going on in the wide world - as we were inventing new words for Polyfilla.

Yet somehow I feel a connection between the useful application of 'Crevice Paste' and Alistair Darling. And these scoundrels want to log every move you make in your car? And putting all your details on a database?

That is as wise as me reckoning I can strip forty square yards of woodchip with three coats of gloss paint over in it in a couple of days.

I digress.

This incredible feat of amateur anti-decorating was achieved with no less than 8 bin bags and 8 bottles of Burgundy.
We consumed three pounds of bubble and squeak, six eggs, a full kilo of parsnips and one portion of 'sprouts mexicane'.
No requisite telco to Plumbo-Jumbo to sort out that which we flushed (as from the last overhaul) but I did catch The Boy Lard putting water soluble filler down the kitchen sink with a sadistic leer about his face.
Three new names for polyfilla - from crack engungement compound to crevice paste. Via soluble-smearable for good measure. (Grown-up, huh?)

When we transferred efforts to the Boy Lard's house - we managed to remove the plaster from only half the wall accidentally.
Built and et a legendary three-day cottage pie.

And joy of joys - I return to the real world to find the wheels had fallen off my hamster wheel and Gordo slipped even further into crisis.

Every time I go away on holiday Dave climbs two points in the polls. Just goes to show oppositions don't bring down government - governments bring down governments.
I have a theory as to why we get half a generation of socialism compared to a generation of conservatism - and it's the same reason why we get bubbles and slides in the city. People are too young to realise why we got rid of the left last time, just as the current chaps in pinstripes are too young to remember the debt boom of the late 60's and resultant credit crunch following an energy price hike / energy crisis in the early 70s. Or the resultant house price crash.

But they will remember soon enough.

I have walls to paint and dust to inhale. Regular blogging will return soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So Busy!

I'm away from my PC decorating at the moment - and interesting tales abound regarding lead paint and 'crevice paste' (polyfilla)....but I need to crack on.......tales of chappiness to follow...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not hugely original, but........

Christmas with the family.

Hat tip -Punch - circa 1975.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The next target is:

Now the nannyists have pretty much outlawed smoking for the plethora of reasons they pertain to - the next target is our next vice.


We will have all seen the furious press releasing going on of late - latest Here.

Of course - it is for our own and everyone else's good - how can we argue? mark my words - they have seen how well the anti-fag nannyists have stubbed out the habit in the UK - they take courage (bad pun intended) and doubtless move on to the next target.

It will be meat next.

This lot will not be satisfied until we are all Level 3 Vegans - and eat nothing that casts a shadow.

(Fez doff to Lisa Simpson for that nuttiness - but I still can't laugh)

UPDATE: Who pays the piper.....?
The humble devil shows us where the money is coming from.....

The Chap awards!

Bit of a random one this - but the recipient is thoroughly deserving.

The Golden Pipe award goes to a Mr A. Farrugia of Winchester.

Why? I was aboard his yacht at the weekend - and he demonstrated chappiness beyond the call of duty.
when one is sailing, there is always an element of deprivation. It allows you to shed the clutter of the ordinary life and connect with the cruel mistress that is the sea. We may drink champagne and eat smoked salmon - but essentially there is an element of noble hardship that one expects with a sport that divides the chaps and the chavs.
Mr F has a 'new' boat. Truth be told the hull and rig is nearly as old as me - and the slow process of re-fitting goes on - however she is seaworthy and we took her on her maiden voyage at the weekend.
While underway a suggestion is made to take a dish of tea, on deck like good Christians - in the face of a force 7.

Mr F duly produced the tea - but in best maritime unbreakable cups and saucers.
No mugs for us, oh no. We were able to sit in the cockpit and take tea like honest men.

For this - the golden pipe award is truly well earned.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Passchendaele Nomember 1917

One word.

Ninety years ago Today young men stood and died in the pouring rain in the fields of Flanders, defending the freedom of others against tryanny.

In hindsight the tactics and weapons appear crude. The reality is that the likes of Currie, Plume and Haig did everything they could to preserve the lives of their men.
The used the very best weaponry and tactics available. Airborne reconnaissance for the artillery - and the creeping barrage just about viable in the murk. Ground too wet for tanks meant that the armoured advances at Cambrai could not happen. Truth be told, the guns of the day were not accurate enough to coordinate with tanks and aircraft - as was seen at the Somme Canals in 1918 anyway.

The last gasp of the battle took place form the 6th to the 10th of November with Canadian troops attempting to hold a line against determined German counter attacks.

But what for? The Guardianistas of then and now sneer at the loss of life, and view the world through rose tinted spectacles. What was being fought over? As usual, the drawing rooms of Islington provide scant learning for the realities of warfare, then as now - especially as the legal eagles who make up the kleptocracy who run the show demonstrate when they fail to appreciate the men they send overseas.

Ypres was the gateway to Belgium - and the Salient was there to keep the ports open. Lose the hub at Ypres, it is a short march to Oostende and Zeebruge - effectively closing supply routes from the East of England to the front lines.

This was known by the generals and the men at the time.

Armies must be supplied - and supplied with the best. Unrestricted Submarine warfare and heavy mining by the remnants of the Kaiser's fleet meant any route to the whole of the western front had to be kept open, on land and sea. Flanders was about defending the northern flank, and keeping the arteries open. Attack is always the best form of defence - and the three battles which ended in the Passchendaele were as vital and as dynamic as 'Market-Garden', 'Goodwood' and 'Dynamo'.

The men who fought did so with the courage and determination and bloody minded professionalism of the Men who scrabbled for a beach head at Omaha, who cleared trenches - by hand - at Wireless Ridge or today - in Helmland province.
They stood their ground as did their forefathers at Rorke's drift or in at Quartre Bas - a place not so very far from the Ypres Salient.

And Brown dares to even speak of their courage?

It churns my stomach to see that thieving, mendacious, idiot of a coward even talking of the bravery of these men and then cutting their supplies today.

It is the nobility of those who stand on parade and honour the fallen in the name of our freedoms - in front of their Sovereign - which will stop them booing Brown.

He is not fit to hold the wreath, let alone lay it.

To my readers, remember: on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh month, the guns fell silent.

Stand silent and stop - for their name liveth for ever more.

Wear your poppy with pride, chaps.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Chapsticks

A year old on Friday - but bogged down with system issues - so couldn't mention it.

Been an interesting year. All sorts of things to say an d do about it - suffice to say I would do it all over again.

I shall reminisce (with cake and candles) later - hamster wheel demands attention.

Here's to another year!

Nicodemus E Chap Esq, author, editor, correspondent at large, inspiration for and victim of all that happens here.

The blog where two's company, three's a readership and four is unlikely.

From Horror to Terror

All is clearly not well with Donna Da Lodga and her tempestuous love-life. Readers of my little blog will know she lurches from car-crash to crisis with such alacrity one even begins to think she enjoys the adrenalin she clearly gets.

She returned from yet an other sortie into clubland Saturday morning whilst I was on my way out to sweat out the body-beautiful. She clucked and fussed while I left. So far so good.

All was not well when I returned.

She was moping around the place. A short cross examination revealed that the latest conquest was failing to come up to the grade in a number of areas, and despite denying having got her hopes up (which she clearly had) when things failed to measure up, she crashed to earth like a soviet era satellite hellbent on leaving a radioactive crater across the steppes.

It was when I went about completing my ablutive duties that the final terror reached me.

Merrily sudding myself down with the wire brush and extra dettol I could hear the ghastly strains of a certain type music emanating from below.

Think 'Power ballad'.

Think 'Leather and Lace'

Think 'Everything I do,' on karaoke. Followed closely by 'All by myself'.

I had to act quick lest my lower intestine leap out and strangle me in self preservation.

Dripping and betowelled I ran into the lounge, and there she was, karaoke machine in full swing belting them out tunelessly to the very worst 'romantic heartache songs ever'.

'Donna - this device uses more electricity than we have accounted for in the bill. I shall raise you rent immediately to £10,000 to cover the cost.'

She looked crestfallen.

'Look I know you are feeling a tad blue over this chap - but singing this sort of music is a cliché which you have bought into. Go out and occupy yourself instead of acting out this Bridget Jonesesque response.'

More crestfallen looks.

'OK - if you have to do this - at least wear some big pants. (Fig. 1), then you can wallow in the whole sad and lonely stereotype. Eat chocolate, get spots, complain then go out and pick up someone new for more meaningless sex. the Pants won't help, of course, but they do amuse me.'

Apparently she bumped into another old flame on the Saturday night. I have contacted kimberly clark and Cadbury just in case.

You will be 'all by yourself' in these.

BAN this NOW

As usual dear reader, I am awaiting the screaming headlines about some poor tot/doggie/OAP/Vicar having been terrorised by fireworks.
We have all seen the terrible injuries wrought by these things and I am sure if not already then shortly some of the more reactionary members of the press, ably stoked up by the grievance industry with a bone to pick will campaign to have fireworks withdrawn from sale to the general public.
I am surprised that a member of Nanny's quicker stormtroopers / think-tank watchers haven't trotted out the dread stats on this matter already. And how we can all go along to an authority organised event with noiseless bangs for the nervous of disposition and colourless flashes unless some particular interest group could also be offended by whatever colour of light their particular issue of the week tells them is oppressive. All to celebrate a seasonal festival. Not stopping Guido blowing up the house. (Offensive to Catholics and left wing councils)

This year, my good self and some chums clubbed together and quite legally bought some very large display fireworks. Big 'uns. Ones with defined fall-out zones and safe launch radius. Ones that actually deafened me when I lit the barrage candles.

We did a 'risk assessment' - or in other words - 'if I let this off here, will it set fire to the barn?'
We had a 'safe area' IE: The back garden 15 yards from the paddock where we were launching them.
We followed the fireworks code. (Or common sense when handling explosives - like No Smoking).

No one got injured, burned or scarred.
No animals were harmed or alarmed during the full 45 minutes of explosions and whizz-bangs.
No property was damaged, other than some scorched grass.
We even drank champagne as they went off - and (gasp) used the occasion to dispose of a couple of pyrotechnics with likely marine applications because they were 5 years out of date.
No one went blind, and we all had a magnificent time.

Nevertheless - the usual grief-mongers, nannyists, hair-shirters, wet-blankets and other leftie kill-joys will seek to constrain the sensible (us) because some chav put a roman candle in his mate's pocket - or three feral teenagers threw a banger at a pram.

Banning fireworks because of a few idiots is like banning beer and knives because someone got drunk and stabbed someone. (Sound familiar......)

I think the answer could lie within the individual rather than the thing in their hand - but then they are a product of society - they're not to blame - take the toys away from them, and they will all hold hands and be peaceful.

Next year - we are going for bigger bangs and two-stage liquid fueled rockets.
I don't care if the Nannyists says I shouldn't. They should shut up, but don't.

PS: We had a marvellous time and I'm still a little deaf in my right ear.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The horror....

I spent an hour an a half skulking at the modern torture chamber that is the palace of physique that is my local gym this evening.


I got home to see Donna-Da-Lodga fully togged up in her liveried finest - and wafting about my abode perfumed, scrubbed and presumably ready to present herself for inspection.
She was in a state of high anxiety and looking a little like Nurse Diesel herself and soon drove me from the house. I felt sufficiently uncomfortable to be prepared to exercise to escape the burgeoning nightmare within.

Ski ski run run lift lift run cycle sweat.

I arrived home to find a white van parked on my drive.


Fortunately they have been hiding in her rooms all evening, bar the scurrying from room to heads from time to time and the furtive giggles issues through the ceiling, I remain unexposed the sordid goings-on and doubtless sexual extremism taking place upstairs.

I am retiring soon. Aviation grade earplugs are on stand by - but i fear I may sleep through the alarm in the morning.

Watch this space, reader.

School-boy error

One of the joys of having Donna-Da-Lodga in the house is the fresh perspective she brings to my outlook - and the provision of fresh material for this blog.

I had been plotting a post about the schadenfreude I had enjoyed on hearing news of the Former Miss Chap In Residence and the hard times that had befallen her despite the pot of treasure she took off me - and some rather juicy speculation about the grisly nature of the rendition that is being exacted on her frame and fibre for the charity she currently receives.

However, discretion and good taste led me to think twice. So unbloggied I was expecting a quiet evening at home.
Instead I was greeted by the DDL in full flood of vigorous activity - doing house work, and house work with notable alacrity. Not only was she cooking dinner for the following evening, but hoovering, washing bedding, sweeping the lounge and setting about the bathroom with some vigour.

She was clearly due to entertain a visitor, one she wished to impress.
As I have so far been unable to employ a coolie for my domestic engineering I thought it useful to encourage these visits, provided they are well mannered, clean and show due deference.
So in a spirit of lively enquiry I thought it appropriate to ask about this chap who was coming to entertain her.

'You're not allowed to test him' she stated with a slight smile, and a refusal to make eye contact.

'Test, my dear?' Have I ever tested anyone who has come round that you dared to introduce to me? Anyway - should I find him wanting in areas then if he is put to the Inquiry?'

'Well, he's not like 'J'.'
That chap was affable, grown up, intelligent and pleasant. I found him good company.

A thought popped into my brain.

'Donna, how old is he?'

'I'm not telling you.' even less eye contact, more fidgeting.

'He's a lot younger than you, isn't he.' (Obviously - but how young?)


'Go on. '

'He's 21.' (Ye gods. Barely out of short trousers.)

A moment's reflection considered that he probably wouldn't even notice the work she had done and would probably even pee on the toilet seat. But as the net effect was that I had no domestic engineering backlog to attend to, I thought I would keep schtumm.

A pause. Almost entirely for effect.

'Has he got a note from his mum then?'


'Staying out all night with a strange lady.'
Unprintable response.

I assume they will be staying in watching cartoons, drinking sunny delight and eating monster munch. Or whatever it is 'Yoof' do today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Police Priority

As you know we now live in a glorious socialist workers paradise - where as a consequence of the boundless munificence of Gordo no one need want, as we have the middle classes to pay for everything.

As such all crime has been eradicated - and the police are free to devote their efforts and capital to automated crime - such as bus lane cameras, speed cameras, parking meter infringement, box junction crossing cameras and other ways to criminalise the tax-paying classes for the smallest of infringements that can enforced by a short subroutine.

It is not a police priority anymore to investigate Private Property that is now being broken into twice to three times a week.
Obviously because we have had another vehicle stolen, our club house trashed, radios taken, meagre bar takings (£5 in change...) robbed, hangars damaged and the property rendered pretty much uninsurable we cannot be considered as at being in any risk. After all, we are not a police priority. How can we be. Nothing left worth stealing.

I suspect if we winged one of the fuckers with a bird-scarer we would be in terrible trouble - but we live under Labour - which means as a sport club encouraging flying we are not a Labour client group and as there are no votes to be had from the aviation community we do not feature in the politicised priorities of the boys in blue. Except, of course - if I do 33 mph on the way home, then I deserve all I get - obviously.

I bet if one of the scrotes broke in, walked into a prop or tripped over onto one of the sharp objects we have lying around we would have to pay compensation.


Who googled 'Dunhill Junior Smokers set'?

That's madness. Everyone knows that - and I was wrong to suggest I was going to give my Junior school age nephews such trinketry.

I have given them fireworks instead.

Where there's muck....revisited

I blogged a while ago in a singular piece of genius about how the invisible hand of the market would intervene where the Local council decide they will halve their rubbish service, yet charge the same fee.

In an interesting twist, not only have many of them decided to go to fortnightly (I am in one of those poor areas) but they have decided to charge extra if you create more rubbish.
Great idea - but only if you can then select with whom you pay for your services. Otherwise it is just another localised monopoly.

The bit that gets my gripe though is that these services are being reduced, but is the local bureaucracy which supports it going as well, and will my council tax bill reduce with it?
Will I get a discount if I don't fill my bin? What's stopping me taking my spare waste to the local tip and getting rid of it for free?

Methinks we will see rubbish on the streets again - just like the last Labour administration.

It is a matter of time until not only will there be an alternative to your fortnightly collection - but I reckon it will be cheaper, greener, cleaner and quicker than the one provided by the bloated state monopoly.

Just you watch.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gunpowder, treason and pot

Ahhh the joys of Autumn!

I have spent the last couple of days acquiring a license from the campaign against aviation to use a wireless set whilst airborne. These means I can whirl about the heavens broadcasting my particular brand of humour not only at the blogsphere, but also at bemused Air Traffic Controllers, other aircraft and mole-like military listening posts.
We were all issued a standard 'Bridget-Jones' bra for head adornment should we wish to call Tokyo as well.

But now I am back. My factory is live and my head in a space to venture forth into the world yet again with mischief in mind.

And Autumn is one of the finest seasons to do so! Oh, spring has all the joys of the sap rising - but autumn holds all manner of treats, cold weather racing, frosty mornings and the first log fires of the year to seduce phillies in front thereof. It is after all, magical the effect that a glass of champagne, a giant real fur throw, a dozen oysters and a roaring log fire has on a young lady's drawstrings. Not to mention a little Sodium Penathol to loosen the morals.

A season of autumn racing - and dark parties in dark towns to behave darkly within.
A season of epicurean delights, not to mention the bounteous harvest of the sea and woods!
A season of frosts and cold ears and 'Come by the fire my dear, you will catch a death!'

The first peak of the season which one gets to show off one's derring-do, is of course bonfire night.

The smell of powder, a slight whiff of petroleum and bonfire smoke! Roasted tatties and the best excuse to let off your out of date flares from the boat while getting blind drunk.
And we get to play with fireworks.

Lots of fireworks

Not for us chaps the weedy excuses of the stuff of Tescos. Oh no.
An hour's careful searching online reveals the joys of the Trade sector:
75mm mortars!
Rockets that require blast shields!
Cakes that fire for 10 minutes!

The joys of leaping about the garden while a little taken with wine and having the joys of setting light to things and running away while the explode should be appreciated by all, young and old!
Then the joys of taking the starry eyed young lady wowed by your pyrotechnical prowess indoors to the fire, some spit roasted lamb a bottle of burgundy on the table and some rigorous sexual extremism is naturally to be expected, given the fact that all those bangs makes one heart pump so.

Now we all know the firework code. No cigarettes in the vicinity - but a pipe is ideal. Alcohol should not be taken, unless in cocktail form and be careful kids, remember - explosives and Ketamine DON’T MIX.
The explosives give you a nose bleed and the Ketamine doesn't burn.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hamster Wheel

Students of Nicodemus E. Chap esq., will be aware that today was a big day in the world of work.

For those of you who know / care / or frankly couldn't care less - I have a simple phrase which will strike envy into the: Government/NHS/Lefty cultural establishment/Public Sector IT delivery bods/Simpering apologistas for the political class of no-hopers. (delete as appropriate)

On time. On Budget. On scope. To the minute.

Don't hear that very often nowadays do you.... not with this lot running the show.

Chappy misbehaviour, regular pithy blog posts and more discombobulatory adventures to come!

I've earned them.

The pain and the sorrow.

I say, rather close isn't he?

A weekend very much of two halves.

Uncharacteristically I awoke when Da-Lodga returned from yet another night sweating away the last of her youthful looks in one of London's louder establishments.
Full of vim, vigour and verisimilitude I at once decided to aviate.
Now, students of all things metero metroli weather will have noticed the whopping great slice of High pressure resident over Merrie Englande.

This still, pleasant autumn weather, whilst stunning, has killed off the thermal soaring. It's all to do with inversions, and is terribly complicated and will involve graphs to explain.

As the air was so still and smooth it would perfect for some formation flying. Therefore, I took the opportunity to renew my rating on solo-aerotowing.

Aerotowing is basically formation flying, whilst being dragged through the sky by a tug on the end of a bit of long string.

I shall spare you the details - but in terms of the beauty of the day (Cambridgeshire was breathtaking in the Autumn light) and the sense of achievement - I rated it better than my first solo - or first successful climb to cloud base solo.

I landed after enjoying myself thoroughly at two thousand feet and skipped about the peri-track like a spring lamb, filled with enthusiasm and a sense of complacent joy at just how bloody brilliant I am.

It was in this sense of tearing high spirits that I wended my weary way to 'Sarf' London to chums of mine for a spot of an Ibiza reunion with a certain Rugby match in for good measure.

You can see where this is going can't you.

A couple of bottles of bubbles, some cheeky Rhone and a half decent curry later we had become refreshed to the extent that going to the pub with requisite loud funk disco had become a reasonable suggestion and one that we embarked on with notable alacrity. Certainly a journey worthy of allowing us to forget the horrors from Paris.

It is very easy to criticise one's actions viewed through the prism of sober hindsight:

We shouldn't have gone to the pub at 11.

I shouldn't have had that strong Czech lager on top of fizz and red wine

I shouldn't have been involved in Donna-Da-Lodga's mad photography attempts to persuade us gentlemen to behave like celebutards for a camera.

Dancing. (Needs no qualifications whatsoever, does it...)

Nor should I have drunk quite so much (and the rest!)

What is worse, is that there are apparently photos of this debauched behaviour in existence as we speak. (Fortunately, they are restricted to a generic social networking website belonging to DDL - and therefore almost nobody I know will ever see them)

But dear reader - as you are all aware Nemesis always follows Hubris.

My Sunday was spent the clutches of a hangover of transdimensional qualities.

It crept up - I felt fine for an hour when I awoke. (No memory as to how I got to bed either - for the concoctions which had rendered me so cheerful and willing to participate in dancing, had also contrived to rob me of my memory of some minor details - like getting home, what I did for an hour with everyone else - and who I may have drunk-dialled on the wireless telephone).

And then, when I started some gentle re-hydration therapy, it hit. And it struck as fast and as hard as an Exocet out of a cloudbank. I have had similar experiences, normally when experimenting with cheap drugs when I was int he flower of my youth.

My day? Ruined.

My head? Aswim.

My Gulliver? On spin cycle.

A poor end to such an auspicious start.

The only consolation was that this hurt more than the defeat. So, I guess in someways the sorrows had been most effectively drowned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Society is to blame

If I'm obese because I eat junk food it's actually not my fault any more. Funny - I thought it was up to me what I ate, drank and how much I exercised.
Now apparently I have no free will and it is the fault of the fact someone is still free to sell me what I want to buy. Food is too easy to buy and too cheap and I can eat fatty foods if I want to. Well blow me. Let's dismantle the entire capitalist system, introduce a board of supply, nationalise all food production and we should only have what nanny thinks we need - then we will all be fit an healthy. Just like rationing.

Rope will be made illegal next so you can't hang yourself if you choose.

Here's a quick question: Should I choose to drink myself to death and I was part of the client state - I would obviously be a victim of society - but would that still count if I am harming myself with a glass of claret a day?

Or, at what point I am I merely being a glutton or I am becoming a victim? Does it only count if I eat burgers and chips - or should I dine upon roasted fowl in oyster sauce, a shoulder of mutton,a race of hen lobsters, roasted potatoes, mash, suet pudding with vanilla cream and a bottle of Madeira everyday - am I part of the exploited or am a part of the exploiters - for such food is obviously plutocratic. Or the zero-summers will have it that because I have so much choice, I am clearly forcing those I exploit to eat McSwineys.

You know, thinking this one through - it wouldn't be beyond this socialist state to introduce rationing anyway. Along with it 'being for our own good' rationing was introduced in the last war not because of shortages - but to reduce fuel usage in distribution. Just you wait - the green lobby will want that one. Think of how carbon consumptive it is having a choice in the shops…… especially when we can queue up with our rations cards and save the environment.

Now, all we need is another created crisis to jump this one through…..terrorist stunts? Deliberate viral releases? Or another staged explosion at a fuel depot…..

Soviet Britain is upon us.

Time for a day of Chappy anti-nanny action. Better than that pathetic blog-action day.
A stay in and stuff yourself day, methinks.

Menu to follow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

All quiet on the bloggy front pt 345811

My next toy.....
Yes, yes, I know I have been terribly quiet. It isn't because I have nothing to say either. I know it is all kicking off in the politcoes world and there are all sorts of things that have been catching my eye, but I have been rather busy.

'Ah-ha!' I hear you murmur, 'With what, to where and to whom?'

What with the old hamster wheel requiring an awful lot of amperes (Big Go-live this weekend dontchyerknow) the madness of Big Grey internal politics, food poisoning from dodgy food from Ibiza (NOT that luminous drink I consumed in DC-10 either) and a Man-Flu-with-complications (slight head cold) my time has been spread thinner than the margarine on a GNER sandwich.

On the aviating front - I have done my last flight tests - so I am in possession of the equivalent of a PPL (albeit for proper aeroplanes - sans big mincing machine to drill a hole in the sky) - and this has been taking up a lot of my run time of late.

So what next?

Well if my chum Jaguar is anything to go by, I ought to go and get a passenger rating then cue some industrial grade slithering.

He has already suggest that I should order 20 white silk scarves to give the Victims dear young volunteers a special and very personal souvenir of their little dash around the clouds. If that sort of behaviour is anything to go by it is a very slippery slope to wearing a cravat and a monocle with phrases like 'Let me get you out of those terribly wet clothes my dear, you'll catch your death.'

It does have it's merits - but Jaguar, whilst a yachtsman of average skill and caver of unfortunate renown, is the sort of individual only the foolhardy, deranged or sexually desperate should seek advice from. After all - he has fled at least three countries to escape paternity suits and is running out of continents in which he can safely show his face in the company of the fairer sex without the accompanying posse bearing flaming torches, baying hounds and a priest with good book and requisite noose in hand.
But saying that - he is a stout fellow and a good sport.

Also - on hearing this news, Scotty started texting me 'Top-Gun' quotes including the ludicrous 'take my breath away Maverick'. This is highly inappropriate, as under no circumstances could I accept a moniker quite as ripe Stilton as 'Maverick'. 'Algy', possibly. 'Binky' has a certain doomed Spitfire-ace ring to it. At worse 'Goose' - particularly as it has a certain lewd undertone.

However - the sport is far to genteel to allow such goings on - and as such I am happy to waft about skywards without resorting to grisly Americanised clichés about fly-boys offering rides on their 'jet'.

No. Gliding is more about flasks of stewed tea, curly fishpaste sandwiches and discovering new ways of peeing into bags while lying down and getting the resultant waste out of a perspex window two inches square while doing 70 knots - a practice which lacks the glamour of an F-14 and is hardly endearing when trying to impress the Ladies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back, from outta space

Hello again reader dear.

As you are aware I have been off the grid for a bit. A couple of day's worth of yachting about Ibiza, with some exceptionally heavy drinking and some unfortunate food. I call it unfortunate as it has made me suffer a mild dose of the bloody flux.

We are not talking hallucinations and serious griping pain - but considerable discomfort has ensued and I am restricted in not being too far away from full-bore facilities, preferably with refrigeration close to hand.

Oh, the sailing was fine enough, the scenery is absolutely staggering - but all of us who passed through the apartment taken by my chums has suffered to some extent with 'the slackening'.

This has curtailed both my time and my blogging urges. It has even prevented me from the latest phase of my radio work this evening - which is fortunate as I completely failed to either revise True Bearing calls, nor prepared my flight plan. This I shall do tonight, hopefully between bouts of suffering terribly for my travels.

The only cure I can think of is a heroic dose of the old tincture, but Tesco won't sell it to me anymore and I daren't consume more than a thousand drops. Failing that I think I need to be bled and a slime draft.

More news to follow. If you are lucky it will be followed by sports and weather.

I will express my surprise, though, as in the brief interlude whilst I was off sunning myself and loafing about the White Isle - I return to find that Gordo has bottled the election, England beat Australia in the Rugby and we have even won a one day test series.

I should do these short breaks more often.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Burma - The North Korea of the Indian Ocean?

One shares the usual horror at what is happening with Burma of late - The Greek Chap puts it much better than I - and includes links.

My mind casts back to the velvet revolutions of the late 80s - and the successes they had. Is the Burmese regime more brutal than that of Romania? It's hard to judge. What is different to then is the sponsor - the skin in the game as we call it in my profession.

Back in 89 - the Soviets were a busted flush. And as their support crumbled their satellite regimes did with them. It would appear that China - hardly a paragon of democratic openness - potentially sees Burma as a satellite - and would gleefully prop up it's regime, and clearly sees the lives of fellow humans as rather cheap.

One wonders why.

Perhaps we see the world slightly differently to them. The Cold war view isn't there anymore for us. We forget the great game between the blocs fought in the buffer states from Angola to East Germany. Things may look a tad different to our chums in Beijing. All that has happened is the Old Bear has gone bankrupt. But There is a lot of her claws left.

I also think there are a host of geopolitical factors clearly at play.

I'm no expert - but I am familiar with some of the terrain - so here's a few guesses.

Could it be unofficial empire - long memories there in the land of the dragons. From suffering at the hands of Japan in the 30s - and a hundred years before that through the colonial manufactories in the great rivers - the Pearl northwards - would suggest that a few satellite regimes with resources and friendly goons at the helm give china a sense of comfort as it grows and flexes it's economic muscles.
The Pacific rim is lined with hostiles - Japan, Taiwan and the Americano-Australian bloc. Recent interventions in the Celebetic Archipelago to defend interests of the old SEATO bloc obviously unnerve China - so landward borders with friendly or propped up regimes may tip a local balance of power in her interests.

Could it be an interest in challenging an Indian economic bloc? India represents the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism, free trade and democracy that clearly concerns China. How else to maintain the regime if you keep the people in ignorance. With a Maoist insurrection stoked in Nepal, ongoing hostilities in Kashmir - how better to play the great game with India - a Nuclear India after all, than by keeping a modern day East Germany fizzling away to her eastern flank - to hem in any pretensions an economic powerhouse waiting to happen that is the old Raj.
Also If you can keep Kim and his cohorts ranting at the Americans across the 38th parallel and Burma worrying the Europeans - eyes can be blind to other pressures that she may wish to push - Japan - or West into the Sino-Russian frontier. Not the first time they have come to blows either. With a stroppy Russia to contend with - the great game can be played up against the old west and at the same time the old bear can be baited at leisure.

Finally - good old sea lanes. China's navy and therefore her ability to project her interests beyond the Pacific Rim is hampered by her Pacific Navy being largely littoral and the fact as far as she is concerned the scrap with Shek and Mao isn't done yet in Formosa / Taiwan - and all that island represents is the same scale of unsinkable aircraft carrier as we were to the threat of Soviet expansion across the Elbe in 45-89. With the Sea of Japan sonar-ed as tight as the Greenland - Iceland - UK gap was in 88, the Indonesian Archipelago a theocratic bloc - and the Malaccan straits covered as far as fleet movements are concerned - a friendly port in the Bay of Bengal is an ideal place to project interests to your trade enemies.

Power projection is still rated in Flat-tops. When Saddam went buying petrol in Kuwait - Both Maggie and George's Daddy asked the same question - where are my carriers? George 1, of course knew of these things - being a decorated navy pilot himself. She hasn't got them right now - but you can bet they are being built - or bought. (Good article here: Here)

In short - is Burma the soft underbelly China wants to the Indian Ocean? Or a buffer state for security in a cold war mind-set? Either way - this could be the first move in the Dragon flexing Geopolitical muscles beyond her old backyard of the Mekong to the south and represent a push in her interests Westward.

Gweilo ought to watch his step.

Lois Maxwell

Most of you know Lois Maxwell died at the weekend.

With IMDB crediting her with over 82 key appearances she will be sorely missed.

Many of us remember her for her regular slot as Moneypenny - M's long suffering secretary.
However - she has a certain cachet amongst the spods among us. Who can forget her dulcet tones as the Lt. Atlanta Shore of W.A.S.P. Troy Tempest's bit of stuff - however, why she hung around beat me because he was always chasing that annoying fish girl that Matt Munroe droned on and on about.

She was also a regular voice-over on Thunderbirds, and appeared in Several episodes of UFO. To complete the collection of cult 60's appearances - she also showed up in The Persuaders, The Saint, The Avengers and the ever silly Randall and Hopkirk (deceased). She was almost as prevalent a voice as the great Shane Rimmer.

Put simply - her transatlantic tones coloured the soundscape of my childhood.
Farewell, Lois.

Monday, October 01, 2007

House guests.

As predicted Dulux thoroughly disgraced herself during her visit. Not only did she paralyse herself with faffing - but - as predicted - she fell asleep and dribbled on my sofa.

I picked her up from Stevenage station where she was negotiating with the ticket clerk over her failure to buy said billet. Giant wheelie case in hand - I enquired if she was planning on staying for a month or more? Tricky as the Donna-da-Lodga would be back soon and she would have to vacate the spare-room - and move to the parcel shelf in room 3.
Indeed prepared for the two nights only - but she 'felt the cold' and had brought her entire skiing wardrobe, jumpers and long johns. And she borrowed a fleece.... All this 'healthy living' has obviously broken her internal thermostat - and she must be in need of a decent sticky suet pudding to reintroduce a ready-brek glow.

Light supper followed by early night - as tomorrow we were to fly.
I roasted a little salmon which we ate with green salad and the like. All terribly abstemious - I had offered a small rib of beef with dauphinouse pots, mountains of fine Hampshire cabbage and some gravy to be washed down with a presumptuous Chateaux Neuf Du Pape. Apparently this represented all of her forbidden food groups - and could have killed her stone dead. Personally I would have preferred that than the self-imposed starvation diet of steamed grass roots and inedible stalks. Better to go like a burning comet than dying by degrees, eh?

We arrived at the aerodrome the next day with her half asleep and me needing tea. I introduced her to one of our more jocose instructors and soon despatched her to play with an aeroplane - in a state of bewilderment. The planes she is used to have jetways, stewardesses and airports attached. They are not towed around a grass strip by a golf buggy driven by an old man who smells strongly of pipe tobacco.

She's a nice lass, but she is prone to asking a lot of insensitive questions - a LOT of questions in a steady stream. This caused some amusement.

Much of the amusement was derived from her demanding to know how many years her flying instructors had been teaching for - and at one point refusing to fly with someone.
This caused hilarity rather than rancour - and a spate of the instructors insisting amongst other things - that they had been flying a week and had the book on how to fly (with the pictures all coloured in neatly too), they had a note from their mum, the charges were dropped last time and that he got away with it last time as he was wearing a parachute and the insurance covered the burial charges.

Despite spending a good half of the day pretending to be asleep in my car at the end of the runway when we all knew she was reading 'Hello!' she flew twice - and even soared for a few minutes on one. How someone can feel airsick though from 6 minutes is beyond me.

I, on the other hand spent the entire time in my flights scrabbling around at 1100 feet in two knots of sink and manfully failing to stay up for more than 7 minutes.

She completed the evening by dining on a particularly tasty roasted prawn and red pepper Provencal with basmati rice and a bottle of Savigny Les Beaune 2005 - which is clearly a grand, grand year - and delicious for a white only two years in the bottle.
A glass of Cremant completed the evening - and allowed her to fall asleep - entirely as seen in my prophecy - on the sofa. Head lovingly nestled on the Dog's arm-rest to commune and share in the sleepy world of dribble.

Her appearance in the morning on the sofa was akin to an old English sheep dog who had fallen asleep in a washing machine. Yet again she was paralysed with faffitude for I had been to the gym (I know, I know - but the body beautiful is paid for in sweat and self denial and I cannot brook the latter) and prepared breakfast before she had emerged into the world, dripping and betoweled from the only shower in the house.

'Sorry dahlink I didn't know you were back…are you being all organised?'
'Yep - and I am turfing you out. I have to be airside by 13.00 and it is quarter to twelve now.'

The rest is fairly tedious and doesn't bear much blogging. Drop off at Station (with attendant fashionista air-kisses), drive through countryside, duty at airfield - radios, clipboards and gliders zipping about the place.

Home for tea and curry.

And time, I think to wash the sofa arm covers again. They are getting a little sticky. As I don’t like the central heating too high I am loathe to warm the house purely to allow my guests and my lodger's doggy dribble to congeal into a brushable crust.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dulux's day out.

My chum Dulux is having one of her cathartic phases. We have a small book running as to how long this one will continue. It has got noticeably worse since the Scot slunk of to Greece in a futile attempt to capture the glories of my previous commands in the Aegean and the Ionian.
This particular phase involves a great deal of self denial washed down with activité. Last time I saw her - afloat - normally a haven for epicurean excess - she was living entirely on sprouting beans, carrot shavings and wheatgrass juice - with the attendant vapourishness that such hideous repast would incur. Consequently when the situation demanded something approaching a slot of exertion she fainted dead away.

I had put this out of my mind of late as I have had some of my own particular worries to concern myself with - on a professional and personal front - and my runtime has been pretty consumed. Hamster wheel has demanded a lot of amperes (Factory wide outages no less) I have had the CAA breathing down my neck demanding I learn their scripts as well. (I did rather well in in my exam by the way dear reader)

Until I received a text last weekend whilst I was rummaging in the farm shop.

It read about something about Lucinda and horse tack with mentions of Jodhpurs and riding and the like…..It was from dulux. Hello, thought I, she has finally discovered her inner pervert. I queried back - never one to let such a comment go unpassed.

The reality was she was actually riding in Gloucestershire - and immediately asked if she could come aviating.

Seems phase two of the project hair shirt is getting out of London and doing shit. Riding one day, flying the next.

'Nice to be of service', said I.
'Donna da Lodger is off sweating out what's left of her youth in Ibiza - you can use her room - Just don’t call me captain at the flying club. I will get more of a reputation than I already have.'

'What reputation is that skipper?'

'Never you mind old girl. What would you like for dinner?'

'No meat, dairy, yeast, alcohol.'

'No vegetables that cast a shadow? Bale of hay perhaps? '

She let that pass.

'Anyway Captain I'm absolutely shattered so please don’t be too alarmed if I just sit on your sofa, fall asleep and dribble all over it.'

'Be my guest', said I - 'you will be in fine - if a little desiccated company'

'How so?'

I indicated that there is a section of the sofa in which there is a special cover to accommodate the fact that is where Donna-da-Lodga's dog chooses to rest his head. He also is wont to dribble.
'Surely it can’t be that bad' she said and we rang off.
Little does she know. She will soon be languishing in oodles of dried doggy dribble.
How fitting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evil at work

Been rather pre-occupied - but this is too important to let go.

The ephemeral nature of the interweb is exposed in it's erasability. To those who seek to silence us - we are but columns on an IP address list. We can be expunged at the click of the mouse.
As small individuals we are not protected either by legal budgets of the press or our ability to quote using parliamentary privilege.

'But, so what?' you might say - 'deleting a blog is just some nerd's website'
This is as big an assault on free speech as rounding up copies of fanzines and burning them in the streets. Except this is cleaner and attracts less headlines other than outrage in the blogsphere.

The whole point is put far more eloquently by the The Devil and The Greek Chap. They have done the research and say it much better.

All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. To my readers - get out there and comment, chaps.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

All quiet on the bloggy front

Sorry reader - I know you are looking to me to provide you with a witty look at the world and more tales of woe from my unusual existence - but you may recall I am doing an exam? Turned out it's not just radio - it's full Air Traffic control, radar vectored approaches etc., etc.
Complications - the written exam is actually this week - so I am somewhat snowed under in getting ready for this. Any slack time I would normally be blogging is taking up with running the scripts and the like.

The other consequence is that to get my head around it I am immersing myself totally in the lingo. It means I am barely able to write in English without it drifting into golp-alpha-charlie-descend-and-maintian-two-tousand-fife-hun-dred-feet-wessex-QNH-998-millibar-report-when-overhead-bourton-tower.

I'll be back on Friday. Lots of news going on, mind so I'm sure you will be fine.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What book am I?

You're Babar the King!

by Jean de Brunhoff

Though your life has been filled with struggle and sadness of late,
you're personally doing quite well for yourself. All this success brings responsibility,
though, and should not be taken lightly. Life has turned from war to peace, from damage
to reconstruction, and this brings a bright new hope for everyone you know. These hopeful
people look to you for guidance, and your best advice to them is to watch out for snakes.
You're quite fond of the name "Celeste".

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Fez doff to the Devil for finding this.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wine drive - reprise

As I unpack and re-pack the cases for final stowage I have had a chance to reflect on the short annual pilgrimage to the haven of bacchanalian delights that is the Burgundy region of France.

We suffer a great deal for the privilege of the finest of wines. Having to spit the damn stuff out when tasting it is bad enough, let alone having to face the indignity of paying again for roads we have already paid for with the ruinous EU tithes levied upon us.
Burgundy is an area of natural beauty and empty property - but for some reason - affordable accommodation in the local area is somewhat stifled. Logis De France - basically restaurants with rooms - are the best value - and they leave more of the old spondulicks for the good stuff.

Oh, the places are clean enough - that well scrubbed old school sanatorium feel describe them best. 1970's décor, slightly threadbare linen and bathroom fittings out of an episode of space 1999 or UFO.
The food is often a true delight - with of course local wines setting the palate off just so. It can be rustic to exquisite - but almost always too much.

Much of the joy is the journey itself - 'La Route des Grand Vins' through sun dappled russet green corduroy landscapes, that scroll past our windows as we meander through names that read like a sommelier's wet dream.

Afternoons spent in low arched cellars tasting dips from the first crush to the Vins Anciens bottled many a year afore we arrived - and leading up the stairs to blinking into the daylight - to a heavier car but a lighter pocket.

And so - the cases shall go away - not to be seen until 2013 onwards. A moment of sadness, offset by a collection of a rather nice set that have been mouldering and ripening since 2000 - or before. (The 1er Cru '98 is particularly fine right now)

I shall enjoy - and of course share with glad rapture. For what is the point of all this Bon-Viveur behaviour - if one cannot share the spoils with one's chums?
Anyway - I'm on a diet now. I shouldn't be drinking a whole bottle - and it would be a shame to let it stand so.

Form an orderly queue, chaps.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

They Came From Space!!

Locals Here should be wary of the following:
Giant Ants
Walking Plants
Anything on a tripod.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A truth about flying

A sad week for flying.

Firstly - they have downgraded the search for Steve Fossett. To some people he was just another rich idiot playing with aeroplanes - but in the short, short history of manned flight it has tended to be people like Fossett who have made those leaps or conquered the unconquerable in the name of either riches, adventure, fame or fortune. Afterall - Allcock and Brown didn't fly their Vimy across the pond just so we could get to New York - they did it for the prize money - and because it was there. Bleriot wasn't trying to get duty free either.

Fossett made his own money and set out to achieve things after his commercial career, so in my mind - fair play to him.

As a Glider pilot - one feels a certain affinity with Fossett. He flew from Omarama - where I have flown - he holds records in the sport - and is well known as part of the sport's aristocracy - should such a thing exist in a sport as egalitarian as gliding - a sport as yet untouched by drugs, sponsorship, television deals and the like. It is one of those past times where money, influence or the like counts for nothing. We fly gliders manually- without autopilots and largely without many instruments other and an airspeed indicator and an altimeter.

Every time we set out across country in an unpowered aircraft or go for our own personal best in altitude or endurance - we are touching the same part of our spirit as he was the day he went missing. When I run the launch control at the end of a day and as dusk colours the sky, I still get sweaty-palmed as we count back the cross country flights and fervently hope as the stragglers come home we count them all in. I have been on airfields (albeit sky-diving ones) when 10 people get out of an aeroplane but only 9 parachutes are counted. And the cold creeping horror is much the same. I also dread the day if, on my watch, someone doesn't come home.

Hopes fade into impossibility that he should wander out of the desert alive. My thoughts go out to his family and friends and I am sure that aviators of all shades send their condolences.
One another more horrifying scale we see what happened to that MD-82 in Phuket. Current talk is of wind-shear - with survivors telling of an aborted landing to boot.

I'm an early amateur pilot and all I have to say is that my most terrifying experiences have been cross and tail wind landings in turbulence. A single thought goes through your head - there is no getting away from gravity - I have to land this thing.

We are reminded about the wonders of modern technology and sat in comfort in the middle of 747 we can feel as safe as houses whatever the weather.

But despite instrument landings, weather radar and powerful computers there is one fundamental truth at stake here:

Most of the time, flying is perfectly safe. It is safer than crossing the road. But then there are a few tiny times when it is totally reliant on the skill of the person at the controls - often wrestling with them in near impossible conditions and there are going to be moments of extreme danger.
Ultimately every pilot has to fly as some time by the 'seat of his pants'. That hasn't changed since Wilbur and Orville flew a distance shorter than a 747 in the Kittyhawk. It is dangerous and sometimes it goes wrong.

Reports are sketchy of the final moments - but they could been brought down hard in a squall or run out of runway - but they were orbiting the strip - which could mean they knew this was going to be hard. The pilot had requested an abort to go around but by the sounds of things too late. The chances are - he saw, and knew, what was going on and did what he could to save the lives of the passengers - full in the knowledge that if you are going down - you - as the pilot are probably going to be killed in saving those lives.

When we see footballers being described as 'courageous' or celebrities talking of their 'struggle' my mind turns to people like these pilots I mention today who attempt to wrestle 150 tons of wet steel to the ground in a storm facing almost certain death to save a few lives - or the two guys at the exit pulling other out at their own risk.

My thoughts to the families - and to the crew - like those who have gone before - you have slipped the final Surly Bonds.

Wine Drive - continued

Err... frantically busy with my 2008 OP budgets reader - and my direct reports have quadrupled in number so I am stupidly busy.
I have a draft to complete and edit though - so nearly there.

Problem, of course, is that I am building it up a bit.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Final Frontier

A whole ago - shortly after he purchased his Yacht - my mate 'Jet-Jaguar' proposed an adventure:

The North West Passage

Previously these attempts have ended with the crew entombed in the ice, going mad from the lead in solder in their tin cans - or worse dying from Vitamin A poisoning from eating Polar Bear liver.

It is one of those sailing adventures which has lured the brave and the bold to an icy doom.

But NOW - looks like it's a goer! Especially as SV Deep Blue has an armoured hull and is rigged for Polar operations.....

Just let me bring my own food, OK?

Booze Cruise Vs Wine Drive

The hotel, Saturday

Back at the wheel today - and Big Grey is demanding lots of Amperes - so I must scurry like billio and you, my dear reader, will have to wait to hear tales of the best bit of my wine drive.


Space 1999 decor and snoring from 3 doors along!

Jumping the queue in Calais!

No Strawberry jam in the Club Lounge on P&O!

More to follow - including some descriptive bits I was proud of at the time - but I had been drinking.

Friday, September 14, 2007

From the chappy correspondant....

Gods reader, this is hard work. We are having to drive all this way and be forced to taste all this wine merely for the good of ones guests. In addition I am having to type on a French keyboard - which seems to forego normal punctuation in favour of extra letters.
Journey down was long and uneventful - despite the heroic intervention of one of Tescos finest summer puddings and some cream to fortify our resolve - it came in handy I can tell you - as the autoroutes are long - and Earl Grey will only sustain sanity for so long.
I took my own advice and rejected a pork pie on the grounds it ought to be in a cage. I am grateful to this day.

Our first night was spent in a simple Logis de France hotel - but equippped with a fine kitchen and Im sorry to report that we may have over done it slightly. Only slightly - but I believe the night terrors I suffered were due to the third round of cheese and second bottle of Cotes de Nuits.

It was when we arrived in Beaujolais today that purchasing begun in earnest.
I shall regale with tales later on, as there is too much detail for my constitution to bear - or bash out on this keyboard - suffice to say - we have been slaving away.
Three degustations before lunch is a heady pace indeed - and we had earned a break.
Lunch in Fleurie was a necessarily languid affair of only two courses, wine and coffee.
Under the watchful eye of the waitress - we were obliged to eat it all - what horros we have to endure shows we are made of stern stuff.

Exhausted from such efforts - we repaired to some of the better known cooperatives this aternoon - where we could take our leisure.
But - this is merely the starter for the main course.

For tomorrow we arrive in Beaune.

But tonight - rest easy dear reader: for we are in Julienas - a pretty town with a comfortable hotel - and a relxing menu. I shall dine lightly lest myliverishness flare up again. Or I drop dead from gout.

Wish me luck - for tomorrow I shall need every ounce of strength my aged sinews can deliver......

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

D-Day T Minus 15Hrs 20 mins

Our objective....

It is upon us at last.

The cellar space has been cleared, marker pens ready.

Tasting notes and detailed vineyard charts downloaded.

The Burgundy Report consulted and read assiduously.

Messrs Peninsular and Orient primed to carry us across La Manche.

Passport, Driving licence, travel rug and alfresco dining kit with corkscrew and china plates at the ready.

Flasks for ludicrously strong coffee prepared.

Sunglasses ready.

'The Reverse of the Medal' loaded and 'The Ionian Mission' on standby - lest we complete the first 12 hours worth of Patrick O'Brian and still need more.

The annual Chap pilgrimage to the Cotes begins.

This time tomorrow - I shall be pottering through golden leaved vines in the slanting autumn sunshine. The Route de la Cotes - the N74 shall take us south from Dijon - Gevery Chambertin, Nuits St Georges, Fixin, and Aloxe Corton bearing witness on the sign posts to the Elysium on earth we shall be inhabiting.

A night at Chez Jeanette - where if one selects the main course before the wine, an eyebrow is raised, and they fetch the 'tourist' wine list. Cuisine De Sauvage it may be - but situated in the Walled vines of the Clos du Napoleon one really ought to make an effort.

A day is to be spent in the tiny caves of the Crus and Villages of Beaujolais - Cote du Brouilly, Moulin a Vent and the almost ubiquitous Fleurie.

We shall drive along the granite outcrop which marks the difference between a grand Beaujolais - where the Gamay gives her best - from the gruesome nouveau of the plains.

Shall we repair to Macon? Lunch in Beaune? The decisions are almost too much without a bottle of wine to assist. The journey itself, though, is as much of a pleasure as the arriving and the tasting - with picnics to eat, fresh air to breathe and the sublime beauty of the first hints of autumn fringing the vines.

And finally - a last day in our favourite haunt - Echevronne. For tucked away in the Haute Cote du Beanue, amongst the Framboise and Cassis lies our ultimate target and biggest drain on my wallet.

The souls of my unborn have been sold in a terrible Faustian plot.

2005 is in the bottle, and awaits our degustation, after, of course, tasting the 06 dips and having a rummage in the bin ends.

We will get our hands on the finest vintage the Bourgogne has ever produced and get it in spades.

Oh, and I shall be blogging from down there as well.
Our accommodation provides Internet access, so this chap will be able to send you the latest views and news from my travels. I sincerely hope that I am well fed, very much discombobulated in wine and have plenty of news and views to blog about. Not just what we had for dinner - (but saying that I do fancy Lapin Dijonaisse again…)

Au revoir for now dear reader - for I shall be deep in enemy territory when you hear from me again.

Radio killed the Video star

A calm voice is needed when dealing with Air Traffic.

I have just started the course to my Aviation Wireless Telegraphy operators licence.

Now - you would have thought that being a pilot of little more than a string bag with a six-volt motorbike battery for power there would be a 'private user' variant.

Well - it is the same course as any civil pilot or air traffic controller. The materials are 198 pages long and not only do you have to know the codes, abbreviations and protocols by heart for the written exam (200 Questions, passmark 90%) but you need to apply it all in 'circumstance' for the Oral exam - pass mark - 100%

Not only that - but I have to be fully conversant with the airspace laws and definitions again and the Air traffic zone and height rules again. Okay, Okay I should be current with that all the time - but I'm rusty!

It's not as if I will be flying in controlled airspace often - if at all. I am more often than not trying to avoid these places as I need to turn and thermal at whim - not fly a specific course and heading.

Still - the law's the law. I have to be able to hold the licence to fly across country - so pass it I must, even if it costs me £300 odd for the 5 nights in the class room and the exam. And to be honest my transmitter may only be 5 watts, but at three thousand feet it's audible in Bristol.
The CAA also take a rather stern line and will track you down and impose incredible fines.

Gliding ain't like powered flying - we are constantly working to stay aloft - and we use a fair amount more of the Aviating time just staying up there. Navigating - well it's all by eye (Yes I follow roads…) - so we rarely need to communicate much - unless to call downwind to land at home.

(Don't even get me started on Mode S transponder and use of European GPS compulsion, by the way - I feel about that the way you would feel if you had to have a machine readable licence on your push bike and pay for the use of it with a computer checking to see if you have permission to cycle to the pub)

So anyway - I have reading material for my trip to Foxtrot Romeo Alpha November Charlie Echo. More on that trip coming up..........

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How to know when you have had too much to drink (an ongoing series)

Singing Simon and Garfunkle hits with one's sister thrashing them out on her guitar.

In the garden, at 11pm.

My liver hurts.

(I am just a poor boy, Though my story’s seldom told, I have squandered my resistance - For a pocket full of mumbles, Such are promises.....All lies and jest! Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.......)

We must have sounded as fan-fucking-tastic as I feel right now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Extreme Chappism

On my way home from the boat last night, I stopped over at arch-conspirator chap (with whom I buy Burgundy) for a cup of tea and a jaffa cake.

'You're looking a bit down in the dumps old boy' he said.

'Indeed - have been better.' I replied

'Well let me venture a suggestion that should warm your mood - I have some holiday owed and if you do as well - it could be time for a bit of a chap adventure.'

'Oh aye, sir?' somewhat interested am I by now - 'are you thinking of perhaps Bordeaux? For I feel it could be our Arnhem - a region too far - I can scarcely afford my Burgundy habit.'

'Oh no, I was thinking more....Morocco - Marrakech and the like...'

There was a short pause.

'Listen old chap, I know I have a dose of the blues, but dragging me in to some sordid boudoir in the back streets of Marrakesh and attempting to turn me with low-rent Moroccan cock is hardly going to cheer me up. Nature, it is said, provides for all tastes - but that old chap is not one of mine.'

'Actually I was thinking about eating loads of Tajine and indulging in industrial grade fez wearing.'

'So we are to go to North Africa simply to eat and indulge in permitted indoor millinery experimentation?'

'Why else??'

'Sounds brilliant. I will let you know in the fullness of time.'

Drifting home to Lymington

It was indeed a pleasant weekend on the waves, despite it being utterly devoid of wind.

The boat the Scot had arranged was capacious, excessively comfortable and it basically sailed itself.

There were features aboard to which I have a religious objection in British waters - chiefly the presence of bow thrusters and a fully automated windlass operated from the binnacle.
I am sorry to report that our natural revulsion to such toys was rapidly overcome - and there was joy to be had - chiefly in seeing if we could combine an astern prop walk with a countered rudder and a bow thruster to see if we could actually make the whole boat go sideways.

We had absolute newbies aboard too - and I fear their sailing has been spoiled for such opulent luxury means that when they come to do some proper sailing they will be sorely disappointed.
The sun shone and the wine flowed freely - and as such when august company like this gathers - matters soon turn to discussions of unusual natures - particularly as the sailing was very gentle - we had time to dissemble.

One of these conversations stuck in my mind in particular - and I reflected on it on the way home.

One chap aboard was a keen windsurfer and decried the slow pace of yachting about (That's kind of the point in my mind). In particular the discussion hung around whether or not a race carried out at speeds of under 3 knots (walking pace) could actually be in anyway exciting? In some ways - he had a point. Spending a day carefully trimming a sail by an inch in either direction compared to launching skyward at 25 knots are worlds apart.

The hypothesis offered by myself was that as in life as with racing - sometimes it is that slow-burn - the long careful anticipation and chess master tactics required for a challenge like this which deliver the most satisfying excitement.

A wet and wild day where we are physically challenged is one thing - but a day where we need to maintain patient yet total focus over 6 hours when little appears to be going on is often more exhausting and more satisfying a challenge.

I believe it is in effect two different types of problem. Each problem obviously has it's own solution set: A long problem - to move slowly yet determinedly in the belief that your goal will be achieved through patient careful work and sticking with your tactics - compared the raw physical short problem of clinging to the rail in a force 9.

One is fast and furious - makes for great television and is exciting. The other - can be described as watching paint dry - yet it is still race and it is still winnable. It just takes a lot of patience.
I feel there is a parallel in the difficult problems our society face today.
We have become obsessed with the former type of 'race'. Fast, furious, quick results, glory and celebration of those involved.

Unfortunately I think that many of the problems we face as a country can't be fixed like that. We set hares to fix tortoise races - and become disappointed to the point of cynicism when the races are lost. Our culture now demands instant fixes and instant refreshment from problems. But I wonder - if it has taken 30 years for our polite society to decline - can a few quick extra laws, celebrity politicians and press conference solve it?

Long, slow problems may need long slow answers - for quick ones never quite work.
But long slow answers don't make good sound bites.

But I digress.

The sailing was pleasant - if a little crowded at the western end of the Solent - and the Needles were splendid in the early evening light.
Decided to pop in to Lymington to give our new crew a taste of venturing forth there and experience the joys of the river. Which were made ever more joyful by the presence of hot showers and cold champagne.

Ultimately well refreshed, we repaired to a rather good restaurant where we dined upon crab thermidor and fresh sardines amongst other things.

Unfortunately the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur, for once my captainly duties were discharged on return, I collapsed into my bunk only to awake fully clothed the following morning with a hangover from Hades.

The crew (bless 'em) had seen fit to remove my shoes and cover me in a sleeping bag. Mind you, they probably though I kept my banknotes in my shoes and were snaffling them for another run ashore.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Blogging will be light

Something has gone somewhat awry so I shall be offline for a bit.

I will report on my latest venture on the waves, Monday.

have a good weekend.......

Working time directive

Just as well I have opted out, eh?
As I work while I travel - it will exceed 70 hours. Not bad for a 5 day week.

Any wonder I have grown fractious?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The last post this week on Aviating, I promise

Harry Hook had this one in his inimitable style - Goat sacrificed to save 757..
The original story is here in metro. Nepal Airways

Apparently the airline has a fairly sanguine approach to flight safety - borne out by the reluctance to clear out the wreckage from a previous crash at the end of the runway - a point recalled by Sigismund - as he pointed it out to his first wife on their honeymoon.

Now I have considered sacrificing many things to the weather gods to get the very best of thermals, but it normally takes the shape of one's own liver the night before (but 8 hours bottle to throttle, tho'...Ed.)
The next time I am spotted by the CFI slurping tea instead of doing my airframe inspection duties, I can claim that I am merely sacrificing the infusion to the gods, to guarantee the safety of my flight.

But - one for the flying club hangar door - for when we have finished packing the hangar (such a chore) - these chaps also celebrate in style.

Quite a barbecue!

Anyway - as a particular friend pointed out in one of her wittier moments 'If flying is Aviating - then is your Sailing 'Marinating'?'
It will be this weekend old girl. I intend to be suitable marinated.

You may recall dear reader that I been invited to hoist my broad pennant aboard the good ship 'Balooga' this weekend and the XO has sent a provisioning list. Clearly chastened by my tales of superior performance from the crew in the Aegean of late they have tried to raise their game.
On the cookery front at least, as well as in the provision of ample wine.

I have a full suite of 'evolutions' prepared to put them through their paces - after all, if the First Mate and I alone can do a tail-end mooring into a crowded pitch with a force 8 cross wind and align first time and no bumps in half the time of a full boat of Italians in Patmos, then they are going to have to cut along and do better than usual.
And not just running the guns in and out either...Sailing off the mooring, night pilotage, tidal trot moorings and a Bermudan anchoring await....while I luxuriate with toasted cheese and some of that capital Madeira in my cabin.

Remember chaps: 'If it ain't raining, it ain't training'.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More Aviating....

Much seems to be going on in the world of Aviaiting this week just passed.
Last week Paul MacCready died. He was an aviation and man-powered flight pioneer - but his name was familiar to this chap because an instrument in the old sopwith glider is named after him.
MacCready was an accomplished glider pilot and had won national competitions in the USA - and it was competitive gliding which led him to study the aeronautical behaviour of a glider in rising and sinking air - he went on to invent an instrument to help him.
The MacCready ring sits around the variometer - a kind of very sensitive rate of climb meter. The vario tells you if you are in air that is rising or falling - and allows you to judge if you are in a thermal or other lift source.
His device is a simple loop around the Vario - configured for each aeroplane and allows you to read off a recommended glide speed if you are in sinking air.
Thus in the aircraft I fly at the moment - 3 knots of sinking air I can instantly see requires an airspeed of 55 knots for best glide.

Simple and effective.

Have a read of his obituary here:
Paul MacCready

Another glider pilot with a record to his name is also in the news - of what we all hope is not the same reason.

Steve Fossett is an accomplished aviator and has a wealth of experience to draw upon.

and Here

What caught my ear was the usual hyperbole from the lazy journalist on the radio - spouting a standard FAA line.

(The FAA is the US equivalent of the CAA - known here as the Campaign Against Aviation.)

'He wasn't wearing a parachute and flew from an unlicensed strip and failed to file a flight plan.'

That ol' chestnut.

Perhaps if the chap doing the reporting had done a bit of digging he would have discovered that in powered aircraft it isn't the norm to wear a parachute at all - except if you are flying distance at night.
He may have also discovered that almost all airstrips are 'unlicensed'.

He should at least have discovered and drawn a correlation between the purpose of his flight and the requirements to actually file a flight plan:

Fossett was seeking out dried lake beds to attempt a land speed record. You file a flight plan to fly in controlled airspace - which is normally many thousands of feet above the ground.
He wouldn't have been looking for long flat places from 5-6000 feet - it all looks pretty similar from up there.

He was probably below radar cover - so his transponder wouldn't traspond anyway - so no excuses there for them to harp on about his instruments.

So - he wouldn't have filed a flight plan, worn a parachute and taking off from an unlicensed strip is normal.

He's an experienced glider pilot - and as with power - you learn rough field landings.

Yet - it makes for better story copy to go on about the things he hasn't done - that you would expect from a civil airliner - and it makes the whole thing sound that little bit more risky.

We get this sort of hyperbole in sailing too.

We have all seen the sort of headlines:
''A man crashed his luxury 30 foot yacht in the Solent yesterday after failing to inform the coastguard of his movements''.

I know of very few 30 foot yachts that are 'luxury', and If you told the coastguard of movements in the Solent, they will tell you to get knotted.

Anyway - good luck Steve - we all hope you are sitting under your wing awaiting rescue.

UPDATE: Seems His 'wrist mounted' EPIRB (GPS distress beacon) is Off - meaning the chances are, He's bought the farm.
It's sad - but like many an Aviator - I'm sure it is the way he would have wanted to go.