Thursday, September 22, 2022

1996 Jaguar XJ6 3.2

We have a twenty year old 1.6 Ford Fiesta. It's practical, fairly economical and suits our needs. But, being a bit of a petrolhead, I often fancy something with a bit more poke. Which is why I occasionally wander off into the Leboncoin site (French website for buying and selling all sorts of stuff) and dribble over cars for sale at under €10k (about £9.5k). Current fave is a one owner 1996 Jaaag XJ6 3.2 with just 85000kms (about 50000miles) for €7900 (about £7250). The '94-'97 XJ6 3.2 models are widely regarded as being 'top notch' as they were produced just after Ford invested £millions into Jaguar which dramatically improved quality. However, très magnifique that it is, it's not exactly practical - too thirsty, too big, too difficult to park in little local streets, etc., but it'd be great on the open roads around these here parts! Ahem, other tasty morsels I spotted include a bright red Alfa 159 3.2 v6, a bright red Alfa 166 with a glorious 2.5 v6 Busso engine, and a 'hewn from granite' 1994 Mercedes E200 2.0 produced when the Stuttgart company was ruled by proper engineers, just before the penny-pinching economists took over and quality inevitably suffered. Ah well, think I'll stick with the Fiesta.


Thursday, September 15, 2022


Must have been around '84 when I was working in Covent Garden. I bought a brand new Yamaha RD350LC YPVS. Rode it to work, parked in a quiet alley, clicked the headlock on and went to work. Finished grafting, grabbed helmet and jacket, pottered back to the bike. Wasn't there. Nicked. This was in the days before bike nicking became rampant. Bit pissed off, to say the least. Luckily the insurance paid up, not full value but enough to think about buying another Yam. Returned to the Guildford Yamaha dealership (Portman?). Told 'em about having my lovely, brand spanking new Yam nicked and asked about buying another RD350. Interestingly, they said they were about to get a couple of the new RD500 models. Would I like to order one and pay a deposit? Would I?!! Collected the bike a couple of weeks later and rode it back to Southfields, keeping the revs low (running in). Parked it in the hallway with a chain lock. Didn't ride it to work, just at week-ends. Fab bike. Brilliant! Was sort of marketed as a road-going version of Kenny Roberts' V4 racer. Hero. I was there at Silverstone in '79 and saw that epic Roberts/Sheene race. Couldn't see who won 'cos I was in the stand at Stow, miles away from the finish line. Vids of the race are on YouTube. Well worth a look.


Wednesday, March 30, 2022


Regret to say I haven't posted here for ages. Been posting on Facebook. Mainly anti-Johnson, anti-Tory stuff. Lost a few buddies due to my rants. Didn't realise so many of them are Tory Brexiteers. Strange, because I always thought they were quite bright. I was wrong.

Anyway..., I recently posted a couple of photos of young Ukranian ladies going off to fight the war armed with guns and carrying rucksacks. Brave ladies. I presume they're just ordinary working citizens who've signed up to fight the Ruskies. Ordinary secretaries, hairdressers, business people, etc. I added the caption 'Brave Ukranian ladies off to war'. Then my sister (who I love dearly) commented "You’ve always had such scorn for our armed forces. Now you’re praising them! Make up your mind, our amazing guys and gals are so amazing." I responded with "Not entirely true. I never liked the way Dad was overlooked for promotion, presumably because he was a Territorial rather than a Regular soldier. I may be incorrect in that assumption, but that's the way I saw it. Also, he was basically a working-class lad in a profession which favoured upper-class, ex public school, officer types. That, as you rightly imply, did indeed annoy moi. Again, I may be wrong in this, but ç'est la vie. He did well to eventually become a Major when he should really have been a Colonel or Brigadier. And..., I was praising the Ukranian women soldiers, ordinary hairdressers, secretaries, business owners etc. - not the Brits who, as far as I know, haven't yet seen action out there."

 This exchange got me thinking. Yes, she has a point about my er, lack of respect for the armed forces while she, being an ex-RAF officer, naturally supports them. Another point of difference: to put it simply, she likes England and I don't. Or, more accurately, I don't like what it's become under the recent twelve years of Tory rule. It's changed (and how!). But there are some people out there who still haven't moved on since England won the World Cup in '66, and who still retain a blinkered, Little England, island mentality, despite the disasters of Brexit and the years of corrupt Tory rule.

So..., when did I start feeling this way? Interestingly, my lack of admiration for the armed forces may have been triggered by, as I mentioned, my father's slow promotion, which I'm almost certain was due to his working-class background and his enlisting in the army (1939?)  as a Territorial rather than a Regular (there is a difference). This almost certainly instilled in me a dislike for authority that remains with me to this day. Probably happened when I was about fifteen and about to leave school. At the time I was set to follow in Dad's footsteps and join the army, possibly via Welbeck and Sandhurst. Didn't happen. Didn't like the idea of saying yessir, no sir, three bags full sir, to some toffee-nosed twat. Went to art school instead. One extreme to t'other.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Formentera August 2021

Booked hols in Formentera for last August (2020) but cancelled due to Covid. Booked again for this year (2021) despite the threat of Covid sweeping through Ibiza's young and foolish disco revellers (Ibiza airport has to be negotiated in order to get to Formentera). Hols didn't start according to plan - flight from Toulouse was cancelled due to the plane having a fractured engine casing so all 120(?) passengers were wheeled off for an overnight stay in a local hotel. Flew off next day. Being a lazy burger I can't be arsed to scribe in detail all the terrifically exciting things that happened on our hol, so I've nicked some postings wot I dun on my Facebook page during those lazy afternoons when doing nothing seemed a far better option than rushing around getting sunburnt and fleeced of coinage.

1) Couple of days ago (my, how time flies) we parked up in the shadow of the La Mola lighthouse and headed to the adjacent bar shack for beers and vino. The beverages were served by a lithe person with an impressively tanned bod (the isle's full of such peeps which makes the vast expanse of my milky-white bod that much more conspicuous). Being an artist who fully appreciates the beauty of the human form I reckoned with a fair degree of certainty that our drinks server was quite probably female. A closer inspection of the subject's thoracic region revealed two wobbly bits which confirmed my suspicion as being correct (however, this deduction may well be disputed by people who have recently observed Michaela Gove in his jogging gear - not a pretty sight). Ahem, by now Geo was casting disapproving glances in my direction having noticed my concentrated study of our scantily-clad drinks-bringer, so I gave her a sheepish grin and cast my gaze out to sea. "Ooh look, a seagull!" Anyways..., what really struck me about this fine specimen of a female humanoid was that it appeared to be bereft of tattoos. Bit odd considering the current popularity of these body enhancements. In the good old days a tattoo was a mark of rebellion; now it's a mark of conformity. Weird. And the sad thing is that most of the tattoos on display (and there are billions out here!) are badly designed and hideously unattractive. And as for those big black areas that look like they're covering up an image that the owner's become bored with, or which hide the name of an ex-loved one who is now a despised enemy, well, words fail me. As an example of this blacked-out ugliness take a peek at Messi's left leg below the knee. So..., our waitress - top marks for no tattoos. Or maybe she had one in a nether region hidden from public gaze. Nah. No way. So why do people do it? Beats me. No comprendo. Then there's piercings. No, better not get started.

 2) When laziness sets in (as it does most days, but especially when on hols) and Geo asks 'what shall we do now then?' (after she and twin sis Don have been for an early swim and raid of the little seaside shop where they liberated a few croissants, a baguette, some tomatoes and other goodies before returning to HQ and berating moi for being lazy and not taking this rare opportunity of immersing my sweaty bod in the Med - "I might do it this evening, if I can be arsed") I generally respond with a slightly bemused "er...". But last Sunday I had a brainwave: "we'll have a drive!". Jumped in the Fart and hit the road - after opening the car doors and waiting about ten minutes for the seats and steering wheel to cool down enough so they were touchable without oven gloves. Drove down to the most southerly point of the isle (Cap De Barbaria) but we didn't get that far cos there's a barrier across the road about a quarter of a mile before the clff end, so we turned around and headed back inland. Boogied onwards across the isle then up the twisty hilly bit at the eastern end, passing through a heaving El Pilar De La Mola (twas market day) and eventually running out of road at the most easterly point. Parked up in the shadow of the La Mola lighthouse and hit the little bar shack where the gals had beer and I had a cool vin rose while ogling the millions of scooters (slight exaggeration eggsagggeration - how do you spell that? T,h,a,t. Simple. Ha.) coming and parking and going. Interestingly, and exceedingly encouragingly, there was an abundance of pairs of ladies scootering while executing some impressive feet-up slow turns with deft throttle control. Avoided the temptation of photoing the clifftop lighthouse (look it up if interested) wot everyone seemed to be shooting. Photoed an interesting bit of wall instead. Having run out of road we headed back to base. Good outing.

3) Top tree and pinky bushy stuff in busy Sant Francesc Xavier ce matin where we brekky coffeed and I lashed out on a Formy mug and a snorkelly thingy. Jad such a groovy time I ordered Geo to nip back to the Fart Panda and top up up the parking meter, thereby avoiding maassivo fine and a longthy jail sentence. Buggaire, podgy fingers on miniscule keypad npt goodo.

4) Unbelievable! Caviar crisps! Burst out giggling when I spotted 'em in the shop. And there were truffle ones too. The height of decadence. Or is it the depths of decadence? 

5) How are the shelves back in the sunlit uplands? They seem to be doing rather well out here in the EU Bally Erics. Bah, Brexit. Crap. Spanish bloke in open air beach bar asked moi if I was English. Told him "je suis francais". Too damned embarrassed, nay ashamed, to admit I hailed from that third world outpost. I think the Europeans' respect for Brits has been diminished by Brexit. We're now outcasts so it's no wonder we scored nil points in Eurovision. I use the "we" loosely! All very sad. Still, the Leavers won their stupid victory while complaining that "this isn't the Brexit I voted for". Oh yes it is. 

6) Hols finito. Escaped Formentera Sat midday. Ferry to Ibiza (calm sea, unlike going there - rough), cab to aeroport, plane to Toulouse, straight out, no customs or inspection (just a signed declaration that we hadn't been in touch with a covid person) - another advantage of being a French resident returning from Spain (Brexit, pah!), overnight hotel, hit the road home 11.30am after digging the car out from under a two-week pile of pigeon and magpie poo, quick stop at service area, another at Canal du Midi, another at a carwash to remove a few more oiseau droppings, turn right at Brive, all shops shut (it's the law - Sunday afternoon), sunny dash across Plateau de Millevaches, collect dawg from kennels, quick dogstroll, then home. Big spider in sink. Have now just binned crap photos, reduced not quite crap photos, and am trying to pick a few goodies - maybes there ain't any. Ah well, ç'est la vie. 


Thursday, July 29, 2021


Had torrential rains in early July but not as bad as Germany and Belgium where there was serious flooding (is any flooding not serious?). Lucky to be living up here in the hills where the rains drain off down streams and rivers. River Creuse down in Felletin looked pretty swollen but didn't burst its banks. Felletin's up high so the river flows downward towards Aubusson. Looked quite close to bursting its banks down there but, again, Aubusson's up high so the river carried on flowing downward. Must have been serious down below Aubusson.

Then the rains stopped and the sun came out. Really hot. One extreme to t'other. Felt quite summery so we went up to Lake Marie (not its real name) for an early evening dip. Well, more specifically, Georgie paddled while I sat on a rock with dawg. Very pleasant. Went again the following soirée, though this time better prepared for swimming. Well, to be exact, Georgie was prepared with cozzie and towel so she had a swim while I sat on a grassy bank with dawg. However, I eventually threw caution to the wind and took the plunge in my knickers. Dawg (tied to tree - he'd cause bedlam if running free) immediately barked his head off, thinking I was drowning. Abrupt end of dip. Dried off and drove home. Took a few snaps on the way back. Evening sun makes for pretty views. Glorious weather lasted a couple of days then clouded over again. Then thunder and lightning. Good while it lasted.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

To the woods!

With all this news about the various post-Brexit disasters (far too many to list here but they include businesses and finance companies moving out of Britain, families facing deportation, foreign workers leaving Britain and returning to Europe, imports and exports being decimated by governmental red tape bureaucracy, empty supermarket shelves, shortage of lorry drivers, NHS workers and fruit pickers, etc.), and continuing revelations of Tory lies and corruption, and the escalating growth of the truth-defying, brainwashing, right-wing British media, etc., etc., it's good to get away for an occasional dogstroll in the the local woods. Up there all is calm. Especially on a sunny summer's eve. The bad news is forgotten as I park the car, unclip the doglead and set forth on a quiet path. A sidestep over a small beetle crossing a shared path. A shaft of sunlight through tall trees provides a moment of fascination as it highlights bright green leaves and damp moss. Then stop and listen. The sound of silence.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Tory Hancock

Having been caught on camera snogging his aide Gina Coladangelo in the corridors of power, Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health of the United Kingdom, has apologised for breaching two social distancing Covid guidelines that he instigated. There has apparently been no official apologies for distress caused to Hancock's wife and family or his aide's husband and family, all of whom must be feeling rather shattered by this affair. Liar Johnson, an expert in such matters, has announced that he continues to have "full confidence" in Hancock and considers the matter "closed". But some interesting revelations have since surfaced regarding the appointment of Coladangelo. Inevitably, accusations of 'chumocracy' abound. And, surprise surprise, her brother is now alleged to have benefitted from her close relationship with the disgraced Hancock. More Tory sleaze and corruption. Will it ever end?

P.S. It would appear that there's more to this story than meets the eye. Apparently the still photo of 'the clinch' that appeared on the front page of The Sun newsrag was taken from a 60 second CCTV video played on a television. It remains a mystery whose television, who arranged the video and why it should surface now rather than earlier (it was recorded six weeks ago on 6 May). A former counter-terror investigator has studied the video and concluded that it was recorded by a 'spy' camera hidden in a smoke alarm, of which Hancock was clearly not aware. The investigator suggests that if 'they' (who? we don't know) can plant a camera in a high-ranking government official's office without his or her knowledge, then they could plant a bomb. Then of course the question arises, who else is being spied on?  He further suggested that it all sounds rather sinister. Further developments are anticipated. 

P.P.S. Why has this video surfaced now rather than six weeks ago? Well, possibly because it creates a diversion away from the terrible news that Boris Johnson's £37billion Test & Trace service, run by Dido Harding and using private firms Serco and Deloitte, has lost track of 550 million Covid tests and failed to reach nearly 100,000 people who had tested positive and failing to identify their contacts.