Wednesday, May 01, 2019


A Facebook pal has pointed out that last night (April 30th) was “Walpurgisnacht” or Walpurgis Eve. In this day and age, with the Walpurgis itself becoming increasingly rare, few people actually know what it is. Enter the Grumbler, duty bound and entirely delighted to educate.

The Walpurgis (or King Hedgeward as it was once colloquially known) looks very much like a miniature (its only about 30mm from nose to tail) amalgam of a hedgehog and a potato – although, as part of the fabricanidae family, it is not directly related to either. A shy and nervous creature, if held, most Walpurgis will start to shiver with increasing vigour and frequency until eventually exhausting themselves and falling asleep.  As a means of defence/self-preservation, this would appear to be useless but the build-up of lactic acid in its powerful muscles that results from wearing itself out means that the flesh of the Walpurgis tastes utterly revolting.  A small percentage of them, however, will inflict a remarkably serious (for its size) and terminal (for the Walpurgis) bite.

It was originally introduced to the British Isles, as were so many species, by the Romans who called it “Ericius Terrapomum Tremefacio Deminitus”.

Notorious for their dog-like tendency to fight anything they could, and eat or have sex with anything they couldn’t fight, the first invading Romans found that British food was inedible even to a palate as indiscriminating as their own, and that the remarkably pale and bluish skin of the indigenous people served, efficiently, to extinguish their almost perpetual carnal thoughts .  

Hungry, sexually frustrated and bored, the occupiers soon latched on to (or in some cases were latched on to by) the Walpurgis as an early vibrating ‘aide-de-frottage’ that could, when fully depleted, be impaled on a stick, roasted over a fire and eaten. Walpurgis importers grew extremely rich and tended to be invited to all of the best parties. The fact that perhaps as many as one in a hundred of these little creatures would, when applied to an erogenous zone, inflict a painful and piercing bite only appealed to the Romans’ love of gambling and gave rise to the earliest known intimate piercing jewellery industries.

As an obligate hibernator, the Walpurgis is unavailable to consumers from late autumn to spring. Prior to the occasional escapers establishing themselves in the British countryside these first imports of the year would typically be available towards the end of April. Ever up for an excuse, it soon became a Roman custom to celebrate the annual resumption of ‘festivities’ with wild parties at the end of that month.  Large bonfires would be lit to stave off the nocturnal chill and the celebrants (the nature of the Walpurgis’ shivering tended to appeal mostly, though not exclusively, to the ladies) gathered around them would shed clothing along with inhibition and gorge themselves to insensibility.

This practice spread back across mainland Europe and lead to many of the indigenous tribes (who were excluded from participation on pain of death) believing that the naked, shrieking and cavorting parties were gatherings of witches – hence the origins of Walpurgis Eve as the night of a witches’ meet.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Grumbler's Christmas Message

Welcome to the Grumbler’s festive review of the year just past. Some of you might feel that I am talking more crap than usual; This is true.  In my defence I should like to vouchsafe that I have, owing to what may possibly be a ‘herniated disc’ in my back, been partaking of a significant quantity of codeine this past week. Those of you familiar with the side effects of this particular recreational analgesic might appreciate, therefore, that the shit has to find a way out somehow…

The year 2018 started, for the Grumbler and family, in an unusually sick fashion. For those who can count fewer than twenty five summers on this blighted ball of rock, I do NOT mean to convey any sense of excellence nor awesomeness.  While Mrs Grumber’s utility was already impaired by her temporary  sojourn as a unidexter (a bad, very bad, knee) it was, along with that of the two Grumblettes, further impaired when all three of them succumbed to the ‘flu, which my honourable brother-in-law most generously brought[PS1]  to infect us over Christmas. Looking on the bright side, this offered me the chance to extend my time away from the office and get to know our horses (and both ends of their diet) quite a lot better.

Later in the spring it got cold enough outside to freeze the balls off a brass monkey – or at least to freeze the local water mains which then, with depressing predictability, burst. Grumbler towers was lucky on two counts – we were without mains water for only three days or so (others suffered for more than a week) and we also have a stream from which we could keep the animals watered. We filled up a big tank and took it out and about to folks who had animals but no water.  One of them was so grateful that they gave us a bottle of wine as a thank you… turning water into wine, that kind of thing can get you a reputation but, if there were any truth in it we would not, by this time, already have lost Stephen Hawking, Ken Dodd, Jim Bowen and Bill Maynard.

In April your Grumbler had five minutes of fame courtesy of Absolute Radio’s breakfast show, on which I recounted the story of when I had to dig out the dog-toilet. I was trying and, in fact succeeded, to win the prize of a year’s Sky Q subscription.  Had I been paying more attention I would NOT have been surprised, on air, with the news that I had also won a sky diving experience (as I am a fatbastard, my pal Mr Doogan is going to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft on my behalf).

Desperate sadness ushered in May when our lovely mare Theia lost her foal, nine months through her eleven month pregnancy. Baby Rocket was a lovely little black filly, and I laid her to rest in one of the fields. The month improved with a visit to the great escape festival for me with Codger and Kid, and I completed a long anticipated erection for Mrs Grumbler – with the assistance of the flu-carrying in-law. We now have a Poytunnel.

In June, Derek and Clive moved into our new pig palace, and Mrs Grumbler and I moved into a caravan at the Yard. Paranoid after the loss of Rocket, we weren’t taking any chances where our mare Duchess was concerned and she rewarded us at the end of the month with the very lovely Baby Jet, our first foal.

July witnessed the Grumbler’s latest attempt at suicide by stupidity, managing to drop a twelve foot high steel post rammer, missing the back of the head by about two inches. Later in the month we took two horses and three dogs to the GBPRE show where the lovely Ebano became champion 4 year old Stallion, lots of people fell in love with Basil, Arfa and Tink, and the wind wrecked our caravan awning. Told Mrs Grumber she shouldn’t have et them beans…               

August. Grumblefest, Mrs Grumbler’s half century, our sixteenth wedding anniversary. A good month!

September, The Grumblettes went on holiday to Spain, to work at a very well regarded horse yard for a couple of weeks. We were absolutely delighted, couldn’t believe, in fact, that we had managed to score them such an inexpensive and utterly appropriate holiday! 

October, the lovely Hela (a gorgeous P.R.E. mare) joined us from a very well regarded horse yard in Spain. Turns out it wasn’t such a cheap holiday after all… We celebrated by visiting the Autumn beer festival at the Spa Valley railway with friends.

Nothing particularly noteworthy happened in November. December waved bye bye to Derek and Clive but brought with it the gorgeous little Pammy, who we think is a Patterdale/Bull Terrier cross.  She brings our pup count to six which some folk might think is a lot, but she’s too cute to have left at the rescue home over Christmas. And here I am, with a prolapsed disc in my back, just as incapacitated as Mrs Grumbler was at the start of the year.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year all, in lieu of cards, we shall be dropping a few pictures of Her Majesty off at the AllSorts Dog Rescue.

Paul, Michelle, Kirsty, Katy, Rowley, Ted, Basil, Arfa, Tink, Pammy, Hela, Moses, Wilma, Winston, Harry, Duchess, Baby Jet, Eric, Ernie, Grace, Holly, Gamble, Batty/Shahnaz, Theia, Tarquin, Ace, Ebby, Silver, ‘Tino, Charlie, Mouse, Khali, Hedwig, Socks, Pants/Patch, George, Mildred, Jo, Boris and Stanley

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Arsehole Register

I reckon we've all been there - we see an article on the TV news or read about it online or, heaven forbid, in a newspaper about someone who's done something unutterable stupid or just plan socially unacceptable, and we think "what an arsehole*".

Like the woman who wouldn't move her pushchair to let a disabled person onto a bus; anyone who mistreats an animal for fun; the guy who killed a pedestrian while riding his brakeless bike through London; or the latest belief-defying gem, in which some complete git deliberately runs down a teacher in order to drop his kid off at school (setting a superb example to the younger generation)... see the article here on the BBC news website, or just watch it below...

Why do they behave this way?  Is it that the punishments aren't a deterrent, or that they simply haven't learned the difference between right and wrong, or have, and don't care anyway? Is this rot stoppable?

These people are all, to some extent, a waste of skin but (and I understand why) my occasionally muttered comment "why don't we just execute them and improve society" is considered extreme; at least it is while the UK is fortunate not to have its own version of "Alternative fur Deutschland". And yet, we wouldn't want much to do with them, would we? So how do we avoid them, when they are walking around among us?  Branding/Tattooing them with a big "A" on the forehead is also most likely to be considered a step too far and my own personal favourite of making them wear hats adorned with facsimile dog turds is likely to be hard to enforce in the UK. This is a shame, because in the US we find that many dangerous morons are happy to identify themselves by wearing a red chinese-made baseball cap with "make America great again" written on it...

But how about this - we have a list, publicly accessible via the internet or in the small handful of public libraries left of anyone who is a proven menace and folks, like this, who fit that description, are forced to sign to on a regular basis, so that we all know where they are.

Just a thought.

* shithead, numpty, dickhead, fuckwit, idiot, wanker - take your pick, really...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

President Fart

The fact (as opposed to 'alternative fact') that Trump is British slang for Fart has been widely shared on social media, so it isn't news.

If this was news, then the Orange One would probably hold a press conference to deny it or have the White House 'Groom of the Stool', a snivelling, odious wretch called Sean Spicer, do it for him. The weird thing is that some of the audience would applaud, as they tend to do whatever rubbish he comes out with. This, according to the many sources (including the Huffington Post) is because Trump actually hires people to applaud on these occasions.

There's a word for these professional sycophants - such a group is called a claque and it follows that a member of that group is a claquer - or if you prefer to Anglicise, a 'clacker'.

Now, in a delightful example of serendipity, 'Clacker' happens to be Australian slang for Arsehole.

Where else would you expect to find the most powerful fart in the world than in the presence of a number of professional arseholes?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In light of the news abut Tesco and Unilever...

And with gratitude and apologies to Pete and Dud...

Miss Rigby! Stella, my love! Would you please send in the next auditioner, please. Mr. Marmite, I believe it is. (enter Moneygrabbing Supplier, hopping on one leg)
Mr. Marmite, I believe?
Moneygrabbing Supplier
Yes, Marmite by name, Marmite by nature. (keeps hopping)
Yes...if you'd like to remain motionless for a moment, Mr. Marmite. Please be stood. Now, Mr. Marmite you are, I believe, auditioning for the part of A Brexit casualty?
Moneygrabbing Supplier
Now, Mr. Marmite, I couldn't help noticing almost at once that you are a made in the UK person.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
You noticed that?
I noticed that, Mr. Marmite. When you have been in the business as long as I have you come to notice these things almost instinctively. Now, Mr. Marmite, you, a made in the UK man, are applying for the role of A Brexit casualty - a role which, traditionally, involves the use of a foreign actor.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
And yet you, a Unilever, are applying for the role.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
A role for which a passport other than British would seem to be the minimum requirement.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
Very true.
Well, Mr. Marmite, need I point out to you where your deficiency lies as regards landing the role?
Moneygrabbing Supplier
Yes, I think you ought to.
Need I say without overmuch emphasis that it is in the country of origin/manafacture division that you are deficient.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
The country of origin/manafacture division?
Yes, the country of origin/manafacture division, Mr. Marmite. You are deficient in it to the tune being made here, on our bloody doorstep. Your taste I like. I like your aste. A lovely taste for the role. That's what I said when I saw you come in. I said "A lovely taste for the role." I've got nothing against your taste. The trouble is – your blatantly opportunist greed. You fall down on your morality.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
You mean it's inadequate?
Yes, it's inadequate, Mr. Marmite. And, to my mind, the British public is not ready for the sight of a made in the UK product hiking its price and blaming the fall of the pound.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
I see.
However, don't despair. After all, you score over a man with no morality at all. Should a supplier with no Morality at all come in here demanding the role, I should have no hesitation in saying "Get out. Run away."
Moneygrabbing Supplier
So there's still a chance?
There is still a very good chance. If we get no reasonably priced alternatives in here within the next two months, there is still a very good chance that you'll land this vital role. Failing decent suppliers, you, a unilever, are just the sort of person we shall be attempting to contact telephonically.
Moneygrabbing Supplier
Well...thank you very much.
So my advice is, to hop on a bus, go home, and sit by your telephone in the hope that we will be getting in touch with you. (shows Moneygrabbing Supplier out) I'm sorry I can't be more definite, but as you realise, it's really a decent sort of chap we're after. Good morning Mr. Marmite.