Flamboyant Gestures – signs of middle-age

I’ve noticed the signs of middle-age creeping in for a while: sometimes I make a little noise when I get up; sometimes I might hobble for a few steps; I might even tut at loud music. Me! Can you imagine? And don’t ask me to sit cross-legged. All of these things are fine and natural, but there’s something I’ve noticed myself doing of late that’s, well, worrying.

We have a dog. A lovely dog. Dudley. He gets three walks a day apart from when it’s just too hot for him, so we’re often out and about. Sometimes when we have to cross a road a driver will slow and flash their lights or motion that it’s OK for us to proceed: carry on, you go ahead, please do – that sort of thing. Here’s where it’s started to get weird.

There was a time when I’d simply wave a casual thank-you and walk across the road. I mean, that’s the end of the relationship, right? I’ve been given the green light by a considerate motorist to pass without fear of being knocked to the ground. But instead of simply crossing what I increasingly seem compelled to do is give a splayed-fingered, Mr Blobby-type wave and do this strange, long-legged lope across the road, as if, ye gads, I must get out of the way as quickly as possible even though my safe passage is guaranteed. It’s like some theatrical demonstration of my immense gratitude towards this considerate driver.

I’ve seen people adopt this weird gait myself and wondered what on Earth was the matter with them. It’s always come across as a bit theatrical and unnecessary. Why don’t you just walk, I thought? Why the silly dance? But now I’m doing it. And let’s face it, there are many alternatives. I could give a casual thumbs-up, maybe even from the hip. Or a cheery salute: nice one, Captain. I could even cock a finger-gun, wink and strut across the road like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever – “you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk…” etc. Dudley would love that. But for some reason Lionel bloody Blair’s taking over.

I have no idea what’s bought this on this flamboyant gesture. Flamboyant is not a word anyone would use in a description of me. Ask my wife. Ask anyone. To me, “flamboyant” suggests a cravat and stripy blazer, and I’m not that person. At least not yet. But maybe, just maybe, with a little practise and some tight-around-the-arse-fit flairs, I could be John Travolta.

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive…

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The baffling resurrection of a golden hare

When I was a kid I was given a book called Masquerade by Kit Williams. The book represented a puzzle, the solving of which would lead the reader to the location of a bejewelled golden hare. Something like that anyway. I never had much chance of finding the hare, but liked the quirky artwork.

For some reason a couple of weeks ago this book popped into my head out of the blue in what was presumably one of those inexplicable wanderings of the mind. I posted on the internet my curiosity as to whether anyone had ever found this golden hare. I deleted the post relatively quickly as I decided it wasn’t really that interesting, and thought no more of it.

A few days later we were watching Coronation Street. In a conversation in the Rovers Mary was making an ardent point in her usual intelligent but slightly batty style. In doing so she used the analogy of the book Masquerade by Kit Williams, and its mysterious golden hare.

Say what?

There is no possible way I could have somehow picked up beforehand that Masquerade by Kit Williams would be mentioned in a Coronation Street script. It isn’t some pop song that I might have heard without realising before the episode was broadcast. It’s a relatively obscure book from decades ago. Yet within days it’s in my head, then mentioned in passing in a soap opera.

How did this happen?
Or perhaps why?

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The ISS experience

On December 24th Radio 4 gave a heads up that the International Space Station would be visible over the UK at about 5:20pm that evening. The sky was expected to be clear and the air crisp, the lady said. The station would be the brightest thing in the sky, moving like a very fast jet – or Santa’s sleigh. Cor, I thought. I’m up for that.

I expected cloud or some other factor to intervene, but when the time came conditions were exactly as promised: perfect. So at 5:15 I went outside, accompanied by Dudley, our Labrador, armed with hot coffee, iPad running the Star Guide app so I’d know where to look, and waited for the space station to appear.

Few things really impress me, I mean really impress me, but I watched the ISS nothing less than gobsmacked. It was a golden gem that rose from behind the houses and moved smoothly across the sky. To some this might have looked like an aircraft, but the speed – over 17,000mph – and colour of the solar panels were incredible. Yet these were not the things that struck me most.

This ISS is in orbit, in space, outside the Earth’s atmosphere. We know this. Yet the vehicle seemed so low. I know the atmosphere’s thin, but it was much closer than I’d expected, and as it described its perfect arc across the sky I was able to perceive not only the curvature of our planet, but also its size. It’s even smaller than I thought.

Some will question spending billions on the development of such a vehicle given the world’s multitudinous problems, but there is also the argument that the technological advances engendered by such endeavours can make contributions for greater benefit in the longer term. My belief is that we should push on beyond low Earth orbit – something not achieved since Apollo 17 back in 1972 – return to the moon, Mars and eventually beyond. In 2015 Tim Peake will begin a 6-month stretch aboard the ISS. I wonder if he’s open to visitors.

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T’internet, lovely ladies, and know-it-all husbands

A conversation with Mrs S this morning brought to mind this post from a few years ago…

Right. eBay. It’s a blessing and a burden ain’t it? Availability of lots of items at bargain prices, rare stuff, bits and bobs you can’t get anywhere else, usually for good reason. And a helluva lot of old tat. Now, I’ve bought and sold a fair bit of stuff through eBay in my time: guitar gear, computer equipment, CDs. Usually, it’s relatively plain sailing. But there can be problems. Oh yes.

Last week, for example, my wife bought some Very Special Ladies’ Eye Stuff, which is highly expensive in the shops. She tells me that it’s usually about £30.00 for one thumbnail-sized pot, but this eBay bargain, dear reader, was just £9.99 for three thumbnail-sized pots.


My missus was very pleased with this bargain. However, when the tiny tubs of Very Special Ladies’ Eye Stuff arrived, two of the pots contained a brown wax-like substance which looked neither special nor suitable for application to Very Special Ladies’ eyes. Rather Toxic rather than Very Special would probably be a fair assessment. The third pot contained a creamy white substance that looked considerably more as expected (although she says it still isn’t quite right).

I contacted the seller not expecting very much, but the two Rather Toxic pots were replaced with Very Special ones without question and, lo, my wife was happy again.

That was not the end, however. She’d also tried to buy some Lovely Créme for Ladies’ Faces, but hadn’t had much luck in finding the right stuff: there was Gentle Créme for Sleeping Ladies, Mild Créme for Ladies with Delicate Skin, Mild Créme for Lovely Ladies, and numerous other crémes, sérums and other things with “é” in them, but very few listings for Lovely Créme for Ladies’ Faces, which was what she particularly wanted.

I stepped boldly in, as know-it-all husbands the world over are wont to do. I promptly sought out, bid on and won on her behalf some Lovely Créme for Ladies’ Faces, at a price which, she tells me, is about a third of the shop price. It was the right stuff, the right size, the right box, the right price, the works. It arrived yesterday.

Or did it?

When I showed my wife the packet, her Lovely Lady’s Face dropped: instead of Lovely Créme for Ladies’ Faces, I’ve been sent some kind of Super Sérum! Rather than a Super Sérum, this is actually an Absolute Bugger for several reasons:

  • My wife is disappointed;
  • I look like a prize chump (even though I DID buy the right stuff – we checked);
  • It means I’ve got to contact the seller and faff around with an exchange.

So, what’s the point of telling you all this? Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I suppose for myself I should learn to mind my own business and stay out of my wife’s transactions (LOL, snicker, etc). As far as you’re concerned, make sure you exercise caution when buying products with “é” in them via t’internet, especially if you are the know-it-all husband of a Lovely Lady.

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