Finance with strings: a moral and cultural dilemma, for which advice is required.

I imagine myself as a connoisseur of a certain category of items. I am not a collector of them, I am a specialiser. I should like to own forevermore just one of those items, rather than many. It therefore needs to be a special one. But not so special that it has no marginal utility for me, or overestimates my capability ever to beneficially maximise its usage.

(You see, it might be a Ferrari, or a McLaren, or a Lamborghini, but I’d be terrified to touch the gas pedal on any of them!)

For several weeks I have been seriously considering buying an item priced at £2500. It has all the aesthetic appeal, quality and utility I could ever wish for, but it comes from a US company that makes a lot of such items in a wide range of prices. This one is somewhere towards the lower end of the upper end of what they make. It is good, but not special.

Now, however, I have been offered another item, priced at £3500. This has the aesthetic appeal, quality and utility, perhaps to a superior degree, but also with some rarity value, as it comes from a small, specialist UK manufacturer. At present there is only one available anywhere. It is quite special and it might sell quickly and I would lose the opportunity to acquire it.

But I do not know how much of that additional £1000 is vested purely in its rarity value, or if it is genuinely buying me £1000 extra quality and utility. I cannot know, until it is in my hands.

Should I buy item A, then, I know I shall probably spend the rest of my life wishing I had had the courage to go for item B, to the point where if another comes along I would happily sell item A to acquire it. By then, it may prove difficult to afford it.

I do not currently have the cash to buy either item, however I am expecting within a few days to learn if I am able either to a) remortgage, or b) sell, my house (for reasons unconnected with my obsession), and I have taken care to build-in some extra to acquire at least item A and, at a pinch, item B.

I can ignore item B and wait a few weeks to buy item A for cash. Or, I can reserve either item for up to two weeks with 10% deposit, which I can afford – although in the case of item B it will take half exactly of my savings and there may be other priorities. Or, I can arrange a hire purchase contract, although if I can neither obtain the mortgage nor sell the house, I should not be able to afford the repayments without making a large deposit that I do not have the cash for.

Or, either item can be easily acquired on a ‘pay nothing for 12 months’ basis.

This latter course is tempting, but is a gamble. I should have the item in my hands in five days’ time. A bird in the hand, indeed!  But what if neither opportunity to raise finance were to eventuate? A forbidding tsunami-wall of debt would approach ever closer as time goes on. Should I fail to make payment in full by April 2016 I should have to commit to a repayment schedule that I could not afford on my income, at a very high rate of interest.

Tomorrow, I leave for London for a few days. Advise me, o perspicacious augur: should I settle this now with a 12-months’ payment holiday (and on which item, A or B?); pay a deposit in the hope of having more cash in good time – it might take several more weeks to come through – or postpone a decision until after the holidays, hoping not to have lost any opportunity in the meantime, perhaps by then having had confirmation of the offer of a mortgage, or with the keen interest of a buyer ringing around my little kitchen –  but still being faced with the same dilemmas as to which to try to buy, and what would be the best way?

And finally, why do I always get myself into these situations? Should I not just take up baking cakes? (My muffins keep turning out a disaster, despite using expensive cookery books and adding extra baking powder, they refuse to rise. More advice is needed on that…)

Pip pip!

UB (worried face)


Apologies to my Spammers, Lookers and Pursuers for the lengthy hiatus beween Postings, the last one being three weeks ago. I couldn’t think of much to say in the meantime, that wasn’t too deeply personal. (Another time, maybe.)

Afterlude, April 9th

The matter has been settled for me. My credit application has been rejected. That’s a relief.

Playing your cards right

  • From the Yahoo! Homepage column of Horoscopy:



    You can attract fame and acclaim through your social media presence. People take great delight from your witty postings and thoughtful commentary. Talking about your favourite writers, artists and musicians can attract a loyal following. If you play your cards right, you could be paid for your online presence. Put your communication skills to work. Investing in a good computer or smartphone will allow you to operate more quickly and efficiently. You might have to pay more than you expected.

  • If you play your cards right, you could be paid for your online presence.


Can you dig it, you all? Russell Grant is speaking directly to me!!! Wow. This is spooky stuff.

Fame and acclaim I don’t really seek. My ambition is for this, muh li’l bogl – all its witty postings and thoughtful commentary – to be discovered by the delighted reading public only after my death.

I’ve always had a soft spot for posthumously famous writers, artists and musicians. I don’t personally care to be pointed at in the street and whispered about and invited on talkshows and generally mistaken for someone more famous.

But if they want to dig me up from my pauper’s grave in the municipal parking lot up on the hill there, and rebury me in Westminster Abbey, I’d happily be the first blogger to go in Poet’s Corner.

Even while I’m alive, I’m a very private person. Curious, because I like to go on stage and act and sing and play parts labelled ‘First Old Loony’. But it’s not me, it’s just someone who sings and acts. After the show, I’ll slink away home and sit here with the lights off, gently drowning in wine until I stumble off to bed in the dark.

Part of me likes to hide in the dark. It knows it’s going to be punished for what it’s done. Whatever that was. It was when he was very small. The light’ll snap on suddenly one night, there I’ll be, doing whatever it was I shouldn’t. And they’ll lock me away forever.

While another part of me is thinking smugly, this is one in the eye for EDF Energy. They’ve been overbilling me for years for their rotten nuclear electricity. They had the nerve last month to tell me, oh sorry, we forgot to bill you for gas for the past three years, you owe us a thousand pounds. But we’ll knock it down to £250 if you sign up with us again… Blackmail.

So I opened all the unopened bills in the box in my wardrobe and find their billing is a complete mess-up, sometimes just electricity, sometimes gas AND electricity, and I can’t make head nor tail of it. All I can see is that my £44 a month contract has been costing me over £100 a month while nobody has ever read the meters because they’re too damned mean to hire someone.

Is this what old age comes to?

Money, unfortunately, is uppermost on my mind right now. My money finally ran out last month, and now I don’t have enough to pay bills. I’m supposed to get my Old Age Pension next month. It’s more than enough to live on, day-to-day. But it won’t tax the car or pay the bills.

I may be older, but I’m not senile. I saw it coming months ago, put everything I own up for sale, redoubled my efforts to find paid work. But it’s like a thick sock has been pulled over me and my life. Nothing is getting in or out. Nothing is moving or changing. Nothing works. I no longer even listen to jazz music.

Two guys offered me £600 for my car last week. I said yes to each in turn, but neither of them eventuated at the agreed time with the money. The guy who offered me £1250 for my lovely D’Aquisto guitar went away. After he came back last week, the offer was £1000 – take it or leave it, it’s a buyer’s market, no need to stand on pride….  I’ll leave it, thanks.

And the Benefits people I got onto, asking for help I am entitled to after 33 years of paying contributions told me yes, indeed I qualified for help. Since when, I have had a long, slow string of picky, pointless postal demands for this and that piece of information, evidence of nothing much, that they already have.

They are investigating me with a nit comb. Yet it is obvious I have nothing to investigate. My savings account is empty. My overdraft is full. What else do they need to know? It’s the Tory culture of bullying the poorest while their friends in the City gorge on seven-figure bonuses.

But I’ll take fame and acclaim if I have to. It’d be something different. Could even be money, if I play my cards right.

And all I have to do is write about my favourite writers, artists and musicians.

Easy, that’s me!


Comex Two: exploring time and memory

There has been a sudden burst of interest in an article I posted two years ago, asking if nobody now remembers Comex Two, a Commonwealth youth expedition overland to India in which I took part in 1967, aged 17, when things went horribly wrong and a number of equally young people died.

The events of, now, 47 years ago this summer are, I have to confess, a little blurred; if I ever truly remembered them. Most of the worst of what took place I learned only from hearsay. I had begun to think that perhaps I might have invented many of the details, if not the whole story, as I am not now certain about much of my life as I recall it, and do not trust myself not to be increasingly polluting fact with supposition as my faculties deteriorate.

I am grateful then to ‘Caleb’, who has Commented overnight that he tracked down my article, having recently come across the gravestone of one of the dead students in a churchyard in Durham, which mentions Comex Two in the inscription.

So there is at least one small piece of evidence somewhere, literally ‘set in stone’, of what, if it happened today, would have been a major human-interest story attended with the usual media circus, sonorous police enquiries, offers of counselling, finger-pointing and hand-wringing punditry.

The point of my article was that it was not.

I cannot speak for any of the others, but my own experience of arriving home half-starved, post-dysenteric and in shock was to be told simply to get over it. I was not aware of there being very much press coverage, nor was I ever asked by anyone in any official capacity to testify about my experience. The incident was never again mentioned in my step-family, who had a close relationship with the expedition leader, Lt-Col Lionel Gregory*; although I suspect it probably had a lasting effect on me.

My page has acquired five viewings since yesterday, a record, and I am wondering if the inquest into the death of Horatio Chapple, the 16-year-old Eton schoolboy killed by a marauding bear while trekking on Svalbard island last year, might be responsible?

The tragedy of losing a promising child, as Chapple clearly was, must be made marginally worse for his family by the manner of his death. Upper-class young men are only killed by polar bears in adventure stories, or in wrily comic novels by Evelyn Waugh. There is a sort of horrible irony attached to this very raw loss. There is guilt in letting-go a son, one imagines the optimism with which he must have set off, but every parent knows it has to be done. It makes the man, albeit in this case too shockingly briefly.

And it does not always have to end in tragedy. The commemorations attending the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War remind us of the hundreds of thousands of young men on all sides who never came back. ‘In the midst of life, we are in death’, as the burial service reads. But nine out of ten still did come back. The recent toll of 435 British service personnel who died for what now seems to have been a bit of a lost cause in Afghanistan can be set in the context of the more-than 100,000 who served in the Afghan theatre over 13 years.

In the case of the fourteen Comex students from Durham University, they died pointlessly in a road accident in then-Jugoslavia, sitting uncomfortably in a coach, chatting, laughing, fitfully snoozing, when the unsecured jib of a mobile crane coming in the opposite direction swung across their path and sliced the roof off. The coach had been travelling at speed, trying to make up time as the whole expedition was several days behind schedule, returning home.

Had the Oxford coach, on which I was travelling, not been delayed the day before by another serious accident in Bulgaria, in which amazingly no-one was killed (except for two poor horses – I still hear one screaming in pain, its smoking guts spilled across the carriageway) – it might very well have been us, as we had been in front of Durham on the same route. I had formed a friendship with one of the young women on the Durham coach, and but for my schoolboy shyness might have jumped ship to travel with her.

Might this, might that. But not.

Let’s be clear: I do not blame ‘Greg’, for whom forging bonds of friendship and Commonwealth, hands-across-the-sea, etc., were at the core of his being, and who went on to organise nine more Comexes without trouble. But I do feel there ought to have been more official interest and, possibly, sanction over the somewhat ad hoc organisation of the second expedition. The numbers were too ambitious for one man to manage, as Greg insisted on doing through a system of volunteer ‘coach captains’. The coaches themselves were barely adequate, old-style Bedford Duples, mechanically unreliable, basic and cramped. The drivers were inexperienced, students who had passed their PSV tests only a week before departure. Their efforts were truly heroic, but at what risk? The roads were often primitive: unmetalled, vertiginous and unguarded.

None of this contributed significantly to an awful, random event. One might more easily anticipate marauding, hungry bears in the wilderness. From the inquest testimony so far it seems the anti-bear precautions may have been inadequate, although they were taken. The question might arise as to why the leader did not know how to operate the rifle, although which of us would have performed better under the circumstances? A broader question will remain about why polar bears are starving, as man-made global warming consumes their summer hunting-grounds.

In the end we learn lessons, we move on, but such tragedies ought never to dissuade young people from adventure, or teachers and retired, slightly bonkers ex-Gurkha-regiment colonels from arranging challenging expeditions to the vanishing places of the world.

No-one could have anticipated an industrial accident, a faulty crane choosing to malfunction at that precise moment in time, on a perfectly straight road. It reminded me of the Thornton Wilder story, The Bridge Over the San Luis Rey, where a young priest tries to understand why five particular individuals’ lives should have been snuffed-out when the bridge collapses, only to lose his faith when he realises that everything is totally arbitrary.

The result, however, for the survivors is the same: ‘I’m alive, they’re not.’ A 20-year-old student, same age as my son now is, lies buried in a Durham churchyard, who will never receive his shitty little take-on pack from the Department of Work and Pensions. A small part of me lies buried in my mind, stuffed away, taken out rarely and examined for clues, then put back again, ready for the next life.

Frankly, not a lot of it makes sense.

*Lt-Col Gregory died in February this year, aged 95.



The eldest of my half-uncles, Peter-John I., was a public-school master in the 1970s, ex-army and an avid outward-bounder, who led several school climbing expeditions to challenging places. On one such expedition to the Andes, two of his pupils were killed in an avalanche. Two years later, he too disappeared while climbing with a school party in Peru, and was never found.

If anyone has any more detailed knowledge of these events, I should be grateful, etcetera.

So what has happened to Flight MH370? And why are you asking me?

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Study in Scarlet.

So, what has happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, missing now for nine days? The Comment threads are buzzing with the usual uninformed speculation. Among the many plausible and not-so plausible theories people have posted are:

1 It blew up in mid-air. A bomb. A fuel explosion following an engine fire. Cabin fire. A missile. North Korea. Single engine transponder continued to ping for 6 hours, picked up by Inmarsat. Why did it take them a week to report it? Was it pinging from the air? From under the sea? From on land? Why has it stopped? If terrorism, why no claim of responsibility? Why no wreckage? Why was it three days before we were told the plane had altered course unexpectedly?

2 Massive electrical failure. Solar flare? It came down in the sea, intact, then sank. On land. Stranded. Why no emergency message received? What happened to the passengers?

3 The onboard navigation systems failed. The pilot thought he was on-course. Ran out of fuel over the Indian Ocean. Tried to put it down somewhere. Crashed. But pilot had 18,000 hours’ experience. And why no emergency signal?

4 The pilot hijacked his own plane to flee abroad or commit suicide. Why? He’s a pilot! Malaysia’s is not a closed border. Where did he go, where is it now? Did he go mad? Why did the rest of the crew not intervene? Why did the co-pilot bid Malaysian air traffic control a cheery ‘goodnight’, if the pilot was busy committing suicide? Why did he build his own flight simulator at home  – was it to rehearse taking a plane? To train terrorists? If landed somewhere, why not reported by the local airport authorities? What happened to the passengers?

5 The pilot and/or co-pilot was part of a conspiracy to hijack the plane and made sure all comms were disabled. What was the purpose? Why has no-one claimed responsibility? Did someone want to get hold of 777’s secret technology? Did they decide to seize a plane of their own to mount a 9/11 attack because it’s too difficult to hijack a plane? Somewhat illogical reason! If plane recrossed Malaysian airspace en route to Andaman Islands, why not noticed on civil/military radar? Why airforce jets on standby not scrambled? (Port Blair runway too short to land a 777 but up to a dozen – or 600 – others in range.)

6 The aircraft has 8,000km range, fully fuelled. So landed at a secret destination, possibly a former Soviet ‘Stan’ republic, and is being kept hidden/being repainted. (Or in Australia, according to US ‘intelligence’,17th March). Either as a future weapon for a 9/11 attack (Petronas Tower?) or because Malaysian Airlines is in financial difficulty*. Again, what then happened to the passengers? Hostage? Murdered? Was any individual on the passenger manifest a potential target for kidnap or assassination?

7 Why did no-one on board apparently use their mobile phone to broadcast a message? Has anyone checked? Could terrorists really have taken phones off 230 people before anyone could call or secretly text? Did plane blow up suddenly? (So why not seen? Wreckage not found?) Or did no-one realise they were in danger? Already asleep because after 1 a.m.? Knockout gas in ventilation system? Temporary depressurisation of cabin? Suggests pilot/crew involvement. But no suggestion pilot was political. Except he was, sort-of. Politics? Blackmail? Family threatened? Huge bribe? Or just out of cellphone signal range?

8 Attention focussed for several days on two young Iranian men travelling on stolen passports. It is believed there are a million stolen passports in circulation. Background checks showed one of the men was hoping to find asylum in Germany. Also Sweden. Could both have been hijackers? And foiled the plane’s comms systems? And taken it over, and taken the passengers’ phones? Where would they have gone? Would we not know by now?

9 No attention seems to have been focussed on two Ukrainian and one Russian citizen on the flight. Ukraine is currently an international flashpoint, with Russian troops massing to invade. Again, could just two men take over a 777 with locked cockpit door and 239 passengers? Was there a fight, with shots fired, that caused sudden cabin depressurisation, hence no phones used? Shoe bomb used to blow open cabin door. Was Moscow a target for a 9/11 attack?

10 Separatists, possibly with China involvement, ie Uighur moslems; or one of many Indonesian separatist movements, e.g. Bandah Aceh; or al-Quaeda cells from Bali, Indonesia, Philippines, etc. Maoist Indian Naxalites. Or Tamil Tigers. So why no demand or claim of responsibility? Why none of these on pasenger manifest? Plane blown up unintentionally en route to target? Switched in mid-air with another commercial flight? Shot down by military fighter jets to prevent an attack? Or by accident – automatic defence systems triggered by plane off course and not responding??

11 A high-tech explanation. Possibly a trial run for a 9/11-type operation? Testing 3D-printed weaponry (undetectable plastic)? Cyberjacking – using mobile phones or satellite technology to see if a plane can be taken over from the ground, comms disabled, and flown by remote control? Then ditched in the Indian Ocean (2km deep water!)? The real operation comes later?

12 Fire in the cockpit. Pilots shut down comms transponder to put out fire (WTF?? Ed.) Set course for emergency airfield, passengers, pilots and crew all overcome by smoke. (Why didn’t pilots put on emergency oxygen, then?) Autopilot flies plane on and on, out into the Indian Ocean, until it runs out of fuel. (Fails to explain why plane alters course three times… also would you not make a Mayday call BEFORE you disabled your comms?)

13 Alien abduction by traction beam. Mid-air collision with alien craft. Slipped through a wormhole into another dimension or parallel universe. Portal opened up into the future. Plane found on moon…

Actually, I’ve made up the last bit. It seemed the most probable explanation.

* Blogger ‘Gary’ (Yahoo!, 17 March) quotes an interesting report of a proposed CIA operation in the 1960s to switch a regular flight with an identical radio-controlled airliner and deliberately crash it to falsely implicate Cuba. (If that is the plan, it’s not going to work, because everyone now knows the real plane is missing! – Ed.)

Strangely, an Australian aviation expert on BBC radio this morning (17th March) claimed that the hunt for MH370 has switched to the southern ocean as the result of information supplied by US intelligence. Yet this information is only being generally reported on newswires today (20th March) as aircraft search for two ‘objects’ ‘spotted four days ago’ 1,500 miles from Perth in the Southern Ocean by an ‘Australian’ (sic) satellite…


I have just vaguely recalled that I dreamed something like this scenario about a year ago.

Post, postscriptum

Okay, I thought I could keep it going but it’s now three minutes past six pm on 31st March and we’re still no nearer finding this plane. Vast areas of ocean have been combed, intelligence satellites and planes have spotted literally tonnes of floating garbage, some of it the size of  an aircraft, none of which appears to have anything to do with Flight MH370 (so you wonder what the hell it is, then? Why are we just chucking this stuff away?Alll the recorded faint ‘pings’ have been analysed, but Malaysia is still not releasing the information they are getting from the investigating team. China is practically at war over the incompetence with which the episode is being handled by the State airline, mass protests have taken place demanding the authorities either come clean or stop putting out misinformation, especially by text messages. Numerous relatives have been interviewed saying they believe their loved ones are still alive; although we know of course that there is no air on the moon. It is all very difficult, as if you don’t know anything, it’s hard to say what it is you don’t know, without sounding as though you do know really, when all you know is that nothing is known.

Meanwhile, the days roll by.


Déjà poo

Oh dear. I have just had my first accusation of plagiarism.

‘Breast Actives’ writes to my almost empty Spam file to claim that my Post called ‘Accentuate the positive’ is a copy of someone else’s work.

Well, ‘Breast Actives’, you are going to have to back that up with chapter and verse, because it is simply not true, and lying can get you into bad habits.

Having been a professional writer, editor and journalist for over 40 years, I can write almost anything I like. And as I never, ever read anyone else’s tiresome, semi-literate maunderings, believe me, everything I write is entirely my own drivel.

I mean, could someone calling themselves ‘Breast Actives’ even read? You are just teasing, darling, no?

– Uncle Bogler

PS To Semenax Pills, Australia, I’m sorry, I can’t help. I don’t even know how this bogl works. Ask a policeman.

Clinging to the wreckage

No bones about it, I need an income. (Shut up! Who doesn’t?) My overdraft is creeping back to its limit again, the bank is not unreasonably expecting to get something for their investment. The bill for another three months’ storage of furniture, including a drum kit, that wouldn’t fit through the door of my tiny cottage or find space inside is due at the end of the month. As is the outrageous bill for£475 the local battered-van-hire man has been demanding, after I accidentally scratched his already scratched and battered van, that he sent me out in with a burned-out clutch. Insurance? Maybe, but not in this case.

Against this, I have a few days’ part-time work this month, that I won’t get paid for until nearly March, and a cheque for £30 compensation from the gas company, that they sent me after I didn’t make a complaint. We live in austere times, though they may be looking up for the bread-and-sardines industry. (Feel free to subscribe anything you like to this blog if you enjoy reading it!)

So what am I doing about it? Well, as you may have read in Posts passim, I have various items I’m hoping to sell. My guitar collection. My car. My house. The problem being — I don’t know if you believe in such things — that there seems to be some universal, spiritual force that keeps throwing up apparently insuperable obstacles in my way, to what ultimate purpose it has not yet revealed (I suspect it is just to occasionally fuck me over).

The sale of my guitars has not been going well. There has still not been a single enquiry about my highly collectable 1962 Epiphone (see Post). I put the Ibanez in my local music store four months ago under the impression that they would display it in their secondhand section, only to find last week that they’ve got it hidden upstairs where it can only be seen by people who have somehow intuited that it’s there. The explanation being, that they thought it might get damaged if they put it where people could see it, it’s not their fault they haven’t sold it so I shouldn’t shout at them…  I am tearing out my hair.

The car, of course, you know about. After I advertised it, the door handle broke off in my hand, courtesy of Fiat Quality Control. I can’t afford to get it fixed – the spare part alone is £150 – and I can hardly expect to sell the car to someone who will have to scramble across the passenger seat to open the driver’s door. Can I? Actually, I don’t know why I’m even worrying about it, there hasn’t been a single enquiry about the damn car in three months.

So it’s the house? Well, no actually. I find myself in the bizarre situation where, since the pretend surveyor valued it at £2,500 less than either of the two firm offers I already had from buyers, as they both needed the maximum mortgage neither of them can now afford to buy it unless I drop the price to less than they are happy to pay. Don’t they always say a thing is worth whatever people are prepared to pay for it? Not when I am selling, obviously.

So I should drop the price? I probably would, were it not for the fact that the pretend surveyor also decided on a whim that the house needs a new roof, costing £6000, which the roofing man says it doesn’t. Now the recommendation is in the system, it can’t be reversed. So after spending £15,000 on my lovely studio in the garden I’m expected to knock £10,000 off the asking price? I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s not so bad here after all. Well, it is, but you know what I mean. Philosophically, it’s not where you live but how you live that’s important. I am barely living at all, but these things, we know, are comparative. I have my guitars, my car, a roof over my head, mostly

Changing places

A Bonne Nouvelle Annee email arrives from my stepmother. She’s French, lives in France. My father died a while ago. She goes on to say she’s finally selling the house, provincial France is too boring. She wants life, culture, movies, things to do and see. So impetuous, the French.

I write back that, coincidentally, I’m selling my house here in Wales and looking for a house in France! I send her a link to a tiny cottage I’d like to buy in Normandy, where she hails from, request an opinion. “Whatever will you do in Normandy?” she asks, from the lofty point of view of someone who is terminally bored with the French countryside where I am proposing to move to, as soon as I can fix the issue over the roof and the pretend surveyor. “It rains a lot in Normandy”. I envisage that Gallic shrug of the eyebrow, although I haven’t seen her for quite a few years.

“So what do I do in Wales?” I retort sniffily, sad to be alive. It’s been raining all day here. My hopes of effecting an exchange, my little cottage on a thunderous main road in the environs of a culturally isolated, slate-grey, Welsh-speaking urban sprawl teetering on the twilit edge of Europe, for her house and four acres on the sunny south bank of the Dordogne, beside a pretty, lively medieval town with pavement cafes and twinkly accordion players and attractive women of a certain age, pressed duck, vanish in the dank sea mist.

Is anyone content with what they have? Please let me know: how, where, when, why, that sort of thing. Maybe you’re up for a date? Independent women only need apply.

Who is Silvia, what is she? (A love spam)

‘Silvia Winfield’ at thoughtfully spams in the dying moments of 2012 to alert me to some ‘overlapping issues’ regarding the appearance of this, my bogl. Browsing admiringly through my Posts while at the Opera, presumably in the crush-bar during the lengthy scene changes, she says, everything looks hunky-dory. However, when viewed at home in Internet Explorer, it does not seem to fit.

Well, Silvia, I think you already know what the answer is. Compatibility is not my strong suit, I leave that sort of thing to the kind people at WordPress, whose program this is. But I have rung round this morning, and no-one I have ever known has used Explorer much after the age of 13. So I think you are flirting with me, naughty lady.

I agree, it can be hard Parmesan listening to Verdi, whose bicentenary year this is. The unification of Italy is no longer much of a talking-point. But if you’re up for a date with an elderly gent with a posh British accent, driving a bright red Alfa Romeo, and you’d like to know more about the Papal States, we can discuss it over dinner; after the Opera, if you prefer. Or during. There are no overlapping issues on my part, Silvia, I’m divorced, in full working order, and have the framed certificates to prove it.

Now, I’m going to write a poem about how sad I am to be alive. I composed it while out walking little Hunzi this morning, through the sparkling puddles in the unaccustomed sunshine.

Catch you later!

Spelling b…..

I am not exactly sure how things work. I have received a message from someone whose name I cannot decipher, from a lengthy email address that is partly in Russian but which has a dot.uae – what do you call it, area code? No, something. Where it’s from. My guess is that it is not really that flyblown desert dump from which, miraculously, shining new air-conditioned towers made from oil and gold teeth extracted from the corpses of indentured Pakistani slaves are rising daily. But I will also guess that it is not your own address. You have borrowed a poxy server, haven’t you, naughty boy?

The sender is most admiring of my Posts, naturally, but is concerned for the great number of spelling mistakes they contain. Please understand, Ivan, you have formed that erroneous impression only because you patently don’t know how to write English yourself. I don’t make spelling mistakes. When not fomenting this garbage, I am a professional editor. Have been for over forty years. And a qualified teacher of English to puzzled, shaggy-headed forest-dwellers like you, who have found yourselves abandoned in the midst of civilization.

Now get off my bogl, or I will send my drones to collateralise you.

First Past the Post

A kind email arrives in my Spam queue from ‘kitsucesso’ of Brazil, asking for more Posts. According to Arkayla, the WordPress postman, ‘kitsucesso’ is responding, not to any of the 132 Posts I have already Posted, but to one of the headlined Pages.

If you look under Home you will find all my lovely Posts, ‘kitsucesso’. You could be enjoying reading them from now until Christmas, along with all my other lovely Spammers who never get past the first page.

Obbrigado. Boa tarde. Etcetera.

Very much post-scriptum: Having had a course of lessons in Portuguese I now realise that, assuming Kitsuccesso is not a man or a ladyboy, that ‘thank you’ should have been ‘obbrigada’, to agree with her gender.

On the other hand, why make that assumption? Wishful thinking, I suppose.