The Feet of God

July 11, 2010

Last weekend I was up in Manchester. That’s where my mum lives and it’s also where my sister, niece and nephew were on their annual trip ‘home’ from California. And this weekend also coincided with St. James’ Church annual parade around the parish. The Whit Walk. Something peculiar, it seems, to the North of England.

My family have been connected to this church for, well, possibly, over 75 years. My dad was the church organist until his death in 1983. My mum is still in the choir. My sister and the kids join in with everything when they are over. Me? Well, I was in the choir. Then I went to university, then moved to London, and, perhaps, the twin evils of education and swanky London living have left me a little less keen. I wouldn’t say Godless or evil, just not so sure about parading around the streets of Salford dressed like a blue nylon monk.

Zoe won’t step inside a church. It’s all for the safety of others. As soon as she’s through the door the font tends to bubble over. I told her it’d be ok. We’d just walk alongside, take a few pics, enjoy the spectacle.

This was before I was press-ganged into wearing a high visibility vest and ordered by the police to assist in crowd control and traffic diversion. There are some things you cannot say no to.

And so Zoe walked around with my nephew William, who, at the last minute, ducked out of the more formal procession. And he made a film. He possibl;y forgot to look through the viewfinder. I’m not sure. Maybe he is just avant garde.

William’s creative when it comes to this church stuff; read his take on communion from a year and a half ago when he was 6. When we watched the film back I asked him what he wanted to call it. Possibly mindful of World Cup events he went for the inspired title of The Feet of God. Here it is:

This yearly walk involves two churches; St. James’ and, from across the road, St. Thomas’.  St. James’ is Church of England, St. Thomas’ is Roman Catholic. They walk together.

Rules and Regulations…

January 15, 2009

…you command and obey! Whilst looking at these pics, why not listen to this by Fuzzbox. Or, if you prefer, this by Rufus Wainwright. But you choose. There are no Rules and Regulations here.

Here’s a couple of signs from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and pier in California.


If you are wondering about the wildlife, other than the beach volleyballists there are sea lions and pelicans.


Lots of rules here that are too small for you to read. My favourite; “no gang related clothing.”

This next one is from Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose.


I agree. No drinking of fountain water. Just in case anyone has broken rules 1,2, and 4. Pets I don’t mind too much, but bare feet and infants with diarrhea take the biscuit.

Here’s a group of signs from Japantown in San Jose;


I had no car to be towed away, so I was safe on this score. However, I did trespass. I wasn’t too worried though, as I had the law on my side.

My car levitates

January 14, 2009


This isn’t much of a picture is it? Oh well, I’m still recovering from a 10 hour flight back from California. This is my car, a Ford Fiesta, outside one of its former homes.

I’d been away for a month and when I got back my car had gone. It’s 13 years old now so in car years maybe it’s about time it left home. I guessed it hadn’t been stolen (who’d want it?) when I saw that all the pavement was being replaced. So I got on the phone to the council. I was prepared for a big battle, and being passed from department to department, and being cut off fifty times. But no. I was put through to Imogen. Imogen sounded like a man. That’s because Peter had answered Imogen’s phone. And Peter was very helpful. He said the most likely thing would be that my car had been moved to somewhere nearby, so go and have a walk round first. I walked around but headed off in the wrong direction. After a long walk and as I neared home, I saw it. My car had travelled about 500 yards down the road. Now no one had the keys so, on way or another (ok, maybe a truck was involved), my car had levitated. Well done car and well done Lewisham Council.


I fly home today. Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog whilst I’ve been over here, and thank you for all your kind comments.

The picture above was taken on Saturday when we all drove down to Santa Cruz. See! He is real.

English pub

January 5, 2009


There’s an English pub in Cupertino, California. And every year around this time we (me and my brother-in-law) head off to meet Morris and Morten. This year Don joined us too. And then we drink English beers, on draft. Beers like Fuller’s and Boddington’s and Newcastle Brown Ale. And we talk about football (Oh, if you must, soccer).

Ok, I lied. Not about the soccer, where I bluff my way through the Premiership, but about the beer. I lay off the English beers. I can get enough of them at home. I drink Fat Tire… helping me maintain my New Year’s Resolution to get fat.

The English pub is The Duke of Edinburgh. A “pub designer from England”, according to their blurb, came over, designed the pub, returned to England, had it built, shipped it back over to the US in bits, rebuilt it in Cupertino. And it looks just like an English pub. Well done, “pub designer from England”! What was the last pub you designed? One found in the middle of a concrete estate from the sixties, where the outside is like a wood panelled box and the inside is all nicotine-stained gloss paint, deep red velvet bench chairs, shiny brass lamps and swirly carpets to hide the spilt beer, blood and vomit?

Oh, and there’s darts and a jukebox too. Last night it played “Ghost Town” by The Specials.

Within minutes of us arriving a man fell off his bar stool. A high one he was sitting at, on the verge of enjoying his bar meal (Yes, they do food at the English pub). He wasn’t punched, nor was he drunk. He fainted. He was flat out. To quote Clint Black, “the lights are on, nobody’s home.” Morris jumped in, placing a comb between the man’s teeth in case he was having a fit. And the Emergency services were called.

Yes, services, not just the one. First on the scene was the Fire Service. Then the ambulance arrived. Then the sheriff arrived. And then the bill arrived. Not the Old Bill. The bill for his meal. Once the man came around and found that he hadn’t broken his neck, the English pub billed him for food he was destined never to eat. He left on a gurney. Gurney! Sidewalk I get. Elevator I get. But gurney for stretcher I don’t get.

With the fainting drama out of the way we could get on with talking about things like, oh, Mark Hughes’ chances of survival after City’s shocking defeat in the FA Cup. That kind of thing. And why Morten now supports Aston Villa… something to do with them having a Norwegian in the team.

Oh, and we had to order our beers. Despite the bar seen below, complete with barman, you do not order your drinks at the bar. A waiter or waitress comes and serves you. Now this is like no English pub I know, other than The Rovers Return. And that’s a fictional pub in Coronation Street. And in that pub, the drinks are only brought to your table when it serves some dramatic purpose (eg. Betty brings Emily a sherry and a hotpot and overhears Norris say that Ken’s been seen buying crack cocaine). It’s all just a little bit Twilight Zone-y.

But we drink and we drink and we drink. At least five times but I’m not going to keep typing “we drink”, even though that’s the fourth time and it would only have taken one more go to make this sentence much much shorter than it’s turned out to be. And then we stagger home. It’s a long walk, through the dangerous streets of Sunnyvale… yes, as dangerous as they sound. We get back after 1am. Not bad for a bunch of oldies.






Christmas time, misteltoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme
Unless they happen to be the children of Muslims, or Jews, or Rastafarians, or some bizarre syncretic sect… or atheists, even nihilists (and they’re scary because they believe in NOTHING!)

Ok, it doesn’t scan like Cliff’s effort, but you can’t have everything.

I’m off to California next week to be with my family over the Christmas period. Not that it really exists over there. We have Happy Holidays. And there is no Boxing Day. Just everything back to normal.

I didn’t think I’d get there. I have no money. But I do have credit cards. Credit Crunch? Ha! I’ve got at least 6 months of interest free something or other before I come crashing down. And last night I foolishly went on one of the slot machines at my pool club, JFK’s. Tony, our team captain, nickname The Sniper… because he used to be an assassin for hire… sorry, because his aim is so true… had just spent a few quid on the machine. I said I was going to get all of his money. I put in about £5 and hit a jackpot of sorts. I don’t know how these machines work, but suddenly it flashed like mad, wheels whirred, over and over, and after about five minutes of flashing, buzzing, spinning, shaking, the box spat out £65 in pound coins. Drinks all round and the rest, today, has gone on travel insurance. And the team won too! 8-4 against Nolans. Happy Christmas everyone.

I’m staying over on the West coast for nearly a month. Why not? I have no work to come back to. I might try and get a job in the local Starbucks. Failing that I’ll go for something in the Obama administration. I could be in charge of… pens? Or maybe I could be a dog finder for his kids. Or dog walker. Or pool tutor. Or Secret Service bodyguard. I’ll keep you up to date with my progression through the corridors of power here on this blog. Hey, just realised. I’m in California. I could get a job working with Arnie. Or I could understudy Jack Black as Jesus in the Prop 8 musical. There’s got to be something I can do. Oh yes, got it, help my sister take my niece and nephew to school each day. Phew! For a moment there I thought I was useless.

If any media moguls are reading this and they want me to write anything whilst I’m out there, or make a film, romping around America like Stephen Fry (but in a different class) please let me know. You can contact me here or through my agent, Debi Allen at RDF Management.