Wednesday 29 February 2012

Do You Think There's A Weed God?

Hiya Folks.
It's finally drying up (it rained last night) and I am managing to get on the vegetable plot.  That's me last year when my old Solanum Tuberosums had decided to stick their stalks through the soil and fym and grow delicious potatoes.  The puddle behind me is a stretch of water called Bantry Bay.  There have been songs written about it and the next piece of land going west is a place called: America.

The cap in my right hand is my trust 'Manchester United' one.  Whilst the state of the art handle in my other hand is my 'Azada' grubbing hoe.  It is the best thing invented since sliced bread for clearing weeds and grass.  Honestly.  It's brilliant.

Any road (more northern colloquial speech terminology).  I have been weeding and giving the old gardens a "right good tidy up".    I was thinking yesterday (oh no!) whilst weeding and cultivating the gardens.  Is there a weed god?  I am not talking about cannabis or smoking banana peel.  Hands up if you ever had a go at smoking banana peel.  It's doesn't work does it?  Did I see you laugh then?

Talking about laughing.  Did I tell you I also write books?  Well.  If you go on good old Amazon and type in : Smallholding Humour or : 'Baling String'.  You will find  a rather daft smallholder called Archie Sparrow.  Go on folks rush along and buy the book and I might able to afford to get an haircut or some little person to work in the garden!


Monday 27 February 2012

No Colloquialism Allowed! "I'll Put Kettle On".


Are you alreet?

To those of you who don't know.  I am a published author born in northern England (that's why my blog is called 'Northsider') and now living in West Cork.  I have been told that my writing (musings-rants) contain a lot of northern English colloquial phrases.  I like to think that I speak and write in my mother tongue.  My mother was Lancastrian and if her dialect and northern colloquial speech was good enough for her - then it's good enough for me or even thee?  What do you think?

I have just found out  on the Internet) that a famous store (they sound like they sell white goods for kitchens)  in Manchester, asked their staff to stop saying the following words: "Hiya, ta-ra, cheers and see-ya".  Apparently these terms are not appropriate and "Hiya" is far too friendly.   Refreshingly.  I have also read (Tinternet and T'web) that Manchester airport is encouraging its non-native staff to use the 'friendly northern words' and they are playing  Manchester music bands like the'Smiths' at the check ins.

Stuart Maconie's excellent book: "Pies and Prejudice" comments about the BBC having a North of England correspondent.  Yet it doesn't have a 'South of England' correspondent.    Why do you rarely see a news or sports presenter with a regional accent?

Any thoughts readers?

See ya.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Treating you like a 'proper' football/cricket supporter.

I am a fully paid up member of the "Manchester United Sky Armchair Supporters Club."  It's not been officially recognised yet.  If United ("Glory, Glory") are on the electric fish tank - I have got to watch them.  They make me happy and they make me sad.  To some they are a religion and to others it's 'anybody but Manchester United'.

Whilst it is great watching your favourite football teams (I have about seven who I always look for their results) on the television.  It is no real substitute for watching a real live football match.  I spent many a year watching Third and Fourth Division and Northwest Counties football.

Living in rural Ireland.  I really miss watching a 'real live' football match - even if it is only 'one man and his dog' supporting their local team.  Night matches under the floodlights always created a ambience and mesmeric atmosphere.  It was also the waft of the aroma of a meat and potato pie and cup of Bovril that gave you the reason to LIVE in the depths of winter supporting your local team.

Another memorable sporting experience was when my parents used to take me to Scarborough for a weeks holiday.  It was great when I was in my youth playing football on the beach, exploring the castle, visiting Anne Bronte's grave and going to see the Grumbleweeds at the Futurist theatre.

One year I went with them when I was aged 20.  I decided I had enough of walking round every street, peering in cafe windows and reading menus while me dad and mum would look at eath other and say:

"Well what do you think?"

"It doesn't look very clean".

"There's nothing I could eat".

This sojourn normally went on until Wednesday morning.  Then for the next two days we would be 'settled' in their fitting place of choice for some 'brekkie' and a 'nice cup of tea'.

I decided to watch the cricket instead - even it was YORKSHIRE!  Wait a minute dear reader.  My great grandfather came from the white rose county.  So I could probably find a bit of Yorkshire blood if I needed to.  I can also find Welsh, English and Irish for that matter.

Anyway.  Where was I?  Yes that's right.  I was in Scarborough Cricket Club.  Yorkshire v Worcestershire and Yorkshire v Sri Lanka!  Not on the same day mind.  It was a brilliant experience.  There where bars and food, and they even let you take your plastic cricket bat and tennis ball on to the outfield ("don't walk on pitch") and Sir Geoffrey Boycott walked passed me (he also supports MUFC) and said to me:

"Hiya son".

Can you imagine walking onto Old Trafford (football ground) with a football under one arm and holding a pint in your other hand, and Ryan Giggs saying:

"Hiya mate?"

No. I can't either!
Congrats to Sir Christiano Ronaldo ("Twinkle Toes") for his 28th goal of the season!

Monday 13 February 2012

Some Thoughts on Sport - (When the Cloth Cap disappeared).

What was the name of the white horse in the famous FA Cup final between West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers?  

Whilst you are thinking about that one or even looking it up on Google.  I thought I would share with you a few of my thoughts on sport.  I know that not everybody lives on a smallholding or write books.  So where do we begin?

Well there is the Olympics in London this year.  How many allotments have been destroyed in the making of the Olympics village?  Will they be showing the tiddly winks and shove ha'penny heats?  I once walked passed Radio Rentals during one Winter Olympics.  One of the shop assistants was doing her Meg Ryan impression (When Harry Met Sally):

"We've won a gold.  We've won a gold!"

Great Britain had just won a gold medal for Curling!  What's wrong with Curling?  Nothing.  What about Conkers or Welly Throwing?  I call it but I bet I will be there watching it like everybody else!

Another thought about the Olympics.  Why do they have: Gold, Silver and Bronze medals?  Why stop at just three kinds of metal?  What about Aluminium (do only the Americans pronounce it proper?) or even Tin?  Do you think the Olympics is a waste of money?

The white horse at the FA Cup final was called: Billy!

Time for a very old joke.

A white horse walks into a bar.  The landlord says:

BARMAN: "Hey Mr horse.  We have a whiskey (White Horse) named after you."

WHITE HORSE:  "What Eric?"

Next time.  I will write about good old Football.  Congratulations to Sir Christiano Ronaldo for his sixth hat-trick of the season!

Wednesday 8 February 2012

"The People Long Ago".

I have developed quite a interest in rural Ireland (West Cork) these days.  The older generation seem to always  be able to spin a yarn or ten.  My late uncle (when he was in 'good form') would always tell me something rather amusing or just simply mind boggling.

For example ("here begineth the lesson").  

If you were to walk into the 'Haggard' (where the cows and the hay stacks live) of any small farm in rural Ireland.  You would often find the 'Furze machine'.  Furze or Gorse was often used to feed the cart horse and moo cows. The furze machine crushed the spikes and made a very nutritious and palatable meal for Dobbin and Daisy respectively.   They were very useful pieces of machinery, but often very dangerous.  

So if one was to go back many moons.  A bachelor would often go to a dance to seek out a future wife.  He would not just be interested in if she was the only child, or if she was pretty, what religion was she, or how many acres did her father own?  Oh no.  The bachelor was far more interested in something much more important than that:  

"Did she have all of her fingers".

Yes I know.   You see it was quite common for the 'Furze machine' to cut through the furze and to cut off a finger.  If the milkmaid (poor girl) had lost her finger.  The bachelor would not be interested at all.  SHE would not be able to hand milk the cows in the morning!

Think on now lads.  When you are down that disco until four in the morning spitting in some young lasses ear.    Make sure to check that she's got all her fingers!

Friday 3 February 2012

Blog 50. Silver Service and Self Service Thoughts...

My first memory of Silver Service was eating breakfast in a train carriage on a train from Dublin to Cork.  I must have been at least eight and I think I just drank the Claret that morning.  Seriously. There we were tucking into a 'full Irish' and drinking copious amounts of coffee out of china cups on a Irish linen table cloth.  All the waiters and waitresses looked immaculate in their very smart uniforms.  They could not do enough for the passengers that very morn.  It was so so different to the modern trains that now serve your caffeine ration in a polystyrene cup and say:

"How do you like your coffee sir?"

"Is it one lump or three?"

Suddenly our train ("choo, choo") came to a screeching and shuddering halt.  Our 'Dining Carriage' was a right picture and all the neatly set tables decided to have a disco without any music.  It was like a scene from a Greek restaurant when they start smashing the plates.  Passengers screamed and wore faces of horror and shock.

Anyway to cut a long story long?  We all waited to hear what had happened and how many fatalities were there?  After a pregnant (Elephants pregnancy) pause of at least ten minutes.  A train guard walked along the line (it was a diesel train) and informed us that a maiden heifer had decided to stroll along the line;

"To be sure to God.  Nobody would want to hurt such a fine creature. So we decided to stop the train.".

Any way.  That is my first memories of Silver Service.  Today it is very difficult to find.  Especially those lasses dressed in the French maids outfits -sigh!

I do think those Indian (Bengali?) restaurants with the tables in a separate booth are brilliant and the waiters manners are impeccable.  I also like those metal lemon squeezers that they give you to use.  Hands up if you have friends (even yourself) who always have to take one home with them?

While we are on the subject.  Who invented Formica?  I thought he played in the Premiership.

Did I see you laugh then?  Why can't we go back to 1950's with branch railways and Silver Service Restaurants and Cafeterias?

Who invented: Self Service?  Why don't we have bus conductors any more?  The powers that be are always finding ways of cutting jobs.  I think if we got rid of Self Service and brought back Silver Service, we would create a few jobs.  Don't you?

Any thoughts dear readers?

Anybody think they should bring back bus conductors?  We'll have to get a bus service here in rural Ireland first.

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...