The annihilation of insult.

The adenoidal but commendably ’empathetic’ Ed Miliband felt that Jeremy Clarkson’s remarks were ‘absolutely disgraceful and disgusting’.

Dear God, he should hear what my wife calls me first thing in the morning, when a flatulent whirlwind nearly blows her out of bed. Come to think of it, I wonder if he suffers from such a dastardly infliction? If so, I suppose his missus would say, ‘Oh golly Ed, you’re  such a naughty boy. You really must cut down on the All-Bran!’



Tippling in Paris.

I’ve just come back from visiting my Froggy folk in Paris.

The Ruck’s are now mostly French, so before anyone starts having a rant about Wellington and kicking Frenchy bums watch out, I’m extremely sensitive where Froggy bashing is concerned, if not manically politically correct – believe this and you’ll believe anything!

So, what a few days it turned out to be.

My little sister (she’s 14 years younger than me, the result of a misguided bout of hanky panky, curlers an’ all according to our father) has a brood of what can only be described as little lumps of delightful flesh. At least they tend to giggle a lot, particularly when the youngest falls into the dishwasher – and before any of you Amnesty International crusaders (and Esther Rantzen) start howling with incandescent anger , the dishwasher wasn’t on!

They all attend Catholic schools, and I can assure you that Loyola’s diktat of ‘Give me the boy and I’ll care not for the man’ is still alive and well in the environs of a Parisian suburb. I looked at their previous efforts of homework and damn me, I couldn’t make out the ink for red splashes of teaching tyranny – all good stuff in my view, a pity our own schools didn’t try some of the same now and again.

As it so happens, I carefully observed the way these little ones were being taught and despaired at the prospects for our own school children. How on earth are they going to compete? How on earth are they going to learn that failure is just a beginning? In French schools even sport is marked, and the parents receive all test/exam results by email before the pupils even get a look in, so no dossing, no crafty prevarication and certainly no bullshit.

Sadly, I simply couldn’t help but conclude that we have simply lost the plot in this country  where educating our young people are concerned, and I have no doubt that the future will demand a terribly high price for our negligence.

98% pass rates but passing what exactly? Need I say more.

I apologise for this rather untidy ‘rant’, where possible I try to avoid such self-indulgent diversions but I do feel profoundly for learning and knowledge,for their expression, for their civilising calm but most of all for their understanding.

Our system is at fault not the young ‘uns, and believe me we are doing their young minds grievous bodily harm all in the name of mediocrity, social engineering and an equality that exists only in the minds of the deranged.


PS Oh and I did do plenty of ‘Tippling in Paris’, so did my little sister. Runs in the family I’m afraid.

Nursing Home Farce.

I’ve got to tell you this one,it’s irresistible, I mean it’s not often one bursts out laughing in a Nursing Home after all.

My wife and I were visiting the old man in his souped up and luxurious accommodation. You know, one of those places where old ‘un’s life expectancy tends to be a bit longer than that offered by the NHS. Anyway, there he was, lying flat and looking as if he had just had his head and arms microwaved – he had apparently reacted badly to some creamy medication.

To cap it all he had run out of Special Brews and fags, so what with the cooked head, general disgust with young carers and their tattoos, well you can imagine – he’s 85, so give the old boy a break, he had never been impressed with human rights and equality etc, the only ‘human right’ he had ever believed in was his right to kick me up the arse when he felt like it.

So, there we were, feeling thoroughly ’empathetic’ and nodding oodles of sympathy, when what does my darling wife say to the old man?

‘So, you’re not feeling a 100% then?’

Jesus, I had to walk out of the room. She’s a nursing Matron too, can you believe it????!!!


Rioting Teachers.

You know I really do try and avoid  getting too political on my Blog, first and foremost I am a story-teller after all. Anyway, late last night as I was dropping off to sleep and wondering if Paradise really is filled with dusky maidens of even duskier intent, I suddenly remembered my ancient school days. You know (well some of you will anyway), the days when one always had to stand up every time a teacher walked into the classroom.

My sleepy brain then went on to consider what all these ‘teaching assistants’ are all about. I mean, since when does one need an ‘assistant’ to teach?Did Socrates need an assistant? I certainly don’t remember my teachers ever needing one.

All very odd you will agree, surely one either can or one can’t.It then occurred to me that maybe standing up and all this ‘assistance’ might just have something to do with all the recent rioting…..or is there a whiff of dastardly public sector job creation at work here as well?

Just a thought.


PS Makes one wonder why teachers are always worrying about their pensions so much, doesn’t it? They are hardly going to be burnt out at sixty are they, what with all the ‘assistance’ they receive?

The fastest Divorce on record!

Like so many others who play matrimonial roulette, my first spin of the wheel saw me nigh on bankrupted, drunk for a year and cursing the marriage vows to hell and back. Nothing new there, I hear all you veterans of matrimonial discord confirm, but before I go any further allow me to offer some humble advice – when your  marriage hits the skids, get a new bed-mate in tow fast, works wonders believe me, even if you are drunk most of the time.

So, what’s all this ‘fastest Divorce on record’ all about then?

Well now, as I say my first journey into the twistable bliss called marriage ended up in the County Court, as indeed many of them do. Now you would think that at forty-one, I would have had some mature idea of the risks and pitfalls of such a loving committment – not so, like everyone else who embarks upon this ‘must do’ insanity, I was a daft bugger who sincerely  believed that I had met the ‘one’, or God forbid my ‘soul mate’ (the Guardian still uses these two supremely idiotic words of doom, but I suppose they are better than a red and pink explosion from a Clinton Card  shop, albeit that both are equally as nauseating).

The above notwithstanding I still choked my ‘I do’- tearfully and full of love I stress! – whilst deluding myself that from that day on life would be a loving merry-go-round of lip to lip breakfasts, clasped hands along exotic shorelines and imaginative exercises with a bar of soap in some four-legged, claw footed Victorian tub.

Not so.

Now don’t worry, I’m not going to do a ‘self-esteemed’ pitifully ’empathetic’  bleat on you, neither am I going to enter into a pathetic rant about how horrible the missus was etc etc. You see, two years after sharing a bed together we decided (by mutual consent I hasten to add)  that we really didn’t like each other very much after all and that was that. If I remember correctly my nighttime flatulence was the straw that finally broke the matrimonial camel’s back but there we are, old habits die-hard and by this time I was forty-three after all. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it.

So there I was. In the local County Court office demanding a Divorce Petition. All pretty straight forward stuff you will agree, until  you take into account the fact that I had consumed a bottle of whisky that morning, smoked a couple of packets of good ‘ole Marlborough’s and tried to find out where the nearest gunsmith’s was located so that I could go and buy a shotgun to shoot the erstwhile Mrs Ruck.

Well, the Court office Clerk observed my swaying, judiciously noted my blow torch breath and quite rightly advised that I seek legal advice. Well, ha ha to that, I knew only too well how much thieving legal bandits cost, so to hell with those pearls of wisdom, the fellow meant well but I wasn’t having any of it.

‘Give me a Petition, please.’ I slurred, ‘and by the way how much does Her Majesty’s Postmaster General cost these days to file it?  Worse than bloody lawyers!’

The poor fellow was by this time in a state of flux. I was plastered but still in control – just– and seemed to know what I was going on about. Well, he looked me up and down for about the fifth time and obviously decided that discretion be the better part of valour – I was well dressed, well spoken (again ‘just’) and polite in a shambling sort of way.

The Petition was duly handed over. I  withdrew my fountain pen from my inside pocket; Divorce Petitions tend to demand  the refined elegance of black ink and the occasional calligraphic swirl, in my view anyway, damn they cost enough!

I opened the Petition and started to fill it in.

19 minutes and 23 seconds it took to complete. I handed it back to the now utterly bemused Clerk (together with Marriage Certificate etc), who took it, checked it over a couple of times in between looking at me with dare I say it, a degree of grudging admiration.

‘Well sir,’ says he. ‘It’s all in order, that will be £150.00 please.’

‘Cheaper than the wedding I suppose.’ I remarked before handing over a cheque, turning tail and walking out in search of that bloody gunsmith’s again – oh and an Off License!

See what I mean about ‘The fastest Divorce on record’?

It’s true too.


PS And do you know what? I’ve gone and done it again! Getting married that is, although I have to say that the present Mrs Ruck is always sneaking off to see a Divorce lawyer, sensible woman. I suspect it’s the nocturnal flatulence again. We never learn do we?

Nobel…….without the dynamite!

I take my hat off (literally) to those three women who have just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The world would undoubtedly, be a safer and more inherently co-operative place if women were calling the shots – within reason of course and providing one of them isn’t the missus!


PS I mean it too. Short of a few historical ruffians and the odd psychotic murderess, the world would be a better place if more women were sitting at head of table.

Fatties Rule!

These days we are inundated with food obsessed cooks, we are told how to bake, how to grill, how to fry, how to whisk, how to blend our way to Nirvana.

Every bookshop is crammed to the hilt with grinning, fatuous ‘celebrity’ faces fresh out of some hi-tech kitchen or rural idyll. Pasta packed arses and home spun burger filled bellies are the only way to Truth and Fulfillment.

And pontificating quacks still can’t understand why so many people have trouble putting their socks on in the morning!


Homeless in Norwich.

No not me – although such a condition is not unknown.

Now then, what’s he on about now I hear you all wonder and believe me there are a good few of you who seem to be rather interested in my ‘blogging’ meanderings. I’m sill trying to work out why but there we are, as I’ve said before there’s no accounting for taste is there?

Right, ‘Homeless in Norwich’.

Many  years ago I was working in the cathedral city, as to how I ended up in Norwich, well that’s another story, actually it comes into a novel to be published over the next year or so, ‘The Silver Songsters’ (see Website) – just thought I’d get that in, no harm in some self-serving publicity now and again is there? Everyone else seems to be at it these days, albeit that I’m just a scribbling Mr Nobody and not an intellectually challenged ‘celebrity’ cook, gardener or ageing  old trollop trying to dance the light fantastic in the hope that her synthetic arse (not to mention face) will be remembered unto eternity.

Anyway, here’s the yarn and it’s true.

Most evenings I used to walk home from the office, which was situated in the city centre. Now you may or may not know, that Norfolk is decidedly flat. And by God I mean flat, it could insult a cast iron pancake which is why I’m not using the oft quoted simile.

It’s a great place to ride a bike though, if you’re into extreme sports that is, but be that as it may, as you know the only sporting activity I ever indulge in is the lifting of my right arm, although I have to say that even a glass and a ciggy are beginning to feel a bit weighty these days, it’s an age thing I’m told…… So, Norwich is flat and I’m on my way home, yes I know what on earth is so exciting about a flat cathedral city, well hold on and bear with me.

I remember, it was winter time. The North Sea was in one of its more hateful moods as a cruel wind tried to bite chunks out of my face and make damn certain that I spend more of my precious earnings on some clothy protection. Each night I would walk, rant and spit deadly curses at a wind that seemed to despise the human race – well that’s understandable I hear some of you say, serves you right!

Well now, I might have been angry and seriously annoyed at the weather but it didn’t stop me walking passed this rather desperate looking chap with a sign hanging from his neck saying ‘Hungry and Homeless’. In fact I used to drop a pound coin or two into his tin cup on a regular basis, not that he ever beamed a ‘Thank you’ at me the ingrate, but there we are, one doesn’t give with conditions attached so who was I to complain, besides I had a roof over my head and a full belly, he had neither, poor bugger.

So this went on for a couple of months, me dropping some coins into a tin cup and walking off feeling thoroughly self-righteous etc etc, actually my generosity of spirit seemed to lighten my windy load oddly enough, which at the time merited the odd cheeky wink at the heavens and a few ‘Hail Mary’s’ – not that I’m a Catholic but you get my point.

As I say, this went on for a couple of months until one fine day there was a bit of a commotion in the office. One of my female colleagues rushed into my room in a state of panic and fear. ‘Julian! Julian! Quick! You have to do something! The man is going berserk ! He’s being evicted from his flat and he’s blaming us for God’s sake!’

I walked out of my room and who should be standing there before me but the ‘homeless’ fellow with the tin cup!


PS You know, I did eventually manage to prevent his eviction and I didn’t tell the District Judge about his tin cup either. Frankly, I couldn’t help but smile at his audacity – a man after my own heart perhaps??

PPS Oh and my office had had nothing to do with the possession proceedings before any of you Guardian readers start. You can blame Norwich City Council!

Self-abuse and sweaty thighs.

Now try that I will, but I fail to comprehend this frightfully odd business of folk feeling compelled to run themselves into an early grave – there’s even an official glossy magazine on how to do it!

This morning I came down to a kitchen full to the brim with stretched lycra pants and running paraphernalia and believe me, some of these  ‘lycra pants’ were looking a damn sight more distressed than the bulging buttocks and brass plated Bristols wearing them.

It was Marathon Day!

My home had been taken over by a gaggle of female running enthusiasts and as for the paraphenalia….well, there was this aerodynamic (not my words) water bottle that looked to me like something that had just leapt out of an Ann Summers emporium, head bands, gym shoes capable of flying the wearer to the moon and God knows what else.

There was also a whiff of addiction and self-harming in the air, as scrambled eggs and blackened toast provided succour to the hope of ‘Well done’s’ and ‘Haven’t you done wells!’ It really was a spectacle as sweat glands prepared, adrenalin spewed and deliverance waited just around a corner of deluded agony and exhausted euphoria.

It was Marathon day!

Well no thanks.

Not for me, addictions to booze, fags, caffeine, sex etc etc are far more fun and I don’t have to run for bloody miles to satisfy them.

Better to die happy than fit I say!


Tel Aviv and a drop or two of kindness.

Yes I know, I’m harping on about my childish adventures in Israel again but this little yarn is worth , I think, the telling.It’s true too.

As you know a long time ago, when I was young and naturally rather brainless (some 30 odd years ago),  I had been messing about on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for a few days, penniless – actually shekeless I was in Israel after all- slightly inebriated and I have to say rather hungry.I also felt somewhat lonely and shall we say a trifle disregarded. In those days empathy and support were unknown quantities in a world that was perhaps less mixed up than it is now.

Anyway, I remember walking down this back street in Tel Aviv, I was looking for the British Consulate and hopefully some kind of way home. God knows how they were going to help but doesn’t a UK passport promise to protect etc etc? albeit that I had no money and no return ticket.

Well, not knowing where on earth this bastion of Empire and well-being was located I walked into a bar and asked for directions. These were duly given and off I went ever hopeful but still nevertheless hungry and yet again fagless (not a pleasant condition for one addicted to tobacco I can tell you).

A few minutes later as I was walking down this street, I suddenly heard some footsteps rushing up behind me. Now, granted I was in a pretty dishevelled state at the time, you know unshaven, lank and generally physically offensive, but I didn’t think I had intentionally offended anyone – it was a sensitive time, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was in full swing so one tended to be on one’s guard as it were.In the event I turned around with a panic-stricken grimace on my face and ready to confront whatever hell was about to be lumped on me.

How wrong I was.

Facing me was this dusky fellow with a serious but not unkind expression on his face. He grabbed my hand, which almost made me jump, and stuffed some shekel notes into it. He then proceeded to stab his mouth with his other hand while jabbering away in Arabic – now I’m no linguist but I knew the difference between Arabic and Hebrew. I stared back at him, still a little disconcerted until the shekel finally dropped.

He was giving me some money to buy myself something to eat.

I still remember that act of unbidden kindness after all these years, the fellow I later realised had been one of the customers sitting in the bar I had walked into. He had obviously recognised my sorry condition and felt obliged to help.So there you have it, during my modest adventures in the Middle East I had experienced acts of kindness (see previous posts) from both Arab and Israeli, it makes you wonder why they can’t sort themselves out doesn’t it?

My story isn’t finished yet though. I took the money with a humility that left me long ago and went off to the nearest bar. Arak time again, oh and some of those spicy kaffaffal things. I later located the Consulate which unfortunately was shut, so I was on my beam-ends yet again with no hope of deliverance.

Night-time arrived and with it another bout of aching hunger and no bed. What was I to do? What indeed. The arak had helped sooth my anxiety but not the empty stomach. I was also shekeless again. Now I might have been young and callow etc but if nothing else I could be resourceful when circumstances demanded. It was survival time, survival that is manifesting itself in my having the cheek to order some grub at a pavement cafe whilst knowing full well that I couldn’t pay for it. Do you know something I still remember what I ordered – lamb cutlets and salad. Remarkable.

Now before any of you start shrieking ‘villain!’,’Welsh cattle thieving brigand!’, ‘scoundrel!’ and so on let me say something by way of mitigation as it were. In my view, I  had been forced into becoming a consummate recidivist (ie reduced by circumstances beyond my control into the commission of a criminal act), that’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it. Well, having eaten up the lamb cutlets and salad (lovely they were too, I can still taste them!), I looked from  left to right, made sure there wasn’t a waiter lurking about and did a ‘runner’ to use modern parlance.

A few minutes later, submerged in another dingy side street and unable to hear any yells of ‘stop thief’ I realised I was in the clear, full belly and all. At least that’s what I thought at the time.

It was going to be a long night I knew and the only bed I was likely to purloin would be some grotty old bench on Ben Yehuda Street if I was lucky. Nevermind, I remember thinking I still had nearly a full bottle of arak in my pocket so all was not lost. I carried on walking and swigging, until, can you believe it, I felt hungry again. Now you have to understand here that by this time I was not fully compos mentis,the arak had taken its toll and with it all sense of propriety. So what did I do? ‘Runner’ time again seemed the only practical and immediate option.

I eventually found what I thought would be an admirable place to order, eat and do a bunk. Another pavement cafe in fact. I sat down and damn me if I didn’t feel like some lamb cutlets and salad again. Arak can do some funny things to one’s appetite, in fact   I haven’t drank the stuff since.

So, there I was, menu in hand, about to exercise the effrontery to run off without paying again when before I knew what was happening I was being handcuffed and thrown into the back of a defense force land rover!

I had gone back to the cafe I had originally done a ‘runner’ from! It’s true believe me and that’s another reason why I haven’t touched arak since.

But here’s the best bit. Being a Welshman abroad the security boyos didn’t really want much to do with me, too much trouble and paperwork no doubt. In fact I remember this extremely well spoken lieutenant (he had graduated from Cambridge apparently) ordering his burley sergeant to get out of the landrover and buy me a packet of ciggies and a box of matches. They then took me to a youth hostel and paid for me to have a bed for the night (see what I mean about ‘acts of kindness’).

Now you may feel all this is a bit far-fetched but I can assure you the above is exactly what happened, but look out I’m not finished yet.

I eventually arrived back in the UK and do you know what? Finding myself financially embarrassed, twenty parts to the wind and hungry yet again I repeated the same stupid nonsense. Unfortunately my fellow Brits were not so understanding (or generous!) this time, and even after all these years I can still hear the learned judge comment as he fined the pants off me, ‘And before you go, Mr Ruck, I must commend you on your taste in claret and cigars. Now get out of my court!’


PS I’ve just re-read the above and do you know, I’ve just realised that I could well have been on my way to becoming another Dylan Thomas, what the hell happened???

The bland tedium of sobriety that’s what!