EDitorial ± 30-Apr-2001

A Family Affair

This evening I was speaking to someone who remembered my great-grandfather, and who could clearly recall what he looked like. Which, given that my dad's dad's dad was born around 1863, strikes me as pretty darn impressive.

Rewind to last year, when I first took any interest in this photo hanging up in my parents' living room:

An extended family

Pictured are my great-grandparents (whose names I later found out were James and Ellen) surrounded by their 11 children. I'm not certain, but the photo was taken around 1910, by the way. Since nobody could even be sure of the children's names, I thought it might be a nice idea to find out. For the record, they are:

Eliza, Martha, Nellie, Polly, Dolly, Maud and Lily
James, William, Walter and George
By speaking to umpteen relatives, many for the first time (!), a half-decent family tree has slowly emerged. Earlier tonight I was chatting to one of Dolly's children, Ruby, who's 72 tomorrow, when she mentioned that it would be a good idea to speak to her (older) husband, Arthur. And amazingly, since he'd been brought up in the same area of Ipswich as many of my distant family, he had vivid memories of James & Ellen Broom. Unbelievable.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else
Grandfather, father, son:

  1. did I mention that Walter, son of James, was a tattooist?
  2. get everything down on paper
  3. speak to your oldest family members while they're still around!
Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 23-Apr-2001

Tears Before Bedtime

A sunny Sunday afternoon, so popped up the local rec for a kickabout with one of the gals, keen to try out the new Legoland football. Ball was very much up to scratch, even if the ground underfoot was still a tad soft and the grass a little long. As we headed back home via the local garage for a cold drink, I began to sneeze. Then another one erupted from my nose, and another, and so on.
Laugh at the tears you're crying
Smile while your head explodes
You don't have to take this lying down
So blow your nose, baby
— Divine Comedy: The Popsinger's Fear Of The Pollen Count
Things didn't stop when I got back indoors. Sneeze, blow nose, try to sneeze again, dab eyes, then repeat from start. Ransacked the house for suitable potions, but predictably enough both the tablets and the medicine had long since passed their best-before dates. Remember kids, it's very wrong to ignore those dates, especially if they're not even in the current year. So, had 10ml of child's decongestant (tasty!), and thankfully this kicked in after an hour or so.

Could be an awful lot worse, in that I generally get hay fever for no more than a handful of days each year. Used to be worse when I was at school sitting summer exams, the smell of freshly mown grass doing its best to permeate the Beconase nasal spray. Now that made my eyes water.

One tablet starts to work within minutes

Off to the pharmacist this morning en route to work, though I was feeling tons better. I'd be more than delighted if these latest allergy tablets - no drowsiness, 24hr relief - sat around on top of the microwave, not required, as their expiry date approaches. Unlikely though. It's July 2004.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

  1. rapeseed - why?
  2. also a play by Noel Coward
  3. quick, get me a tissue
Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 17-Apr-2001

Just In Edinburgh

A couple of years back, browsing for something new and exciting to read in Waterstones, I spied a book called Black & Blue by Ian Rankin. This rang a bell since I'd recently read a good review of it in the paper, which also mentioned that it had just won some award, the Gold Dagger for crime fiction. And being a sucker for awards, I bought the paperback.

As soon as I was a couple of chapters in, I was hooked. There was one scene in particular where a bloke in a bar is befriended by a pair of men, who then invite him back to their place. And who then strap him into a chair before opening their Adidas bag to reveal various items including pliers, a staple-gun and a saw. Unputdownable, as I say.

How I wish I was in Edinburgh
— Edinburgh Man, The Fall
Central character in the story was Inspector Rebus. Turned out that I'd come fairly late to the party, since Black & Blue was Rebus novel number 8: much like discovering Harry Potter when he's about to leave Hogwarts 6th form.

A native of Edinburgh, Rebus is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking renegade loner. My kind of man, ahem. Apart from being great reads, what's good about the series is that there's always another one on the way. Currently I'm nearing the end of Set In Darkness, the latest one in paperback, and only last month a new hardback, The Falls, was published. Here's the (very brief) story so far - dates given are for paperback releases:

— Rebus 8 —
Black & Blue
Dec 1997
— Rebus 9 —
Hanging Garden
Feb 1999
— Rebus 10 —
Dead Souls
Oct 1999
— Rebus 11 —
Set In Darkness
Nov 2000
Black and Blue The Hanging Garden Dead Souls Set In Darkness
Bible John and the copycat serial killer. With the man who may be a Nazi war criminal. There's a poisoner at the zoo. A body in the bricked-up fireplace.

If you fancy some gritty escapism, all are highly recommended. I should probably mention that one or two of the books have been adapted for TV, with John Hannah (that bloke from Four Weddings) as Rebus. I'd stick with the books.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 9-Apr-2001

A Walk On The Wild Side

Me & the kids went for a walk on Sunday. Reader thinks: dull old EDitorial this week. But wait!

Family man that I am, and the weather being fair mid-afternoon, off we set in search of somewhere where the girls could have a go on their bikes. Twenty-or-so minutes later we arrived at Alton Water, a popular local spot which features a circuit around the reservoir. Now we'd popped there before a handful of times, though only for a breath of fresh air: I'd never attempted to go all the way round. That's a key point.

Picture the scene: me pushing the pushchair, the girlies peddling away, and with a handy rucksack of juice cartons. La-di-da. Then after a mile or so we come across a short muddy stretch. We can turn around and do the short hop back to the car and cafe, or on we go. And since I'm the responsible adult, I decide that we should proceed. I carry one of the girls through the mud, come back for the other one, take her over, return for the bikes, back once more, and finally drag the pushchair-with-baby-boy through the sludge. Yuck. This was the point of no return.

Not much later it becomes difficult for one of the girls to peddle, since she's trying to use stabilisers on a narrow path. I cleverly balance the bike on one of the pram handles.

Then the eldest one has had enough too, and I somehow manage to hook her saddle over the other handle. Any enjoyment is slowly evaporating, and here's why:

  • there's no more fruit juice
  • it's nearing tea-time for the boy
  • I've failed to bring any baby food
  • we're two hours in to our fun Sunday walk and probably not halfway
  • the girls are asking how much further it is
  • some lads on bikes, going the other way, have warned us about a really muddy bit up ahead
  • oh, and the light is starting to go
I'm starting to get concerned. Just then, we hit the really muddy bit. It's a large U-bend where the path doubles back around a narrow inlet, only the path is pure mud. So it's child 1, back, child 2, back, baby & pushchair, back, and bikes. Boots and ankles caked. Baby crying. I seriously consider leaving the cycles behind since they're weighing down the pushchair a lot.

Did I mention I'd not done the circuit before? Our starting point, car safely parked, is now diametrically opposed to our current position. Being a large stretch of water, there ain't no shortcuts. My worry levels increase. And when I glance up and see a helicopter, I'm thinking that they're out looking for us, for three young fed-up children and their irresponsible father.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. There's some houses off the path a little way ahead, the first sign of civilisation for hours, and it's time to seek help. We wearily head up a handy pathway and are faced with a row of houses. On a hunch I decide to knock at the door of the one with two cars outside. A lady answers, and, after listening to our sob story, answers our prayers. While her mum looks after the girls, she drives me and the baby back to Alton Water: during the ten minute journey, she mentions that we were "about halfway" around the 8 mile perimeter. Our car is the only one left in the car park.

To that lady in Tattingstone: thank you, thank you, thank you. You were a lifesaver. And on the drive home, the girls mentioned that they were not only given a drink and some sweets, but that the nice lady cleaned their shoes!

Now that's what I call the kindness of strangers.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 2-Apr-2001

Gastronomic Proximity

Fish and chips tonight. Washed down with a can of apple Tango and a teensy feeling of laziness on the side. Not that I'm into excuses, you understand, but I was back late after five-a-side footy and we had a nice man coming round for 8pm to advise on spending our hard-earned wisely. Honestly.

We're spoiled for choice when it comes to takeaways. Within 200m (let's get metric!) of the front door are The Golden Fish, purveyors of this evening's freshly cooked cod, and not one but two Chinese eateries. Who needs home delivery when temptation is so close at hand? Time for some Jam:

I've a little money
And a takeaway curry
I'm on my way home to my wife.
— Down In The Tube Station At Midnight, The Jam
Relatively speaking, it requires some real effort to go fetch a curry. A three minute bike ride up the road takes you to probably the finest Indian restaurant in Ipswich, namely the Taj Mahal (established 1964). Remember when big Norm used to enter the bar in Cheers? It's like a very subdued version of that when I go into the Taj: "Evening, Mr Broom, how are you?". Somebody with a bit of time on their hands might draw the wrong conclusion from the fact that yes, they know my name.


On my infrequent trips to the Taj, I park my bike directly opposite KFC. The F stands for "Fried", in case you'd forgotten. And my subsequent 30m stroll to the Indian means walking past a kebab shop, a pizza place and the Maharani at number 46. The Taj is at number 40/42. Were it not for a will of iron, I could so easily be the size of an Easy Access green bus.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else
Cheese & Tomato, Hawaiian, Super Supreme:

  1. but of course, nothing beats a home-cooked meal
  2. in Scotland they call them take-outs
  3. any chilli sauce with that?
Be seeing you!