At the End of the Day

Man about the House 

meglycinessnipI have long harboured a profound dislike of curtains. In many ways, I’m still stuck in the period 1970-1980, when everything was about plain architectural venetian and roller blinds. Even for 5-10 years after that – when blinds went all flouncey Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen – I still favoured them over curtains. Curtains were what my parents had: rather shiny materials that ran on plastic rails, lived in bungalows, and formed the backdrop to Abigail’s Party.

But then designer ironmongery happened, largely produced by companies (almost always for some reason based in Shropshire or Hereford) using logos suggesting they might be the progeny of 18th century blacksmiths. And with this reproduction rebirth came a return to proper curtain rods supporting heavy cloths in warm, lavish patterns. One could bunch them to each side of the window, onto grey-iron croquet hoops. The effect was terribly grand in an Edwardian sort of way: it had a certain elegant sweep, and we’re not talking glove puppets here. There was nothing elegant about Sweep: he squeaked. Then the dog got hold of your Christmas present, and Sweep fell silent.

Sootie and Sweep were two characters invented by the children’s television star Harry Corbett in the 1950s. All telly in those days was in black and white, and during 1955 I pestered my parents to buy me a Sootie. Imagine my horror on Christmas Day when I opened the puppet kit to discover Sootie was not white but orange. Orange. I must have been a racist from a very early age, because in an odd sort of way I never fully recovered from the trauma of this discovery. It was like the mental image I had of Tony Hancock on the radio suddenly turning into the chubby bloke on television. Or hearing Bill Haley on the record player, and then discovering he was a sweaty blob with a silly kiss-curl.

Returning from Rock around the Clock to curtains, I didn’t mind their rebirth too much at first because I was married, and back then if you did anything other than drill the holes in the wall for curtains, you were obviously a homosexual. Like men always did barbecues – turning every sausage into a cremated worm – women made curtains.

But then I wound up divorced in France with a large house to restore and a barn to convert and eight sets of curtains from two marriages . OK-yah ladies from Kensington emporia not being readily available, there was no option but to get my hands dirty.

The Sun headline from me on curtains is that hanging’s too good for them. They’re large, often heavy, prone to tangling, employ umpteen different technologies of attachment, involve bits of plastic that look as if they were designed by a gynaecologist and – worst of all – are very unforgiving if you do any one thing out of step.

Don’t, whatever you do, put the poles through the holes and the knobs on the ends before you put the hoops on the poles. And even if you do hoop the poles before inserting the poles in the holes, remember to put a temporary retainer on one end of the poles or the hoops will fall off the poles just as you’re about slot the poles through the holes. Needless to say, you could still find that, with all the hoops on the poles and the poles through the holes, if you put the poles too close to the walls, the screw on the knobs doesn’t have room to line up with the holes in the poles.

As for the actual hanging bit, be sure you really know which way up the gynaecology goes. There’s only one option here, and upside down doesn’t cut it unless you like your curtains lying informally on the carpet as a statement about how fucking daft curtains are when you get down to it. Also do count all the plastic probes before you start loading them onto the hoops. There is no sensation more shattering than getting to hoop 40 with hook 41. It’s like Scott getting to the Pole and finding Amundsen’s flag there.

Some things – like walking on clumpy boots carrying shoulder-crunching skis from your  hotel to the piste, getting on the pommer and having a thumping great frisbee stuffed into your groin for 2,000 feet – really are the Twelve Stations of the Cross updated. But with putting curtains up, you get the crucifixion thrown in too. There you are, up a wobbly pair of ladders, looking over your shoulder for the left hole while using bat technology to help you with the location of the other one. Then half an hour later, you’ve one foot on the ladder and one on the window ledge, one hand slotting plastic curly-wurlies into metal hoops, and five kilos of Osborne & Little under the remaining free arm.

Let’s face it: apart from the nails and the loin cloth, you’ve got the full set right there.


Having finally mastered how to unroll glued fly paper and trap 400 insect vermin a day, I realised a few days ago that flies do not make the connection between columns of dead comrades and potential danger to themselves. Even with the lowered educational standards of mad Blairism, your average fly is never going to pass anything at GCSE – not even woodwork.

So I’ve reverted via hitech but useless fly sprays and sticky mobiles to the fly swatter.

There’s a knack to fly swatting. I don’t fully understand it, but if you hold the fly swatter behind your back over the right shoulder – left if you’re left-handed – and bring it down at medium speed directly over the winged target, provided your aim is good, you will send it up to the Big Fly in the Sky.

Each morning now, I stroll round the kitchen – hooked arm over my shoulder – and use this approach to culling flies. To the casual observer it might look like advanced calisthenics or an eccentric form of Alexander Technique, but for me the ritual holds a dual advantage: it is effective, and word gets around among the fly population: “this bloke is a homicidal maniac of disturbingly clinical accuracy”.


Having recommended the programme earlier today, it seemed churlish not to watch the BBC2 documentary on Roald Dahl. It was beyond wonderful: a beautifully cut and presented portrait of a Great Briton.

Rebellious kid, heroic pilot, brilliant diplomat, part-time spy, cosmopolitan traveller, amazing writer but above all magical father, Dahl was unique. But until watching this docubiography, I had no idea of all the influences, experiences and inspirations that surrounded the man.

The BBC was put on Earth to inform, educate and entertain. Blaming the BBC because it no longer does this is, in my humble view, pathetic. It doesn’t fulfil that role any more because gargoyles like Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, David Cameron, Baron Green and Theresa May scared the crap out of spineless BBC Governors.

But love it or loathe it, at its best the Beeb is light years ahead of anything the Murdoch Mob could ever hope to produce, because Newscorp has no hopes or aspirations of any worth.


Earlier at The Slog: The sameness of separate Anglo-American Politics

20 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. John – wonderful. Take us away from hell for a few minutes here in Munich. Great writing. wish I had an audience like you do. I’m a part of the Toytown Munich expat online family here in Germany – have been since 2003.

    I found two cloth puppets Sooty and Sweep somewhere in the UK and use them to attack my kids at bedtime story from time to time. The dramas are not very PC – Sooty takes a dump and Sweep has to wipe his bum, or they play heavy metal and both headbang to Smoke on the Water.

    I know what renovates are like a la Place in the Sun. People in the UK don’t realize the mess and confusion and heartbreak. Can we have some pics of the project?

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  2. Yes, this wins The Orgasmic Chuckle Award for this year so far, without doubt, Monsieur!
    Oh, my aching ribs! :0)

    Get the flies to hang the curtains up….Tell them they have to be Tory Flies and work hard at working hard before they get to settle on your cheese and crap all over your tomatoes, m’dear.

    Be NICE to flies, they….they….they….er…………………..

    What DO flies actually do?

    Once went to view a house in Cornwall, decades back, a former tin mine tower…It looked lovely as we drove up to it, was VERY cheap too, couldn’t believe HOW cheap it was…which was why we were looking at it..nor far from Marazion…Anyways ups, just before the entrance were 2 other entrances, one on either side, one led to a dog kennels and t’other to a field full of horses…

    “Awwwww…..” says I, the dumb non-country kid, “that’s nice, animals to the left of us, animals to the right….” and in we went to be met by A Very London Estate Agent chappie..expensively suited with “Wide Boy!” tattoed all over him….He explained, as he led us up the first stairs that the basement belonged to a tenant who wouldn’t let anyone in, but it was simply lovely inside….

    Hmmmmm……up more stairs we went, to the kitchen, very dark and I started to notice there were a few flies around…some dead…on the work surfaces…”Ah, yes!” said Wide-Boy, “the owners live in London, don’t come down very often….” and he led us further up….

    With each floor came more flies…until we got to the top, whereupon I heard a sickening crunch beneath my feet, to find, when foolishly looking down, that I was standing on a CARPET of FLIES, all dead as dead flies, crisped and dried in the Cornish Summer….

    “Er…..?!” says I…..

    “Well….” said Wide-Boy, “You know what it’s like, one fly gets in, then another and…..”

    “Don’t tell me…” I replied “They fall in love and have ZILLIONS of babies?!”

    “Yes, something like that..” he muttered, sweat starting to appear on his brow and his image fading into the crunchiness…..”I keep trying to TELL them that they HAVE to get this sorted out! Will they listen to me thouugh? Oh, no! HOW am I ever going to sell this place when it’s covered in dead flies and a tenant that won’t come out!”

    “Do you think he may have been eaten by the flies?”

    He didn’t get the joke….

    They were even all over the patio too, the bodies….bodies EVERYWHERE. I think they’d over-indulged, on the dog poo to the left of us..and the horse shit to the right…then, bulging with gluttony, they’d obviously found themselves rendered senseless and had given up the ghost in the Tin Mine Wheel House..

    I now have this vision of you running amok round all the rooms of that odd place, swatting upstairs and down, having a giant swatter for the tenant too…A never ending job bringing you delirious joy… lol

    Be Nice To Mice too, please, Monsieur….

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  3. Always found curtains useful in one respect; it’s when some joyless berk (usu. a representative of HM Govament) says to me, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. I am able to respond with, “Have you got curtains in your house? You have? Why’s that then?” But beyond that, I loathe the bloody unwieldy expensive things. They gather dust, cobwebs and are useful for little beyond a training aid for young kittens to test their climbing skills.

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  4. Ah, the challenges of living in a grand old French hunting lodge!
    I have been is such a place and it is always a struggle between the fauna (including insects) and the invading biped humans.
    Also I think you mentioned that it might be the season when your neighbour farmers are spreading slurry.
    Perhaps a few smoking Gauloises or Gitanes might see the flies off and some more fly papers to collect them…
    As for curtains, if your neighbours are not close – over the fence- who needs them?
    Curtains are very useful in Winter to counter drafts and external cold, by which time the flies have departed.
    There’s bound to be a local seamstress or couturiére who would be able to address all your local curtaining needs!
    Don’t hang about or go off the rails!
    Great blog
    Gerard

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  5. JW :-)

    Life is so fraught with risk and danger everyday without all the elite and UK parliament add-ons of cheap dodgy goods or radical extremists of all persuasions. We have legislation supposedly to make thinks like curtains, roller blinds all fit for purpose, the point is they are only fit for purpose if the manufacturer or if an import the distributor is fined for the failure.

    What chance does a person have at a peaceful life nowadays? None.

    What’s worse because the youth accept sh%t you get stuck with it just like if we had voted for BREMAIN.

    I could even extend the youth accepting sh%t to what transpired in Munich but best not, it reveals the concept of “no lives matter” and does not stop unless you start applying that sentinment to the elites and governance running the show.

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  6. Oh dear. I have a similar task today. Compounded by having to drill into the Portuguese version of brick. Push too hard and suddenly you hit the air gap in the “brick” and the chuck does an excellent impersonation of a burrowing mole. Room freshly decorated as well. I see a fraught Sunday. Oh and then I hang the curtains….

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  7. i am with ‘caratacus’ re: curtains… May could not possibly have curtains or blinds. She being the advocate of ‘if you have nothing to hide.. blah blah’ Do any of the spies have curtains?? or is it ok for elites and their tools to hide things, but not the rest of us.?

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  8. John
    ‘yaknow the TV linker with the kamikazi blue bottle ..on fire?
    It is possible to do this oneself!
    Have t’hand a suitable little box , any size will do but small enough to fit in your fridge . 1 tube of super glue and some genuine cotton wool.
    This is the difficult bit ..capture one large blue bottle alive and put into the box, put the box complete with fly into fridge for 1hour.
    when it shows little sign of life glue a small piece of wool too ..about half the size of the blue bottle.
    Now I am assuming you have one of those ultraviolet 6000volt zapper machines, you often see these in greasy spoon establishments hang on the wall .
    have fun.
    too much real bollocks for me at present
    dofornow

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  9. John
    Re the recent outrages at that nice place Nice.
    It turns out… according to some reports , the Journo who caught it on camera was also available at Macdonald in Gerrymander to record that atrocity.
    Made me think back a while to the Blitz !
    A rumor went the rounds that the wagons delivering the meals (In very large flasks) to the local school were being used at night to convey bodies to the local open air swimming pool which was being used as a temporary morgue. This was dismissed at the time as trouble making…no one would do such a thing.
    Back to that nice place Nice .There is/was quite a bit of stuff up but it’s gone ! Well if one wants to have cadavers available for distribution at ones convenience . what better delivery system could one imagine.

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  10. I am one of Satan’s Road Buggers, as I hurtled to and from Munich earlier this year, I culled a reassuringly vast amount of those big black devils. The front of my car was plastered with what looked like currants baked on rock hard.

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  11. @Dofornow.

    Hooray!, thanks….. at last some incisive macabre humour…. but it is serious. As I have observed on Slog before…. pristine lorry, no blood, no crushed bodies, no slimy bloody wheels, crap reportage on BBC Radio Five Live, supposedly as it happened……

    These are my thoughts, based on some hours of investigation.

    Of course, there are those who lap up CNN, BBC, Fox, etc. every night. Thus earning a “Digital Loser Badge” ….. ie, as in tattoos= Loser Badges!

    Loads of Main Stream Media (MSM) bollox swirling around for the unwary…. or unconcerned!

    These terror attacks are mostly poorly directed street theatre. Breivik, every latest French caper, from the cringeworthy Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan…. the Nice farce…. and now the Munich froth. Let alone the abysmally managed Joe Cox interlude!

    I have blogged far and wide, at last keen minds are picking up on the notion that the whole MSM output is a dodgy dossier!

    You can either just accept MSM bollox…… or consider other evidence, hey did you know that France has ordered the confiscation and illegality of all vids and CCTV relating to the Nice caper? Wonder why? Funny, no MSM comments?

    Of course, post-Brexit, we now have a horrendous May Queen. Spouses can have great influence? Just suppose a UK Prime Minister had a ZioBankster other half? Farfetched conjecture is allowed!

    One could think that UK has already had the max impact false flag event, 7/7. Professor Kollestrom wrote a definitive book about this unholy event that exposed the lies and treachery of all of our hallowed Institutions and Agencies. UK May Queen et al, are still under the fading hammer of ZioBanksters…….

    Despite Brexit, we are not home yet!

    The May Queen is suspended from the Maypole of ties/ribbons that bind.

    Suppose those ties and ribbons trip her up and show her true knickers?

    Is she Tuff Enuff to Brexit, minus knickers?

    So far, her ribbons are not unbinding Brexit……

    And the public have noticed!

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  12. Well I was in a family barbecue in a posh bit of Munich today and you’d hardly know anything has happened. Back to normal.

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  13. When I was very young I went to see Harry Corbett and the real Sooty and Sweep. Not only that but I ended up on the stage right next to them. While a similar age I also cleaned the teeth of a crocodile at a Punch and Judy show.
    Isn’t life dull when you grow up?

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  14. Flies, curtains and especially mosquitos are the spawn of the devil.

    Anyway, I really like the positive sentiments expressed at the top of the ‘new look’ Slog.

    Never stop writing these articles and never change your style of wit Mr Ward.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world;
    indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    Margaret Mead, anthropologist

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