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RAB himself

Quote of the Day.

Go home and put your best music on. Turn it up as high as it will go, and know that is something the Darkness can never take away from you…

Detective Inspector Fred Thursday.

Yes been watching the Agatha Christie channel (ITV3) again, twiddling my thumbs till the site came back up. And in the spirit of the message…

It’s nice to be back!

Computer Advice.

Yes, well you all know me well enough by now, a computer illiterate like me is hardly offering it now is he? Once again I’m asking the commenters advice.

The laptop has pretty much gone tits up. It is an 18” Toshiba that is about 6 years old and has served us very well. But now you can pop out for a pint in the time it takes to boot up, and when it does you’ve only just got into your emails when it crashes, and you get the “Will start normally in 28…27..26.. etc message. A pain in the arse quite frankly.

It has always been a bit of a clunker. It is big and heavy and the battery life has never been more than 2 hours, but the screen resolution is very good indeed, and the keys are comfortable to type on. The operating system is Vista.

So folks, what would you all recommend as a replacement? I don’t need it to be as big as the old Tosh, because it is a pain to lug around especially for travelling, but I do want it to have very good screen resolution, and a decent battery life and a keyboard that you don’t have to have the fingers of and Elf to type on.

I’m not against Tablets per se, except when I have used a friends iPad typing on it drives me out of my mind, almost as bad as typing on smart phones and sat/navs. And what of the operating system? Our current two computers run on Vista and I’m not wildly happy with it, to be frank I preferred  Windows XP. What is Windows 8 like? And what of RAM and hard drive? The old Tosh is 3g RAM and 250g hard disk. I see some advertised now with 8g RAM and a bleedin Tetrabite of storage. What is that all about? I’d like to play games on it too, but the old Tosh was never very good at coping with them. So if you lovely people could help me out, it will be very much appreciated. I won’t say money is no object cos I is a tight arsed git, but I can afford top end of the range stuff if it is actually worth it.

PS… Oi Kitty Counters, get your fingers out and get some posts up! Yes I know there’s no news out there, and no news is good news, and good news is no news at all… But momentum momentum momentum chums Winking smile

It’s A Wonderful Life… Comrade.

It is one of the best loved Christmas movies of all time, (it’s certainly one of my top five favourite films) but back in 1947 it was being accused of being Communist propaganda because the Banker character Potter, is portrayed as an evil money grubbing bottom line Capitalist. A bit far fetched for me I’m afraid.

Capitalists have never had a good Press have they? Can anyone name me a film or book where a Banker is the hero?

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? no it’s Venture Capital Man and he has saved the day again! With his timely injection of cash the Dam was repaired, the Valley saved from flooding and all our children can sleep easy in their beds, well fed and prosperous for evermore. You’re my hero Venture Capital Man!”

It just doesn’t happen, does it?

Now don’t get me wrong, McCarthy was right ( if rather too paranoid and heavy handed), Hollywood was stuffed full of Luvvy Communists who were trying to push a Marxist agenda, but they were not hugely successful in getting the message across, because the essence of most films is the triumph of Good over Evil. The White hats win and the Black hats lose, it’s pretty crude at best, but hey that’s entertainment. What’s important is that the little people like us, the ones who provide the bums on seats, feel that we are on the winning side. However small and insignificant our lives that if we have friends and family who love us, and who we love back and help out when the going gets tough, then we are as important and consequential as Kings and Queens.

PS. You will notice on reading the article that Ayn Rand is mentioned as sitting on a committee that reported to the House Un-American Activities Commission. She gave evidence personally. Now quite what an upfront Libertarian is doing reporting to J Edgar Crossdresser and McCarthy is beyond my understanding of her Libertarianism. I wouldn’t have gone near Big Government witch trials myself. But then I have never read her and very likely never will. In fact the few details of her life and circle that I know of, I know for certain that she would never have been a friend of mine in real life. Do click on the link at the bottom of the Mail article, very illuminating.

So it only leaves me to say… for the day is almost upon us… A very Happy Christmas to all the Kitties that Kount, all our faithful Commenters, and yes to you, as yet unannounced, Lurkers in the Dark. Happy Christmas one and all!

Knocks Warble Gloaming into a cocked hat doesn’t it?

Yesterday the Fail would have us believe that we are only a dream imagining ourselves, or perhaps someone or thing imagining us for us.

Today they are at it again. It makes the possibility of the Yellowstone Park super volcano blowing look positively mundane doesn’t it? And a couple of degrees increase in Celsius fade into comparative obscurity.

So what do you scientific types think? There is someone round here who has a bit of Physics under his belt but I can’t for they life of me remember who now, he is very reluctant to mention it you see. Winking smile 

Well bugger it, I’m going to live, and live and live again, until I die with a smile on my face. And we’re off out to have a drink with my old friend Jerry Dammers, who’s doing a little DJ-ing in town tonight. Merry Christmas all!

Happy Birthday Mum…

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Yep that’s my mum. Born in Bedwas, a mining village across the valley from Caerphilly, in 1923. And yes she’s 90 today.

She almost didn’t make it past 5 though. My Grandfather, her father, the Welsh speaking one, was a manager at the Colliery there, and she and her two brothers lived in a company house. There were directly under the cable that took the huge cast iron skips full of slag and waste up to the top of the mountain and deposited it on the huge spoil tips  that scarred all the Welsh Valleys. Well one early morning the cable snapped and  several tons of cast iron bucket and slag practically demolished the house, took the roof right off, went through two floors and ended up in the kitchen. They moved to Caerphilly, sharpish.

There, of course, she eventually met my dad, which led to this little event in 1952. My Christening party in our garden in Caerphilly.

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Now you can see that all of the folks in that picture are pretty old, except for my parents. Gramp Llewellyn on the left was already 90 there, and gramp Dan (the Welsh speaking one, looking like a pensive Woody Allen, on the right) had just retired from the Colliery aged 70. So I’m afraid that barring Comet strikes, unfortunate accidents and the like, given my gene-pool, you are likely to have to suffer my insane ramblings for another 30 years or so. Oh what joy I hear you all cry! Winking smile

So please raise your glasses to a grand old Dame, the She Elephant of Heath Cardiff, my Mum. A lifetime of sparring with her verbally and mentally has made me the man I am today, and I love her to bits!

Click on the Pics to enlarge.

Crikes oh Lor! A good news Health story.

Almost inevitably it is… Experts warn… Scientists warn… Uncle Tom Cobbley and his Nanny warns, but this one is different, it modestly celebrates the raising of the wrist.

We tipplers have always known that the safe Units crap was made up on the back of an envelope, much like that secondary smoke will laser its way through walls and kill entire families while they sleep, especially the Cheeeldren!

And on the cure for a cold being alcohol (with a little bit of spicy help), I can concur…

Many years ago the Gay Buddhist, my wife and I were working our way down a bottle of Tequila. I had a  stinking cold, and I mean really stinking , coughing up stuff that looked like well masticated Pistachios. Ness curled up and went to sleep, but the GB and I decided to go out for a curry, Cardiff Curry houses staying open till 3 in the morning in those days.

We both had a Vindaloo, and mine was so goddam hot my eyeballs were sweating. Then we went back to the flat and polished off the rest of the Tequila. The next day I woke up and the cold had completely gone.

So raise your glasses ladies and gentlemen…

Unashamedly Ahhh!

You are all no doubt familiar with our bonkers dog, Saffie. She normally looks like this…

The French Alps 323

What do you think of my newly re-grown beard by the way? I used to have one as a young man to make myself look older. When I was 21 I visited the USA for the first time. I used to walk into bars and clubs with my American friends and they passed without  any trouble, but I used to get a restraining hand on my chest accompanied by… Where do you think you’re going sonny? I used to have to carry the old Zulu Shield British Passport everywhere I went, and even then they didn’t quite believe me. Ness forced my to re-grow it, saying it would tickle her fancy. I have no idea what she meant by that!

Well five days ago she had to have a couple of operations. One to remove a lump of fatty tissue about the size of an egg from off her chest (biopsy benign) and a nasty cyst from the corner of her eye. So now the poor dab looks like this…

Andy & Saffie 008

She is ecstatic about the HMV headscarf, as you can imagine, and she is now wearing a child’s T shirt to hold the bandage padding over the stitches on her chest. We took her to the Vet’s this morning for a check, and she is coming on very nicely. Five more days and she will be free of all that and playing frisbee in the park again and stealing  food right off people’s BBQ’s like a bat out of hell. This dog costs us a lot of money (and that is just in replacement picnic food, let alone the operation) but she is the best dog in the world, so she’s worth it.

Welcome to Brigadoon…

Get your comments in quick folks… It may be another hundred fuckin years before we appear again!

I hope a profuse and detailed apology from Cat’s will be forthcoming for this fiasco, but frankly I’m a bit pissed off myself. We cannot carry on like this. The friggin Difference engine has to go. I will contribute to the cost of a proper professional Server, and others here have indicated to me that they are prepared to do so too.

I have had at least half a dozen posts I wanted to put up in the last bastard ten days of invisibility, but all past their sell buy date now. Not fuckin good enough, not fuckin good enough at all.

Anniversary.

Hoo-fuckin-ray the site’s back up!

Well it’s our (Ness’s and mine) 35th Wedding Anniversary today, and look at the card she got me.

Anniversary 001

That’s Lurve and life eh folks?

And don’t forget the RAB Towers Maxim… A blinding row a day keeps the Divorce Lawyers away…

Simple Pleasures & Security Measures…

Following on from Lynne’s post below, here’s one I have been toying with for a while.

Just before Xmas I asked you good folks for tips as to what to buy the Memsahib for a present to avoid ending up sleeping on the sofa, as I am crap at presents. Well you all came up with the goods and the sofa was but a bad dream for another year, but when I was in my corner shop buying her a Card I came across a rack of entitled  “Pocket Money Toys” So I had a look, and my second childhood kicked in, and I came out with these. £1.99 each.

Ness thought I was as bonkers as the dog when she unwrapped them, but when I started to play with them, well she instantly wanted a “Go”.  She’s a pretty damn good shot with real weapons (takes after her Dad: 2 Para D Day, and a Bisley Champion rifle shot thereafter ) and this little plastic toy is surprisingly  accurate at a distance of 15 to 20 feet, which is the size of living room 2 .

 

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We can both now take down the little targets (about an inch and a half tall) two shots out of three. So you can imagine how devastating we could be with a real handgun like a Glock or a Magnum, and it’s important to keep your eye in isn’t it folks? We may be almost totally disarmed in this once free and proud country of ours, but when things get nasty, and they may quite soon, the real things will be available for the right kind of money. We must be prepared! I am already in the market for a shotgun, and a decent Bow and Crossbow wouldn’t go amiss as backup either.

 

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Oh and I bought myself  an Airforce at the same time.  Yes these little suckers actually loop the loop (due to our very high ceilings) and are great fun to play with. And as the Desert Rats have been stripped of their tanks, and the Parachute regiment of their jump training ( the Father in law is spinning in his grave enough to power half of South Wales by now) How do you run a Parachute Brigade without parachutes???

So you have to look after yourself in these dismal days and end of times haven’t you? Cos the fuckin Government is never going to do it for you, are they? Least of all ours.

 

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And you American readers, don’t you let Barry and the boys in the band take your Assault weapons away, in fact stock up on RPG’s and Sam’s if you can, you may need them soon. Military exercises are already being conducted in American cities by armed troops and helicopter gunships and Barry is in the process of  getting the Executive power to use armed drones against American citizens on American soil. What can that be all about I wonder?

Kevin Ayers. RIP.

Bugger! another good man gone.

I have at least 2 other posts going round in my head that I have been meaning to put up for you delectation, but I had to do this one when I heard the news.

So who was Kevin Ayers? I’m sure most of you will never have heard of him, but he was a founding member of Soft Machine, one of Britain’s first Psychedelic bands alongside Pink Floyd. The Floyd became world famous, Soft Machine didn’t. They went from being quirky avant-garde  with lots of vocals to being almost totally  instrumental  Jazz by 1970. Kevin had left by then and continued to plough his own idiosyncratic furrow. He could have been a contender, he knew and worked with all the right names, but ultimately he couldn’t be arsed. Preferring to live the life Libertarian/Libertine in Majorca, Ibiza and the South of France.

Your humble Music Correspondent saw the Floyd support Hendrix, when he was just 15 (me not Hendrix) and naturally checked out where this crazy weird music that was then mainly driven by Syd Barrett’s wacky songs was coming from, and he discovered Caravan and Soft Machine and later Gong and Hawkwind. So when Kevin Ayers Joy Of a Toy came out in 1969, I bought it and loved it. Here’s one of my favourites that set me on the road to Libertarianism, anarchy and self discovery without knowing it…

And for those of you familiar with Robert Wyatt’s singing and phrasing, um who do you think stole what from whom, considering they were in the same band?

Happy New Year Y’all!

Well do the best you can in the circumstances , eh?

Some of you will be seeing it in with Jools’ Hootenanny, but I give you this…

 

Counting Cats lyrics and sentiments for the New Year…

“Cause talk and suspicion, give an exhibition, find out what it’s all about…”

And you can’t whack Garcia in full lyrical flow, now can you?

Love RAB

Morecambe and Wise…

Paul's Visit. Glastonbury Wells & Bath 024

No points for figuring which is which.

 

Our very own Paul Marks spent a few days with us at RAB&Ness Towers last week, and boy did we luck out with the weather, clear and fine every day. Had he come this week, when he planned to, we would have found some of the villages we travelled through, like Chew Magna, underwater. That is Glastonbury Tor we are standing in front of there by the way. No those are not smiles on our faces, the wind up there was so ferocious it contorted our faces into un-natural positions.

Paul's Visit. Glastonbury Wells & Bath 018

 

That’s Wells from the top of the Tor. The smallest city in England. 8 miles away. My Lumix 150 zoom isn’t bad is it? We went there next.

But before that we had parked the car in the car-park of the Rifleman’s Arms, a mere  500 yards from the beginning of the path that takes you up Glastonbury Tor. The Rifleman’s is obviously a local local, favoured by folk who like tattoos, piercings and purple hair, but are everlovingly friendly for all that. I ordered some Watkins Scrumpy that I’d seen on the Tariff list, and seemed to win instant respect. Turns out it is a scrumpy produced by a local farm, and er, is the business so to speak. It certainly powered me and Paul up the Tor in sprightly fashion! So here’s the tip. If you are planning to ascend the Tor, bung your car in the Rifleman’s car park at the back, have a pint of Scrumpy and you’re sorted.

We went up the Tor in a sedate fashion as befits our age and stature, the bonkers dog went up and down it about 8 times, only pausing to roll in cowpats (windows open on the journey to Wells).

We drove via Glastonbury’s main street, just to confirm to Paul that it is indeed the Hippie capital of the UK; wall to wall mystic crystals and candle shops, full of folk watching life on a different channel to the rest of us, but no harm to anyone except perhaps themselves.

And so to Wells…Paul's Visit. Glastonbury Wells & Bath 044

With Paul preparing to Flash some Choristers …

Paul took to Wells, it’s his kind of place (beats the hell out of Kettering that’s for sure so he says!). It’s prosperous (they have yet to hear the terrible news there alas) full of free spending tourists, high quality shops, yet small and intimate. What’s not to like?

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And that is the Bishop’s Palace. Bishop’s, especially those of Bath and Wells, tended to do nicely for themselves. The scoff, drink and accommodation was always  first class. So beneficent are they that the Swans that live in the moat have a bell attached to a rope on the outside wall that they have been trained to pull when they want feeding. The original Welfare State.

The scoff, drink and accommodation isn’t too bad round RAB&Ness Towers either mind. Paul reluctantly ploughed his way through the Rosy Pork Casserole (with Butterbeans and carrots) on the Monday, the Tuna Pasta bake on the Tuesday and the chicken curry with trimmings (papadoms , Nan, chapattis  onion Baghees  etc) on the Wednesday, with accompanying wines wot we had hauled back from France in June,… like an Irish Navvy digging a canal!

We had to do Bath on the bus on Wednesday, my wife having a hospital appointment in the afternoon and needing the car.

What can I tell you all about Bath you don’t already know? Probably Britain’s most handsome city; you feel like a civilised grown up just walking round it. It was England’s Las Vegas of the 18th Century. Ostensibly they all came for the waters and the Spa, but more likely for a leg over and to chance their luck at the Gambling tables, or to find a rich wife/husband.

So Paul and I did the usual things… The Abbey and the Royal Crescent, The Circus and the Pump rooms etc etc. The place was heaving with tourists like ourselves (mainly Japanese), there are Blue Plaques on every other building because everyone and his

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Down Memory Lane again…

Well it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and seeing as you good folk seem to like them…

I was clicking through the Fail, as you do, when I came across this. Like Paul Smith, I too learnt to swim in Penarth Baths. I can’t say that I am a great admirer of his taste in interior design, and like one commenter I’d have liked him to have put an indoor pool in just to keep up the continuity, especially if you are spending that kind of bread, but at least he’s saved the building, that contains many memories for both of us I’m sure.

So why did I learn to swim there? After all I was born in Caerphilly, a good 15 miles away, but Caerphilly had no indoor swimming pool in the 50s and 60s, and when I was 8, in 1960, we moved to Heath in Cardiff.

Dad had been a master butcher in Caerphilly with his own abattoir, but the business was physically and financially killing him. Physically because he worked all the hours god sent. He would be gone before I got up for school and back long after I had been put to bed. I barely knew what he looked like. The only time I would see him was at weekends.

On Saturdays my mum and I would go down Mountain road into the town and visit dad in our shop around the corner from the castle. Then we would go and have tea with my Grandmother in Bradford Street. She was a widow by then; ramrod straight, and an upright citizen, she hadn’t lavished much love on her own five children (when my dad came home from WW2, after 4 years away, she looked up from ironing and said “ Oh it’s you. I’ll put the kettle on shall I?"No hugs rejoicing, nothing.) but seemed to have saved it all up for me. So I got the full works, a lovely cream tea with jam and scones and a glass of orange cordial with soda water. My sensory tastebuds can still savour it now. Orange pop, as we called it in the 50s was local made and delivered, but you had to have a good imagination to relate it to actual oranges. It wasn’t Kool Aid tasteless but almost. Ah but the cordial with soda water was the business! Then I was allowed to watch the Lone Ranger on her telly and then we went home. Gran still had gaslight in the kitchen too. She was a fairly rich old bird and had electric throughout the house, but she liked the quality of the light, as she was a big reader.

Dad would follow on later when he’d shut the shop, bringing with him the meat for the weekend, sweets from the Mailins sisters sweet shop next to ours (coconut mushrooms… raspberry Ruffles etc) and our treat of the week, fish and chips! Still the best fish and chips I ever ate. Beef fat, none of your namby pamby vegetable oil nonsense!

Then on Sunday he played Golf. No wonder I’d have been hard pressed to pick him out at a Police line-up!

Financially the Govt were pushing more and more rules and regulations onto the business, especially the abattoir, so he finally said… bugger this for a game of soldiers! sold up and bought Heath Park Stores in Cardiff instead.

Frankly I hated the move. The house and garden was so much smaller, we lived above and behind the shop and I’d lost all my old friends and had to make new ones. Oh well that’s life eh? but you don’t see it quite that way when you’re small do you?

But Heath turned out to be a very agreeable place to be after all. I got into the A stream of a good local school (Ton yr Ywen) and my parents were prevailed upon to join the Heath Citizens Association.

Which is why every Tuesday evening between 1960 and 1963, you would find me and a few of my chums, learning to swim at Penarth baths. The advantage of Penarth baths was that it used sea water which is more buoyant to potential drowning novice swimmers than the Chlorine infested waters of other baths that would make WW1 veterans nostalgic, drawn in from the Bristol Channel as it is smack on the seafront across from the pier.

For the parents there were Whist drives and dances at the old Heath House (still just about usable till it got burnt down in 1965, as long as you didn’t try to go upstairs, or you may have found yourself downstairs rather sharpish! so dilapidated was the place) and for us kids, table tennis evenings and yes free access to Penarth Baths .

So what used to happen was my long suffering dad used to pick us up from school and ferry us to Penarth (about five miles away from Cardiff) in the Shooting-brake (we were the corner shop and we delivered, it made sense to have what is now called a hatchback) In the winter he used to watch us splash about, but in the summer he used to go and have a coffee in one of the seafront cafes (all Italian) and when the session had finished he’d pick us up.

The routine never changed. Us kids would rush out of the Baths and spend our pocket money on sweets in the booth attached to the Pier. Now we sold sweets in our shop, but the more upmarket varieties, like Cadbury’s chocolate (sic) Callard and Bowsers toffees, Murray mints etc, not the sort of tasty dangerous stuff chock full of E numbers that us kids craved. So we loaded up on Blackjacks, Fruit Salad, Sherbet Flying Saucers, Love Hearts and Refreshers. Then we went down onto the beach to skim stones. Penarth beach, what there is of it, is pebbles and we even used to stare in awe at the new Hovercraft link between Penarth and Weston S Mare boarding and skimming off across the Bristol Channel. My generation expected so much of the future that come the moon landings we were almost bored. But where is that future now?

Back then there were 4 ways to get to S Wales: Train via the Severn Tunnel, that great piece of Victorian engineering. Boat, though these were only pleasure paddle steamers, and I went on holiday to WSM many a time on them, the Aust Ferry (even Bob Dylan used it) or go round Gloucester which adds friggin miles and hours. Now, with the two Severn Bridges, just stand and stare at the volume of traffic using them, the increase in commerce and communication exponential, and marvel!  

Finally we all got back in the car to Cardiff and home to tea of beans on toast and maybe the Avengers or No Hiding Place on TV. A cup of milky coffee and so to bed.

My life and times folks. Hope you enjoyed my little recollections.

What a long strange trip it’s been.

Well it’s my birthday today folks. Happy? Not especially. It’s another year gone and closer to the grim reaper. But it’s one of those big number ones, 60.

Yikes how the flipperty flip flops did that happen? A minute ago I was a callow youth of 18 who knew nothing, now I am a callow old git who knows nothing. I was going to run down memory lane with you all, describing my life and times from coal fires to first class air travel, from black and white 2 channel telly to the Internet, from countries far away that we know little, to having been there twice and scarfed the menu. But I’m too bloody depressed to be arsed, given the tomfoolery that has occurred round here today.

“Sometimes the light’s all shining on me, other times I can barely  see” oh yes indeed, wise words written by my old friend  Bob Hunter. An indication of our triumphs and failures, hopes and despairs. If I dropped dead tomorrow I would have deemed myself to have had a very happy and interesting life. Was I a success? In who’s evaluation? I had fun, I earned a good living and have the love of family and friends, and hope to be around another 30 years at least to entertain you all if you will permit me. So I will leave you with something I feel is the best thing in the world, Music.

Yes I will keep on Truckin…

 

and this, and this .

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