Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ol' '55


So this is Easter, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun...

Having just turned 55, I couldn’t resist stealing Tom Waits’ delightful tale about a clapped-out wreck for this month’s blog title. Can it really be 33 years since I abandoned my beloved England for beautiful Basqueland at the tender age of 22? And, for a bonus point, do any of you know what Tom was doing over in California when he was 22? That’s right, he was writing Ol’ ’55 among countless other gems.

When Tom turned 33, he released Swordfishtrombones, to universal acclaim; when I turned 33, I discovered Oasis and bought (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory...

At 44, Tom contributed to Johnny Cash’s Grammy-winning American Recordings; at the same age, I attended an international teachers’ congress in Harrogate...

At 55, Tom starred in Oscar-winning Roberto Benigni’s The Tiger and The Snow; in similar vein, I recently swam in The Whale and The Water, setting a personal best for the season: twenty lengths without drowning once.

So much for similarities. What about the differences? Well, for starters, I’m pretty sure I got better birthday presents than Tom did on his 55th:

Not bad, eh? If you look very closely, you’ll notice that Nikka, the Japanese whisky, didn’t quite survive the photo call, but I’m pleased to report that the other bottles remain untouched. At the same time, it is somewhat worrying that friends and family have such a boozy image of yours truly – the very image that I had always had of dear old Tom until I discovered that he has been teetotal since the age of 43!

A few days after that photo was taken, one of my friends had a last-minute inspiration. At  a guess, a little bird must have told her that, when not teaching, drinking or checking weather forecasts, I also enjoy unwinding with the occasional read. So, imagine my delight last week to discover this waiting for me on my desk:

Richard who?! I hear you asking. No, I had never heard of him, either, but he writes beautiful short stories, believe me. His website also offers some excellent advice to would-be writers:

“Say to yourself, I accept failure as the condition of this life, this work. I freely accept it as my destiny. Then go on and do the work. You never ask yourself anything beyond Did I work today?”

Now here’s a man on my wavelength! Expect the worst from everything you do, but do it anyway. Yes, that sums up my life to date perfectly, I’d say. Richard goes on to say:

Don’t compare yourself to anyone.”

Oh dear! I read this 55 years too late, I fear. That said, it is excellent advice, I’m sure you’ll agree; especially for those of us who stand to lose every time we make our silly comparisons.

By a happy coincidence, today – 18th April – is Richard Bausch’s birthday, so Happy 72nd, Professor! And by an even happier coincidence, today is also The Other Mike Church’s birthday, so I’ve decided to celebrate by updating my “Best Bits” collection:

I’m not sure whether we’ll still be here in seven years’ time, but let’s cross our fingers and thumbs. Thanks as ever for making it this far.


Upon a time once there was a man poor who had thoughts ordering his problems. More often than not, matter this didn’t. “Eggs, bacon and sausages, please”, “Bacon, sausages and eggs, please”, “Sausages, eggs and bacon, please”, “Please! Where are sodding my bacon, eggs and sausages?” . . . – what make did it difference? The result end was always the same: galore cholesterol.

Numbers, however, were the life of his bane. According to his portpass, for example, he was 95 old years already, having born been in 1592. And his wife amused very wasn’t when he came from the supermarket back with 21 eggs and 42 loo rolls.

Day one, his wife an ultimatum issued him with:

‘Of this Brian I’ve had enough! Get help or else.’
What or else, darling?’ he asked, but she meant what he knew.

So an appointment Brian made with his PG, for he loved the world more than anything else in his wife. Unfortunately, he up turned at 20:10 instead of 10:20.

That last Thursday was. Another appointment naturally they gave him: this Tuesday at 11:11 dot the on. Or was it next Thursday for? Eh well, learn and live, oh?


fifty Shades of Spain, Chapter 23, “Are We In Trouble Now”

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