Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Austanspace is not Lost in Space

I just had a brief e-mail conversation with Laura from the Austanspace Blog. She just wants to let everyone know that she's alive and well but still isolated from her home as a consequence of hurricane Irene. So if anyone is worrying - no need - sun's shining where she's at and she just needs the ok, presumably from the authorities, that it's safe to return home.

Take care Laura - and all the best to you from all of us!


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Gone in Sixty Seconds

Many American readers may not have heard of him. He's been languishing in prison for the best part of a decade. Just this week he was released from prison in Scotland and re-arrested and imprisoned again within 60 seconds. Who is this man, and what deadly threat to the nation or the public at large does he present when life behind bars appears to be his long term fate? His name is Steven Gough - and he wants to get naked. Hence his media coined name 'The Naked Rambler'.

I first saw him with my own eyes as he wandered up the A9 toward Inverness some years ago. I must confess my initial instinct was not to avert my eyes, or rush toward him with clothes, but instead it was to offer him something to eat. Poor fella looked really skinny! Of course that may be a consequence of every Macdonalds in the nation locking their doors when he appears, I don't know, but judging by this picture taken the other day - prison food isn't particularly nourishing either.

I'm not really for or against people running around naked - I even think there's a few places I would do it myself - on a beach for example, where there's very little in the way of jabby things to poke you in the eye. But Mr Gough wants the right to be naked everywhere. It's a tough call.

Now there's a wee bit of a wider issue here with Mr Gough - and one that really does deserve some serious consideration. There are Terrorists who spend less time in jail than he has, in fact, the Lockerbie bomber who was responsible for 270 murders spent less time in prison than he has. Society has to either keep Mr Gough locked up forever and concede that 'being naked' warrants more jail time than mass murderers, rapists and even terrorists or let him have his way. Is being naked really that serious that it merits a life behind bars?

As usual his release and subsequent re-arrest became something of a sideshow. He wasn't permitted to sit down in court until some paper had been found to place on the seat for 'sanitary' reasons. Not only was he charged with being naked out there in public for a whole sixty seconds, but he was immediately charged with contempt of court for appearing naked before the Judge (Which strikes me as a wee bit unfair if his principle defence is his claim to a natural right to be naked).

This problem requires solutions. If not found, then for the rest of his life this man will be in prison and even though I think he's being incredibly stupid, stupidity and nudity in my opinion are not reasons to be deprived of liberty for a lifetime - if it were then Paris Hilton would have been lost to Guantanamo Bay forever.

It needs a solution or solutions folks, I can't think of one - I just don't have one which I think would be a happy compromise. Either the man is allowed to be naked or he rots in Jail for the rest of his life with 60 second glimpses of the outside world every couple of years. Of course I say it needs solutions only because I empathise with his plight for the comparative reasons I stated above - there are those who may very well argue that if he wants his pecker on display and the only bags he's carrying to be those he's born with - then he deserves to be in jail - but for life? He's not backing down. Neither is the law. What to do? What to do?


PS - I just thought of something - Maybe Scotland could lead the world by decreeing that nudity is not 'indecent' if one so chooses - This came to mind particularly as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are currently in Scotland filming a movie. Maybe they could start the ball rolling?

My dear Wife has just read my Blog and offered a compromise - "He's perfectly free to be naked beneath his clothes."

Thanks dear :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

'Technically Speaking'

The porch is where I go to think. I like to sit out there in the dark and warmth and just wrap my head around whatever troubles me. It was raining heavily last night but if you sit on one of the many window ledges then the eaves shelter you from the rain. And that's precisely what I was doing, when Maddy, my 11 year old stepdaughter, came outside and sat on my knee. An opportunity for one of those wonderful bonding moments between a father and daughter, I thought - just like in Disney family movies.
"Why have you come out to stand in the rain Maddy?" I asked.
"Well technically Rory I'm not standing or in the rain am I? In fact make that officially, not just technically."
Clearly she had inherited the 'I'm always right' gene from her Mum.
"No stars tonight." I said, looking at the cloudy night sky.
"Well technically Rory the stars are there. You just can't see them."

I wasn't going to allow this little 'technical' problem to get between us on this, the occasion of one of life's precious and tender moments. I cuddled her closer "The rain has made it a little bit chilly"
"In a way yeah," she replied "but technically it's not the rain that makes it cold."

I remembered a scene from the Woody Allen film 'Annie Hall' where both lead characters were saying things but subtitled beneath them was what they were thinking - my subtitles at this point would have read 'Will you shut the fuck up with 'technically'. I'm 51 years old and I KNOW what I'm talking about! If I say 'There are no stars, the rain has made it cold.' then just accept I'm wise beyond your years and agree.' That however came out as;
"I'll be making pizza later if you want some."
"'Yeah! Cool! Though technically you're not actually making it. You're cooking it. If you made them like you used to, using flour, then yeah you'd be making them. But someone has made them already so really you're just cooking them."
"Have you been getting critical thinking classes at school or something Maddy?"
"What's that?"
"Never mind."
"Is it something old people know about? Like you?"
"I'm not old!"
"Well, technically speaking you are. But I must say you've done really good for an old person. You learned the English language really quickly when you came to Australia." She stood up and said "Okay, I'm going back inside now."  And with that my Disney family movie moment was gone...though technically it wasn't quite over...I pushed open the front door "MADDY!"
"I learned your language better than you thought." I smiled, "I'll spare you the technical details darlin'  but technically and officially your bedroom is a shit tip - will you get it cleaned up please!"
Visibly thinking she looked up at me and smiled, "Wow. You're right."

Yes yes yes yes yes yes!


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Gotcha Covered!

At some stage in our life - we've run out and bought an album of music. If we were lucky enough to have spare cash and the time to peruse what was on offer in the music store we might even make a decision on what to buy based on the album cover art (there are some sensational pieces of cover sleeve art out there). Today however, I want to ponder on what demon possessed the people below to officially sanction their sleeve art...these are the worst covers, I think, which have ever lurked in music stores.

This first one troubles me because I can't tell if it's a man or a woman I'll be listening to singing....

Religious folks, be yea not offended but if four Christians were to get together today and put out an album with this title they'd be stuck on a compulsory register for life...

Is there some kind of ritual slaughter of a virgin about to take place in the name of God and good music? The guy with the axe worries me....'Swing That Gospel Axe'???

I can't date these - but it seems there was a time in America when people wore dead animals on their heads? Or alternately - having 'High Hair' made you closer to God?

Who on Earth came up with this for an album title?

I have a wee problem with this next one - it's an arithmetical problem...'The Gospel Four'?...

And last but far from least - I think the less I say about this one the better...

Thank God for Led Zep, Floyd, Rod Stewart, The Stones, Gerry Rafferty et al. Dang they knew how to make a cover...

PS - Thank you to Alec Lindsay for spotting a very young Stephen Fry in that last album 'Jesus Use Me'.


Saturday, 20 August 2011

There are no words - just feelings.

I've been sorely preoccupied of late, my computer keyboard has been silent - a heavy heart just isn't conducive to light fingers and flashing insights.

It was the birthday of one of my sons last week. I have four sons in Scotland, we rarely talk. The distance between us can be measured in more than miles. But this isn't about me, it's not even about my sons. It's about a friend of theirs, a nineteen year old who was always 'in or around' our house and if truth be told we were always in or around his. The son of my guitarist playing partner and friend James. Jamie, a truly beautiful young man who only had one expression - smiling.

Last week they all went out together for a drink to celebrate my son's 19th birthday. Jamie didn't come home. Somewhere in their headiness they became separated around midnight. After a massive land and sea search Jamie's body was found nine days later in the local harbour.

For days I've wanted to rage, for days I have wanted to scream, for days I have cursed God and every stupid little insignificant thing we trouble ourselves with daily. This is a 'stop the world' moment. This is not what life is supposed to be like, right now in Scotland two people who were once my dearest friends are grieving over the loss of their beautiful son and no one ever deserved such a fate less than they do, less than Jamie did. Right now my sons are trying to come to terms with the loss of their best friend and I'm trying to grasp the pompous stupidity, the pathetic preoccupation I have had for the last five years with 'being right'.

Life is too short to preoccupy ourselves with what's 'wrong' in relationships, allowing the icy nature of what separates us to become solid and frozen in time and space. What unites us is to be revered, glorified, revelled in, dare I say worshipped. At the end of the day, it's all we have.

To my oldest and dearest friends, you had a son any family would be proud of. Sleep well Jamie lad, sleep well, my heart is awfy sore this night but by God do I remember that smile.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

I'm Genuinely Happy - Two Rights Have Made a Wong!

Forgive me for the title - I couldn't resist. She has the right to live openly and freely with her gay partner. She has the right to IVF treatment from an unknown donor - as a consequence Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong will be mother to a child within her same sex relationship with partner Sophie Allouache. I'd like to congratulate them both whilst pointing out how delighted I am with Australia's non-hysterical, tolerant and respectful attitude towards their news - a respect which is reflected in Australian media. Any coverage of it here has been 'matter-of-fact' with the only public dissent I can see - emanating from folks who would otherwise be stoning wayward wives to death were there not laws against it.

I can imagine the headlines in Britain or the USA if a senior Government official announced the imminent arrival of a child within a same sex relationship. I don't think there would be rioting in the streets but all the old prejudices, all the simmering homophobia would undoubtedly rise to the surface. I'm both delighted and proud of the Australian approach to this issue. It would be foolish and dangerous to suggest that Homophobia is dead in Australia - and of course there's still that little hurdle of gay marriage to address. One would hope it's only a matter of time before sense, justice and compassion prevail.

Meanwhile - back in Scotland, the party I supported all my life allowed bigotry and discrimination to raise its ugly head to the extent I almost ripped my kilt off. I hope again that sense and compassion will prevail. Nationalist MSP John Mason has tabled a motion at the Scottish Parliament stating that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved or to approve of same sex marriage. I could write for hours on this subject alone - but I won't. Calling Mr Mason a fool will have to suffice for now. My hand is dead again and I have a garden wilderness out there which on this Sunday is calling to be transformed into a garden of delights. I'm off to brave spiders and snakes armed only with gloves and a Dutch Hoe. That's the gardening implement type of Hoe lest anyone wondered.  :)


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Who'll run the fastest at the Olympics?

I've been quiet of late - too stunned by the dreadful scenes coming out of London to really think straight. So many friends and family to worry about.

Things appear to have calmed and now I can think significantly more clearly. How on earth can London host the 2012 Olympics with such a seething cauldron of unrest bubbling just beneath the surface?

A suggestion was made that the Olympic logo for London be changed...I fear it may be more accurate than any of us would like...


Monday, 8 August 2011

Love - Isn't It Strange?

I'm stuck for written Blogging material today, brain just isn't functioning - so forgive me for indulging a few days early. Some years ago I wrote a wee song and when I met my dear wife it was very appropriate, it still is. I grabbed some old bits of video, some stills - and cobbled them together yesterday to make a video to go with the song. It'll be our anniversary in a few days - so, as they say, this one goes out to the one I love...

Happy Anniversary Darlin'


PS - There's a couple of editing errors I didn't notice until AFTER I uploaded it to Youtube lol - apologies :)


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Misplaced Faith and Past Lives

In an earlier Blogpost I mentioned that I don't have an agent. Nor do I have a manager. Should I? To do so would be to entrust someone else to act in my best interests, it's a road I've been down before - allow me please to relate two examples...

There was a coup in the offing. I wanted to revolutionise the Student Union and dislodge the incumbents at my University, but I was too controversial a figure to run as President myself at the time - My friends and I needed someone with no 'prior' in terms of media coverage or controversy, someone articulate, intelligent, unassuming but unswerving - enter William Stockdale. Over a few beers in a Uni bar it was decided "Okay William, you're a nice guy - you're the front man. Articulate what I and others devise as policy and we'll win power easily." I was putting all my faith in him to deliver our vision of the future. We all were.

Prior to the emergency election, the 'great debate' was held in a lecture theatre - it was standing room only and the national press were out in full force. I sat on the stage beside William and quietly reminded him of key manifesto points which he delivered to the audience brilliantly, so much so he received a standing ovation and rapturous applause for his speech. I remember thinking to myself  'This is done and dusted'.
Then it was time for the press to ask questions - the first of which left me thinking the journalist had taken leave of his senses...
"Mr Stockdale, have you ever claimed to be The Messiah? Our Lord Jesus Christ?"
I looked at William and laughed thinking this is some sort of joke that will be made clear in a second or two. William stood up and facing the entire theatre said quietly "Yes, yes I have."
I shook my head thinking 'Okay stop this now. Don't want to alienate the Christian vote. The joke has run its course.'
"You wrote a book once in which you claimed to be the Messiah didn't you? Do you still claim to be Our Lord Jesus Christ?" The journalist wasn't for letting go...
William stuttered slightly, "Th-th-there's a good chance, probability in fact, that I am Jesus Christ, the saviour of humankind." The audience gasped and I held my head in my hands in much the same way Salome would have held the head of John the Baptist. Right there and then in those few questions I watched any hope of a revolution in Academia disappear...None of us knew he had this kind of revelation to make...it was our own personal Armageddon.

The only other time I 'signed away' a part of myself - was when a musical agent offered my band and I a contract which was pretty lucrative - we didn't do our research, we didn't stop to think, we didn't hesitate, we signed on the dotted line...and then rushed home to look him up on Google.

"Music Man Guilty of Sex with a Vacuum Cleaner" was all we got when we Googled his name. At first I held out hope that he was guilty of having sex with a cleaner who used a vacuum in her duties...but no, logic dictated that this would not be an offence - Google didn't lie. His biggest claim to fame it seems was his sexual exploits in a public place with a vacuum cleaner for which he did jail time.

I've never trusted anyone to act for me since. I have no Messiah complex and no unhealthy fixations on vacuum cleaners. I can trust me...most times :)


I'd like to thank my agent...

...But I don't actually have one. This probably precludes me from a Pullitzer, an Emmy, an Oscar or any other glittering prize given that everyone's acceptance speech starts with 'I'd like to thank my agent...'.
However - what does it matter when Delores over at the The Feathered Nest hands out such sweet awards as the 'Liebster Blog' award? I'm delighted to be in receipt of it even if I don't have an agent or know what Liebster means.

I just checked to make sure that 'Liebster' doesn't mean 'interminably boring' and is a secret code/label among bloggers for 'Avoid this Blog at all costs' - and I'm delighted to say that it doesn't. It means quite literally 'dearest'. So with that in mind I'd like to thank Delores and following in the tradition of Liebster awards I now pay it forward by referring you to three blogs which I think are terrific but are under-followed (less than 300 followers).

So - here goes....

AUSTANSPACE (Where reality is offensive) really is wonderfully offensive in an informed and intelligent manner.  It's one of my favourite Blogs and by default means one of my favourite people is sitting behind the desk.

Just this week I stumbled upon Gonzo Curiosita which I also find wonderfully offensive in an intelligent and rational way.

It's such a shame I'm limited to three choices as there are so many Blogs out there I enjoy (If I follow you it's because I love your Blog - not just because you follow me!).

Number three this time however, goes to -  Carrie On Carrying On because it's just so damned nice. I love it when I read a Blog and can identify with the person juggling the words and sentences. And I do.

Maybe they would be kind enough to pass the love on?

In other news this week - President Obama turned 50, despite Republican protests. 
The global financial meltdown continues - meaning I may rush to empty the 70 cents in my bank account before it's too late. And (yes I know I started a sentence with 'and' - see previous post) my daughter Maddy is clock watching as she's obviously read something on the Internet which leads her to believe the world ends today at twelve minutes past eight (20:12).

Strange times indeed.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Y Did I Bover?

Alexis Hunter was the best English teacher any kid could ask for. Woe betide anyone who missed an apostrophe, a hyphen, a comma or failed to capitalise the first word in a sentence.
"Can I start a sentence with 'But or And' Miss Hunter?"
"Yes if your name is George Orwell or George Bernard Shaw or you have written a book of literary merit - but until then, no you won't."

And (I can do it now as I've written a book) I studied my spelling - Oh did I study my spelling.

Today I'm wondering why I bothered? It seems the world is convinced the word 'lose' is spelt 'loose' - everywhere I go on the internet 'loose' pops up instead of lose - am I the only one who feels like sending e-mails to those concerned saying 'Cut it out! I spent ten years in school, two in college, six in university so that I could join a world of literate people'?

I suspect I am.

You see, I wouldn't mind if it were a mindless minority...but misspellings are taking over the world to such an extent that the wrong spelling is viewed as the right spelling and it causes me consternation, I hyperventilate over it. Right now in Brighton someone is reading this thinking "That Rory Grant's a F'n eejit - he spells 'loose' wif just one 'o'"
I base this on evidence provided by the photograph below from Brighton...

Even Cops and Councils have surrendered to the double barrelled roundness of loose...

I can barely look at this next image as it has not one, but two glaring errors (possibly three or four!), this is genuinely heart attack inducing in me...

Even that great storehouse of digital information and applications 'Apple' has loosened its guard sufficiently to lose credibility. Take this application on offer from the istore for example...

I could go on and on but I don't want you to loose interest and I certainly don't want to loose you as readers...I'll stop now.  I fear the war has been loost already.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

"C'mon Bertie!"

This is part II of 'Blackford Bert' - Part one can be found at this link - Speedy Gonzales AKA Blackford Bert

Blackford Bert was a 'ringer'. A dog which had won every race it ever entered - in Ireland (or so Gordon had been told). If he could enter it in a race in Scotland without its pedigree and history being known it would win easily and the family could clean up from betting on it. Thing was though, once it had run that first race it could never be a ringer again. It's speed would have been noted and it would be placed in higher quality races from then on and none of us had the know how to train it properly. The upcoming race at Shawfield was the do or die, all or nothing, once in a lifetime chance to make a small fortune. No one was left out. Long lost cousins were called, everyone Gordon owed money to, even our own landlord was let in on the secret - Friday night we'd all be rich.

Bertie had been drawn trap 1 that night - the most favourable position, up against the rail and the shortest route to the finish line if he just hugged the corners. The prize money was pennies and not worth worrying about, the real money was going to be made on betting. Looking around Shawfield Stadium it seemed to me there were more Grants at the dog race than I had ever seen at a wedding or funeral. My Dad's five brothers were there, Gordon, Jimmy, Alex, John and Jack. His sisters were there too, Mary, Flo, Doreen, Maisie and Moira. Then the cousins, nieces and nephews. Everyone it seemed was here to put their their rent money on Bertie. Moving between them I could hear the nervous whispers "What if Gordon's wrong?", "Are you absolutely sure?"
I had every confidence in Bertie - I'd been taking him out the communal back yard and attaching his leash to the washing line for a week and throwing him biscuits, he seemed to move pretty fast. Through my ten year old eyes a dog which could reach a biscuit before the biscuit even hit the ground over a distance of ten feet was undoubtedly a racing champion.

The Bookies started calling the odds "Trap one - Blackford Bert nine to one" The huddled Grant masses started moving toward the assembled bookmakers and Uncle Gordon cautioned them "Don't all rush - too much money in one go will give the game away. The Bookies will suspect he's a ringer. Nice and easy. Just amble up slowly."
I gave my Dad the two shillings I'd got from Uncle Gordon for 'training' Bertie on the washing line "On the nose Dad". I had no idea what it meant but everyone else had been saying it during the previous races - it seemed the right thing to say. Dad smiled "Well if it wins son it means you get eighteen shillings back. Let's hope Gordon knows what he's talking about."

The odds tumbled to two to one as the bookies realised money was pouring in for Blackford Bert and that a sting was most likely under way, but that didn't matter to the Grants - they'd already grabbed him at nine to one.

We all gathered at the trackside, up against the rail, the starting bell rang, the electric Hare took off and the traps sprung open.

Blackford Bert was everything Uncle Gordon said he was - He came out of the traps like a bullet and reached the first corner two lengths clear. His red jacket distinctly showed him four lengths clear by the second corner. The race was virtually over by the third corner so great was the distance between him and the other dogs. We all hugged one another in astonished disbelief as he headed for the final corner and when the realisation dawned that this was the biggest pay day ever - no one could contain themselves any longer. The nervous silence erupted into a crescendo of ''C'MON BERTIE!" - The whole family were screaming it in unison - and that's precisely what Bertie did - He 'Came on'. Without breaking his stride he ran to the trackside rail, and in a single bound flew over it onto the terracing where we stood. Delighted to see us he wagged his tail furiously and leapt up and down between Uncle Gordon and myself. Stunned silence ensued. Five other dogs flashed past on the track and we all stared down at Bertie in horror.
In a strained and terse voice Uncle Gordon asked "Who called out 'Bertie?"
Everyone shook their heads even though everyone had.
No Taxi home that night, not even a bus. It was a long silent walk through the dark.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Bundle of Nerves - Update

Och, I knew it was bad news when the Surgeon looked me in the eye and said 'This is complicated...' - and so it was.

I'm home now and a brief synopsis is this - He thinks he can save my arm but it's 50/50. He's going to relocate the Ulnar nerve completely but it may not work. So the operation on my arm is imminent (I've to wait for the phone call) - and even if it does work I then have to have my spine operated on as it seems that's where the problem started - there's a bundle of nerves trapped in there somewhere and it's easy to understand why - I have an extra vertebrae, one too many (maybe that's why I'm so tall lol?).

Anyway - I'm off to bed now - good news is I'm going to bed with my splint and brace on the arm - which means I can type in the morning and finish the Blackford Bertie story when I wake up :) The bad news is I might get out of bed late as there's so much Velcro on the splint and brace that I get stuck to the blankets and it takes a while to extract myself  lol...

Love to you all! And thank you all for your kind wishes - speak to you in the morning!


Monday, 1 August 2011

Speedy Gonzales AKA Blackford Bert

Growing up I became acutely aware that the men of the family enjoyed gambling; horses, dogs, football, cards - if there was a turn of chance or luck then they'd have a few shillings on it. My Dad had five brothers, and more fantastic, larger than life uncles a young kid couldn't ask for. One in particular, my uncle Gordon, had a lifelong love of betting on greyhound racing. Unannounced, he turned up one day at our crumbling tenement flat in Maryhill, Glasgow, with a smile as wide as the river Clyde,
"Our fortune is here! Our fortune is here!" He proclaimed.
Dad and I stared at the family fortune as it raised its leg and pissed against the coat-stand in the hallway. A black greyhound my uncle had won in  a poker game in Partick.
"This dog is the fastest thing ever! Faster than speedy Gonzales!" his big, fat, burly frame exclaimed.
Soon, the message filtered from one bar to another, the uncles 'gathered' at our place, and through the haze of a sitting room filled with cigarette smoke (which was probably stifling its chances of winning a walk to the park let alone a dog race) they admired 'Blackford Bert' or 'Bertie' as he was known on non racing days.
"He looks stunning, a real champion," my uncle Jimmy said between puffs on his cigarette and the others chokingly agreed.
I didn't quite get it  - to me he looked less stunning and more stunned as he lay on his back in front of the coal fire with his legs in the air. I was sure none of them knew anything about dogs and yet there they were proclaiming that this dog - which had only so far walked from where uncle Gordon had won it and then climbed the stairs to our tenement flat, was the fastest dog alive.

So, 'wee Rory' was tasked along with uncle Gordon to keep Bertie fit and healthy until it could be entered in a race at Shawfield Stadium. Uncle Gordon had read somewhere that swimming was good training for dogs and so that week, off we went to hire a rowboat on Bingham's pond.

We bundled the dog onto the boat and rowed out into the middle at which point Uncle Gordon issued the highly technical dog training command "Throw him in then Rory".
"Yes!" He yelled, "It's a good distance to the bank from here - this will be a really good swim for him."
"Uncle Gordon, isn't the dog meant to be moving?" It seemed to me to be perfectly still.
"Aye Rory - it's dog paddling just now. It'll get its bearings in a minute and start swimming to shore."
"It's not moving at all Uncle Gordon."
"Don't be silly boy of course it's moving, it has to or it'll drown."
We both peered at it over the side of the rowboat. It was then the realisation dawned that the pond wasn't deep enough for a dog to swim in - it was just standing there, shivering, staring at us both accusingly, water almost reaching its underbelly.
"Damn!" Uncle Gordon muttered.
"What do we do now?" I asked as our boat started drifting further away from Bertie who was still standing there, traumatised.
"You'll have to get in the water Rory. We can't row the boat towards him - we might hit his ribs or legs!"
Reluctantly I became man overboard and started wading toward Bertie while urging "C'mon Bertie". The water was freezing. Bertie started ploughing his way toward me and from there I led him to the boat. Between my uncle Gordon and I he was just too heavy to lift out of the water back into the boat. Uncle Gordon jumped into the water too and together we raised him up high enough to put him back in the boat - at which point he gave the boat momentum and it started sailing away from us. A small crowd had gathered on the shore watching these two stupid people with an intelligent dog - well it was obviously intelligent and they were obviously stupid - they were in the water while it was seated comfortably in the boat.

We should have taken it as a sign, an indicator that 'our fortune' may not be what we hoped for. But no, we didn't. Race day at Shawfield was only a week away and every uncle, every aunt, every cousin, every niece and nephew had already been tipped to set aside their rent money that week - The Grants were about to get rich with the biggest racing certainty ever.

Part II can be found at the following link - "C'mon Bertie"