Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tour de Frank

I had thought that I might find myself a nice fountain pen - I can't work modern things. Ha! I can't work my mobile phone. In fact, I struggle to work a bleedin' biro!  Anyway, as I have said, I thought I might find a decent fountain  pen, so I asked Pat to find a car boot sale for us to go to on my day out. Seeing as we were going to a boot sale, and he likes a good bargain (who doesn't?), Dennis was doing the driving. We had a nice day for it at least.

Not being able to use a mobile very successfully, I gave it to Pat when Andrew phoned up and they decided where to meet - the local football club or, as it is known by visiting supporters, "Where?". There is a large car park and an even larger field where a couple of dozen stalls had been set out, and of course I had to go and buy a couple of little hedgehogs! (Before anyone asks - the answer is, I don't know.)

Andrew found us, and we wandered and meandered - and, needless to say, I'm still looking for a fountain pen.

After that we all went into Boston where we wandered around the shops and I annoyed (or embarrassed) everyone by trying to do a deal by bargaining with a nice old girl in a charity shop. I've no idea what I wanted from her, but it seemed to be worth the negotiation.

Outside again, and everyone looking at me oddly - a fairly normal state of affairs for me really. We decided to wander to the riverside bistro mentioned last week - or was it the week before? - where I have now become a regular. So is everyone else there, I suppose.  Nice food on the terrace overlooking the river, very tasty, and  I had breakfast - not a bad trick at two in the afternoon. It's a sleepy little place on a hot Sunday afternoon, no two ways about it.

"Right!" said Andrew, when Pat and Dennis decided to drive off for greener pastures, "Let's go and get the car," - which he had left parked at the side of the road at the footy club - "and we will see how you get on with the bike!"

Now, at this point, I'd better point out that I was wearing a black go-to-church-on-Sunday suit!

"Just take off the coat, not to mention the shirt and tie, and tuck your socks around yer trews!"

Did that, no problem, and jumped on the mountain bike Andrew had brought down specifically for the purpose of finding out if I could break my neck in several places.

Bit of a shaky start - almost hit a barrier and almost took several layers of paint off Andrew's car - but, once I got the wind in my  hair, we were off! Up the track, through the park, ringing bells wildly at innoffensive perambulating Sunday strollers and along the river bank until we came to a lock thing. Negotiated that okay and drank a pint of ice-cold orange juice to replace lost liquid. Then it was back on the bike and disaster struck - and so did the lock gate. Took the skin off my arm, but I didn't cry and didn't ask to go to A&E. (Actually, I'm going to hospital next week for my umbilical hernia operatlon. This is either the third or fourth attempt, so I'm not expecting too much. I'll go, I'll either get done or I won't - we will see.)

A funny thing about riding a bike - you never forget how to do it really, and in no time I was zooming along at a rate of knots, thoroughly enjoying myself, bobbing and weaving, and didn't hit a single pedestrian, not once.

Finally, let me just say that I am impressed by Bradley Wiggins. Well done! But you ought to do something ahout those sideburns. In my younger days only teddy-boys wore such facial hair. You look like the Victorian Dad out of Viz!

However, be that as it may, Andrew has got me into bike riding now, so here is a message for young Bradley: keep looking over your shoulder because, sooner or later, you will hear the sound of tyres on tarmac - and that'll be me.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sunday morning, nine a.m.

I'm certain that many poets, philosophers and erudite writers have said everything that needs to be said ahout Sunday mornings at nine a.m., so I'm not going to add my bit. But there is something about Sunday mornings which encourages lassitude and idleness - a sort of acceptable inertia of the mind, body and, in many cases, the soul.  Sunday morning, the time of the week when we open our eyes at our leisure and know that there is nothing to get up for - nothing urgent anyway. We can wake at our own speed and, after a good, heartfelt sigh, we say to ourselves, "Oh well, I suppose I'd better get up and have a cuppa and get the day started."

Here at the Home for Gay Sailors, that describes matters in a most satisfactory and succinct way, although we DO have to get up early to sign on the roll so that the Powers-That-Be can see if anyone has decided to go home during the night.

I crawled out of my pit at just after six, made myself a nice cuppa, and sat there, with the above-mentioned cuppa and a fag, puffing away and contemplating the day ahead of me - a day full to the brim of not very much. I took my time waking up, of course, and at seven-fifteen, and after another cuppa and another fag, I got myself sorted out and dressed, then went out into the weak, morning sunshine.

I wandered (or should that be meandered?) up to where I had left my pigeon trap the previous evening, packed it all away and then wandered down to my pigeon loft. I changed the water for my thirty-eight birds, put feed out for them, and sat on my disreputable armchair with a burning fag, and just watched the birds feeding. I get a couple of ring-necked doves which come in the door too, but I ignore them - I've got enough to feed without them freeloading.

It's awfully pleasant to sit there, sheep bleating in the distance and the odd grunt from the nearby pigs. The birds feed and then go back to their perches and start fighting for territory, cooing and canoodling in many cases. I've got three pairs sitting on eggs now and they defend their nestboxes vigorously. It is just about on the verge of hypnotic - it is certainly soporific.

After a few minutes of pigeons pecking around my feet, I always begin to feel sleepy and am ready to nod off for my second shot at Sunday Morning Idleness. My advice to anyone who lives a stressful life during the week is to get themselves a pigeon loft.

So, rather than fall asleep there, I pulled myself together, ordered the pigeons to stop fighting - an order which they instantly chose to ignore - and then I wandered back to my little kennel, which I share with Naked. (All enquiries to be sent in a plain brown envelope containing treasury notes, thank you.)

"Oh," said I as I came in. "I see the ould O.C.D. has kicked in  then!" - because he had swept the floor.

He said, "I thought I'd empty the floor while you were out."

"No need for that," replied myself. "There was plenty of room to fill up yet!"

Then I sat down and started to feel sleepy again - it's the Sunday Morning Syndrome, that's what it is. Naked has got O.C.D., I've got S.M.S.

I shoved a tape on the stereo of seventies music, but it did no good - I still felt like going back to Bo-Peep, so I forced myself to get up, get my stuff sorted out and start hitting the keys. This is the result.

So, anyone who feels hard done by, all you need to do is get a  pigeon loft, get Naked to sweep the place out, and pretty soon you'll be like me - feeling idle, full of S.M.S. and contemplating Sunday morninlg, nine a.m.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fred Astaire? Meet Alexander Graham Bell...

There has been yet another crisis - or should that be hiatus? Either way, there has been one. The details are fairly academic now, of course, but the main thing was that I got nicked for it. (Nicked: placed on a governor's disciplinary report; under a cloud; before the beak explaining myself; pinched.)

I was accused of disobeying a lawful order. The fact that I wasn't actually given an order, lawful or otherwise, is neither here nor there - and besides, how can a person be ordered to do something that is voluntary? I refused to go on "home leave" to the hostel.

I explained matters to the Number One and he just cautioned me not to do it again, gave me back all of my days out and finished by saying, "For fuck's sake, go on home leave!"

I suppose I'll have to go next time - well, it's a tick in a box if it's nothing else.

So, I got all of my days out back and on Sunday I went out and about with Lucretia Borgia and Madame Tussaud - names witheld to prevent me getting a slap around the ear.  Had a good day too, thoroughly enjoyed myself. I even managed to walk around and worked my phone!

It was quite funny really. There we were, wandering around the shops (those that were actually open on a Sunday) and a phone kept ringing.

"Is that your phone?" mother asked daughter. "Because it's not mine."

I wandered on, oblivious. It rang again.

"I can hear a phone," said she, "but it's not mine."

"Not mine either," replied Lucretia.

More wanderings and the phone rang again. This time she was actually standing next to me.

"It's yours!" she accused.

"Is it?" asked myself innocently, and took it out of my pocket. It stopped. "It's stopped," said I and put it away again. The phone rang again.

"Answer the bloody thing then!"

I took it out. "Hello," said I.

"Turn the bloody thing on," I was ordered.

Poxy phones! Alexander Graham Bell should be dug up and whipped.

You know what I don't care much for? It is females who pretend that they are sparrows when they eat - or rabbits nibbling lettuce. Not so Mata Hari and Lily of the Lamplight - they got tucked into their plate of feed like storm troopers.

So, there we were, sitting on the riverside terrace, dining al fresco, and putting it away like a gang of navvies. After that we sat quaffing tea and chatting away -  very pleasant too, I might add. The bistro serving wench came out from time to time to see if we needed anything and I quite enjoyed it. I may  do it again one day soon.

The best part of the whole day was when I bought an umbrella. Needless to say, it didn't rain any more all day - but I gave a good impression of Fred Astaire in "Singing In The Rain".

I'm quite looking forward to going again in two weeks' time - unless something else untoward takes place. That's my first nicking since somewhere around the year 2000 - and that's a long time ago. I'm practically a saint these days.

So. I've got the Russian Hat, I've got the umbrella - where do I buy a bucket of sarin?

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, July 06, 2012

Living in the pigeon community

There has been a kind of hiatus.

Owing to the fact that I can't use real names - and that the prison  service is utterly paranoid at the best of times - I can't give all details, in detail, but what it boiled down to was that I  was banned from going to see my pal Buddy. I haven't done anything wrong and neither have the people who own Buddy done anything remotely objectionable - unless you find honesty unsavoury. No, we have done everything above board - the problem seemed to be that we have been too honest. What it all meant, as I say, was that I could no longer go for my rides on Buddy - no doubt he was pleased that a lump like me wasn't climbing on his back any more doing John Wayne impressions.

The fact is, my days out were suspended BUT... I could go on home leave to a hostel full of junkies and chancers - THAT was fully acceptable! It seems that it is so that I can prove that I can be placed back into the community. WHAT community? I have no intention of getting into the community of ratbags, junkies, chancers and grafters - I've been living in such a community for over twenty­-six years, and that's enough. The community I want to go and live in is that of the decent, honest, hard-working family sort - such as that where Buddy lives.

So, I told them, if I have to go back to living in the community of the nether world of criminals, then I want to do it in the area where I am known and where I know everyone - or their fathers.

"No no no!" was the cry. "We don't want you to do that!"

"Neither do I," said I. "So, let me go where a good, honest, decent lot of people are fully ready to support me."

The outcome is that I have had all of my days out re-instated. I can go back to riding Buddy but part of the deal is that I have to go to the hostel for three days, starting tomorrow.

Now don't misunderstand me, I'm sure that the hostel and those responsible for it are perfectly well-intentioned, but what their clientele say to them and what they say to me are two different things. The last time I was there I had one comedian offering to supply me with new shirts at a quid each and a couple of others asking me if I wanted to buy myself a "fix". Oh yes, all manner of chancers lying to everyone in sight so that they can avoid a three month jail sentence.

Well, it's all sorted out now. I have got things back on track, which means that next weekend I will be re-acquainting myself with Buddy. I've got to go to the hostel for three days in between now and then, of course, but that's easily managed - I'll simply go and spend the days parked up somewhere quiet, in the cathedral or somewhere, and read a book, just spending my sleepless nights at the hostel.

On a more interesting note, I have now got thirty-six pigeons and one baby woodpigeon in my loft in the old stables - and I've got to say I prefer the pigeons to the people. At least when a pigeon shits on you it only makes a little mess - easily cleaned up too. The little woodie is getting a bit cheeky - it will insist on sitting and sleeping on my chair! Has it any idea how much trouble I went to to GET that comfy chair?

I have taken to sitting comfortably in my chair, the woodie on my knee having his head scratched while we listen to the rest of the pigeons cooing, fighting and getting amorous with each other. There are several pairs creating their own little nest now. The sounds are so peaceful that they have become soporific.

I sit there and can hear the birds cooing and the sheep bleating, along with pigs grunting nearby and distant farm noises, sunlight creeping in through the door of my loft. Is it any wonder that I doze off a little? It's better than listening to "Today in Parliament" as a sleeping draught.

So, I'm going to spend the rest of today, sitting in the afore­mentioned sun, out of the wind, slowly becoming comatose as I listen to the noises of the creatures around me. Much better than listening to some of the creatures I'll have to listen to when I get to the hostel, that's for sure.

The Voice In The Wilderness