Umpire of the Sun

I used to be keen on cricket until struck on the head by a ball when just a callow youth. The result of some fearsome fast bowling by one of my sports teachers, who insisted that I keep wicket in the very small area behind the wicket in the cricket nets. The resulting blow put what looked like an egg on my forehead and I suppose these days would be classed as concussion. All he did was get cross with me for failing to catch his fearsome delivery.

On a day when the sun has been at its hottest I came across this blog and thought it worth sending out there again.

For anyone not familiar with cricket, there are two umpires who oversee the game, one at the bowler’s end and one at mid-on, there you are, you’re lost already. It’s no use going any further explaining to anyone who has no knowledge of the game. I have very little myself, suffice to say that in the old days, the umpires also used to serve as a handy clothes peg, wrapped around with the player’s spare hats and jumpers on what was normally a roasting hot day.

Their job is to adjudicate if a batsman is in, or out, if he was judged out then he had to go off and someone else would come in , until they were judged to be out. If they were judged to be not out then they would stay in. In this particular case the umpire is indicating the result of an appeal and the batsmen is out. Another batsman may now come on and will be in until he is out, unless he succeeds in being not out. Owzat?

Cultured visit with dental highlight.

We needed a spot of culture as well as a day out so booked a trip to Compton Verney, a large house and garden in Warwickshire which the satnav lied about when we queried how far and how long it would take. Or perhaps I drive a tad slower than the average. The drive took us along conventional roads across the Cotswolds and to the edge of Warwickshire.

They have it well worked out at Compton Verney to cope with Covid. How long before there are books coming out with “Coping with Covid” as the title. You heard it first here.

We were there with pre-booked tickets to see the exhibition of Crannach. I’m not versed in early German painting, in fact I’m not that well versed in any sort of painting, but as the philistines say ” I know what I like”. These were stunning paintings and to think they were painted over 500 years ago seems quite humbling. How they have lasted. Or should that be “How have they lasted?” I suppose they have been national treasures of some sort for all these years.

This one took my fancy particularly, he seemed able to capture the real characters of these people. I thought that the young person on the right had a particularly enigmatic look.

This one too…

She has that look of a woman of a certain age that is confident but has that rather disparaging look. It reminds me of my niece when my brother has told a particular joke that she’s heard more than once before.

Cranach’s influence has been far and wide and in the exhibition are works by contemporary artists inspired by his talents. This one by Picasso is a lino cut print that he apparently did after being sent a postcard of one of Cranach’s paintings of a lady. I wonder what Cranach would have made of it, I bet he’d have loved it. I did too.

Then there’s this large sculpture of a woman ripping out one of her own teeth. There’s a pedal next to the sculpture and everyone can see what happens when you don’t floss. Barmy, but really quite interesting.

Whispering to a bee

Out and about on walkabout with my friend Robin, this little bee took to a teasel and this is a series of photos taken on an iPhone that one can convert into a mini movie. If you take live photos on an iPhone you can then convert that series of photos into a short movie, this one turned out ok. Soundtrack is me whispering directions to the star of the film.

Well, there you are then?

This phrase was first heard by myself when at school many years ago, and it was used by a boy called Thomas, that was his surname, can’t remember his first name. He would deploy this phrase after any long argument to illustrate that he had ‘won’ the argument. To say it was maddening was something of an understatement. He probably became a politician. It’s the old equivalent of the word used by young people today: “whatever:”.

Try using this word at the end of a discussion and see the reaction, it’s probably the same as mine was to that original phrase.

For anyone reading whose first language is not English, then please use either of these tactics sparingly.


There you are then.

Barbecue weather on its way

This was from a few years ago when I had an exhibition of drawings inspired by “Pont”, and early Punch cartoonist who specialised in drawing the foibles of the British. This was in the late 30s when the concept of men cooking out doors would have been foreign to him, as it is to me now.

What is it with these things that men cook enough protein to feed a small army in one fell swoop? I hear that we are in for some hot weather which means that men will be digging out barbecue sets from the back of a shed and looking where they can buy meat in bulk. There will have to be social distancing of course, not a problem from my point of view, I’ll be keeping well clear.

Stay safe, cook indoors.

Still life?

This is a profile drawing I did on the day after Orangeman was elected President, and sort to sums up what I felt then. It could have been used dozens of times since. Could have been used when we idiotically voted to leave Europe. Could have been used when posh school prat was voted in, which one?
Or it could perhaps sum up what I feel about how they have handled the pandemic. It’s like a universal tool.

I shall try and be a bit more positive in the future, but fully expect to be able to use this again very soon.

Intrigued Bin Men?

My friend Robin and I have been working on an idea where we could say thank you to Coronavirus Heroes who have kept life as near normal as possible for us. The drivers, pickers, posties, small shopkeepers, delivery people and the bin men ( or should one say waste operatives in this politically sensitive time, perhaps we should but I dislike the word operative, so perhaps waste workers would cover it )

We’d like to buy them all a drink but that being impractical we thought perhaps we might just design a mug for them. So we did. We got it printed here in Cheltenham by the Star Centre who care for children with disabilities. They did a fine job.

We bought the boxes for them to go in and had our ‘seed corn’ of 50 mugs. Since then we’ve been looking out for anyone who can perhaps run with the idea, including the Star Centre. They must have their hands full at present, so we’ve decided to put them out to the people we appreciate.

So if you have been given one of these mugs by us, then please know that you have one of a very limited print run of 50. We are still on the look out for anyone who might be able to run with us on this idea. I started giving my own personal collection out today. One of the waste workers said he was ‘intrigued’ as it was still boxed. I hope they like them.

We haven’t bought them a drink but we have a least got them something to have the drinks in. It’s been a very well worth exercise.

Mare’s Tail

I used to dread getting this on my allotment, it was a beast to get rid of. Some call it mare’s tail and others call it horse’s tail, so lets settle on horse’s and then it’s not being sexist in any way. Anyone knows that pulling a horse’s tail can produce an interesting result and in some cases the kick might make your eyes water for some time.

This eye watering view is part of my return to walking after a short lay off, this being the longest I’ve done for a while and this one in the company of Sir Robin Burton of Churchdown. Asked by Lady Burton what we could possibly talk about on our walks he gave the truthful reply that we discussed the basic formula for the lifting a cow pat before hurling aforesaid any sort of distance without risk of fall out. Wind direction is also key. I suspect she was underwhelmed, misunderstanding that it really was the beginnings of the frisbee and if we’d all been a mite sharper might have made us a small fortune, no shit.

My brother and I used to have the formula when we were around 7 years old, but it was not without incident. The winning formula is still with me but like Colonel Sanders chicken recipe it has to remain secret.

The pre-chuck pose is generally known as the stancombe,
if in the area of a stancombe it’s best witnessed at a considerable distance