Where do we start with encrusted, do we take the pessimistic outlook, imagining all in life has gone wrong, a foolhardy investment has gone pear shaped, causing recourse to some fearfully expensive short term loan and the final ignominy, a dirt encrusted existence living hand to mouth on the streets in a cardboard box.

I often wonder why anybody would consider taking a short term loan, obviously they are useless at mathematics. “Oh dear my car has broken down and I need it fixed, I can’t afford to get a taxi to work until payday, I know, I’ll get one of those payday loans at 1000 or 2000 percent interest.” It seems to me, at those rates of interest the money you would spend would cover the hire of a chauffeur driven limousine until payday. Alternatively you could just borrow someone’s bicycle for a few days and buy him a couple of pints in payment.

Of course, should it all go wrong there is always the possibility that one may seek employment, any sort of employment in an effort to keep the wolf from the door and maintain a modicum of self respect and dignity. Obviously as a pessimist you would only manage to acquire the more lowly paid of work and end up as a Victorian shit shoveller, returning home in the morning from your job as a night soil man encrusted in doo-doo, a proud but rather smelly man.

Obviously, if your life has fallen apart you may seek solace in drink and the company of like minded individuals to share your woes and become inebriated to the point where the ability to walk is only just attainable. On staggering home one absentmindedly walks into the road, to be struck by a passing motor vehicle, only to wake up the next morning encrusted in plaster of paris on the many of your broken extremities.

I don’t consider myself to be a pessimist so shall now put forward a more optimistic scenario, let’s imagine for one moment you have just moved into a new house and are busying yourself digging the garden when, low and behold, what should one see but a solid gold, jewel encrusted artefact from the Roman period.

Great joy when handed in to the appropriate authorities, it seems said artefact is worth a small fortune which will be spent on exceedingly tasteful goods and services and not some tasteless diamond encrusted trainers as some with less class may do.

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I don’t always start these blogs with the first thing that comes into my head but due to pressures of time, I shall be starting with, not only the first, but then the second and then the third.

There are many ways in which one can show courage but the first thing that came into my mind was a Rudyard Kipling poem which was published in 1910 which my father used to quote to me when I was a teenager in the 1960’s. The poem is written as advice from a father to his son and I always felt it was meant to inspire courage to face the world.

Ironically both the other works that came to me are by Kipling as well and both cover aspects of bravery at a time of war, so without further a do I present to you the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, the last line of which always reminds me of my father.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

I expect most people will be familiar with the expression “women and children first” but will have no idea where it came from, well I can enlighten you. There was a troop ship which was originally called HMS Vulcan which was later renamed HMS Birkenhead. The renaming of a ship is I believe considered unlucky by some sailors and it would seem there may be some truth in that fact as HMS Birkenhead came to a sticky end. She was a troop ship carrying both troops and civilians when she struck some rocks and started to sink.

There were insufficient lifeboats for all on the ship so the soldiers and sailors lined up on deck and the women and children were ordered to be the first to the lifeboats, the men bravely staying with the ship as she sunk.

From that day onwards the custom of women and children first was adopted, and became know as the Birkenhead Drill, later lifeboat drill.

The following is a brief excerpt from the poem about HMS Birkenhead called “Soldier an Sailor too” also by Rudyard Kipling.

“Soldier an Sailor too.” by Rudyard Kipling.

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you’ve cover to ‘and, and leave an’ liking to shout;
But to stand and be still to the Birken’ead drill
is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An’ they done it, the Jollies Er Majesty’s Jollies-
soldier and sailor too!

Their work was done when it adn’t begun; they was younger nor me an’ you,
Their choice it was plain between drownin’ in ‘eaps
an’ bein’ mopped by the screw,
So they stood an’ was still to the Birken’ead drill,
soldier an’ sailor too!

We’re most of us liars, we’re ‘arf of us thieves,
An’ the rest are as rank as can be,
But once in a while we can finish in style
(which I ‘ope it won’t happen to me).

At the beginning of World War One Rudyard Kipling was very much in favour of the war, so much so that he pulled strings to enable his son to get into the army when his eyesight was so bad there was every reason for him not to have to go. Later his son was killed and Kipling saw that he’d made a mistake in sending his son to war and wrote the following poem as a tribute to his son Jack.

“My Boy Jack” by Rudyard Kipling.

“Have you news of my boy Jack? ”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

All of the poems cover aspects of courage in some shape or another, I hope you enjoyed them.

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I have to admit that as an Englishman I have never heard the word rube before in my life, but apparently it is an insulting way of calling someone an idiot in American, so quite why it was chosen as today’s topic is beyond me.

I was surprised at the definition which also means, country bumpkin, especially as my blog is called “The Diary of a Country Bumpkin”, although this might also explain the lack of interest generated in the Americas for my sophisticated writing technique. I would suggest, therefore, one should never judge a book by it’s cover.

Yet again we find ourselves separated by allegedly the same language and sadly with the passing of time I am finding it ever harder to understand either written or spoken American.

Rather to my chagrin I find that rubes, as you Americans call them, are people from rural areas who are also known as hayseeds, hicks, yokels and hillbillies, whilst in England a country bumpkin has a completely different connotation, for in England one can live in the countryside and be thought of as quite sophisticated.

Vast swathes of our countryside is owned by what would be termed the landed gentry, often of royal decent and generally jolly decent fellows and I myself, when I moved to the country rather thought of myself in that vein and not perhaps the village idiot.

Whilst not owning half of Berkshire we do have a decent house with it’s plot of land and a small farm where our daughter keeps her horses, so I consider it safe to call myself a country bumpkin and not in a derogatory fashion.

Obviously in America you don’t have the advantage of royalty, to both own and farm the land like our dear Prince Charles and his Duchy of Cornwall for example, but I imagine there must be the American equivalent of wealthy sophisticated land owning classes, who might be a tad miffed to be called a rube.

It seems the American idea of a rube is more the sort of character found in the film “Deliverance” whereas our version is more the country bumpkin standing by the stream, who when asked if it is possible to drive one’s motor car through it, replies in the affirmative. The driver then proceeds and finds his car awash and the engine flooded and calls back at the bumpkin, “I thought you said this water wasn’t deep?” To which the reply came back, “Well, it only comes half way up our ducks!”

Having transposed myself from the town I am more than happily ensconced in the country and whilst here I am quite happy to be considered a country bumpkin, I do however draw the line at the use of the word rube.

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Before I start today I insist in putting the link to my other blog, I shall be referring to it during the course of this article as I wish to ask a question about one of the subjects mentioned therein.


If you would be so kind as to peruse the third paragraph in the story about MP’s code of conduct where I was telling the tale of a fictional working class MP from a down trodden mining village who upon entering parliament, would leave a little coal dust on the furniture when sitting down, although obviously not in the presence of a lady.

Having read the paragraph to a couple of my friends I noticed there was no reaction with regard to the sitting down and the presence of a lady, which caused me to realise, just how old fashioned I am and that my joke was obviously far too subtle.

The point being, when I was educated it was virtually insisted upon that a man would always stand when a woman entered the room and I had wrongly assumed it would still be common knowledge even today.

Moving on I decided to segue to the subject of the dress code for Members of Parliament as I was fairly certain that in the old days it was virtually insisted, that the correct etiquette with regard to a dress code was for the gentlemen to have to wear a tie.

Shock, horror, what is the world coming to, on 29th June 2017 the Speaker in parliament, John Bercow, has said that he will no longer insist that gentlemen wear neckties. In the old days even the miner from the down trodden mining village, although slightly grubby with coal dust would have had the good manners to have worn a necktie.

Well there we are, that’s my blog for today which seems to have been diverted somewhat from the topic chosen but as far as I know, there is no-one out there insisting that we stick to the subject insist.


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Simplify, what a wonderful word to choose today, a word close to my heart and much better than it’s antonym complicate.

I do get accused by my wife of living in the past and there’s a reason for that, for in the past everything was much simpler, cars for example had a much more basic set up. They required a petrol supply, a carburettor to mix the petrol and air, a source of electricity and a distributor to send the current to the right spark plug at the right time and an engine in which the mixture could be exploded to turn the engine round, simple!

All these years later whilst the petrol engine has retained the same basic principal it has been complicated with the addition of much more electric gizmos, which means when they go wrong you have to plug the thing into a computer to find out what’s wrong with it. Gone are the days when if you could check there was a spark and fuel, you pretty much had all the ingredients necessary for the thing to work.

As a classic car owner I am often amused when I have modern young people in one of the cars who ask what the handle on the inside of the door is for and see the look of amazement when you explain, you have to turn it to open the window. We never had windscreen wipers that went at different speeds, they were either, on or off, early cars didn’t have windscreen washers, electric seat motors and heaters. I’m much in favour of the older cars where there is nothing to go wrong.

Long before even I was born there was just the wireless for amusement, that’s radio, just in case you were wondering and then in 1936 Her Majesties BBC started to broadcast television, even though virtually no-one had a television set to watch it on.

It wasn’t until 1955 that the BBC was joined by another channel ITV, both still showing pictures in black and white. Televisions were very simple to operate in those days, there was a switch to turn it on, a knob for the volume, two knobs for selecting which channel to watch and two knobs on the back to fiddle with to tune the thing in.

Things were so much simpler in those days, there was no such thing as a remote we had to get out of the chair and press one of the knobs to change channels, that’s why we were so much fitter than the youth of today who get no exercise, we were up and down like yo-yo’s. Should the television play up and the picture go fuzzy the technically minded would get up from their chair and fiddle with the knobs on the back and if all else failed a sharp bang on the top or the side would usually sort the thing out.

Eventually we gained another channel Her Majesties BBC 2 which arrived in 1964 and a little while later through the wonders of modern science we had colour television.

Things were far simpler then, we had fewer channels which used to close at night after playing the National Anthem, however you could always find something worth watching, unless my memory is playing tricks with me. We now have hundreds of channels and I can rarely find anything to watch and am constantly going up and down the channels searching and I consider myself lucky we have the remote nowadays as if I had to get up every time I would have died from exhaustion some years ago.

I like the idea of being able to simplify things, however perhaps you have to make them more complicated to do so. Years ago when I was writing something I would first write it in a rough book, then I would check and amend in the book and finally type it up with my typewriter, all very simple steps with very simple tools and yet the process took ages to complete.

Now I find I’m going through exactly the same process on a much more complicated piece of equipment and yet by complicating things it has the ability to simplify the number of steps involved and the time taken.

I have convinced myself, the more complicated computer is the way forward with regard to writing, and much as I enjoy my classic cars I also enjoy driving modern cars, however with regard to television I think I’d like to go with the simpler format of fewer channels, but better quality programs.

Well, that’s the end of my blog for today and as they say at the end of the popular “compare the meerkat” adverts; Simples!

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I tend to think I am a fairly easy going sort of chap, although my wife would say I tend more towards the “grumpy old man” end of the spectrum and there may be an element of truth in that.

Whilst driving I have occasionally had the need to raise my voice slightly when I feel the fellow in front of me may be in need of some advice as to how to improve their performance. I’m lucky in as much that most of the time I have a low blood pressure and I feel it is assisted by my shouting, sorry, raising my voice at other road users, at least bringing it down from the temporary high it might have achieved.

There is a very simple way to eliminate road rage and to keep one’s blood pressure at a reasonable level. Firstly, don’t do anything which may cause anyone following you to have to raise their voice to you and if you are unfortunate enough to have made a faux pas raise your hand in a conciliatory fashion. This action will, if you’re lucky be enough to placate the offended motorist, thereby saving you from knowing what it’s like to be clumped round the back of the head with a tyre lever.

If on the other hand your competence when driving is so bad that you are constantly hearing words of encouragement from drivers behind, I suggest you give up driving altogether and take the bus.

Today has been very busy and my blog has taken ages, as soon as I got one thing done, something else turned up which broke my concentration more than somewhat, and I know, like the drivers I can hear some of you shouting, “you’re not trying to kid us you concentrate when writing this rubbish!”

I tend to try to write this all in one go but I’ve just had to stop again, this time for dinner and then I assisted my wife by rinsing the plates and cutlery before putting them in the dishwasher, which has left me feeling quite unnecessary and a little faint, I may have to have a lay down in a dark room.

Or on the other hand I might just get a can of lager and watch some blokes car programme on the television, now I think about it, I tend to think that is the option I’m going to take.

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I am bewildered as to why this word has been chosen as it was only five days ago we had the word puzzled.

Due to the fact that I am starting to blog later than usual and I have to leave early to go to a meeting of the Bentley Drivers Club I an going to attempt to leave you with an image from the 1957 film, Pal Joey and why you may well ask would I do that?

The answer is simple, I always tend to start my blog with the first thing that came into my head which on this occasion was the song, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, sung in the film by Rita Hayworth.

Frank Sinatra gave top billing to Hayworth and said of the poster being between the two ladies; “That’s a sandwich I don’t mind being stuck in the middle of.”

I have no idea whether the image will appear but as I’m running a little late I’m just going to press publish and hope for the best and for the benefit of the health and safety people I will add a caveat.

This poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Columbia Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.

Hopefully as I copied the last phrase from the source of the poster, the last disclaimer will prevent me from being arrested for copying the image. Prison is not the place for me, after all look what a detrimental effect it had on Oscar Wilde.

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