righty-ho, time for me to go backwards a bit. a return to those halcyon days earlier this week when i had that class beard, and indeed when i had a birthday to mark. i write not to say "oh wow, look, i had a birthday, that makes me special, or specialier than you", for of course all life is special and surely everyone has a birthday to celebrate, whether they opt to or not.
i was reminded to post pics and stories by two, really - the child of the condiment phoenix mentioning that they would very much like to see them, and Payney at the match congratulating me on my birthday, although when he did it had slipped my mind that this event had passed. so many thanks to those two for the reminder; thanks from me and from those eager to see this!
to say that the weather was kind for my date of birth is to presume that the weather pays attention to what people of earth want. actually, that's all going off in a poncy, pretentious direction, isn't it, so let me say that as it was a lovely, beautiful day we decided to head off to what my (considerably) better half tells me is where i wanted to go for my birthday, Whitby.
this, adding some value to this blog post for those who have not been to the fine port, town or just amazing place that is Whitby for some time, is the new war memorial located there. it was unveiled, if i recall right, in 2012. a nice as place as any to get a picture of my dear family with vast swathes of Whitby in the background then!
i think the above picture also shows of sufficient of the sky to illustrate that it was indeed a lovely, why magnificent, day to be out and about!
walking on from there James spotted a narrow alley. now that i have written that i am not convinced there's such a thing as a wide alley or, for that matter, a standard measurement for what one would term a normal sized alley. anyway, it allowed me to have a go at taking one of them "arty" types of picture.
i remember that one album cover for a record by the Rolling Stones, before they became the Rolling $tone$, featured them in an alley (size to be determined). off the top of my head i think it might well have been December's Children (And Everybody's), but i could be mistaken. the Stones version features a good deal more visible Charlie Watts than my picture, if such things count, and was in black and white. i do, however, quite like the one i have taken there.
it is unlikely that the Stones, when they did a picture in an alley, did so in Whitby. it was probably somewhere down in London (innit), that place where "honest" John Terry who recently took full responsibility, credit and bonus payments for a goal despite not touching the ball at all. how very out of character.
now that i think of it, that Robert Palmer, him who used to dress like a lower division football manager, did a song about alleys, didn't he? Sneaking Sally Through The Alley, wasn't it? i must have a listen, see if Mr Palmer shared through lyrical rhyme what he believes to be the correct measurement of what does and does not constitute an alley. unless he was off on some sort of sexual reference, of course.
on we went then, for a spot of lunch. this blog is neither, so far as i am aware, facebook or twitter, so i shall not be sharing a picture of lunch itself. i can share, however, that we had some excellent fish and chips as we sat on the pier. a perfect excuse to get some further pictures of the boys, then.
that is indeed, you of astute observation skills, a chunk of battered and fried cod that William is clutching. he does like his food a fair bit, and does for some reason like walking about as he eats.
William was kind and gracious enough to stop eating it when i took the picture above, as you can see, and in the picture below, as you will see when you stop reading this sentence.
a highlight for the boys, arguably the main reason they went so willingly and with celebratory enthusiasm to Whitby, was a visit to the several lavish, luxury amusement arcades on offer. well, three i think, although it might be just the two and i thought one of them was split into two.
their great-grandma had given them each a bag of 2p coins and it was with, to my surprise, enthusiasm that they took to those "coin drop" games, cascades or waterfalls or whatever the proper name is for them. the one where you ostensibly drop a coin in and it theoretically pushes other coins down a level to presumably push further coins down and out for you to win.
both boys displayed a rather deft knack and skill for this, winning many coins and a number of prizes that were sat on top of the bottom level of coins. nice one, chaps!
it was not all high stakes gambling, however. the boys really liked this racing track and bombed around it a fair few times!
well, mostly went around it. William's sense of steering is not all that it could be, and the chap who was the manager of the establishment was most polite in expressing the view that these cars and bikes were not in fact "dodgem" ones and requested that they both please stop bashing each other and everything else. the boys, mostly, agreed with this expressed request of a wish.
after that we went for a stroll around the fine place of Whitby, stopping off at selected shops. particularly, i observed, ones that sold toys and sweets. great grandma had given the boys further pocket money to get treats at Whitby, money that the boys through the medium of the magic of daddy's wallet they managed to at least treble to secure what they wished for.
we also of course, at the behest of William, stopped off at an element of beach for a walk around and to try to skim stones into the water.
this is not, of course, the fanciest strip of beach on offer in Whitby. that is the bit over on the other side, where we did not walk on account of a lack of sweet shops, arcades and toy shops in that direction. perhaps one day we will walk in that direction, though. i would certainly hope so, at least.
time doesn't exist you know. hours, minutes, seconds and all that are man made inventions, simplistic terms of reference in which all seem to believe to make efforts in the world easier. well, when i say all, not Peter Fonda. there was that class bit in Easy Rider when he threw his watch away. there is not, nor shall there ever be, a scientific proof of time existing. this is particularly interesting when you get one of them lippy, obnoxious and immensely, intensely shallow sort of atheists. you know the kind, the one that just can't get on with it. the sort that have to show how clever they are because someone posted a Richard Dawkins thing on their facebook once. the kind that go around saying that those who believe in any religion are lesser, indeed "stupid", because they choose to believe in something that science cannot prove exists. if you get one, ask them the time. if they answer with a gesture of hours and minutes "passed", you are welcome to instantly mock them for believing in something that science cannot prove exists. calling them a double standard bearing, idiotic, charlatan bullsh!t artists is entirely at your own discretion.
we had to encourage the boys to stop throwing stones, or bricks in the case of William, into the water as a vessel of the seas went by. it was unlikely, of course, that they would have either hit this majestic vessel or caused waves to a variation that would have affected the travels of it thereof, but you never know. butterfly effect and chaos theory and all that.
we then just had a quick sit down at them, taking a brief picture and then heading back, homeward bound as it were.
of all the questions you have of our time in Whitby i would suggest that "did i get some kippers for Gramps" would be the most frequent one and the one you would most like me to answer. that answer is yes, of course, i did, but i did not take a picture of them. i instead walked down to him and Gran to deliver them. Gramps assures me that they were lovely, with most of the skin and all of the bones gone, and that he really enjoyed them. i got them at the Magpie, if such information is of use to anyone, and no doubt i shall be heading back at some stage to get him some more.
before heading off for yet more birthday celebrations we had the delight and pleasure of Aunty Susan calling in to visit. Susan had earlier in the day "arranged" for a birthday card to be put through our letterbox. she had wisely, however, decided that putting a magnificent cake that she had baked through the letterbox would not work in any traditional sense of maintaining the integrity of the cake.
and what a magnificent, beautiful cake it was too! i say was because we have, of course, eaten it all now. to heck and back with you, diet that i am not on.
yes, that is indeed me, back in those days of when i had the beard, stood with Aunty Susan. there is indeed a lack of pictures of me on my birthday here, you are right. sorry for that, i was too busy taking the pictures and even busier just having a good day. great day, really. i am not someone who demands that pictures be taken of myself on a frequent basis, not with my deft skills in the ways of the selfie.
i mentioned cards and letterbox, did i not. here are some, but certainly not all, of the ones i got. a few were hand delivered or passed on, but a number also came via the miracle of a postal system, one between countries where post is not delayed or destroyed via strikes, or simply stolen. i like very much living in a place with a safe, honest, reliable postal system.
the saucy, provocative "sex sheep" one was indeed from Gillian over in New Zealand, but you just know that Grant picked that one and was probably very reluctant to give it away.
after that detour, created mostly by the order in which blogger has taken a shine to uploading pictures, back to the magnificent cake from Aunty Susan. and indeed, ladies and gentlemen, the discovery of a very interesting trend here at home in England. that trend would be to beautify cakes and selected confectioneries with pyrotechnic things, mostly fireworks.
yes, that's some sparklers there, going off in flames and, erm, sparkles, giving it loads in that direction. ace that is, that people here, with their smoke detectors and fire alarms in their homes almost as if it were some sort of default by low, now feel they have the freedom and security to let off flammable and combustible devices in the comfort of their own home, so long as they are attached to a caked or other, similar baked product. i like it, a lot.
for those of you wishing to see the cake with just conventional candles on the go and not the fire of the flames of a firework or two, this picture is then for you.
paradoxically, on the other side of the magic mirror, there are probably some people who do not care for cake at all, even the magnificent ones made by my Aunty Susan, but do get all excited and hot under the collar about seeing exhausted, or if you will spent, pyrotechnic based fireworks. well, maybe not all that excited, but they do like seeing them.
i could not profess to understand such an interest in that kind of firework, to be honest, but far be it for me, as far away as you like, to not share an image or two of fireworks in such a, frankly, done state.
yes, that is indeed another picture of me here for you to see. sorry about that. also sorry for the one picture here of me holding up the numbers the wrong way around; i have no interest in battling with blogger to find the correct one and load it instead so this one will, i feel, do.
James, for some reason, found the idea of holding used firework things for the benefit of a picture to be quite a class thing. i was happy to agree to let him have a try at such a picture.
returning, as it were, to our trip to Whitby and yeah, why not show off a picture of my (considerably) better half showing off some of the items purchased that underline, apparently, why i like Whitby so much. yes, the Dracula connection.
what a happy accident that my (considerably) better half really, really likes Dracula, and is on hand to remind me that i like it/him too.
Whitby is of course strongly associated with Dracula, on account of the Bram Stoker novel. the celebrated film version of the book by Francis Ford Coppola, featuring Gary "Gaz" Oldman in the title or if you like titular role, skipped and bypassed the Whitby segments of the novel, instead just moving everything to London (innit). this is a shame, as i know of quite a few who would get excited about Gaz in Whitby. excited to the levels of, say, me, when someone remixed the theme to the original Battlestar Galactica with InterGalactic by the Beastie Boys. which was very.
never mind, Coppola made his vision of Dracula after he had announced his effective retirement from the world of cinema by releasing Godfather Part III, also known as Godfather The Lesser, a film in which he proudly urinated all over the legacy of the two original, superior films via the unusual channel of Andy Garcia and George Hamilton.
oh yeah, here is a picture i took on a day that was not my birthday, but for some reason felt the need to share here.
i am intrigued by the complexities of this, really. at one level it goes for a high level of sophistication and class, insisting on referring to humble porridge as "oats". on another, though, it seeks to undermine the intelligence of those that would refer to porridge by a posh word like oats by asking them, in an unapologetic way, if they consider their oats/porridge to be far too simple for their consumption. the fix, it seems, to make them operate on a higher level of intelligence is to bung crunchy things into them, like nuts, granola, muesli or whatever it is they are trying to sell.
crunchy things make stuff less simple, then. i don't know, i like shiny things.
onwards, at last as it were, to the other birthday celebrations that i was kind and fortunate to receive, so it is with delight that i say it was onwards to House Harlo.
these pictures have all been loaded wildly out of order (as in the wrong way around, not in the dissenting behaviour way that one would associate with that phrase if you are a cockney or EastEnders enthusiast), so i can only ask that you please bear with me and do not stop bearing with me, ever.
so first, then, a picture from towards the end of the evening, in which we see Colin and Angela showing William some fine family pictures that William took quite a shine to.
William does get fascinated with pictures and portraits of people. well, William gets fascinated with everything, really, which is excellent.
soon i will be taking a stroll to the village to buy, amongst other things, the newspaper. i will with some enthusiasm read the match report on Middlesbrough vs Leeds. if i see any reference at all to Boro being "unlucky", i shall correspond with the journalist, either through a letter or that twitter thing, to tell them the word they meant to use was "incompetent" and then use the page on which the match report features to start a rather nice fire for the evening.
meanwhile, my Uncle Colin has one of them iPad things, and tends to veer well away from the world of iTwat by actually using the product instead of just waving it around and saying "hey, look what i have". although it does get waved around a bit when being used to play some rather class games. that's the case here, as James and my (considerably) better half show it off by playing some sort of guessing game.
methinks we will have to get one of them things for the boys at some point. they are somewhat expensive, sure, but when actually used properly, they are almost worth the hourly update, or if you like iupdate, the machines seem to require and insist on.
onwards it was, then, to the traditional running of the plastic horses, a key part of any notable birthday celebrations. the trick, of course, is that the horses do not actually run on the track. it is very much like one of them Koobayashi like tests (there you go, Trekkies, i have not forgotten you), favoured in part by all them class managerial courses, in which the result is evaluated on the basis of what you did as part of a challenge that could not generate success rather than overall success. fail to plan / plan to fail and all that sort of thing.
the whole thing did look magnificent, however. and if we don't get it to work at some stage we are all agreed that we will just send it to a certain gent in New Zealand who will love it when he is not out dogging.
before the traditional running of the plastic horses we had a most magnificent tea, and indeed more magnificent cake. a cake which, once again, paid tribute to the god of fire and the god of firework.
here you can see Uncle Trevor, who arrived fashionably late and left superstar like early, sat with James, watching with generous levels of amazement and awe as Angela ignited the altar to the previously mentioned gods.
was there more pyrotechnic like stuff on the go on this cake? oh my word, yes there was, believe me. you can see shortly too, but again blogger has messed a bit with how these pictures are appearing here, so first an image for the technical and engineering enthusiasts who no doubt flock to this site for technical and engineering sort of things.
one of the candles, or rather the candle holder as such, pedantic types, featured a base that performed the song "Happy Birthday" in an unspecified key, but all the same in an unmistakable, unforgettable, techno-electronica-jazz-funk style. it played it so well, in fact, that it seemed all too self-aware that it played the song well and refused all efforts to shut it down.
a few of us had a go before handing it over to the resident technical and engineering expert, which of course would be Uncle Colin.
stopping the candle base making the music, and thus averting a time-space continuum incident which would see a naked Austrian appear and knack anyone called Sarah, proved very easy and straightforward for Colin, since he worked out what all the buttons on the back did in a way far better than we could.
so simple and easy was it for Colin, as point of fact, that he even located the button that switched it on to let it do its thing with the intention of, with ease, switching it off again. the second attempt to switch it off did not, alas, go as well as the first, and thus to the best of my knowledge the device remains in a state in which it performs the song, safely shut away in one of the many drawers one can find in House Harlo.
but you do not want to know of this. you want to know if the gods of pyrotechnic stuff were pleased and indeed appeased with the offering made to them. the answer, looking at this next picture, would be yes. well it should be yes, if they are not pleased with this then they are impossible to please.
yes, look at that. an amazing fountain of fire jettisoning out of the centre of the cake. ace, that was, and i really loved it - thank you! James loved it too, as you can see there in the background!
i would not wish an accusation of playing favourites to be levelled against my Aunty Angela - in fact anyone doing so will get a slap off of me and others - but i did notice that she suggested everyone step back a bit, retiring to a safe distance before this offering were launched. everyone, that is, except moi, your unassuming, humble narrator, someone who Angela suggested get as close as possible to the offering. i take it as this was done with the intention of ensuring i derived maximum, closest enjoyment and appreciation of it (which i did), whilst also playing on the inevitable variable that, at times, i am always the one most inclined to experience damage from such things, so if i did it in a planned way i would thus avoid the unplanned nature of it happening.
i was, however, unharmed. i was also thrilled and delighted with it! so many thanks!
for a behind the scenes, sort of prequel to that, here is Angela lighting it all, and also Colin getting ready to film it, on the off chance it did damage me and thus he could show a video to the attending medical staff of what happened. with him obviously not in the shot or video, strengthening a cause of plausible deniable responsibility should the constabulary want to know more of this business of letting fireworks off in a house.
on that note, has this thing of setting off fireworks in houses come about in England just because that class footballer did it? Mario was/is his name, no? that lad with the class hair that was at Manchester City for a bit? if the legacy he left when he, sadly, left English football, then that makes doing this all the more better, and i will be off to get some fireworks to light in the house daily.
almost done with this lengthy blog post, you may be pleased or saddened to read. just one more picture for you - James, assisted by William, decided to make a special birthday message for me. it was and is lovely, and made me smile. it also helped the House Harlo residents get rid of a surplus of paper!
i am uncertain that House Harlo were bothered by a surplus of paper, but i dare say none would have argued with this amazing, brilliant gesture! yes, i have kept all the paper!
and with that, dear reader, just about time for me to head off towards the shop to get the newspaper i mentioned.
my deepest thanks to all who sent on messages for my birthday. it does not and will not cease to amaze me that so many out there think so well and so kindly of me. i can only hope, trust and express the wish that you all had excellent days too, always.
many thanks for reading, or at the least skipping past my nonsense and looking at the pictures.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!