Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bob Marley shots

Now I am officially an old git. How do I know? Because at one stage during my 50th birthday I performed the famous "rowing" dance to Oops Upside Your Head ... on a chair!
Now there was a time, back in the late 70s and early 80s, when I was a champion rower. I would spreadeagle myself on the floor in between whichever thighs were on offer and perform a passable impression of Steve Redgrave. Regularly this would happen late at night on the grossly filthy floor of the Bristol Bierkeller after three or four steins of lager.
I even won an award for being "best rower" there once. I think it was a 7 inch single of Brick House by the Commodores.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who attended the coming of old age ceremony at Racks Wine Bar in Clifton. Along with the usual suspects there were a few I hadn't seen for 30 years in a social capacity. Dan 'the man' Norris (now a Bristol MP who had to turn up because we know where all the bodies are buried! - seriously, great to see you, Dan), Martin Dowling, who looks a shadow of his former rather substantial self and very good on it (he came all the way from Harrogate) and Rich Burden, who doesn't look a lot different and, unlike most of my old school pals, still has a substantial head of hair. Brilliant for them.
And brilliant for Mrs R for both organising and putting up with me, the Fat Kid and mate Carly for being seriously drunk and causing mayhem in the early hours of the morning. FYI the Fat Kid managed to fall out with her Bezzie (I am told that stands for best friend) and decided to sock her in the gob. In the morning neither of them knew what had caused it. Mrs R did, though, because she had to calm things down.
We are all blaming a nasty little shot called Bob Marley, of which we had four each, along with the Fugitive. Don't remember much else but must say there was a great turnout and it was worth every bit of the £400 it cost. Can only remember about £100 worth to be truthful, but that's probably old age, not booze.

Meanwhile, back to the Rat in Mi Kitchen. It is definitely a rat. How do I know? Because there was a blood curdling shriek from Mrs R the other night when she went to the kitchen in her ultra soft socks. Obviously Ratman didn't hear her, decided to make an appearance, then disappeared under the cupboards hey presto when Mrs R pierced the night with her high-pitched wail.
It happened on the same day that the council turned up but, unfortunately, too late for them to hear the evidence. Regardless, they have put some rather evil poison down under the cupboards to surprise our little long-tailed adversary.

I've bought a book about giving up smoking, the first big step. I was encouraged to purchase it when one of the selling points was you can actually read it while having a fag. Can't go wrong.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rat in mi kitchen

"I'VE got a Rat in mi kitchen, don't know what I'm gonna do.
"Got a Rat in mi kitchen, don't know what I'm gonna do...
"Gonna fix that rat, that's what I'm gonna do..."
Well, maybe, but I think I am going to leave it up to the council man when he arrives on Monday afternoon to interrupt my likely hangover from hell after the nifty fifty birthday bash that Mrs R and I have arranged for Racks Wine Bar in Clifton through Sunday afternoon and into Sunday evening.

Back to the rat. It is probably a mouse, to be quite honest, but UB40 didn't sing about a mouse in their kitchen and probably wouldn't have been able to spit the words with such venom if that was the case.
Anyhoo, the other day Mrs R called to me while working on her computer in the dining room, claiming she had heard some scurrying. I was quick to arrive on the scene but, hearing nothing untoward myself, just put it down to my pregnant wife's new superhearing powers on the basis her senses seem to be working overtime - at least, she seems to be woken at every grumble, squeak and snore I come out with in the night.
Still, to be on the safe side she rang the council and booked for a man to come and rid us of our vermin infestation.

The following day and I was in the kitchen preparing my dinner and thought I would check the bottom cupboard pasta supplies. Pretty soon the evidence was abundantly clear. Previously unopened packs of rice, dried pasta and the like had little chew marks in the corner, allowing the little rotter in question to have a good old feast at our expense.
Now, if it was a good rodent like Ratatouille you would think it would rustle us up a tasty bolognaise for us but, oh no, it just eats its fill of uncooked carbs then retires to somewhere under the floorboards leaving a mess behind it.
Scrambling on the floor with a pencil torch we found a hole where one of the pipes enters the kitchen, and the back of the cupboard has also been chewed through.
We've now bought one of those devices that lets off an ear-splitting noise (to mouse ears, we can't hear it) and also sends out magnetic pulses via the electrics in the house which affects the mouse's nervous system. I can see it cowering away now, claiming "Ooh, I really don't feel myself today... think I've got some kind of bug. Maybe I'd better get out of the house."
Or maybe not.
We shall see...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Italian lamb shanks

I am gutted. Inconsolable. My beloved Corsa Bas which, admittedly, only cost me £500 three years ago has been totalled by an idiot driver who seemed apparently unaware of the danger of speeding down a hill covered in snow and ice.
Mrs R and I were resting peacefully in our bed at 4am on Wednesday morning when our serenity was shattered by a loud bang and crash. Oh dear, we thought, another accident on Blackberry Hill, the main road which passes our idyllic little close in Stapleton. My wife nudged me in a typical wifely way and whispered: "Go and see what has happened?" She did it with a smile on her face, thinking she was encouraging voyeurism at its finest.
When I pulled back the curtain, though, my world shattered around me. There was some saloon car with its front nose buried into Basil's side.
It had been snowing all night and my first conclusion was that the car had reached the bend in the hill, braked and tried to turn, hit a patch of ice, risen up and over the little triangular green outside our house, passed between a big tree and some metal signposts and then smashed into Bas at what must have been a decent speed. Oww!
I went out and the damage was as bad as I feared. The bloke responsible - a taxi driver I believe who was returning home late at night - apologised and said he had just lost control of the car on the icy road. He then had the audacity to ask if it might be possible to move my car! Well, it was before he destroyed it, I almost said.
But, biting my lip and showing my new, calmer side, I dutifully sat in the driver's seat and released the handbrake, letting my wobbly wheels, now at right angles to the ground, carry me as far as they could.
He then inspected his car. "Phew, there doesn't seem to be much damage!" he said.
Well, whoopee do! I was about ready to do some damage myself at that point.
Instead, we swapped insurance details and off he tootled home to tell of his adventures.
I couldn't go to bed, though, so distraught was I. After three fags and a cup of tea to calm my nerves I then took up vigil by the front window. At this stage it was still snowing and every time a car came down the road it seemed to skid in the exact same spot and lose control.
I rang the police and advised them to close the road. They assured me they would do something as soon as they could.
Fifteen minutes later, though, and bang! Another car lost control and slid straight into my neighbour's vehicle across the road. As I watched a car that was following it at a distance then followed the exact same course and rammed the car which had caused the initial damage. It was absolute carnage.
My next door neighbour Nick had had enough. There were no police and no highways patrol officers. He strode up the road, found some cones and blocked it off. It didn't however stop people winding around the cones like it was some bizarre vehicle slalom event before proceeding down the hill.
Luckily, we have a grit box opposite and the few neighbours who had gathered in the early hours took it upon themselves to make the road safe again.
For two hours it had been like watching a demolition derby, one of those videos you see on U-tube or on in the background in some trendy sports bar. Unbelievable.
Of course, after all the legal work is done I will probably be lucky to clear £100 for Bas, the brave little motor that has transported me to London and back without a hitch since I joined the Screws six months ago. May he rest in pieces.

Next morning Mrs R and I went to see the midwife and heard our baby's heartbeat. Quite exciting and reminded me that not everything in the world is sh**, even though our boiler broke down on Friday, our shower has been leaking despite three visits from the plumber, and my car is now a wreck.

After the surgery Mrs R took me shopping, much to my frustration. I just wanted to get out of the bleak conditions with the snow already having wormed its way into my socks through my boots.
She was insistent though. She needed a new winter coat and some of her current garments were beginning too... well... stretch a bit. Anyway we called into a few places and found just what she was looking for. It was comfortable, with room to manouevre and in a couple of months it will fit pretty snuggly around her bump. Only one problem, though.
"I'm cutting the label off when I get home," she whispered conspiratorially.
I sneaked a peak when she wasn't looking... it's a size 20!!!

Cooked a very enjoyable meal with a big piece of bone-in lamb the other night. I will call it Italian lamb shanks.
You need:
A big piece of lamb shoulder, or some shanks
A chopped clove of garlic
A chopped carrot
A chopped stick of celery
A chopped whole onion
A tin of tomatoes
1/4lb chopped mushrooms
A pint of lamb or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons each of tomato puree and sundried tomato puree
Some pasta twists (or whatever fancy name they have)
shaved parmisan cheese

To do:
Set the oven at gas mark 9 (about 260 degrees)
Put in the lamb for about half an hour, then remove and wrap in foil
Heat oil on the hob in a hob-proof casserole
Add the chopped garlic, carrot, celery and onion and cook for 15 mins
then add the mushrooms and stir and cook for another five minutes
Add the purees and mix in, then the tomatoes and stock
Add salt and pepper
Turn oven down to gas mark 3
Add the lamb to the casserole then insert into the oven and cook for another two hours or so until the meat falls off the bone.
Remove the meat and return the sauce to the hob. Add the pasta shapes then bring to boil and cook until the pasta is cooked.
Serve the pasta on a plate, add juicy pieces of lamb then grate parmesan over the top.
I think it's a real winner

Friday, January 08, 2010


And a happy New Year to my reader.
Sorry it has taken so long but, quite honestly, I did bugger all at the turn of the decade. In fact, I was tucked up in bed by 11.30 only to be woken up by the horns from the ships moored off Southend together with the statutory annoying firework display.
Then, when I was just getting to sleep again, there came a call from my mate Hayd.
It went something like this:
"Aaappy noooo year! Washu dooooing?"
"I'm in the house on my own. In bed."
"Whaaaa? Ah great. Aaappy nooo year! Washu doing?"
"I just told you! What are you doing?"
"Amat a neighbour's party. Wharrabout choo?"
Oh well, good to see some people having fun.

What a week it's been. Went to bed on Tuesday fully expecting to drive back to Southend on Wednesday in time for work. Pulling the curtains back the following morning, though, I was faced with a complete whiteout. I could hardly see my Corsa Basil, which had been parked on the street the previous night, nor Mrs R's car Millie, as Britain was engulfed in snow hell.
Turning on the radio we discovered that Bristol buses had also ground to a halt, meaning my good lady wife had no means of getting to work. As for me, forget it!
It was then I remembered I had a doctor's appointment to get my blood pressure tested. We slid up the hill to the surgery and thankfully my GP had managed to get to work and sort me out.
After an enjoyable breakfast in the little cafe around the corner we then headed home. Crossing the little triangular green outside our house (which now, incidentally, was white) I managed to slip on a patch of ice, put my hand down to save myself and let out a yelp of pain. I don't really know the damage I did and it didn't help that I then took a shovel outside and began clearing snow from the road.
By 3pm that afternoon my wrist was in agony but fortunately Florence Nightingale (well, Mrs Rippers anyway) was at the ready with a temporary sling.
Then Mrs Rippers, who is not exactly a fan of the horror genre, wanted to watch the film Drag Me To Hell, on Virgin Movies on Demand. So we paid our £3.95 - and saw about 15 minutes of it. Before long she was hiding her face in her hands as an ugly old gypsy woman put a curse on the film's heroine. When she eventually screamed out loud at a particularly stomach-churning part, I knew the end was nigh. Moments later off went the film and we settled for watching the last two episodes of The Wire Series 3 on DVD - not a bad substitute it has to be said.

Thursday and I was confident of digging out the motor and driving to work, but I ended up marooned at home doing some research required of me by the office lawyer (with reference to a Cardiff City back page exclusive we had done the previous week).
I took the chance to ring some of my contacts, then settled down to watch an enthralling last two hours of the third test between South Africa and England at Cape Town. England needed an unobtainable 467 runs for victory, and had lost three wickets for 132 the previous day. It meant they had to bat all day to save the game and, as is their wont, they kept me on the edge of my seat until the last ball of the day.
Somehow, with Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell having defended stoutly for the entire afternoon, they contrived to lose five wickets in the last 14 overs. It meant that Graham Onions - our No 11 batsman - was left to save the day and face the last over - just as he had done at Centurion Park, Pretoria, two weeks earlier.
And he managed it. Fantastic. England go into the last test on Sunday 1-0 up and with a great chance of claiming the series.

On Sunday Mrs R and I wanted to see the new film Sherlock Holmes, but got our times mixed up. Instead we opted to see the new Sci-fi film Avatar. Quite stunning. The visuals and special effects were breathtaking and the storyline not bad at all.