Tuesday, 30 April 2013


Did my shift tonight, got drunk, realised I really love what I do and wrote this.  I'm still drunk so it may well prove to be shite.  

In closed venues before gigs,
the profound silences are broken only by my bootfalls
behind centuries-old brickwork,
fired from clay that predates all religion.

There shafts of light in all hues
catch in dust formed of sweat shed before I was born,
remaining ancient and musty long after I am dead.

The smells of last night's gig -
the sweat, the beer, the arousal -
mingle with cleaning fluids, paint,
and the occasional waft from the optics.

My boots echo in the stillness,
muffled by acoustic tiles.
Every subtlety of music can be heard in this room,
audited, refined, perfected, all over the static buzz
and metalloplastic scent of enough copper wiring
to touch the edge of space.

I live and breathe the calm before the maelstrom,
the tipping point and beyond,
to a hell of a night
in these cathedrals of sound and light.
This is my London.

I'll give it a look over in the morning.  In the meantime I leave you with Faithless.  

Monday, 29 April 2013

Unintended consequences

Our Diane's bedroom window is some five or six feet above the roof of the shed.  Bill now sees the window as a new door, sort of like an elevated catflap.
He jumped in there today and Diane freaked out, which left me doubled up laughing and prompted the following doctored lyrics:

He's climbing in windows,
snatching yo kibbles up,
trying to get treats,
so you'd better
hide your yarn,
hide your mice.
Hide your yarn,
hide your mice.

He's since tried to climb out of my window, which opens not onto a shed but a storey drop.  Daft animal.  Well, come the heat of Summer she'll have to choose between sleeping with the window shut and melting or sleeping with it open and suffering the occasional cat burglar.

If he comes in the window at Hallowe'en I shall have to start calling him LeChat de Valois.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Grass, tools and evolution

I planted the lawn today.

  George now has no back garden for at least a week, maybe a fortnight.  I used aerator shoes to drive the seed in deep, like two inches deep.  Some's only an inch deep, having been raked in.  Some's at the surface, squashed in with my boots.  With any luck, a storm coming out of nowhere won't be as devastating a thing this year as it was last year.  We may end up with a half-decent lawn this Summer!  

  As thanks for putting the lawn in, I got given a lovely new edger.  I've never owned an edger before.  This one's a thing of beauty: dark hardwood handle, sturdy, quality lathework, and with a bright stainless steel blade.  I think I'm in love.  Can't wait to put in a proper border with it.  

Lastly then, the strawberries I planted last year are greening up and back on the grow.  More specifically: half of them are.  The other half are either dead or dormant.  Thankfully the surviving half are from all four cultivars planted.  This is a good thing because the weird second Winter we just had is not great for plants.  The limey London soil is definitely not great for fruiting plants (my strawbs are in compost, but there's soil beneath and the alkali is capable of creeping up).  

Those which survived are hardier to frost and more tolerant of the edaphic conditions than those which died.  

This is the basis of evolution.  Evolution depends upon life in the midst of death.  Those which survive go on to pass on those very genes which helped them survive.  This adapts the species to the prevailing conditions.  The surviving strawberries will propagate new plants - both vegetatively and sexually - until the Strawbrary is full.  Those new plants will be adapted to fit the prevailing conditions of my garden.  After a few more generations they'll have thoroughly evolved to fit the niche of "strawberry plant in Joey's Strawbrary", after which they'll need to evolve again before they'll be able to thrive half as well in any garden but mine.

Life plods on, as ever it has.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Slowed again

So the tumble dryer broke.  In a household this big, a broken dryer is not good news.  I've now got a line across most of the garden to get the clothes dry in this glorious sunshine; meaning I can't be dragging pallets about and staining wood for fear of ballsing up the laundry.  This limits my worktime severely, but there's bugger all I can do about it.

Meanwhile, the front ramp needs work done.  To facilitate this, the buddleia's going.  Once the work is done on the ramp I'll probably put in a pergola.  Pics to follow.

Et voila, pics!  How naked does that ramp look?  Makes the place look like a GP surgery.  Plus I've finally gotten to all the rubbish that berks have shoved into my hedge when they couldn't find a bin.  It filled a sack and was mostly comprised of empty cans of cheap lager.

Meanwhile, is there anything that conveys the wonder of nature more succinctly than just watching a bud unfold?  

By next post I should hopefully have my lawn replanted, unless drama has ensued.  

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Beds and sheds

I built the shed yesterday.  It took two of us all bloody day; mega thanks to Tauren who I now owe a pint.

I'm gonna offer a review of the shed: it's not a well-made thing at all.  One of the windows didn't fit the frame, such that I had to carve the frame to size with a wrecking knife.  It has too many bits and they don't fit together very well.  You need to buy a silicon sealant separately lest it leak, yet it doesn't say that anywhere until after you've bought it.  The roof felt supplied is too small to adequately cover the roof, so I'll need to buy a bucket of pitch to cover the roof.

I bought this from a major DIY chain, one of the big three.  I'll go down there tomorrow and ask them for a bucket of pitch and a tube of sealant; if I don't get them then I'll publish the name.


Glad I'm not claustrophobic...

Now that the shed's no longer an immense strew of timber, I have the opportunity to get stuck into building the beds.  I've spent this morning dividing the pallets and stacking the wood ready for reassembly, though it'll be a couple days yet as I've just ran out of nails.  

In cuter news: 

Bill has investigated the roof of the shed, the climbability of the new trellis, and found them both to his liking.  

George and I like to sit together and watch Gardeners World, me for the tips and George for Monty Don's old retriever.  "George, you wanna watch the dog show?"  So today our Sam says to me "this isn't about George liking the dog at all, is it?  You're watching this because you like gardening!"  Well no shit, Sherlock.  

Mike has celebrated the new Spring with some new growth: 

It's my day off from caring today, so I shall be spending the evening in Skyrim.

Until next time xx

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Little treats

Got the Hobbit today.  I've been sat watching that with cured meat, strong cheese, a lovely ale chutney that I traded Ruth some homemade raspberry jam for the last time I was in Leamington, and the last quarter pint of that matured mead that Neil brought back from Denmark.

Life is good.

It's a tad warm in here, even though the heating claims to be off.  I think that mead might've matured further in the months it's stood on my shelf.  It certainly tastes stronger, and the honey flavour is deeper, sharper, and more complex than a freshly opened bottle of mjød tends to be; in fact it's knocking on for a honey brandy at this point.  I shall have to import a box of bottles and store them in the attic until they're thoroughly dusty.

If you haven't tasted mead yet I implore you to try it.  Once you've fallen in love with it you can move on to sample braggot and metheglin.  Pear, clove, and elderflower metheglin brewed from citrus-fed honey and mountain water, matured until it's strong enough to wake the dead.  I haven't had a drink like that in ten years nearly but I'd walk to John O' Groats for a bottle.

Summer project, methinks.  Anybody got any elderflower they aren't using...?

Shed bearers

The compressor box is off the wall and I've built the shed bearers.

Now when you buy a shed or similar structure it'll usually say in big letters GUARANTEED AGAINST ROT FOR TEN YEARS, then down the bottom in tiny letters it'll say the guarantee is only good for one year - not the full ten - unless you put it up on bearers.  You need the bearers for the ten year guarantee.  They'll try and nudge you towards buying their own bearer kit made of timber and steel with ground spikes.  If you're putting the shed on soil then you'll need this, but if you're putting the shed on a hard surface like a patio or other paved area then you don't need the steel or the ground spikes and can just as readily build your own timber bearers.

This cost me £25 for the timber.  A bearer kit is £50+.  I already had the screws and the stain in the house.  STAIN YOUR TIMBER!  If you don't treat it with some kind of protective stain or exterior varnish then you might as well chuck a bucket of mould right at the shed and have done.

If you're buying a kit shed then check the instructions to the shed carefully.  Beneath the floorboards there'll be joists.  You need to know if those joists run parallel to the long side or to the short side before you cut your timber.  If the joists run parallel to the long side then your bearers must run parallel to the short side, and vice-versa.

My shed is 8' x 6'.  The joists run parallel to the long side, so I've cut 2x 8' and 6x 5'6".  If the joists ran parallel to the short side then I'd cut 2x 6' and 5x 7'6".  All the timber is two by four.  It should be built so that the two inch sides face into the ground and sky, giving you four inches of ground clearance.  That way any ground rot has to penetrate the stain at the bottom, creep through four inches of wood, then penetrate another layer of stain at the top before it can attack the joists.  The thicker your bearers, the longer the joists are protected.

I've stained them two colours.  The shed is blue, so any part of the bearers that'll see daylight is also blue.  The blue stain is about seven times as dear as the red stain, litre for litre, so any part that isn't seeing daylight I've stained the cheaper red.  No sense wasting the good stuff.  

I've held the timbers together both with heavy carriage bolts and broad-threaded timber screws and with a good blob of wood glue.  I'm a big fan of the belt-and-braces approach, particularly where something has to take a lot of weight.  

These'll look after my shed a treat.  The shed itself is going up on Saturday.  I've stained the panels blue but I still need to paint the trim white.  It's a kit shed, I know what's going where, so it's easier to stain it while it's still laid out flat.  

I guess that's it for now.  The shed goes up on Saturday, the beds go up on Sunday, the lawn gets replanted at some point this weekend.  Big flurry of activity coming up, but it'll all be worth it afterwards.  

Until then :)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


The Boston Marathon was bombed yesterday.  It isn't known who did it or why.  I'm not going to jump on the Islamophobic bandwagon because it's just as likely the Marathon was bombed by domestic right-wing extremists.  It probably wasn't ecoterrorists, though I've heard of more bombings in the US by ecoterrorists than by Islamic extremists.  Whoever did it is scum, anybody who bombs civilians is irredeemable scum, but calling it an Islamist plot (I've already been hearing mutterings to this effect) is grossly premature.

Solidarity to the people of Boston.

Erik Rush, a regular contributor to Fox News, had this to say:
Erik Rush calls for all Muslims to be killed

President Obama doesn't yet know who did it, but Erik Rush does.  He's named his enemy because he knows he can sell a lot of fearmongering articles to Fox on the back of this atrocity in order to profit from the post-9/11 Islamophobia which is borne by many Americans today.  He wants to make his money off of Boston's dead.  There's a term for creatures like him, and that term is carrion fowl.

A news source suggests the bomb is probably domestic.  This doesn't rule out a Muslim as there are plenty of Muslim Americans, but it does make it even more likely that the bomb is the work of some Neo-Nazi or disaffected sociopath.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Getting closer

The compressor comes off the wall on morning of the 18th and the shed'll be up that afternoon.

I'm digging the lawn over ready for replanting.

I'm treating the areas contaminated with cement.

My hand is fixed and I'm just waiting to get the shed panels off the pallets so I can build the beds.  Next weekend will be incredibly busy.

Bring it on!

In other news: the two fingers that took the brunt of the hammer seem to each have a floating lump beneath the skin.  They're smooth, so not bone shards, and I'm beginning to suspect that I've managed to give myself sesamoids with one blow.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Well I shan't be growing those any time soon!

Casting around for what to do with the front garden, I decided on a pergola overgrown with climbing flowers and fruits.  Clematis and loganberries seems an ideal combination.  But then I can also plant flowers in the spaces between the legs of the pergola for ground cover and colour, so what to plant?

I was looking at blues and purples when I stumbled upon Hydrangeas.  They look lovely, but further research reveals that kids have started nicking the flowers to smoke 'em on the basis of a myth that they contain tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis.  They don't contain any THC but they do contain Hydrogen Cyanide, the famous Nazi death gas.  Now while there isn't enough HCN in a Hydrangea spliff to kill you there is enough to risk brain damage.

A combination of conscience and the fervent desire to not have my garden trashed (again) is why I'm not planting Hydrangeas until this idiocy dies a death.  A shame really, because they do look lovely!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Shed update

The shed arrived on Tuesday.  I've improvised the bearers using old paving slabs and the sides of a wardrobe.  Where it's meant to be going however there's a compressor unit on the wall.  The compressor belongs to a lift that no longer exists and should've gone at the same time, but it didn't.  I'm now waiting on that being removed, so meanwhile the shed is still in panels, stained blue, standing on pallets with a tarpaulin over the top.

We have moved from a state of stagnation without shedparts to a state of stagnation with shedparts.  I guess it's progress of a sort.