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!


I was reading an article by some die-hard feminist recently – must have been one of the journalists at the crusading Guardian, you know the sort, drop food parcels instead of bombs, she’s a ‘woman’ not a ‘lady’ (oh dear), anyway she was having a rant at all those male readers who enjoy a bit of the ‘Flashman Papers’ series of novels.

Hello I thought, what on earth is the lady’s – sorry woman’s-  problem, old Flashy took a right royal lacing across the backside from his father’s mistress at the beginning of the series –  a rather large and menacing hairbrush was employed if I remember correctly, so…..male domination? I think not, but there we are that’s female emancipation for you, outwardly women must rule but inwardly they despise the man who allows himself to be ruled.


PS To be fair, she could have a point where the food parcels are concerned, the trouble is, like British Airways baggage handling, they tend to end up in the wrong hands.

Fashionable Water.

As far as I am aware, we do not live in a sub-Saharan climate, unless yet again, I’ve missed something in this modern world we live in. Anyway, I’ve noticed that people keep carrying plastic bottles of water around with them – I noticed one bottle the other day labelled ‘Volcanic Vulvas’ if you can work that one out.

All this water carrying, I’m told, is a genre of  ‘fashion statement’ apparently and has nothing whatsoever to do with thirst. So it’s confirmed then, vacuous cretins really do rule the world and we wonder why all those folk in the East hate us so much.

Well surprise surprise!


Sell By……..

Now here’s a thought for all you dominated, put upon, subjugated and vulture pecked husbands out there.

How about a ‘sell by’ date being tattooed on your wife’s bum or better still a ‘use by’ or a ‘best before’ date?

The divorce rate would flat-line for a start and think about all that mobile phone tyranny you would be spared every time you left the house without her. I mean let’s face it, men wear a damn sight better than women…….actually I take that back, have you seen all those orange-haired men walking about the place lately? Dear dear me, they look worse than a geriatric ‘celebrity’ trying to be famous again!


PS As you know I have yet to succumb to mobile insanity and what a remarkably peaceful life I lead. When I’m away, the missus gets one call to say I’m still alive (which probably disappoints but she can’t have everything can she?) and that’s it.That’s secure love for you – we don’t have to check up on each other every five minutes like so many other couples I know, mind you there was that rather odd phone call last night from a chap called Cess…….


Welshy Lips

You know, I didn’t marry the first time around until I was 41 (happily divorced at 43) and up until that time I had kissed many an exotic, black, brown, olive-skinned, full, half full and slippery pair of lips, but do you know that the tastiest pair I ever kissed, belonged to  a Welshy girl. All around the world, all around the ins and outs of love and where did I end up? In the fragrant arms of a girl from Swansea, see what I mean, the Welsh girls have it!


Musical Beds

One last testimonial to my dear father – he’s still alive too, 84 and still knocking off his beers and B&H, why the hell bother to lead a healthy lifestyle one may well ask.

Now, before I go any further no doubt you have already gathered that I come from a rather weird family, indeed my own doc reckons that I suffer from faulty wiring thus the creative bent. There’s probably something in that, I mean I can’t imagine why anyone would actually choose to write, there has to be a streak of insanity somewhere or other, look how many writers have knocked themselves off for heaven’s sake?

Personally I’ve never felt suicidal, my wife has though, something to do with having me as a husband she says.Of course it has nothing to do with the size of her arse does it, her feeling suicidal that is.Ooops, sorry I’m digressing again.

Now then, musical beds and my old man.

Many years ago when I was a student and still connected as it were, to the family home. I used to turn up every now and again, girlfriend attached, for some free board and lodging. My father, believe it or not was quite liberal in his own funny way (actually, he was as jealous as hell, all those pretty girls about the place and there was bugger all he could do about it dirty old sod, after all I can’t imagine my mother being a pretty sight to wake up to in the morning what with curlers, face cream and a bosom capable of playing ‘Rule Britannia’ on the floorboards), at least he had a realistic idea of what young men got up to.

The house rules therefore were simple enough when it came to unbridled hanky-panky, do what you like but make certain your little sister and mother don’t see anything. In other words, share a bed with your girlfriend by all means, but make damn certain no-one catches you and remember the floorboards creak like hell. All fair enough you must admit – on the face of it anyway.

The point is, the above was all very well until one accounted for the fact that my family tended to play musical beds on a nightly basis ie one never knew who the hell was sleeping where. For instance, if my mother and father had had a falling out over say, who swigged the last drop of sherry or who smoked the last fag, then it would be separate bedrooms or even perhaps one of the bedrooms with twin beds. If all was well in the matrimonial nest then it would be a bedroom with a double bed in it. Now to add to all this confusion, my little sister would generally wander about at will and crawl into whatever bed tickled her fancy. If I was home  and unattached it would often be mine, come to think of it, it would often be mine whether there was a girlfriend in tow or not. And God could my little tyke of a sister kick! – oh and don’t forget there was my elder sister and her chap to make matters worse too.

So, where is all this going I hear you ask? Well, on one particular Saturday morning I arrived in the kitchen, suitably hung-over and fragile. My father as usual was sitting at the kitchen table smoking and reading a newspaper.

‘There’s a cup of tea over there for your mother,’ he said. ‘Be a good fellow and take it up to her will you please?’

‘Of course’ I replied, we young ‘uns were fairly polite and obedient in those days – at least we didn’t call our lecturers let alone our teachers by their first names and the only friendship I ever cultured with my old man was at the end of his boot, not that he ever wore boots but you get my drift. I picked up the cup and saucer (mugs with a pair of bespectacled tits on the enamel were not really de rigueur then either).’ Where is she?’

‘Oh, that bedroom at the front of the house, you know the one with the twin beds.’

‘No dad,’ I replied. ‘Judy is in there.’ Judy was the current girlfriend. They tended to ebb and flow but that’s another story. Suddenly my father’s face went white.

‘What! She can’t be! I mean……..oh God…….’

‘What’s the matter?’ I asked, thinking he was about to have a heart attack.

‘What?……oh….oh…nothing. Nothing at all, I just remembered something that’s all. I thought your mother had gone into another bedroom last night because of my….er…. snoring……….. oh nevermind, just take the tea up to your mother will you.’

How odd I thought. What on earth was the matter with him? Anyway, I took the tea up to my mother as requested, she was in the parental double bedded bedroom, and decided to forget the whole silly business. My father could be a bit loopy from time to time, so nothing new.

Later on that day, while Judy and I were wandering around some sand dunes looking for a suitable spot to get up to some randy mischief, she said rather wistfully, ‘Julian, you know that was a bit risky you sticking your hand up my nightie this morning. Your mother was in the next bedroom for God’s sake! I might have been hidden by the quilt but I knew what you were up to.’

I was about to deny all knowledge when I quickly remembered my father’s face earlier that day.Instead of saying anything, I thought Oh well, I hope the old boy enjoyed it, serves him right for playing musical beds!


PS I’ve just come back from the Doc’s. As I was sitting in the surgery waiting room I noticed a damn great poster saying, ‘ DO YOU LOOK AFTER SOMEONE WHO IS ILL, FRAIL,DISABLED OR SUFFERING FROM A MENTAL ILLNESS?’ Jesus I thought, my wife can answer ‘Yes’ to all those. No hope for me is there?

Whiplashed into Greece.

Talking about parental dispute over domestic obligation, I am reminded of another of my father’s – shall we say less admirable – examples of masculine sovereignty, although I feel compelled to point out here, that although we live in an age of enlightened liberalism  there are still many men of my generation who yearn for the odious chauvinism of Dutch ovens (breaking wind in bed for the uninitiated), look with wonder as a woman wallops a pint pot of ale and are still trying to work out why they should be hated for merely exercising the courtesy of allowing a lady to go through a doorway before them!

Anyway, all this topsy-turvy car crash of ‘liberal’ wisdom aside, my dear old man and his insistence that he be the boss in his own home – for all his faults at least he didn’t go out discussing hairstyle curtains, eyelashes and the latest Fanta face embrocations with his pals, come to think of it neither was he into anal hair removing and nappy changing – another world eh! Damn I’m digressing again, my apologies.

So, being whiplashed into Greece. What on earth is the man going on about I hear you wonder, ‘Whiplashed into Greece?’ Idiot.

Well now, this is exactly what happened to me when I was a spotty, hormone exploding twelve-year-old and believe me in the early sixties there were not many people being whiplashed into Greece for a holiday, or even being flown in full stop for that matter. In those days Greece was reasonably unspoilt, credit cards, baseball caps, unisex tattoos and young girls with quick release switches on their knickers had yet to conquer the Mediterranean.

Now then, this sudden holiday had come completely out of the blue. I had been picked up from school by my father and the next thing, all I  remember is sliding into the starched white sheets of a Pullman sleeper, a basket of in-flight hard-boiled sweets to stop the ears popping, and the sun ravaging my backside until it blistered.

And the ‘whiplash’? Well, as it transpired many years later, my father, being the man of the house and seeing to all things financial, had received the compensation cheque from my mother’s whiplash injury following a car accident and decided that he and I should have a little holiday on it. Bugger my mother was his view, there was plenty of washing up, cleaning, laundry……… to keep her occupied in our absence.

Thus my being ‘whiplashed into Greece’. It’s true too.