Monthly Archives: May 2016

I have made six good currant buns

My wedding suit trousers fit, much to my surprise. Not only that but my hair has been “restyled” to accommodate Maria’s mowing so I am all set to shine at Avani’s mum and dads tomorrow and ED and Claudia’s wedding on Saturday. ‘Radiant and confident’  -like I have had a full Clinique makeover or got a new brand of toothpaste.


I have a Spring, spring in my stride because I really believe (yes really ally) I have completed all the major technical challenges with the phone box installation as well as some challenges that only became major challenges once I had obsessed long and hard.

Now for a confession. I have been completely unable to concentrate on anything but this project for months now. The various nobbly, nitty, techy bits and pieces that needed doing really got under my skin and into my head. I don’t know how to describe the feeling. Maria gets it with sewing projects. She just has to keep going back and trying to improve what she has done. The improvements are invisible to the rest of the world but to her they are critical. I thought about my nobs when watching telly, driving, eating, and even sleeping. I am afraid I particularly thought about them when talking to other people about dull stuff. That is anything that I am not interested in. Which is almost everything that most people want to talk about. Why can’t there be more people like me in the world! It must have driven everybody mad. It has been a deep deep spell of preoccupation, like other people describe depression, only not sad, just impossible to break free of.

Of course the results are far from spectacular. I liken it to achieving nothing more than baking 6 good currant buns for tea. Something appreciated by just a very few and not appreciated that much. Something very quiet and missable. But utterly joyous none the less. The feeling of freedom to think about other things is just brilliant.

So now I won’t.

Granted some of the tasks were very tricky, not because of any integral programming complexity but because I have been trying to do things that no hardware and software combination has ever been designed to do. The mix of very old technology and new technology has led me to some extremely Heath Robinson solutions and these spaghetti junctions have snowballed into pile-ups further down the road. It’s been like making a bike from bits of a pram, a TV and carpet offcuts.

On the way I have resolved the content issue that has been bugging me for several months, ever since I launched the prototype and got that “something ain’t right” feeling that comes when an audience quite like something – but despite the applause you the author, director, actor don’t. I am now fairly confident I have the content concept ready to match the technical concept. It all comes down to whether or not to use the first person. “Who cares” you may ask. Who cares what a computer voice impersonating Chris would say in a 1937 telephone box. But if you can be bothered, and I suspect most of you cant, it is a very interesting problem. Even “hello” is problematic because the caller may say “hello” back and expect an answer, in this new manifestation this is sometimes possible but even so should an inanimate impersonating an animate say “hello” at all? Would A G Bell’s “ahoy” be more fitting, or funnier, or be somehow subliminally hinting at a historic telephone context, thus routing the piece in some sort of framework. These are very fine judgements that distinguish a piece as either – gently thought provoking, utterly incomprehensible or so comprehensible it’s hackneyed and cheap.. I am aiming for the first. The second is the easiest by far, and the last is where I usually end up. This is the sort of stuff that both keeps me awake and send me to sleep. This is my therapy.

I have not written much of the content yet but that should be the fun bit. I have made one more compromise to accessibility and you will be able to access the content of the installation from any landline by dialling a York number I will release in due course. The experience will be nothing like being in the box but it’s been fun to figure out how to do it. Turned out to be easy peasy. The hardest thing about a project like this is knowing where to start and of course when to stop.

pungent pussy paint

Just as my own creative juices curdle, it seems my boys and my girl are on a roll. To add to my last outpouring of show-off I have just read a superb short piece by George (access to G’s writing is an extremely rare treat) that left me truly, truly gobsmacked. So on the strength of this, plus Arthur’s album and Avani’s news that I cannot talk about, I feel ready to die and pass on the mantle of genius through my genes. Only joking I am not going nowhere until I finish this flaming phone box and direct an opera at La Scala – so see ya for the next millennium bug.

The purpose of this post –

Does anyone know how to catch or deal with a Tom cat? He is really nice looking, quite small but he has very big ginger nuts and an enthusiasm for breaking and entering in order to daub his pungent and expressive pussy paint upon our walls, curtains, carpet and possibly our own timid pet pussies. We have resolved to adopt him and get him sorted on the ginger nut front. Hope he doesn’t belong to someone as they will be a bit surprised when he comes home nutless.

Trouble is my childhood experience of Tom Cats is they are a troublesome combo of scared shitless and scary. We could trap him by rigging the cat door to lock behind him but that will still involve yours truly impersonating St Francis communing with the savage beast. Or was that Daniel. I imagine the pongy savageness will be terrified to be communed with by a zealous old geezer bearing a cat basket and I am worried that he will hurt himself and me.

So any ideas?

Extreme unrepentant show-off moment.

If you are feeling down in the dumps this will make you feel worse as the Newell/Bovino/Shah family surge from strength to strength with nothing short of grandiose, smug, self-congratulatory excess. My goodness my family are the greatest thing ever! Hold onto your guts…..


Matthew Read Trio with Arthur Newell (Drums) now available from Amazon –

We are electrified with parental pride at this achievement so don’t stint our inflated egos. Please make this the No 1 Jazz Album in Appleton Roebuck by purchasing it immediately. It’s REALLY Good!!! and very original in my humble and unbiased opinion. The only downside is that Matthew has to pack the Tsunami of orders himself which is causing him to panic (ahhh Artistes!)

Joke sourced from Album launch party venue – what’s the difference between an extra-large pizza and a jazz musician? An extra- large pizza can feed a family of four.

Other news – all good! – George and Avani have their own flat after 4 years of very happy communal living. They are both flourishing like the York City wall daffs. A double/treble gush of extreme pride.

My fountain lives again. It fell down twice. I broke it spectacularly with a hammer. I wasted tens of pounds on solutions that failed. Three lots of concrete, two wonky molds, one wrong length of aluminum tube, one wrong very expensive brass spout that could not be returned, two pumps, one gigantic sheet of plastic – all to no avail – but yesterday — behold – a spurting, gurgling birth of pretend stone babies.


Mr Fox got the hens which is sad but…. Mr Fox is beautiful, but so are the hens, and they didn’t deserve to be eaten any more than the fox deserved to go hungry. I suppose if Mr Fox was a slimy lizard then I would feel differently but in the past we have seen a whole Disney fox family messing about just outside their hole and they didn’t look like bad arse foxes looking forward to a killing spree, they looked like any other fox couple about pop to Homebase with the kids. The farmer kept the hens in for a whole month after the first kills. When he let them out, the fox got them again in less than an hour. Either he is local or incredibly patient. So no more hens just chubby foxes.

My numbers went quite bad (kidney function) and then came good again. It’s so nice when your body, which you have come to assume is a looser, the fat boy with glasses who is chosen last (in my case the thin boy with big ears who was chosen second to last, the fat boy was called Jonathan and he was my friend), turns out to have a bit of Leicester City in it – most surprising and rather encouraging. I feel very well, but retain an inordinate fondness for horizontal thinking with my eyes closed. Indeed I have just got up from some thinking.

The phone box continues to obsess. I keep thinking I have it as I want it when some other issue arises. This month I have had to defend it from hackers and find a way of increasing the transmission volume without resorting to further amplification. The answer to problem 1 (simple when you know) is the immortal line of code allowguest = no. the answer to problem 2. another line of code VOLUME(TX) = 4. All very well but in both cases rather than doing the right thing I pursued every possible wrong thing that included

  • fiddling with the firewall
  • resolving non existent IP conflicts
  • replacing the receiver unit (internal) (breaking the phone receiver)
  • replacing the whole phone
  • fiddling with cable converters
  • changing the sound drivers
  • changing the sound card

Along with the fountain and the bakelite phone I also broke a marble chessboard that I had balanced on the fountain to level it. Maria had bought it for me from San Antonio. I glued it back together, ashamed and disgraced but forgiven, like the fox.