19: Conspiracy Theory

Mitchells Cycles

In 2009 I eased up on the bike a little in the June-July period, punctures and a work project got in the way a little. Besides, that year the Pink Lady was suffering from a frozen shoulder so there was less pressure to venture out into the country. I missed the quickness of riding a bike backwards and forwards to work; that and it helped me to keep the weight down.

Then the bike was back in action and for the latter half of 2009 and a month or so of 2010 I was back in the saddle. Then problems with the bike occurred again.

After a month or so I got a little fed up with punctures, wheel wobble, a lump in the tyre, stretching cable wires. It seemed no sooner did Velocipede get it working, than another problem occurred.

The Pink Lady berated me:

“Why don’t you go to Mitchell’s Cycles? It’s only a few minutes away?” said she.

“Well…well, I, well, Velocipede does all my repairs…”

“He hasn’t done this one, though, has he?” was the lady’s comeback.

“Well, no, no, he hasn’t…but…”

“And how long has the bike been off the road.”

“Well, a month…” Mumbled I.

“How long?” asked she, again.

“About a month…” I responded, thinking she hadn’t heard.

Then came the ‘less of the bullshit stare’. If one has never been subjected to the Pink Lady’s ‘less of the bullshit’ stare, then one has no right to criticise how easily one falls apart under it.

“Two months…”

The stare again.

“….and three weeks…”

“So when is he going to repair it?” demanded the Pink Lady.

“I’m not sure, I mean he’s busy, one doesn’t like to push…” I stammered.

“Have you asked?”

“Well, not exactly asked. Did mention there was a spot of bother…”

“The bike’s bloody useless, with the brakes going and a wobbly tyre and a puncture….?”

“Yes,” I mumbled, even more quietly than before; my foot was drawing patterns in the ground, rather like a sulky child.

“So are you going to ring him, asking him for a firm date?”

I was caught between defence of a friend, whom I hadn’t stated any urgency to, and trying to tactfully move the conversation on.

“I think he’s on holiday…” again, mumbling. I don’t think I was the mumbling sort until I met the Pink lady.

“Then take it to Mitchell’s Cycles…get it sorted out!”

I frowned, speaking a little more loudly. “Can’t do that. I mean if I didn’t let Velocipede do the repairs he’d be offended, he’d think I’d lost confidence in him!”

“Rubbish, Fitrambler, it has nothing to do with hurting Velocipede’s feelings. It’s because you’re a tight fisted git. You don’t want to spend the ten or twenty quid…”

“Ten or twenty quid,” I exclaimed.

“Yes, ten or twenty quid, if you want to get it done and it’d be ready within twenty-four hours.”

“Well, maybe, but I ought to give Velocipede another call, let him have a chance…”

“Tight fisted…” she repeated.

“Now look here, I’ll have you know that that’s the last thing I am…Me, tight fisted, how can you say such a thing!”

“Easy, you always procrastinate when it comes to spending money. ‘I’ll buy it later, when the price comes down,’ or ‘I’ll think about it’. By the time your wallet sees the light of day or you’ve thought about it the thing’s gone.”

“I’m hurt. Miser, that’s what you’re saying. Nothing could be further from the truth…”

“So you’ll be taking the bike to Mitchell’s Cycles then, to get it sorted out.”

It was, I am afraid to admit, a trap I fell into. To prove I wasn’t a miser I had to get the bike repaired at Mitchell’s Cycles. But I didn’t do it immediately (ha, ha!). I can do defiance!

A few days later I went into Mitchell’s Cycles and pointed out the problems with the bike and they quoted me about eighty quid. So much for the Pink Lady’s ten to twenty quid quote. Well, ok, it wasn’t just a tyre, it was the brakes, and the gears were a little in need of a touch of the old TLC.

While I was there I made some enquiries about something which bothered me ever since I’d taken up cycling again. Being upright when cycling. I saw people who were upright when cycling and yet I was always bent forward, no matter how high Velocipede put the handlebars.

The chap in the shop showed me a few bikes he called ‘sit up and beg’ bikes. I saw a Dawes, Town and Country and straight away I was smitten. There are only a few things that I have admired almost immediately – Pink Lady aside – but this bike was one of them.

I gave it a little thought, my bike wouldn’t be ready until Saturday. I told them there was no hurry; besides, the longer it took them the more I could sigh at the Pink Lady and say “Mitchell’s Cycles, not as fast as you led me to believe.” Alright, a little childish but…

Anyway, the more I thought about the other bike, the Dawes, the more I got the feeling I just had to have it. I didn’t mention this to the Pink Lady, just told her about the cost and the time it’d take Mitchell’s to do the job on the old bike.

So, a bit of a conspiracy played across the old noggin, not realising that soon I would be involved in an even bigger one not of my own making…

I decided to buy the bike and when we next went out for a ride I would bring the new bike along and surprise her. The only person I told about the new bike was Velocipede before I bought it, asking his advice.

Within twenty-four hours I was riding the new bike, new lights, and adjusted as needed. I rode to work for about seven working days when the Pink Lady was going shopping one Sunday and decided to use her bike.

I was clocking up about eight miles a day but still was not really all that fit.

When I got into town I parked the bike, locked it up and saw the Pink Lady’s bike parked a couple of bikes up from me. So, I met up with the Pink Lady and we had coffee before going round the shops.

While we were having coffee, the Pink Lady asked. “So, what’s the progress on your bike?”

Carefully, I said: “The old bike is being repaired, needs quite a few things doing to it.”

“So you haven’t got your bike with you?”

“I said, the old bike is with Mitchell’s,” I repeated, carefully.

We moved onto subjects anew…

A while later I walked with the Pink Lady to her bike, then, casually took my helmet out of my rutsack. When the Pink lady saw me she frowned.

“You said your bike was being repaired!” she said, and looked amongst the other bikes, frowning all the more. “I can’t see it.”

I smiled as I put my rutsack back on my back, then took out my keys and began unlocking the new bike.

She didn’t quite do a double take but it was close.

“This is my new bike,” I said.

“You never said you’d got a new bike?”

I just smiled. The Pink Lady looked over the bike and approved.

“Well, Fitrambler, as we’ve both got our bikes, how about a ride?” she suggested.

I was full of pride in my new bicycle that the idea seemed a good one.

“Where to?” asked I.

“I’ve been wanting to look at the path that leads to Chiseldon,” replied she.

That seemed okay to me, finding the beginning of a path to Chiseldon, not as though it will be all that far?

“Not too far, then.”

“Oh no,” said she, “not too far at all…”

Distances are relative to the person. A couple of of our short rides in the past have been rather long in my opinion, but one has managed. But I felt on safe ground with what she had suggested.

However, we weren’t going far, so I went along with it. After all, finding the new cycle path to Chiseldon wasn’t the same as riding it all the way to Chiseldon was it?

So, off we go, Fitrambler following the jean-clad bottom so familiar on bike rides. We went to the bottom of town and follow the Canal all the way to Old Town. Then it was onwards to Coate Water and beyond that to a road I knew from a previous ride. It was here I got a little worried because the last time I was on this road it led to a bloody great hill. My feelings on hills are well documented. But we only went a hundred or so yards before we turned off in what looked at first like someone’s stone chipped drive but led through into Coate Water.

We continued on and I began to identify familiar parts of Coate Water for over ten minutes before we were through and then almost to the motorway. This is where I began to get a little suspicious; especially when I saw the twisty-bridge thingy.

We got level with the twisty-bridge thingy – or rather the Pink Lady did – and began cycling up it.

I tried to register a protest here – like had we not gone far enough and how much further after the bridge – but the distance and noise of the bloody traffic drowned me out.

So, no choice but to go up the twisty-bridge thing, which I did and got to the other side, whereby it was downhill. There the Pink Lady slowed to see if I was still there but before I could shout out a protest it was arse chasing time again as she was off!

The route seemed straight enough until it veered off to the right and became rather steep; actually bloody steep.

Hill, bloody hill. Ahhh God!

Off went the Pink Lady, the distance between us increasing. There was something very familiar about the territory. As I moved through the gears and fortunately with this new bike there were more of them, I began to curse and swear.

I barely managed to get to the top of thing long and winding road (all due respect to the Beatles), but when I did I wasn’t a happy bunny.

I parked the bike about twenty feet away from where the Pink Lady was. I was trying to decide whether or not to throw the bike in the bushes or at the Pink Lady! This wasn’t what I agreed too.

Anyway hot and sweaty I calm down and the bike doesn’t get imbedded in the ground or indeed the Pink Lady – gentlemanly instincts prevailing. I leant it against a fence and walked ten or more yards away from the Pink Lady until all aggressive thoughts died down.

“Chiseldon,” said she.

“Great!” I responded in a less than enthusiastic tone.

As far as I saw it I’d gone three times as far as I planned and discovered there must be a language barrier between us. The Pink Lady originates from Nottingham, a place I have only visited once on official business door to door and not actually venturing out. So I was thinking now that ‘finding the path’ to somewhere meant not only finding it but following it to its logical bloody conclusion.

Thinking back it reminded me of my pub trips with Ol’ Blameworthy. He would often suggest a pub he was taking us to was just around what turned out to be the biggest and longest corner in existence.

Finally, we take the journey home….

The Old Residence

The following day, Monday, (walking like I was a member of the John Wayne impressionist society) I texted Velocipede and we arranged a bike ride for the coming Friday, despite my aches.

But, in view of yesterday’s experiences with the Pink Lady I decided I’d lay out some ground rules.


Velocipede assured me this will not be the case and he has a route in mind which will suit me nicely.

Being an amiable sort of chap, I believed him.

Friday arrived and we decide first to go over our childhood turf. So from the old Fitrambler residence we follow the Queens Drive until we get to Park South. We looked over our old houses, took a few photos of the front and back, and then cycle the way we would have done had we been going to school; really doing the memory lane thing.

The Back Way to the Old Residence: More boarded up nowadays.

Then from there we looked around the shopping centre opposite our old school and then back towards Coate Water. I let Velocipede lead and as went past Coate, turned into the same lane as the one the Pink Lady did last Sunday, I began to get a little tingle up the spine. More tingling as we turned up the driveway and started cutting our way through Coate Water.

No, I tell myself, following this bit is just a coincidence, a ride round Coate means nothing….

But when we rode past Coate Water and onto a side road, which then lead through some gates and exactly on the path through Coate Water which I travelled the previous Sunday with the Pink Lady, the spine is positively pin-prinkingly tingling!

I frowned but remembered the text. No hills and Velocipede agreed to that. I was wrong to doubt the chap, he just wouldn’t do that to me.

We followed the route until we got to the helter-skelter thingy.

We stopped there for a few seconds.

“Um, where are we going?”

“Over that,” he said, pointing to the helter-skelter thingy.

“Yes, and then?”

“A pub,” he tells me pleased.

“But there’s a bloody hill between the pub and the hill, isn’t there.”

His face wrinkles as little as he says: “Nah, not really.”

I think for a second or two and decide – quite naively as it turns out – that Velocipede probably knows an non-hill route on the other side. I mean, the agreement was no hills! (Yes, clutching at straws by now!)

Then he’s off again and I have no choice but to follow…


I do a little better this time. Trying to concentrate on important things ahead to take my mind off the strain.

“Beer and pub, beer and pub…” I chant to myself, almost trying to put myself into a trance.

But as I struggled to get to the top, I rapidly began to wonder which part of my text ‘No hills’ he hadn’t understood?

Finally we reached the promised pub only to find it’s bloody closed! It’s either being refurbished or being converted into flats or a house. I don’t know which but I’m not happy.

The Elm Tree 1996 - Now no longer with us.

But Velocipede recovers from the temporary disappointment and says there is another one quite near we can try and, surprise, surprise, the route is via another large hill! Oh joy!

Happiness and old Fitrambler weren’t having any quality time together this evening.

In the midst of my tiredness, moaning and general demeanour of being pissed off at people who have difficulty digesting the phrase ‘I don’t like hill’, a theory begins to form.

It is a bloody conspiracy!

Tired and perhaps a touch delirious – it was a long day – I remembered Velocipede and the Pink Lady had met a couple of times at the monthly sojourn at the Glue Pot. Both committed cyclists for most of their lives!

Who’s to say they haven’t spoken to each other without me present or indeed while I might have been distracted talking to Wellread?

Can they think I’d really be naïve as to think two bike rides in a week should follow the same route and be put down as coincidence? No, no, no. A bloody conspiracy, I tell you!

Yep. Had to be a put up job. Yes, they were trying to kill me, I knew they were, no other explanation…my left eye was beginning to twitch by now and I was quietly manically laughing to myself…

We eventually left Chiseldon, made our way to Badbury and the Bakers Arms.

It was a long time ago when I last drank in that establishment. One of the first times was with Ol’ Blameworthy, when we worked at the same Company together back in the very late 1970s, early 1980s. Memories of darts games and copious amounts of 2Bs flowed through the old noggin.

The Back Garden of The Bakers at Badbury

Now the bar was knocked into one, making the place a lot more spacious. There was a quiz on and most of the seats were taken. Although the 2Bs was on we both decided to have Cider. I wasn’t sure of the strength, but it wasn’t very powerful falling down water.

It was a lovely evening (if you didn’t count the hills and the conspiracy). So we made our way through to the back garden. There were only two other people in the garden.

About thirty to forty minutes later we were back on the bikes and off, the way home.

Fortunately, any hills we confronted was a descent and not an ascent, so it was a little better. In fact where hills are concerned going down them is not a bother, I rather recommend it.

Still, (hills not included) it was a rather pleasant evening out. It was nice to see an old drinking hole, to see how it’d changed over the years.

However, no one will convince me that Velocipede and the Pink Lady didn’t conspire under the dubious pretext of humour, to put me through the same gruelling ride twice in one week!

I’m not paranoid, they really are out to get me….

135 comments on “19: Conspiracy Theory

  1. I don’t know about you Fitters, but sometimes I get the feeling that the gods enjoy playing tricks with us. Concurrent events can be so significant that you wonder how they can be merely coincidence.

    We visited the cafe in Cricklade today, where I could hear the familiar sound of some of those old hits from the 1980s being played on the radio. Earwax FM, or something, I think it was. Mrs. Blameworthy went to the counter to order some tasteless vegetarian concoction for herself and a mega-breakfast for me. Suddenly, I heard the waitress shouting across the room asking me if I wanted one sausage or two, and at exactly the same moment the opening bars of Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ struck up from the surround sound speakers.

    Feeling strangely nauseous and queasy, and doubting whether I could stomach anything at all, I then took a turn for the worse when she offered me a large slice of black pudding as well. Not wishing to seem ungrateful, I accepted everything they could throw at me and swallowed it all down manfully. Marc Almond would have been proud of me.

    As usual, it was horrendously busy in the hospital casualty department.

  2. Yes, indeed. Overjoyed about the Barnes’ win. When it comes to decent literature size really shouldn’t matter. I’m disappointed that you never lost stacks of money though GloomLaden. You can buy the first round at the Southbrook to make up for it.

  3. So Julian Barnes won the Booker. Fortuitously, I took a look at the stats on Betfair before placing my bet and saw that the only money was for Barnes. You doubtless won’t believe me when I say that I left well alone – nevertheless, I did. I still think Barnes’ novel is a novella and shouldn’t count, but am prepared to concede that it is the most literary of the six books, perhaps the only literary title on the shortlist. Blameworthy will, of course, be over the moon about the win.

  4. I wonder who won the Booker prize this evening. I do hope it wasn’t that nasty Julian Barnes because, if it was, GloomLaden will have lost a considerable amount of money. Of course GloomLaden knows an awful lot about both literature and gambling so he’s bound to have backed a winner.

  5. To Fitrambler: I shall be at the Southbrook by 5:30 on 28th. I often pass that way on my way home from work so if nobody else turns up I won’t feel I’ve made the journey unnecessarily. I’ll try to steer GloomLaden in that direction on the pretext that it’s a short cut to his house.

    To GloomLaden: Burn the books; turn off the Tallis; do something worthwhile instead and watch the repeated episode of Wycliffe on ITV3 at 7:50 this evening. Feast your eyes on all that magnificent scenery, and if you look very carefully you may even see Doc Martin waving cheerfully in the background. Then there’s The Body Farm at 9:00. Who says television is dead?

    To Master Blameworthy (aka Blameworthy Junior): It doesn’t do for a gentleman to show emotion in public places. This applies especially to a father, who is always expected to set a good example to his son. I may have appeared poker-faced and inscrutable during the screening of the Scooby Doo movie, but I was crying inside. My emotion turned to anger during Cheaper By The Dozen; mainly directed at the half-wit who first read the original script and didn’t have the good sense to burn it immediately. I suffered so much during the first half of the Chuckle Brothers show, that all I could feel was despair, and on that occasion, I think it showed. I apologise for setting you a bad example by hastily leaving the theatre half way through the show and retiring to the Duke of Wellington on my own. Sometimes even a gentleman loses his composure.

  6. I was never much of a fan of Scooby Doo – the application of canned laughter tracks to the 1970s episodes of the show upset my sensibilities considerably. Who were those people whose laughter had been canned? Were some or all of them dead by time of transmission, let alone syndicated repeat? This undead laughter proved the scariest aspect of ths show for me. I have not seen either of the live action films, but Scooby is one of those cartoon characters who would be truly unnerving if real. Mind you, I don’t like dogs of any kind, so perhaps that explains my slight trepidation at seeing a live action Scooby. And how come a streight, law abiding Republican like Fred allowed the Mystery Wagon to be done up like one of Ken Kesey’s Acid Test buses? None of the gang evinced the values of the counterculture, after all. And if the Mystery Wagon was essentially the gang’s place of business, might its appearance not account for the suspicion with which its occupants were habitually regarded by potential clients? OK, many of those clients were the authors of the very hauntings the gang sought to investigate, but could the series not have retained some sense of socio-economic realism?

    By way of contrast, I feel it only right to point out that this afternoon I have been reading the London Review of Books while Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations of Jerimiah (part I and II) plays soothingly in the background.

    And remember: Julain Barnes must not win the Booker.

  7. Pushing Scooby Doo to one side for a comment or two, despite the upset that will no doubt upset Gloom-Laden, I best confirm I will be at the Southbrook on the 28th.

    The question is will I be the only one?

  8. Are you sure you remember feeling emotion during the Scooby Doo film, father dearest? To my recollection there were merely cantankerous grumbles from your direction, so memory must have betrayed one of us. Judging by your reaction to other classics such as Cheaper By The Dozen (not to mention the Chuckle Brothers incident), I’m almost certainly right in thinking that you are are the victim of said betrayal.

  9. I saw one of the live action remake Scooby Doos with my sister at her house some years back. Quite liked the animated Scooby Doo and the actor who played Shaggy or Raggy as Scooby was want to say.

    Of course Raggy was a much under the breath word we used in the mid-eighties one Saturday when we went to a Regional CAMRA meeting.

    Hmm, started doing it again…..Raggy…….Raggy…

  10. I went with Blameworthy Junior to see one of the early movie versions of Scooby Doo a few years back. I remember getting quite emotional when the gang were captured by a bunch of evil looking villains and Scooby Doo came to their rescue. I was about 46 years of age at the time, and really should have reacted to the whole affair with the obligatory, ill-disguised contempt expected of a man of sophisticated cultural maturity, such as myself.

    I couldn’t hide my disappointment when the scary bad-guys, once again, turned out to be just ordinary, old people in latex masks.

  11. Funny thing you mentioning Scooby Doo, Blameworthy, as I was looking around the Internet and managed to download the whole first series. Brought back a few memories, even only watch ten minutes of the first one.

    Quite happy to share if either of you want?

  12. Now, Scooby Doo really was quality television. I can remember watching it while I was still at school. Be honest GloomLaden: as a schoolboy, you must have fancied Daphne.

    Perhaps that’s why they introduced the dog into Midsomer Murders.

  13. Like all modern televison writers, the scribes who churn out Midsomer are nailed to its crass format as surely as Christ to his cross. That is why no plotline is allowed to develop over a series and why episodes lack distinction. None of which would be so bad were it not for the fact that the format seems to have been stolen from 1970s episopdes of Scooby Doo, with murders unsolved, absent evidence and culprits who’ve barely been on screen all episode.

  14. I didn’t ‘miss’ it GloomLaden; I deliberately avoided watching it. Steven Tomkinson as DCI Banks makes ‘Blank Frank’ from Corrie look like Sir Alec Guinness in comparison. Although, having said that, he’s at the opposite end of the scale when it comes to expression. Tomkinson gurns his way through a whole range of anguished and tormented facial contortions, none of which have any relevance to the dialogue or plot.

    And I use the term ‘plot’ very loosely.

  15. I doubt if Midsomer Murders is the final comedown, GloomLaden; the descent continues apace. Fortunately for you, by the time, what proves to be, the real final comedown takes place, you will have long since hurled your television set out into the road in disgust.

  16. On a quiet Friday evening – unsure whether to indulge in another spot of romantic poetry writing, or listen to my new boxed set of Stockhausen CDs, and mindful of GloomLaden’s new found interest in naturism and astronomy – I decided to take a stroll down the garden to gaze at the moon for a while. It was a particularly pleasant, cloud-free night and the stars shone down benignly upon me as I craned my head heavenwards, hoping to be inspired by noble thoughts of the cultural variety. But, within a few minutes, my arthritic neck muscles started to give me considerable discomfort, and all I could think of was the little enamel, coin-operated cooker from Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Day Out; wondering if he was still up there on his makeshift skis. I concluded that the Blameworthys were never created for high culture, and decided to accept my lowly station in society rather than constantly seeking to keep up with the GloomLadens. Consoling myself that Wallace & Gromit is probably as good an example of quintessential English culture as I was likely to discover in the back end Rodbourne Cheney, I ambled back indoors for a nice mug of Horlicks and a small piece of cheese. I don’t doubt that there were far more high-brow events taking place on the Dark Side Of The Moon, but they’re not for the likes of me.

  17. Fitrambler is doubtless right that I was critical of inspector Morse in the 1990s, but I have two defences:
    1: I was ever an advocate of old fashioned studio based drama and felt – as I still feel – that television dramas attempts to be cinematic are what ruined it. There was an intimacy about studio based drama – too often derided by use of phrases like ‘talking heads’- and the cinematic ambitions of many TV directors were, in any case, undercut by no-one having widescreen or HD telly until the 2000s. The kind of stuff I thought of as quality drama – Play for Today etc – was supplanted by middlebrow quality drama like Morse. What then felt like the first steps of a decline into populism now looks like the peak of quality from which Midsomer is the final comedown.
    2: It was Blameworthy’s fault.

  18. There was no visible moon on Tuesday evening, GloomLaden, you old fraud; far too much cloud around. If you had taken the time to peer through the tiny gap between the closed curtains in your sordid, little room, you would have known that.

    A little Bach?… an arts documentary?….Where do you think you are, Downton f*ck**g Abbey, for Christ’s sake!?

    No; you’re more likely to be found fallen between two stools… in a town centre gutter somewhere, in the early hours of the morning.

  19. Notice quite a few of Sid James’s films are out on DVD on a trawl through Amazon.

    And to set the record straight I have series 1 to 7 of Midsomer Murders. Only began getting them last year when the prices dropped dramatically. Just thought you’d like to know Blameworthy. Wish I could get stuff before it’s even made….well, perhaps not.

  20. I tend to agree with Blameworthy on this one. I do find it amusing and entertaining. I haven’t seen any of the ones with the new chap who’s taken over from John Nettles, so I will reserve judgement. I tend to have to actually see something to make an informed decision. Looking at the moon, reading, listening to Radio 3, and listening to a little Bach just wouldn’t help me make that decision.

    And the fact you read the Daily Mail is quite terrifying.

    That’s the paper which exposed the binge drinking culture in Britain with exclusive photos to illustrate their point….which actually were the same pictures they used in 2009 to illustrate binge drinking culture in Britain…and they were the very same pictures were used in an article they ran on that subject in 2006. An economic use of resources…

    But I take comfort in the fact you have changed little Gloom-Laden….

  21. ‘Morse is better than Midsomer Murders’ says Gloom-Laden.

    I’m inclined to believe that. However, there was a chap I used to drink with who decried that Morse was pretentious, tried to be arty and cinematic, that too much time was spent showing panoramic views of Oxford….

    This chap was very dismissive when I tried to express the merits of the series…

    Hmm. Now who was that?

    Ah yes, chap by the name of Gloom-Laden.

  22. But can you not see that Midsomer Murders isn’t honest to goodness Sid James and kiss me quick hat cobblers but a hideous falling between two stools. Dressed in the sheeps clothing of quality television drama, with its two huur slot and big name directors, it is actually no better than Diagnosis Murder. Last nights entire episode was doubtless an interminable justification for the Warren Clarke dressed as a stag gag. And didn’t they all feel clever for doing that, laughing into their sodding frothy coffee as they imagined working class viewers on cheap settees in Wolverhampton trying to follow the plot. D’you what I did last night? I stood outside and looked up at the Moon. And I read. And I listened to a Radio 3 arts documentary. I even heard a little Bach. Never once did I yearn to watch notionally good actors chewing the twee scenery in a pointlessly ill considered plot about implausible people doing each other in for reasons more contrived than the Tory / Lib Dem coalition. While you squandered thousands of precious heartbeats on this bowel tormentingly bad programme, the Moon was shining, literature beckoning and the radio broadcasting for you, too. But you wanted to gawp at Neil Dudgeon and his throwaway sidekick picking their directionless way through a story with more holes than Blackburn Lancasshire.

    Besides, Doc Martin is better.

  23. On the other hand – just to prove what faith and belief I have in your huge intellect and extensive vocabulary – I’ve just looked up the word ‘converived’, only to find that it’s a complete fabrication!

  24. Yes, of course I can see that they’re all laughing at me. In the same way that Robert Robinson would have laughed at me, in that smug, self-satisfied way he had which made everyone wish he was dead. Not proper laughing like Sid James used to do. But they’re all laughing at you as well, GloomLaden. You think you’re one of them, but you’re not. You always see yourself as a Morse; never a Lewis, whereas, in reality, you’re no better than Sewidge.

  25. Fitrambler is quiet because he leads a busy, purposeful life and can spare little time for our trivial banter. He set up the blog because he knew that our lives were uneventful and lacking in direction. Gradually, over the last year or so, we have packed our few belongings; abandoned the tedious comfort zone of our real-life personalities, and taken up residence in the purely fictional characters of GloomLaden and Blameworthy. He certainly isn’t quiet because I’ve gone too far; in fact he probably has the boxed set, not only of all the various series of Midsomer Murders released so far, but all those likely to be broadcast in the next twenty years – despite them not having been written yet. That’s the kind of man he is. I still maintain that Warren Clarke dressed as a stag was the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV in many a long year. But you – having no imagination whatsoever – would have been incapable of understanding such subtlety, even if you could – just for one moment – have swallowed the enormous accretion of intellectual pride, which has swollen in your gullet to become a life-threatening gobstopper of hitherto unseen proportions.

  26. Not to mention the increasingly ‘clone from C&A’ sidekicks, the fact tht nobody does any detective work, just guesses correctly after sufficient commercial breaks. Or the fact that once decent directors like Renny Rye (of Karaoke and Cold Lazarus fame) end up directing this piffle, as if Escofier had been called in to mix some Angel Delight. And the whole show is converived and made and broadcast by the sort of poinytailed, Surrey dwelling coke sniffers who never even put the telly on, so busy are they watching plays and operas of a kind Midsomer’s audience will never see. Can’t you see they’re all laughing at you, all the time??

  27. And then there’s the interchangeability of the lead actors, the stupid music signalling parody and delivering flat pastiche, the gallery of time despoiled faces who turn up over and over in it, doing their bit as if playing straightman in Russ Abbott sketches. There’s the lovely scenery – Shakespeare didn’t need scenery to placate a bored audience, he had drama, poetry, plot! There’s the way the Daily Mail made last nights episodes one of their TV choices, where a better choice would have been to stick your head in a good – Christ, even an average – book. Oh God, and then there’s the cock saggingly tedious fiction that there’s a frisson of sexuality about Barnaby’s wife when she actually has all the allure of cooling vomit – which I’d prefer because at least it speaks of feeling, of disgust, last trace of decency in falling Man. Aaaagghhhh! Aaaagghhh! AAAAAAgggghhhh!

  28. Midsomer Murders is the absolute nadir of British television, which is itself the nadir of British life. Everyone involved in making it knows that it is dross and feels jolly smug at the realisation. Those who watch it feel just as pleased with themselves, though much of their pleasure comes from going on about how crap it is as if the people who made it didn’t know or were aiming for quality. Its two hour format echoes (mocks, more like) the groundbreaking Morse. But there is no development of character nor depth of plot This is aimed squarely at the Alzeimers addled care home inhabitants whose wan, dribbly smiles sugest the fake nostalgia for a world of village cricket and blazered businessmen. It’s not good enough! Because you and your kind think it funny, Blameworthy, you are willing to forgive. But it could be funnier if more effort went in, as it was in the first series where the sarky Troy attempted to suggest some contrast to the smugness. None of which it to mention the way it robs even multiple murder of drama by piling them on like layers of farce in ‘Allo ‘Allo. Small wonder Fitrambler is silent on the subject of drinks at the Southbrook; he too can see you’ve gone too far this time.

  29. I take your point, GloomLaden; but I promise you it won’t happen again. Just a small sparkling mineral water for me this time, and I’ll be on my way home before you can say Jamrach’s Menagerie. That’s assuming you can remember the title of yet another book that didn’t win the Booker by then.

    I’ve been glued to the TV for the last two hours watching Midsomer Murders. Don’t you just find it so quintessentially English? It’s about real English country villages with real English characters; the dialogue is witty and entirely believable. It makes me proud to be a part of this great country of ours and leaves me with a warm glow in my heart. The little dog is very cute too.

    So much better than listening to Pink Floyd and getting yourself all depressed.

  30. Firstly, I make no apology for the cloacal turn of my lit crit earlier, Blameworthy. Surely the excremental metaphor is more apt for the Booker than most.

    As for the session at the Southbrook, I insist on attending with the sole caveat that I might well not do anything of the kind, the suggestion being absurd. I mean, look what happened last time. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time before that. . . ad infinitum or at least as far back as such sessions go.

  31. Friday 28th would suit me best. I’ve been thinking that it would make a pleasant change for me if we three could meet on my home territory for the first time ever. Being the most senior member of the trio (formerly known as the gang), I would appreciate not having to suffer the marathon hike home from Old Town or the Railway Village, just for once. The Southbrook would be the lesser of two possible evils; a bit limited in terms of beer range but it’s still a decent traditional pub, and better than most of the bars – I hesitate to call them pubs – in the town centre. I doubt if my choice will be welcomed by GloomLaden; I doubt if the prospect of going anywhere will be welcomed by GloomLaden, but I’m sure there are ways of helping him home to the Eastcott area of Swindon, or at least pointing him in the right direction.

  32. Oh, and I won’t try and wind you up about the pictures for the cast list page. These would not be what you think; just a mere artist’s impression so to speak (that’s a piss artist’s, by the way, before you think I may have become a little pretentious.)

    But that won’t proably happen until after I come back…

  33. Strangely enough, I was thinking it was about time we three got together. I’m away to Plymouth this coming Friday but am back in Swindon on Saturday 22nd.

    The following Friday is ok with me and any Friday up until the last week of November when I will be on a 2pm until 10pm shift for five weeks to assist with the Christmas Pressure.

    All that remains is to decide where to meet….

  34. By the Lord Harry, GloomLaden! Now who’s revelling in foetid air? See yourself as something of an authority on sewidge – errr… sorry, sewage – do you? I certainly don’t envy the task of the ‘Turd of the Year’ judges. I suspect – had the competition been running for several years – Bono would have been a multiple award winner. It’s easy to recognise a man who would be likely to pass a good motion though. Fitrambler has the look of a champion.

    Now can we get back to your usual, more high-brow, discussion, please? I think we have dragged this topic way down below the level of the gutter. Into the sewers, in fact.

  35. Just heard Julian Barnes on the wireless: he obviously thinks he is going to win the Booker, thinks it his due having been on the shortlist so many times without winning. Good as his story is, it cannot be allowed to win. It is like having a turd of the year contest and awarding the prize to a dry pellet squeezed out between clenched buttocks, rather than a full, fat sausage of sewage passed with elan and a satisfyingly expansive plop into the toilet pan.

  36. If only you knew the crushing pain I have to suffer from the dead weight of guilt and shame which bears down upon me constantly, GloomLaden, you wouldn’t say such things. A tiny Barnes’ novella being no more adequate in concealing it than a young mosquito passing in front of the sun. Had I made a successful bid for the complete works of Hardy on eBay last weekend – well – that might just have been sufficient but, sadly, it was not to be and the mountainous pile of blame which has been dumped upon me remains exposed for all the world to see.

    I’m old enough to remember when you could buy those Moral vacuums in Rumbelows though. One of those would have sucked up my mountainous pile a treat.

  37. If only, Blameworthy, you were existing anywhere so clean as a moral vacuum. The foetid air attendant upon a sweaty gusset a more likely environment in which to encounter your particular brand of festering lechery. No wonder you have to use Julian Barnes’ novella as a fig leaf to cover your shame – I bet you’re reading one of those novelisations of the Robin Askwith Confessions movies they put out in the 1970s (you could buy them in WH Smiths, I recall, which was odd because you then could not buy Private Eye in there).

  38. Oh for pity’s sake, Gloomladen! Even for a man such as I, existing in a moral vacuum, surely this is neither the time nor the place to discuss the assuagement of your priapism with pornographic fruit. As for constipated stylists: perhaps if you had shown a little less imagination with that ripe banana, your bowel movements might have been considerably more fluid.

    Ooohhh, what a lovely pear!
    (Laughs in the manner of Sid James).

  39. The Carol Birch novel is not a romp in the filthy sense your modern, unVictorian morals (by which I mean absence of morals) can only conceive of, Blameworthy. I have no objection to the fruits of the pornographer’s trade – neither did even the most buttoned up of the Victorians – but for some of us there is a world beyond the assuagement of priapism and what Dennis Potter called ‘the sweaty farce out of which we are born.’
    Julian Barnes, good as he is, could not do a romp: he’s far too constipated a stylist and lacks imagination. His victory in the Booker would be unjust, as well as costing me a fortune.

  40. I was only saying to Gloomers recently, Fitters, that it’s time the three main blog contributors met in the pub for a drink or two. I don’t think all three of us have got together since that eventful beer festival planning meeting in the Wheatsheaf last year. Knowing what a busy life you lead, I’m sure both myself and the gloomy one would be happy to allow you to suggest a date and time. I’d like to be able to say we will drop everything, at any time of the day or night, to attend but, as neither of us have anything to drop, it hardly seems necessary. I trust you don’t intend to post portraits of ALL the characters mentioned to date.

    I prefer ‘Blamey’ by the way, although anything is more acceptable than ‘Ol’ Blameworthy’.

  41. God’s teeth, GloomLaden! What a fun-packed existence you do lead. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I was to hear that you had succumbed to a particularly violent occurrence of spontaneous combustion and thus been reduced to a smouldering pool of hot fat. With your renowned reputation for Victorian moral values, I’m appalled that you should even consider going as far as opening the pages of a book which might be described as ‘ a good romp’. In my mind’s eye, I can picture you furtively hunched under the bed covers, with a lighted candle in one hand and the Booker nominated novel in the other. Does it contain the sort of steamy scenes which might cause your nightcap to stand erect?

    Carol Birch’s novel, which you describe as bleakly ethnic, will, doubtless, go down a storm with the judges, infected, as they will inevitably be, with the usual wishy-washy, namby-pamby liberal minded views which we have come to expect from the literary cognoscenti (yourself excluded, of course). Julian Barnes should be given the award, if only for having been nominated so many times before.

  42. Glad you like the new theme, Blammers, hadn’t seen it before and thought it worked well.

    Whenever looking for a new theme I always make sure it has a comments button at the top, save those (2) who mainly comment to have to scroll down.

    I must do something with page 2. I thought nice portraits of the characters mentioned to date….

  43. And another thing, Blameworthy; I have decided to ‘lay’ Julian Barnes’ novella for the Booker Prize. My tip is that Jamrach’e Menagerie will win – I am reading it at the moment and although the title and cover make it sound bleakly ethnic and magic realist, it is actually a rather good Victorian romp. Barnes’ plotting and prose feel precious by comparison and he is the sort of fellow who probably thinks he should win it, so shouldn’t. Oh, the anticipation! Haven’t had so much fun since betting on the outcome of Anita Brookner novels.

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