For Better For Worse.

Loving married couples generally express the view, that life would  be utterly pointless without one another. Indeed,the planet would be blown off its axis, if  one or the other were unavailable for that loving good morning kiss, oh and let’s not forget the ‘I can’t live without you’ element to matrimonial bliss (better include civil partnerships here, otherwise I’ll be accused of discrimination and homophobia!).

Well, I just commented to my darling wife that, ‘Should anything untoward happen to you dearest, then believe me I would never be able to live with another’. To which she replied, ‘ Same for me darling, so don’t worry. Living with you has put me off shacking up with anyone else for life!’

For better for worse eh!

JR

The Old ‘Un.

I’m off to see my father in a few minutes. Remember? The old boy with a bullet hole in his head.

I have a bag of fruit and a packet of ‘Crunchy Nut’ to take with me, he loves crunching his nuts, but I’m not so sure about the fruit. Bananas are easy enough but oranges well….he finds them a little impertinent, rather like me most of the time I suspect.

You know, I’m old enough to remember the days when old ‘uns died at home, when we weren’t all such busy bees and  families looked after their own until the bitter end. I will sit in the Nursing Home and watch my father’s memory fade faster than any of my precious sun-splattered Persian rugs, and as usual wonder if it’s all really worth it.

He will spin me an occasional smile, as I sit and observe myself in a future bombarded by ‘Alright love!’ and ‘Oh love you ‘aven’t eaten your tea!’ His eyes will watch, they are still ‘all there’; he knows I lov,e but there’s bugger all he can do about it.

I will leave after half an hour, to return in a few days time with some more fruit and perhaps a different packet of breakfast cereal.

Maybe a change will do my father good.

Maybe it will help his will to live.

Maybe it will help my guilt.

JR

Peeping at Pepys.

I was about to write ‘…..And so to bed’  but thought better of it.

Plagiarism has never quite been my style, and following in the footsteps of our Samuel is far too intimidating a thought (have you read his diaries? How the hell he ever got to bed at all is a mystery to me, and I thought I could write a word or two!).

Anyway, I’ve just turned off the Idiot’s Lantern having viewed yet another analysis of Greenspan’s Folly and Klein’s shocking  bedtime stories, so who needs the Brothers Grimm thinks I – dear me I seem to be going down the ‘literary’ route here, never mind I know what I’m going on about even if you don’t.

We really are in a mess aren’t we? The age-old wars continue, should we socialise this, should we capitalise that, should we just continue to allow the future to shock and frighten us? I’ll be dead and gone but my coffin will be eco-friendly, so at least I will have contributed something. Not much but something.

………And so to bed.

JR

Putting You All In The Picture.

I wanted to share with you all a rather charming photo (depending on your point of view) of me, taken by the Bury Free Press for a story on my recent visit as part of my UK book signing tour.

Bury St Edmunds was my stomping ground for twelve years and it was a delight to go back and see how things had changed.

Thanks to the Internet (or maybe not!), you can click on the picture to read the article.

I don’t look too wrinkly either! Yes I know, someone in the newspaper’s office probably had a go with an airbrush, but believe me I had nothing to do with it. Have a look at my website and you will get the real me I promise. The ageing process  is inevitable both inside and out so why bother trying to fool oneself. Besides, all this cosmetic stuff is so  undignified and looks so utterly hopeless – as if a coffin could care less!

Bury Free Press photo of Julian Ruck

You can read the news story here, btw.

Sex In Brighton.

I forgot to tell you about my previous visit to Brighton.

On that occasion, a few months ago, my travelling companion was a chap called Collin. A skip driver no less, young, good looking and with a steady eye for the ladies – all the things I am not, even my eyes gave up being steady a good few years ago!
Anyway, Collin the skip driver had spent most of his young life in the Black Country (West Bromwich to be precise), so driving me around was quite an adventure for him. Now, before any of you folk start knocking West Brom, I lived there for a few years and a happy period in my colourful life it was too…… apart from the time an Alsation nearly ripped my arm off for getting too close to his front door. They can be a bit security conscious in West Brom you know, the Tipton Taliban and all that.Remember?

Actually, they did build (the Council that is) a super dooper art gallery in the town centre just to shut all you intellectual high brows up – admittedly it gave up the ghost soon after I left due to a lack of patronage but that’s not the point is it. They tried. Come to think of it, I did have one hell of a job trying to buy a desk in West Brom, even the salesmen looked at me as if I’d lost the plot, so I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So, there we were in Brightonian Brighton.Collin raring to go after the girls and me raring to go to bed. I had a wife at home so extra-curricular activity was out of the question; my wife has this habit of sniffing me from head to toe every time I return from some wayward authoring activity,she keeps going on about that alcohol soaked lout Dylan Thomas and ‘bugger his poetry, he was a right swine!’

She may have a point where his poetry is concerned, after all spending a few days over one word seems to be stretching creativity a bit, but then I’m probably just a cerebral lout myself.Mind you,I’ve often wondered what on earth poets do all day, I mean how long does it take to write a few stanzas? (and don’t they just think they’re chocolate, rather like authors really – present company excluded!).

Right, sorry I’m waxing lyrical again (or maybe not so lyrical!). Ignore it. Back to Collin the skip driver.As planned he went after the fillies – they tended to go after him too believe me,the joys of ’emancipation’ eh, in my day it was a packet of crisps, a half a lager and lime and one pinch of an exasperated nipple if you were lucky! I left him to it and went to bed.

My wife’s nose helping to immunise me from any ideas of missing out on something.

The following morning Collin appeared at the breakfast table. There was something not quite right about his hair. Normally it flowed and bounced around his forehead, in a way that seemed to demand the touch of a female fingertip but as he sat down it just sank and slurped in all the wrong directions. It really was most odd.

I didn’t say anything, you know how sensitive young men are these days when it comes to their looks, what with pants filled with iron ingots, gels that make their pubes stand upright and moisturisers that make their skin smoother than an angel’s bum.

‘Good night, was it?’ I asked.

‘Yeah. Great.’ Came the surly reply.

Oh oh I thought, someone didn’t get his Porridge Oats last night then. I was just about to place the last bit of bacon in my mouth when my companion’s tongue finally sprang into life. ‘Bloody funny shampoo they’ve got in this place I’m tellin’ you Julian. Couldn’t get any lather. Nothin’.Tried everythin’.My ‘air is all greasy.’

Oh no,I thought. He didn’t. No. He couldn’t have.’You didn’t use one of the blue sachet’s in the basket did you, Collin?’ I asked trying to stop myself laughing.

‘Well yeah, why?’

‘Because that stuff is KY Jelly you bloody idiot!Not shampoo!’

Collin never ventured out of West Brom again.
JR

Brighton – Again!

An excellent day!

Al Murray was at WHS the week before, standing up to sell his book, I sold more than he did sitting down, so who’s the comedian now then?!

There was plenty of friendly banter and humour amongst the lanes of antique cufflinks, leggings up to chins and beyond, gurgling coffee houses and the odd Oyster Bar, adding that final touch of seaside levity. Not a fat lady in sight nor even a post card from a broken down Morris Minor. A lovely lovely day with loads to write home about!

JR

PS A thought. Why does the female of the species insist on tying knots in everything? Knots that men find impossible to undo no matter how many years they spent in the Boy Scouts (not that I was ever a Boy Scout, they wouldn’t have me).My wife is knot obsessed, every sandwich, every lump of cheese, even the dog food is ‘knotted’, and to cap it all when I came home the neighbour (a woman no less) had been in tying the bloody bread up in knots!!!

The Royal Marines.

Having enjoyed a successful book signing in WHSmith, Bury St Edmunds on Friday, I ended up spending the evening with two old friends, ex-Royal Marines.Ex-killers. One of them now took in injured animals,while the other delighted in emotional kindness and a steady respect for the evils of alcohol.

Both men had toured Northern Ireland, and both had feared. Both had suffered and both had loved. They looked me in the eyes with an edge of affection, and a smirk of easy friendship. I had lived in the market town for twelve years once. It had been a different time, a time of cold beef burgers and the odd anonymous smile from some early morning prettiness. I had been younger then, but so had the town.

The following day, I met another old friend. A retired parky or ‘Baldy’ to the cheeky urchins who used to tempt the sanctity of the Abbey Gardens bowling green. Age had brought a more meaningful smile to his face but sadly not to his shiny pate. He still enjoyed a pint of Real Ale though which was all that really mattered, particularly as I was paying for it!

I left Bury St Edmunds with an easy heart and some memories that I knew would never die.

JR

‘PS My next novel ‘The Bent Brief’ to be published next year, is set in the market town (see my website).

The Secret Dining Table.

“‘I dread the mass mind!’

Baldwin had something there didn’t he just. Give ’em gin in the eighteenth century, credit in the twentieth but for Christ’s sake keep ’em quiet!”

“Now now Collin.” I said quietly but with the hint of a smile on my chops. “You should know better that to start criticising democracy, if you’re not careful some hack will be accusing you of being a friend of tyranny.”

“To hell with the press. I’m among  friends aren’t I? Anyway never mind Baldwin what about MacDonald? Didn’t he write in his diary, ‘In youth one believes  in democracy; later on, one has to accept it.’

“I believe  he did.” I replied wondering where all this was going. There was an uncertain silence around the dining table for a few moments as all parties looked at each other and tried to work out who was friend or foe. Collin was a Labour MP, the other four (including myself) were a mix of doctor, socially mobile mobile phone supplier and a British Airways pilot. There wasn’t a lawyer anywhere to be seen.

“You know Collin, now you come to mention it.” Jack the businessman piped up.”I’ve often wondered about democracy myself. You know, why should all these indolent buggers who claim the dole have a vote for instance? If you don’t contribute to  the national purse why should you have a say in how much is taken out of it. No pay tax, no have vote. Seems perfectly fair to me.”

“I agree.” John the airline pilot confirmed. “In fact I’d go further. I’d take the vote off 90% of the people in this country. Jesus most of them think Churchill is an insurance company and the rest believe life is all about getting pissed in Benidorm,worrying about what some cretinous celebrity is up to and playing computer games. God help us. ‘Democracy’ my arse! I’m all for the Divine Right of Kings at best or a benign dictatorship at worst.”

I laughed at this last contribution along with the rest of my friends. John wasn’t being serious……..or was he? He didn’t read the Daily Mail after all, on the other hand………

I sat back in my chair and concluded that democracy, whilst imperfect and often the victim of politically correct villainy, was as much as could be hoped for; after all there wouldn’t be a ‘Secret Dining Table’ without it would there?

Work that one out!

JR

Trainers.

A middle aged friend of mine has been staying with us over Easter, let’s just call him CT. People often turn up over this Holy holiday, not that I’m the Pope or anything, they just turn up – particularly those whose chocolate coated lives have taken a pasting from the recession.  The prospect of free board and lodging has something to do with it no doubt.

Anyway, now this friend of mine has always been been a bit of a boy where the ladies are concerned (plastic surgery and hair gel permitting), any lady it must be said. Good looks or indeed age have never been too high on his order of priorities – you know the sort, ‘any port in a storm’, ‘you don’t look at the mantlepiece when you’re poking the fire’ etc etc.

As usual, on his first night he took my wife out to get drunk. How odd, I hear some of you more retiring readers say.Well now, it’s not odd at all, my wife enjoys a drink I don’t (at least rarely anyway), so as far as I’m concerned the further away I am from the blast site the better – you don’t know what my wife is like when she’s drunk. I’m not going to even start on the snoring!

Again, as usual, CT dumps his dirty washing in the washing machine the following morning. Taking liberties is a natural consequence of true friendship before any of you start thinking ‘cheeky devil’. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it.A little later, being the domestic drudge that I am, I take out the washing and begin hanging it up on the line; I refuse to employ the convenience of a tumble dryer, I’m too mean and besides I have a wife – when she’s sober and not fraternising with strange men.

Now I need to explain something here.

I am not a ‘fashionable’ man. That is, I have no interest in clothes that are ‘fashionable’ or ‘in’ or whatever Mr Wok in his profound wisdom considers to be the latest ‘wow’ in sartorial shallowness. I don’t use hair gel, I don’t read glossy magazines and how any man beyond thirty can wear Levi jeans is beyond me. I used to have a pair once when I was a student but that was most definitely a long time ago, oh and I don’t dye my hair either, going around looking like Little Red Riding Hood simply doesn’t appeal.

The point is I have no idea what on earth is going on in the rag trade at any given time – my own shirts, ties and battered tweeds always seem to be ‘in fashion’ anyway, oh and I don’t walk about the place looking as if I have forgotten to tuck in my shirt after some lavatorial action either.

So, there I am.

Pegs in mouth, arms outstreched and cursing my darling wife for remaining in bed while she tries to fight off a hangover.I hang out the towels, the shirts, the pants, my wife’s knickers (which take a good few pegs for each pair but we won’t go into that) and then I come to a couple of items I have never seen before. A pair of tiny white socks, children’s socks. As I held them in my hands, a trifle mystified, I remembered CT’s constant moans about being too old for young women etc etc. Dear God I thought, no, this can’t be. CT? No, impossible. He’s a decent man,hair gel and plastic face notwithstanding.

I remained still as I tried to work out what to do next. Should I confront him? Should I send him on his way? What the hell was I to do? Next thing CT is bounding up to me, ‘Ah, there they are! I’ve been looking everywhere for those.’

He snatched the white ‘socks’ out of my hands before I could say anything. ‘ Trainers are bloody uncomforatble without these things…..’,says he with an innocent grin, ‘…..rub the feet. They only cover the foot so you can’t see ’em. Socks look bloody awful. Not the in thing at all. Thanks’.

He walked off leaving me feel a little ashamed of myself. You see I have never owned, let alone worn a pair of trainers, I really should pay a little more attention to ‘fashion’ shouldn’t I?

JR

Celebrity v Politician

Fortunately, I am neither of the above. Can you imagine it? The former would demand having a face that looked like a  stretched condom, and the latter a face that appears to be in a constant state of pain.

Now then, there seems to be a rumbling or two in the chattering classes about these ‘celebrity’ types usurping the role of our venerable politicians eg delivering messages of social doom, homeless soldiers, sexually transmitted Armageddon………and so on.

Of course we rarely hear any celebrity commenting on the complexities of economic free fall or indeed the moral maze of political philosophy. I wonder why? To conclude then, what is there to worry about? The prospect of Katie Price or indeed Cheryl Cole becoming Prime Minister is, I think, a remote one.

As it so happens, I am not a politician hater, nor come to think of it do I want to string up every banker from the nearest lamp-post. It is always so easy to sit in front of the Idiot’s Lantern and condemn, but would you want the job? Of a politician that is.

I am not naive by nature I assure you, but I simply do not believe that our political classes ever intend to do us harm or that they are all inherently corrupt. Frankly, when compared to other countries – and even those who are democratically mature – their so-called ‘corruption’ verges  on the juvenile. Apart from anything else, who out there is able to please all the people all of the time?

Armchairs are indeed comfortable but they don’t really do much do they?

Bankers? Perhaps we all need to look at ourselves before we jump up and down with moral outrage. I am not aware that there were many of us who refused to take the easy credit when it was offered to us, or that we asked too many awkward questions. We were all just as greedy, just as profligate and just as reckless with risk, so let’s have some honesty in the persecution for once and watch where we lob our stones.

JR