EDitorial ± 30-Sep-2006

Dolmio, August 2006

It's been staring me in the face from my "things to do this week" green index card for a good long while. Enfin, it's Pipkins time for another end-of-month Dolmio (Doings Of Last Month Innoparticular Order).

That is to say, an attempt to capture past(a) events before they slip... my... mind. August 2006 was spent:

  • taking our own bags for life to the local Super U at Gemozac and admiring the end-of-aisle English selection: Branston, Dairy Milk, Heinz Beans, etc.
  • relishing the alternative Aberystwyth adventures of Louie Knight in Malcolm Pryce's Last Tango in Aberystwyth
  • watching les cyclistes whizz through Tesson in the race that Floyd Landis won in 2000
  • singing along to Captain Abercromby and Zombie Hotel returning from a day out
  • buying Tiffu pop-up ice-creams for the kids after a hard day sur la plage
  • breakfasting on brioches and baguettes, and trying to avoid the end nibbled by the in-house mouse
  • gawping at the marvellous mechanical Transbordeur near Rochefort
  • switching the kids to rummy after being bored senseless playing Newmarket
  • being careful to avoid the sizeable jellyfish washed up on the beach as the tide went out
  • absorbed by a freebie Guardian puzzle magazine of Sudokus, Kakuro and Hanjie
  • arbitrating in numerous Super Mario related fallings-out resulting from (a) 3 children, (b) 2 Nintendo DS consoles and (c) 1 small boy

And that was August 2006.

EDitorial ± 25-Sep-2006

Now With The Great Taste Of Fish

Awf'ly wet this morning, don't you think, dear reader? Chose two wheels over four and was deservedly drenched. Even the dry bits were wet. Stuffed my shoes with an old Motorcycle News and went barefoot on the hardwearing office carpet. Sk-welch.

Queueing for my one-thirty caffeine fix, eyed the overhead telly that's always on BBC News 24, and there was Golden Gordon Brown: ayatollah you this and ayatollah you that.

According to the auto-subtitles, which did their bestest to keep up with his spiel, a Beeb reporter made this suggestion:

Compare this beach to two years ago

Makes sense if you say it out loud. What was that racing driver called? Niki what?

Hit the coffee line midway through chess, having (like Del Piero) unwittingly played the French Defence. Couple of unforeseen errors -- and the superior skill of my opponent -- left me well behind, my Charles II hiding among the few remaining pawns while trying to preserve my synod of bishops. Considered throwing in the damp towel before opting to hang on ... hang on, he's made the cardinal error of moving his bishop off the centre diagonal. His king's stuck in the corner, so I move my blanco bishop there and I'll be blowed, it's checkmate!

Not even through the back door at home before Elder's showing me her marked maths homework, that pentagonal peril. Turns out that my her efforts got me her not one but two smiley faces. Where three smiley faces equals one merit, and ten merits equals one certificate. Really I'm just happy to parson my wealth of numerical skills.

Heading out to bad mint on, bloomin' central lockin' switched on the internal lights (yay!) but wouldn't open the doors (boo!), darn its eyes. Took some coercion just to get in. Arrived, got out, and would it lock? Would it heck. Hopefully a new CR2025 from ebay, now my Paypal's been reinstated, will curate.

We'll always have parish.

EDitorial ± 22-Sep-2006

Top Ten Ways To Enhance The Ryder Cup

Top Ten Ways To Enhance The Ryder Cup for non-golf fans:

  1. to help tell who's who, players must dress up in a costume indicative of their name, eg Tiger Woods as Tony The Tiger, Colin Montgomery as Mr Burns, David Howell as Tessa Jowell, etc.
  2. each team to include one robotic player fully controllable by any kid with a Nintendo DS and a WiFi connection
  3. tournament to begin with a race down the 18th hole, The Hooker's Graveyard, with each team's players riding on a single motorised golf cart
  4. phone poll to decide on new name for the competition: press (1) for the Lynam Cup, (2) for the Bough Cup, or (3) for the Dickie Davies Cup
  5. non-stop speed singles: both players tee off simultaneously then sprint after their balls to take their second shot, and so on; first to hole wins
  6. at the 13th hole, Laurel Haven, competitors must play the ball through a small gap which is periodically obstructed by the sails of a giant windmill
  7. lose a hole, lose an item of clothing
  8. team captain can opt to play his exploding ball joker at any time during the round
  9. unlimited heckling & sledging as your opponent addresses the ball
  10. defeated side's players to act as personal butlers to winning side for a whole fortnight

Prepare the fairways.

EDitorial ± 20-Sep-2006

TT0607, Week 2

Late to ping-pong tonight after trying to coach Eldest with her latest maths homework. A Range Rover (4x4) grid with one set of decimal numbers, eg 0.2, 1.7, 3.2 and 2.1 along the top and another set down the side. Your job is to multiply one by t'other and put the result in the square.

Oh, no calculator allowed: it's totally mental (don't pronounce the "t" for full effect). Not too bad? Little bit of long multiplication, the tricky bit being to put the decimal point in the right place. But there's isn't just the single 4x4: not two, not three, but nine in all. So that's around 150 bits to work out. Yikes. Left daughter and her mum to it.

Second match of the season, and again we were second best going down 8-2. Two-thirds of the opposition are retired: doesn't stop 'em out-thinking and outwitting their relatively youthful opponents, shame to say. I had Greybeard on the ropes, 7-1 up, and still managed to grab D from the jaws of V. Tenacious, these oldies.

At least the motor let me back in afterwards. Well, not straightaway, that'd be too easy. Internal lights came on and the doors stayed firmly shut. Strolled around the car for a minute or two, psyching it out and trying to catch it unawares, then the passenger door decided enough was enough and caved in. Gotta love those French electroniques.

EDitorial ± 14-Sep-2006

TT0607, Week 1

Blinky blimey, it's that time again. Not only was this the week that that BBC4 showed Planet Ping Pong, a one hour documentary on the sport of pings, it also marked the start of The New Season.

And I find that I'm sighing softly as I near September
-- Frank Sinatra, The September Of My Years

Officially week one: cue tonight's match, the first since Queenie turned 80. All rise for the return of Super Kev and his first competitive outing for the BT Defiants for, erm, around 13 years. He needed some time out, bless him. The lad did good tonight, though had to be reminded that it's now up-to-11, best-of-five, and not up-to-21, best-of-three as it was last century. Though we still shake hands after each game: it's the done thing.

Shockingly it looked at one point that our one point of the evening might be scored by Kev, then Andy and me got serious to leave us with a point apiece, entitling us (despite losing 7-3) to celebratory caramel smoothies at the Tiles.

After which huge amusement for yours truly when the car wouldn't respond to the keyless remote control. You ain't coming in here, sunny boy. Never mind, I'll use the ... oh, keyless, you say. One of the rear 'leccy windows is busted, fortunately, and so I was able to break in to my own motor, nobody paying any heed to the alarm. Slotted home the remote into the slot and off I tootled. What larks.

EDitorial ± 13-Sep-2006

A Question Of Degrees

Want a fun half-hour? Mix together the following ingredients:

  • Eldest, first full week at big school and blood sugar plummeting having had no proper tea
  • Dad, hot from biking home in the heat yet with a stinking cold
  • Middler, understandably upset due to a wonky screen on her pink Nintendo DS
  • The Boy, understandably sulking having dropped aforementioned DS
  • wot no Mum thanks to a governor's meeting
  • Eldest's maths homework, set that day and due in the next

Only two questions -- how hard can this be? -- so here we go with question 1:

Draw a square and shade in 3/32 of its area

Not 3/4 -- too easy -- or 3/8, a tad harder. Nope, that would 3/32. Best to use graph paper if you've got some. I'll give you a minute. Figured it out? Let's move on to question 2:

Draw a pentagon and shade in 3/10 of its area

That's right, five sides, like something out of the old Dennis Wheatley books. Clue: you may need a protractor. Can you do it? That's life in the top set for year seven.

EDitorial ± 8-Sep-2006


If, in August, you found yourself in a branch of Monoprix, the French version of Woolies, you'd have seen that those Frenchies, bless their brioches, have a word for it -- la rentree. It's plastered all over ads of smiling kids scribbling with stylos, carrying their sacs magiques and wearing sensible vetements.

I figure that this translates best as re-entry. You've been drifting along with minimal propulsion, enjoying the smoothest of rides (perhaps with the Blue Danube tinkling gently in the background). Suddenly there's greatly increased drag and your blunt body's in danger of burning up unless you have the right angle of attack.

One item you'll definitely need is a reliable Thermal Protection System: actually, when you've got a min, we need to talk about your TPS reports. Did you get that memo?

The Brooms of Broom Hill staged a staggered re-entry this week:

  • I hit my entry corridor on Monday,
  • wifey and Middler and The Boy de-orbitalised on Tuesday,
  • and Eldest, after coming close to break-up the night before, eventually engaged her passive cooling system on Wednesday.

Took until day three for Boysy to come home with an "Ouch!" letter in his book bag. Said he'd got a piece of carrot stuck in his throat when going out to play: he was only choking.

To celebrate our successful crossing of the Heaviside layer, good old dad lashed out on some £1.99 Playmobil specials (4625 knight, 4647 rider and 4650 ghost) for the schoolies, and even threw in a drumstick lolly each. And because The Boy was catching up on some Doctor Who Adventures, there was also a Tilly Beany paperback from ebay and a Simpsons comic. Who says you can't buy love?

EDitorial ± 5-Sep-2006

Back In The Saddle

Alors, lunchtime on Tuesday 22nd August and it's off we jolly well into Tesson to witness lycra-ed men on pushbikes. For today, mes amis, is stage 1 of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, and those velocipeddlers are due to whizz through the local village. I'd expected a sign, maybe some bunting, mais non. Instead a small band of us are gathered near the war memorial to watch the jovial be-capped marshall attempt to dissuade motorists from heading into the due-any-minute peloton.

Soon there are motorbikes, gendarmes, press cars, more security, you name it. Finally there's half-a-dozen colourful chaps who've broken from the pack, swiftly followed by the herd ... whoosh! And they're gone in less than 60 seconds, on to Gemozac, Merignac, and ultimately Cognac some four hours later.

A break from baguette packed lunch that same day finds us at a cafe in Pons, you must know it, the one that faces the mighty donjon? Popping inside, there's a chap at the bar watching some cycling on the telly. Gathering my regular verbs about me, I construct a sentence along the lines of:

We have seen the cyclists this morning at Tesson

Mme Johnston, my old professeur, would have been so proud. But this chap seems a little confused and, to be honest, I don't understand much of his reply. Looking at the screen, I now see that it mentions Belgium in the top right corner:

This is not the Tour du Poitou-Charentes?

No, he says, that's isn't on the telly. This is a low countries race, you know, Belgium, Netherlands, etc. Ah, I acknowledge, and slink away. Did my little bit there for the old peppermint cordiale.