Poc! Poc! Poc! Yah!

Yes, it’s Wimbledon fortnight and this year I’ve been mega-impressed by the quality of play from all quarters (with a couple of exceptions, which I’ll come to in a minute.) The women’s game in particular is brilliant with some great British players, and there’s the added bonus of having Andy (Sir Andy!) Murray in play, albeit not yet in the singles; he’s teamed up with Serena for the mixed doubles which should be terrific. So far there have been some standout matches: in Day one Venus Williams was dispatched by a 15-year-old and yesterday Hannah Dart, a young wild-card player, came through her first-round match in great style, as did Jo Konta. There are also a lot more black and mixed-race competitors: it’s a far cry from the old days when the British players were all from Surrey and went out politely in the second round (apart from Virgina Wade of course.)

Wimbledon requires some juggling of the timetable. At the moment I’m limiting myself to a bit of live viewing over dinner plus the highlights in the evening but as the tournament progresses I’ll no doubt be drawn in more and more. Here‘s the schedule for today and here are yesterday’s highlights on the Beeb: I gotta say the BBC do Wimbledon so well, they’ve got it down to a fine art.

Just one bum note: a big resounding boo for Greek player Nick Kyrgios who was boorish and arrogant and three-and-a-half boos for Bernard Tomic who played so lazily and badly that there are reports he won’t be paid for the match. Other than that the tournament is generally well-behaved and respectful – another reason I watch.

Kirk out

Zen and the Art of Paperback Marketing

For my birthday I received an adult colouring book. I am fully seized of the benefits of adult colouring and feel no need to explain or justify it; however the author of the book may have felt such a need as a long list of qualifications succeeds her name, prompting OH to comment: ‘How many qualifications do you need to make a colouring book?’ before adding, ‘she probably felt she wouldn’t be taken seriously otherwise.’ That’s almost certainly true, but what struck me was the tag at the bottom saying ‘a zen colouring book.’

How is it zen? I’m not even sure I know what zen means – I suspect it’s one of those words which, if you think you understand, it you don’t – but I’m wondering in what way this is a zen colouring book as opposed to a non-zen colouring book? What particular qualities does it have that make it so? At first glance I can’t discern any, nor did the introduction give any clue. This does not, of course, make it any the less fun or beneficial, nor am I disputing that colouring can be a deeply meditative process, but zen? Hm.

One of the most disappointing books I’ve read is ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ Being at the time both passionately interested in motorbikes and also wanting to find out more about meditation, I seized a copy as soon as I could lay my hands on one, but was sorry to find little in it of either topic. It seems that zen is just a handy marketing term for something a little off-beat, hippyish or related to spirituality in a vague sort of way (and Robert Persig sure was vague*.)

Anyway whether it’s zen or non-zen, unzen or dezen, it’s a good colouring book, and that is enough. More of this anon and how it contributes to the writing process. In the meantime have a very happy Monday, stay cool if it’s hot where you are and don’t forget Wimbledon starts today! And Andy is playing again, as is Johanna Konta, so be prepared for a lot of match reports.


*to be fair, he does say so himself, but I still think it’s a highly self-indulgent book

Kirk out.

Oh, for Fxxx’s Sake!

Am I becoming a grumpy old git?  No, tell me honestly because I just don’t know.  I decided to watch some of the Davis cup coverage since Andy Murray had been playing so well, and I had to turn it off again.  Why?  Because of the bloody crowds.  I couldn’t stand the noise.  They were like a football crowd, for god’s sake, bellowing and chanting and blowing horns and yelling and jumping up and down – between every effing point!  I could not stand it.  I tried turning the volume down but then I couldn’t hear the commentary or the ball and you need to hear the ball to follow the game properly.  I put the subtitles on but they were too bloody small!  In my day you didn’t have to put your glasses on to read things.  In my day they made everything big enough. In my day nobody jumped up and down and yelled – or at least they had the decency to wait until the end of a game – but these lot were baying and chanting the whole effing time, even between a first and second serve.  It must have been very trying for the players to wait for quiet all the time.  Yes, I get the excitement – I feel it too – but there’s no sense of climax if you’re at top volume all the time.  It’s just ridiculous.  I’m not snobbish about football – I mean, I don’t like it and I don’t understand it, but I can see it’s appropriate to chant and shout because it doesn’t distract the players.  But this is tennis, for god’s sake!  Show some restraint!

It reminds me a little of the audience of ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.’  Perhaps they were the same people: they bay and shout and cheer at the slightest opportunity.  They are totally hyper when the show starts and if Mornington Crescent is announced they practically explode.  They even like the hackneyed conversations between Hamish and Dougal who, in my opinion, ought to have had their tea and been put out to grass years ago.  They’re just NOT FUNNY any more!

I must go now as my Sainsbury’s order is here.  I shall practically explode with excitement if this carries on…

Kirk out

TV Days

Did anyone see Casualty the other night?  It was hilarious!  We always have a laugh watching the series; what with people getting blown up and burnt and overturning in huge lorries and crashing vehicles in bizarre and interesting ways which not even Jeremy Clarkson would have thought of; and presenting with weird and obscure diseases – and what with the staff all going out with each other and marrying each other and not seeming to have a life outside the hospital (except when they leave their shift to go and sort out the personal lives of the patients, which they do on a regular basis) – altogether ‘Casualty’ is a laugh a minute.  And the latest episode didn’t disappoint.

I never really ‘bought’ Max and Zoe as a couple.  He’s a lightweight, she’s a professional (except that – and I’m sorry to have to say this because it sounds really judgemental) she has the morals of an alley-cat.  OK let’s put that in a slightly more PC way.  She is blown hither and thither by the winds of circumstance and whim (hey, the winds of whim – that’s a good phrase) and the night before her wedding she goes and sleeps with someone.  She feels terrible, nearly calls the wedding off but then it happens and then hey presto! along comes Dylan to wreck it all by blurting out ‘Oh, so you told him then?’ after they’ve got spliced.  Everything goes awry after that and it ends with two terrifically explosive fires in which probably the entire cast dies.



On holiday I mostly watched the tennis as it was great to see it live.  And last night there was an absolutely brilliant new episode of ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ based in India.  You must watch!  The ‘Brownadder’ episode is particularly mention-worthy.


Kirk out

Slightly Smaller Balls

Note to self: don’t eat lentils. Half an hour after eating a lentil and potato curry, I have blown up like a barrage balloon. Every time I make potato curry, Mark and I have the same conversation. ‘But what about protein?’ he wails. And I reply, just as I always do, ‘I’ll put some pulses in’. This week we had run out of kidney beans, so he suggested lentils.  Mistake!

Still, he has a sense of smell and I don’t, so there’s karma for you.

I watched the women’s tennis final today.  Can someone please explain to me why women can run marathons but still can’t play five sets in tennis?  Also, why they had two male commentators and only one woman?  Are they going to have women commentating on the men’s final?

Are they buggery.

I think we should be told.

Good news about the Tour de France departing from Yorkshire, though the attempts of Yorkshire folk to say ‘le grand depart’ gives me convulsions

A toute a l’heure!

Kirk out

S.W. What?

I have a confession to make.  It’s very odd, but for the first year ever, since I was about 11, I have no interest in Wimbledon.  I don’t know why this is: it could be the football which means the BBC have given it less than their usual dedicated coverage; or the fact that Murray is out much sooner than he ought to have been – whatever the reason I have seen a few matches but it has failed to excite me.  To understand just how weird this is, you have to realise that Wimbledon has been a feature of my calendar every single year since 1966.  I have only missed a couple: once when I was living Up North and didn’t have a TV, and once when I was living in Madrid and only had access to channels like TVE 1 and Telecinco.  Every channel in Spain has adverts on; and the news is so frenetic you can’t follow it at all, never mind the sport.  Which reminds me, have you ever tried listening to the tennis on the radio?  It’s something else.  By the time they’ve described a back-hand cross-court volley with top-spin which lands just short of the baseline, about three more shots have been played.  Weird.

Today I have been mostly… finishing off my memoir.  Yay!  I have now reached the requisite 50,000 words (that’s about 150 pages) and have reached it in about six weeks starting from a base of 6000.  Now begins the work of revising… Still I think I shall give it a rest for a week or two as I have to do my tax return and reapply for tax credits.  Joy.

Have a good weekend.  We shall be going to the cathedral to see the new garden and to Serenity, a Sci-fi event, on Sunday where I shall be poeting.

Kirk out

Not Much Life on the i-player

I haven’t watched much on i-player this week: I ended up watching the tennis live as seeing the highlights of the previous day just left me so far behind the base-line that I couldn’t see the ball until it had landed.  I went to a friend’s house to watch the final anyway; then thanks to the good weather and a couple of evenings out I’ve seen very little since last week.  However, an episode of ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’


set me thinking, especially when coupled with this morning’s news that the numbers of children born out of wedlock (now there’s a phrase to conjure with!) are set to overtake those born to married couples: and I began to examine once again whether marriage is a Good Thing.

I’m wondering if the decline in marriage is due to people not bothering, or whether on the other hand it’s the recession and couples thinking they ‘can’t afford to get married.’  That, of course, is nonsense: it costs potentially very little to get married if that’s what you really want to do.  What people really mean, is that they can’t afford the ridiculously expensive wedding package that most couples seem to think necessary nowadays.  The statistics I hear about the cost of weddings make me blench: the fact is, people seem to give so much thought to the wedding that they forget to think about the marriage – and it’s the marriage that counts.  What’s the point of spending thousands on a wedding if you’re only going to stay together for two years?


I know I’m going to sound smug here but our wedding cost £200.  Yep, that’s right: £200.  No, I haven’t missed a zero off the end.  We were married by a Quaker friend in the Friends’ Meeting House; many people gave their services for free: we had friends playing at the reception and the pub room was free due to a promotion and all we did was provide food: people got their own drinks from downstairs.  My dress cost £40 as I had it made in India; I bought cheap sandals to go with it, and Mark’s clothes came from the Very Bazaar.  Oh, and Mary made the cake.

So there you are: £200.  And here’s the killer: we’re still together 20 years on.

It’s the marriage that counts, folks, not the wedding!

Kirk out