Frozen football and Flying Fish

Both of you who’ve followed the blog voted 57 millionth best in the world, and, a survey of top bloggers said ‘Never heard of it’, will know I support a football team called Queen of the South. I don’t remember my first game, but, am told my Uncle Keith took me to see them when i was six. I’m nowhere near as dedicated as some Queens fans in attending games, but I’ve followed them throughout my life and given many many hours of my own time to help them over the years.

Going to see them has brought joy, tears and even a trip to Denmark to watch them play in the UEFA Cup, something no Queens fan would EVER would have predicted would happen. I’ve been to most grounds to see them, as far north as Inverness and Peterhead, across to Northern Ireland to see them play Coleraine and as far south as Wales to see them play Chester.

Through the years I’ve had some funny, and some less funny episodes, following the South across hill and dale……….

QOS team 76/77 season
QOS team 76/77 season

One of my earliest memories was when i was a teenager. My friend Andy and I were standing on the Terregles St terracing. We were playing Arbroath, probably in the lowest division at the time. It was freeeeezing……foggy…….and I was beginning to question my sanity. I mean we’d actually paid money to stand like an ice lolly eating stodgy pies, that would come back to haunt us in our elderly years. The game was hopeless, I’d lost the feeling in my feet, hands and other essential extremities. It was not a good night for the fairweather supporter. Still, come the 90th minute Andy & I still stood there watching, waiting, anticipating. Something could still happen. At any second…..any moment….I turned to Andy…..

‘Well, at least we got a point……’

It was just then the blonde head of Ian Yule received the ball on the left wing (apologies to Queens fans with better memories but this is how i remember it 🙂 ). The Arbroath player danced past at least three Queens players before hitting the back of the net. We kicked off, the final whistle went, game over, we’d lost 1-0.

Still frozen to the spot, Andy and I turned to each other and both said at the same time….

‘That’s it. We’ll no be back…..’ 🙂

As with most football fans, by the next home game, hope had raised eternal. We were back on the terracing, praying we’d see a nine goal thriller of end to end football with Queens coming out on top.

A lot of the funny things that happen in football, happen away from the match itself. I went to Greenock once to see Queens play Morton in a First Division game. Our minibus set off from outside the New Bazaar pub on a dull but dry day to make the eighty or so mile journey northward.
We arrived at a nice pub and I ordered beer battered fish and chips (it was during my ‘healthy eating’ stage ). It duly arrived, served by a lovely lady shouting above the din ‘TWO FISH AND CHIPS’.
I acknowledged her, switching my pint of lager to my left hand and moved towards her. I accepted the plate in my right hand and turned…………
You know that trick where magicians pull the tablecloth leaving all the cutlery and decorations still on the table? Well, I did a variation on the theme. As I turned with the plate in my hand, the greasy fish and chips decided not to come with us. The plate and I were at Longitude 65.3 Latitude 132.4 and the Fish and chips were hanging in the air at Longitude 65.3 and a bit. Despite being well cooked, they seemed to be frozen in midair, before the Laws of Physics took over and the whole lot crashed to the floor.

My dinner avec soggy lettuce
My dinner avec soggy lettuce

I looked down at the fish and chips, they looked up at me. I looked at my empty plate, it looked the other way. At this point you would have expected my loyal Queens supporters to rally round and have oodles of sympathy for my greasy plight. Instead a loud cheer went up, followed by raucous laughter and singing. I stood, centre stage, with full on petted lip, still holding my lager and a now bloody annoying white plate (actually i think the compulsory bit of soggy lettuce that you always leave was still clinging on). I sat down with my pint and hoped someone else would have a calamity to take the attention away from me.

As the minutes past and everyone returned to talking about space time continuums and multiverses , there were a couple of ‘that’s a shame Dave’ comments generally followed by slight sniggering. It was then that my faith in humanity was restored. The woman who’d served me, returned asking ‘Where’s the boy who lost his chips?’. Every hand in the pub pointed towards me.

Morton QOS at Cappielow
Morton QOS at Cappielow

‘Here son….’

She laid a fresh plate of beer battered cod and chips with compulsory soggy lettuce leaf, in front of me. Another, but subtly different, loud cheer went up, followed by some clapping. I went to give her more money….

‘Free of charge son. Hope you enjoy it….’

I could have cuddled her. My faith in humanity restored, i waded in, happy in the knowledge, there were some nice people in the world.

The game against Morton? I can’t remember 🙂

‘Football Magic’ was brought to you by David Linden and Dod Productions © 2015 follow me on Twitter @qosfc1919 and write to me at davidlinden4@gmail.com

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Dave’s Week

Well, that was a week wasn’t it. All seven weird wacky days of it. We had grown men in the shape of Rugby Union referee, Craig Joubert, running like a big wet pansy off the pitch, after awarding Australia a ‘non-penalty’ in the dying minutes of last weekends Quarter final of the 2015 World Cup.
We had the visit of the Chinese Leader, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Peng, who’s a well known folk singer in the Chinese state apartment block. They met David Cameron, the Queen and Jeremy Corbyn. If only they’d added Chris Eubank and a Dalek to that list, they’d have had the full gamete of British life. 😎

Dave the Rave and Xi Jinping
Dave the Rave and Xi Jinping

With Christmas fast approaching, both the Chinese premier and the Queen set the trends for gift ideas to the British public, with Xi Jinping receiving recordings of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the Queen receiving two of Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng’s, folk cd’s. These will surely top Drones and Call of Duty BlackOps 3 for the XBox at the top of the Xmas gift charts!

China is growing at such a fast rate, the average population height will be five foot eight inches tall by 2050. Xi also told us it was not China’s fault that steel prices had fallen to the point where many steel plants in the UK were being forced to announce plant closures or redundancies.

When quizzed on the matter Xi Jinping stated……..

“I want to answer the steel question. The world is seeing an oversupply [of steel] following the financial crisis. China also has overcapacity,” he said. “We have taken a series of steps [to remedy this]. We have cut 700m tonnes of production capacity. You can imagine the task of finding jobs for those workers.”

700 MILLION TONNES!!!! Jinping……what on earth were you doing mate? That’s enough steel to build a bridge to bloody Mars man! I think he was exaggerating as the New Statesman quoted annual production as ‘1.6 billion tonnes’ with China supplying around half. What Jinping didn’t say was, as China’s own economy slows, it’s State subsidised steel has flooded global markets slashing prices to the point where again the New Statesman quotes

“In July, it was reported that steel was cheaper per tonne than cabbage”

Now, I’m not a steel commodities expert, but, ‘cheaper per tonne than cabbage’ sounds cheap to me. So far there has been no news of cabbage growers across Europe jumping from steel bridges. That’ll probably be next week.

David Cameron also touched on Cybersecurity. In the week that Talk Talk’s security systems had been breached by a 12 year old Russian boy using a Raspberry Pi, it was topical that Dave the Rave should broach the subject. He stated “the cyber agreement is a first step towards wider potential security cooperation between China and the UK, in which each country will agree not to condone or conduct spying on each other’s intellectual property and confidential corporate information.”
Dave……c’mon…..China and Copying are almost anagrams in a bad edition of Countdown! Apart from fireworks and terracotta soldiers, which were definitely invented by the chinese, it has spent the last 50 years copying everything from jeans to i-pads to space rockets. If they stop stealing data from the West they’ll be growing only cabbage within ten years. Then the price of cabbage on the commodity markets will plunge below steel, UK cabbage growers will be out in the streets and it’ll all go belly up once more.

Dearer than steel
Dearer than steel

I mentioned Chris Eubank earlier. Younger readers won’t know who he is, but he’s famous for his lisp, and owning a big motherf***er truck. He also did a bit of boxing and likes dressing a bit dapper of a day. I don’t know him personally, but he’s always been nothing but entertaining. Well, having not heard of him for a while, he popped into the news this week, with the announcement, that, to avoid confusion with his boxing son, Chris Eubank Jr, he wants to be called ‘English’, in deference to his Dad, who’s nickname it was. I was going to say ‘We love you English’ but as a Scot………. 🙂

English :-)
English 🙂

The news that ruined some people’s weekend, was the World Health Organisation’s announcement that eating processed meats increases your chances of colorectal cancer by 18%. The fact I was eating a bacon roll at the time added to my misery, resulting in a Heimlich manoeuvre of tectonic proportions. I had to eat a sausage roll and beans to calm me down!!
The thing is, the risk of you getting colorectal cancer is still low. Are you going to avoid bacon for the rest of your life? A quick flick through this website http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/causes.html suggests 2% of us will cop it due to cancer of the colon which is less than those dying from the flu……get that feckin grill on, a bacon sarnie beckons 🙂

The BBC website announced that ‘character bento’ was trending. Character bento i hear you ask?…..what’s that? Well, you know how you go to a restaurant and ‘you want to see a nice plate of food Johnny’. In Japan apparently they’ve taken ‘a nice plate of food’ just a wee bit too far.
I’ve never been to Japan, but have heard from friends who’ve been there, about ‘bento boxes’. People working there, returned to tell me they had tried Japanese bento boxes but found them ‘disgusting’. Full of cold things and slime. Luckily, they were supplied with ‘European Bento boxes’ I thought this would consist of a cold sausage roll, a packet of Cheese crisps and a Mars bar with a little bottle of red cola. However, it simply consisted of more cold stuff and less slime.
But, the entrepreneurial Japanese, have come up with this……….

Cute Bento box
Cute Bento box

Yes, Bento box food with cute little faces on. Apparently it started in a karaoke bar in Tokyo when some young Tokyo-ites got off their face on saki. Things have never looked back! The Bento boxes taste exactly the same, but at least you have something nice to look at whilst you hunt for a McDonalds 🙂 you can read more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-34610320

My week I hear you ask…..:-) Well. I did more boring things than you can shake a stick at. Hunted for red squirrels as we’ve had our first ever visitor to our garden. I spent some time writing a 3000 word story called ‘Luke’s Escape’ as part of The Village Gossip series.

I had Sandra, star of #Gogglebox follow me ( I should point out she does follow a lot of people 🙂 ). I also sketched a woodpecker and tweeted away merrily all week. I really should get out more 🙂

My woodpecker sketch :-)
My woodpecker sketch 🙂

‘Dave’s Week’ was brought to you by Dave aka qosfc1919 on Twitter © Dodo Productions 2015 – you can email me at davidlinden4@gmail.com

Out Of The Limelight

‘I love this time of morning, don’t you?’

‘Yes, love it, love it, love it……. tiny crystal clear dewydrops on our backs, a wee bit transpiration and osmosis going on, lovely view of the garden. What else could a leaf want’

‘Well, we know what that would be don’t you!’

‘Oh come on, it’s a bit early in the morning to start with the “I want to be a flower” routine. I mean she’s not even awake yet. This obsession of yours is getting more floral by the day. Why can’t you just let it go, and be a beautiful blingy, zingy, greensy leaf like the rest of us.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but since Hairy Giant drowned us with that blue stuff the other day, I’ve felt invigorated, upsized, chlorofilled, in fact just bloody veintastic. So much so I’m thinking of turning over a new leaf……..boom booml….I’m here all week’
‘If you ask me, I think its frazzled your magnesium atoms. You’ve been on a permanent high ever since………..AND……you seem to be getting bigger before my very eyes. If you keep growing at that rate, you’ll tip over and take the rest of us with you!!
‘But, if that’s the case, how come you don’t feel the same’
‘I think Her Royal highness up there, stopped most of it falling on me, and, since I’m higher up the stem, you’re absorbing the rest. Look, I’m quite happy being a ‘normal’ leaf. Small, compact and bijous. If he throws any more of that stuff around, the place is going to look like a freak show ☺ ‘

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 20.06.15

‘Small, compact and bijous………that’s rich coming from a leaf who wants to be a flower….’
‘Ssshhh, don’t let her upstairs hear you saying things like that. You know how jealous she gets. She’ll start spitting out pollen, preening in the breeze, then the giants will appear and start peering at it with the big eye, then we get blinded by that flash, flash, flash. I mean blimey.’
‘Give over, you’re never stopped going on about how it gets all the attention, how we’re stuck down here in the shadows, dangling in the breeze, just so it can preen, preen, preen away all day in the limelight, that the Pink Giants smell it, fawn over it, touch it, admire it from afar. You’re even jealous that the bees visit it every day.
‘Well, it’s true. I’m told the bees fly for miles just to find the ‘Princesses’ of this world. They dive in, do whatever bees do inside there, and come out covered in that yellow stuff, grinning from ear to ear’
‘It’s pollen, they use it to make honey. They use it for food and the Pink Giants take the rest for themselves to put on toast……’
‘Toast…….?’
‘Yes……toast…..apparently the Pink Giants have something called bread, which they burn in a fire, slavver the bees honey all over it, then eat it with a cup of tea…..’
‘Really? ….. Bet they wish they were like us. We can have dinner and a drink whenever we want. Just sook it right up the big straw. Well, apart from the odd time when the well runs dry and the Pink Giants appear with that godawful green thing. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them giving us some water when I’m starting to droop, but, do they really have to spray it at 600 miles an hour. It’s even worse when the green snake has a leak and you find yourself hanging on under a constant deluge. Anyway, how do you know all this stuff about the Pink Giants?’
‘Those guys……..over there…..’
‘You mean, the birds……’
‘Yes, they might annoy you first thing in the morning with their noisy chatter, but they are our spies in the sky. They know a lot more than you think they do, and, they give us plenty warning when dangers around’
‘Which is particularly handy when you’re stuck two feet up in the air!’
‘Oh come on, I do like them. Imagine how quiet it would be without them. Look there’s Blackie below us, I think he’s found one of those slimy snake things’
‘Yeeuuchh. How on earth can they eat those things. It even looks horrible. They’d be better burning that bread you were on about and slavvering honey on it! Oh no, down in one, that’s not right is it….?’
‘Oh, wait, here we go, suns up and your ‘Princess’ awakens – it’s a shame your green already…..’
‘Well, look at her, all yellow, silky and georgous. That’ll be us for the rest of the day, basking in her shadow like little green minions. Doesn’t she realise how important we are to her…..oops, watch out here comes a Pink Giant……it’s coming towards us…….freeze………………………what’s it doing, woah!, too close, too close……., arrrgh, duck, hide, run, well ok, curl up, shimmy…..whatever………what’s that he’s doing, oh no, what the silver things, ouch, OMG HE JUST CHOPPED HER STEM OFF…..!
……………. *silence* ……….
‘So what was that you were saying about wanting to be a flower, all yellow, silky and gorgeous……….?’
‘Yeah, ok maybe it’s sometimes better to stay out of the limelight…….😳’
‘Out Of The Limelight’ was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and Dodo Productions © 2014

#SoccerShorts – A Legend is Born ⚽️

I thought it would be relevant with the World Cup on in Brazil (even if we are not in it 😥) to throw a short football story into the mix. My football talents are, in my mind, legendary. I’ve always modestly said if i hadn’t worn spectacles i could have gone beyond Sunday League 2nd division all the way probably to the Sunday League First Division. 😉 Instead, having been ordered by referees three times to remove my glasses in games , I gave up my football dreams for ever……… *wipes tear from eye*.
Not all was lost though, as I was eventually able to ditch the specs for contact lenses, by which time we had an amateur summer league side on the go. Now i know that’s hardly the Bernabau on El Classico matchday, but at least I hadn’t bitten anyone yet……

So, picture the scene. We’re playing a Farmer’s pub league side on a beautiful little secluded pitch just outside a lovely little village on the outskirts of Dumfries. We’d a good side out (including as I can now reveal a couple of ‘ringers’) so, we were confident of a win. It was a dry day, no wind, we were all fit and raring to go.

So, in front of our manager, a small boy and a dog, we kicked off playing up the slope. Although we had all the ball, at half-time we found ourselves 1-0 down. We were not despondent though. Kicking down the slope, our skill and intelligent play would surely see us through.

We kicked off the second half and it wasn’t long before we went 2-0 down. Heads were beginning to go down in disbelief. Only the week before we’d beaten the Electricity Board 5-3. What on the planet earth was happening. We pulled a goal back , then astonishingly we gave away a penalty. 3-1. Three bloody one down to pubfull of farmers. 😥

I swapped wings, and, we would have brought a sub on if we’d had any.

I asked the ref ‘How long to go?’

’10 minutes’

There was still time…… 👀

I crossed the ball into the area. Suddenly the ball broke to Dougie Nish, he mishit it perfectly, it was 3-2

Frantically we pummelled the now packed Farmers defence.

‘How long to go’

‘One minute plus injury time’ 😳

Then, suddenly………we got a corner…….the ball was curled into the mix. Who knows who got the last touch….who cares…..the ball was nestling in the back of the net like a sleeping baby. We’d done it.We’d rescued the game in it’s dying breath. 3-3. Not the result we expected, but hats off to the other team for surprising us. 👏

Then it happened…..in life most people get their 15 minutes of fame……this was my day. I stood just inside my own half as the now sullen Farmers team kicked off. The ball went back to their keeper and he launched it up the pitch. As i waited for the final whistle, the ball soared towards me. Down it came, landing a few metres away. It took a low bounce and continued it’s almost cruise missile like path towards me. I looked at it. It looked at me. We looked at each other. We smiled.

Standing in my own half, I launched it back to from whence it came. Up towards the clouds it went, and then, following the parabolic rules of maths as well as the laws of gravity, it headed back to earth. Their goalie was now staring at it. He was now stepping back into his penalty area. He was now backtracking faster than an Italian tank.  🇮🇹 He was now panicking. He was now reaching up. He was now falling back into his goalmouth. He was now staring at the ball in the back of his net. He……had just witnessed the greatest goal ever scored on that pitch…and…it was me who had scored it. My time had come. Forget all the four eyed knock backs, all the disappointments of not being able to dribble past professional defences, score the winner in the Scottish Cup Final or lift the World Cup…..my moment had arrived. Forget Beckham. Linden had scored from his own half to win the game 4-3 with the last kick. ⚽️ 😀 🎉

My team rushed towards me, looking just as astonished as i was. As i left the pitch to ‘bloody hell Dave where did that come from’ and ‘amazing you spawny git’, our manager (my friend Iain) let out an expletive.

I said ‘why are you swearing?’

‘Because I’ll never hear the end of that goal til the day I die……..’

………….and, he was right…….a legend was born 🙂

#SoccerShorts – A Legend Is Born was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and Dodo Productions ©. ⚽️⚽️

 

Spike and the Trip to the Vet

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There was a huge event in our household this week. Our cat had a skin problem in its sensitive area so, finally, for the first time ever, it would have to travel to the vets. Now, I don’t know about you, ( that’s BOTH of you I’m talking to 😊 ) but I hate going somewhere I don’t want to go. Now imagine how bad it would be to not even know you were going somewhere ‘not nice’, and what if Spike the cat could tell you about the trip through her eyes………

Ok ok, there is definitely something going on. Why are they being so furtive and even nicer than normal around me. Normally they feed me, give me yoghurt, let me sleep on several different rugs, chairs, laps, beds, open doors for me, shut doors, open doors, shut them again, bring mice in, leave said mice anywhere I want, not always in one piece, but today they are being even nicer. Well apart from the big grumpy one they call Dave. He’s just the same as usual. He bought me a nice box, which has a nice rug in it, and, sometimes I hide in it to keep cool. The very box that today everyone keeps looking at and pointing to.

‘Good girl Spikey, that’s your box?’

Yes, I know it’s my box. So what? There’s definitely something not right here when they’re pointing out the blatantly obvious.

‘Cmon wee yin get in.. Yesssss…….good girl’

No way sireee, I ain’t doing it, nope, nope no. Weirdness is happening here and getting in the box is the last thing I’m going to……..catnip……Nooooooooo…….don’t play the catnip trick on me……please…..no….I’m not getting in…….

Catnip, catnip, catnip, you purple and green shoot of loveliness, come ere……I lurv u…….lub lub lub u……..what……what’s going on?……. they’ve closed the door on me……nobody puts baby in the corner…….!
How could they? How could they do this to the one they love. I bet Grumpy Dave is behind this. He’s always playing tricks on everyone, thinks he’s really funny he does. Big smart arse. So, in a minute, he’ll open the door, let me out, there’ll be some laughter, some belly laughs and I can go back to sleeping somewhere quiet.

Ok funs over…..’let me out?’

Why is it no matter what I say it comes out as ‘Maeow’ sheesh………ok now the box is moving, earthquake, earthquake, everybody down! We’re on the move. I suppose that’s the best advice during an earthquake. Go outside and stand. Wait a minute. This is Scotland. We don’t get earthquakes here. Grumpy Dave is always droning on about Scotland being the safest place in the world. Well it’s not now ya big numpty, this is really happening, in Scotland….right now!

Ok, so why is everyone else so calm……..?

‘Whos a good girl….yaaeeeeesssss, good girl Spikey’

Oh, oh, they’re taking me to the blue metal dragon. I’ve seen it before. It eats Grumpy Dave every morning and only let’s him go at night. They’re opening one of its mouths and feeding me to it…..arrrrggh…..how cruel……..goodbye cruel world………catnip, catnip, catnip!

Arrrgghhhh, the blue metal dragon has eaten Fran and Kate as well. Fran is in the front fighting with a stick and a round thing trying to obviously save us. Oh no, the dragon is roaring and we’re moving.

‘Good girl Spikey, yaaeeeeesssss, what a good girl you are’

Good girl, I’m not a good girl, I’m a scared out my fur type of girl and I’m feline blue 😏

Where is the dragon taking us, I see the trees through the dragons eyes, they are running in the opposite direction. The world is ending. ‘Stop, stop it all now, I admit it, it wasn’t Grumpy Dave who knocked over your glass of wine last night, it was me, and the dead mouse was me, and the pawprints on the kitchen floor, look lock me away why don’t you……but save me from the Blue dragon and the…….we’ve stopped, I see a light…..oh. It’s changed, oh we’ve started again. What is this evil place…….we’ve stopped, I see a light……….oh……it’s changed again  and we’re moving………What is all this, we keep stopping , lights flash, we go a little bit, stop. It’s madness.

Woah! What’s that. Giant metal dragons……..everywhere………arrrgghhhh………they hiss when they stop just like next doors evil cat.

‘You looking at the lorries Spikey…….good girl’

If she says ‘good girl’ once more………..Hopefully this is just a horrible dream from which I will wake up and find myself lying comfortably in my little PetsatHome ‘Heffen expensive bed’ as Grumpy Dave calls it.

Stopped again. Getting fe…..oh wait, we have escaped from the dragon!

Fran….did I ever tell you I love…….wope, going inside strange place……….

Wait a minute, what’s that……I smell dog, I definitely smell DOG! I SEE DOG, I CAN SEE DOGS PLURAL. THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING. ok, I will stay as quiet as a mouse, oh the irony 😉 I can see 4 dogs and a bird. The bird is talking. The bird is actually talking. Dog now barking, bird talking, now 2 dogs barking……catnip. catnip, catnip………..

Please let me wake up, my paws are sweating so much, I have four little pools on my blanket. Wope, we are moving again, away from the dogs and the bird that talks. The roof of my apartment is opening. Who’s that? What are u doing, leave me alone.

‘We think she might have fleas’

Who might have FLEAS. no way Jose…….FLEAS……. I’m the cleanest cat in the world, I shower morning noon and night. There is no way I have fleas.

‘Or maybe worms……’

WORMS……..RIGHT THAT’S IT……….. The is no way any worm is inside me! …..I only eat the best steak mince (don’t tell Grumpy Dave 😎), the best fish, and, ok maybe,  the meeces and voles are not a good idea, but I don’t have WORMS!

‘Do you have a lot of visitors. Sometimes cats can be nervous around strangers, which can cause them to scratch an area’

Why are they talking as if I wasn’t here? Yeah, ok visitors, what can I say, little kids, noisy dogs, the postman, mowers, yaks, dodos, MadMalkie, giant lemon jellies……who wouldn’t be nervous.

‘Ok, I think she’s ok, but we’ll give her some drops for fleas and a worm tablet. Maybe check her out again if she has any further problems’

‘I DO NOT HAVE FLEAS OR WORMS’

‘Meow’

‘Good girl Spikey……yaaeeeeesssss’

Yeeuuch, wet stuff on my neck, how horrible are you. Nope, nope you are not no way putting that in my mouth. Christ it’s like 50 shades of Tortoisshell and this is one Tortoiseshell who’s getting ou…..clumph….cluchk……krech…..gulp…….

Ok am back in the box…..catnip, catnip, catnip!

‘Ok, she’ll be fine. I’ll see you again……’

We are OUT OF THE ROOM……….I am so sticking my tongue out at those dogs…..’so long suckers……wait until you see what happens in there…….ha ha ha ha HAH!

Oh oh, back to the blue dragon…….here we go again, stop, start, roar, more roaring, flashing lights…..I’m going to sleep……

…….well that was nice……..a nice snoozy woozy snooze….where are we…….BACK HOME……WE’RE BACK HOME…….I can see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom, for me and for you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world……………oh yeah 😀

‘Spike and the Trip to the Vet’ was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and the worldaccordingtodave.wordpress.com and Dodo Productions © 2014 😏

 

Pell of the Selgovae – Episode 1 – First Contact

First of all I’d like to apologise, not only to the thousands of true historians who will be mortified reading this 🙂 but to my History teacher, Mr Loreno Rinaldi, who, for a little while, until I dropped him to do Biology, tried to interest me in all things ancient and wise. You see, I could have done the professional thing and read up on Ancient Rome before embarking on this short story, used real proper scholarly facts to concoct a real picture of Ancient Romans in Britain, instead of just winging it as i’ve done here. However, since only 5 people will read it, i thought, why bother. So, instead, we have D’s version of events which bear no resemblence to any factual events whatsoever, for which I humbly apologise. 🙂

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Around the BC/AD bit of Earthtime the Roman Empire had finally reached the tidying up bit of taking over the whole of Britain. Having conquered the south they had reached the border with Caledonia, which would eventually become Scotland. Since it was rumoured the land was effectively empty with a few roaming savages, the Romans presumably thought there would be a few skiffles, a few rough and tumbles, a few victories and home to Rome for teatime. How wrong they would be……….. 🙂

The borderlands were populated by various tribes. Just over the border in what would become Dumfriesshire lived the Selgovae. A tribe of well organised people who lived in reasonably sophisticated small villages. A people who were not just going to give their land up to a few shiny Italians. I apologise in advance to the Selgovae, for appearing to make light of what must have been hard times but I hope they can forgive me for remembering them this way in the following stories………….Here’s to the Selgovae…… 🙂

Somewhere near the Colloseum in Rome……….

‘You want me to go to where…………….?’

Claudius Nimbus’s shoulders visibly drooped along with his eyes swiftly followed by his bottom lip.

‘I’m sure you heard me the first time Claudius Nimbus. Caledonia, we want you to go to Caledonia’.

It did not help that his Legion Commander, Titus Grabbius, was almost laughing as he said it. It also raised quite a few titters from the various Roman glitterati and soldiers who populated the peripheray of the room.

‘…..But it’s as far away from Rome as you can possibly get……’

the sniggers and laughter grew audibly louder.

‘Look, Claudius Nimbus……you may not think it, but this is the most important role ever assigned to an officer in the Roman Legion. Our scout ships have circumnavigated this land of Caledonia and, it is the last westernly unconquered piece of land before the world is ended. You will go there, conquer it within weeks and return to Rome a hero by two winters forward.
Our scouts tell us the land is populated by only a few uneducated, unnarmed savages, whereas, you will have the might of the Roman Army behind you. You might even find if you arrive on a Wednesday, it’s all done and dusted by the following Saturday’

‘Oh, I suppose, when you put it lke that. It’s just we normally send our most incompetent Commanders to places like this……..*loud coughs*………., that it’s really cold and the last scouts we sent across the border from England, have not returned’

‘Don’t be silly Claudius Nimbus. We rate you very highly, especially after you and your legion almost won the battle against the Huns late last year’

‘Look. I got confused and sent my men the wrong way. It was foggy that day. I mean, the fact we got lost, missed most of the battle and at one point attacked our own Legions, is a simple mistake anyone could have made in such dreadful weather. Surely you can forgive one itsy bitsy mistake?’

*more laughter*

‘As i said to you at the time, we all make mistakes, but that is not why I’m sending you to the coldest, wildest, rainiest, yet to be conquered rocky outcrop at the farthest edge of the Great Roman Empire……no…….no….no.no…it’s not……….Milus Vooticus……make sure you give him the map on his way out……..’

As Claudius left the room to now raucous laughter, Tacitus Gentillus was waiting for him outside.

‘Don’t even ask Tacitus, don’t even ask……….’

Meanwhile, just over a thousand miles away, Pell of the Selgovae, was pestering his
father…….

‘Dad, Dad, Corra says one of the gold people is in the forest, can i go with them to see him, please Dad’

Tarlo was getting more irritated by the minute. ‘Look, the gold people as u call them are dangerous. People say they have taken much land to the South and the people now eat stringy yellow stuff instead of oats, they march in lines, speak funny and wave their hands about a lot’

‘…….but Dad you know i am the best in the village with a bow and i have an idea on how to hide from the gold people’

Tarlo frowned. Pell was only 14 years old, but, it was as if he had been on Earth for thousands. He was always coming up with strange ideas which, inevitably got him into trouble.

‘Pell, I told you, the reason you’re grounded is exactly because of your archery skills. Tying your six year old brother to a tree, placing an apple on his head, and splitting it in half, from god knows how many miles, wasn’t the brightest thing you’ve ever done, and, if the priest ever catches wind of your sorcerical ideas, you will end up getting a ducking in the pond!’

‘…..but Dad, instead of painting ourselves bright blue which means we can be seen from miles away, why dont we use green and stick leaves and branches on to our clothes?’

‘look, Pell, we paint ourselves blue to make us look fierce and scare our enemies……..’

‘…….to make yourselves look silly and easily seen more like………daft bumblers….’

‘what did you say……..!’

‘Nothing Dad…..’

Just then there was a noise from the door……

‘what was that Pell?’

Pell ran to the door ‘it’s a WodeChat from Arla’

‘what’s a WodeChat when it’s at home’

‘Oh Dad you’re so BC………it’s a msg written on wood which if you don’t read it quickly, within a short time it disappears, Arla and i use it all the time’

‘what does msg mean………?’

But, it was too late Pell was gone. Tarlo picked up the piece of wood Pell had dropped at his behind,but there was nothing on it. Just then, it dawned on Tarla Pell was still grounded. He ran outside into the misty rain, but, as usual, he had vanished into thin air. Tarla grumbled to himself. Pell was a bit special, almost scarily clever, there was no doubt he could look after himself. no matter what scrapes he got into, he was always back by dinnertime. He would deal with him then.

Pell had tied his pony, the appropriately named Pella, up a mile back. Arla’s wodechat msg had said to meet here, near GreyMares stream. He moved silently, listening for any sound, ready to spring into action, but all he could hear were birds and the slight pitter patter of smurry rain. He reached the fallen tree, which acted as a bridge across the stream and stopped. Arla’s msg suggested one of the Gold men had been spotted in the area. Unbeknowns to his father, Pell and Arla had prepared for this day for months. They had hideaways all over the forest, where they could easily hide if they got themselves in trouble. They also had the advantage of knowing every tree, twig, path and stone.

Pell took a breath and listened. Where could she be? Arla was slight, fast and clever. She also had beautiful brown eyes, golden hair and……wham, suddenly the ground underneath his feet moved and down Pell went. As he plunged into darkness , he automatically went for his knife……..

‘You forgot about this place, didn’t you……?’

Arla’s voice was as distinctive as it was beautiful.

‘You’re mad do you know that…….scared the living bits out of me…….when did you build this?’
‘Ah, there are many things you have still to learn about me oh Pell the Great!’

As Pell’s eyes adjusted to the dark, he realised Arla had brought some sprokle, a fungus which glowed in the dark. he could now see his friend and the room in which they now sat.

‘This is huge Arla. how did you do this, and when, without me knowing……..?’

‘Well, just like we keep the sprokle a secret from the others, i decided to keep a secret from you. The rock above basically hid a sort of cave underneath. Over the last few months I’ve tweaked it here and there, brought dried food, dug a few bits out, we could hide here for weeks if we needed to’

‘Arla, you are just the most amazing girl I have ever met……..’

He hugged her, and, for a second, there was almost a spark of electricity, but, Pell and Arla, didn’t yet know about such things yet, and the moment quickly passed.

‘Eh….right then, so what do we do now’ said a blushing Pell, thankful that the sprokle wasn’t bright enough to show the colour of his face.

‘well, i’ve rigged up twine all round this hideout, so if anything comes near it will trigger the bell. Then we have choices to move quickly in any direction we want. If, in the slim chance they find this place, we’ll be long gone. One of the Gold People was seen entering the forest this morning by Yahol. If they have continued in a straight line they could be nearby. Just think Pell, this could be our chance to see one of them for the first time’

‘I know, we’ve waited a whole year for this but at least that’s given a chance for us to get ready’

Arla smiled. Pell was by far the smartest person, she’d ever met and that included all the adults in the village.

‘Let’s go to Hightop and wait for a while’

Hightop was a wooden hide, as the name suggests, that Pell had built high up in the biggest tree in the forest. It was a complex series of wooden platforms, almost invisible from the ground, that allowed Pell to see most of the central area and beyond. Ropes allowed quick movement from platform to platform. Pell had also invented a harness which hooked on to provide a safety mechanism should someone slip.

Romulus sighed. Why had he been given the job of trailing through empty lands hunting for something that wasn’t obviously there. For weeks he’d been scouting further and further north and, apart from deer, foxes and the odd wild boar, he’d seen nothing. It was nothing like Rome, cold, wet, no ripe tomatoes or beautiful lemons. Beautiful, but cold, damp and hilly. At least when he met up with Titus at the other edge of this wood, they would be returning south to a warm (ish) fort, a fire and some wine.
Just then, something hit the top of his helmet. He looked up just in time to meet something dark and rather smelly, right in the face. Instinctively, he raised his hands, lost his balance and fell to the ground. In Caesars name, what was that smell. Even worse was to come, as his, up to this point, loving faithful horse, had now dumped him into a crowd of stinging nettles. Unable to see and with hundreds of white stinging bumps devloping on all his bare bits, Romulus dragged himself on to his feet. As he wiped his eyes, he turned in the last known direction his, now less than faithful horse, had been heading, only to see a tree trunk swinging towards him. It hit him directly in the midriff, spiralling him backwards. He found himself clutching said trunk like a long lost friend, but unfortuntely for Romulus, this new found friendship did not last long, and he found himself hurtling through the air, finally landing in a muddy bog behind the evil nettle patch. He groaned loudly as he slithered in the mud.
What on earth was happening. One minute he’d pictured a roaring fire, warm furs and some Roman wine. The next, he was in more pain than the day he’d inadvertently taken the wrong door into the lions den at the Colosseum. Plus he smelt like a peasant on a bad day.

He eventually dragged himself to his feet and looked up. The rain was heavier now, which at least allowed him to wash some of the stinking mud and whatever else had dropped on him from the heavens, out of his eyes. Holding his sore tummy, he scrambled up the slope through the nettle patch again and looked for his horse.
Suddenly loud wailing noises started, the trees and bushes in the distance appeared to come alive. The noise got louder and louder. Everything seemed to be closing in on him. Suddenly two wild boar appeared from nowhere and started running towards him. Romulus had had enough. This was a place of evil spirits and madness. He turned and fled, overcoming his pain, to run, if not like the wind, certainly like a soft breeze on an Autumn day.
Although wild boar were not particularly likely to kill him, he thought these two might be evil spirit boars from the boar world of evil spirits. At this point, although he was sweaty, smelly, stinging and sore, he was definitely out of here. Suddenly, out of the now impending doom, his faifhful horse became faithful again, appearing out of the gloom like a roaring fire, furs and a glass of Roman wine. He could hear the boars breath become increasingly louder as he jumped, almost leaping completely over his horse, as fear and adrenaline kicked in. Within seconds he was flying out of the forest as fast as his faithful horse would take him

In the meantime, Pell and Arla were jumping up and down with glee. They had defeated the Gold Ones with some pig manure, a tree trunk, some bushes and some large sea shells.

‘I hope he is ok. He looked terrified, especially when Grunter and Cuddles were chasing him. I don’t think he’ll be back in a hurry’

‘I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them Arla, I really don’t, but today was a good day”

With the excitement over, Pell and Arla made their way back to the village grinning from ear to ear with a story to hide………

Next time – Claudius Nimbus starts his journey to Caledonia…………….

The Wodechat App is copyright of Dodo Productions and will be available when the film comes out. 🙂

‘Pell and the Selgovae’ was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and by Dodo Productions 2014

Crane Intergalactic Hero – The Voyage of Ineptitude. Episode 1 ‘Bloorp and the Camouflage Door’

Crane stood on one side of his new ship. Which was a good job, as there was a 1000 foot drop on the other side. He smiled. He’d finally made it. He’d finally become a Science Research spaceship pilot. To ‘boldly go’ and all that. He would prove the doubters wrong. Those that thought he wasn’t good enough, not strong enough, not quite the full shilling, with a brain whose lift didn’t go all the way to the top floor. He took one more look, drank it all in, and stepped forward towards the airlock door and pressed the button……..

Only, the button didn’t work. He pressed it again. Nothing moved. He stared at the button. It didn’t seem real, as if someone had……..and then he heard the sniggering from behind. He spun round to find his crew, some bent double, stifling bags of laughter in their socks and bellies. He turned back to the ‘door’. It took a few seconds, a few touches and a couple of licks of fingers, before it dawned on him. The sods had drawn a full size replica of the airlock door on the side of the ship and covered up the real door with camouflage tape*.

*camouflage tape – a chameleonesque material, made from graphene, dosed with heavy Xerium*, capable of changing colour and shape to match its surroundings.

*Xerium – one of the first ‘superelements’ first found on the planet Voris, one of the first inhabited planets found during Earths early voyages into deep space.

Crane had realised early on that there were people who wanted him to fail, and, as a result, they’d given him, what looked like on grapheneplus* © 😎, the worst crew of reprobates ever assembled. He would prove them wrong and transform the idiots they’d given him into the best space crew ever, even if it drove him to spend all his time on SpaceTwitter.

‘Ha ha, very funny, good jibe, never saw it coming…..get it, never saw….it …coming….oh never mind’

More sniggers……..

* GraphenePlus – GraphenePlus had been discovered in the early 21st century. Thin, flexible and tough, it and it’s variants now had many uses, including flexible display screens, and the Google Eye

‘Ok. Enough. If someone could show me where the real door is and we can get this show on the road. We’ve got less than 48hrs to get this ship ready to launch and I need you lot to start behaving like adults……’

Even more sniggers……

Behind the still chortling crew from hell, a door slid open. Three more members of his new crew walked out onto the loading bay. With twenty ships leaving Earth, all with the same mission, there had been a mad rush to choose a crew. However, by the time Crane had received his email, he discovered all the other ship pilots had long since had theirs, leaving Crane with no choice but to take what was left.

So, what stood in front of him was the planet Voris’s leftovers. The other pilots had obviously chosen all human crews leaving Crane, with Bloorp, Exar and Trest, three of the planet Voris’s indigenous species, who’d been brought back to Earth, because they were the only ones scientists had been unable to work out what on earth they could do. Five years on, their skills and purpose were still a mystery. Crane had been well and truly stitched up. Here he was, on what should have been the pinnacle of his scientific career, exploring the far flung corners of the galaxy to better humankind, with a human crew of childish pranksters and the planet Voris”s most useless aliens. Crane groaned, sighed, shrugged, sighed some more and then, broke wind. He was about to turn round, admit defeat, call the whole thing off, tell the crew to go home, when Bloorp said……

‘It’s over there….’

Crane turned around…….Bloorp was a Bloorper from Voris. Squat, always looking as if he was wearing a lifebelt under his uniform, and, with what could only be described as a large magnifying glass for a head, he had apparently never spoken a word in all the 5 years scientists had studied him……….

‘What did you say?’

‘The door…..it’s over there’ …..pointing his little fat finger at the ship.

‘Show me’ said Crane, still shocked at hearing Bloorp speak, wondering whether he was as daft as the rest of the crew.

Bloorp, waddled over to the ship, and held out his hand. Suddenly a tiny ball of light floated from Bloorp’s finger*, towards the hull. Crane watched as the camouflage tape, appeared, glowing, before becoming transparent, revealing the entrance to the ship.

* Bloorp had, what appeard to be, only one finger on each hand, which had been slightly misconstrued on several occasions, leading to minor altercations with members of staff and the public

‘Oh Bloorp, they told me you were the most useless alien the planet Voris has ever seen…..well….apart from your two friends…….but that was genius’

For the first time in a while, the crew had stopped laughing, mesmerised at what Bloorp had just done. They muttered, staring at Bloorp as they trudged past him, through the now open hatch, into the ship.

Once Crane and the crew had disappeared through the doorway, Bloorp turned towards Exar and Trest, revealing his real face on his magnifier, started to glow, shot thirty foot in the air, pirouetted and landed next to his Vorisian friends.

Bloorps magnifier changed colour and some weird shapes appeared, floating in space in Bloorps ‘head’.

Exar and Trest smiled. Bloorps hieroglyphics simply said…

‘This is going to be fun……..’ ☺️

Crane Intergalactic Hero – The Voyage of Ineptitude. Episode 1 ‘Bloorp and the Camouflage Door’ was brought to you by @qosfc1919 and Dodo Productions © 2014

3D and the NotSoSmart TV (aka AVATAR the unwatched 3D version)

It’s been a sad week for all of us in the family, as our Dad passed away suddenly on Wednesday. He was the nicest, quietest man, who never wronged anyone. He didn’t know Twitter, computers or blogging but he did have a sense of humour and he knows that, as part of coping with his death, humour would continue to play a big role in getting me through these days. He’d appreciate this little story which only happened last night. It’s dedicated to my Dad, Eric……

My stories were never going to be about members of the family. I have a plethora of characters I’ve made up along the way and there’s always things happening in politics or sport to provide enough fuel for my meanderings. However, none of the characters involved in this short skit would be upset by what I’m about to describe and I’ve already told them that………😉

So…… Fran’s uncle and auntie had booked to come over from Ireland this weekend. When they heard the news about Dad, they said they wouldn’t come. However, I knew they would lighten the load a bit so, we agreed they would still get the ferry to Stranraer and drive the 90 miles to our home……..

Now, I bought a ‘smart tv’ back in January, a 46″ Samsung thing with 3D and apps etc. it was easy enough to set up and came with two sets of 3D glasses. After having had the thing for a couple of weeks, we couldn’t resist buying a copy of AVATAR in 3D and setting things up to give it a go. I was t really expecting much. I’d seen the original film in 3D at the cinema on a humongous screen. There was no way it would be as good as that. I’d always remembered a scene where some general is talking to an audience. In 3D it looked as if the actors were sitting right in front of us, with a bald guy in particular, who looked so close to me, I remembered mimicking patting him on the head (yes childish I know ☺️)

So, we got the telly set up, switched on the active 3D glasses, et voila, there was AVATAR, in our living room, in three glorious dimensions. It didn’t quite have a the depth of the big screen but I was impressed, very impressed and, wearing contact lenses most of the time, was looking forward to more 3D special nights of televisual entertainment……..

4 months later, the glasses now covered in a slight layer of dust, suddenly, last night, someone suggested we get AVATAR out and impress the relatives with our 3D gizmo. Now, there were five of us and only four sets of glasses. However, since Kate had already seen it, she opted out and was left sitting watching us get set up. Both Fran’s Auntie and Uncle wear glasses, so they looked a bit awkward sitting with the 3D glasses on, as did I, who’d taken my lenses out of tired eyes earlier.

So there we sat…….

‘ start it then D…. Start it….’

‘Give me a minute, there’s more remote controls here than I can shake a stick at……..’

That’s the only thing with modern technology. We have about six different remote controls, and, to make things worse, in the dark, wearing 3D specs on top of my normal glasses, I was trying to switch AVATAR on using the cordless phone………. ☺️

After a couple of more minutes of technoblunder, we were off and running……. 😳

‘Thats it, that’s it…….ok, can you see 3D’

‘I’m not sure Frances, I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to look like…..’ said Fran’s Uncle.

‘Does everybody have their lights flashing?’
‘What bloody flashing lights’ I said

‘The lights on the glasses. There’s a little button to press, remember…..there its on the screen, mine are on….’

Fran was right enough. It was coming back to me now. There was a button on the glasses and I could see the green indicator on the tv with the message ‘3D glasses now connected’.
Now, the rest of us tried the same thing and, randomly, little messages of ‘connection’ success started appearing on the bottom left of the screen.

‘Ok, can everyone see 3D now?’

‘I can’t tell you whether I’m looking at three, two, or just the one bloody direction’ said uncle Ian.

Then Fran said the immortal words……’mum, what can you see……?’

Kate, as we mentioned earlier, was sitting watching the chaos unfold with no 3D glasses on.

‘Perfect, it’s perfect….’

‘What do you mean, it’s perfect……it should look fuzzy to you….’

‘Nope, it’s as clear as a bell’

There was so much going on, all in the dark, people putting glasses on and off , pressing connection buttons, taking the batteries out and putting them on again, that we’d forgotten to check what the one person without 3D glasses could see……… 😳 ………then, it dawned on us. We’d forgotten to switch the 3D setting on one of the menus on the TV itself!

‘ for goodness sake D, were faffing around all that time and we’re not even in 3D mode…..!’

By this time, the cats offer to play scrabble with me, looked the much better offer…..

‘Nope, still looks 2D to me…’ Said a now grumpy Fran.

‘Well, I’m trying to push these buttons on the remote in the pitch black and, every time I go back to the menu, the 3D option says OFF………..I’ve no idea why it’s doing that….’

‘What are those other options with one person, two and that other thing at the end?’

‘I’ve no idea. We’ve only used it the once, how should I know……I’ll try it…..’

Five minutes later, we were now all looking at a blurred picture.

‘Jeezo, that’s not right…’ I exclaimed, looking for an exit plan.

Eventually, after more darklit, now random, button pressing, Fran exclaimed’

‘I’ve got it, that’s 3D……perfect………..does everyone have 3D now?’

I’d lost interest by now, we’d missed the first half hour of the film and fran’s auntie and uncle looked as interested in 3D television as if I’d started explaining to them how Twitter works……….

‘Nope, just looks the same to me’ said uncle Ian, who in the reflected light of the amazing ‘smart’ tv, looked as if he’d given up as many ghosts as I had.
‘Well, you try my glasses…..’

Uncle Ian swapped glasses…….

‘Oh, yes, I think that floaty thing is coming towards me… Ooh get it off me……’

‘Its the glasses’ said Fran ‘I can’t see any 3D with uncle Ian’s glasses’

We worked out, in the dark, by a studied detailed 2 by 2 factorial statistical experiment…….. or just random swapping of glasses, or one of the two,☺️, that two pairs of glasses worked and two didn’t. It then donned on us that we’d bought the two extra ones online. Although they were proper Samsung glasses, maybe they were copies or the batteries were not so good. After battery swapping experimentation and more pressing of buttons, we came to the conclusion that none of us ever wanted to watch AVATAR, in any three, four or indeed five dimensionsional status, ever again.

‘I think I’ll be off to bed’ said Uncle Ian.

Never a better statement had been made by anyone all night…………. within seconds the ‘notsosmart’ TV was off, the 3D glasses were cast asunder, and duvet time beckoned……😎

‘3D and the NotSoSmart TV’ was brought to you by SMILE and Dodo Productions © and dedicated to our Dad, Eric Linden, who died on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 😔

The Pasta Maker

I’ve always had a penchant for trying out new cooking ideas. Although I’m by far the worst cook in the house (I narrowly beat the cat in a cook off last Xmas) quite a few of our ‘special’ meals are ones I tried first. Initially I was your typical bloke in a china shop. I’d have pots in places pots had never been, implements, condiments lying around, all to the detriment of the God of Kitchen Tidyness. I also started buying loads of cookbooks with the vain intention of opening one of them eventually. Even worse was a phase of buying cooking equipment. From fancy frying pans to pasta makers, I was the MAN. The man who didn’t know what he was doing………….

The pasta maker was a classic example. I’d probably watched some Italian Cook on sky 247 Good Food channel, produce thin beautiful spinach and ricotta filled ravioli, using one of those little silver pasta makers, which clamp on to your worktop and produce beautiful pasta with ease.

20140418-030358 pm.jpg

It would probably be a Saturday night. Couple of glasses of wine, nowt much on TV and I’d be bored. Next minute I’d be on Amazon dot co of the UK, trawling through the Kindle store and then………I’m looking at pasta machines. One minute I’m glazing through the various pasta makers and suddenly, wooomph, I’ve ordered one.

Sunday morning, memories of the previous evening fully located the land of vagueness, draped in misty clouds and non surprises. Then, a giant coffee fan clears the mist and a silver pasta machine appears…….with a hefty price tag attached. Oh god I didn’t order a pasta maker. Please tell me I didn’t. Yes u did……….. I’m a fool, I was a fool……..I still was……. I didn’t dare tell the household what I’d done, for fear of mockery and derision (not necessarily in that order). They’d find out soon enough……

Two days later, it arrived. I was actually quite excited. Well, I wasn’t getting out much these days, so the prospect of something to grapple with, was slightly higher up the Richter scale than normal. I took it out of the box (#notetoself – first mistake! ☺️). It looked innocuous. Small, shiny,and silvery. How hard could it be.? Even the instructions looked simple. Make a dough, roll it out a bit, stick it through the machine a few times and, et voila (or whatever that is in Italian), I’d have tagliatelle for tea.

All I needed was some 300g of ’00’ flour and 3 eggs. How simple was that. 😳 I waited for days until I was going to be ‘home alone’. I’d secretly planned this using stealth and diplomacy, normally only used by experienced world leaders, to a point where I was now left alone with some flour, eggs and a pasta machine.

I weighed, then laid my flour out on the board. The board wasn’t quite big enough ( a phrase I’d heard many time during my life……😔) and, as a result, the flour was quite close to the edge. I soldiered on, creating a hole in the middle for eggs. I cracked them open and plopped them in the hole. It wasn’t long before I realised, this wasn’t going to plan. A rivulet of egg yolk lava, was making a break for it over the side of the flour volcano. I tried to retrieve the situation, but, within seconds, egg white and yolk lava was now crescendoing off the edge of the board and over the workbench. The more I tried to get it back on the board, the worse it got.

Within a minute, the volcano had erupted and my first attempt at pasta making had hit the buffers. I cleared up…………… I could have given up at this point but, it’s easy to give up isn’t it? Very easy indeed. It’s much easier to give up than keep trying. Sometimes, giving up is the right decision but this was not the time, the place. I would keep going…….

I decided to look up ‘how to make pasta’ on YouTube…………within 32 seconds of watching the video, I realised now stupid I’d been. The idea was to put one egg in the middle at a time and mix it in. Not all three as I had done. I had it cracked……

I started again. This time I would put ONE BLOODY OBVIOUS EGG IN AT A TIME!

This was working. I moulded and blended the egg into the flour like an artisan. It was sticky. I cracked open the second egg and dlopped it in. I went over to the sink to wash my hands before the next bit. As I turned back to delve my fingers back into the finest pasta mix which would be made in the village that morning, my eyes widened. Next doors cat had come through the open kitchen door and was now on the worktop. Now, next doors cat wasn’t any ordinary cat. It was a Bengali monster, with no morals and it was now heading towards the flour and egg mix. As it’s tongue started licking the egg yolk I flipped……….yaaarrghhhh!…………..yaaarrghhhh, yah!

Now I’m not sure what ‘yaaarrghhhh!…………..yaaarrghhhh, yah!’ meant, but all it resulted in was the cat scattering the embryonic pasta mix all over the place. I chased the cat out of the kitchen into the yard. I turned around. yaaarrghhhh!…………..yaaarrghhhh, yarrgh…… that darn cat had created a white Xmas in April.

I was about to drop to my knees when fate tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of the embarrassment that would ensue if the family returned to find me pastaless. I started to clean up. Nearly 32 minutes later the kitchen was spotless. I’d now been at this palaver for two hours. I was on the verge of calling the police and charging amazon.co.uk with aiding and abetting, when I discovered the solution to the problem. There were no more eggs. I’d run out. A whole box of eggs gone, finito, vanished.

I washed the pasta maker, put it in its box, where, to this day, it has resided ever since……..😊

‘The Pasta Maker’ by @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions

If you liked it please retweet or like 😃

University Challenge World Leaders (and Boris) take on ‘Donetsk’ University.

Hi, I’m Jeremy Paxman, and welcome to this weeks University Challenge Special, live from Donetsk in Ukraine. I’m joined by teams from Donetsk University, who stormed into the final beating the University of Crimea into a pulp in the first semi final, and, our World Leaders team, who received a bye in the second semi-final, after the Ukrainian Army team didn’t turn up.

Ok, so let’s meet our teams. First of all, we say hello to the Donetsk University team……..

‘Hallo, I eem from Donetsk University, studeeing Arms and Munitions Support…….

‘Hallo, I eem elso from Donetsk University, studeeing Covert Activities in Meeleetary Kombat’

‘And our 3rd member of the team……’

‘Hallo, I eem also from Donetsk University, and heff leeved here all my life, end am studeeing the geographee of Yukraine, including all road, power and transport leenks’

‘And finally the captain…..’

‘Hallo, my name is Vladimir, I am from Mother Russia and I eem studyeeng the faces of de udder team’

APPLAUSE

‘Before we move on to meet our second team, I just wanted to point out that it’s ok to remove your balaclavas if you want to’

…….sniggers and snorting from the Donetsk University Team…..

‘Ok, strange lot indeed…….let’s move on to our second team……’

‘Ok, my name is David Cameron and I’m the Prime Minister of Great Britain’

‘My name ees Chancellor Merkel and I am the leader of Europe……oh sorry I mean Germany and I am ze coach off the Merkel Meerkats Basketball team’

……….and our 3rd contestant…..

‘This is all spiffing what, My name is Boris, I’m the Mayor of London, bish bosh, and i haven’t the foggiest as to why I’m here, but tally ho chaps….’

……..and the World Leaders….and Boris by the sound of it’s team captain….

Hi, my name is President Obama, I am the leader of the Democratic Free world, President of the United States of America, coach of the Obama Saints basketball team and I DO not worry…..’

‘Ok let’s get started. Here’s a starter for ten. It’s a music question. For ten points tell me what this is….’

……Music starts……

…………………………………………………………………………’ nobody? Surely……..somebody………..
…………… Donetsk………surely someone from your team………..no?’

‘WORLD LEADERS JOHNSON’

‘Oh, Bish Bosh…….is it Elgars violin concerto in B minor?’
‘No you lose 5 points………..nobody from Donetsk at all…..no……c’mon…..you MUST know it……….ok…nope……..well, you’ll kick yourselves it’s your own Ukrainian National Anthem……..how embarrassing, you would think you’d never lived here……’

‘Ok here’s another starter for ten…..A country sends thousands of troops in to another country, separating a section of it from its parent, declares a vote and calls it it’s own….what is this called?’

DONETSK VLADIMIR

‘Eez eet success’

………sniggers from the rest of the team…….

‘Nope, you lose 5 points……..World Leaders….?’

WORLD LEADERS OBAMA

‘Is it annexation?’

‘…… At last someone is off the mark. 10 points to you, here is a 3 question bonus picture round. First of all, what is this………..?’

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*whispers between World Leaders team….*

‘We saw these pictures before, 3 or 4 months ago when we were looking to see if it was true that the Soviets we’re building up their basketball facilities……..Yes Mr Obama you’re right I think in the end we decided it was an ice cream making factory……Yes David, that’s it, we did. You are a genius……….Bish Bosh, fillies and chaps……but aren’t those tanks?……….Don’t be zo stoopid you buffoon….zees peectures were examined by the ZIA, EMI5 and 3 EU Papershufflers………’

‘Have to hurry you I’m afraid’

‘WORLD LEADERS OBAMA’

‘You don’t have to buzz as it’s your bonus round’

‘Sorry man……is it an ice cream factory…….?’

‘Nope, it’s a picture of the build up of tanks on the Soviet/Ukrainian border, taken 4 months ago’

….and this picture?

‘Is it a soldier?’

‘Yes, I think even my 5yr old niece could tell me that. I’m looking for the specific country and location of said soldier’

‘Is it a Ukrainain soldier in Donetsk?’

‘You were really close there…nope it’s a Russian soldier in Donetsk right now surrounding this building as we speak’

*sniggers from the ‘Donetsk University’ team*

Ok, and finally this…….

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‘Is THAT the ice cream factory?’

‘Nope, that’s a secret underground military base which the Soviets have built under the Ukrainian capital Kiev’

*gasps from the Audience*

‘Ok your next question for 10 points is on energy. Your gas supplier suddenly increases your gas bill by 80% and threatens to cut off your supply if you don’t pay. What is this called?’

DONETSK NUMBER 3

‘ goot feenancial practees?’

‘No you lose 5 points. World Leaders………and Boris?’

WORLD LEADERS OBAMA

‘Is it gross exploitation and blackmail?’

‘ten points to you, here’s your bonus picture round’

‘For 5 points, tell me who this is?’

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‘ that’s easy. It’s that asshole Putin…’

*noises and commotion from other team*

‘Oops Vladimir appears to have fallen off his chair……are u ok Vladimir? He’s choking, someone get him a glass of water………gosh, he’s quite small no wonder you got all those cushions on your chair, we wouldn’t be able to see you……….ok while they are sorting him out we’ll carry on with the bonus picture round……ok for 5 points….who’s this?’

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‘Sorry, we don’t know. Looks a nice man but no idea sorry….’

‘It’s Vladimir Putins father…….and lastly for 5 points…..who’s this?’
>

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‘Well, we don’t know but based on the other questions, is it…..Putin and his mother?’

‘Mama……’

‘Sorry, it’s not your turn Donetsk…….are you ok Vlad, you’ve got a hankie out there’

‘She was so beautiful……’

‘Yes she was Vlad, we need to move on……’

*The gong goes off……..*

‘Well, that’s it. Thank you both sets of contestants…. And the winners are the Western World Leaders by 30 points to -10…….well played…..everyone……’

‘Niet Niet, these weel not happen. Surround them……’

*vladimir takes his balaclava off followed by gasps from the audience……*
‘Ah Mr Putin, pleased to meet you. I thought there was something wrong when none of you knew your own national anthem!’

‘Never mind that, arrest heem and hold the rest of these so called leaders. We deed not lose, thees prrogramme weel not be televised, my modder would be proud….hail Modder Russia’

Outside, 2hrs later

‘Hi, I’m outside the Donetsk University Library, where 2hrs ago during a recording of University Challenge, Vladimir Putin annexed the building and declared it part of Soviet Russia after the audience voted to secede from Ukraine. President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron were all released but allegedly, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson voted to secede to Russia along with the audience. Jeremy Paxman was also released but only after confirming the ‘Donetsk University’ team had won the game by two hundred points to zero.

We’ll keep you updated on any further news. I’m Tony Preccaro, Have a great evening….’