What I got.

(Or in some cases, what we got.)

From K: A multi-coloured cotton dressing-gown, in the sort of snazzy Paul Smith stripes which have become my sartorial signature. This will be my “city” dressing-gown (I already possess a “country” dressing gown), and will save me from making mad sprints downstairs in the nicky nacky noo, past the large uncovered window on the half-landing with a view over the street below and the flats opposite, and thus affording eagle-eyed neighbours and passers-by the chance to catch a lightening flash of my willy and/or bum-bum. From next week, such treats will no longer be on offer. For a man at my time of life, this is all to the good.

From K: As has become customary over the past five years, a selection of four CDs from nominated artists in next year’s BBC Radio Three World Music Awards (follow the link to stream complete tracks from all the nominees). It should be noted that K has a pretty good track record for picking the winners; this year, he has given the nod to Etran Finatawa, Ben Harper, Nuru Kane and Gogol Bordello. (He also gives the nod to K’naan and Ska Cubano, whose CDs he was unable to source in time for Christmas.)

From K: City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London, by Vic Gatrell. A fat hardback tome, generously illustrated with caricatures from the Golden Age (1770 to 1830), from the likes of James Gillray and the Cruikshanks. Our continued love and fascination for the Golden Age of caricature remains one of the great unbloggables, mainly because I can’t see my way clear to writing about it without coming over all dry and historical, and telling you things which you could find elsewhere, described and discussed by genuine experts in the field. For now, suffice it to say that we love the vulgarity and the grotesqueness; if ever you think that contemporary cartoonists like Steve Bell “go too far”, and that modern-day news values are being dumbed down by salacious, ephemeral, personality-based tittle-tattle, then these works will show you that there’s nothing new under the sun.

From K: A boxed set of 11 DVDs from the ground-breaking, brilliant, magical film-making partnership of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, dating from the 1940s and 1950s. I already knew (and loved) A Matter of Life and Death, I Know Where I’m Going and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp; yesterday afternoon, I made a start on the rest of the collection, and promptly fell in love with The Red Shoes. There’s a weirdly resonant quality about these strange, singular films, which somehow tap into some of my earliest thoughts and memories. In particular, Joan Maude as the serenely magisterial “Chief Recorder” in A Matter of Life and Death is the spitting image of the woman whom I visualised as my inner “conscience”, aged around three or four (yes, I was a “deep” toddler) – and I really do wonder whether I might have lifted her image from a TV screening of the film.

From my darling sister: The Best of Smash Hits: The ’80s. How well she knows me. You could barely get a peep out of me after Christmas dinner. While K and his extended family nodded off in front of Funny Face, I was lapping up Tom Hibbert’s bizarre 1987 interview with Margaret Thatcher (“Brotherhood of Man? Lovely!”), and wondering how they ever got away with putting the long-forgotten likes of Matt Fretton and Jimmy The Hoover on the cover, and still selling shedloads in the process.

From my darling sister: A boxed set of all 19 of the Clash’s UK seven-inch vinyl singles, in their original sleeves – even including, ohmygodgetthisgetthis, the limited edition “Capital Radio” EP which you could only get through the NME (eek!), which I sent off for and never received. At last, a great historical wrong has been righted. Really, the whole package is commodity fetishism at its most heightened, and probably the antithesis of everything that The Clash originaly stood for – but hey, we evolve. Of all the many lovely presents which I received this year, this was the one which scored highest on the instant reaction squeal-o-meter.

From my darling sister: A pocket-sized Etch A Sketch. How well she knows me, Part 3. I seem to have got better at this in the thirty-year gap since I last used one of these devices, as I have become more patient with its limitations, thinking creatively around them rather than letting them defeat me.

From K’s mum and dad: An engraving by the caricaturist George Cruikshank, in a nice old Hogarth frame, entitled Dandies and Dandyzettes. Dating from 1818, this depicts close-up versions of several of the figures from Cruikshank’s Monstrosities of 1818, which we already own (do take a look; it’s fab) – but the colouring on this engraving is unusually rich and vivid. Really, these people were the frightful, graceless, over-done Versace-clad harpies of their day. There’s nothing new under the sun, Part 2.

From K’s mum and dad: Some rather elegant wine glasses and champagne flutes – but rendered in plastic, and hence suitable for picnicking. They must have spotted the need for these over the summer, when the four of us struggled with our fancy glassware during a picnic in the grounds of Chatsworth House, prior to an open-air concert from Jools Holland and his band. Good spot, the In-Laws!

From K’s mum and dad: A book token, part of which I shall be spending on… but no, that would be telling. All in due course. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

From my mother: A beautiful beech food bowl, made by Liam O’Neill for David Mellor, accessorised with a couple of wooden-handled salad servers. This looks so much better on the refectory table in the cottage kitchen than the hand-painted jug from Marrakech ever did. (The jug has been moved to the kitchen window sill, in case you were worrying. It’s a lovely jug, but the yellow was too cloying against the pine.)

From my mother: Modern Phobias: A litany of contemporary fears, by Tim Lihoreau. I’m sure that neither my mother nor Mr. Lihoreau would be offended if I described it, in the nicest possible way, as “toilet reading”. It’s a dipper-inner.

From K’s glamorous (and newly single, ladies!) lesbian cousin P: a gift set of Kiehl’s pampering products. Kiehl’s, Kiehl’s, where have you been all our lives? One senses that after seven years of unswerving devotion to Molton Brown, that devotion may be drawing to its natural close. (I mean to say, they even have Molton Brown in the loos at Buckingham Palace – and frankly, can you get more dismally Middle England than that?) We are particularly struck by the “Face Fuel” moisturiser (so tingly!), and the “Original Musk” eau de toilette (devised in 1920!).

From K’s auntie and uncle: a gift set of Espa pampering products, more slanted towards the bathroom. But I have to say: the packaging for this stuff takes “unnecessary” to a whole new level. Boxes within boxes, all purely for the sake of the “reveal” moment, and fit for nothing but the bin afterwards. (But we’ll stash them in the garage, Just In Case.)

From K’s late sister’s partner R, who joined us for Christmas Day (along with his almost unbearably handsome brother W): a half bottle of 1988 Sauternes… from… oh, hang on… ohmyf**kingChrist-itisn’t-itIS-itf**kingIS… Chateau de bloody Yquem, sweetie! And then, a couple of hours later – since we couldn’t possibly be expected to share it around the table with the foie gras starter – a second bloody half-bottle of bloody Chateau de bloody Yquem, if you please. Oh my good Lord, that shit rules.

From MissMish: a double-sided picture-frame – essentially a sheer rectangular perspex slab – containing two photos of me and him, taken on the day of our civil partnership registration. As we didn’t have any don’t-say-wedding photos on display, this was an altogether wonderful surprise.

From NewEngland in the village, quietly left inside the garage while we were away in Cambridge, and meant as a “thank you” for ferrying her partner OldEngland across from Nottingham every Friday night: a “Hip Hotels (Escape)” guide, and a beautifully packaged and labelled home-made hamper of produce, all made by NewEngland’s own fair hand. Pepper jelly! Green tomato, onion and cucumber pickle! Brandied tangerines! Three-coloured “harlequin” cubes of home-made marzipan, coated with dark chocolate! And some of those “Blue Diamond” imported Californian almonds which we love so much! Of all the many uncommonly well-chosen gifts which we both received this year (one of our best hauls in ages, it has to be said), these were the most unexpected, the most personal – and therefore possibly the most cherished of all.

“Excuses have their uses, but now they’re all used up, all used up…”

1. The trouble with only being at work for two days in the week before Christmas is that you end up trying to cram a week’s worth of unfinished tasks into the paltry time available. Because, obviously, the Christmas/New Year holiday period marks The End Of Time As We Know It, and all things must be signed off before then, in order to ward off a catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions. Even if that catastrophe is wholly self-invented.

2. As if Twitter wasn’t already enough of a compulsive attention-hoover, I got sucked into “alpha testing” something which has proved to be equally addictive. It’s still being developed, so I shouldn’t be linking just yet – but the fruits of my labours may be of some passing interest. Ee, the things I do to avoid writing proper blog posts!

3. I spent most of yesterday evening working on my third set of “Best of 2006” lists. First there was Stylus (singles here, albums here, and if you look closely you’ll find a couple of my blurbs lurking within) – then there was the US music blog Idolator’s “Jackin’ Pop” poll (an uppity new rival to the long-running Village VoicePazz & Jop” poll; results to be pubished in a week or so) – and most recently, t’local paper asked me to pen a few choice words on the cream and the crap of 2006. If you’re local, it’s out on Friday. My fourth and final set of lists will appear here in the fullness of time.

4. I also spent most of yesterday evening trying to source music for the “trot” section of a dressage event – as it looks as if A from the village could be dressaging for England next year, and I have volunteered my services as a musical advisor. We’ve already been working on the “walk” and “canter” sections, but “trot” is by far the hardest. What’s needed is fast instrumental music (between 136 and 150 bpm), with a strong rhythmic pulse, but which still sounds light and nimble – i.e. no skull-crushing dance beats, and nothing that will, ahem, frighten the horses. This rules out just about all 9000+ tracks in my iTunes library. All suggestions welcomed. (Light orchestral classical music, particularly from film soundtracks, is a perennial favourite – but it shouldn’t surprise you to know that my knowledge of such areas is practically zero.)

5. Did I mention that K has ordered a “Three Bird Roast” from a posh nosh mail order catalogue, with which to grace our Christmas table? Such taste! Such discernment! I was bragging about this to my co-workers yesterday lunchtime, when one of them gently informed me that Ian Beale from EastEnders ordered the same thing for his wedding banquet the other week. Y’know, much as I eschew snobbery in all its forms, this has taken some of the shine off the event…

6. For those of you who don’t tend to scroll down below the most recent post, can I just point out that I have answered all six of last Friday’s song-title questions? I’d so hate for them to go to waste.


Tell me what you want. What you really, really want.

Mike answers: To know what I want – what I really, really want – and to be guided by that knowledge.

What are you doing Sunday, baby?

Mike answers: Preparing for the arrival of K’s family – for on Christmas Day, after a couple of years of ducking out of the occasion altogether, we shall be playing hosts to them for the first time. I like the way that we have varied our approach to the holiday season over the years, never settling into a fixed pattern. It gives us the freedom to opt in when it feels right to opt in, and to feel comfortable about lying low when that’s all we want to do.

I bet we all get right pissed on the Sunday night, though. Pacing? What’s that?

Do ya think I’m sexy?

Mike answers: Do I think I’m sexy? Hmm, tricky. I have occasionally had the s-word said to me – but usually to fairly specific ends, and at a time and a place when certain people (and why am I even being gender/orientation non-specific about this, I mean GAY MEN of course) will say most anything to achieve those ends. So we can count them out for starters. The mercenary little scallywags.

There again, there was that one time in Finland, in the summer of 1994, when that awfully good-looking chap picked me up at a gay disco on a boat, and whisked me away to a wooden cabin on the edge of a pine forest, way out of town – and as we tumbled amongst the freshly-laundered linen while the soft magenta fingers of dawn stole through the shutters, he leant his face close into mine and, with that same disarming, shining-eyed, sincerity that had so won me over, breathed these words:

“You’re beautiful.”

(slight pause)

“But you’re not sexy.”

A harsh judgement, but then I’m not sure that I’ve ever really pulled off Sexy to any great effect. The sexy people – the truly sexy people – are the ones who are comfortable within their own skins, with an understated yet unmistakable confidence which allows them to forget about themselves and to concentrate on you. Well, that was never me. Back in my glory days – those ten years or so when my physical attributes were at their peak (and I’ll admit to not being at the back of the queue looks-wise, which must have helped) – my strongest suits were flirting, and teasing, and exuding a sense of fun that could sometimes rub off on others. But these were milder, lighter, more diversionary powers, fit only for their limited and transitory purpose. Under the right sort of lighting, and in the right sort of outfits, and provided that it’s-ten-to-two-you’ll-do desperation hadn’t set in, I could generally approximate a certain template of urban gay male foxiness. But true sexiness required a cooler eye and a steadier hand – and I knew the limits of my range, my scope and my aspirations. Flirting, teasing and mucking around suited me just fine.

As for these days – these days when I don’t even bother putting lenses in for an evening out, and when I’d rather be chatting in the corner than making an exhibition of myself on raised surfaces – sexiness barely enters into it. As Molly Parkin once put it, the post-sexy experience feels rather like being unchained from a lunatic – and I don’t miss that needy old tart one little bit.

Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

(And, oh dear, this was one of the Guardian Guide’s questions from two Saturdays ago.)

Mike answers: It all depends upon your definition of “falling in love”. From my early teens until my early twenties, I suffered my share of unrequited romantic obsessions – but with the benefit of hindsight, I’m not sure that any of them counted as being “in love”. Love’s a vibration, man. You send it out, and it returns to you. Loving someone without their reciprocation – or, hell, even their knowledge – is something else entirely. So I’m answering the question in the negative.

Is there something I should know?

Mike answers: My thanks to Clare Boob Pencil, who points out that I have a piece of spinach stuck in my teeth. Lately, I have been fighting a losing battle with recalcitrant foodstuffs, to the extent where my hygienist has – just two hours ago – fitted my problem cavity with a periodontal chip. Before doing so, she was obliged to extract several goodly chunks of semi-masticated bacon from my lunchtime sandwich – which then she held up in front of me for inspection.

What does one say at times like these?

“Ah yes, the Atlas Deli, awfully good place. I expect it’s locally sourced.”

“Ooh, can I keep that? We’re having bubble and squeak tonight.”

(I tried to go for a lovably roguish, devil-may-care, what-can-you-do shrug, of the Hugh Grant rom-com variety – but being flat on my back at the time, I fear it lost a little in the execution.)

Where’s your head at?

Mike answers: Actually, my head has been fairly scarlet over the last couple of days – as I hadn’t realised that The Guardian‘s Saturday “The Guide” section has just started a new feature, in which well-known people are asked a series of questions in the form of song titles. (Indeed, “Where’s your head at?” was even one of this week’s questions.)

The unfortunate consequence is that people will be thinking that I’ve ripped the idea off the newspaper, when – but of course! – I was first on the block with it, years and years ago actually actually I think you’ll find.

Apart from that, my head is feeling somewhat done in by the demands of the season, as is customary.

Twitter-speak is infectious.

Haven’t got a lot to say for myself right now, but feel I should check in with you anyway.

That “too much soy turns you boy-on-boy” link (see below) is now all over t’blogosphere. It’s so two-days-ago! Such is the nature of our medium.

(I like Siobhan‘s comment: “You just watch, as every tranny in the country starts drinking Alpro.“)

Après-Twitter, all my thoughts are manifesting themselves in the present continuous, with a 150-character maximum. Brevity’s as good as a rest.

Random surfing has unearthed a great new hand-drawn blog, documenting its author’s attempts to get a job in the UK advertising industry. Start here, working up from the bottom; then go here.

K and I (but mostly K) are still reeling from yesterday’s entrance into the third circle of MFI Fitted Kitchen Hell, which commenced when the fitters turned up and discovered that key parts were undelivered.

Sparing you the details of K’s quest to extract redress from MFI’s intransigent “Customer Care” wonks, but suffice it to say that they’re buying us a new washing machine. God, he’s good.

Hoping that K has recovered from the ordeal, which stressed him so much that he filled his diesel tank with petrol and ended up stranded in Sainsburys car park for 2 hours, awaiting the recovery people.

Interrupting this post to read Tom “Random Reality” Reynolds writing about Twitter on his brand new “anything but ambulance stuff” blog. (via)

Streaming new-to-me music from Calvin Harris (“Acceptable In The 80s“, also via) and Johann Johannsson (lush Icelandic orchestral electronica, recommended by the chap who made my lunchtime sandwich).

Playing newly bought CDs from Amy Winehouse (Fopp impulse buy, as it sounded “seasonal” over their speakers) and Beirut (orchestrated yet loose Balkan folk with mariachi trumpets, from 19-year old multi-instrumentalist).

Remembering how much I enjoyed seeing Shortbus on Tuesday. Beautifully acted; emotionally astute; explicit but not gratuitous; accurately portrays a recognisable attitude to sexuality which I have not seen represented on screen before; much gayer than expected (woo); can even forgive it for the unconvincing bolted-on happy ending.

Realising that brevity is rapidly deserting me, and so deciding to crack on with the rest of my evening.

Using Twitter as an aide memoire for an old-school “What I Did On Saturday” diary piece.

12:20. Outside the village shop, our friend P opens the glass door which covers the communal noticeboard. A loose sheet of paper flies straight out at me, landing at my feet. I stoop to pick it up. It is a hand-written notice, advertising a terrier for sale.

As regular readers will remember, K has been hankering after a dog for months years, in the teeth of determined opposition. He’s playing a long game. It’s a war of attrition, in which K’s considerable powers of finesse (he won’t be satisified unless the suggestion comes voluntarily from me) are pitted against my immutable stubborness.

Despite being a near-evangelical atheist, K has evidently enlisted The Almighty onto his side. How mercenary. Truly, he still stop at nothing.

Defiantly, I shake my fist at the heavens. You’re going to have to do better than this, God! Cheap conjuring tricks aren’t going to change my mind!

12:30. Returning to the cottage, I check K’s moblog for the photo of the rainbow which he has just taken (see two posts below). As I do so, a bootleg mix assembles itself in my head, in which Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland) is “mashed up” with Girlfriend In A Coma (The Smiths, as performed by Morrissey at Nottingham Arena a few days earlier). It’s a bit of a mess – but as my mental jukebox has yet to be upgraded with Pro Tools, a rough manual mix will have to suffice.

12:40. We decide against trekking out to the Staffordshire Antiques Fair at Bingley Hall, as our advance party has declared itself unimpressed.

14:10. A simple bread and soup repast, before heading into Ashbourne to poke around the shops. P has tipped us off about a place called Eclectica, on the edge of town by the demolished Nestle factory. The owners run it mainly for fun, and so it only opens on Saturdays.

15:10. Leaving Eclectica, we experience a mutual rush of blood to the head, having just bought five darling little glass stopper bottles and an oil painting.

The painting, dated 1995, is by an obscure artist from Moscow, and was originally picked up as part of a job lot at a clearance sale at a now defunct Manchester gallery. It depicts a large ship, seemingly abandoned in an icy ocean, with wisps of white emerging from it that suggest the outlines of birds, or of escaping spirits. In the foreground, indistinct dwarf-like figures are standing on the ice. One is in the sea, arms aloft, drowning. While most of the ship is realistically portrayed, its rear section abruptly blurs, before fading away into thin air. The style is slightly naive and outsider-ish, but not without appreciable technical merit. It is a more realistic painting than we would normally go for, but its weird supernatural qualities have intrigued us and reeled us in.

16:40. Staring into space like a moody teenager in the fruit & veg section of Sainsburys. Decide to Twitter my mood from my mobile.

K (hotly): What on earth are you doing?
M (listlessly): ‘S boring innit. Texting me mates aren’t I.

16:45. Cheering up now that we’ve reached the cake section, because I get to choose. My sunny disposition is easily bought.

17:45. Judging by the admittedly scant information on the web, it would seem that, for once, we have landed ourselves a hefty bargain. It’s a difficult one to hang, though. Stylistically, it’s such a departure that it doesn’t really fit anywhere. We may be looking at a mini-rehang.

18:10. Enjoying a respite from bickering over where to put the painting (it’s all part of the ritual), as K’s mum has rung and she, um, likes a chat.

18:30. Clapping our hands with delight, having successfully positioned the darling little glass stopper bottles on the landing table. Aw, cute.


19:20. Have just missed most of Leona performing Over The Rainbow (equal parts Houston, W. and Cassidy, E., and sensibly sans mash-up) on The X Factor, as I was mixing gin and tonics in the kitchen.

19:45. Chig and I have decided to give next year’s Eurovision a miss. The tickets, which go on sale tomorrow morning, are expensive and in scarce supply; all but the very dearest hotels in Helsinki are already fully booked; and I don’t much fancy going through all of the many hassles involved, and booking more time off work away from K – and more importantly, so close to the first anniversary of the death of his sister M – merely so that I can repeat the experience which I already enjoyed in Athens earlier this year. It never does any harm to skip a year.

20:15. Flushed with triumph at the end of a particularly delicious supper, K insists that I Twitter the full list of ingredients, and proceeds to dictate them to me. Pork escalopes, Madeira, tarragon; watercress salad, lemon, porcini; and rye bread, for dunking. All the way through the day, he has been displaying a surprising interest in Twitter, often stopping to check my auto-refreshing “With Friends” page as he walks past the laptop on the kitchen table. He’s normally only like this when I’ve mentioned him on the blog, and people are talking about him in the comments.

20:50. Pacing around in my posh clothes (stone coloured Gucci civil partnership jacket, brand new Paul Smith shirt, indestructible six-years-old Prada shoes), in readiness for L&M’s 10th anniversary party at the memorial hall. This won’t be our ususal crowd, and we’re both a little nervous. A quick fag in the garden while K applies the finishing touches, and then we’ll be off…

21:25. Down at the memorial hall, we are watching a loud six-piece semi-professional rock band from Liverpool called The Laze, whose members include M’s brother. This isn’t exactly what we’re used to on a Saturday night in rural Derbyshire. Fab!

21:35. The band are playing a number called Your Poppa On Poppers. It is ace, especially with the sax. K and I are brain-storming their influences. Bluesy, rocky, jazzy and proggy. Shades of Little Feat, with a splash of Gong?

21:45. Oh my God, a recorder solo! Adding Jethro Tull to the list, I briefly step outside to get a signal on my mobile. A lone chuffer is out there already. He also mentions Little Feat – the fourth person to do so. Must be official, then.

21:50. They’re getting heavier – and proggier, which is surprising for a band so young. The only contemporary comparison which I can make is with fellow Liverpudlians The Coral, whose live sets can also tend towards dense free-form psych-outs.

22:30. The band have finished, and I’m talking to L. He is a landscape artist, whose studio is also in the village, and we have bought several of his paintings over the years. L is telling me about the band, and of their shared reverence for Frank Zappa (of course, Zappa, duh, slap), and that record labels have been up to see them, but haven’t known what stylistic bag to place them in for marketing purposes, and of the frustration which that causes.

22:40. E is telling me about his newly launched organic meat mail order site, and asking me how to boost its Googlejuice. I duly pledge a link. Every little helps.

23:50 S and I have just discovered that we were exact contemporaries at Nottingham University in the early 1980s, and that my major subject was her subsidiary subject. So that’s why I have spent the past six years wondering why she looked naggingly familiar. Does she remember him and her? Of course she does! Do I remember her and him? Of course I do! We continue excitedly in this vein for some time.

00:20. I am talking with the couple down the road about Devendra Banhart, the Aphex Twin, raving in the 1990s, and the way that young children particularly respond to bass. Evidently, there are sides to this village which I never knew existed before. It is all coming as something of a revelation.

00:55. After hours jam session, yeah! The hall has thinned out, but the remaining lurching stragglers are doing a good job of filling the space. Is it just me, or is everyone here steaming drunk?

01:10. The five remaining band members are thrashing out a cover of Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King. People are hurling themselves off the front of the stage.

01:50. We’re back from the party, and I have tracked down the band’s Myspace page. Turns out that they have supported Damo Suzuki, the former lead singer of Can. Buzzing around the kitchen as the music blares from the laptop, we still cannot get over just how good they were, and what a great night it was, and how this extraordinary village never ceases to amaze us.

Parish news.

Marcello has started counting down his Top 50 albums of 2006; meanwhile, my mate Dymbel is episodically blogging the contents of his annual Best Of The Year mix CD, in a rolling post which expands more or less daily.

Diamond Geezer spotted an Olympic cock-up; the newspapers were alerted; the council apologised. Ever the provocateur, DG is now arguing in favour of closing 20% of Britain’s post offices.

Why are bin bags so flimsy? Gordon posts the definitive answer.

JonnyB has been nominated for “Best UK Blog” by a bunch of yee-hah, woo-for-war neo-cons. As a result, a concerted collective attempt is being made to get him to win, thus striking a blow for… well, I’m not quite sure what, but a blow most certainly would be struck. Oh yes. At the time of writing, he is in second position and rapidly closing the gap on the current leader. In a thrilling twist on the principles of democracy (but hey, it wouldn’t be the first time for this lot), you are permitted to cast a new vote every day. Hint. Hint.

And on a similar theme:

The Insignificant Awards is the world’s most unheard of blog competition. It’s a place for the undiscovered to be discovered.”

“As the annual weblog popularity competitions begin once more, we at The Insignificant Headquarters wish to praise, encourage and salute the unknown blogs that sit in the unrewarded wilderness. Those blogs that will never be voted for by the masses. Those bloggers who will never be nominated for anything (but should be).”

“Remember the golden rule of The Insignificant Awards: it’s the taking part that counts – not the winning.”

(I wanted to nominate that funny American lady who lost her job and has a daughter, but I couldn’t remember the URL.)

Rainbow’s end.


Strolling back from the pre-hunt gluhwein-and-sausages do, where I narrowly avoided being interviewed by BBC Radio Derby on my so-called “support for hunting”, a subject upon which I have studiously avoided forming a coherent opinion (as I explained, I was just there for the wine and sausage, and anyway, I could have added – but didn’t, becuase you only ever think of these things after the fact – this was a legally compliant drag hunt, and who but the most rabidly misanthropic self-styled Class Warrior could possibly object to a chuffing drag hunt?), a exceptionally large and bright rainbow started forming above the hill – closely followed by a fainter double, sadly invisible on this camphone shot.

Unusually for a rainbow, K and I could see where this one ended: on the lane towards the left of our cottage, and slightly uphill of it.

We decided against an undignified scramble for the pot of gold, which we left by the roadside for the poor and needy. Just call us the Brothers Bountiful.