Monday, 27 December 2010

hunting the wren

I hope everyone's Christmas was a good one.  I found it a little subdued, really.  Our eldest daughter lives in Mexico, so wasn't around.  Our second daughter got flu, my wife got a cold, my son got a bit for his computer and I got to cook Christmas dinner.  Later we played a new board game based on Dr Who which was fun even though I lost.  Personally, I felt that Dr Who itself was disappointing.

As a Christmas present to one and all try listening to this excellent broadcast:

Today, of course is supposed to be Boxing Day according to some sources.  However, today is actually in place of Christmas Day.  It's all very confusing but based on the fact that Christmas has fallen on a weekend.  Of course, it was Boxing Day yesterday - it's just a bank holiday in lieu of yesterday.  We're now a secular country, so given most shops are open on Sundays (although banks aren't) today and tomorrow are given as bank holidays. To be honest, I couldn't care less.  I don't have to work anyway and I wouldn't want to go to a bank unless I needed to take some money out.  Maybe if I wanted to go to the pub and was financially embarrassed, for instance. However, like everybody else, I'd use a 'hole in the wall' or go to a supermarket which I'm assuming are open today.  I haven't been out of the house so, again, I don't care.

I'm not going to the pub, either.

I did check the news to see what happened about the hunts as Boxing Day is traditionally the day people go hunting.

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
St Stephens's Day was caught in the furze.

It would seem that the wren is seen as a trickster bird and in some parts there was a story of how a wren had alerted enemies by landing on a drum.  In truth, it would seem that it was never really taken that seriously, it was an excuse for people to rush about and make lots of noise. And probably drink lots. Probably not too many wrens actually died in the process.  I could be wrong.  Evidently squirrels were popular to hunt too. Still, back to the news.  According to the BBC, many hunts didn't go out yesterday because people don't traditionally hunt on a Sunday, so they were due to go out today.  That's hunters and protesters too:

"Around 300 hunts around the country were due to head out, weather permitting, with some of the biggest including the Beaufort Hunt and the Quorn Hunt."

The Quorn Hunt? Isn't that taking this whole blood sports issue a bit too far?  It must be PC gone mad. Hunting the Mushroom, anyone?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

kodak ghosts

A Christmas card from my late Uncle's wife contained some photographs of my distant past.  There were two of me taken at Junior School, several of me older - one from my wedding day.  There were ones of my mother - a fantastic one of my mother, father and our first born at their Ruby Wedding Anniversary bash.  But the one included here seemed the most poignant.

All of the people in this photo have gone. This was taken on April 10th 1948 at St Mary's Church in Baldock, Hertfordshire. My mother and father's Wedding Day.  Obviously my mother and father are at the centre of the photo.  Next to my father stands his mother - a tiny lady.  I don't think my grandfather was at the wedding.  There's no one left to tell me, now. My father, like me, was a tall man - both of his parents were tiny. Next to my mother stands my maternal grandmother - I only ever really knew her as wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden.  She used to be brought over to our house for Christmas.  A victim of Parkinson's Disease.  She died when I was quite young. Next to her stands my Uncle from whose album this photo came.  I think he must have been doing National Service then.  He used to tell me funny stories that involved Russian soldiers and lots of vodka.  He passed on just before Christmas last year. The two outliers were friends of my parents - Jack and Doreen.  They disappeared from our lives when I was about 10.  They may still be alive but lost to us.  I remember bumping into them once when I was a teenager. They never got back in contact with my parents.  I don't know if there had been a falling out or not.  They just stopped seeing each other.

My father was born and lived with his mother in Letchworth.  My mother came up to Baldock with her mother from Eastbourne thanks to their Bed & Breakfast house being bombed during the war.  My Uncle had been evacuated to Baldock.  They had nowhere else to go. My mother worked during the war at The White Horse pub near the railway station in Baldock. It was a favourite haunt of American Servicemen and she served Glen Miller - the famous flying band leader - there.

My father passed on 21 years ago.  In January.  My mother outlived him by some 15 years and she died in October whilst we were away on holiday in Holland.  All of these people died in the Winter - stretching it a bit for my mother, technically Autumn, I suppose.  However, this time of the year certainly tends to be a melancholy time for us. Well, for me particularly.

I've spent a while thinking about this post - it's obviously personal.  But, I watched the wonderful BBC documentary on Ray Davies which finished a few moments ago, and towards the end they played a song he'd written what? 1968?:

people take photos of each other
just to prove they exist

I'm glad all those people existed. I'm about to raise a glass of single malt to these ghosts.

To absent friends.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

walking in a winter wonderland

The morning started with me refusing to wake up properly - after all, I didn't get in until about 1:30. A night out to celebrate the end of term with my colleagues. The warnings were coming in thick and fast about the weather - it was going to spread across the whole country.  The sad news of Captain Beefheart's demise came through too.  Although not a huge fan, I had seen him live at least once - in Stevenage(!) of all places.  I may have seen him at Reading too, but I think I'm probably mistaken. Let us not forget the fact that he is the man who introduced the World to Ry Cooder.  His like will never be seen in these parts again.

I may also be mistaken - but I think I may be eventually proved right here - that the good Captain recorded a version of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland".  I've tried Googling it - the phrase comes up connected to himself but there seems no proof of an actual recording.  I'm sure someone out there will let us know.

9 o'clock this evening
We went to Ipswich to do some Christmas shopping, keeping an eye on the weather - the threats were real enough but this is Suffolk, after all. Too close to the sea and all that. So we shopped and before we dropped (keeping the Capt Beefheart/Ry Cooder theme going here), we came home.  On the way home, the traffic news came on to let us know that Essex was covered. Back by 4-ish.  Within an hour our son came home complaining about the weather.  We checked, and yes, the snow was falling  with all the force the radio had promised. So, the freezing fingers of cruel December were beginning to clutch at our far eastern coast.

This is all well and good - after all, we can turn the heating up or light a fire.  So I set off to the kitchen to make dinner whilst Mrs Dave put a few more Yuletide declarations up.  I had promised to make sure that dinner was over and done with by 7 o'clock as Strictly Come Dancing - the Final was on.  No major problems there.  Dinner over - I even offered to clear up.

And then disaster struck.  Mrs Dave entered the kitchen whilst I was trying to see if it was possible to scrape any more out of an empty bottle of Shiraz with a look of sheer despondency upon her visage.

"What is wrong, beloved?"

"Bloody satellite reception has gone."

"Ah, so no Strictly then?" he said smugly.

Not a good idea.  Perhaps having not followed this (or any) series, I had no idea of the sheer impact of this momentous statement.

Hmm . . . perhaps the snow was covering the dish? Before any real panic settled in (not on my part) we thought it best to see if the neighbours could still receive Sky.  No, they couldn't.  They also informed us that this happened last year when it snowed too. The more astute members of the readership can see where this one's heading, can't you?

"Oh great - so I can't watch the finals, then?"

I have a plan.  Despite it being all crisp and deep and even. By the way, the neighbours kindly invited Mrs Dave in to watch it as they seem to be able to get Terrestrial tv (of course, we can't - probably my fault, too).

So, I'm out on the flat roof at 7 o'clock in the dark with the snow falling with a step ladder and brush clearing the snow off of our, and the neighbour's, satellite dishes. I'd stopped my son going out to the pub to help me.  "Oh is this to prove to mum that if it doesn't work I witnessed you going out there?"

"No, it's so you can call the bloody ambulance if I fall off the roof."

"Oh, ok."

Anyway - it worked.  It bloody well worked.

I settled down to watch a documentary on the making of the National Theatre's version of War Horse in between rounds of SD.  Guess what?  "I'm beginning to suspect that the snow is building up again - the picture is digitallising."

So, 9 o'clock and I'm back on the roof with a brush clearing the snow off of the satellite dish. Honestly, the things I do for a quiet life.  Not once, but twice. Twice.

Anyway, if I'd have thought about it I should have taken a photo from the roof.  I'm sure my friend Mike would have - mind you, he wouldn't be on his roof in the dark in a snow storm anyway.  So we'll have to put up with the shot from the front door. Let's face it, you wouldn't send a dog out on a night like this.

Just a husband with a step ladder and a hand brush.

The things we do for love . . .

. . . and from behind the house later

Friday, 17 December 2010

there but for fortune

The last day of term - the Christmas one, too.  It's always been a tiring term and the last day often exhausting.

However, the need by modern management for complete control freakery meant that everything was tied down and ran with almost military precision (cliches-r-us).  They in their infinite wisdom decided to ask the pupils what they would prefer for "Christmas Dinner".  Evidently, the answer came back as "Turkey Burgers and Chips" (I kid you not).  So, Turkey Burgers and Chips it was with a Veggie Burger as a sop for the more fussy eaters.  What happened? Very few of the little dears opted for the Christmas meal because they wanted a "proper Christmas Dinner".

Last year they asked the pupils what they wanted for a school uniform.  "Blazers and ties" they all demanded which appealed to the management - why, they'd all look smart all the time. Well, shirts out, ties in all sorts of ridiculous shapes or just hanging barely done up around their stomachs.  And blazers?  "In my bag, sir".

It would appear obvious to most intelligent people that asking kids what they want is the last thing you should do.  We spend all our time trying to get them to look smart with no real sanctions to help. Given this is the result of asking them what they want for a) uniform and b) Christmas Dinner guess what c) might be?

Give up?  I'll tell you - they ask them how they want to be taught. I'll leave it at that but you can probably fill the blanks in yourselves.

Meanwhile, back at school . . .after the hordes of pupils had gone and the last plates cleared away, the uneaten Turkey Burgers thrown away, we had our end of term meeting.  Usually this means saying a "fond farewell" to the lucky ones who've escaped.  This year, so far, no one has left.  Our glorious leader gave a brief Christmas speech in full Mr Grace mode ("You've all done very well") which involved a large box of Fortune Cookies sent in by a proud parent - the use by date was probably "Year of the Rat" - which he went around the staff room offering to the staff.

Amongst all the "trust your intuition" and "good luck comes your way in a telephone call" fortunes, mine read: "you are soon going to change your present line of work". 

How did he do that?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

sad deserted shore

I wandered down along the beach mid-morning just to take account of passing time and time passing.  Although I'm no photographer, I like messing about with the camera on my phone - the sepia setting seemed suitable for my mood.  Just like the sad deserted shore Sandy Denny sang about in Who Knows Where The Time Goes where "all the birds are leaving".  This one seemed almost totally bereft of bird life.  There was one solitary gull but every time I tried to take it passing by some sort of latency took place and none of the photos has a bird in it.

As I walked home I heard the most raucous screeching of gulls and saw that there were twenty or more in someone's back garden in a feeding frenzy.  No wonder there weren't any on the beach.

The Chimney Sweep came round today - one of the traditional characters around these parts.  He still wears clogs and has a VERY Suffolk accent. It took 15 poles to get his brush up our chimney - it's a three-storey house.  Anyway, he was very complementary about the way I'd fitted the stove.  That cheered me up a bit.  As he left I saw a very large bird drifting over a garden down the road.  It was a heron.  I don't see many herons this close to the sea.  By the time I got my binoculars, it had gone.  Wonderful eerie creatures.  Silent, graceful and mysterious.  The Chimney Sweep said that they look fabulous in the sky but ungainly on the ground - "all legs".  I often wear an RSPB heron badge on my suit jacket.  If anyone asks why (and they often do) I always say, "It's tall, grey* and has a big beak - remind you of anyone?"  I must admit that I am more similar to the ungainly heron on the ground than the elegant creatures in flight.

I went to buy a copy of A Christmas Carol today.  I haven't read it for years, I'm not a big fan of Dickens but I've been meaning to read it for a while now.  A good friend of mine reads it every year at this time.  As I said, it's been a long time since I read it but it has all those fantastic typical Dickens characters: Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Marley, Kermit, Fozzy and Gonzo.  If my memory serves me well . . .

However, I couldn't get hold of a copy - not even in the second hand shop.  Ah well, I guess I can wait a few days and buy it at the weekend - or perhaps download it onto Mrs Dave's Sony Reader.  That's a bit modern - not sure I'll cope reading a book electronically.  I prefer to stay unplugged when reading.

Oh well, happy St Tibba's Day to you all.  December 14th is The Feast of St Tibba.  She came from Rutland where I spent part of the half term holiday.  She's the patron saint of falconers and wildfowlers.  Ah yes, wildfowl, that's where I came in.

*corrected - see comments!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

more from stella street

Gordon "Jasper" Sumner
That Sting is singing in the kitchen.  I think it's Cherry Tree Carol. I guess Mrs Sting has kicked him out for hanging around the house again.  He has a far away look in his eye nowadays, it's probably all that tantric sex he's always banging on about (ho ho).

Whilst I don't intend to have a go at the poor old chap - I'll leave that to Richard Thompson who has a song about him on Dream Attic (Here Comes Geordie) - but honestly, he does come over as a bit of a . . .  I am reminded of the comment the great Stuart Maconie made about him.  I think it was in Pies and Prejudice (any of his books are well worth a read) where he recounts the "story" of how he got his nickname.  Now, according to yer man himself, he used to wear a black and yellow striped jumper to school.  Hence the nickname.  Now, as Stuart reminds us, most people are more unkind when handing out nicknames - especially kids - and they would more likely have named him "Waspy" or "Buzz" or somesuch.

If he'd been at my old alma mater he'd have been called "Jasper"  No, I don't know why either, but that's the old Stevenage term for a wasp in the early 1970s.

Anyhow, he always comes across a bit earnest to me.  Again, if he was at school with me I wonder what his reports would have said?  Whereas mine tended towards "Satis" - brief, to the point and I must have been obviously less than impressive as old Romper Williams couldn't even be bothered to waste much ink on me by finishing the word - or occasionally "could try harder".  I bet Jasper's would have been, "Needs to relax, tries too hard".

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen.  Mrs Dave is making the Christmas cake - the usual Nigella Lawson one with Tia Maria that has become traditional here (well, for about three years running).  That means "Christmas music" is on the Bose.  So unusually for Mrs D it's not Now That's What I Call Christmas it's old Buzz Lightweight's If On A Winter's Night . . . which is a little bit upmarket.  I mean, it's on Deutsche Grammophon like his lute albums.  Fancy old DG releasing an album with Message In A Bottle played on a lute - I kid you not.

Did you know that an average pint of bitter - say 3.8% abv - contains 182 calories and would take a man 30 minutes to walk it off whereas a lady of the opposite gender would take 40 minutes?  A traditional full English breakfast is estimated 807 calories and whilst I should take 2 hours and 20 minutes to walk it off, Mrs Dave would need another 20 minutes walking.  It's a good thing we grilled ours today and had scrambled rather than fried eggs.  Especially as I can't be bothered to go out for a walk.  Still, here's the big one.  A Christmas dinner with all its trimmings with a side order of mince pies, chocolate log and pudding is estimated at a colossal 3200 calories.  A man would walk that off after 9 hours and 20 minutes whilst a lady would have to keep going for 11 hours and 10 minutes.  So I suggest giving your partners a head start.

You could always have a glass or two of beer and a fry up while you're waiting before you go to catch her up.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

inclined to ramble

Suffolk medicine
Although I am no longer a "youth who is inclined to ramble" (cf Paul Brady) I am certainly a man who is inclined to ramble - and to repeat myself, obviously. Due to the current bad weather I awoke this morning without the scheduled hangover.  That in itself is probably a good thing.

However, the weather in this section of the UK was awful last night - frozen roads and paths by 3 pm and treacherous conditions generally.  I had walked to work yesterday - a late start was a bonus - and walking home was not pleasant.  I had worn my walking boots (yes, alright, I know they're ALL walking boots) and I found some of the paths impossible - literally like glass. My friend who was going to visit had texted and said that it would be foolish to try to travel down on such a night and the head cold I had been suffering for the last three days was in full flow.  Feeling quite miserable I decided to turn down an offer of a trip to the pub (I felt that bad) and Mrs Dave and I ordered a takeaway instead.  We had a fantastic Hindustani Gosht - lamb with green chillies to blast the cold away.  I was going to say it was just what the doctor ordered; perhaps the order got mixed up, but as a joke it received a stony silence earlier, so I won't bother.  Anyway - although I still feel a bit "woozy" in the old head department, the cold does seem to be on the run now.

I think the old adage was "feed a cold and starve a fever" but it could be vice versa - I'm sure someone will put me right.  I'm eating loads at the moment.  Mrs Dave is in the kitchen as we speak fiddling with her famous fish pie - which I'm aware sounds like an entry in Roger's Profanisaurus (it isn't). I'm not allowed to help. So I'm taking the edge off of my cold with a glass of Adnam's Bitter.  I'm sure it'll work. But I might need more than one.

Last night I was going to post a blog about Fred Hoyle's theory on the coming Ice Age - you know, so much for global warming etc - but I found out that his theories have generally been pooh-poohed* by everyone else and then I watched some comedy programmes on iPlayer instead and couldn't be bothered.

The other point of rambl . . . er, posting is because I realised that I left off a song from the "songs that make me happy" cd that actually really makes me happy.  I'm not going to change it now, I'll have to save it for another time. If This Was The Last Night of the World by Bruce Cockburn was the one song I wanted to hear on the Millenium night and I will be playing it this New Year's Eve too.  A great song which always brings a smile to these jaded lips. Can you have "jaded lips"?

I've just bought a copy of Roger Deakin's Waterlog as I've left the last book I was reading (The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle) in Harvey.  That and a copy of Country Walking that promises lots of great pub walks.  Plenty to read then.

Meanwhile, back to the weather.  When I finally got up and looked out the window:  where's all the snow and ice gone? The cold, haily, windy night soon got rid of all that silliness.  The three inch pile of snow on the little table outside the room I am corresponding from was gone. Vanished, like an old oak table.  However, we are warned that the temperature will drop again tomorrow - we're not out of the woods yet.

Oh well, the first pint hasn't worked, time for another . . .

*I always come over all Stephen Fry when I use that phrase

Thursday, 2 December 2010

laughter for the man of constant sorrow

Well, I warned you it was coming.  An album of songs that, "make you (well, me) happy". Well, to be quite honest, I've spent a large part of my life being made happy by some fairly low-key music (ok, I know bloody miserable etc . . .  "cathartic", I tend to refer to it as) but I'm working for a genuine audience here, so here goes: "strap your hands across my engines, together we could break this trap":

The opening few moments are given over to Ade Edmundson and The Bad Shepherds - a quick burst of their opening gambit at the Cropredy Festival.  All Around My Hat is a most irritating song for most - and it sums up the F word for many (er, that's folk - another kind of profanity).  A great opening gambit destined to win the crowd over.  54 seconds of fun - I'm assuming some may turn it off as they "don't like that song" - well, try 54 seconds and accept that it's a bit of fun.

Oh yes, fun . . . every song on this cd brings a smile to my face for one reason or another. That's what it's all about.  First up, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen.  What can I say?  I remember buying the album (that's on vinyl for you youngsters) the day it came out in 1975.  I rushed around to a mate's to play it but I think he may have been less impressed than me.  Or perhaps he was on a promise and me rushing around having latched on to yet another "passing please*" (see below) was par for the course: oh great, another future of rock'n'roll.  Whenever I hear it, it makes me smile - a great opening: big, brash and VERY American. Okay, I'm not American - but I've stood on street corners in the States watching cars whizz by and the soundtrack in my head is usually The Eagles, Jackson Browne and . . . well, this really.  I love it.  I haven't seen him doing it live yet - but one day!

Mockingbird by Barclay James Harvest just brings back memories of seeing them live at Weeley in 1972.  The band were squashed to the sides because of the 50 piece orchestra seated in the middle of the stage.  As the members of the orchestra passed joints around the music got more and more stratospheric - Christ, we were only 15 and being transported to another dimension - who needed a Tardis?  Fantastic song - more mood than anything, but makes me smile and has hung around for nearly half a Century.  You don't need to be life-long fan of particular bands to enjoy their stuff.

I've always loved The Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, when Richard Thompson (okay, my hero) did it as part of 1000 Years of Popular Music, I was overjoyed.  So much so that I forgave the fact that he included an ABBA track - ah well, even our heroes have flaws, of course. Just him and an acoustic guitar with two female backing singers, one of whom plays percussion. We're not worthy.

Rory Gallagher, god bless him, was around all the time in my youth.  I saw him live so often yet I never bought any of his albums.  A very good friend of mine used to play this quite often and I love it - it reminds me of being somewhere in the last century - about age 19, I guess.  His little "guitar orchestra" is fantastic - again, it automatically brings a smile to my face whenever I listen to it. "Packed all my things in an Overnight Bag, toothbrush and guitar, got no tail to drag; gonna leave on the next passing please*" - it's about the loneliness of travelling and doing one night stands.  Well, yes of course, I'd know all about that then, wouldn't I!  This leads on to The Galway Farmer by Show of Hands. One of the few amazing acts to come out of the last part of last century - they wrote possibly the best ever song about being English and also one of the best actual folk songs  of recent years.  If you've not heard Roots, do. Download it and if you think it's crap I'll refund your 99p.  I'll probably never talk to you again, but you'll not be poorer (I'm ignoring the irony here).  A fantastic song that rushes through with the rigour of the horse in the song.

Next up, Brown Sugar, well, the only song I ever get up to and dance to .  . . it always makes me happy  because it's such a blast.  Mrs Dave demands it at every do we go to - either just to embarrass me or to simply dance.  Yes, of course, it's the latter - every time it comes on I smile and sing along. What more can I say? "Lady of the house wonders when this's gonna stop  . . ."

I've included May I? by the inimitable Kevin Ayres because it really does light up my life.  A one off.  A totally unique character who I used to love going to see live in the 1970s. I first saw him supporting Pink Floyd at that amazing free Hyde Park Concert in 1971 (the first time Atom Heart Mother was played live to a London audience).  I know I was only 15 and in those days you were very much a child.  Either my mum thought I was very mature or couldn't give a shit.  However, she did me a great service allowing me to see such things.  Don't forget - I went up alone.  My mum was a one off and I took her to see loads of great gigs in later years - she saw some gigs that people would kill to have seen nowadays!  Anyway, back to May I? and Mr Ayres. I was at this live recording, so HAD to include it.  Kevin Ayres, Nico and John Cale from the Velvet Underground with Mike Oldfield and Eno.  I mean, come on? It cost about a quid and it was 25 minutes away from home.  The late, great Ollie Halsall plays lead guitar.  I'm smiling now as I write this!

Doing The Inglish by The Home Service is the first song recorded by this mighty ensemble.  It may sound dated - it is! - but what a group.  A huge mighty sound when they got going.  They opened the Barbican with a fantastic concert supported - for Christ's sake - by Richard Thompson.  You can't make this stuff up, you know.  This song simply celebrates Englishness -  a less earnest and cynical version of Roots, I guess.  Good fun though.  It was written by two of the greatest living Englishmen it has been my pleasure to meet: Bill Caddick and John Tams.

You only have to hear the riff from Reelin' In the Years by Steely Dan to smile.  What can I say? I did think about putting Only A Fool Would Say That from the first album on instead.  But - what a great song, the guitars are worth the entrance price alone.  Of course (geek hat on), it was influenced by Wishbone Ash and their harmony guitars, as were Thin Lizzy.  Which of these three bands is a) still going b) still releasing albums of original material and c) still matter? I'm looking forward to the Ash's next tour.

I could not imagine creating such a playlist without a John Martyn song.  The obvious one was going to be May You Never and I just felt that I needed to be maybe just a little bit obvious.  But "you've been such a strong brother to me" . .  . rest in peace, John, I never, ever saw a bad gig. And your likes will not be seen in these parts again.

I drove my family both a) around Scotland and b) mad, playing The Stamping Ground by Runrig a few years ago (both at the same time).  Wall of China really just makes me want to play air guitar around the kitchen.  Well, actually it DOES make me play air guitar around the kitchen - and I may have only put it on purely to introduce the next song.

I stood in a field a few years back (last century?) watching Neil Young for the first time.  I'd been a fan since 1970 but this was the first time I'd seen him live.  So 30-odd years later there we are. My mate turned to me as this song blasted out across the rain-sodden park and said, "You could die now, couldn't you?"  What he meant - and I knew full well, - was that I'd seen everything and couldn't be happier. Er, well, I think that's what he meant (help me out here Brendan). Like A Hurricane, my god what better song could he have played?  Oh yeah, Cortez The Killer.  Well, he played that too.

However despite popular belief, I did not shuffle off the mortal coil at that point and remain your humble servant.

By the way, the Man of Constant sorrow is a painting of Jesus in Scotland by William Dyce.  A fantastic, late, Pre-Raphaelite Brother.  And did those feet . . ?