Friday, July 14, 2006


Suppered here last night.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It was 11.50pm on Monday night. I was at the computer looking at partially clothed tubby ladies as usual when I saw Mrs Backroads' car coming up the road. She flashed her lights and I waved with one hand and readjusted my attire with the other. Just then I realised she wasn't flashing at me but ushering a small brown calf up the lane.

Without finishing my download, I rushed downstairs to meet her and between us we managed to wrangle the stray baby cow into our back garden. The question was, who did the cow belong to? Was it…

a) Ted - part time farmer and owner of scattered fields around the village who lives in the direction from where the cow was running?

b) Ned – psychotic 'git orf my land' type, known to shoot intruders and owner of the field behind Backroads Manor?

c) Fred – owner of the local dairy herd and from whom we get our milk?

The answer interrupted our speculation. A long series of anguished moos drifted down from the dairy. We had our mum. We also had Fred's number. Before we had chance to explain he blurted down the phone 'ave you got our calf?'

We replied that it was safe in our garden nibbling at our prize lupins. Right, said Fred, I'll be straight down. Like a flash he turned up twenty-five minutes later with Fast Eddie his eldest cowherd and son, by which time, the little cow, stuffed to the gills on lupins and violas had scrambled over our wall into psychotic Ned's field.

We told Fred that the cow had escaped from our clutches but reassured him that it was safe in Ned's field and all the gates were shut. 'That's as maybe' said Fred, 'but it's the middle of the night and that's a 30 acre field… and the last time I saw Ned he was shooting all over our lass'.

'Ah…sorry' we said as the little cow disappeared into the inky blackness.
We left them to peer into the force-field protected enclosure by torchlight and went to bed. Thrilled by the smell of the farmyard, Mrs Backroads helped me finish my download before we nodded off…

…by Tuesday evening, the little calf still hadn't been found. Seems it had gone to ground somewhere in Ned's massive field and no-one in the village was brave enough to trample Ned's corn and risk taking the full force of his weapon in the rear.
Until I got home from work that is.

Mrs B had been hanging out of the bathroom peering at the horizon through her binoculars (she normally keeps them by the bed as there's often the a chance of glimpsing a nuthatch through the sash window). She reckoned she could see something moving about at the top end of psychotic Ned's field. I pulled out my Canon and poked it's length through the bathroom window and quickly confirmed that there was, indeed, something moving, but that it looked more like a bin-bag caught on a fence, but I was happy to go and investigate.

Taking my life into my hands I entered Ned's enclosure. This week's copy of Heat tucked down the back of my pants to protect me from buckshot, I began the long trudge through the corn to the top of the field.

Ten minutes later I emerged at the other side of the field looking significantly more Worzel-like than I when I'd set off. The good news was though, it was no bin-bag, but our little calf. The bad news was that it had befriended another cow and calf through the fence into the next field… also belonging to crazy Ned.
I alerted Fred the Milk to the little tinker's location and scrabbled my way back home through the edge of the crop, feeling that the mystery was at least half resolved. I arrived, clothes covered in thistles and the copy of Heat had left a sweaty tattoo of Colleen McLoughlin on my bum (I will never wash it again). Mrs B, evidently quite keen on rumpled farm-boy chic put down her ironing and expertly defuzzed my crevices on my return.

…and that's where we currently stand. Somehow the calf needs to be magically levitated out of Ned's field and delivered back to its fretting ma. Whether that can be achieved without some sort of incident ending up halfway down a page of Ceefax is anyone's guess.

Addendum: Calf recovered at 10.50pm last night. We have been awarded a free pint of semi.

Monday, July 10, 2006


7.32 On Time
It's quite refreshing travelling to work on the train. It feels special because I don't do it very often. Today I got to stroll in the early morning sunshine to the station in the next village, pick up the rattler into town, to change a few minutes later bound for Manchester Piccadilly, all the time listening to my shufflicious soundtrack of the day.

Unfortunately, the last leg of the journey requires a cab, which kind of breaks the mood. Also, on my train home, the air was thick with the unmistakeable odour of alcohol-laced sweat which made me feel a bit sick. Other than that, public transport is absolutely great.

I hope my car's fixed tomorrow.

Bob Mould - High Fidelity
Boards of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy
REM - World Leader Pretend
A Certain Ratio - Wild Party
Infernal - Fram Paris to Berlin (Zinedine Zidane Bouffant Headbutt Mix)
Stockhom Monsters - How Corrupt is Rough Trade?
Sufjan Stevens - Come On Feel The Illinoise!
Iron & Wine - Love Vigilantes

Friday, July 07, 2006


How am I supposed to concentrate on work when this little fellow's staring at me from the field next door?


Those of you travelling east on the M62 last might have seen me lurking on the hard shoulder waiting for a breakdown truck. I'd been trundling my merry way home and was just thinking about a move from the middle to the fast lane when I realised that I could turn neither left nor right. My steering had locked.

Happily my onboard computer displayed little message saying "Steering Fault" which was handy as I'd never have guessed as the road began to bend under my feet and I remained dead on course for the Little House on the Prairie, the crunchy way.

Eventually I managed to exert sufficient pressure to slowly coast towards the hard shoulder, hazard-lights-a-blinking, and call for help.

Quite exciting.

On a separate but similarly vehicular note, I took my bicycle in for a service the other day. I asked the geeks to give it a good fettle up and be sure to fix my gears which won't make the leap onto the big cog (dead technical, me).

Anyway, yesterday Mrs B collects it. When I'm eventually dropped off at home with the car in a flashing-lighted rescue truck (much to Snicket's delight) I go to check out my bike. Mrs B hands me the service run down and there is inscribed a little note saying "Chain won't move onto large it needed?" Now apart from the fact that I'd specifically asked them to sort it out out, isn't that like saying saying " well I've serviced your Porsche* but it won't go any higher than third, but I didn't think you'd be needing those cumbersome big numbers..."

The bike's going back today for gears 15 to 21.**

*I don't have a Porsche by the way.
** Maybe that should be gears 1 to 7.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Yesterday was the day that Mrs Backroads had her Balloon Race. She's been hassling the villagers for weeks trying to get them to buy a balloon. Most did. They're scared of Mrs Backroads. As am I. A bit.

Anyway, after the under 10s disco at the Village Hall, (not me on the wheels of steel this time and obviously not as good), it was time to set the balloons off on their merry way.

We await the return of all the little labels from maybe Belarus or Batley.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Hey.  If you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the works canteen, don't drop your mug of tea down your pants.


In yesterday's heat, I cut down to the local picture palace to watch Suzanne Vega.  Last week I was in here swathed in smoke and in the company of gentlemen making Ian Broudie rich whilst watching England stumble.   Last night I was in the company of genteel men and women in comfortable footwear to offer respect and polite applause to Ms Vega.  She was very good and, without wishing to damn her with faint praise, extremely proficient.   Her little anecdotes and ad libs had the air of the well rehearsed about them, but at least she drew the meat raffle.  She's sort of like a cross between Beth Orton and Margaret Becket… more political than the former, better songs than the latter.