The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Shifting Sands

I stumbled across an interesting discussion about the perils and woes of shift working and sleep deficiency today. How it brought back sore memories.
So many of those comments regarding shift work were familiar to me. I worked shifts in the print trade for around twelve years and I would never do them again. A large part of the problem was switching between shift patterns and attempting to adapt physically, mentally and socially.

One of the problems for me personally was an inability to get a good quality and quantity of sleep on night shifts. I used to dread that pattern coming around because absolutely nothing worked for me. I’d turn in at 7am and be wide awake by 10.30am as frustrated as hell and exhausted. To rub it, in I’d probably been struggling to stay awake whilst at work.

On mornings, (5.50am-1.30pm), I’d burn the candle at both ends. I figured I was always going to be exhausted anyway so I might as well go out and enjoy myself and take four hours sleep before heading off to work.

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August 10, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow 1 Terrorism 0


Exciting times (but not in a nice way) for the old country this past few days then. Terrorism is back in Scotland after those long years since the Lockerbie air crash. The Glaswegian locals had something to say about this event though.


John Smeeting, one of the locals who tackled the terrorists at Glasgow airport was interviewed by CNN. He was asked about his role in restraining one of the terrorists:

“Me and other folk were just tryin to get the boot in and some other guy banjoed him” !

Bravo John – dinnae mess wi’ the ‘weegies’!

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August 10, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Stags and Hens


The City of Nottingham where I live has been a constant source of sightings for this curious phenomenon for many years as one might imagine. With a tight and concise city centre with literally hundreds of drinking establishments within staggering distance this will perhaps always be the case.

It wasn’t always so. I’ve never had the misfortune to have been the subject of such a revelry (only the victim) but having experienced my 21st birthday booze up in the city many centuries ago I can tell you it was a pretty lame affair by today’s standards.

Two pubs (Ah the old Flying Horse) and a four-mile walk home with my mates as there was a bus strike on was the story of my wicked abandon that night. Why I was even fit enough to be on the golf course early next morning. The pivotal moment was the ritual offering of a pint glass full of various spirits and a rousing command to drink it all from the assembled thirty-odd friends. I took a few sips and further declined, passing the steaming elixir around and thus living to fight another day.

How things have changed. On any given night around the weekend* in Nottingham City centre (*this perhaps only excludes Mondays and Tuesdays these days) there are the colourful and joyous sights of groups of pink cowboy hats adorning ‘hens’ screeching away from the back of stretch limousines and much more. Nurses and French maids are always a welcome sight of course…

Member of hen party checks her mobile

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August 10, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Nosmo King

Almost a couple of weeks in and it’s been interesting to observe some of the changes since the smoking ban came about in England on July 1st. Being a person not adverse to visiting the odd public house or two I of course as a non-smoker welcomed that fateful day when I and my friends would be able to catch our breath in a public bar and other public places.

I’ve always tried to live and let live with smokers as we all have our own particular vices. This has not detracted from my dislike of going home smelling of stale tobacco after every evening out, nor the displeasure at struggling to draw breath, especially in some bars with low ceilings. The latter is a frequent occurrence as the pubs I often visit tend to be older, more historic buildings with just such a construction. It’s been a source of resentment to me that some of those places I would no longer visit because of that problem. Now no longer however.

There have been a few problems with the fallout from the ban. Outside every public building there now appears to be an ugly pile of disused cigarette ends from the groups of people taking a desperate drag outside. One also has to fight through a thick smog to get into those same buildings sometimes. The litter bins are often draped with discarded cigarettes, balanced precariously in lines across the edge of the bin, uggh!

Another development has been the types of constructions pub managers are setting up outside their businesses. These range from a few ‘Martini trees’ with strategic outdoor heaters to full-blown marquees. The latter plastic abominations often look incongruous stood outside some of the more handsome old pub buildings and have fallen foul of the authorities. One of my locals found itself with a visit from the local council one evening due to a marquee stuck on the front of the attractive old pub. Apparently it had three sides to it which constitutes a need for planning permission one presumes.

After trying to accede to people’s need to smoke for practically ever, it dismays me to hear smokers referring to themselves as ‘victims’ now. What on earth do they think the rest of us all were for all those years whilst being forced to inhale their smoke second-hand and smell like a dirty ashtray after an evening out?

August 10, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Lowdham Festival (1) The Brian Clough Evening

The inaugural event of the Lowdham Book Festival, 2007 then and it very nearly didn’t happen at all. As for much of this soggy summer, Lowdham and it’s surrounding villages had been the victim of a huge deluge late afternoon and early evening before Brian’s event was due to kick off at 7.30. An apt time one may have imagined due to the subject matter under discussion this evening, and one that almost became a ‘match abandoned’. Finding that the stream in the field where the marquee for the night sat had been all but two inches from overflowing it’s banks and therefore sabotaging the evening was the first information imparted. Apparently the good people that labour to run the village event had to search around furiously in the locality for sand bags to keep tonight’s entertainment running. This was again exacerbated by the large rivers of water cutting Lowdham and other nearby villages off.

Lowdham at high tide!


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August 10, 2007 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tales from the Ark

What a ‘summer’ this has been. Incredibly the rain goes on and on, day after day and people continue to suffer. Many poor souls have had their homes flooded more than once with the filthy water infiltrating their home. Even worse, as one might surmise there have unfortunately been fatalities.

Evacuations continue as main streets are transformed into rivers of muddy water with people wading through chest-deep levels. Some rivers are said to be up to 26 feet above their regular height.

Main Street, Woodborough, Notts. July 2007

As usual someone is sought to blame – even for a natural disaster falling from the sky, there has to be a better way than this though. More knowledgeable people in the land buying profession tell me that short shrift is given to pre-empting what in fairness is an exceptional situation. The building of local ‘sump’ areas is said to be neglected in the search for extra profit. I have no notion whether this is true but wouldn’t find it difficult to believe.

Flooding appears as though it will be a more permanent fixture of life in the UK in the future and it’s apparent that measures will have to be considered to assist in what is nothing but a national calamity repeating itself. One can only feel sympathy for the poor people affected.

August 10, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 1 Comment

Lowdham Book Festival (2) Blog-talk with Mike Atkinson

Although a now rather overdue admission for the Lowdham Book Festival, I thought this event was well worth recording. The event itself had been moved from the Women’s Institute Hall down the road, having fallen prey to the inevitable floods the village and surrounding area had been experiencing. On a damp and soggy day then, my partner and I skipped into the talk just a minute or two into proceedings


Mike Atkinson of the ‘Troubled-Diva’ blog gave an extremely informative, lively and humourous account of the world of blogging. Blessed with the light-hearted style his blog is written with, he recounted tales of this relatively new phenomenon. Notable was his tale of a serious blog stalker who was actually prosecuted for her misdemeanours towards a fellow female blogger. This talk however covered the subject most comprehensively and would have appealed to people who had an interest in beginning a blog, and expert ‘first wave’ blogger alike. Mike covered the thorny subject of book deals for bloggers and the jealousy that can arise between fellow bloggers due to this. He maintained that there was no easy way to achieve acclaim in this idiom as blogging is strictly a meritocracy.

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August 10, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , | 2 Comments