I’ve been proceeding…


By way of a change I’ve been on a walking holiday in Crete where we had a leader telling us exactly where we should go. A retired police officer from Nottinghamshire he was not only good company but also good at finding the route from somewhat confused and at times creative instructions. My blog this week has something in common with the previous missing persons blogs but in this respect let us described it as an imagined account by our erstwhile leader. So it is written in the form of what I imagine a police report might be, and is about the lovely bunch of people we had the pleasure to meet on our organised walks.


Report: Crete October 2014



“I was proceeding to the hotel in a leisurely fashion when I encountered the very first of my ‘guests’, she is described as of mature years and appeared to have had a career in the accident and emergency department of her local hospital. An avid walker and talker, she effected a Midlands accent in the manner of that fine actress:Miss Julie Walters. Like the other suspects she was carrying a rucksack and I am of the firm opinion that she may well have been carrying enough medical supplies to effect a small surgical operation.

Next on my list was a couple from North of the Border. He was as fit as a butcher’s dog and appeared occasionally to talk in tongues that none of the rest of the group were able to understand.They was obliged on their first night to stay in a small almost windowless cell by a bolshy couple from south who had flown in from Athens with ‘a piece of paper’ that was in no way a peace offering.

After some in depth questioning the female person sang like a bird on the last evening of incarceration.


‘I’m from the Mumbles,do you know what that means?’ The assembled group had no answer.The speaker, a bright spark from South Wales had it. “It means a lady’s chest!” We thought she was kidding and that she could not be serious, and in one respect that was true, she was rarely serious over the whole week, laughing frequently. It gave us all new meaning for the verb ‘mumbling’.

‘I don’t know why I’m doing this?’ was the repeated call of the the partner of couple number two,though it sounded more like:
‘Oi duunowoiamdointhes?’ This is the call of the wild Bristol bird lacking in confidence, it evaporated later in the week as confidence was discovered.The ‘larger built retail manager at her side’ was a beacon of help and support throughout, his energetic climb up a steep slope and the manner in which he gripped the surrounding thorny bushes, later in the week, was a good moment to tell us that he suffered vertigo. Nothing would have knocked him off that slope. They makes them tough in Brissle.


Flying in from Oz,the small but very fit Oz was possibly the fittest of all of the bunch. An energetic run every morning kept her up to speed.“They don’t do walking in Australia” she informed us.They really do not know what they are missing, and now that they are not really that good at sport any more perhaps they should. Little Oz will lead the way.

There was a very smart lady from Pinner
Who seemed to get thinner and thinner
She walked up dale and down
With never a frown,
Unless she was served meat for her dinner.

This charming lady appeared to be a vegetarian personage.


Couple number three. He had the bearing of an officer and a gentleman.
Possibly a flying officer and a gentleman, and his lady wife seemed to finish each gruelling walk as if she’s just strolled through the haberdashery department of Harrods. His insistence that three large glasses of beer each night was simply to replace lost salts and dehydration was taken very seriously, by him. Quite rightly.

A mysterious woman in purple who was also fond of a beer was also present at the scene.
Little is know of this person though it is reputed that she worked in the City in IT.
I expect she is rescuing the banking system for us all.


‘He’s always lagging behind with his camera’ The lady appeared to be an artist of some sort. She was with a bloke who was always at the back of the group.He claimed to be a cartoonist, though this is debatable. Personally I though he was a bit shifty, and may well require further investigation. He was certainly very ‘bolshy’ on that first night and it was only thanks to my powers of persuasion that I was able to keep the peace.

This ends my report on the group.I would recommend that no further action is required in this case at present save to inform and advise the suspects outlined above of their responsibilities in the future.

PC 1410 Ollie Day  Signed this date: 26/10/14.


The fly is on the inside…

This is another from the book, in this case the illustration is not quite faithful to the words, but there you go!
Please note the pork pie in the plastic cover, which in days of yore would benefit from being there for at least a week. The fly is on the inside. Believe me I witnessed this, the pie was delicious.

Words as ever by that taciturn Yorkshireman Gordon Thorburn, a man of few words, unless you are paying for them.



The King’s Breeches

This city-centre pub is very popular with exiles from the old Iron Curtain countries, since it reminds them so much of the railway-station waiting rooms back home. Connoisseurs of 1950s minimalism will also enjoy the five well-seasoned South American banknotes pinned to the stone-effect wallpaper above the bar.

Other establishments near-by offer a full menu plus blackboard specials, and live music in the evenings. The King’s Breeches provides for a niche market to one side of the business-lunch crowd, with a small selection of superheated pies out of a Perspex cabinet. The free paper serviette assists easy eating rather than forcing on customers the embarrassing refinements of cutlery and plate. After dark, a juke box can be switched on by special request and any record played, provided it is Crystal Chandeliers.

Lecturers from the art college, attracted by the working-class atmosphere, drink no more than two units while chattering incessantly and waving their hands about. Journalists and flat-capped regulars prefer to ensure inner cleanliness with sequential pints of the memorable local bitter, reading their sporting papers in silence while flicking ash into dampening lagoons on the mahogany tops of original Victorian tables.

The tenant landlord, a small, thin, dark, taciturn man who is never rude to anyone but never friendly either, is greatly distressing the brewery by not dying. The predictions of the Chief Actuary of the Publicans, Sinners and General Insurance Co indicate that pub landlords’ shortlivedness is second only to those who combine lion taming with drug dealing and cave diving, but our man is past 70 and showing no signs. When he does die, the brewery will rip the pub asunder, rename it The Tup and Tart, install satellite TV, a juke box, and a manager who will have to call the police on Fridays and Saturdays.

Bookshop Owner


…occurs in both sexes. Driven out of populous areas by larger, more aggressive types, the remaining few Bookshop Owners survive in nooks and crannies.

Cyril Trumpet was the last scion of the family Trumpet, owners and runners of Trumpet & Son Publishing Bookshop since 1879. They hadn’t published a book since the ‘Trumpet’s Care and Maintenance’ series, marvellous little books brought out with brilliant timing in the 1960s and 70s. They told you everything you needed to know about looking after mechanical typewriters, wooden tennis racquets, slide rules, comptometers, 78rpm records and washing machines with hand-operated wringers.

Cyril was a kindly soul with old-fashioned beliefs. He took an interest in all his customers and thought it his job to find what they wanted or, if he could not find it, to get it at whatever inconvenience to himself. He listened to what the publishers’ sales reps said when they called to tell him about new books, and was available to meet them when he said he would be.

He looked at books for quality and originality and never allowed his own private views to interfere with his selections. So, even if he had been a bluestocking PC feminist manhater, he would still have had books in his shop with sexy pictures of females on the cover, if he thought they were good and would sell.

Similarly, even if Cyril had been a young gentleman graduate in 19th century Canadian Literature, with an MA in The Trials of Oscar Wilde and a deep bitterness at being a failed poet, he would still have been polite to anyone who came in his bookshop.

Cyril liked books because they are books. He liked good ideas and elegant style. He liked variety and thought that five different titles about quilting were quite enough, refusing to stock the other 128.

Unfortunately, Cyril could not work a computer and did not understand how the big stores could offer best-selling titles at a retail price lower than he had to pay wholesale. He did not understand The Market. He, foolishly, thought that the market was the people who had stalls on the square every Tuesday.

Poor Cyril. He sold his shop three years ago. It’s been Age Concern, Oxfam and British Heart Foundation. Now it’s going to be a pizza take-away.


Words by that impeccable but grumpy wordsmith, Gordon Thorburn. http://www.gordonthorburn.co.uk



Will probably be extinct by 2020.

Rambler’s winter and summer coat is tweed, with check shirt, heather mixture stockings and stout boots. The male often has a deerstalker or a flat cap, the female a balaclava which rolls up to make a pom-pom hat. Both carry wooden walking sticks and small canvas rucksacks. You are very unlikely to spot any young.

Once especially common in Snowdonia and the Lake and Peak Districts and frequently sighted in other upland areas, Rambler could also be observed on a serviced campsite but sleeping in an ordinary two-man ridge tent.

Rambler is fast being driven out of habitat by invaders. Particularly ferocious competitors include Extreme Outdoor Leisure Pursuit Persons. They wear helmets designed by the same artist who draws giant ants for Walt Disney, and ride on a bicycle where Rambler was wont to walk. A kind of brightly coloured swimming costume promotes the smooth passage of air around their clearly visible contours. Their bicycles have two hundred gears and yet, curiously, are made to be carried as well as ridden.

Another invader, Healthy Wealthy Wide Boy, can best be described in a true story. Walking down from High Cup Nick in the north Pennines, your correspondent (a slovenly halfbreed sub-variety of Rambler) saw a strange being coming up. This being was wearing a black outfit. It was a type of shell suit made of a very advanced and glistening fibre which must have repelled water, wind, country smells and UV rays while keeping the wearer at a predetermined level of comfort. He also had black boots, a black rucksack, a black baseball cap and a black holster in which was secured his portable telephone. Not black was his aluminium, extensible Alpenstock thing with which, possibly, he meant to sound the depths of any obstructing stream.

Had he been asked the time, he would have revealed a wristlet watch carved from a pound of solid gold, made to resemble the instrument panel of a MIG 29 mounted in a souvenir cog wheel.

His plump son and heir wore an unco-ordinated ensemble of T-shirt, shorts, trainers and red baseball cap. Female consort, plump also, was similarly shirted and shorted but baht ’at. Her shiny white shoes had an ankle strap, a moderate heel and a painted big toe nail sticking out. Dangling on strings around her neck were whistle, compass and a map in a square, clear plastic doodah. What she proposed doing with any of these was not obvious.

In the face of such powerful forces Rambler, gentle and timid (timid, that is, except where blocked rights of way are concerned) can only retreat to the fireside nest, there to semi-hibernate beside a two-foot-high pile of Wainwrights.

Golden words again by Mr Thorburn, and indeed this drawing is a portrait of the man himself in all his Yorkshire glory.If there is any such thing these days…unlikely.


The book of words is now getting increasingly rare, and therefore more expensive.If you must have one then let me know.Would make a great Christmas gift for a grumpy old Yorkshireman.

mp coverforweb

Men who mend almost anything.


Here’s what greeted me on my first visit ten years ago

As a follow on from the last posting,I’m posting something away from the book this week.

Over ten years ago I changed direction from cartoons and got a ‘proper job’ selling print for a local print company: Severnprint.
http://www.severnprint.co.uk One of my very first customers was from a company that wanted to update their stationery.The stuff they had still had the old Gloucester phone number it was so ancient. So I got into my little yellow van ( it went with the job ) and pootled off to find them out in the countryside.

I came to what appeared to be a farm with very large barns and what appeared to be some rusting machinery outside including something like a train with a broken funnel.The father and son that ran the business were the embodiment of ‘men who mend things’. They allowed me to take photographs of their immense workshop where they had enough equipment to be able to mend almost anything.


This photo taken ten years ago.


This one taken last week.


Having shown some enthusiasm for their efforts they were kind enough to show me their ‘collection’. They had a collection of working steam engines, one that used to run the Waring and Gillow furniture factory in the Midlands. It was like a huge collection of boys toys and their pride in their achievements was palpable. I was lucky to see it all.

They ordered the print and that was the last I expected to hear from them as they ordered enough to last them several years. At least I had the photographs.

Last week they called me.They needed to re-order, and it’s to Severn’s credit ( Severn the new name for Severnprint ) that they they were able to locate the ten year old file for the reprint within minutes. I insisted on taking out the print proof for them to sign along with my camera.

Here’s the engine that greeted me on my new visit, and here also are the unchanged workshops. They were kind enough to let me take photos again.


It made my day.

There are still men who mend almost anything.