Thursday, April 29, 2010

Terror Nova

I spent a very pleasant day in Cardiff, reviving the boozeday Tuesday tradition with the Wonderful Withers of WoS.
Poor old Mrs R has not been very well lately, unable to sleep and having two weeks off work because of exhaustion. So, as you would expect, I stayed around to comfort and look after her. Or, more to the point, I jumped in my car Ramsey, hurtled over the bridge, and went on the razz with the wonderful one.
This is our first anniversary week and I can't believe that this has come about so quickly. It only seemed right that I should celebrate the build up with the wonderful one, my best man, while my car was being given a good overhaul by mechanic Charlie.
Having dropped off Ramsey, I wandered into town and then went around to drop my stuff off at Withers' new gaffe. Interesting. It is a flat on the Taff Embankment in a less than salubrious part of Grangetown in Cardiff. Although the flat is very amenable the wonderful one is a bit worried about the people with whom he co-habits.
On the bottom floor there are four able-bodied lads, all aged around the early 20s, who seem to spend all their time sitting on the green opposite, chilling out in deck chairs and juggling with empty vodka bottles. bizarre.
Withers is convinced they are part of the witness protection scheme, but I'm not so sure. They all have rather posh motors, but seem to do nothing in the way of work to justify them. Make your own mind up.
Still, as long as the Wonderful One is happy with his lot.
From his flat we walked down to Cardiff Bay where an hour outside in the sun at the Ely Jenkins pub resulted in a big red blotch forming on the Wonderful One's shaved pate. As good as any holiday, he assured me, as we then moved around to the Terra Nova to have lunch.
Lunch? That was a laugh. It almost finished up as a late night supper.
The girl at the bar reminded me of a Monty Python character manning the infamous cheese shop. "No haven't got any of that", "No, that's off", "Oh yeah we have got that ... oh sorry, the cat has just eaten it".
Eventually, having settled for cheese burgers they finally arrived and very tasty they were, too. But by then the sun had gone in and I was losing the will to live.
At that moment Shutts turned up and perhaps the increasing shadows were down to the fact he loomed over us, insisted he was looking forward to a few cheeky ones, then knocked back a diet coke before dropping us off in town.
It was off then to the new old O'Neills where I have to say the standard of barmaid has slipped somewhat. One of them managed to fill a glass full of foam before assuring me: "It will settle". No chance.
I insisted on a refill and finally the Wonderful One got his deserved pint.
We were then joined by the Fugitive and after a couple of beers we moved around the corner to look for Las Iguanas. Apparently, it no longer exists.
The boozer standing in its place was ok, and we had a pint before moving inside where a very pleasant girl waited our table.
A little while later I heard her telling the barman about how her brother worked as a reporter on the Sun in the United States.
There followed a string of invective by him about tabloid journos which forced me to intervene very sharply, telling him he didn't have a clue what he was talking about. I fell just short of saying "Do you know who I am?" Still, he looked pretty chastised and I got a blue bottle key ring in the process.

One of my colleague, Mr Jolly, rents out houses and has a similar problem to mine. He is experiencing visits from grey, hairy rodents with long tails.
His immediate boss, chief sub Jonesy, isn't too happy, though. Apparently Jolly named his first rat Jonesy.
Jolly's latest rat, who has sadly departed this mortal coil, also has a newsworthy name.
We have a Celtic-supporting, Glasgow-based scribe called Bob in the office, and Jolly decided his second rodent should take his name.
Today we hear that both Jonesy and Bob got caught in traps and died a painful death.
Oh dear!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Picnic at the zoo

I'm beginning to think that I am in the middle of some biblical moment.
First there was the infestation of slugs, then the appearance of the "ghost" rat which no amount of poison, traps etc has managed to solve.
Now, when Mrs Rippers and I wandered into our kitchen the other day, we found that there was a "plague" of black flies.
Either they have arrived because Ridsdale has departed from this mortal coil and they were feasting on his remains, or some higher being decides our life is far too comfortable at the moment.
To be fair, these flies are the most sluggish, lazy flying things I have ever encountered. They just flop about like the wonderful Withers after a boozy session, waiting to be swatted or squirted with some dire insecticide.
I opened the back door the other day and gave them a whole two hours to find their escape route... yet one was still hanging about when I returned. The solution? A firm tap with a recent Wales on Sunday. Knew it would be good for something.

Well after all the Buggy-fuss I can now reveal we are the proud owners of a baby mobile which cost us a little under £200, with car seat included. Result! Particularly as Mrs Rippers was keen to snap up a "bargain" for a little under £500 not long ago only for me to intervene with help from the Fat Kid.
Well, the Fat Kid came down on Saturday to help out with the buggy hunt and it was her expert advice that swung the deal. And after saving so much money I rewarded her, the vin monster and the big boy with a day out at Bristol Zoo.
Pretty expensive, to be honest, and for a place that carries the logo of an elephant on every sign for miles around I found it a mite strange that they don't even have any on site. At least I think they don't, unless they were hiding behind the giant fruit bats we came across hanging outside their cage.
While there we had a picnic and when we returned in the evening I also got the Fat Kid a bottle of rose wine. Amazingly, she managed to get rather squiffy on two glasses, though I have to admit they were pretty big glasses.

Poor old Mrs Rippers has been suffering from insomnia. She can't get to sleep for love nor money and was in such a state on Tuesday that the doc gave her a week off work to recover.
Not only that, but the Fat Kid has a severe case of laryngitis and is feeling very sorry for herself.
For the rest of us, it's some welcome peace from her shouting at the boys about their ability to cover the carpet in choco pops.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Easy meat

Well, having seen my beloved Gas get completely annihilated by Southampton 5-1 on Tuesday (total revenge for our beating them 3-2 at St Mary's) I am glad to say there was one little bit of compensation on the horizon.
I usually have a bet on the outcome with my colleague in crime, sports news ed Dykesy, but this time we decided to do things a bit differently.
It started off as a £5 bet but, always one for an opportunity when it comes to throwing his money away, Dykesy decided that we should do things a bit differently. "I know, I'll bet that your lot win and you bet that my lot win. Then, the loser won't be so disappointed."
Good idea, and I am still looking for the catch, to be perfectly honest, particularly when as the week wore on he kept upping the stakes. I thought maybe he knew that Saints boss Alan Pardew was going to have to play his Under 15 side against us (mind you, they probably cost a few mill to put together - after all, it's the youth set up that discovered Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale).
Eventually we settled on £17, the vastly inflated cost of my admission to the derelict bombsite known as the Mem.
After that it was down to my old hero, Rickie Lambert - the man we sold and never replaced at the start of the season - to score the first two Saints goals as we were roasted on the pitch.
Leaving the ground at the bitter end at least I had the compensation of thinking: "Dykesy, you tw@t!"
A wit next to me put his finger on the reason for our defeat. "I blame the ball boys," he said. "They kept getting the ball back too quickly!"

Ramsey needed an overhaul on Monday so I paid a visit to my old mate Charlie in Cardiff. Having a few hours to kill I wondered what on earth I was going to do. I bought a £3 all-day bus travel pass and took a trip into the centre of town, fully intending to go swimming. The bus system has all changed in Cardiff and it now means that rather than get a trip straight to the International Swimming Pool on the No 8 or 9 I now had to get a 38 or 39 into town and change buses in the centre.
While my journey progressed I noticed that Glamorgan were playing their first county championship game at Sophia Gardens and that Monty Panesar was in the Sussex team. It was a no brainer. I quickly changed my plans and hot-footed it to the Swalec Stadium to watch a morning's cricket in the beautiful spring sunshine.
When Charlie called later in the day to ask if I could collect the car it all seemed a simple matter. Return to the bus stop, catch the bus back to his garage, pick up the car, hand over the cash and toddle off back over the bridge.
I hadn't counted on the ability of Cardiff Council and Cardiff Bus to cause complete traffic chaos.
I went to all the bus stops I knew where the bus might pick me up and take me back - including the one across the road from where I had alighted earlier. No chance.
I ended up walking a mile around Cardiff City centre without finding the appropriate stop or any pointers as to where the bus might actually pick up.
In the end I walked, fuming and rather hot and sweaty, back to Charlie's garage having been unable to use my All Day pass. Thanks Cardiff Council, thanks Cardiff Bus.
As Woody would say: What a bunch of numpties!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Marlin in green pepper and tomato sauce

Our chief sports sub Jonesy has been looking for a new career that will make him a pot load of money. His search has been going on for years, so I am reliably informed.
Every week he will come in, like some latter-day Yosser Hughes of Boys from the Blackstuff fame, and announce: "I could do that... go on Gissa job."
Recent ideas that have come from the fertile area of his mind reserved for making a quick buck have included taking over our local hostelry (or dive as we like to call it) and turning it into a trendy wine bar and forming our own CSI team. His idea was CSI Wapping and he gave certain members of the staff jobs in his new "regime", pronouncing that Critch would be the explosive expert because he would like to "blow things up".
All very amusing but it took a new twist in the Cape Horner on Thursday night when he arrived shortly after Screws' celebrity lawyer Tom Crony joined our motley crew. Taking a quick peak at what the legal eagle was inbibing, Jonesy quickly declared he would have a pint of IPA, too.
Now, for a man who normally quaffs lager, this was a great break with tradition, and it soon dawned on us that he was actually intending to become a Crony clone.
All became clear when he turned to Critch, who is in the middle of house hunting in the Essex countryside, and announced: "I know Critch... I'll do your conveyancing. I could be a lawyer, honestly. I could do that... gissa job!"
None of us were entirely convinced, particularly the ambushed Critch.

The other day Mrs Rippers put her head round the door with a very concerned look on her face.
"Come here," she said.
"What's wrong?" I asked, but she was staying schtum.
I dropped what I was doing and joined her in the bathroom where it immediately became clear something strange was afoot.
There was this strange buzzing noise, like a drilling sound.
We wondered whether maybe there was a problem with the plumbing, or perhaps someone was attempting to drill there way into our bathroom from outside, a kind of super rat that would make Ridsdale seem merely a slight inconvenience.
As my ears adjusted, though, I was able to track down the source of the sound.
In a little beaker, just above the sink, my wife's vibrating toothbrush was still going strong.
She looked rather sheepish when I showed her the root of the problem.

I've had some marlin steaks in the freezer for some time now. I bought them from a company called Good Taste Foods who come around in a van and sell you all kinds of weird and wonderful products for your freezer.
I purchased a carton of exotic fish, not realising that some of them were not suitable for pregnant ladies - particularly the marlin and swordfish. Hence why they have been sitting in the freezer since then.
No matter, casting around for something for lunch the other day I decided it was high time I cooked the marlin. Finding a recipe on the good old internet, and slightly altering it, I set about the task with gusto.
2 Marlin steaks
half a chopped onion
A chopped green pepper
6 ozs tomato sauce (ketchup)
Half a tin of tomatoes
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
a handful of chilli flakes

Put a tablespoon or so of oil in frying pan
Heat, then fry the onions and green pepper for five minutes.
Add salt and pepper
Add in the tomato sauce and worcestershire sauce and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Then add the half tin of tomatoes and chilli flakes.
Bring to boil then pour the whole lot over the marlin in an ovenproof dish.
Cook in the oven at gas mark 4 for 15 to 20 minutes.
I had this with some cheese potato wedges with one of those packets you can get by Schwarz's or the like.
Very tasty, quite firm fish. A bit like eating a chewy pork chop. And very nice they were, too.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Dykesy's law

My colleague Dykesy on the Screws has some very strange ways about him and one is the way he comes up with some rather bizarre decrees that the rest of us have to follow. Why we follow them I have absolutely no idea, because we really should just ignore them.
Nevertheless, rather like an indoctrinated sect, we religiously follow the rules of our news editor, which are known in these parts as Dykesy's law.
And one of these strange decrees is that once the clocks have gone forward and British summertime commences that it is illegal to wear a big winter coat to work.
Now, bearing in mind global warming and the fact that only last week there was snow falling in the northern parts of the country this can be quite a chore. Plus the fact on occasion the quaint little phrase April Showers can actually mean a torrent, nay deluge, of rain. Summertime in these parts is not quite the same as it might be in, say, Australia or on the Costa Brava.
Last week though the mighty one, having given his annual sermon and ripped into anyone who wore anything even resembling warm outdoor clothing, was hoisted by his own petard.
Not having past his driving test, he arrived at work after a particularly arduous journey courtesy of our pretty unpredictable public transport system, cursing and muttering under his breath.
Having had to wait on cold platforms for an indeterminate period, and then having to trudge through London's streets during a downpour, the inclement "Spring" weather had left him with wet socks and a chill permeating every bone in his body.
One wonders whether the law may be repealed in the near future.

When you are swimming length after length of the local pool there isn't really much to think about, so you tend to find your mind wandering. This happened to me as I tried to work off some of the Easter excesses this morning.
Midway through my session I began to think about the impending birth of my second child and the things we might encounter as he or she grows into a teenager. And somehow I hit upon the worst case scenario.
What if, I wondered to myself, my son or daughter came in one day and decided to have one of those "honest" conversations? Would it go something like this?
"Hi mum, dad. There is something I have got to tell you."
Both Mrs R and myself, though obviously being filled with trepidation, would put on a united front. We would sit our offspring down at the table, turn off our phones, and ask: "Of course, dear, what is it?"
"Well, for some time now I have been hiding a secret from you but have decided to come clean. I don't really know how to tell you this but... I am a sh**head."
Can you imagine it? All that time we had been dropping off the youngster, believing them to be going to a convention of the gay/lesbian rights group, they had actually been sneaking down to Ashton Gate to see the team whose name we dare not mention.
Awful... simply awful.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Market fodder

I joined my old pal Stu and a few of his drinking buddies for a trip around Smithfield market last night. I must admit I had never been to the area before but I must say it is a pretty decent place for a pub crawl.
We started off in a boozer called the Rising Sun where the ale drinkers among us were delighted to find Sam Smith's retailing at less than £2 a pint. It meant standing in a tight corner by the dart board as the place was rammed with medical students from nearby St Barts, but pretty soon the booze was flowing.
Stu's mates were a lively crew. I'd met Chris Holmes (a self-proclaimed Cardiff City fan) before, but it was a pleasure to get to know Hughesy, the defence correspondent from the Daily Mirror, and one of the Sun news subs, Joel.
Eventually my ageing legs got the better of me and I persuaded my associates to move on to another boozer called the Hand and Shears and, to my delight, it was here that we found seats around a small table and settled in for the night.
Unfortunately the clock soon ticked around to 11.30 and we were sent on our merry way to find a taxi. Only, no one really fancied going home. Thankfully there was a late opening hostelry on the other side of the market and we sneaked in there for a chat about the merits of Quintin Tarrantino and a few more "scoops", as a pint of alcohol seems to be referred to up here.
At this point the seal had been well and truly broken and I moved into the dark recesses of the place to find the toilet. This is where everything seemed to go a bit surreal.
Behind a curtain I found a door marked gentlemen and waded into a pitch black room which seemed to have a hot-air blower giving out excrutiating warmth from a corner. I wasn't about to stop around long, having no idea what my surroundings looked like. I am guessing, therefore, that in daylight the room resembled "the worst toilet in the world" from the movie Trainspotting.
I didn't stop around for long, though, regaling the tale of the strange loo to my colleagues.
Strange, then, that when they in turn had to pay a visit they returned later to say they had no idea what I was talking about. The room was reasonably lit, albeit with candles, and relatively clean.
When I returned a good while later I suddenly realised my mistake. I was either completely blind to my surroundings or someone with a sense of humour had removed the sign which said: "These toilets are out of order, please use the ones opposite." Ho hum.

On evenings like this there is one equation that inevitably comes true. It is Me plus booze equals lost items. On this occasion my rucksack, containing a change of clothes for work the following day, my mobile phone charger and my blood pressure tablets was nowhere to be seen.
This launched a string of colourful curses.
"Did you leave it back in the Hand and Shears?" asked Stu.
"Yes, I think I must have done," I replied, and set off in search.
Reaching the hostelry a feeling of dread came over me. The back door had a metal grill in front of it and there were no lights on.
I tapped gently at the front door a few times, but it seemed obvious to me that if someone was on the premises they had headed for bed some time ago.
There was nothing for it but to return to our late drinking den and beg Stu, who is well over 6ft, to lend me - 5ft 4ins - a shirt, tie, socks and pants for the following day.
It was then that Joel piped up: "I'm sure you had it on you when you came in."
A few seconds searching proved him correct. The bag was a mere five feet from me, sitting resplendent on a leather sofa.