Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Another test of our flimsy cerebral hemispheres for Tess's weekly prompts for Magpie Tails.  This one MAG233 shows a lonely ship steaming out to sea.  What will this conjure, I wonder.  Will let you know when I start writing.

Yell Sounds, Shetland, 2014, by R.A.D. Stainforth

Steaming Somewhere

Shetland stationed ship 'sets sail', steaming silently seaward, steering south, skipping several submerged shipwreck sites, slicing smooth settled shimmering spacious salty seas. 

Stormy sunset skies shine serenely, shadowing shady sloping sun soaked shores, somehow silhouetting spectacular segmented silver sea/sky systems.

Surrounding shores, Sweinna Stack, Sim Skerry, Sand Skerry, Samphrey show stupendous scenery, speaking surreptitious secret sagas, saluting steaming ship.

Sunbeams scatter, screaming seagulls swoop, sea salmon shoals swim, self satisfied scruffy sailors sing, shrewd skipper steers ship safely, spying shingled saturated shellfish shores.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
The shells she sells are sea shore shells, I'm sure.


Monday, 18 August 2014


It's very strange sometimes how the memory is 'jogged' for no apparent reason.  All our experiences are 'up there' and can surface unexpectedly at any time, even many years later, rather like this one did recently.  

Many moons ago, around 1485, I managed a Customer Service/Sales Office for a brake lining and clutch facing company.  Two telephone girls, Janet and Jean took most of the incoming calls, dealing with stock availability, orders and delivery information.

One memorable day Janet took a call and suddenly collapsed into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, and frantically gestured to me to take the call, since she obviously couldn't.

I took over the phone and asked with whom I was speaking and had to fight back a surge of hysterics welling up inside when a little man's voice declared unwavering, "Mr Bollock!"

Valiantly, I managed to say, "Good morning Mr Bollock, how may I assist you?"  . . . . . and there were gales of laughter in the office, as they overheard me.  I continued, "I am sorry the young lady earlier experienced a severe coughing attack and you were almost cut off!"

He said, "She didn't have a coughing attack did she, it's my name isn't it?  I have that effect on everyone whenever I telephone about anything!"

I said, "Well, if you don't mind me saying so, it is a slightly unusual name . . . . "

He interjected, "If my ancestors had chosen the plural version things might have been slightly better, do you think it might help if I changed my name from 'Bollock' to 'Bollocks' "?

I struggled so hard to retain my composure.

I said, "Well really, Mr Bollock, I don't think it is quite my place to say, but I am inclined to think you'd get the same response if you did that."

He said, "I thought so too.  Since you are the only person who has managed not to laugh I think I can talk to you.  Tell me, do you think if I changed my name from 'Bollock' to 'Balls' do you think the young lady would have laughed so hard?  You see I want to keep the pedigree of my name intact?"

I really had tears of suppressed laughter in my eyes but somehow managed to say, "Regrettably I think the answer might be yes, but if I might make a small suggestion, if you use the singular version, 'Ball', then I don't think you would have any problem and you will find that would mirror your present name almost exactly in a non-humorous way, and you would be preserving the pedigree of your name at the same time."

He was over the moon  and thanked me so much and said excitedly, "Right, tomorrow I am starting procedures to change my name from Bollock to Ball by deed poll."  (I bet he got a laugh there as well.) . . . . and he continued, "when I ring again about a future query I shall look forward to giving your young lady my new name and her being able to handle my call without any laughter."

Oh dear, I was really struggling by now and somehow I managed to deal with his call before collapsing in a heap on the floor, quite helpless.

When I told the office what had happened we all were in absolute uncontrollable hysterics for 10 minutes and had to close down the telephone lines until we recovered; hoping that we did not get another call from Mr Bollock. That would have been too much.

I often see Janet in my home town and we always laugh about this, even though it occurred 30 years ago.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


More Quotations

Another Weekend - already!

ABC Wednesday link
theme - E is for Entertaining Quotations

I'm including some gaffs at the end.

 . . . . and we start with the much debated topic, marriage:

Marriage: A community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making two in all.
(Ambrose Bierce)

Marriage:  A romance in which the hero dies in the first chapter.
He is too chicken to own up

Marriage: Marriage is give and take. You'd better give it to her or she'll take it anyway.
(Joey Adams)

Marriage: Marriage is like a cage: one sees birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside equally desperate to get out.
(Michel de Montaigne, French writer, 1533-1592)

Memoirs:  When you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad things you did do - that's memoirs.
(Will Rogers, 20th century US comedian)

Monogamy:  An obsolete word meaning a fidelity complex.
(J.B. Morton)

Moral Indignation: Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.

Nation: is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbours.
(Dean Inge, dean of St Paul's, London 1911-34)

Opera: Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back instead of bleeding, he sings.
(Ed Gardner, 20th century US comedian)

Optimist: An optimist is a guy who has never had much experience.
(Don Marquis, 20th century US satirist)

Optimist: An optimist is always broke.
(Kin Hubbard)

Optimist: A man who is treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery.
(Walter Winchell)

Originality:  Originality is the fine art of remembering what you can hear and forgetting where you heard it.
(Laurence Peter, 20th century Canadian writer)

Pessimist: A pessimist is someone who, if he is in the bath, will not get out to answer the phone.
(Quentin Crisp)

Pessimist: The optimist sees the doughnut, the pessimist sees the hole.

Now some bloomers, or bloopers:

'If' is a very large preposition. - John Major

I deny the allegations and defy the alligators! - Indicted Chicago Alderman

It's a conflict of parallels. - Alex Ferguson

I couldn't fail to agree with you less. - Fran O'Shea

That football tie is a potential potato skin. - Alan Hansen

I answer in the affirmative with an emphatic 'No'  - Sir Richard Roche

You know what they say, don't get mad, get angry. - Edwina Currie

I drink like a chimney. - Alex Ferguson

I think they have misunderestimated me. - George W. Bush

When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible - George W Bush

(Gosh where does he get them?)

More next week
Enjoy your weekend

Thursday, 14 August 2014


I am writing these ambulance stories as they occur to me.

I worked for a private ambulance company called Wings, based in Bristol.  We had a great bunch of people working there.  Some were fairly quiet, some a little more extrovert and some were an absolute riot.  I suppose I fitted somewhere in the middle, but this chap took the biscuit:

Mad Mike - he was fabulous fun, as you may imagine and we had such a great times with him, yet he could be serious as well.  The unifying factor was patient care and dedication to the job and we all had that.  But Mike was so lively he was enough to brighten any dreary day - and he always did.

Here is another photo of him, full of fun:

I took the photo of the the three of them for the company magazine.  I always took the photographs.  On this occasion the three of them were just back from an intensive 5-day ambulance driving course in Cornwall and passed their Drive 2 exam, which meant they were now qualified to drive ambulances for emergency calls, using blue flashing lights and sirens.  Well done you three.

They were great friends, Phil, about 26 and an ex-paratrooper from an elite army regiment, Charlie, a lovely girl and, Mike, about 40's.

I was about 20 years older than Mike but very fit in my ambulance days and could keep up with any of them:

Here is one of me with Charlie:

We were all good friends at Wings and I suppose there must have been over 30 ambulance staff, comprising both sexes - one big happy family.  We were all so sad when it disbanded.

One day we were lifting some heavy gear and Phil and Mike were quite surprised to see me managing so well and remarked that they were a bit surprised I could do it so easily.

I laughed and said, "They don't make 'em like they used to", and challenged them right there and then to an arm wrestling contest.  The just laughed and said, "You must be joking - you stand no chance - ok show us!"

Off we went and found a desk and I said to Mike, "You first!"
He said, "Are you sure? you stand no chance - I'll pulverise you!" , because he was about 20 tears younger, you see.

I said, "We'll see!"

Anyway we started left hand first and I saw him wince after a minute and start really straining and then over went his arm. Same using the right arm - he stood no chance and they both were flabbergasted and we all started laughing.

Then it was Phil's turn, remembering he was 26 and an ex paratrooper and I was 60.  I said, "Are you sure you want to go through with this?"  He was in hysterics and then we settled down to some serious arm wrestling.

Well I did not beat him with either arm . . .  but he did not beat me either . . . . it was stalemate!!  

They were both so stunned - bet I couldn't do it now!

Oh what fun we had.

I have often wondered what happened to these guys - I see some of the others from time to time and we always give one another a big hug when we meet.

It was all great fun and a privilege to serve in the Ambulance Service and boy, don't I miss it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


What a title!!
What all is this about?

Oh, it's the latest prompt from Tess for Magpie Tales

The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell . . . by Keith Haring, 1985

An Unlikely Wedding

One day I received a strange invitation,
sent to each soul, to every nation.
It was a bit weird, bizarre and unclear;
the concept and reason behind that idea.

The forthcoming wedding, my eyes did befell,
t'was a picture of nuptials twixt heaven and hell.
I could not believe my wide bulging eyes
and asked if this notion might prove to be wise.

Allowing for lust, maybe love, yes of course,
such union must end in a speedy divorce,
for all points relating to this sanctioned wedlock
are bound to end fast in conflict and deadlock.

Just who the bride is no-one can tell.
Is she from Heaven, or maybe from hell.
The groom; he we might speculate also.
Does he have horns, or wears he a halo?

And just who would give his offspring away?
Would he be darkness, or be he bright as day?
And who would be chosen to bless that ring?
And what kind of hymns would be chosen to sing?

Some guests would like it much more to be hot,
whilst others, more righteous, would most certainly not.
Some would be happy playing harps at great heights,
but to others this would give them such terrible frights.

When asked at the service if they had some objections
to this marriage, all said yes; there were no exceptions.
So it is  not be clear how this marriage occurs;
live in sin is the option that each person prefers.

And imagine when guests did get to the feast;
in-laws might squabble from the most to the least.
And no-one knows what they might say in their speech
and just what advice the bride's dad may beseech.

And what would the angels just happen to say?
Elect ones and demons, they would hardly play. . . . 
They might have a chat when before they decided,
a third  of them fell from the two thirds divided. 

Eddie in his Pope mobile striving to hold back the forces of evil

Well that was a bit different.  What a strange idea for a painting, wasn't it?

Why not have a go at Magpie Tales 

Saturday, 9 August 2014


ABC Wednesday link
theme - D is for Droll

Another week, another selection of quotations - some famous, some infamous.

Please keep your quotations coming:

Here's one I like to kick off:

Body: Your body is the baggage you must carry through life.  The more excess the baggage, the shorter the trip.
(Arnold H. Glasow)

Faith: It was the schoolboy who said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."
(Mark Twain)

Friends:  People who borrow books and set wet glasses on them.
(Edwin Arlington Robinson, 20th century poet)

Friendship: Friendship is like money, easier made than
(Samuel Butler, English writer 1835-1902)

Friendship: Friendship is more tragic than love. It lasts longer.
(Oscar Wilde)

Future: That period of time in which affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
(Ambrose Bierce)

Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.
(Wilson Mizner, 20th century US wit)

Genius: Genius is born, not paid.
(Oscar Wilde)

Genius: A genius is one who can do anything except making a living.
(Joey Adams, 20th century US comedian)

Gesticulation: Any movement made by a foreigner.
(J.B. Morton)

Gossip:  Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.
(Walter Winchell, 20th century US columnist)

Home: Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they will have to take you in.
(Robert Frost)

Imitation:  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
(Oscar Wilde)

Imitation:  Imitation is the sincerest for of television.
(Fred Allen)

Jury: A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
(Robert Frost)

Liberal: A liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel.
(Robert Frost)

Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
(Ambrose Bierce)

Life: Life is rather like a tin of sardines: we're all of us looking for the key.
(Alan Bennett, Beyond the Fringe)

Life: Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.
(George Santayana)

Life: Life is an incurable disease.
(Abraham Cowley, poet)

Life: Life is one damned this after another.
(Kin Hubbard, US humorist)

Logic: Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.
(Joseph Wood Krutch, 20th century scholar and critic)

Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
(Ambrose Bierce)

Love: Love is like the measles; we all have to go through it.
(Jerome K Jerome)

Man:  A creature God created at the end of a week's work when God was tired.
(Mark Twain)

Sex: Continental people have a sex life;  the English have hot water bottles.
(Georges Mikes)

err! As an Englishman - no comment!!!

More next week.

. . . . and finally please stop by at Eva's for her Weekend Silliness feature HERE

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


Alas, Jack is no longer with us - I heard he passed away two years ago.  He was a much loved patient during my days with the Ambulance Service - everyone liked him. 

Jack was a double amputee and a renal patient.  He lost both legs to Type 1 Diabetes a number of years ago, and then both kidneys failed, and he almost died.  Fortunately he recovered but he had to have four hours of kidney dialysis three times a week for the rest of his life.  He was considered too old for a transplant and our private ambulance company had the contract to take him  to and return him from the renal unit three times a week.  He lived 40 miles away and so it was something of a day out for him and he looked forward our company.  He loved being with us and chatting and telling and hearing jokes.  He really did have a great sense of humour.

In spite of his disability he was the life and soul of the party and put aside all the hurt and disappointment of his failing health.  His wife was a lovely lady, of similar disposition, and often gave us a piece of cake and a cup of tea before we wheeled Jack to our vehicle, often a Pope-Mobile like one of these. 

We wheeled him up the ramp and secured the wheelchair with fittings, which incorporated a seat belt.

Sometimes we arrived in a large ambulance and he pretended to get all excited and say, "Can we drive on sirens and blues and watch them all get out of the way?"

"Sorry Jack - it's not an emergency!"

"Oh! you spoil sport!", he would say, and clutched his chest in jest.

You had to watch Jack's keen sense of humour.  He loved playing tricks on us, particularly new ambulance personnel.  I remember the first day I met him I had him secured in the Pope-Mobile  and was about to drive away when he said, "Sorry! I have forgotten something!".  I stopped and said, "Ok Jack . .  What is it? . . . I'll pop back to get it for you!"

He said, his face deadpan, "My slippers!" 

I said, "OK", and was just about to leave the vehicle and I heard him laugh and then it dawned on me! . . . and we both laughed and he said, "Slippers! I get you chaps every time with that one!"

On the way he saw a pub and said, "I wish I was in there, I'd soon get legless!" . . . or engineer another situation where he would say he did not have a keg to stand on.

It seems a bit macabre for him to say things like that, but it was his way of dealing with the situation.  Yet underneath it all I knew he was sad, and so were we.  

He used to like being driven along by all the attractive young ambulance ladies and when I arrived sometimes he would say, "How disappointing, I was hoping it would be Michelle or Natasha or whoever!"
Well I wonder, can you blame him?

  Then he would say,  "It's ok Eddie - you can tell me some jokes instead!"

I said, "Now listen Jack, I am driving the Pope -Mobile, so I have got just one thing to say to you!"

"What's that, Eddie?"

Holding aloft my piece of double glazing

"Bless you, my son!"  

Eddie with his bit of double glazing which got a few laughs

Boy did he laugh.

Yes, Jack was quite a character and is sadly missed but I expect he is making someone laugh up there in the blue yonder.  He just made the best out of life and we all admired him for it.

There are quite a number of patients we got really close to - you just can't help it in that job, and it was almost heartbreaking when they died as they invariably did after a few years with failed kidneys - even with dialysis.

I'll write a few more ambulance stories from time to time.  I just need to jog my memory first.  I will put my thinking hat on.

(In the interests of confidentiality Jack was not his real name - neither do I use real names in my stories, except mine!!)