Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why allotmenteers have to carry the can

It’s nearly crunch time up at Mrs D’s allotment. And we’re not talking about the crunch of freshly picked peapods or sumptuously succulent strawbs.

No, we’ve got a problem with our waterworks, and it’s going to take some fixing. Here’s why.

In the beginning was the Tap.  And the Tap was good, for it had a Handle which turned, and a Spout upon which to attach a Hose.

And the Allotmenteers rejoiced, and thronged unto the Tap, and fixed their Hoses upon its Spout, and spread its Water even upon the Face of their Onions.

For verily, they said one unto another, we have no need to fill a Multitude of Watering Cans, nor carry them unto the Plot, and sprinkle the Water thereunto, and then stagger back for more.

For lo, they said, we can run a Hose from the Tap unto our Crops, and swiftly bring the Water unto them, like as the River that floweth in the Desert and succoureth the Date and the Olive.
But the Board of Water, yea even the Water that is Wessex, saw the Tap and waxed exceeding wrath.

And it spake unto the Council, whose Name is called B&NES but whom Everyone knoweth as BANES, saying: Take away the Tap with its Spout and its turnable Handle, for it irketh us, like unto the Cockatrice that irketh the Lion in the Plains of Judah. For it wasteth the Water that belongeth rightly unto Us. And say ye unto the Allotmenteers: No more Hoses for you Lot.

Now when B&NES comprehended the Anger that was upon the face of the Water Board it was sore afraid, and replaced the Tap with a different Kind. Yea, even the Kind with a Knob, that must be pushed in else it springeth out and stoppeth. Yea, like unto a tap from a Public Convenience (before said Convenience was closed  by said Council), and upon which no Hose might be attached.

And the Allotmenteers beat their Breasts and wept, and asked of one another: What shall become of us, for we must needs squeeze the Tap until our Watering Cans are full, and make a Score of Journeys from Tap unto Vegetables. And verily our Hands will be calloused and our Feet besplattered.

And they mentioned this privily unto the Council, and the Council replied unto them, saying: tough. Which is to say, deal with it.

And then Mrs D rose up, and went unto her Chest of Drawers, and brought forth a Belt of many Holes, and girded it about the Tap. And the Belt did squeeze the Tap mightily, and the Water continued to flow. And the Allotmenteers shared the Belt amongst them, and were exceeding(ish) glad.

And then spake Mrs D unto her Spouse, saying: Go thou even unto the Website that is called Amazon, and buy thou therefrom a mighty plastic Bag, which will ride upon the Wheelbarrow, even as Nebuchadnezzar rode in Triumph through Babylon. And fill thou it from the Tap, that we may carry four or five Canloads at once.

And then spake Mr D unto Mrs D, saying: What about my bad Back? But she heard him not.

And when the Allotmenteers saw the Bag, they marvelled at its Capacity, and lo, Mr and Mrs D used no more nor less Water than they did in the Days of the Hose. And they saw that their Vegetables were good.

Thanks be to B&NES.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Choosing a present for Father's Day

Here it comes again – Sunday June 15 2014, Father’s Day. A day on which to honour the paterfamilias, the man about the house, Big Daddy, He Who Must Be Obeyed (Or At Least Ought To Be). 

And not, as some cynics may suggest, a cheap marketing ploy invented by card manufacturers to drum up trade in the lull between Easter and Christmas.

Oh no sirree boss, Father’s Day is the real deal, and don’t you forget it, because if you do, your dad will think you don’t love him.

However many times you may call him “Popsicle”.

Right, that’s enough moral blackmail. Onwards to the presents. And what do you get for the man who has everything? Or would have everything, if certain offspring hadn’t borrowed it, covered it in paint and dumped it at the bottom of the garden?

Perhaps Mrs D’s magazines will point the way. In among the sofas, soft furnishings and sconces that grace the pages of the country-home-and-garden-style glossy periodicals strewing the floors of Dixon Towers, there must be something suitable for Popsicle on his own special day.

Let’s see now... Fabric cleaner... Nerve tonic... Wait, how about a shepherd’s hut? They’re all the rage, you know. Tastefully painted in rustic shades of sage, slate, or russet, they trundle around your garden on wooden wheels and offer the put-upon Pa a haven from the incessant demands of family members for him to fix the printer for the third time this week.

“Let your soul breathe,” says the advert. If only. That printer won’t fix itself, and if we ever did get a shepherd’s hut there’d be no room left in the garden to swing a cat.

Speaking of which...

How about an electronic cat tracker? This ingenious device uses the power of GPS, 3G and who knows, maybe USB too, to log your moggie’s wanderings in the great outdoors and relay them to your computer, tablet or smartphone.

All of which would be fine and dandy, and would no doubt offer hours of instructive fun, if it weren’t for two things.

First, the cat that condescends to live at Dixon Towers would consider a tracking collar an infringement on its liberty almost as heinous as being decked out in a big pink bow, and would react accordingly: claws first.

I ain't wearing no damn collar

Second, said cat spends 99.37 per cent of its time in bed, only occasionally stumbling through the catflap to make sure the sun is still shining before mooching back to bed for another prolonged nap.

The cat tracker sounds rather like the techno-feline equivalent of watching paint dry, and it won’t be making it onto our Father’s Day gift list.

No, Mrs D’s aspirational reading matter is no help at all when it comes to choosing the perfect paternal present for June 15.

So perhaps it’s best to stick to the novelty stuff. That Darth Vader “I am your father” T-shirt was well received a couple of years ago. Anything that says “40%” on the label and can’t be bought by kids is just great. And there’s a chap at work who is very proud of his “Who’s the Daddy?” coffee mug.

Oh, and some shower gel would be nice, too.

Last year’s has nearly run out.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

World Cup 2014 - Ultimate Survival Guide

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so, you can hardly be unaware that the World Cup kicks off today.

And if you want a chance to join in the fun, here it is at last...

Your Essential – Nay Ultimate – Cut-Out-And-Stick-To-The-Fridge-Where-It-Will-Gather-Dust-Until-The-European-Championships-In-2016 Survival Guide to Brazil 2014.

Getting There: If you haven’t bought your tickets and booked your hotel by now, forget it. Brazil is a very, very long way away (a member of the Bath Chronicle staff went there once and can confirm this), and is not a country to be visited lightly. Especially if your passport needs renewing, which in the current chaos will take at least six months. By which time, they’ll think it’s all over. And it will be.

Watching It On Telly: At home, or down the pub? Your choice, but at least you can be assured that almost everyone in the pub will actually want to be watching, whereas at home there may be the occasional dissenting voice.

Who To Support: England, obviously. But beware of divided loyalties. Mrs D’s ancestry means there’s always a bit of a frisson whenever England play Poland. Luckily, though, we got that out of the way in the qualifying rounds. Which means that the only cloud on the horizon is Australia, by way of Grandma Dixon. The upside is that we’ll have another team to support if England go out early.

The Office Sweepstake: The rules are simple: You will pick a team without the slightest hope of reaching the last 16, let alone the finals. Your team will lose. You will complain that the whole thing is rigged, and that the bloke who ran the sweep kept the best teams for his mates. You will be ignored.

What To Sing: England doesn’t have an official song this time round. Which is probably just as well for those of us who remember watching a succession of squads on Top of the Pops, all dressed up in their best suits, miming to a ludicrously over-optimistic dirge, shuffling nervously from foot to foot and wondering if they were going to meet Pan’s People.

Instead, there’s an official World Cup anthem by Pitbull (because nothing says “football” like a slavering attack dog), or an unofficial, and actually rather catchy, little ditty called Kick That Soccer Ball by spoof Twitter user @usasoccerguy.

Neither of which is doing very well in the download charts right now, being beaten hands down by Noble England, by the late, great and sorely missed Rik Mayall.

Which brings us to...

What To Wave: Dismiss any doubts you may have that it’s in some way beneath you to fly the cross of St George while Our Boys are giving their all in the steamy Amazonian jungle. We will proudly be dangling our ginormous red and white flag from the front bedroom window at Dixon Towers, and will remain resolutely proud.

England expects, and all that.

How To Celebrate If We Win: When we win, more like. If we can draw 0-0 with Honduras in the warm-up friendlies, what can possibly stand in our way?

Come on, En-ger-land!