August 15, 2020

40 days of lockdown…

Lockdown extended.

Good morning folks

I trust this finds you fit, well and safe.
Here is the latest hotchpotch of thoughts, observations and nonsense from La Ciudad Blanca.

Lockdown extended…

….Until May 10th!

The President was explicit in one of his speeches this week, that shorter lockdowns have worked in other countries, because those people did what they were bloody well told! (Not his exact words, but people in some regions have just been doing whatever they want. It is actually illegal to leave the house without a mask right now. Not many punters in this diddy corner of AQP seem to bother. I got downstairs the other day, opened the door and saw a bloke without a mask, realising that I had forgotten mine, ran back upstairs for my mask, then saw the maskless guy get back into his ambulance!)

There is a LOT of mobile trade from car boots, trikes and pick-up trucks, all armed with loudspeakers monotonely balling their wares.

Which is more risky?

Going downstairs to buy 2 dozen eggs off a bloke from the boot of his car, or traipsing to the local supermarket and mixing with half the populace of the city? I really don’t know.

When will the lockdown end?

Ask Mr. Vizcarra!

I’m not going to slag off my neighbours this week (not even the bloke shouting down his phone all night until 5am).

Peace and love, deep breaths, OMMMMMMMM….

Ostrich Syndrome  and Cabin Fever Giddiness.

I’ll be upfront and honest. I actually don’t mind the lockdown.

The three of us are safe, we’ve got enough food in, I’ve got coffee, I can go for a run every day, I’ve got enough ale in for a moderate session on Saturday night.

In other words, I’m alright Jack!

Sadly/inevitably that is the mentality/mindset that a situation like this spawns.

Your world shrinks and shrinks and shrinks, as does your concept of the future.

We’ve got flights booked back to Blighty in August for jollies and I hope, hope, hope so much that we can go, but, I am not really thinking that far ahead, nobody knows.

One of the reasons we moved here to White City was for the Bairn’s school. It is a cracking little place, just nearby. We paid our inscription fee (not much more than a few bob short of a Grand, eek! Eton must be cheaper on a day rate basis).

Then she got 2 days in before everything was closed down. It is likely that all schools, universities and organisations will be closed for the rest of the year.

(It is a not-for-profit organisation. The currently monthly fees barely pay the wages of the staff, in fact with a reduced monthly fee in April, they made a significant loss).

Last night there was a 2hr Zoom Parent’s evening/emergency meeting.

The current situation has split everybody into separate camps.

  • Those who simply cannot afford to pay monthly fees.
  • Those who want to defer for a year.
  • Those who want online teaching.
  • Those who don’t want online teaching.
  • Those who will pay, just to keep the school open.

It is simply not sustainable nor financially viable, nobody wants a school to close, but sadly, I will be amazed if it stays afloat.

I stopped reading the news this week. It is grim reading and who knows if any of the figures and spin we hear are actually true. I have no idea where this whole situation is going; locally, nationally or globally. I go out once a week-ish for food and it is like a ghost town, everything closed, absolutely everything, bar the supermarket (which must be doing pretty well, there are always people who gain in a crisis).

Tuesday morning I think it was, I found myself in the most uncharacteristically/amazingly good mood I have felt in yonks. Not sure if my porridge had been spiked?

Got up, had brekkie, filmed a Britanico Top Tips in just 3 takes (instead of the usual 500), went for a run on the roof, life was good.

After an hour of rooftop trotting, I realised that I hadn’t even looked over the wall. As always I’d put my cap on, sunglasses on, music on and head down. My world was a 12.5 metre back-&-forth patch of shabby roof tiling for one hour. An hour of pure daydreaming escape.

When I did 12hr shifts at the Brewery, nights were the worst and the 3am dip was the very worst. (A time when your brain is asking your body “Why are you not asleep right now?”). After as much caffeine as possible to sustain you through the night, at 5am there often came a strange 5am high of pathetically tired giddiness. A case of “I am happy, but I have no idea why!”

Giddy for an hour before I snapped back into my custom grouchiness after dinner. Sometimes it’s best not to think nor dream too far ahead…

To be honest, in a lockdown (providing you have the essentials and are not somewhere like Mogadishu) it doesn’t matter if you are in Bournemouth, Belfast, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Baker, Barstow or Berdoo. We all learn to adapt.

RIP Norman Hunter.

726 appearances, 28 times for England. The South Stand will be named in his honour. Bite yer legs!

Back to work?

Not yet! Not for me anyway. There was a survey about technological capacity, internet speed and the like, and I failed!

Britanico are going online in May. It is a HUGE project and hopefully I might be teaching again in June. Watch this space…

To be or not to be…

“A good teacher should inspire students to push themselves” (said somebody once, maybe). It is an age old adage that you remember your bad teachers as much as your good teachers at school.

Good: I always had brilliant Geography teachers, I wanted to be a Geography teacher, but getting a “U” grade (instead of the predicted “B”) kind of finished that dream! Rocket Robson was a great teacher and Mr. Gilbert was an eccentric version of Brian Blessed. I loved Geography, but I was really crap at exams.

Bad: I always struggled with Maths, but Mrs. Hughes completely terrified me into scraping a GCSE pass.

Ugly: Mr. Mcmanus (Physics) was just an evil, evil bully. I wasn’t a bad lad, but the lad I sat next to needed glasses and refused to wear them, so he used to ask me to relay what the teacher was writing on the board. I got singled out for talking in class and had to kneel on a tiled floor with my arms in the air for an hour. Japanese torture.

What did it teach me? That I didn’t want to learn Physics with that Nazi!

Mrs. Hughes (with all respect, a useful phrase to precede an insult) looked a bit like an angry toad and forced me into dropping History when it came to “Options” time. History really should be compulsory surely?

Mrs. Baines (English) got me mixed up with another student at a Parent’s evening and my Mum never forgave her/me!

The last time I read Shakespeare was in 1988. I had a completely mad, unhinged and semi-psychotic English teacher (essential qualities all ticked!)

Her name was Granny Gawsden and I am not sure what her beef was, but she didn’t like me, nor any of the other students.

It was the same routine every class: A cheeky lad called Simon Brown used to ask to go to the toilet after the first 5 minutes. Granny Gawsden would ask if he really needed to go, he would say he had diarrhea, then he would disappear until 5 minutes before the end-of-class bell, returning stinking of fags, Lynx and mints.

We never really learnt much and Shakespeare was just plonked on our laps with no real context. I’ll be honest, I hated English at school, I didn’t have one teacher who inspired me. If you had said that it would be my trade 30 years later, I would have laughed. I just hope I inspire some of my students…

Anyroad, I had semi-offered to be part of a project at work for the Cultural team, sometime back in January. I got a quick heads-up that something was happening last Friday night, then an email at 9:30pm Sunday night, asking for a finished video by 10am Monday morning!

Learn these lines, now!

“To be or not to be?” It almost wasn’t!

“Hamlet” as you have possibly never, ever seen it before.

Watch THIS. (In Spanish, but my rambings are in English at the start and the end).

I had to lie down afterwards too!

Rooftop Trotting – As useless as a barge horse…

No records broken this week, but plenty of sweating on’t roof.

There is a phrase “As useless as a barge horse”.

Right up until the 1960’s, heavy horses would pull barges along canals and rivers. An extremely efficient mode of transport

They could carry up to 50 times what they would have carried on a cart and potentially 100 times their body weight. (Interesting fact, and true! This blog nonsense is in danger of veering away from the nonsensical into semi-educational).

The horse was however living on borrowed time, both historical (with the advent of the steam engine) and in the fact that they couldn’t pull barges all their lives and would invariably get sold on cheap to farmers, who would get them home thinking they had snapped up a bargain at the market until they got them to plough a field and at the first point of turning (the limit/edge of the field) the horse and whatever tackle it was towing would crash through the fence/hedge and keep ploughing in a straight line until eternity!

Not used to turning, after a semi-lifetime of walking towpaths barge horses were pretty much useless as farm horses. Hence the phrase “As useless as a barge horse!”

Whereas, I would be a useless barge horse myself, as I am used to turning every 12.5 yards. What I do on the roof keeps me sane, it might keep me semi-fit, but in the grand scheme of things (fast becoming an overused phrase) is it of any use?

Part of me wonders whether races (i,e. A gathering of folk all huffing and puffing together) will ever start up again in the near future?

After the Lima Half Marathon (cancelled as of today), I did plan to switch to the hills with a possible BIG mountain project, after all I have 3 monster volcanoes towering over me.

Happy days! Getting beasted by my mate Charlie, up in Ancash!

Will running for an hour on a flat roof be useful training?

Answers on a postcard please.

Last of the Cod Liver Oil!

Pretty much all my life, I can remember taking cod liver oil (either as disgusting liquid, or popping a tablet) every morning. My Dad swears by them, and so do I.

However, with my last Blighty Jollies now a distant memory (last April), vital stocks are now running low in the fishy pills. In fact today was my last, gulp!

There’s final hits and there’s final hits, which one was this going to be?

The Kitefliers.

First time flying a kite!

Life’s simple pleasures ; -)

Video HERE.

It’s all about the bass – Lockdown Loonbags!

The “Lockdown Loonbags” formed and seperated and reformed with the same band members within 24hrs. They are now called “Butter Nutters

Watch this space…

Andy Farrell syndrome?

Next week.

Top Tips – Britanico.

This week has been a flurry of writing scripts, scribbling illegible prompt cards, forgetting lines and trying to get takes in between noises, (singing parrots, singing neighbours, guitar playing neighbours, megaphone wielding salesfolk and one person who shall remain nameless, breaking wind!)

All the videos are now “In the can” (whatever that means, a better place may have been “In the dunny” for some efforts).

I am not a FB person, but please Like the BRITANICO page and watch that space.

Please feel free to heckle with any comments!

The reason why I wear a flat cap!

Skitzo Stagediving Star and Punky Brewster’s close shave!

Next week.

Jack Johnson went to Fev…

There was once a brilliant book about my favourite sport (Rugby League) called “Up and Under” (or over, or something similar, I cannot find it any where!)

It was just a simple but very effective series of black and white photos of RL life,

One depicted a home-scrawled banner in a crowd “Cas Forever, Calder Never”.

“Are you serious!”

With the new Superleague (like always I am regressing in time, this was 1996), there was a sudden influx of ca$h, but some smaller teams just couldn’t compete and “Mergers” were proposed.

Classy Cas, Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers had fans who were born hating one another, how could a joint side ever work? Which ground would be used, what would the strip look like, how could it possibly work?

(Imagine something similar in Football: Man Utd and City joining together, why not also put Liverpool in the mix and call them “North West”. Or, join Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Millwall together and call them “London”?!)

I always remember my first time at Post Office Road, not a pleasant reception for away fans. I had a mate called Steve B, he was a Flat Capper through and through. He once went to see an Alliance team match against Whitehaven, on a Tuesday night. It snowed, the bus broke down, they got back at 3am, Fev got beat. Hardcore commitment!

The mighty Shipbuilders were put forward for a merger with Workington and Whitehaven to form a “Cumbria” superleague side. The reaction was a bit less mooted than “Calder”, I personally (with my eyes scrunched shut whilst ticking the box) would have voted for that. Alas it never happened and we now languish in the lower league of 3. Never ever good enough for Superleague, occasionally good enough for League 1, but too good for the bottom tier.

Right now, not a lot is happening in the World of Sport anyway.

Top 5 at 5

Clunks (Honda)

5- Honda CT110

4- Honda XR125

3- Honda CRF250 (or a CRF450 please!)

2- Honda CB500

1- Honda C90

Racehorses (NH)

5- Istabraq (Aidan O’Brien). Incredible hurdler, neverback odds-on. My biggest bet ever went south at Cheltenham!

4- Unguided Missile (Gordon Richards) Romped in at Cheltenham. 10/1 . Get in!

3- Florida Pearl (Willie Mullins). Bumper bonus!

2- Parsons Boy (Gordon Richards) Backe this its entire life, never won a penny. Missed it one Saturday at Haydock. Came in at 50 /1 and then retired.Respect!

1- Make a Stand (Martin Pipe) My first day at Ladbroke’s.Had lumped on in a multitude of ante/post wagers. Nobody believed it would win,but nobody told Tony McCoy that!

County-name food

Steward’s note: After recent opprobium following what is is becoming known as the Great Cumberland Pie Debate, (which in itself is a misleading title, as it implies that the disgraced food item is in fact great), stringent new rules have been applied to this foodstuffs category.

Thus, the following list of items were considered by the panel but were ultimately disqualified for the reasons detailed.

Sorry, rules are rules.

  • Kendal Mint Cake – Top of the disqualified list (and would have been top of my list) but rejected due to potential cries of “Fix, fix”.

A bidding war was in place at the time of press between Wilson’s and Romney’s, whilst Quiggin’s did not answer the phone). It may have been a favourite on both the 1953 Everest expedition and Shackleton’s 1914 Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition, but sadly didn’t make the cut here.

  • Norfolk Biffin/Pippin – No apple expert was available for consultation.
  • Cornish Pastie – Potential issues with the “Is Cornwall a country” controversy. Previously known as Dumnonia and “West Wales”, whilst a delicious foodstuff, it was just too much of a political hot potato.
  • Dover Sole – Northern favouritism of Flounders/Flukes dismissed the chances of this southern coast flatfish.
  • Pontefract Cake – (AKA Pomfret/Pomfrey cakes). Pontefract Racecourse is one of the longest (left handed) courses in Europe and holds one of the longest races in the racing calendar (2 miles 5 furlongs and 133 yards). It was the first racecourse to install a photo-finish facilty and the first to introduce dope testing. Racing has taken place here since 1648 and in 1998, rose to fame with Filthy Luca’s 3 year old High Rise, which went on to beat Cape Verdi and all in the Derby under flamboyant Frenchman, Olivier Peslier.

However, unfortunately for the aforementioned Pontefract Cake, the panel are not liquorice lovers. Nul points.

  • Bedforshire Clanger (AKA Trowley Dumpling, similar to but not to be confused with the Buckinghamshire Bacon Badger, nor the Derbyshire Dog-in-Blanket). This suet pudding was considered but was ultimately disqualified for the unsavoury (no pun intended) 1960’s “alf an’ ‘alf” incident where some sick-minded chef filled one end with jam and the other end with liver & onion. This kind of behaviour (whether past or present) is simply not tolerated by the Panel. The Bacon Badger was unfortunate in this respect, but was disqualifed by association.
  • Dorset Knob – Indecent names were not considered.
  • Liverpool/Manchester Tarts – None were available for testing.
  • Sussex Slipcote – This cheese sounds too much like a night garment.
  • Wyken Pippin – See Norfolk Biffin.
  • Melton Mowbray Pork Pie – One of the finest, but not a county.
  • Branston Pickle – See Melton Mowbray Pork Pie.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – Occasional pronunciation difficulties and the fact that it is translated into “Salsa Ingles” (English Sauce) in Peru. An unlucky omission.
  • Cumberland Pie – See last weeks blog.
  • Both Rhubarb and Ginger Beer were strong Yorkshire contenders, but lacked a county tag.

Scotland also had outstanding contenders which were unfortunately disqualified.

  • Selkirk Bannock – Considered too volatile in the ongoing “Bun-barm-breadcake-stottie-roll-bap-cob” debate.
  • Cullen Skink – This Moray soup was considered to have an excessively comedic name.
  • Dunlop Cheese – A cheese that sounds like it is made by a tyre company could not be considered.
  • Forfar Bridie – An East Fife reader placed a complaint after the 2018 “East Fife 4 – Forfar 5” result, (although Eric Morecambe would have been impressed). The judges were disappointed with this bitter, localised ignominy, as it is a fine pie.

To avoid problems, Scotch Eggs and Scotch Pies were also disqualified, (but they are both bloody good!) Scotch Bonnets are not Scottish.

Most controversially, the Full English Breakfast was also disqualified.

Who would win in a 4-way tussle between a Welsh Rarebit, Scotch Broth, Irish Stew and a Full English? Answers on a postcard please.

(Scottish Tucker will have a Top 5 next week).

So, after much furor and brouhaha, the following 5 tuckers were awarded these positions.

5- Red Leicester cheese.

4- Cumberland Rum Nicky.

3- Lancashire Hotpot.

2- Yorkshire Puddings.

1 – Cumberland sausages

Beer (canned)

5- Newcastle Brown Ale.

4-McEwan’s Export.

3- Carling Premier.

2- John Smith’s Smooth.

1- Guinness Draught Bitter.

Take Hart Joe Wicks!

The Nipper keeps telling me that she prefers me staying at home than working and hopes it is forever (I should say be careful what you wish for, there is a very real chance I may be UB40, and I’m not talking about the Brummie reggae set-up).

Home schooling is a bit of a challenge but also fun.

I imagine she is now well clued up on the rules of RL, Treaclebending, shinkicking and Cumberland Wrestling. The novelty of running on the roof lasted about 8 minutes, so how do you keep semi-fit during a lockdown?

I had heard of Joe Wicks from years back, off a Russell Brand Podcast (he does look and sound a bit like a sporty version of him, but I digress).

The boy done well! With a very simple format, at a time like this, he has found a niche. I am crap at anything that requires any coordination (that is why I stick to running) but every other day, you will see two loonbags trying to keep up.

The Young ‘Un asked if we could go and visit him when we go to England, thinking that he lived in Tadcaster and that I know him.

“We’ll see” (my stock answer nowadays)…

Artistically, I am even more disastrous than at Aerobics, fortunately Lina is pretty talented, (I am good at drawing fish, nothing more!)

So, between Joe Wicks PR, painting and learning the intricacacies of the 40/20 rule, we’re all learning (something!)


The World changed (for me anyway) when Skype first came out. Being able to see people’s faces when having a conversation beat paying for an overpriced, crackling phone line in a sweaty internet café booth, (don’t ask about the broken window incident!)

Then came Facetime, Whatsapp and now ZOOM (other options are available).

Zoom has been getting some bad press. I am not sure how safe it is, but security common sense is needed with most things these days. (Would anyone have trusted PayPal 50 years ago? Not that it would have been much use then mind!)

It looks like Virtual Classes are mainly being delivered with Zoom, but for me it is just ace to have a Virtual beer session with friends, to chew the fat and shoot the $h!t on a Saturday night and Sunday lunchtime.

I’ve not been inside a Boozer since October (6mths ago today in fact) and personally can’t see anybody getting inside one again before this October.

Sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got!

And finally…

Slade, Cup-a-soup, Hillman Imps?

“My Ar$e is on fire!!!”

It can only be a Vic & Bob sketch!

Check THIS out now!

That’s all for now folks.

Remember, wash your hands, stay calm, stay safe, stay at home!



6 thoughts on “40 days of lockdown…

  1. The pure joy of flying a kite! A little late to the read this week mate, but as I sit here half a world away in my yellow apron cooking pork in beer – you heard that correctly, great braising liquid – and we are all still locked down in one way or another. It’s how you deal with it, and you can find the joy in the little things. Thanks for always sharing them buddy. Until the next instalment hermano! Happy days xxx

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