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Sunday 31 May 2009

Time for a Rest and Reflection

Today I have been having serious thoughts concerning my involvement within the blogging arena.

I have made this decision.

Today will be my penultimate post for a while - but there is one other I wish to post before I take a long rest from the blog world for a few weeks. I am extremely tired and drained - I require a complete battery recharge and it must be now. Sometimes I am up until 1am or 2am, sometimes later, and this is affecting my life, my judgements and my relationships with my real world responsibilities, plus several unintended mistakes whilst corresponding inside blog sphere. I am looking forward immensely to retiring to my bed at a reasonable hour and rising suitably refreshed the next morning - I've forgotten what that luxury is like.

I find the blog world is beginning to take over my real world and I am neglecting areas of life which should have my full attention. I would go further, I am beginning to be totally addicted to it and this situation is ridiculous and I will not allow it to continue. I have not learned yet how to achieve the required balance. However, I love the blog life and I have enjoyed your fellowship and the challenge of writing.

My alternative was to 'scale back' but I find this option very difficult since the whole operation of writing, visiting and commenting is part and parcel of blog life and I feel I cannot do it by halves. It is not fair on my readers.

Whilst writing I have several apologies to make:

I am deeply concerned that I have failed to visit my followers' blog sites consistently and make appropriate comments to their work. I know this is hurtful because I have found this to be the case myself, so I understand how you must feel, totally. Please accept my apologies for this - I have tried to visit on occasions but it really should be a regular visit for every post for every follower, and I am sorry I just have not got the time available for regular reading and commenting when I have a full time job and domestic responsibilities. Perhaps when I retire things may be different - I do hope so.

Secondly, I have created this character, Eddie Bluelights, and I believe he has been accepted into the community to some degree and I am grateful for this. However, in my enthusiasm for his perhaps over developed sense of humour I may have exceeded the bounds of normal blogging behaviour and, whereas I do not think this has upset anyone in particular, I must ensure that my Mr Hyde becomes under total control of my Dr Jekyl. When I return this will be the case - Eddie's enthusiasm will be curbed, I promise, but still 'twinkling'. Meanwhile if I have offended anyone please accept my unreserved apologies - I had no intention of doing so, but upon reflection a couple of comments were a bit over the top. I am sorry for this.

There is another reason for my decision but I am not at liberty to discuss this.

I promised some ambulance stories and I can now get these ready for my return along with other stories which may be of interest. I shall be free to write these up now.

Also I am considering embarking on a writer's course which hopefully should develop my style(s) further.

I am very sad at 'bowing out' - I certainly give you all a Mr Darcy bow because I have got to know a lot of you well and I will miss you all dreadfully, sob sob.

I am privileged to have met some top 'notch writers' and photographers 'whose sandals I am not fit to untie' and really I am not worthy to comment on their wonderful work. I will not mention names - they know who they are.

I am honoured to have met all my contacts and I thank you all for your companionship, advice and help.

It is not goodbye but just 'until we meet again' - and I look forward to that immensely.

God bless you all ~ Ed
Hello folks - just popped in to collect the mail.
I thank you for your very kind comments and I think you all deserve a plate of fish and chips 'on me' for your kindness - but sorry, someone has emptied half a bottle of ketchup on them. Hope you don't mind.
You may:
Eat them now!
Take them away as an award - Bluelights' Brilliant Buddy Bloggers - Fantastic Fishy Friends!
If you want to eat them now then there is an article about fish and chips which you'll just have time to see.
I will be popping in from time to time to see what's happening but I look forward to coming home to blog land soon.
I am not quite The Terminator I thought I was - in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger . . . . . . "I WILL BE BACK!"

Friday 29 May 2009

Eddie Bluelights' Piano Practice!

Listen to the boy play!!
And the gent with the two crooners!

Whilst I am getting some ambulance experiences together I thought you might like to see this.

As a boy my family lived next door to a professional cartoonist who sometimes complained he could not concentrate when my mother, father and I played our rather loud Bluthner upright piano. We played Mozart and Beethoven Sonatas, Chopin Walzes, Nocturnes and Preludes and mum and dad used to give real hum-dinger duet performances of Gilbert and Sullivan. We loved our music and I still play today, when there is no-one around!

When I was admitted into a local hospital with Scarlet Fever Mr Jewell presented me with four cartoons - my favourite is shown here.

I remember well a nurse at the hospital seeing them and insisting she kept one cartoon of a lot of curvy nurses drawn beautifully. I was weak enough to give it to her - wish I had kept it. These were in the days long before photo-copying.

At the time of the cartoon my father was cutting down a huge tree in our garden - hence the 'missile' flying over the fence, aimed at Mr Jewell, whose likeness is captured beautifully, as the chap playing the violin. The log must have hit me on the head because I have never been the same again - neither is my piano playing!

Do you like the school uniform and the cap?

Of course all these characters have passed on now, except Eddie Bluelights of course, but I sometimes pass the old house and memories come flooding back of the good times - and you know even though I have been married for nearly 40 years I still regard that place as 'home' where mum used to make wonderful Lancashire Hotpots - lovely!

Somehow life seemed much better then.

You know these were the wonderful days of manners - that little Eddie and his cap! We had to touch our caps whenever we saw a lady - if we didn't and got reported we were in for the high jump! If I did that today women would think I was bonkers - not that I wear a cap now!

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Mr Darcy found 'Alive and Well'

Please note this gentleman insists I reinstate him to 'top spot', having objected violently to being called an Old Fart! He is livid with me over relegating him into obscurity during the Bloggers' Oscar Awards Ceremony, held here last night - I hope I didn't upset him too much! ___________________________________________________
Now just look who caught my eye as I was driving past in my ambulance! . . . .

Why! . . . . . it's my old mate, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, no less . . . . . . . . . . . and can you see the look of surprise and recognition on his face upon seeing his old chum, Eddie Bluelights, a modern day version of Mr Bingley of Netherfield Park?

"Hey Darcy - haven't seen you for ages - how's the missus?", I said, "Hang on a minute I'll pop over for a chat! - I'll park the ambulance round the corner!"

I can see all you Yankees sit up and start jumping up and down with excitement at this bit of little Olde England's heritage revealed before your very eyes - and mark my words, this chap Darcy is 'big' here - really big! He's aged a bit though, and some of you swooning ladies might say he's lost some of his handsome and virile Colin Firth looks - alas faded a little since his days of glory, captured so eloquently on our television screens with that memorable and lovable serialised BBC hit, "Pride and Prejudice" - now available on DVD.

And who's that lady beside him?

Why it's non other than Jane Austen herself, creator of Mr Darcy plus a multitude of other wonderful characters in her six famous books. I must say she appears to be giving him the cold shoulder, doesn't she? Not much life displayed in her! She might just as well be a cardboard cut out!!

I spotted them both in Bath, our beautiful Georgian city - a city bestowed with lashings and lashings of history. I pulled my ambulance over and deserted my 88 year old patient - blow him! - he'll have to wait whilst I have another chance to see my mate, Darcy.

Then I had second thoughts of compassion for my patient and having no other option to 'get rid of him' as quickly as possible I laid my hands on his head, saying, "Arise, my son - get up from your bed and walk! - you are healed!"

To my amazement he obeyed, stood up, kissed me passionately (ugggh!), jumped out of the ambulance door and sprinted down Milsom Street, the main street in Bath leading to the shopping precinct. He was sparsely clad in his pyjamas, waving a blanket and skipping and shouting words of joy, declaring to the world, "a Miracle, a Miracle! I'm healed, I'm healed!" with his arms and hands aloft in the air.

"Gosh! I had been wondering if I could do that for ages", I remarked to myself, all excited, as a little voice inside my head said, "What took you so long, my son - you asked me if you could do that 20 years ago - we were all wondering up here whether you were ever going to do it! But better late than never, we suppose!"

"Hang on a minute, God! I'll have to talk to you later! - got to get him back!" I said as I charged out of the ambulance in hot pursuit, followed by Mr Darcy, as we sprinted after the patient as fast as my ailing hip joint would let me. We could see a crowd forming who waved us on frantically since they thought we were the fun event tail-enders of the Bath Half Marathon, completed 2 days ago. As we passed they clapped, cheered, poured drinks on us and slapped us on the back in encouragement as they saw first a very fit old man in his pyjamas, shouting "Alleluia", Alleluia, a Miracle, a Miracle!", followed by a limping ambulance man with his bad hip, and in the rear an ageing, already puffing, red faced, sweaty Mr Darcy, wearing period costume.

Darcy and I just could not catch this man and my pleas of "Stop that man!" were greeted with hysterics and cheers from the on lookers who thought this was all part of the game for the fun race. The 'cured' patient got clean away - where he went we do not know - perhaps he is still running! So I reported the matter to control who told me to stay near the ambulance whilst they reported the loss of the patient.

Now a little digression and a word of warning to visitors from overseas.

If any of my American friends decide to visit little Olde England I would recommend a visit to Bath - but let me warn you! It is horrendously expensive, because the locals can 'see you coming' or think they can, and will charge you exorbitant fees for even the simplest things like an ice cream - quite immoral really because they think you are all loaded and don't mind paying! The same thing occurs in London for, in my experience, outside the Tate Gallery one year an Italian ice cream man called me over and said to my wife and I, "Edoardo Lucibl├╣, if you want a cone each, have it now because those Yanks and Germans are coming out of the Gallery soon and I'm going to make a killing here". So, my Yankee friends, if you come here, haggle! with them, bust their asses if you wish, or get a Brit to buy your ice creams for you.
(Thanks Lola for the translation of Eddie Bluelights, it came just in time for the post - Lola is an Italian bird in blogland and she is lovely! - and gosh, what a fine cook she is, chaps! See her blog, Aglio, Olio e Peperconcino). 

Now after that little digression I will return to the theme of my post.
My son considers that Mr Darcy looks severely constipated, which probably accounts for his inability to run quickly earlier on!

After the chase Darcy ordered a cup of tea for us and while we were waiting I took another photograph. You can see the location is the Jane Austen Centre at 40 Gay Street, Bath, where all kinds of memorabilia are sold for the tourists and purists, plus site tours of some of Jane Austen's Bath residences. Jane Austen is perhaps the best known and best loved of Bath's many famous residents and visitors. She paid two long visits here towards the end of the eighteenth century, and from 1801 to 1806 Bath was her home. Her intimate knowledge of the city is reflected in two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which are largely set in Bath. I have a website address for you of the Bath Jane Austen Centre which should be of interest.

Mr Darcy attracted my attention: "Come over, Eddie, my boy! Here's you tea. . . . . . and how are you?"

"Great, thanks Darce - I say do you mind if I put these photos on my blog for my American friends do you - they'd love them - just the sort of thing they'd love to put in their pockets? Could you get Jane to take one of us together? Oh I see, she's not speaking then!"

"No, Eddie, she's just like my wife, Elizabeth (nee Bennet) you know - dead moody and won't speak for absolutely ages even after even the smallest difference of opinion. You know Elizabeth Bennet is modelled on Jane Austen's personality - both tough old boots! You know, it could be the same person! I just cannot get a word from either of them, sometimes - won't speak for ages!! Lady Catherine de Bourgh was quite correct when she said Elizabeth was an "obstinate, headstrong girl" . . . adding, "I take no leave of you, Miss Bennett. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am seriously displeased." And, you know, Lizzy was so headstrong she sent Lady Catherine packing with a 'flee in her ear' in that memorable garden scene. That's what I have to put up with - and she's so energetic but so bolchi!! She has me diving into the lake every morning and running around the grounds with her and the dog! She wears me out! It's surprising really I ever had the energy to have any kids after all that."

Where's Elizabeth?" I asked

"Oh, she's at Pemberley doing the washing, ironing and cleaning and looking after the kids, you know - all the things a wife should do while a man goes to work. I had to start working because Mr Wickham took us to the cleaners a few years ago - nearly cleaned me out! It's all documented in some manuscripts we found recently - another two books - recent finds here in Bath - almost finished by Jane Austen - but shelved for some reason. These priceless manuscripts are in the hands of some professional people who are considering whether they can complete the stories for publication - the titles are, Mr Wickham Strikes Back! and Mr Wickham, the next Generation, and they are fabulous reads. They think it's a little analogous of Mozart having his 'Requiem Mass' finished by Salieri. (I know you music experts think this is nonsense and Salieri had nothing to do with it!)

Darcy continued, "It's no good me telling you the plot of Mr Wickham Strikes Back and Mr Wickham, the next Generation, because you probably don't even know the plot of Pride and Prejudice."

"Just try me!", I said - here is the plot in a nutshell for those who have no clue as to what on Earth I'm talking about.

Rich, super happy and friendly Mr Bingley buys Netherfield, quite near to Longbourn, where the Bennets live. (The BBC have Darcy and Bingley riding horses - lies! - this is not in the book!)

Much richer but moody Mr Darcy is staying with Mr Bingley and in the party are his younger sister, Miss Bingley, who has 'has the hots' for Darcy but Darcy 'doesn't care a fig about her'. In the party also is Mr Bingley's older married sister, Mrs Hurst and her husband Mr Hurst, who is permanently asleep!

Mrs Bennet plots to 'capture' Mr Darcy for one of her daughters - he is worth £10,000 per year! and Mr Bingley £5,000 per year, so he must be captured too.

Mr Bennet of Longbourn introduces himself to Mr Bingley.

Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters attend the Assembly Rooms Ball where they meet Mr Bingley plus his family and Mr Darcy.

At the Dance Mr Bingley fancies eldest daughter, Jane, who fancies Bingley in return but Mr Darcy disapproves of their low class and in particular the bad manners of Mrs Bennet and the silly sisters, yet he fancies Elizabeth Bennet something rotten but cannot pluck up enough courage to ask her to dance. Silly boy!

Reverend Collins arrives - he is heir to the Bennet's home, Longbourn. He fancies Elizabeth immediately but she almost 'throws up' when she sees him and discovers he has designs on her.  Mrs Bennet wants the marriage but all Collins can do is talk about his idol, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Another dance ensues, the Netherfield Ball, hosted by Mr Bingley with Charlotte Lucas attending, Elizabeth's spinster friend. Bingley and Jane dance all night and fall in love. Collins makes a play for Elizabeth but she's not interested because she fancies Wickham, a dashing, handsome loveable rogue in uniform, who is not there because he is frightened of Mr Darcy because of his former discovered impropriaties.

Scantilly dressed Lydia reveals nearly all to Mr Collins on the stairs at Longbourn (again. . . not in the book ~ heresy!!)

Darcy plucks up courage to invite Elizabeth to accompany him as partner in an Elizabethan dance and to the music they have a dance full of sexual tension, with some intellectual sparring, with lashings upon lashings of pent up frustration . . . . . Later Collins later proposes to Elizabeth who promptly almost throws up again, rejecting him much to the annoyance of Mrs Bennet. But daddy is on Elizabeth's side, much to Mrs Bennet's annoyance and disappointment. So instead Collins makes his play for Charlotte Lucas and bingo, she accepts! "WHAT!", says everyone! "Uggggh! Obviously she requires the services of Spec Savers!"

Mrs Bennet and the silly sisters, including Lydia, annoy Darcy - Darcy annoys Mrs Bennet - Mr Bennet escapes into his study! AGAIN!

Later Elizabeth and girl cousin stay with Mr Collins and Charlotte.

They visit Rosings, the estate of Lady Catherine and her daughter, who never speaks or gets out of her chair - she resembles a zombie. Lady Catherine wants Darcy to marry her! She must be joking! Kiss her and she'd fall to pieces! Talk about good breeding - there'd be no breeding at all with her involved - she looks like a wet fish! - and I cannot see him rising to the occasion, ever.

Lady Catherine enquires of Elizabeth, "What are you talking about? I will have my share of this conversation!"

Later, Darcy puts the boot in regarding Bingley's and Jane's relationship, much to the pleasure of that evil and scheming Miss Bingley who wants Mr Darcy.

Elizabeth finds out and hits the roof!

Darcy tries to propose but stalls hopelessly at first attempt.

Darcy tries to propose again but fluffs it yet again, saying Elizabeth's social status is decidedly far below his own, and by the way I want to marry you!

She makes a huge speech of rejection, saying, "From the very beginning . . . . your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry."
That's it Lizzie, you tell him!

He remarks, "You don't like me then?"

He writes he a letter revealing what a cad is Mr Wickham and sticking to the fact that the Bennet family are 'the pits' and why he split up Jane and Bingley. What a mess he's in now!

Darcy meets Elizabeth walking outside while he is waiting for her on his horse - his tall hat nearly falls off when he hits it on a branch. He said, "Miss Bennett, would you do me the honour of reading this letter?"

She takes it, reads it, reads it again and fumes - then leaves in huff for home at Longbourn.

She later stays with her aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Gardiner, in Derbyshire, near Pemberley.

They visit Pemberley when they think Darcy is away on business. Pemberley is Darcy's magnificent mansion and Elizabeth falls in love with it. A servant says what a fine fellow Darcy is, making Elizabeth think twice and when she sees his portrait she starts to ogle him.

Mr Darcy arrives after a long ride, dismounts and takes off some clothes (BBC production only - not in the book!) and dives into the lake to cool off. (That is what the ladies find so attractive and sexy about him . . . . must be!)

Elizabeth and Darcy meet when he is half clad with his shirt hanging out of his trousers, walking his horse just after his swim. Elizabeth intelligently yells out, "Mr Darcy!" Of equal intelligence was his reply, "Miss Bennet". This proves neither needs the services of SpecSavers.

Darcy does a remarkable quick change act and his personality seems much transformed, much to Elizabeth's surprise and liking. He attended a male finishing school where he learned the workings of the female mind. This occurred shortly after he vowed to improve himself, saying, "I will conquer this!" just after his rejection.

Mr Darcy invites Mr and Mrs Gardiner and Elizabeth to stay for a walk and added that Mr Gardiner could fish in his stream and lake whenever he wishes - Elizabeth is astonished at the change.

Darcy introduces Elizabeth to his sister, Georgiana - they get on like a house on fire.

Elizabeth is invited to Pemberley and Miss Bingley is not very nice to her but Darcy slaps her down.

Elizabeth sings and plays Mozart's 'Voi Che Sapete', Miss Bingley carps, and Georgiana plays Beethoven's Andante Favori, stumbles and Elizabeth assists during which her eyes meet Darcy's from across the room - with tell tale signs that their 'furnaces' have just been lit!

Wickham spoils everything by eloping with Lydia.

Elizabeth thinks Darcy will have nothing more to do with her because of family dishonour!

Darcy goes after Wickham and Lydia.

Lydia looks out of a window in London and shouts out, "Mr Darcy!" showing both her intelligence and proving she does not require the services of SpecSavers either.

Darcy and finds Wickham and Lydia and forces them into 'shotgun' wedding.

Wickham and Lydia return to Longbourn as man and wife and Lydia 'pulls rank' on the older sisters as the first married lady - hence she is first in the pecking line at dinner. Other sisters fall into rank.

Darcy and Bingley call at Longbourn to court Jane and Elizabeth and both couples get engaged.

Mrs Bennet and Darcy just about tolerate each other.

Lady Catherine visits Elzabeth in the garden in a frenzied attempt to stop the marriage, saying Elizabeth is a low down skunk and not posh enough for Darcy.

Elizabeth sends her packing, as per garden scene described earlier.

The four get married at long last . . . . . with smiles all round.

Lady Catherine and daughter sit at home sulking.

Mrs Bennet says, "Hasn't God been good to us?"

Mr Bennet says, "Yes I think he has!"

The all live happily ever after - or do they?
There - done!

"Remarkable", said Darcy, "want a job? I will tell you about the other books another time."

We went inside and talked to the girls behind the reception desk. I asked one of the girls which scene she liked best from the BBC DVD. She replied the bit when Mr Darcy arrived home after his journey, took off his clothes and dived into the lake, then walked with his horse across the field towards the mansion and saw a startled Miss Bennet who said, "MR DARCY! and then Mr Darcy said, "MISS BENNET". I laughed and said I thought she'd say that so I tested her further. I said to the girl, "Would you find this Mr Darcy here attractive if he rode his horse around Bath, charged into the Roman Baths, took his outer clothes off and dived into the baths, got out and led his horse home and met you, saying, Miss Bennet? after you had said, "Mr Darcy"?
"No", she said, "I'd think he would look like a raving lunatic and should be locked up!"

Oh well it must be all about Colin Firth's chemistry then I suppose and not about diving or swimming- how disappointing for you, Darce.

Darcy said, "You've given me an idea! Instead of keeping lions and tigers at Pemberley, throwing the house open, as Lord Bath does at Longleat, Nr Bath, in order to pay exorbitant rates to the government, we could have a sort of marriage counselling service for bored husbands and wives. We could dress all the men like Mr Darcy and make the men all behave like Mr Darcy used to - rude and aloof. Then have a finishing school where they would attend - where they can learn fencing, deportment, how to treat ladies etc. We could supply all the period costumes and the horses and the women could all dress like Elizabeth Bennet.

Then the men would come racing in on horses, strip off and dive in the lake, watched by all the Elizabeths who would say to their men, "Mr Darcy!" They would reply, "Miss Bennet" Then quick to the bedroom!

It would be a huge money spinner and make me a fortune -Thanks Eddie!

Just then an elderly man in pyjamas came running into the shop. "Has anyone seen the ambulance driver? Oh there you are - bless you - I am healed! thank you! thank you! Get me to the hopital to collect my clothes - they want me in the London Marathon next week"

Now ladies, would you like to see the Lake Scene again? Oh go on then!

Want to see the eye contact scene again!
Oh go on then here it is - get the tissues out.

Sorry, the video has been removed from the web.

Well that's enough of the fiction. Hope you enjoyed the post.
Perhaps it is time to start writing some factual themes.

Would you like to see some of my ambulance experiences posted?

Copyright photographs and text ~ Eddie Bluelights May 2009

For those who missed my "They're Off: Bloggers GRAND NATIONAL" and would like to see it please press National

Sunday 24 May 2009

Blogging Awards Ceremony

It gives me great pleasure, as Master of Ceremonies, to announce my first Blogger's Awards Showcase

Ladies and Gentlemen. There was considerable debate concerning the venue - Eddie Bluelights' ruminated for an age, striving to decide which of his two blog venues should host this event and the competition was fierce - either Clouds and Silvery Linings, where Mr Darcy is appearing live in Pride and Prejudice, or Plato's Procrastinations, where Stanley Holloway is appearing dead, but still managing somehow to read some of his monologues. In the end Eddie decided that this version of Mr Darcy is such a miserable old fart and so unattractive to the ladies, that Clouds and Silvery Linings won the day - thus obliterating Darcy from view for ever.

Three prestigious awards are 'up for grabs' tonight:

The Premios Dardo Literary Award
The Panda Super Comments AwardThe You Make Me Smile Award

All three awards were presented to Eddie Bluelights this year and now it is my turn to pass these on to some worthy blogging friends for their high quality work.

First, and perhaps the most coveted trophy, is The PREMIOS DARDO LITERARY AWARD.

I was highly honoured to receive this award from Janine at Sniffles and Smiles recently for services to literature, requiring deep thinking, innovation and taking risks whilst writing. (I take risks all the time, my dear, but I am pleased to say I have managed to survive intact so far!)
I summarise a section of my acceptance speech:

"I thank you kind Lady Janine for this wonderful surprise today. Of all the awards available this is my 'biggy'- the one which means so much to me because of it's pedigree, which is truly remarkable. I've been doing some research and thought you might like to see just what a 'biggy' this is. Holders of The PREMIOS DARDO LITERARY back to 1490AD are Marty at Dark Star Discovery, Lyn at Two Ghosts, Jane at Gaston Studio, Janine at Sniffles and Smiles and now, little old me, Eddie Bluelights at Clouds and Silvery Linings."

And now, without due delay, it gives me very great pleasure to pass on this award to a lovely lady whom I have 'met' only recently in blog land and already I am 'wowed' by her ability. She writes exceptionally well, produces very interesting posts, is a fabulous cook, is an excellent horsewoman (coming fifth in my Grand National horse race). She is an Italian/American and recently translated Eddie Bluelights into Edoardo Lucibl├╣.

Therefore, I am delighted to present The PREMIOS DARDO LITERARY AWARD to Lola of Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino
Isn't she lovely?
"Yes" (wolf whistles! Applause! Applause!)
Next, I was pleased to receive this award from Granny on the Web

The Panda Super Comments Award for regular attendance to her blog.

Well Granny, your blog is terrific and your humour matches mine - the pleasure of visiting your blog regularly is entirely mine. Thank you again for the award, duly nailed to my Side Panel.

And now I am pleased to award this trophy to a young lady who faithfully follows my work, post after post, thus giving me great encouragement to continue in this harsh and lonely world in blog land. Also I admire her work tremendously - she is a very talented writer and poet. Incidentally she is an excellent horse lady, coming second in my Bloggers' Grand National.
Ladies and Gentlemen, a warm welcome for:

Breeze of Breeze Daze
Come up and collect your trophy and give me a smacker!

And finally, the You Make Me Smile Award, received a while ago from Retired & Crazy.

I have two worthy winners and therefore it gives me great pleasure to award this lovely little trophy to:

Cheffie-Mom at Dishing with Debbie
Maggie May at Nuts in May

I admire both blogs very much.

I did want to award a trophy to Janine at Sniffle and Smiles but she is already weighed down by so many awards she has received of late she is seriously worried that any further award would make her luggage way too heavy for the plane journey home to America and thus might incur the wrath of our H M Customs and Excise officials and we can't have that can we?

Also I wanted to award a major trophy to Cherry at The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street but her blog side panel seems quite incapable of supporting a nail and blue tac would not be strong enough to keep it from crashing to the floor, thus waking up her angry neighbours.

So instead I present my Spiritual Award to both ladies whose work I admire greatly.

As for the rest of you, keep working, keep trying, watch this space and I might have another ceremony at a later date.

If I have missed out anyone - pull your socks up and get on with your writing or read my stuff and you will be rewarded! There, bribery will get you everywhere!

Oh! and there are some followers on my list who seem a lttle shy.
Please don't be!
Step down from your little box, give me a little wave and say, "Hi!"
I'd love to get to know you better.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Letter to a Bank from an Old Lady, aged 86

86-year Old Lady's Letter to Bank
She should have gone to SpecSavers
The material for this post is not entirely mine - I've added bits and pieces to beef it up a bit, adding a dash of 'Eddie' here and there, plus the photo!! I thought you might be amused.

We have all experienced frustrations at the hands of banks but apart from a brief illustration in an Adrian Mole book I have never found anything causing me to laugh so loudly as this lady's letter, which is highly in tune with the nonsense we have today in the banking world. These banks have been greedy, rude, unhelpful and unsupportive at our expense for so long they truly deserve this mighty 'left hook' from our wonderful old lady.
Shown below, is an actual letter (plus a few additions from me) which was sent to a bank by an 86 year old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times. Wonder if he put his bonus on the line!
Dear Sir,
I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, --- when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.
From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof. In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:
#1. To make an appointment to see me
#2. To query a missing payment.
#3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
#4 To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping
#5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
#6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home
#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.
#8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
#9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.
#10. This is a second reminder to press* for English. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.
Whilst writing, I wonder if you are the same bank manager wearing a glass eye whom my son mentioned recently when he visited your bank to apply for a loan. During his conversation with you he remembered well your refusal to grant the loan but in particular he remembers you asking him why he was looking into your glass eye as you conversed with him. His reply was he considered that to be the only eye you possessed showing any semblance of humanity!
May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?
Oh! and I trust you shall be donating your huge, self-indulgent, comical, contemptible, derisory, farcical, incredible, ludicrous, nonsensical, outrageous, preposterous, unbelievable bonus to a suitable charity of your choice.
Your Humble Client.

Remember: This was written by an 86 year old woman -'YA JUST GOTTA LOVE " THEM SENIORS" !!!!! )

And remember, you banks and big corporations:
Don't make old people mad. They don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to set them off . . . . . AND in a fight they will run rings round you - they've been there and done it and know how to treat you mere upstarts who think you know it all - they've tried all your stupid ideas and proved they do not work - so why don't you listen to them!!!
Just had to footnote this with Menopausal Old Bag's joke:
Q. How can you tell when a bank manager/MP is lying?
A. When his/her lips start moving!
Once again, David, thank you for your POTD award for They're Off: Blogger's Grand National, my previous post. I am honoured to receive it.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

They're Off: Bloggers Grand National

(Continued from last post) Or could be read as a one-off!

It's a bit long so make yourself a cup of coffee!

Well - It's show time!
Today is the Day - Grand National Day!

The atmosphere is electric - thousands are in the stands, eagerly awaiting the day's action - £millions are invested - riders await their trials and tribulations with frayed nerves whilst punters anticipate trousering fat profits.

The starter prays his day will not end like that in 1993 when he was almost lynched by an angry mob, when the start went very wrong and the race had to be abandoned.

NOW! all riders please note - the course is run anti-clockwise (I think you Americans say counter-clockwise!) . . . . . AND . . . . . the fence called THE CHAIR is the tallest fence and most difficult fence and is jumped once only, so is fence 16, The Water Jump! Both fences are very demanding. The Chair will sort the mice from the lions! The Canal Turn is jumped twice and must be jumped at an angle ready for the turn; otherwise horses cannot get round the corner. Other than that - it's all a piece of cake!
The scene opens as horses are paraded around the paddock enclosure, with riders mounted, walking proudly to admiring glances, showing off their horses and awaiting last minute betting decisions from those attending this prestigious meeting. Television commentators discuss form, pedigree and latest betting odds for all horses of note from this 40 strong field, with some horses unnamed in my narrative (Don't worry none of them will win! Only the pretty ones will!). For instance, the commentators might be discussing The Mighty Sam, and an expert would say, "Sired by, (don't know! - can't remember his name - could be Tom, Dick or Harry!), out of Nuts in May, trained by Nuts in May, owned by Nuts in May, or whoever!" Then his form is discussed: Please note: NOT PRISON FORM, as in Her Majesty's Pleasure, e.g. Wormwood Scrubs (2 yrs), Pentonville (6 months), Princetown (3 yrs), Currently on Parole, but they are talking RACING FORM, where he finished in his recent races, 1st, 3rd, 16th etc. All quite boring really so we shall leave them to it for a few minutes and look at events on a slightly different level - from the horses' point of view, since they seem to have other things on their minds than betting and form:
"Just look at them, yet again, behaving like children playing with toys! Just as mad as last year! And there I am, trying to retire and Eddie Bluelights is asking me to run round like a two year old!", commented Retired and Crazy to Menopausal Old Bag, as they were led round the paddock. "And aren't they ridiculous calling us by our blog names! The mentality of them - I ask you! Morons, the lot of them!"
MOB replied, "And all those people in the stands and millions of them glued to the 'telly' - with nothing better to do than watch us nags running round a race track twice, over a few sticks - and for what - just to gamble with money? If they had any sense they wouldn't need money - we don't! - we get all our food and all things we need brought to us for free - and we don't have to do a day's work in our lives! Who are the clever ones and who are the dumbos?"
Valleys Mam interjected, "I'm only here for the talent! Hey! Look! Who's that grey stallion over there? Rather cute, isn't he? My, he must be 18 hands at least and what a pair of fetlocks - he makes me all of a dither - hocks and withers to die for I would say! and just look at his croup!"
Retired and Crazy replied, "Steady on, Valleys - control yourself, he's a Yankee horse named God of Another World. He is rather dishy, isn't he? Out of this world, you might say - which world I wonder, Venus? Mars? or a different Universe perhaps? And just look at his handsome stable mate, The Mighty Sam . They continued their mutual admiration when suddenly they were interrupted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My, did you see that? - Did you? - Well, the brazen little hussy!" "What!"
"Well I never! Two of them now doing it! The cheeky little fillies! Well, I never! . . . . we'd never do that sort of thing in our day! would we?"
"The two hussies! - well, have they no shame? Two fillies 'wiggled' right in front of him, nudged his flank, fluttered their eye-lashes and blew into God of Another World's nostrils, one from each side! Poor chap doesn't know which way to turn! Then they went on to tease The Mighty Sam. One was a young American filly, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street and the other, Breeze, who ought to know better! Silly Filly! - and all in broad daylight too! They ought to be ashamed of themselves! Just look at them whinnying and laughing! Who next I wonder?"
"Oh! never mind! Those stallions are a bit young for us anyway - I suppose we'll have to do with past their sell by date chaps like Grumpy Old Ken and Clouds and Silvery Linings. BTW his rider, Eddie Bluelights, looks as though he might be at the 'grateful age'. . . . . but still hopes someone will give him the Greenlights, silly boy! And you know he did comment as well he would prefer Cherry's red boots rather than her more practical choice of brown she's wearing today! He's still guarding that cherry lipstick kiss he had on his cheek - he's got sellotape stuck over it so it won't wear off! And, Cherry told him she would rather ride a pony because she was short, tiny and fragile. Don't believe a word of it! She's an expert rider and in for the win!"

"Who's the lady rider on that horse over there? She looks highly intelligent!" "Oh that's Meredith Teagarden  on The Things We Carried and boy does she mean business today! Look what she's carrying! A whip, a knuckle duster, a flick knife, a cycle chain! Gosh she looks awesome - no wonder she can blog like fury - a real force to be reckoned with! Boy, she looks determined!

Two more American horses chatted over 'this and that' and their riders, Janine and Robynn, spotted a church or two they wanted to put it in their pockets to take back home to the US of A - one horse seems to have difficulty deciding whether to laugh or cry, Sniffles and Smiles, and one shouts her head off continuously, causing everyone to duck for cover, Robynn's Ravings, quite mad, shaking her fists and waving a dead snake, causing it to throw up a dead rat! Ugggh! Janine carries a book with her, just in case she gets bored - the title, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. That girl has had more Posts Of The Days than hot dinners!

"Get on with the race, Eddie!", demanded an impatient American punter! "I've got 50 big ones on my Gee Gee and I want the race run today! Get it moving and over with, pronto - GET ON WITH IT, MAN!
"Yes - Get on with it!"

"YES, GET ON WITH IT!", everyone roared!

"OK!" said Eddie, "Just trying to build up the tension!"

The parade now over, the horses left the paddock and cantered to the starting line, still chatting on their way. Nuts in May and Marmite Toastie remarked how they were looking forward to beating all these American horses into the ground and holding up the Union Jack. However the odds were not in their favour since a lot of American horses plus one Canadian were competing today, plus the Australian favourite David on Authorblog, accompanied by his 785 (sorry 786) followers lining the course.

TV commentary brought the situation back into human perspective.

And now we have the latest betting:
Evens Favourite, Authorblog, well fancied by his 787 (sorry 788) followers and heavily backed.
2/1 Breeze, God of Another World, The Mighty Sam
4/1 Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie
6/1 The Things We Carried, Nuts in May, Retired and Crazy
8/1 Valleys Mam, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Sandy Carlson
10/1 Lakeviewer, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, It's A Small Town Life
16/1 Clouds and Silvery Linings, Dishing with Debbie
20/1 Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken, Granny on the Web
22/1 Val's Ramblings, Sandie McBride, Moanie, Margaret's Ramblings
30/1 Woman in a Window, Imbeingheldhostage, Cajun Delights, Me and My Five Men, The Blue Grumpster
50/1 Plato's Procrastinations, Socrates' Soliloquies, Silly Old Fart
100/1 Bar these

The starter signalled them to come under starter's orders, and they circled nicely to line up with all that pent up horse flesh heaving . . . . . . . steady . . . steady! The riders jostled their mounts into position at the starting line for the 2009 Grand National. The starter signalled ready!

And they're off, cleanly for the first time, with Silly Old Fart left at the back of the field, much to the relief of both riders and horses. Plato's Procrastinations looks completely bewildered by it all and his rider, Eddie Bluelights, is trying furiously to motivate this horse to run, which is proving a very difficult task because he is trying also to ride Clouds and Silvery Linings. He's solved it and he's ditched Plato's Procrastinations in preference to his other steed - well done Eddie! Thank goodness he didn't enter his third horse, Socrates' Soliloquies. Waste of space was that Plato, dead as a dodo! - but all this has delayed Clouds and Silvery Linings, now left behind but starting already to make a good recovery. Plato's Procrastinations, is not dead after all - he is a riderless horse and now sets off by himself - hope he doesn't bring anyone down!

They gallop and cross over the Melling Road. In the lead with a clear length is The Mighty Sam followed by C. Michael Cox riding God of Another World, Meredith Teagarden riding The Things We Carried, Maggie May riding Nuts in May, Retired  and Crazy and David McMahon riding Authorblog, then Val's Ramblings, Sandie McBride, Moanie, Margaret's Ramblings and Lola on Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino (a late entry from Italy), as they approach the first fence.

And they're all safely over, as they gallop on with Authorblog, making his way up the field. Just coming to the first fence is Breeze, running steady and taking it easy, followed by Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Valleys Mam, Cherry riding The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Cheffie-Mom on Dishing with Debbie, Lakeviewer, Janine on Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken and Granny on the Web, looking in great form. What a good mover she is!

Back to the lead, and over the second fence is Authorblog, the clear favourite who has made his way up to the front, then God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, The Things We Carried, Nuts in May, Retired and Crazy, then Val's Ramblings, Sandie McBride, Moanie, Margaret's Ramblings, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, with Breeze improving all the time on the rails, followed by Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Valleys Mam, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Dishing with Debbie, Lakeviewer, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken and Granny on the Web, with Silly old Fart still in the rear! Where else?

All safely over the third fence,Westhead, an open ditch - very surprising because it is a very difficult jump - what a good field this is! Eddie Bluelights on Clouds and Silvery Linings is making up a lot of ground and as he pulls alongside Meredith Teagarden astride The Things We Carried. 
Meredith looks over her shoulder and gives Eddie a smile and a wink! He heard her say quietly, "A romantic man! - a man with a sense of humour! . . . and now a man in uniform! - what a deadly combination! - how can a girl resist all these manly qualities?"

"I see I've caught thine eye!" my lady Meredith, then pray, let us converse a while as we run this course together, my good and comely Lady!"

"A polite man as well . . . hmmm! Well yes, kind Sir! Let us tarry a while! . . . and have our conversation!"


The commentary continues . . . The horses approach the fourth and over go the leaders - oh! we have a faller - it's Margaret's Ramblings, both rider and horse are OK but the horse is another riderless horse still running and jumping. The rest all manage to clear the fence and run to the fifth as we change commentator, who sounds very nasal and excited.

And we have Authorblog 3 lengths clear, showing a clean quartet of heels and jumping the fifth, followed by God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Nuts in May, Retired and Crazy, Val's Ramblings, Sandie McBride, Moanie, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, with Breeze staying safely back and out of trouble. Then Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Dishing with Debbie, Lakeviewer, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken and Granny on the Web. Oh and we have another faller, Silly Old Fart - well that's got him out of the way, so we can all breathe again!

And what have we here? We have a good run from three late entrants and rank outsiders; SandyCarlson, Imbeingheldhostage and Woman in a Window. Golly you should see these move - they are flying and making their way up the field!

And they come to the first big test, fence 6, Becher's Brook, dropping 2 ft on the far side. Flying over goes Authorblog, now 4 lengths clear of God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Nuts in May, Retired and Crazy . . . . . .

and we have 2 fallers, Val's Ramblings and Lakeviewer - jockeys and horses OK - then safely over go Sandie McBride, Moanie, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Breeze, Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Dishing with Debbie, SandyCarlson, Imbeingheldhostage, Woman in a Window, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken and Granny on the Web, as they approach the 7th fence and they are all safely over.

They gallop very quickly as they approach the 8th fence, The Canal Turn, for the first time - It's Authorblog now 8 lengths clear - he must be mad to go on at this pace, he'll be knackered if he's not careful!

At the Canal Turn, over goes Authorblog, followed by God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Nuts in May, with Breeze, Imbeingheldhostage, Woman in a Window improving all the time, Retired and Crazy (still going well), SandyCarlson, and steaming through and safely over is The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street (what a mover! poetry in motion!) followed by, Dishing with Debbie, Sandie McBride, Granny on the Web, Moanie, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Menopausal Old Bag, and Grumpy Old Ken in the rear. Miraculously there are no fallers . . . . . .

. . . . . as we approach Valentines Brook, the ninth fence and over goes Authorblog, now 10 lengths clear, followed by God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Nuts in May, Breeze, Imbeingheldhostage, Woman in a Window . . . . . oh and we have a faller, Retired and Crazy (what a shame - well done R and C but rider and horse are OK) . . . . oh! and SandyCarlson has fallen as well but is OK. Over safely go The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Dishing with Debbie, Sandie McBride, Granny on the Web, Moanie, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Crystal Jigsaw, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Menopausal Old Bag, and Grumpy Old Ken (well done Grumpy! Cheer up old chap!) Oh and we have two rank outsiders making a furious effort to get onto terms, Marguerite on Cajun Delights and Betsy on My Five Men (greedy creature!), with both riders brilliant cooks as is Lola. Then the lovely Michelle on It's a Small Town Life, showing a big effort and cheered on by her complete village of nosy neighbours.

Fences 10,11 and 12 all prove no problem to horses and riders who all manage to clear safely. However the running order has changed as we approach the 13th fence.

Oh! there is pandemoneum at the 13th. A mare has come into season and is attracting unwanted attention from a stallion - cannot see which one! - but she is rejecting his advances furiously! She doesn't fancy him one iota! Wait! some of her friends are coming to her assistance - there is a lot of whinnying and kicking - and yes, the females have dealt with him - he is limping away apparently with his Nuts in (Dis)May. The owner and trainer are furious with the vet - surely this should never have happened and BANG! Oh dear they have just shot the Vet! There will be a steward's enquiry surely and the police are coming! In spite of all this all horses somehow manage to clear fence 13.

Out in front Authorblog is way ahead and leads by 16 clear lengths - he is safely over fence 14 and he streaks towards that notorious fence, The Chair.

But first over fence 14 after Authorblog comes God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, Breeze, making a very strong run, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Imbeingheldhostage, Woman in a Window, Nuts in May, Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Granny on the Web, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Crystal Jigsaw, Dishing with Debbie, Sandie McBride, Moanie, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam, Menopausal Old Bag, and Grumpy Old Ken, all streaking towards The Chair.

I don't believe it! Authorblog has just jumped The Chair beautifully, 18 lengths in front but he's dismounted and tethered his horse! What is he doing? He's taking a camera out of his bag and fitting a zoom lens - he's taking photographs for his blog! This is unbelievable!

The other horses approach The Chair.
Breeze hits the front and breezes The Chair and makes it beautifully, what perfection! . . . . oh! two riderless horses are causing havoc here and they run right across five horses completely putting them off their jump. Oh and some horses have been brought down, let's see . . . . . . God of Another World, The Mighty Sam, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, and Crystal Jigsaw - what a shame! But what about the riders and the horses? Yes, they are OK but David McMahon of Authorblog is taking lots of photographs furiously. His shutter is red hot. The fallen riders have managed to catch and settle their horses, except for Sam because his horse, The Mighty Sam is a runaway and therefore he's out of the race. Crystal and Meredith are floored and a bit dazed but Eddie and Michael Cox are OK and come to their assistance, as Lola streaks by and says, "Saluti, Edoardo Luciblu".
(At this point I have to slow down time or the other horses would get too far ahead)

The Australian, David McMahon on Authorblog springs into action! "We have a problem here folks! Good on yer, sports! Good day to thee ye fine gentlemen and pardon me if I speak in voice as if in yesteryear! I am practising my Shakespearean and it is more fitting here than Ozzy! Pray kind Sir Bluelights and Sir Michael, thou men of valour and of honour. Prithee tell me if thou wouldst, wilt thou assist these fair ladies in their untimely hour of need? The lady Meredith doth ask for thee alone kind Bluelights but first I hath a task for both ye gentlemen of chivalry. The lady Crystal hath her Jigsaw in small pieces and if thou wouldst pray wouldst thou restore it to its former glory! Well done my men of valour - thou hadst pieced the puzzle well together my fine sirs - now kind Bluelights the Lady Meredith wouldst speak with thee and as for me I wouldst remount and resume my race - yet my steed is not before me and I must have a fiery steed to run my course for I am a shepherd and hath my sheep to tend (all 790 , sorry 791) who wouldst wish to follow me. I shout aloud, "A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse!" Not since St Crispen's Day hath such chaos as I see today befell mine eyes - yet now it pleaseth me for I see mine steed I thought was lost, yet tethered yonder across that other side of this wonderous fence so tall and wide! I bid my leave of ye thou noble gentlemen and ladies for my task is not yet over - Good day to thee. Ladies, these fine men will protect and tend your every wish!"

Lady Meredith addressed Bluelights, "Pray good Sir! Thou art a true and handsome knight in thine fine apparel which doth attract thee to mine eyes exceeding! Yet methinks I sense we are watched by that Lady Erin residing in a Window, that Woman in a Window - for I detect those curtains moving as she spies on us as only one of my gentle sex canst sense with stealth exceeding! It maketh me feel like Imbeingheldhostage. Harken to me good Sir - Pray assist me to remount mine humble steed so give me a shove so I can resume my ride aloft for I wouldst seek the glory of my prize in this wondrous task of riding! I thank ye and ye are so strong but gentle, but prithee put me down for I belong to yet another gentleman from across the pond and he wouldst be cross exceeding if I tarried a while with ye much longer!"

"As my Lady wishes for I am but thy gallant servant upon my White Charger, a Knight in shining armour to thee! Our meeting is but a Brief Encounter! Ye, my Celia Johnson and me thy Trevor Howard - but when thou hearken Rachmaninov and his Concerto no 2 for pianoforte wilt thou think of me? So let us resume our race with no more delay for I am hungry and couldst eat a horse! My evil eye befalls that Marmite Toastie, which I couldst devour at once!


"Yes, buddy! We have come to Aintree and not to Stratford-On-Avon - Cut the Shakespearean crap and get on with the race! or I'll bust your ass!


They all remounted. Authorblog jumped The Chair AGAIN (show off), shortly followed by the others - all jumping clear and racing on. Shortly before all the other riders had jumped their horses successfully except for two exhausted horses, Menopausal Old Bag and Grumpy Old Ken. They were so tired they fell asleep in The Chair. After this Shakespearean delay the positions of riders changed quite dramatically.


Over to the next commentator.
And they race to fence 16, The Water Jump, with a new leader after the fallers at The Chair. Over The Water Jump sails Breeze followed by Imbeingheldhostage, Woman in a Window, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, (well done Cherry) then Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings, Granny on the Web, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, going very well and looking fresh, then, Dishing with Debbie, Sandie McBride, Moanie, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam, then streaking towards them is Authorblog, his jockey waving an Australian flag. Then comes the recovered rider and horses, God of Another World, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, and Crystal Jigsaw, the rest are dropped as they cross the Melling Road a second time and heading towards fence 17.

Over fence 17 flies Breeze with Imbeingheldhostage, Woman in a Window 2 lengths back, then The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, looking great and moving well, followed by Sniffles and Smiles, beginning to blow hard and Robynn's Ravings, showing sheer determination with steam coming out of her nostrils, then miraculously still going strong, Granny on the Web, as they approach fence 18.
We have Breeze 2 lengths clear as she jumps effortlessly over fence 18 with Imbeingheldhostage and Woman in a Window maintaining form a neck clear of The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street and Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino from Italy improving strongly with Lola so excited she urges her horse on in Italian as her voice rises to a crescendo. Sniffles and Smiles, Robynn's Ravings and Granny on the Web can't maintain the pace and are dropping back, overhauled by chasing Authorblog 2 lengths clear of God of Another World, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, and Crystal Jigsaw then Dishing with Debbie, Sandie McBride, Kathy's Klothesline, Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam . . . . oh dear Moanie has refused and thrown her rider but she is OK but out of the race.
To fence 19 and Breeze clears it . . . . oh and Imbeingheldhostage has gone, and Nuts in May, both brought down by that idiot of a riderless horse, Plato's Procrastinations (shoot it someone . . . please before it does any more damage!). Then a supreme effort by Professor Blue, riding The Blue Grumpster, but has he gone too soon? He looks very blue and a blue gas is ejected from his horse's nostrils.
Woman in a Window just manages to keep upright as she hits the fence hard but recovers, as The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street makes a perfect jump, with Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino challenging strongly, with Authorblog hot on her heels - then comes God of Another World, The Things We Carried, brandishing her flick knife, knuckle duster and cycle chain, Boy she  looks determined. Then Clouds and Silvery Linings, and Crystal Jigsaw then Dishing with Debbie . . . . . oh and we have two more fallers . . . . Sandie McBride (sorry Sandie) and Robynn's Ravings (my she's Raving and shaking her fists something rotten!). Sniffles and Smiles has new vigour and purpose for she is really starting to motor again. Then over jumps Marmite Toastie, Valleys Mam and, in the rear, Granny on the Web who makes the jump safely.

On to fence 20 and it's still Breeze three lengths clear of Woman in a Window, with The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street staying there and alongside saying Chio is Lola on Aglio-Olio and PeperoncinoAuthorblog bides his time ahead of God of Another World, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings, Sniffles and Smiles, Crystal Jigsaw, Dishing with Debbie . . . . . oh and Kathy's Klothesline has pulled up - she's all pegged out and hung out to dry! Then comes Valleys Mam, Marmite Toastie and Granny on the Web - all over safely.
On to fence 21 we have . . . . . oh look Valleys Mam is streaking through the field with a charge and a Welsh yell of triumph. As they jump we have Breeze, Woman in a Window, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Authorblog, God of Another World (looking determined), Valleys Mam, The Things We Carried, Clouds and Silvery Linings and alongside Sniffles and Smiles. Janine glared over to Eddie and muttered, "Methought thou wast attracted to me kind Sir Bluelights, yet ye flirt with another, pray why? Ye are so incorrigible, my lord."
"It passeth the day, my Lady and I know ye ladies like such sport!" (Gosh I'm in trouble now!)
On with the race! Over the fence jump Marmite Toastie, Crystal Jigsaw, Dishing with Debbie and Granny on the Web.
They near Becher's Brook for the second time with Valleys Mam making progress in the field as Breeze jumps clear 3 lengths ahead of The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street (now laughing!), in second place with Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Authorblog, Valleys Mam, God of Another World, The Things We Carried (now laughing), Woman in a Window, Clouds and Silvery Linings (now laughing!), Sniffles and Smiles (now laughing!), Crystal Jigsaw, Dishing with Debbie and oh! . . . . . . Granny on the Web and Marmite Toastie have fallen and are out of the race - we can see they are OK.
They all clear fence 23 and on to fence 24, The Canal Turn, for the second time.
Breeze clears 3 lengths ahead of The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Authoblog, Valleys Mam, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, God of Another World, . . . . oh! and Eddie Bluelights has gone! with Clouds and Silvery Linings running as a stray. Meredith and Janine look so sad as he waves them goodbye for ever, sob sob. But their horses clear the fence, first, The Things We Carried, Woman in a Window, and then Sniffles and Smiles. Then . . . oh Crystal Jigsaw has pulled up . . she's had it! But Woman in a Window and Dishing with Debbie clear the Canal Turn.
On to fence 25, for the second time Valentine's Brook, Breeze clears beautifully just ahead of The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Authoblog, Valleys Mam, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, God of Another World, The Things We Carried . . . . . oh and Sniffles and Smiles has pulled up - she doesn't want to carry on without Eddie! Woman in a Window and Dishing with Debbie . . . and who's this?Yes it's The Brit on Spinning the Wheel. He's making up a lot of ground - he's got a rocket in his pocket!
Five to go and the crowd are getting excited.
Fence 26 over go Breeze, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Valleys Mam, Authorblog, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, God of Another World, The Things We Carried, Dishing with Debbie, Spinning the Wheel (almost alongside after a fantastic run through the field).
My word Valleys Mam has streaked through the field and hit the front with 4 to go, and she clears. She clearly thinks she can win and has started singing in a loud soprano voice "There'll be a welcome in the hillside", Come on Valleys for Wales. Come on Breeze for Canada. Come on Cherry for New York - nothing in it.

Valleys holds her form, with the pace hotting up once more. Next, Breeze, and then The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, in hot pursuit! God of Another World can't stay with them - he's spent and going backwards! The Things We Carried, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Dishing with Debbie and the rank outsider, The Brit on Spinning the Wheel . . . . with three to go!
And out of nowhere Authoblog hits the front with 3 to go . . . he sails over . . Breeze and The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street try to stay with him but he's too strong and is going away . . . . Valleys Mam is beaten . . . she has nothing left under the bonnet!
Next The Things We Carried, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Woman in a Window, Dishing with Debbie and , Spinning the Wheel clear the fence with no fallers and two to go!
But . . . wait . . . The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street finds another gear and is gaining on Authoblog. He's gone too soon and is tieing up - she's gaining as she comes to the penultimate fence and clears ahead in the lead. And Breeze fights back and clears just behind with The Things We Carried, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino, Valleys Mam and Spinning the Wheel jumping last of the leaders. Spinning the Wheel's late charge has cost him dear - he cannot find another gear and is clearly out of gas!
And they have one to go! . . . . . . . anyone's race amongst the leaders!
(At this point the commentator is beginning to show out-of-control excitement! His commentary is becoming louder and louder and faster and faster with his voice becoming higher and higher in pitch, causing great concern throughout the entire medical world with reference to his health. Paramedics at the scene are standing by just in case. It sounds like his trousers are way too tight for him since his pitch is almost an octave higher than usual. I wish there was a larger typeface here so I could capture his enthusiasm for you and I would ask you in musical terms to upbeat the tempo to PRESTO and FORTE from now on! Also, there are some very angry and sweaty red faced Americans in the stand, jumping up and down, sensing Authorblog, the favourite, has blown it! They are worried because they think they've lost all their money and are threatening to, 'bust his ass!' if he loses.)
We resume commentary. . . . . . .

At the last it's The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street by 2 lengths from Authoblog by a length from Breeze  2 lengths clear from The Things We Carried . . .  with these three breaking clear by four lengths. But the leaders are bunching as they approach the elbow and there is not much in it, It is anyone's race amongst the leading four.

 . . just 494 yards with a sharp elbow to go . . . .
It's the 8/1 shot, The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, neck and neck with the red hot evens favourite, Authorblog. And 2/1 Breeze makes another run - she will not be beaten - they are all three neck and neck on the stand side as they eat up the course. It's between these three - the others are going backwards with nothing left in the tank.
A furlong (220 yards) to go for the 2009 Grand National with nothing between them, as the crowd roars in excitement!
100 yards to go . . . . . and David McMahon gets out his camera and fits a telephoto lens and they near the finish still neck and neck - no-one will budge an inch. And Authoblog wins by a telephoto lens!
Wait! there's an objection! the lens is not part of the horse so there is a Steward's Enquiry!
AND IT'S A PHOTO FINISH! David is waving and trying to call attention . . . yes . . . that's right! He is saying he never uses a tripod! And he has some photos for his blog for his POTD cloice! Good on yer sport!
The official photograph shows the winner - and it is The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street at 8/1 by a neck with Breeze 2/1 by a nose, Authoblog evens favourite. Then 4th, 3 lengths back, The Things We Carried 6/1, 5th by a neck, Aglio-Olio and Peperoncino 8/1, 6th Valleys Mam 8/1, 7th Woman in a Window 30/1, 8th Dishing with Debbie 16/1, 9th Spinning the Wheel 500/1 with the others coming through!

What's this! There is a roar and thunder of hooves! - It's hundreds of horses and riders coming into view and racing towards the finish! It's Autoblog's followers! All have been disqualified as late starters!

Well done everyone! I wanted you all to win! You have been very good sports! I had a ball doing this!

I hope no-one was offended - I did not mean to offend anyone and hope you all entered into the spirit of my humour - perhaps we can arrange another event one day when we can all participate! But Lady Meredith, you are something special! . . . and you too Lady Janine! . . . oh let's face it - you all are!

I am honoured to receive Post Of The Day on Friday 15 May 2009 from David McMahon at Authorblog for something I enjoyed writing immensely involving a lot of my blogging friends.
My fun post, They're Off: Bloggers Grand National
Thank you, David

Thursday 7 May 2009

Bloggers' Grand National - Pre Race Information

(continued from previous post)
Well, how is the training going?
Are you feeling fit and raring to go on this adventure?

The race cannot be run as yet for several reasons:

1. I have not written it.
2. Several key runners are on vacation, or 'on holiday' as us Brits say.
3. The course is not ready.
Meanwhile I will show the pre race betting at the end of this post.
Also, I would warn you that a Grand National can end in absolute chaos - so be diligent on your big day. To illustrate just how wrong things can go and what monumental cock-ups can occur during this event it is worth relating the famous 1993 occasion when the entire race had to be scrapped because of two false starts. This caused the loss of countless millions of pounds and probably several heart attacks amongst the punters, certainly amongst some book makers. I took the following article from a BBC commentary dated 3 April 1993.

The 1993 Grand National ended in 'shambles'

The Grand National ended in chaos after a series of events at the start which reduced the world-famous horse race to a shambles.

An estimated 300 million people around the world were watching the race, held at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, live on television, when 30 of the 39 riders failed to realise a false start had been called and set off around the racetrack.

The Jockey Club was forced to declare the race void after several riders completed both laps of the gruelling 30-obstacle course and passed the finish line before they realised their mistake.
Aintree decided against a re-run of the race, and bookmakers faced repaying the £75 million in bets placed on the race.

False starts
The disastrous sequence of events began seconds before the race was due to start, when protesters got onto the track near the first fence.
They were spotted, and after a delay, the race officials asked horses and riders to line up again.
Then there were two false starts caused by horses getting tangled up with the starting tape. On the second false start, the recall flag, which signals riders to pull up once they have started, was not waved, and all but nine riders raced away.

The recall man, Ken Evans, was interviewed by stewards to find out why he did not wave his flag.

Frantic shouting
The crowd shouted frantically at the jockeys to get them to stop, and officials tried desperately to flag them down from the side of the track, but without success.

In the end, 11 riders had completed the first circuit before pulling up, and seven never realised anything was wrong, racing right to the finish line in the four-and-a-half-mile (7 km) race.

Esha Ness, a 50-1 outsider trained by Jenny Pitman and ridden by John White, crossed the line first. "I could see there were only a few horses around, but I thought the others had fallen or something," White said after the race.

Mrs Pitman, who became the first woman to train a first Grand National winner in 1983 with Corbiere, was devastated.

"This is no Grand National, even though I have won it," she said.

The owner of Esha Ness, Patrick Bancroft, is understood to be considering suing Aintree over the £76,000 prize money for first place.

David Pipe, spokesman for The Jockey Club, said there would be an urgent inquiry into the incident.

In Context
Doubts over the competence of the recall man, Ken Evans, were quickly dispelled.

Recordings of the race showed that Keith Brown, the starter, raised the red flag which was to give him the signal that a false start had been declared - but crucially, did not unfurl it, making it almost impossible to spot.

Ironically, those horses which completed the course did so in the second-fastest time in the race's history.

The only other time the race has failed to run since it began in 1839 was during the Second World War, from 1941-45, although it was postponed in 1997 after a suspected IRA bomb warning.

Trainer Jenny Pitman went on to win the Grand National again in 1995, with Royal Athlete.

She was awarded the OBE in 1998 and retired from racing in 1999.

A re-run of the race was seriously considered, would you believe? I fail to understand how officials would consider how any horse, even Super Horse, could run it all again after completing a gruelling 4 and a half mile race over 30 fences in record time! I remember listening to the event in sheer disbelief on my radio - I thought it was a comedy sketch!

Well, back to our race!

Already betting has been heavy on the blogger's Grand National with two favourites emerging:

2/1 Authorblog, Granny on the Web

3/1 Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken, Breeze

4/1 Retired & Crazy, Crystal Jigsaw, Nuts in May

6/1 God of Another World, Sniffles & Smiles

8/1 The Things we Carried, Robynn's Ravings, Lakeviewer

10/1 The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Marmite Toastie, Kathy's Klothesline

12/1 The Mighty Sam, Val's Ramblings, Valleys Mam

20/1 Clouds and Silvery Linings

50/1 Plato's Procrastinations

100/1 Bar these

And finally, several of you have asked me what happened to my status with the priest when "What's Up Boys?" fell from grace within the horse racing community.

Well, let's go back to the horse's hey-day. I was the best thing since sliced bread and after the Pope himself, you may remember - as I have explained in my last post. My mother had passed away earlier in the year of 2001 and this was about the time "What's Up Boys?" was peaking in racing circles. The priest kindly offered to say a Mass for her and agreed, at his suggestion, to include my father who died way back in 1986. He offered to 'do them as a job lot' together, which was very nice of him, since they were not Catholics, and neither was I. Also, cryptically he called me a "Good Samaritan" from the pulpit during one of his sermons, after I had volunteered to do a task for him. He did not name me as such but gave me a nod and a wink from the pulpit which was the equivalent of shouting my name from the church spire for the whole town to hear - never mind, he meant well. We continued for several years our coded semaphore messages during services concerning the racing timetables and probability of this wonder horse winning until "What's Up Boy's" was injured and eventually had to retire from racing, and then to stud as his reward.

As soon as that happened it was as if I was ex-communicated and reverted back to my humble rank within the pews - a mere commoner and worthless sinner of sinners amongst my fellow members of the congregation. Nice while it lasted.

We always knew 'Father' was keen on horse racing because when my daughter was little, he visited us unannounced one Saturday morning and placed a pound coin in her hand - he told her in front of my wife and I to ask "Daddy" to place a bet on a horse running at 2.30 at Cheltenham that afternoon. I forget the name of the horse but I duly placed the bet and was inspired to back £5 from my own wallet for the 'nag' to win. This was in 1985 and as far as I know the blooming horse is still running! Next time I saw him I remarked that his tip was hardly backed by Divine Inspiration.

(To be continued ~ watch this space for THE RACE!)