The first sign of autumn was that the younger Croxii embarked on their annual migration back to school. Here is a common hazard met while driving Crox Minima to her school, the Mrs Joyful Academy for Young Ladies.
[choking back vomit] 'Best throw a cordon around it, Lewis, until the Scene-of-Crime boys get here'
The beach, however, seems - as it sometimes does at the end of summer - to present long, lazy afternoons, with almost no wind, and apparently endless vistas basking in sunshine. Here is a picture of Cromer East Beach yesterday afternoon, about teatime, got up as a backdrop for a surrealist landscape. Imagine, if you will, a decomposing girrafe in the foreground, with a set of drawers falling out of its chest, and its head on fire. (And, yes, OK, I did enhance the colour. A bit.)
A little while ago I learned (from my friend Mrs C. C. of Hellesdon) of a fine local craftsman who builds very large wooden planters, suitable for growing vegetables in. His name is Paul Todd and his rates are very reasonable: he built us two two-metre troughs. Here is one of them in our front yard, planted out with herbs and some carrot and lettuce seedlings. The sheet of glass, used to protect the seedlings [planting seedlings out in September? You must be barmy - Ed] came from our old back door - I had saved it after cannibalizing the wood to make the piece of furniture (I use the word advisedly) on which our fish tank now resides.
But I digress.
Paul told me that I could get free compost from the Green Build Event to be held imminently at Felbrigg Hall, just down the road. We had indeed been to the same event last year but hadn't made any definite plans for this one - however, I am sufficiently cheap that the thought of free compost was enough for me to drag the entire Croxii along.
It was a great morning out.
- Crox Minor built a kind of capsule hotel for bees;
- Mrs Crox bought two more chickens (we now realize that the absence of eggs issuing from the hindquarters of the Choox croxorum is due to advanced age);
- I found a nice man who makes rustic doors;
- I picked up all sorts of interesting information about solar thermal water heating;
- Crox Minima and I went to a fascinating lecture about how to build a house out of straw bales. The lecturer reassured me that such houses are proof against wolves blowing them down;
- And I could enthuse about compost to the comely lass from the North Norfolk District Council, who let me look inside her wormery at her specially bred, exhibition-grade compost worms. I love compost.
- And I bagged my three bags of compost - made from the Council from recycled garden waste collected from citizens such as myself - and filled the trough above with it, as you see.
Stephen and Me
It has been put about by my friend Dr R. P. G. of Rotherhithe that I am, in fact, an avatar of the actor, comedian, author, raconteur, novelist, gadget-wrangler, and wit Stephen Fry. I am not sure what led to this scurrility. Notwithstanding inasmuch as which that I am of imposing build; have Mitteleuropean Jewish ancestry; went to Cambridge University (though as a graduate, not an undergraduate); have adopted Norfolk as my home; am fond of lexical panegyrics rich in classical allusion and a species of literary bathos that tends to a predilection for Anglo-Saxon rudery; enthuse about the products of St Steve of Jobs; went to China recently; have featured as a celebrity gadget guru (turn to page 31 of the latest BBC Focus Ultimate Gadget Guide); and am a keen supporter of Norwich City Football Club (I acquired a season ticket not long after Mr Fry became a Director); there is nothing - nothing whatsoever - to connect me with Mr Fry. For example, I am neither gay, nor do I drive a London taxi (though I did, once, investigate the possibility). Neither am I a convicted felon (though I was once arrested for busking), nor have I featured on intellectual TV game-shows (though I was on the University Challenge team from Leeds University that got to the quarter finals in 1983 or thereabouts). And nobody could accuse me of being a national treasure. Any resemblance between me and Mr Fry is entirely coincidental and any contention to the contrary is just so much feculent arse-dribble.
The Beautiful Game
While on the subject of football (this, for readers in the U. S. and A., is the game you call 'soccer', and has very little resemblance with the game you call football, which is really more like wizard's chess), I have as previously mentioned acquired a season ticket for Norwich City, as has Crox Minor. Although Crox Minor now has a suitable vocabulary for the terraces, acquired at the seat of secondary education she attends, her utterances are characteristically unique, and yelled at stentorian volume in the cut-glass tones of Dame Edith Evans doing Lady Bracknell. 'Suck it up, you pansies!' was one such, on the hearing of which other supporters at the River End within a five-metre radius gave amused pause.
As Mr Stephen Fry is now a Director of the Canaries, however, I feel bound to improve the quality of football insults, so instead of yelling 'Ref - Are You Blind?' I am more inclined to utter such things as 'Ref, you are the Very Antithesis of Argus!'
Music has been more witnessed than created in recent months. On 4 September the Croxii went to Holkham Hall for an outdoor concert featuring the ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again. The rain stayed away and the concert was fantastic.
Concerts at Holkham are very informal - you bring your picnic and disport yourself over the gazon, in a style that's probably Glyndebourne-lite. The concertgoers make for a varied bunch. For example, here is one with two heads.
Bucks Fizz - a pop group which had a few hits more than twenty years ago - who were very, very sad. They looked OK from a distance but up close they would have been mutton dressed up as
Stomping somewhere into this morass was a band I saw on Saturday night. Seeking any excuse to flee from Ritual Humiliation of Talentless and Deluded Obese Proles with Ant and Dec, or whatever the Saturday-Night Special is that currently enamours the goggle-eyed hordes at the Maison Des Girrafes, I was only too relieved to have received a summons from my guitar-totin' pal Mr N. H. of Trunch to see the Honeydripper Blues Band at the
The band was sharp, tight and most entertaining. The repertoire is one you can hear any night of the week in pubs up and down the land - electric Chicago blues, which is a genre I happen to like (well, I knew every one of the tunes, though I still get Messing With The Kid mixed up with Walking The Dog). The HDB clearly nod to Dr Feelgood, who themselves owe a nod to Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Blind Yellowbelly Axolotl of DOOM and any number of blues originals. I've played and jammed with bands like this for the past three decades - but to what extend are they originals? Are they simply blues 'tribute' bands, somewhat like the Blues Brothers? Well, yes, no, and, arguably, spoons. To be a tribute act to ABBA you have to look and act the part -- but to be a blues band, you are promulgating a more diffuse entity, a tradition, leaving yourself free to take what you want from the masters and put your own stamp on them. Well, that's what I think.