Saturday, 28 March 2015

Clock Change and Crooked Cat's Congress

Here comes summer and Flatcap has his eyes on the annual get together of Crooked Cat’s authors.

We put the clocks on tomorrow. I’m gonna put mine on the sideboard. Well, I think it must get fed up of sitting on the DVD cabinet.
It’s the official start of British Summer Time. And I’m marking it in an extra special way this year. I’m off on a speed awareness course on Monday after I got nicked back in February.
There are other events in the offing during BST. For a start off, it’s Easter next weekend, and we have the choice of shooting over to Blackpool and freezing our tripes off on the prom, or taking a tram down to Manchester and freezing our tripes off in Piccadilly Gardens.
Then, in July, there’s the annual Crooked Cat get-together, held this year in York.
I didn’t bother last year or in 2013, for the simple reason that London and Edinburgh were a bit too far to travel, but York is only about 65 miles and Her Indoors has put her foot down. She’s told me to bugger off and get from under her feet for the day.
You might think this is fair enough. It’s symptomatic of a marriage which has lasted three times longer than Top Gear despite being less politically correct and more argumentative.
It’s not going to York that bothers me. It’s a fine place even if the price of a pint of mild and a scotch egg is outrageous.
It’s not teaming up with the other Crooked Cat authors that worries me. I know most of them from the internet, and I’m absolutely certain they are warm, welcoming and wonderful people.
It’s the thought that Her Indoors could inflict me on these people. And not just for a couple of hours, but a whole day.
For a start off, if anyone thinks I’ll be putting on a collar and tie, they can forget it. I’ve only one shirt and only one tie. They do me for weddings, funerals and speed cameras alike.
The deafness could be problematic. Sure I’ll put me hearing aids in, but that’s no guarantee that I’ll actually hear anything. And even if I do, it’s no guarantee that I’ll listen.
Finally, I have an awful habit of turning everything into a plot for another novel. How many of these poor sods will be bumped off in a future STAC Mystery?
Nope. I’m sorry, but ordering me off to York for the day is like telling Jeremy Clarkson that you forgot to pack the chip pan.

Would you prefer to listen to Flatcap delivering most of this post in his own, inimitable style? Click below.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Eclipse? Yawn.

Eclipse? So What? Flatcap has seen too many of them to be over-impressed  

So we all had a good look at the eclipse the other day.
For me it’s about the tenth I’ve seen, and they’re all of a muchness. I saw my first eclipse in 1959. This was the same year that I became interested in astronomy. I said to my old dad, I said, “I think I’m short-sighted, dad.”
He pointed to sky. “Look up there,” he said, “and tell me what you can see.”
“The Moon,” I promptly replied.
“That’s a quarter of a million miles away. How far do you wanna see?”
Determined to get my point across, I boned up on the subject, and I learned that my old man was a liar. The Moon is not a quarter of a million miles away. It averages only .23 million miles. This taught me never to believe anything the old man told me. When, therefore, he later told me that the light from the sun takes eight minutes to get to us, I checked up and lo, he was telling another porkie. It takes an average of eight minutes and twenty seconds.
This lack of accuracy meant I had to question his conclusion when he showed me the partial eclipse of October 1959, and explained that it was Russian satellite trying to block our share of sunlight, I had to correct him.
“It’s The Moon,” I pointed out, “the Earth’s satellite.”
“Yeah, well, it’ll belong to the Russians in a few years unless we get a move on.”
Naturally, this was back in the days of the Cold War, and Sputnik one had just gone into orbit. The theory was that if the Russians controlled space, they would control the world. As we now know, this accolade belongs to satellite television.
Talking of eclipses, the big one, of course, was the total eclipse of 1999, but it was only visible in Cornwall. I’d been ready for it for forty years, so naturally me and Her Indoors hopped in the car and drove 400 miles to Penzance, didn’t we?
Did we hell as like. The rain was hammering down in Cornwall, and in anticipation of an invasion of astronomers, physicists, New Age berks and general geeks who just wanted to say, “I was there,” the price of your average caravan in that area quadrupled for the week of the eclipse.
Like anyone with any brains, we watched it on telly and I videotaped the partial eclipse from outside the brother-in-law’s caravan in Fleetwood.
And the same could be said about yesterday. I took a shed load of pictures from our back garden and got the best views from the BBC, courtesy, Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain.
Apparently, the next total eclipse visible from the UK will be in 2090, and again it’ll be in the Devon Cornwall area.
I don’t think I’ll be there for that one either.

Would you prefer to listen to Flatcap delivering most of this post in his own, inimitable style? Click below.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Dyspeptic Dilemma

Tummy trouble in Spain gives rise to Flatcap’s speculation on why remedies are kept under the counter.

Dyspepsia? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink
During our recent stay in the Canary Islands, I noticed an anomaly. Not sure if it applies to the rest of Spain, but after a particularly heavy night in an Irish bar I needed Rennie. For those of you who don’t know, Rennie are the average drinker’s lifesaver. Bicarb in tablet form they settle yesterday’s beer and fried food and allow for a fresh intake today.
So off we toddled along Puerto del Carmen’s seafront looking for Rennie.
In amongst the usual stuff on general display I found false willies, false bottoms, false tits, and T-shirts with slogans that might just be open to censorship in our narrow-minded society, none of which was one slightest bit of use for my dyspeptic dilemma.
I even found one shop advertising genuine shag wear. Call me picky, but where I come from, you’re usually expected to divest your clobber for such purposes.
I asked at a supermarket and they said I could only get Rennie at a pharmacy, so off we went again, looking for such a shop and on the way we passed at least one subterranean club featuring exotic dancers. They made no bones about what you would get for your euros, but it ain’t Rennie.
When we got to the chemist, we searched high and low. I could find ointment for the treatment of haemorrhoids, and I’ve made a note of such for future visits. I could also find condoms guaranteeing the ultimate in hedonistic pleasure, and I thought they would go rather well with the shag wear. Nearby were female hygiene products of various kinds and purposes, plus creams, ointments and other bits and pieces to combat, er, shall we say, naughty little infections.
But I couldn’t find Rennie.
In the end, my gurgling gut demanded that I speak to the assistant.
She kept her voice low, and glanced furtively around the shop before unlocking a lower drawer and sneaking out the familiar red box.
“For you, senor, only six euros.”
Cheap at half the price when you’re tummy’s acting up. And half that price is what they are in our local supermarket.
The entire transaction reminded me of the old, under the counter, plain brown wrapper videotapes I used to borrow from our local shop. These were for research purposes of course.
The Rennie, however, were medicinally vital, so why keep them hidden in drawers? It seems obvious to me that that dyspepsia is an unmentionable in Spain. A bit like the shag wear in England.

Would you prefer to listen to Flatcap delivering most of this post in his own, inimitable style? Click below.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Of Shaving Foam & Methane

Flatcap is home from Lanzarote with a cautionary tale on confusing your cans, especially when you’re trying to freshen up the air in the bathroom.

Of Methane and Shaving Foam

Whenever we go away, we expect the odd cock-up, but Her Indoors excelled herself this time, and as usual, the chain of events leading up to it were anything but simple.
I’ve been unwell ever since the turn of the year. Rich food and gassy ale on the island of Lanzarote didn’t help matters, and I noticed that wherever we went, I was followed by a strong smell of methane.
I came to the conclusion that poor drainage and poor sewage treatment are symptomatic of a society which tries to sell you Sunday lunch on the strength of gravy made from Bisto.
It never once occurred to me that this appalling stench might be coming from me. It was the first thing that did occur to the missus. In fact she spent much of the week moaning about it, but my hearing aids were back in Manchester so I never heard one word of complaint.
And then she chanced to follow me into the bathroom where the smell was so bad that she needed breathing apparatus. She had no such gear, so she did the next best thing and picked up my can of deodorant to quell they smell.
Only she didn’t. She picked up my can of shaving foam instead. I don’t know how she did it. The two cans don’t even look the same. The shaving foam is blue, the deodorant black, and as if that weren’t enough, because we bought it in Lanzarote, the instructions on the deodorant were written in Spanish.
Regardless of that, in seconds she had splattered the beige floor and wall tiles with a layer of blue-green shaving gunge which was lethal underfoot but did nothing to alleviate the noxious odour. Worse still, we had to go in there and clean up the mess while the smell of shit clung to the air with all the determination of a Yorkshireman hanging onto a five pound note.
It was left to me to explain to the hotel how come their towels were soaked in shaving gel, and they took a dim view of my attempts to lighten the mood by telling them that at least the bathroom had a nil growth of beard. In future they will not accept bookings from Englishmen unless they can demonstrate they use an electric shaver.
As always I came off worst. Not only did I have to buy a fresh can of shaving foam, but I was also blamed for the entire fiasco.
“If you didn’t smell so bad, it wouldn’t have happened,” said Her Indoors.
It seems to me that that’s a bit like leaving a tap running and flooding your kitchen, then blaming the water company for the damage because they use wet water.

Would you prefer to listen to Flatcap delivering most of this post in his own, inimitable style? Click below.