Yes! It’s Lizardyoga’s Weblog’s 5-year Anniversary!

I got a funny little icon at the top-right corner of my page when I logged on this morning.  On examination it turned out to be congratulations from WordPress – because!!! today is the fifth anniversary of the start of this blog!!!

When I began it I had no clear idea of what I would write about – and now that I’ve been writing a daily post for all that time, I still have no clear idea of what Lizardyoga’s Weblog is about – but it’s that not-knowing which has been, for me, the blog’s greatest strength.  I’m sure that, had I limited myself to one field of interest, one topic, one area of research or activity or belief or philosophy – I would have run out of things to say before the week was up.  Most blogs are about something: Home Education or Writing or Politics or Following Someone’s Diet: they are often very personal and have a limited scope.  There’s nothing whatever wrong with this: such blogs often perform a very useful service for the community they involve,  in disseminating information or providing a forum for debate or supporting others in similar situations: but if I followed that approach I knew I would almost instantly run out of ideas.

This blog for me was an extension of what used to be my diary: I have boxes and boxes full of A4 notebooks upstairs containing these diaries, going back to the 1980’s – and the strength of these was for me the ability to write about whatever I wanted: I could fill them with fragments of poems or philosophical discourses or ideas on the state of the EU or reviews of pubs or fragments of dialogue – or anything!  And so it is with this blog: though I tend to plan posts a little more nowadays, I still have the freedom to write about absolutely Anything: whatever happens to be running through my mind as I sip my morning tea and listen to the Today programme, can become the basis of that day’s post.  Of course I put personal stuff on here as well, but I have been able to write on religion and politics, poetry and prose, philosophy and music, home education and much, much more.  I have reviewed books and discussed TV and films; I have analysed poems and delineated characters in a novel; I have dissected the political issues of the day and resurrected Kings of England by proxy as well as discussing where they should be buried.  And much, much more….

Of course, such strength can also be a weakness – and since Lizardyoga’s Weblog can’t be put into any category it has no natural and immediate audience.  It also generates relatively few comments, though I would like to thank those who have taken the time to comment, either here or on Facebook, on what I have written.  But it’s certainly true that if this were a Home Ed blog I’d have a loyal following of Home Educators; if it were a political blog I would have vociferous supporters and equally vociferous detractors; were it a blog purely about writing I’d have a following composed of writers and readers.  Sticking to one theme means that people know what you’re about and become more engaged with what you’re saying.

But there you are: that’s the way I’ve done it, and looking back I don’t think I could have chosen any other way.  This blog has been great for me, particularly in the dark days when I felt I couldn’t write a single word – because at the end of that day I knew that if I’d done nothing else, I would have at least written a blog post.

So if you’ve been with me since the beginning I’d like to say a huge thanks; likewise if you’ve commented then thanks also.  I think Mike – or Spock – as my most regular commentator, deserves a mention; and it would be nice to have more comments so please drop me a line even if it’s only to say you liked the blog.  Or didn’t.  Or you could call me a fat, bourgeois bohemian as one spammer recently did.  Go on – I could do with a laugh…

Happy five-year anniversary to all,

Kirk out

Hoddadda-daddadda! Eddie Izzard for Pope!

Well, I was thinking this morning in my Proustian way, half-asleep as you do, about carpet sweepers.  Is there anything in the whole of creation more useless than a carpet-sweeper?  Eddie Izzard has a brilliant routine about them which expresses everything I feel:

That man is a genius: he can talk about anything and make it funny.  And speaking of funny, apparently it’s been a record-breaking year for Comic Relief, which is excellent.  I’m thinking next year I might try to organise a comic poet-a-thon.

They should have chosen Eddie Izzard for Pope.  I mean, as a cross-dresser he’s already half-way there; plus he’d get everyone in the world laughing: what more could you ask?  I don’t quite know what to think about the trannie they’ve actually chosen: on the one hand he seems very conservative and has been accused of failing to help Jesuit priests imprisoned for helping the poor: on the other hand he does seem extremely personable.  Watching the Vatican channel live yesterday, I was reminded of no-one so much as Gorbachev.  The architect of Glasnost succeeded a long line of dour, grey conservatives with not a human characteristic among them: Francisco I succeeds a similarly long line of grey, unsmiling traditionalists; so I can’t help wondering whether he will turn out to be the Gorbachev of the church.  God knows, they could use a little glasnost.

A busy day yesterday – well, busy-ish; domestic stuff in the morning followed by going to Peter’s and thence to Jan and Yvan’s in the evening for a party.  We were a bit pathetic, having forgotten both the reason for the party (Jan’s 60th) and the dress code (1960’s clobber) and compounded these sins by leaving early as we were both knackered.  Still, it was good to see them both as it’s been a while.

I shall leave you with a brilliant quotation on life which I discovered this morning (by which I mean that I discovered the quotation, not that I discovered life.  That would be disturbing):

“The world lasts for two days, one day its against you, another day its with you. The day that its against you, have patience. The day that its with you, be humble.”
Imam Ali (peace be upon him)

Thanks to Christopher Zang Starbuck for that one.

And finally, best wishes and sympathy to Dave Fegent who is spending his birthday in hospital awaiting a pacemaker.  Get better soon, Dave!

Kirk out

The Wrong Kind of News

And yes, there’s the usual bout of national self-flagellation about the weather and our response to it, and as ever, the inevitable comparisons with other countries.  Here’s a photo that sums it all up:


But let’s be fair.  We never know when we’re going to get snow until we get it (yes, I know that with satellites long-range weather forecasts are a lot more accurate, but still, we were supposed to have this snow a week or two ago and sometimes they forecast it and it just doesn’t happen) so we never really know till it comes.  The fact is, our weather is just downright unpredictable; we can have a heatwave in summer and moan about being unprepared for that, but it will only last a few days: likewise a freeze in winter comes but once every few years and only lasts a mere week or two – or less.  That’s why we remember the winter of ’63 (and some people may also remember the winter of ’48 too) – because it was unusual.  I remember the winter of ’63 very well, as I told you before: every day I tried working with that pile of frozen snow my Dad had shovelled for me, and every day I was forced to concede defeat.  So really I think we need to cut ourselves some slack here.  In fact I think we ought to be proud of ourselves – since the only thing we know for sure is that the weather is unpredictable, and we cope pretty well with that.

What Do You Think of it So Far?

Does that phrase ring any bells?  If so, you’re probably old enough to remember at least one of those frozen winters, for it was a line from the perennial Morecambe and Wise Show.  A staple of Saturday nights, it’s hard to say why these guys were so funny – they just were.  It wasn’t what they did or said; they were just funny in themselves.  Their material was good, but hardly ground-breaking: not the sort of thing you’d expect someone of my generation to like – and yet I watched them religiously every Saturday.

(I am compelled here to add a brief aside – which you can skip if you want – on the word ‘religiously’ and how it is used to mean only one aspect of religion – that of regular observance – and so ends up sounding bizarre if you think about it.  It reminds me of a joke I always used to make about the phrase ‘slept like a baby’ to which I responded with: ‘woke up every hour screaming?’

OK that’s over now.  Back to the script…)

So, one thing they always used to do at some point in the show was ask each other – or the audience – ‘What do you think of it so far?’ to which the other (or the audience) would cry: ‘Rubbish!’

Perhaps it was that self-deprecation which endeared them so well to the British public.  So.. today I am going to ask myself the same question of a book I am reading:

‘What do you think of it so far?’

to which I shall cry:


For yes! I have got hold of the latest Ian Rankin.  And what do I think of it so far?

Pretty good.

As good as the others?

Jury’s out.

OK then.  So today I shall be mostly… staying indoors as there has been Even More of the Wrong Sort of Snow.

Happy birthday Peter!

Kirk out

Are you Still There?

Everyone still there?  Good.  So are we all.  Reports of our death greatly exaggerated then.  OK, moving on…

A good had was all by night at the Ale Wagon where I had a friends’ excuse-me; Peter followed by Jan.  All jolly good fun and a brisk walk home in the cold and rain.  Unfortunately the several pints I had last night are now causing a fog in the frontal lobes of my brain and I’m finding it hard to think of anything to say.  In the meantime here is some light music, a poem about that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano a couple of years back and the ash it deposited on car roofs:


Light Music

(for Eyjafjallajokull)

And it brought back to me my childhood

every second thought killed by a scream

of metal straining to get into heaven.

Long, long ago before the Fall

there was a time of peace. Like this

brief moment between thought and Word.

And it seemed to come from hell, the fire and smoke

(and some said Earth was taking her revenge

though others said that stuff was nonsense).

The sweat of vapour gone, the sky is innocent.

Washed. Only the ash Invisible rains down

(as cars are witness).

Now coaches come, trains shuttle, boats ferry. Taxis triumph.

Government inhales:

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Meanwhile here is some light music.

OK there you go.  I’ll leave you with this song parody, for alien believers:

Then I saw her tentacles

now I’m a believer…

Kirk out

Can’t get the hang of weekdays

I keep thinking it’s Friday today.  In fact most of this week I’ve been a day ahead of myself, so tomorrow I shall probably head off to Tomatoes and wonder why nobody’s there…Thursday!  That’s today.  Thursday!   Interestingly, I’ve just finished the chapter called ‘Thursday’ in my novel; it now runs to 120 pages which, with 3 chapters to go probably means it will end up a reasonable length.  A novel shouldn’t really be less than 200 pages or it just looks very thin – don’t you think?  So – what happens on Thursday?  She falls in love is what happens.  Each chapter has a different colour and the colour of Thursday is green, which also happens to be the colour of the heart in the chakra system:

So in this chapter she falls in love and it ends badly.  On Friday she has a bad time – any reference to Good Friday is entirely intentional – and over the weekend gradually pulls through and comes to understand exactly where she is and how she got there (in the real world she is in a nuclear bunker or disaster shelter; but there are important psychological and – dare I say it? – spiritual dimensions to this.)  So… I now have to tackle Friday which is going to be the hardest chapter of all because it deals with breakdown and mental illness.

I’m not feeling terribly fascinating this morning, so just to warn you this post will probably not scintillate much.  Unlike the Christmas tree at the Ale Wagon, which, although tall and spindly, is quite wonderfully decorated.  A bit like Mark when he wears a suit… and how do I know this?  About the tree, I mean?  Yes, I was there, last night, sitting under the tree with Peter and Andy and (for a half) Lynne.  My body is  a lot less tolerant than it used to be – after only 2 1/2 pints I have a hangover.  Or had: it’s more or less gone now.


There was a good sprinkling of people in the Ale Wagon last night though, which was cheering to see.  It’s a great pub and just down the road from the station so pop in some time:

Today I shall be mostly… getting to grips with Friday.

A day early.


Kirk out

UKIP if you want to

Now, I’m not a fan of  UKIP on the whole; they’re a bit ranty and their stance on immigration is too uncompromising for my taste: however I think Rotherham Council were way out of order in taking non-white children away from their foster-parents just because they were members of UKIP.  UKIP is not the BNP and to say they are, is to fudge the boundaries between out-and-out racism (not acceptable) and a legitimate debate on immigration.

It’s difficult to raise the subject of immigration without being accused of racism, and yet we have to: clearly immigration cannot be limitless because our capacity to absorb new populations is not limitless.  Just as clearly, immigrants make a huge contribution to our society.  Without immigrants Leicester would be spectacularly dull and monochrome; we wouldn’t have Yesim’s with its lovely people and music circle; we wouldn’t have Saardar’s or Mirch Marsala or the mosque or Jak’s stationers or the Hindu temple or Diwali or Eid or any of the million and one things that makes Leicester what it is.  And yet – and yet in embracing immigration we are in danger of neglecting parts of our own population; we are also in danger of creating overcrowded ghettos.  We need a debate.  And it needs to be a sensible debate, not the usual mud-slinging between ranty UKIP-pers and well-meaning Guardian readers.

One person who was not particularly enlightened in this regard was my Grandfather.  Though unenlightened rather than positively racist (he called black and Asian people ‘darkies’) he was in other respects delightful and irritating in about equal measure.  That was my adult view: as a child I loved his eccentricities.  I’m writing a memoir of him for a magazine and was talking to Mary yesterday and trying to recall some of his sayings.  ‘Very um-jum-jiddy’ was one – applied to food and meaning ‘delicious’  – ‘orf keps!’ was another, from his Navy days and denoting a slightly ironic show of respect.  He had loads of these sayings plus other habits such as talking to himself – this included a lot of swear-words when he thought no-one was listening – greeting a long-dead neighbour over the fence with a wave and a ‘Hiya Mr Ford!’ and speaking Yiddish to the cat, Monty.  As a child I thought Yiddish was the exclusive language of cats.  He died at the age of 91 and refused till the last to give up his bungalow, though he did come to us in London for the winter every year.

RIP Bert.

So: today I shall be mostly… going to the Guides’ and Brownies’ Christmas Fair and then to Peter’s for yoga.

Kirk out

PS  In writing a tag for this post I’ve just been reminded of the song ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’.  Mary and I used to sing this for hours on end:

So farewell then…

Neil Armstrong.  The first man on the moon has succumbed to complications from heart surgery and died at the age of 82: it’s tempting to say something like ‘one small step for a man; one giant sleep…’ but better not.  As you were then…

RIP Neil.  He seems to have been a humble man, content to laugh at himself for being a geek rather than touring the world talking about how it felt to step on the moon until the whole thing had become so shrouded in myth that he couldn’t even remember it himself.  It reminds me of the scene in Futurama when Fry excitedly lands on the moon, begins to quote Neil’s words and discovers that the moon is now a giant amusement park and that there is ‘one giant queue for admission’.

Can’t find a clip as it’s copyright but it’s very funny.

Yesterday I attended a Cider, Music and Barbecue event at the Western pub: the event was remarkable for not including either cider or a barbecue (we drank beer and went to Sardaar’s for food) but did eventually include music, in the shape of a rather engaging trio of men called ‘Now then, now then!’  For a brief and horrid moment I thought they might be some sort of Jimmy Savile tribute band, but they launched into an early Beatles number, and that was what they very competently turned out for the best part of an hour; early Beatles with a couple of Kinks and Monkees thrown in.  It’s astonishing how many songs I know ALL the words to…

Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you

Tomorrow I’ll miss you

remember I’ll always be true

All together now…

A good evening and great beer.  The Western was originally built as a railway hotel for the Great Central railway which ran along the bottom.  The pub might well have gone the same way as many, but for Bede Island Park opening up on the site of the old Vic Berry’s scrap yard (one of the great initiatives of our area in recent years) which placed the pub on one of the busiest thoroughfares between the West End and the city centre.

Holly is reportedly coming home today: I’ll believe it when I see it.  I predict that we will get a text later saying ‘hm tomoz’ or something along those lines.  Now that’s real predictive texting!

And finally: Mark has made a list of terms from ‘The Meaning of Liff’ which he claims we use in everyday life:

They are as follows:

grimbister – a group of cars all travelling at the same speed because one of them is a police car

goosnarg – leftovers in the fridge which have acquired their own life

high offley – what goosnarg turns into if left long enough

ipplepen – a number of pens all stuck together for the purpose of writing lines

kettering – marks on a bum from sitting naked on a wicker chair

oshkosh – noise made when modestly disclaiming praise

scraptoft – a combover

wet wang – a moist penis

and –

zeerust – something which looked futuristic when it came out and now looks dated

So there you go – delight your friends and stun your enemies while  improving your vocabulary.

Kirk out


That’s the sound inside my head this morning where two-and-a-half pints of Barnsley Bitter contend with a half of porter.  I know, three pints – it’s not much.  But alas!  I am only half the woman I used to be.  I used to think nothing of downing five pints of an evening; now I don’t think much of it.  Ho ho.  My body has put its foot down and my liver has cried ‘enough!’  And now I am but a shadow of my former self.  Ah well.  Anno domini and all that…  The good news is that the Ale Wagon liked the idea of Drink and Think and were quite happy for us to go ahead with it.  So I’ll keep you posted.

Great news about Murray being through to the final.  The way he played against Djokovic, I think he can beat Federer.  But even if he doesn’t, he’ll still get silver, which will be brilliant.  It’s interesting that they’re playing best of three, too – it puts a lot of pressure on both players especially if you lose the first set.  Apparently Federer’s match against Del Potro went to 19/17 in the third set!  If Murray wins the first set as he did in the Wimbledon final it could be a great match.  It’s on Sunday.  Can’t wait.

Today I shall be mostly… buying paracetamol and going to see the Caribbean Carnival.

Kirk out

You Could’ve Thought of That

Mark has a book out!  Here it is – it’s called ‘You Could’ve Thought of That’, it’s a ‘Compendium of ideas which haven’t been thought of yet’, and in within four hours of being uploaded it had already sold two copies.  Here it is:

Some readers’ comments include:

‘I can’t believe that NASA didn’t think of this already’; ‘it frightens me how much thought you have put into this’, and ‘Wow!  I have never ever worried about this.  Until now.’  Described as ‘an ability to steer the cart of knowledge along the road of logic to the land of magic pies,’ it’s a snip at only £8.28.  Go buy.

I knew Mark’s pain-in-the-arse debating style would pay off some day: he never lets an idea go – nor the opportunity to argue.  Faced with a highwayman’s gun in his face, the discussion would likely go thus:

Highwayman:   Your money or your life!

Mark:                    Actually if you think about it, it’s not ‘your money OR your life’ – because assuming I don’t give you my money and you take my life, you are also going to take my money.  Correct?

Highwayman:  Ye-es

Mark:                   So in fact, it’s not ‘my money OR my life’ – it’s ‘my money OR my money AND my life.’  Correct?

Highwayman:  (scratching his head)  Er – I suppose…

Mark:                   This logical relationship can be best described by the logical denotation ‘and/or’ – or alternatively, the ‘or-and-or’ series of logic gates.  According to Normington’s Formal Logic, the relationship between ‘and’ and ‘or’, OR that between ‘and’ and ‘and/or’  (continues chuntering on, not realising that highwayman has left in disgust.)

Half-past Ten!!!

Thumbs very seriously down to whichever city council this was: apparently they pulled the plug on a concert last night in Hyde Park because it overran.  What time was this? you may ask.  1 am?  2 am?  Nope.  Ten-thirty.   What?  Ten-thirty?  For god’s sake, who are these people?  I think my mother’s spirit must be ranging abroad, since she was equally unreasonable about bedtimes – I still remember watching the Forsyte Saga, to which I was glued, and having to go to bed FIVE MINUTES before the end because that was my bedtime.  I even offered to go five minutes earlier the next night, but no deal.  And that was in the days when your only chance of watching something if you’d missed it, was to hope they’d repeat it some time.  Ah, if only I’d known that twenty years later they’d release the whole lot on video.


Today I shall be mostly… going to bother god and then to Peter’s.

Kirk out

You Could’ve Thought of That

Mark has a new book coming out soon on Lulu.  Called ‘You Could’ve Thought of That’, it’s a sort of Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Weird Ideas for things nobody’s thought of yet but which should exist.  It’s based on a site called the Half-Bakery where Mark spends most of his half-life (the half that’s on the internet):

I’ve read bits of it and I know I’m biassed but in spite of that, I think it’s quite good (ho ho).  There are some really funny ideas in it and some quirky ones.  I’ll update you the moment it comes out but he’s still working on a cover and illustrations.  He has another book in the making called ‘Here be Dragons’ which is about mythical beasts and where not to find them (ho ho ho).

For some reason this morning I was thinking about the phrase ‘willy-nilly’.  Now, not a lot of people know that, but the phrase ‘willy-nilly’ comes from the Middle English ‘will he, nill he’, meaning ‘whether he wants to or not’ – and hence meant you were compelled to do a thing ‘whether you wanted to or not’.  It now means something slightly different: ‘to do a thing haphazardly, without forethought or planning’.  So there you are: now you can delight your friends and stun your enemies next time you go to a dinner-party.  Oh, and I guess you could tell them the  origin of the phrase ‘willy-nilly’ as well.  (Ho ho ho ho!)

Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat yesterday: a planned car-hire went awry due to lack of money for a deposit, so we had to cancel.  Fortunately Thrifty have refunded us, for which I shall give them a little plug here:

and instead Peter and I got the lovely and picturesque X3 bus to Margate Harbour (sorry, Market Harborough) to see Mary and John.  We had a lovely afternoon sitting in the garden (yellow ball seen in sky again) and chilling.  Excellent stuff.  They plan to stay in Blighty for at least a year to earn dosh and look after an Aged P (see Dickens).  Took an age to get home though thanks* to road-works on the A6.

I expect Mark would be pleased to see that I’ve given his work a plug here, except that he doesn’t read this blog.  For some reason he seems to think he can keep up with what I’m doing simply by living in the same house.


Kirk out

*though not much thanks