Tag Archives: Daily Prompt

So where were we?

Ah yes.   A very silly thing.

I did London Duathlon.   Actually, I did London half duathlon, it was 5km run, 22km cycle and then 5km run.   That second 5km was the killer.   Your legs are still expecting to be going round and round rather than up and down so one tends to stagger around like a drunken fool for the first 10 minutes of the second run.  Still, I finished.   I didn’t quite make 2 hours but I will do next time.

The Daily Post (I had forgotten about it) suggests a one word prompt of Marathon.  Being keen to improve myself and stick to what the doctor says I’ve decided to do things by half again and take on a half marathon.   I’m running on behalf of Motor Neurone Disease Association and so collecting sponsorship.   If you do feel the urge to pass on some of your hard-earned savings to a most worthy cause I’ll put a link at the end of this email, but don’t feel obliged.

We have some issues at home with regards to all of this keeping fit.   They mostly revolve around mud.   The youngest (that’s this one) is now a fully fledged football coach.  His mission is to put right the things that every other coach in the world gets wrong and to get his team of under 12’s to the top of the league (4th at the moment with two games in hand).   When I was a lad, football coaching was basically “kick the bloody ball and run over there” but it appears to have evolved since then.  There’s all sorts of kit to be carried around.  Balls, cones, markers, goalposts (honestly) and when it has been wet for a few days these items tend to get, well, wet and muddy.   If you’ve ever been in a soggy field with a bunch of pre-teenagers then you’ll probably be able to understand.

The big match this weekend (it was against a team who on average are four inches taller than “our” team) was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch but this didn’t stop training.  I suspect that training must have borne some similarity to Sunday at Glastonbury.   Needless to say that there are a few Surrey parents  still trying to find their child who now resembles a pool of mud in the back of the 4×4.

In itself, this shouldn’t be a problem.  However, I (and I’m obviously the most important person) had been out for a training run in the park (Richmond Park, added incentive of being chased by angry deer) and so was also wet and muddy.   Wet, muddy and tired in fact.  I flung open the door of Verbal Towers expecting to be greeted by a warm glow and pristine flooring to be met with 20 football cones, 12 footballs and 22 training bibs.  Each dun coloured item either dripping or steaming, depending on its exact location in the hall.

I was (as is my custom) overjoyed. The route to the stairs was blocked by 50 or so training markers, originally blue and red but now brown and browner.  My solution to strip off in the hallway and scamper nimbly through the cones and up the stairs seemed like a great one until I reached the first floor and noticed the family opposite looking out of their bedroom window and into our landing with some bemusement.   You really would think that the neighbours would be used to us by now.

Now off you go, read some more Marathon posts and then click on the link below and donate everything that you’ve saved from whatever new years resolutions you have made.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Robby-Hedges

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Travelling light

Three things.

The spell checker in the editor insists that travelling should be spelt traveling.   I disagree.  Wholeheartedly.

Counting from 1st January 2015, can you guess what the most popular search term used to find The Verbal Hedge was?  It was not “Verbal Hedge”, it was not (rather disappointingly) “Slasher Rhino Porn” although that did feature a couple of times.   It was “Demis Roussos height”.   How can that be?   I have just tried a Google search and of the three pages returned, I didn’t get a mention.   Almost 50% of the recognised search terms this year leading to my little blog have related to the height of the much missed kaftan clad crooner.   Please if you are the searcher, tell me how you found me.

The compere in a club last night introduced the session with a speech that was almost word for word the fourth paragraph of my last post.   I’ll have a credit and a pint on the house next time please.

One thing.

The daily post asks who you would chose to write the story of your life.    I am going to cheat a little and just have the story of the first week in June 2015 and I pick Ted Simon (I hope you don’t mind me linking to your site Mr Simon) because since reading Jupiters Travels I’ve longed to go on such an adventure.  Sadly I am far too wimpy to set off on such a trip but I am going to take my own Triumph Tiger on a much smaller scale adventure and tour around the wild and dangerous land of Scotland.  Ted’s Tiger was a 1973 model I think.   Mine is a 2014 one and should have no problems with the 2000 miles or so I will be travelling (with two l’s) but the question is, what to take?

I have my tent and a sleeping bag.   That should be all I need for accommodation.   I reckon I can put the tent up in three minutes and it is a sturdy thing so even the most voracious storm will not threaten me.   I have a cooker the size of a deck of cards and a collapsible kettle.   The cooker, for all that it is tiny, sounds akin to a hot air balloon taking off.  I shall probably end up making tea for everyone within a 5 mile vicinity.   Mother always told me to make sure that I had dry socks, clean pants and a handkerchief.   I reckon two out of three aren’t bad and one of the two can cover for the third in a real crisis.   I have been collecting those little coffee and sugar sachets from hotels all year and hiding them in various pockets of my motorcycle coat, so making a brew won’t be a problem (providing I remember a cup).

Guide book?  Map?    I know roughly where I am going, north for a couple of days and then follow the coast after that.   There can’t be that many roads to get lost on and I’m told that I can’t take the bike off-road beyond the border.

Clothing is a challenge.  The weather may be glorious or it may be snowing.   I shall layer about four deep and that should cover every eventuality.   My running tights can double as long johns in a push.  The last pair of proper long johns I owned were dyed orange as part of a fancy dress costume.  I used to dread coming to grief and having a paramedic cut open my leathers to find me festooned with dayglo orange bloomers.

I’ve earmarked some small tools and a puncture repair kit but my most useful tool is made of plastic and called visa.   I’m hoping that I don’t need any of them but better safe than sorry.

A torch.  I’ve camped in the dark before and remember thinking “A torch, a torch, my kingdom for a torch”.  I don’t have much of a kingdom to give away so I better remember a torch.  I shall christen it Lucifer (now there’s a curious juxtaposition).

I remember the boy coming home from school one day, must have been in the early ’90’s and he would have been in one of the early years classes.  He had something important to tell me.  “Matches matches do not touch, they will hurt you very much”.   I’ll need something to light the cooker (henceforward known as Montgolfiere) and they will also double as handy toothpicks after I have cooked my freshly caught haggis.  In one of the comics of my youth, either The Dandy or the Beano, the haggis had long legs on one side and short legs on the other side to help them get around the mountain.   The simple way to capture them was to get them to run in the opposite direction so they became unbalanced and fell over.

Can you tickle Salmon?   Not Alex Salmond, I wouldn’t want to tickle him.  Do you have to be named after a fish to be leader of the SNP?   Was it founded by John Stickleback?   I digress.  I shall stand in a stream like a bear and toss me a salmon onto the riverbank for dinner.   I bet it is not illegal to go salmon tossing without a license.

If you can think of anything else I need then let me know.   Four weeks today and I’m off.

 

 

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Filed under Food, travel

If I knew you were coming…

I love cakes.   I think cakes are the best.   The things I would do for a fresh cream horn don’t bear mentioning.  If there was a danish pastry 100 metres away and I was standing next to Usain Bolt then I’d get there before him (and probably be licking the crumbs from my fingers before he arrived).  Did I say that I like cakes?

I was having a discussion about cakes recently, one of those abstract conversations that tend to happen when you’ve been driving too long without human contact and so you pounce on the first caller.   After meandering through the jam donuts and the gaily coloured Battenburg we finally alighted on the ultimate piece of food, the fruit cake.

Not any fruit cake but the booze riddled, iced, marzipanned behemoth that masquerades as a wedding/Christmas cake.

There is a tradition in the UK (this may be true everywhere) that the top layer of the wedding cake is kept back and not cut until the christening of the firstborn child.    I thought here that I would provide a handy little statistic saying that the average time a cake lays waiting is x years, but the internet has failed me.   In fact, the average age for a woman to give birth to her first child is 29 and the average age of a woman getting married is 32.5, so the cake would be -2.5 years old.   I think it might have to be called an uncake.

Never mind.  It is still tradition and we can pretend that the top layer of cake is going to be in a tin under the bed for at least 12 months (even if you are the most rapid christener in christendom).     This got us thinking.   Whilst your cake is waiting to be consumed could there be other uses for it?

My first thought was that the cake could be used to fashion an emergency exit in case of fire.   My type of  fruit cake has a density similar to that of a small sun.    Kept on a window ledge it would be a simple thing to cast the cake through the window (or wall for that matter) and hey presto you have a cake shaped hole ready for egress.

If you were thinking that you may be having twins as your first born then you may well plan ahead and have two top layers of the cake.   With a bit of lateral thinking, these would make fantastic book ends that are also a lasting memento of your big day.  You could have the little plastic bride at one end and the little plastic groom at the other.   Once the twins are born your married life will have gone to pot anyway so you will be glad to get rid of the bloody things at the christening.

Bits of fruit cake could easily be fashioned into brake blocks for a bicycle.    This would actually have two benefits.  Aside from the undoubted additional stopping power achieved, every time you slowed down there would be a lovely smell of re-cooking cake to assuage your hunger.   Carrying spare cakebrake blocks (as I think they should be called) would mean you also had an emergency supply of high energy food should you get stuck up a mountain with no patisserie nearby.

My recipe for Christmas cake involves starting cooking just after we come back from the summer holidays.   The recipe seems to have been written on parchment with a quill by what I fondly imagine to be an old and slightly befuddled cook from around the time of Robin Hood.     The best part of it is that I have to feed the cake with Brandy every week.   We all know that drinking alone leads to all sorts of problems so it is essential for the health of the cake that I join it with a glass.

Just as an aside.  The only English monarch ever to be given the epithet of “The Great” is also the only English monarch who is associated with cakes.   That can’t be coincidence (although there is an argument that after burning the cakes he should have been Alfred The Grate).

There are some good superstitions that go with cake.   My personal favourite is that of the burial cake.   Again this should be a mighty monster of a cake and it is kept near to the head of the dearly departed.  Those who come to pay their last respects should keep a piece of cake in their mouth whilst viewing the deceased.   I would like to state now that any cake found near my body is mine and should be buried with me.

The daily prompt today asks what is our guilty pleasure.   Need I say more?

 

 

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Getting on with it

“I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done”.

That’s what Buddha said.  He said a lot of wise things but I’m not putting that one at the top of my list.   I’m quite happy to see what has been done.  Let’s rephrase that.  I’m sometimes astonished at what has been done (an not necessarily in a good way).

The daily prompt asks what is our favourite daily ritual.  I reckon anybody who says anything other than “going to bed” is having a laugh.   Can there possibly be anything more delightful than climbing into bed after a long day of doing stuff (and seeing what has been done)?

I love my bed.   I climb in and lay back and review the day.   If I followed the example of Buddha and thought about what was to be done tomorrow then I’d still be awake when it is time to get up (although regular visitors  may remember this) and that would never do.   The problem is that during my slumbery (I know, it’s not a word yet.   It will be one day) recollections I remember the bad bits rather than the good bits.   I never close my eyes and think “I did a bloody good job there”, it’s more a case of “Oh lordy, why on earth did I say that?”.   It is ridiculous.   It is the mental equivalent of recording a really good film on TV and then fast forwarding through everything except the adverts.

I sometimes read.   Reading relaxes the troubled soul (I bet Mark Twain or someone similar has a great quote along those lines if only I could expend enough energy to go and look in my Oxford book of famous quotations).    I like a book.  I did try reading on my remarkable tablet thingy but it just doesn’t work for me.    With a book I can gradually nod off and let the literature tumble to the floor.    The tablet is certainly robust enough to cope with cascading off the bed but it tends to fall instead onto my chest.  It has this thing whereby it watches your eyes to see if you are looking at it and it senses movement as well.   A very clever idea but what actually happens is I wake up, roll over and the tablet thinks we are ready to go another few chapters so it wakes up as well.   As it has frequently managed to work its way under some part of the bedding (or on one unfortunate occasion the cat) there suddenly appears a ghostly glow and I have to seek it out and turn it off.   It was quite funny when it lit up the cat though.   You haven’t lived until you have seen an illuminated cat anus.

If a book isn’t to hand then a magazine will do.   The Sunday papers come with enough stock to keep me in late evening reading for most of the week.   There’s a problem with this as well though.   I will read part way through an interesting article on something like how Kim Kardashian is liberating children caught up in war torn Syria and doze off.   When I decide to return to the piece later on the magazine has gone.   Honestly, you would imagine that anything lying on my side of the bed was my property until returned to the proper place but it seems that this isn’t the case and half-read papers are fair game to be removed somewhere else.

Never mind though.   I love going to bed.   It is absolutely the best part of day.   Curiously, the second best part of the day is getting up in the morning.   If I could only learn to love the bits in between then I would be a very happy man.

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I’ve got those email blues.

My morning routine has not changed for several years.   At 6:4o there is the pad, pad, thud of the cat coming up the stairs (the thud is because she only has three legs and her back end is rather more ungainly than that of the average cat) followed by the duvet being dragged down as she scrambles onto the bed.   She potters towards the pillows and sits gently on my head, indicating that it is time she was fed.

At 6:45 the alarm goes off (followed by the cat as she leaps to safety) and I reach to turn the alarm off and grab my phone to check the news, email and how poorly I am doing in my latest game of scrabble against a colonial cousin.

I’ve a new phone.   I abandoned the apple flavoured one as it was spending more time on the phone charger than off it.   I now have “HTC one (M8)”.   I thought the M8 might be text speak for the phone being the ultimate best buddy but it turns out that it’s just the one after M7.

New phone is showing that I sent several emails around 1:30 last night.   I don’t remember sending any emails at all.  Certainly not at that time of night, after all, it’s a work night and I think I was fast asleep by that time.    Confused, I checked the contents of the sent emails.   They were all different but along the same lines.   An example of a couple, word for word are.

“Well you might say that, but is it a bad thing? Here I’d a choice: I’m ravaged by illness and I shall be spending my life struggling to breath and will need somebody to help me to the toilet for”

and

“The Soviet presence is probably s fake.   When they landed on the moon they didn’t expect the consequences and so they only took”

The curious thing about both of the above examples are the mistakes.   I have been struggling with the predictive text on the keyboard.  I have frequently sent “I’d” instead of “I’ve” and I am constantly typing “s” instead of “a”, so I suspect that I have, in the middle of night, sleep-typed emails to random acquaintances.   Not only have I sent these emails but the contents are of a somewhat dubious nature.

That’s not the most worrying thing though.   I (or the phantom email writer) has also deleted all of the text messages from the phone.   Every single one of them.    I have phone contacts going back years, both business and personal.   There are about 500 mobile phone numbers stored and there’s just a small chance that I may have sent equally random text messages to random people and then deleted them so now I have a dilemma.   Do I send a text to everybody on my phone saying “Sorry if you got a weird message from me last night” or is that going to be seen as even weirder by anybody who didn’t get a text?

I think I shall just keep my head down.   I think I shall probably turn the phone off tonight and leave it locked in a cupboard somewhere, just in case.

The daily prompt today refers to the worst case scenario, I can’t possibly imagine what the comeback from the wraith of the phone will be, but if you did get a message form me last night.   Can you tell me what it said please?

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Changes

Have I got you singing?    Inside your head is there a little voice going “ch ch ch ch changes”?.

As a schoolboy I had a friend who believed that every single line of song that David Bowie wrote had a second and deeper meaning.   We played along with him for sometime but eventually he just became too pretentious for his own good so we asked him to provide a detailed assessment of the hidden thoughts behind The Laughing Gnome.  It probably ruined his life.

I am not overly fond of changes.   The daily prompt has changed its format and while I can see it has many benefits and looks a lot sexier it took me a while to find what I was looking for.   To be fair, this is probably a reflection on me rather than the new look as the phrase “Have you never been mellow” was staring out at me in 40 point font size (Arial I think, or something very close to it).

The prompt is wondering how we wind down after a hard day at work or at school (or perhaps both if you are a teacher, it doesn’t mention that).    I think if it was rephrased to ask “how do your friends think you wind down…” then there would be a unanimous shout from around the UK.   In fact, let’s try it.

Hey everyone.   How does Robby wind down?  What does he do to chill out when he’s not at work?

 

Did you hear it?  They all shouted “GIN”.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth of course.    Whilst it is fair to say that I enjoy a very small beaker of Mr Hendrick’s finest occasionally I don’t constantly totter around with a bottle of Tanqueray No. Ten at my lips. No, no, no.   I sometimes have a glass of sherry instead.

Relaxing is one of those things that I occasionally excel at.   If I thought I could get away with it I’d put it on my CV.  “In my spare time I sit around and do nothing” but it’s probably not a wise thing to do, I haven’t updated my CV in years mind, I think on the part where I suggest my salary requirements they are listed in pounds, shillings and pence.

Thinking about it, I don’t actually do nothing.   I’m always doing something even when it looks like I’m ready for embalming.    I may be reading a book or I may be sketching a picture (usually in my head, the pictures that I draw in my head are invariably  better than the ones that come out on paper, although whilst sketching a tree in the park recently a very kind -and possibly blind- old dear asked me if I would mind submitting a drawing to a charity auction).

The one thing that I will always be doing is listening to music.   It fascinates me.   I don’t mean classical music, pop for want of a better word.   Almost any pop at all.    It takes me away, it soothes my soul and mends my broken bits.   Regular readers will know that after an unfortunate encounter with an asparagus fern my music centre ceased to function and for a brief while I was singing with no accompaniment.    This is the one area where change has been good, change has been spectacular in fact.   The purchase of a tablet thingy and a healthy investment in some blue tooth speakers has brought Spotify to my kitchen.  I now have all of the music in the world and it is all on a little device smaller than an A4 piece of paper.

The only slight downfall of having all of the music in the world in the palm of your hand is choosing.   With the CD’s you just look at what you have and think “Yup, I’ll listen to S Club Seven’s greatest hits” or “Today won’t be complete until I hear Barry Manilow singing Mandy”.   Where do you start?

I’ve started with Motown.   I think I shall work geographically around the world but what better place to start than Detroit.   This means that whilst you have been singing ch ch ch changes through my little blog I have been Gladys Knight.  Or more accurately I have been The Pips.  There is surely no better thing in all the world than to sing the backing vocals to “Midnight Train to Georgia”, find a copy of the song, get a copy of the lyrics and just sing the words in brackets.   You’ll sing  “Guess who’s gonna be right by his side” and know that you have the glorious “Whoo whoo” coming up soon and a little bit of you will thank me for giving you such joy.

 

 

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Don’t do it

My leg is falling off.

Slowly, it’s a very drawn out process.   If I was a betting man then I’d wager that as I stroll down the High Street tonight I won’t get home and think “Where’s that leg gone?” and have to follow a bloody trail back past Lidl and the myriad betting shops searching for a missing limb.   There’s a possibility that it will never fall off of it’s own accord and somebody will have to take a hacksaw to it and leave me with a stump.   I shall forever after go to fancy dress parties as a pirate.   I may fashion different prostheses to suit my needs.  I shall have a disco leg with LED lights up the side and I shall have a swimming leg with extraordinarily wide feet.   The possibilities are endless.

Of course it isn’t a foregone conclusion that my leg will fall off.    There is a good chance that it won’t.    If one imagines one’s body as road map then there is a serious accident blocking the route down to my southern extremities.   The arterial highways agency have had one go at clearing the route but it was a bit of a failure.   They may have another go one day or they may decide that it would be better to build an alternative route using synthetic materials.   A trunk road in my trunk perhaps.

The question is, who can I blame for this?   I need a scapegoat.   It can’t all be my fault…

The daily prompt asks us what would we do if we could turn back the hands of time.   I’ve been thinking about this whilst annoying colleagues by singing R Kelly songs (I know it was originally Tyrone Davis, I’m not that old though) and decided that I would chose to never meet Ellen Cole.   That would do me just fine.

Ellen introduced me to nicotine.   Roll-ups to be precise.    She could roll a cigarette one handed with her eyes closed.   Probably on one leg whilst balancing a pile of books on her head.   It was the most elegant sight to behold.   How could I not participate in such a beautifully crafted  thing.   I came quite late to the world of smoking but took to it with gusto.   Soon I too could make a smoke that didn’t look carrot shaped and I could strike a match on my fingernail.   How cool is that.

I eventually stopped when the boy was born.   It was easy, both adults in the house at the time smoked and a quick discussion led to an instant cessation.   I chose grapes as my nicotine substitute and consumed half of the Sauvignon Blanc supply in the first month or so but it worked and I was free of the demon.     I remember after one overly fractious row just prior to me leaving I went to the local shop and purchased 10 Benson and Hedges.    The hit after 11 years without was instant and I was straight back in there.

The first time I fell over was on the golf course.   Bag on my back and walking up a hill.   I knew that my leg had been behaving in a curious manner but wasn’t expecting to keel over and find myself doing a passable impression of a dying fly.   The doc found it hard to believe I was suffering from intermittent claudication.   That only happens in old men!   Old men and me and probably another million smokers around the world.   A blocked artery means that the oxygen delivery to the muscles in my leg is not up to scratch and so when the muscles get more active and need more fuel they can’t get it snd go on strike.  From then on I limp (and sometimes topple).  Rest for a while and everything goes back to normal.  How weird.

The medical equivalent of a dynorod team have been in and shoved the medical equivalent of a pipe cleaner through the artery but it seems to have met with limited success and so the build up continues.    One benefit of course is that I am really very good at walking in circles (as long as I only go anticlockwise).  This takes no effort whatsoever.

So there you go.   I am a walking example of why people should not smoke.   Without some serious intervention at some stage I can look forward to weeping and festering ulcers on my leg, stinking gangrene, my toes turning black and dropping off and the rest of my life in a wheel chair.

Please feel free to use this to remind your children why smoking isn’t clever.

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