Did you see it?
Hold on, let me rephrase that.
How awesome was that?

What do you mean, ‘What is he waffling on about now?’

I’ll tell you what I’m ‘waffling’ about thank you very much!
The Falcon Heavy, that’s what. Take the ‘Falcon’ from Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon, add the word heavy, because with the car that it’s carrying it weighs a bit more than your average roadster.
To para-phrase the words of a very old song, ‘it went up diddly up up and came down diddly down down.

Oh, still none the wiser, huh?
I’m not too surprised actually, the T.V. news had a lot on it’s mind after all. Notts County were playing Swansea in the cup as I recall.

SpaceX, that’s what I’m on about as Elon Musk bids to be the first multi-billionaire to get the merchandising rights in outer space by launching a giant phallic symbol into the heavens. Up yours, Branson, you’re a just a Virgin – I’m the bigger man.

That’s right, there’s now a crash test dummy in a space suit nonchalantly steering his Tesla around the speed bumps of the asteroid belt. You don’t get that sort of advertising for peanuts, let’s face it.

Now I must admit that I am very much surprised that more use hasn’t been made of our local celestial bodies before now. The ‘Coke’ (probably a registered trade mark sort of thing) logo, or the Maccy D’s Golden Arches (more trade mark type of blurb here) projected onto each full moon perhaps.

Surely it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that someone like Disney for instance could join up the dots in Orion’s belt, head off around the plough, the great bear and beyond to sketch out a quick characature to promote their latest cinematic venture.
But no, it’s been left to the leccy car maker to show his green credentials by slinging a bit of old scrap out around the Sun for the next billion years or so. You don’t get much more environmentally friendly than that do you? After all everyone knows that the environment ends at the bottom of the street, hence all the fly tipping.

And I’ve no doubt that there will be a lot of naysayers. It didn’t happen. It was all staged. The world is flat or at least a bit bent, so any rocket launch would have bounced off Australia. That sort of thing.

We’ll have discussions no doubt about what gender the dummy is. Is it straight, gay or gender neutral, black, white, brown, red, yellow or pink with purple spots. Is it Democrat, Republican, Communist, Socialist, vegan, a leaver, a remainer or, heaven forbid, Australian.

We may somehow have offended God – no, I’m not sure which one.

And I’m also only too aware of the arguments regarding the fact that we should only attempt this sort of thing once we have solved all of the worlds ills, abolished war, cured all diseases, crawled out of poverty and put an end to pollution.

And I’m more than very, very aware that we will never do/ achieve any of those things, admirable as they may be. We’re not that sort of creature, let’s face it, much as we like to brag about our opposable thumbs. A lot of the time we are downright nasty, argumentative, warmongering, ‘I’m all right Jack,’ sort of apes who couldn’t organise a Brexit in a brewery (and before you start on me again, remember that I didn’t say which side I was on). Don’t believe me? Just go on any vaguely contentious post on Facebook and you can almost feel the vitriol.

So I’ll say it again, DID YOU SEE IT?
AWESOME, with a capital AWE.

Excuse me a minute, I’m an engineer after all. This Is mightily big stuff. We’ve done some fantastic things. We’ve built enormous buildings, bridges, ships – yes even electric cars. We’ve created enough bangs to out-mushroom each other should Nelly the Elephant believe his own rhetoric about North Korea. But this..!

Twenty seven rocket motors in perfect harmony. There was more thrust there than you’ll ever see on a Saturday night missus.

And then, and then, the bloody fuel tanks came back to Earth and landed, two in perfect synchronisation in the middle of the target area and one, get this, one on a barge – at sea! Okay it missed, but it was damn close and in the words of another song, ‘two out of three ain’t bad.

And it didnae change the laws of physics, Jim.

The day when the promised marvels from the Eagle comics of the fifties and sixties and I’m sad to say, my youth, finally came to life.

Dan Dare lives, he’s driving a roadster to Mars, with Bowie blasting from the in car stereo and those immortal words, ‘DON’T PANIC’ writ large on the sat-nav.

Expect the Mekon and the Vogons along any day now.

I’d better brush up on my poetry.


The square root of zero…

So here we are already one fiftytwoth of the year into 2018.
And exactly what have I achieved?

Well, nothing actually.

But you see, that’s not a very fair question is it?

What do you mean, ‘Why not?

Isn’t it obvious.

No, I don’t think, ‘Because you’re an idle bastard,’ is a valid comment.
The reason is because this first week doesn’t actually count, does it?


You see this first week has been spent chatting to fellow bloggers setting targets which we hope to achieve during the other fifty one weeks of the year.
So I have actually been very busy.

No, I knew you were going to raise that old chestnut.
These are not resolutions.

Definitely not.
Resolutions are for packing up things like smoking, or drinking, or eating too much cream cake, that sort of thing.

And let’s face it resolutions are all too easily broken. Take that one I made at midnight to curb my excessive drinking habit. The fact that I toasted the idea with a very large Jack Daniels gives you some idea how that turned out.
No, these are targets. Goals if you like. Something to aim for.


Oh! How did I get on with last years?
Well let me just say that the objectives which were mooted at this point in the preceding twelve month span were perhaps not met with the resounding success that may have been envisaged at that juncture – but that exciting new opportunities were indeed, in the fullness of time, opened up with a view to future development.

I sound like a what?ardeh+U%TqaqnlwMTXrQ3APolitician!

Shoot me now!

What was that?

Oh that’s good.
I hadn’t heard that before. ‘The square root of zero is still bugger all.

I shall have to remember that one to use the next time I want to sound like a disparaging old fart.

Well I’m sorry to be so blunt, but there was no need for you to say that was there?

Encouragement, that’s what I need right now.
Okay, so I may not have achieved all that I set out to do last year.
No you’re right, I didn’t achieve anything actually.

But I tried.

Procrastination – that’s my biggest problem. I even wrote a blog about it. See, see, I did do something after all.
Yes, I know. Writing a piece about not doing anything is hardly something to shout about.
But it’s a start.
From tiny acorns and all that.
There’ll be a mighty oak along any minute now, just you wait and see.

Anyway – you know me. Always look on the bright side.
All those plans that I made last year can be exactly the same as the ones I’m making this year. I’ll just copy them out and have time to put my feet up for a bit.
See, I’ve already written a blog about procrastination, how’s that for progress?

Pass me last years diary, let’s see what’s going to be keeping me off the streets for the next fifty one weeks.

Oh, and while you’re up, could you pass me that packet of fags, a can of lager out of the fridge and I’m sure there was something else. That’s it, a nice slice of that cream filled Victoria sponge should slide down quite nicely I think.

Cute puppy though!

Psst! Wanna gatecrash an Xmas party?

Do you?
Good, come over here and I’ll tell you about it.
No, no, no.
Don’t draw attention to yourself, we don’t want everyone to know, do we?
What do you mean, ‘Why not?
I’ll tell you why not – what about if her at number 33 heard about it and turned up too, eh? Her with the gammy leg and the boss eye, yes. You wouldn’t want to get trapped up a corner in polite conversation with her now would you? No, exactly. You know what she’s like, anything you say will be taken down and used in evidence against you. Nosey old bat!
And him from the local debating society. Can you imagine… Dear Lord, you’d never get a word in edge ways. Annoying git!
So let’s just keep it to ourselves, yeah?
So, this do is at Southcart Books in Walsall.
Yes you do know it, it’s behind that new Poundland place they’ve just built.
Is it?
53b Lower Hall, Lane WS1 1RJ?
Well you obviously know the place better than I do then. Let’s face it it’s a long way from Dudley.
That’s the one, yes, run by Scott and Amy.
Well I heard that they’re putting on a bit of a do on Saturday 16th December between 11 and 4. There’ll be food and drink and everything. Even people telling stories and reciting poetry.
So anyway, I was thinking of going over and taking the Misty Books gang with me.


Now the new book is out, yes. Have I mentioned that at all?
You’re sick of hearing about it?
Well I thought you might be pleased.
After all it follows on from DOGNAPPED! which I may have mentioned was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize earlier this year. And then there was IN THE DOGHOUSE of course which is coincidentally a year old now and of course the latest ON THE DOG WALK which I just got my hands on from the publisher.Image 19-12-2016 at 08.01
You can take your fingers out of your ears now, I’ve finished the promo.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout but you did have your fingers…
Yes. Ian R Ward has done the illustrations for the new book too and once again they’re fantastic.
Oh, you’re interested now then. Not a story person I take it, more of a picture looker.
Just as well they’re for kids then isn’t it.
Well now you’re asking they’re aimed between seven and eleven as rough guide, although a lot of folk seem to like the shared reading experience for younger kids.
There’s an Amazon link here so you can take a look.
Of course they’ll be cheaper at Southcart but like I said, keep it to yourself, we don’t want everyone to know. They make great stocking fillers.
Yes I’ll sign it.
You want a what? A bookmark? Oh go on then.
I might even tell you a story, ‘Th’auld pol on th’ cut’, you like that one don’t you. Can I do what? ‘The Bard of Dudlay’. Surely you don’t want to hear that old chestnut again! You do? Oh, alright then, if you insist.
I’ll see you there then, on the 16th.
But don’t forget, keep it to yourself. Whatever you do don’t…
You did didn’t you.
I saw you just then.
Pressing the share button.
Bloody hell. I’ll have to tell them to order more sodding sausage rolls now!4a-300-copy24129986_2071662109729175_3232081706566700152_n


Let Me Just Check…

As some of you no doubt know (and if not why not!? I’ve blogged about it enough) we’ve just got back from America. Well, not just, but recently enough for me not to have prepared any new blog posts lately  – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. So here’s one that I did the first time we whizzed off to see Kate’s clan over in Huston back in 2015. As you’ll see there was a different guy in charge back then so I’m safe from abuse by Twitter if Nelly The Elephant doesn’t like this blog.

Pardon – oh, Nelly The Elephant? Trump, Trump, Trump. Really, don’t you pay attention to anything I write? I might as well delete all my previous blogs right now!

Anyway, as I was saying – obviously this time things went according to plan (yeah right, you know me too well!) but first time? Here is, Let Me Just Check…

…Yeah, passport, tickets all present and correct.
So, now I’ve just got to check in, on line – I’ve joined the technocological age.
What’s this? How many bags? I don’t bloody know, I ain’t finished packing yet! We’ll call it two eh? What’s the worst that could happen? Well they might not let me on the plane for a start. I better make sure there really is only sodding two then! I wonder where the passport is?
No, I’m not getting stressed.
Eddie Black said last night I ought to allow more time to get to Heathrow. He can’t possibly be right. Can he? Now what did I do with them tickets?
Hang on. What’s that muffled screaming sound?
Well perhaps I shouldn’t have packed Kate – I only wanted to make sure I knew where she was. That’s more than I can say for the passport and tickets! I’ll swear I had them only a few minutes ago.
She’s not happy! Apparently it was a bit cramped. That suitcase ain’t as big as it looks. Perhaps I put the tickets in there too. I’ll unpack it again and take a look.
Do I need those shorts? It’ll be hot. I’ve taken them out and put them back three times now. Can’t say I like wearing them, not really my style. But still, the passport may be in the pocket – I’d better take them.
No really, I’m not too stressed. I wonder where the tickets are?
She’s still going on. Honestly! I had to unpack her stuff to get her in the case. O.k. I was going to leave most of it behind  – does she really need more than two tee shirts! There are after all only two cases we can take now.
I wonder if she’s hidden my passport out of spite?
Thinking about it, who the hell wants to know how many cases I’m taking anyway. British Airways? The U.S. government? Barack bloody Obama? Perhaps he’s got the tickets!
There’s only twelve hours left to sort this mess out. If I say two cases, does it really mean two? Surely there must be a bit of leeway in the system! You know what they’re like in American immigration, I could end up on death row!
I swear I had my passport. I remember printing out the tickets. What was the problem with the old days when they sent them through the post? There was never all this cowing trouble!


I’m feeling a little bit cranky

I suppose your all feeling very smug, aren’t you?

Everyone back home in the UK I’m talking to.

Yes, you!

Enjoy your extra hour in bed did you?

I bet you did!

Me, being over here in the USA didn’t have that little luxury, did I? Oh no indeedy.

Normally I wouldn’t be too miffed. I mean you’ll lose it again come next spring won’t you. Oh and how you’ll moan then? Yes you will, because it always happens. The papers will be full of it. ‘What’s the point?’ ‘Only the bloody farmers want it’ ‘It’s all due to Brexit,’ that sort of thing. The trouble is that so will I, without the benefit of this years gain.

But do I get sympathy now? 

No, nothing. Because you’ve got an extra hour of coveted beauty sleep, that’s why. Not you of course madam, (let’s face it that’d take a damn sight longer). Sorry, dear? No nothing. We were just talking amongst ourselves, weren’t we folks. (I don’t think she knows actually, if I see her coming I cover the mirrors).

Now you can say it’s my fault for being on holiday. Blame me, yes it’s all my own fault. But I feel that I’m being unfairly penalised here.

What’s that? Why?

Because I’m not getting it back am I, that’s bloody why.

I’ll get on the flight home and at some point in mid Atlantic an extra hour will just get tacked on. It won’t be commented on or noted in any way. If I do happen to get 40 winks on the plane I won’t wake feeling refreshed and grateful for the precious gift I haven’t actually been given. I’ll just be jet-lagged and cranky.

Cranky, yes. A bit like now, thank you for pointing that out.

Let’s face it I won’t ever get it back will I? It’s not as if I had a receipt, could take it back to the shop and say, ‘this hour is faulty, can you please replace it in accordance with my statutory rights?’

And yes I take your point. On a long haul flight every minute does indeed seem like a week and by that reasoning I’ll gain at least eight years, but those are eight years of red eyed purgatory. You’ve just had one hour luxuriating in your pit. There’s a difference.

It doesn’t matter that you’re not tired, does it. You could use it constructively. Stare at the ceiling, mentally putting the world to rights. 

Have breakfast in bed for once.

That sort of thing.

Pardon madam? You’re feeling a bit unfulfilled yourself? Why? Well never mind, next time make sure the batteries are fully charged! 

Wha..? Her phone was flat, the alarm didn’t go off and she missed the whole ‘extra hour’ thing entirely. Honestly you lot! Mind you thinking about things like that perhaps having a bit more time we could even have – pardon – oh thanks a lot! Kate says I normally manage that in thirty seconds! 

Anyway, writing this has given me time to come up with a solution. 

I know exactly what to do now.

I’m coming back here at the end of March to not lose my hour then instead.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it! We’ll see who’s cranky then shall we?


Land of the acronym

So here I am another year older. I am now officially as old as God’s dog. Bloody hell, who’d have thought it? There are, of course, people older than me who would scoff and call me a spring chicken. And they would be quite justified in that. But just let me have a little reminisce before the ageing process goes too far and I end up in some depressing institution dribbling into my soup.

Yesterday – the day of the sixty second anniversary of my birth – I was lucky enough to spend at COTA. Yes, I’m in the good old U,S of A, land of the acronym ruled over by POTUS and FLOTUS. From listening to some over here the former could stand for President Orange, Totally Useless Shit. Others may have it as, Prosperity Over Trumps Utopian States. Just depends who you listen to. It’s a bit like Brexit without other countries being involved.

Anyway – COTA – Circuit Of The Americas, for those who don’t know about such things. Yes, I treated myself to the American Formula One Grand Prix. I’m over here visiting family, so it would be rude not to really, wouldn’t it. So resplendent in Red Bull team shirt and cowboy hat I ventured forth. In the rain! Now I should explain that when it rains here it does actually rain. It comes down all at once in galvanised buckets. Before you know it you’re up to your wheel trims in water. Pardon? No of course we don’t walk anywhere, that’s just not the American way. 

As luck would have it once we reached the circuit, God’s dog must have been looking down. The skies cleared, the sun shone and apart from Max Verstappen being cruelly robbed at the end I thoroughly enjoyed my treat.

Which led me to thinking. Over the years, who stand out in the memory as sportsmen I have seen in the flesh. No, not naked madam, I’m not some sort of changing room voyeur. It’s a bit like those lists you get on Facebook. I’m sure you have your own. These are mine.

Top of the list has to be The Holy Trinity. Yes, Best, Law and Charlton all on the pitch at the same time. I have to say that most of my footballing experiences were down at West Bromwich Albion’s ground. Back in the day that was hard enough to get to, let alone what must surely have been a three day trek to Old Trafford. Strangely they drew two apiece. United were losing in the first half two – nil. At half time Matt Busby must have said give the ball to George. They did, and someone sprinkled magic football dust on the ground. Bestie swayed and shimmied as only he could. Law headed in and Bobby Charlton struck a ball (not the flimsy plastic things of today) from twenty yards out which hit the back of the net like a thunderbolt.

At the same ground I saw that other trinity, albeit individually, Hurst, Moore and Peters. In another two all draw I witnessed first hand why Martin Peters was called ‘The Ghost.’ Across came the ball, no one was there until I swear that a trap door opened in the ground, out popped our man and headed home.

Cricket. Ah yes. On Saturday mornings Dad went to work. In doing so he had to pass Edgbaston, home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. He’d throw me out on the way and pick me up coming back. I saw the legend which was Godfrey Evans playing for the Cavaliers in the swan song of his wicket keeping career. Other great names from the past, the two Fred’s, Trueman and Titmus, Bob Willis, Dennis Amis, Farouk Engineer, Gary Sobers. So many, but the one that stood out for me was the great West Indies player, Clive Lloyd. I always loved watching him, such a charismatic figure and I even played my own part in a test match, England v West Indies. The match, on Saturday as usual, was underway. All was going well until play was suddenly stopped. The crowd began to boo and jeer. I could make out cries of ‘sit down!’ through the din. Clive Lloyd was waving his arms, seemingly in my direction. Some idiot, it appeared, had wandered in front of the sight screen – a huge white board which shielded the ball from the crowd so that the batsman could see it coming. ‘How was the match?’ asked Dad when he picked me up. ‘Great.’ I replied, wondering if I blushed as much then as I had when I sat down with indecent haste that sunny afternoon.

At Cosford in 1981, Sebastian Coe broke the world indoor 800m record. I was there with my Dad and brother. Dad had been a racing cyclist in his youth. Both of them ran marathons for ‘fun.’ That gene thankfully missed me!

And so, back to the Grand Prix, at Zandvoort in the era of Mansell and Senna but perhaps more memorably my first at Brands Hatch, not perhaps for the race but for getting there. My Morris 1000 broke down on the way, but after a quick pit stop (and hastily joining the AA) I arrived in time to see Emerson Fittipaldi beat Jackie Stewart. The next year at Silverstone nearly half the field were taken out when Jody Scheckter crashed at the end of the first lap. What names though! Some still here but most long gone in pursuit of their sport. Hill, Peterson, Lauda, Hulme , Amon, Reutemann, Revson, Oliver, Ickx, Cevert and the never to be forgotten Jean-Pierre Beltois if only for the fact that I got his autograph even though I had no idea who he was, except that he must be a driver because he wore overalls.

So – thanks for the birthday wishes and allowing a sad old git to reminisce for a bit. 

I wonder what I’ll do next?


Oh, oh, oh it’s magic…

It’s a strange thing when you have too much time on your hands. The things that go through your mind I mean.

Take now for instance. I’m on a plane.

I’ve been sat in more or less the same position for nigh on 3 1/2 hours and I’m likely to do so for a further 5 1/2. Despicable Me 3 has just finished and you get to thinking,

1. Should I go to the loo, just for something to do?

2. When are they feeding me again?

3. What the bejasus is holding this thing in the air?

I know, I know – you can get all scientific on me.

You can tell me about differential air pressure until you’re blue in the face.

Yes, and thrust too madam. I thought you might put your twopennorth in!

But it’s me sitting here over the wing and believe you me, there’s very little between the underside of the aerilon (or whatever that flappy thing is called) and the tip of bloody Greenland as far as I can see.

And 39000 feet straight down looks pretty far at the moment, I can tell you.

Between us and Arsuk (it’s true, Google it. What an unfortunate postal address that is! Where do you live? Arsuk. Well I only asked!) there is air. A lot of it admittedly, but it’s not exactly heavy. We breath the stuff in and out constantly and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Can it really hold up God knows how many tons (yes I know it’s tonnes but we’re going to the USA. And anyway, after Brexit do we get our measurements back?) of aircraft, fuel, cargo and us poor bloody passengers?
Furthermore, have you had the chance to study an aeroplane wing in detail?

No? Nor me until now. Honestly I’ve seen more sheet steel in your average bus shelter. 

And rivets! Don’t talk to me about rivets! I used rivets in metalwork at school once. Not the sturdiest of fixings in my opinion.

Pardon? Yes, that was rather a long time ago, thank you for pointing that out.

As I was saying I have used the odd rivet in various metallurgical disasters and they do in my experience tend to shear as soon as you look at them. Yes, I know that there are rather a lot of them dotted about the aerodynamic surfaces, but personally and particularly now that my mind is working overtime, I would have preferred to see row upon row of nice half inch diameter bolts. In super high tensile steel!

So what is it holding us up?

I’ve had a lot of time to think.

And I have come to the conclusion that there is only on possible logical answer.

It’s magic.