Monthly Archives: March 2010

Blind Willie Johnson from Music Matters

I just found this; it’s off-topic and I should be doing something else, but I am hooked. Beyond music, this speaks directly to my soul.

Meet Mr Origami

He’s a martial arts expert and I made him at TAP at the weekend. In case you were wondering TAP is a most cool and groovy space that has conveniently opened over the road from me, opposite the pub and next door to the mosque in the old waterworks. For photos of the current exhibition visit chocolategirl’s excellent blog.

As you can see I am no expert, but the mountain and valley folds foxed even the most crafty creatives on my table, including the kids. He was the original, but then I was forced to make a whole family.

I’m a bit proud of him.

WARNING: Don't look directly into his eyes

There’s a theme this week…

…but it may not be evident immediately.

The flat we had in London was on the second floor. This was an improvement on the flat before that which was on the eighth, on the far end of the balcony and next door to Alan and Gromit his dog. Alan was in the habit of getting completely out of it on a regular basis; often leaving Gromit out on the walkway to the flats to terrorise the neighbours or ride the lift on his own. One night he excelled himself, Alan not Gromit, by passing out whilst his tv caught fire at about 4 a.m. I realised then, the fire brigade don’t have ladders up the the eighth floor and jumping is no good either.

We were therefore very happy to get down to the third floor in Hackney Wick, opposite Mabley Green and the throw of a stone from the River Lee and Hackney Marshes. It didn’t matter there was no garden because we had masses of green space on the doorstep and the dogs loved it. That said, by the time there were four humans in the two-bed we had to move on and I was really happy to at last have my own garden. I don’t mind saying I took a bit of pleasure in it too, planting plants and whatnot.

Sadly now, after a hard winter, loads of rain and Rudi smashing around in it daily it resembles a hideous hybrid monster somewhere between Steptoe’s Yard and the Gaza Strip. If I go out there, which I have to, I shudder. I re-turfed last year not that you can tell, now I am not sure I have the heart.

Rudi’s kill list:
Grass, everything green underfoot, more grass.
Silver Birch sapling
Something with purple berries, but we never got that far
A couple of pots smashed to smithereens
The back fence so he can better poke his nose into the person behind us’ business

The cold:
Pelargoniums – every last one as far as I can see
Some kind of pretty viburnum
Banana plant (but that was partly my fault)
Maybe the fuchsia but I can’t be sure

It’s depressing. I tried hanging the washing out today for the first time in 2010 and found a bucket growing weeds. I was thinking of emptying it straight into the compost bin when I saw the ferny fronds of what looked like carrots poking out. On investigation it was indeed a carrot.

Amazing! Amongst utter devastation something is quietly doing a spot of growing in a bucket. Even an evil winter and the doings of Rudi cannot wither the mighty carrot.

Here’s a picture:

We washed it for its photo shoot then Cassia ate it. She declared it to be sweet. There was a decided emphasis on the vowels.

The Flat’s Back Baby

It kicks off today at the Curragh, three maidens (some 2yos and some of those by first season sires like Holy Roman Emperor – yikes) a Group 3 and the Irish Lincoln Handicap – which I won’t be going near.

Only six days to go to our own Lincoln and on the same day the Dubai World Cup which I am planning on Twice Over winning.

Good. I am fed up of all this fence stuff tripping up the pretty horses.

My punting success or otherwise tends to follow a seasonal pattern and I am anticipating a dip in form once we are swamped with the good 2yos coming out early season, it being a difficult task to sift through more quality and quantity effectively. Irish maidens are also a bit tricky partly due to not knowing the stables very well, massive fields, ground often soft etc. So today I am going to have a go at the Curragh, but I wouldn’t encourage anybody to join in.

The only race I can get a feel for is the bumper at Carlisle which has a stiff finish. I can’t decide between two there, but I would be shocked if the likely favourite trained by Alan Swinbank won.

Empire Builder/Jago’s River – hmmm.

Kieren Fallon punched in the paddock

This unseemly incident happened this afternoon at Lingfield. Apparently an owner of two horses in the second race (David Reynolds) came over to where Fallon was unsaddling his mount and punched him in the face.

I don’t mind admitting there was a time when I would have paid good money to see that, especially after a Group race in the summer perhaps at Royal Ascot, but I’ve revised my opinion somewhat of Mr Fallon. Besides what I may or may not think, it not the proper way to carry on if you are an owner. It would seem that the favourite The Scorching Wind, who was one of the horses owned by Reynolds, was seriously hampered by Fallon’s ride Elna Bright as it appeared to lose its action and was practically pulled up.

God knows how much money the owner had backed it for.

Still, there’s nothing worse than a bad loser and as Fallon said afterwards: it’s fine he punches “like a girl”.

Kieren not being punched in the face

The Kitchen Sink

Whilst I’ve been up to my eyes in it, the washing machine has been silently rebelling; probably for weeks or even months.

I am not a believer in upgrading. Flog it ’til it drops is my motto with any kind of household appliance. Why give money to big companies and encourage them to build in nanosecond obsolence. This stand does not always go down too well. When I had worked to death the 1980s Zanussi washing machine, that was enshrined in the 1970s Schreiber kitchen when we bought the house, there was a then a power tussle about the replacement. In my perfect domestic diva land I would be buying a grand’s worth of black LG that steam cleans clothes without them even leaving the wardrobe (or the floor in my case); back in the real world that kind of expenditure just doesn’t float my boat. I therefore insisted on the most basic of Bosch Classixx because (like Skodas) they never break down. It’s boring but true. A Bosch Exxcel was sent with a digital display. I sent it back. No digital displays thanks, they go wrong. I want dials.

Given my curmudgeonly, and some might say Luddite attitude to white goods, you might think it serves me right that the Bosch has bitten me on the bum, but you would be mistaken. The machine itself is just doing its job. It is the cold water feed that has a leak. I can identify this fact, but I can’t do much about it given my deeply ingrained kinaesthetic ineptitude. I have pulled out the machine to form an on-trend island feature in the middle of the kitchen and torn up the disgusting vinyl (thank you Lord) to let the floor dry out. It would seem from the damp that this has been going on behind my back for quite some time. We have an interesting collection of fungi growing up from the leaky pipe to further support this theory and I also saw a woodlouse.

On the upside I found the sink plug which has been missing for months.

I was having a break from horses today, but then the Nag Me service emailed me to say that the United Arab Emirates container ship Al Farahidi is running in the 5.50 maiden at Lingfield. So I had a look and realised that we’ve got the Winter Derby and another mile and half maiden. I’ve postponed the break.

This is essential housework music (although a musician would need to sit and admire the guitar action) and much better than a picture of a washing machine or kitchen sink plug.

Eye on the Prize

This is funny old Cheltenham what with all the turn ups for the books (and now we need never wonder where that saying came from). I think I have though finally achieved notgettingsuckedintoallthehype and have ended up unbroke. It’s not what I thought it would be though. I imagined I’d feel more, well, smug. Thank god I don’t. I just feel like I am gagging for some flatter than flat racing for me togetsuckedintoallthehype. Leopards never change their spots.

That being the case it seems likely that Kauto will win tomorrow and I must admit that I will watch the spectacle without financial investment. Not because I don’t care, but because I don’t like to see Denman get beaten, not even by his neighbour. One must expect that the ground is going to be too lively for the Tank’s comfort and ease tomorrow, and that’s a shame. Today I saw an old man getting on a bus. He was a big unit, not fat, but tall and well-boned. As he got up from the bus-stop bench he reminded me of how Denman might be after galloping on good ground for over three miles. Not a pleasant thought to be honest. Maybe I am just a crazy lady comparing random bus passengers to racehorses, but that’s what I do.

As I’m being honest, I have to confess that I am not even so concerned with tomorrow’s historic clash as I am with how Cooldine will run in the same race.
I am desperate for him to run well and boost my fantasy of Joncol winning the Gold Cup in the next couple of years. I even tried to find a market tonight for next year but I have failed so far…

I’ll just keep trying.

Hello darling, I'd like to place a bet on the 2012 Gold Cup.

Hakuna Matata

That’s what yesterday ended up being; in punting terms. Picking a 100/1 winner (which was far in excess of the RP tissue price) means you can forgive yourself a lot of past near misses. A wiping of the slate clean. A starting of the flat season a bit up.

When Theredballoon went on in the last 2 furlongs at Huntingdon (having been the back marker for the previous 14) I was watching the in-running Betfair market. It had opened at 190 in the win market and almost from flag-fall contracted to 70. The lowest it seemed thereafter was 60. But then, in what seemed like the closing stages, it just tumbled. I could hardly believe my eyes when we entered the hallowed gubbing territory of 1.5s. Although I actually could. I had spent the race looking at the 70 thinking: how can this be? It’s got to run better than a 70 shot. Sometimes you have a strong feeling of great possibilities. I’ve had it on a train to Kempton for Akona Matata (sic) and I had it for Kicking King and War of Attrition. It doesn’t come round too often so I’m making sure to enjoy it. Of course (and if you read The Outliers you’ll know why) genius needs company, otherwise they are just another loser 😉 In this case the company was Stephen Foster and Old Stokie who are proper gents in an unkind world and for reasons best known to themselves had Nena’s Red Balloons on their minds last week.

I won’t be giving it all back mind. Just this bit.


And for a day that started so unpromisingly the best bit turned out to be: trees, about five of them. Last year I met a tree officer for the council at the Southend Film Festival. Yes, it rivals Cannes you know. Anyway, when I heard he was a tree lover and not just a bureaucrat I emailed him.

Please Sir, can I have some more?

You see we are an avenue, but most of the trees died leaving many years ago leaving us a bare street. Actually it reminds me of the Raggle Taggle’s cold open field. Anyway, yesterday, the council came along drilled holes and planted trees. On our avenue. Marvellous.

An Chéadaoin

I had a little write of this about the Champion Hurdle on Monday:

The ground is likely to be more good than soft good. This is, I reckon, going to suit the flat-bred lads a little better. So Celestial Halo by Galileo – tick and Punjabi by Komaite – tick, and whilst I’m at it Khyber Kim by Mujahid – tick. But the big fat tick to end all other ticks goes to Zaynar.

On Tuesday I find that the first 5 home were by flat-bred sires in the race. Binocular was the joker in the pack that I overlooked because, like Solwhit, he’d had problems. Well we were sold a bit of a pup there weren’t we? Actually his pedigree is interesting. His flat-bred sire was a flipping sprinter (and not a well-known sire at that), but his dam is stoutly-bred by the NH sire Pistolet Bleu. So there. Next year watch for the same kind of thing. A mix of toe and staying power to sprint off up the hill.

This Wednesday has turned into a bit of a dog already. Rudi spent some time treating the garden as a velodrome (running round the walls without the bike) after the foxes got the rubbish. So I’ve had to hold a Stewards’ Inquiry into why the rubbish was not in the shed (all before 9 a.m.). Added to that, the children are ill and I must teach later. You’ll therefore forgive me if my Cheltenham attitude has become too dilatory to inflict on readers. Those huge handicaps make me shudder. Blokes love them. I rest my case.

I am hoping to have earned my Guinness later. Whether it’s in life-changing quantity rather depends on how this lot run. One from THE bumper, one from the bumper in Huntingdon and two maidens and maybe a dabble on Ferdy Murphy’s pretender.

Shot From the Hip – by Monsun and has to be backed – worried about the Weld horse – Mullins who’s he?
Dominium – love it love it love it
TheRedBalloon – Sulamani has a staggering percentage call over 14f+
Mirza – the Dandy Nicholls runner could ruin my St Patrick’s Day party
Kalahari King – to place maybe because really I want the Master to win…

And this is nothing to do with anything, but I like a poem.

Achilles – by Carol Ann Duffy

Myth’s river – where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boy flowed on, his name on its lips.
Without him, it was prophesied, they would not take Troy.

Women hid him, concealed him in girls’ sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs…

But when Odysseus came, with an athlete’s build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd’s roar,

And it was sport, not war, his charmed foot on the ball…

But then his heel, his heel, his heel…

I know, given the time lapse, that this poem has been a honed a little, but not a lot. What I want to know is if Beckham is Achilles, who the heck is Odysseus?

This is NOT a Tip – The Festival Day 1

Here’s the thing. At 1.30 a rabble of novices will kick off the Festival. Amongst them the short fav Dunguib. I can’t back him because he’s evens now and he needs “racing room”. So I could sit out the race. It seems sensible, but here’s the thing – I can’t. There’s a little voice nagging me. Now this is not the voice I generally listen to in punting matters as it knows bugger all about it, but this voice has been joined by a few others and I can’t ignore it.

The story starts at Cheltenham in January when I picked what appeared to be a pig called Fiulin in a good novices hurdle won by Restless Harry (more of him another day). Fiulin travelled ok and then spat the dummy somewhere at the top of the hill, coming home in his own time. Let’s say he needed the run. Chalked down to experience. Then just recently *searches have been throwing up the blog, these searches are “Fiulin” or “Evan Williams Fiulin”. Strange I thought. Who’s googling that bad lad. I’ve checked his price and it’s 200/1. No sign of a sustained or indeed much of any gamble yet, although his price halved for a short while yesterday somewhere – you see I’ve been watching. Anyway, one crap run in a small field at HQ when you have been yamming cream cakes all winter does not a Supreme Novice make so 200/1 seems a fair price.

Then Paddy Power offered this bet. Back a horse in the Supreme market and if Dunguib wins you get your stake back. Perfect. Now I just need Fiulin or Dunguib to win and I’ve lost nowt. Paddy will only get that bit of “shrewd” business though. Ladcrooks have already accepted my life-changing acca. I had to count the zeros a couple of times…

Back in the room, I am still not liking the Champion Hurdle. After a night to toss and turn on it I wake to find I am thinking:

You fool, it’s obvious Go Native will win the Champion Hurdle. Noel Meade, acknowledging his lacklustre record at the Festival, assures us GN has more speed than the Harchibald.

What an idiot you are, anyone can see the first-time blinkers for Celestial Halo will transform him, no matter what other heresy his owner has been preaching.

Don’t be such a dunce, Nicky says Binocular will win a Champion Hurdle, he just doesn’t know when.

Medermit’s a grey too and doesn’t Starluck look a bit grey too if you squint – you can’t just back one grey – you gotta back them all.

And so on through the field. Listen I’m with Nicky. Fiulin is going to win me a lot of money one day – I just don’t know when…

Fiulin passing through the ring for 280,000 guineas. He looks well up for Googling himself whilst enjoying a cream cake...

*In case you are wondering about the accuracy of google search terms I can tell you categorically that the Chow Chow is the world’s most popular dog (not in terms of ownership but in terms of search interest) and that Shaun the Sheep is in fact the world’s most popular celebrity.

This post was brought to you by Where’s the Madness in That? Productions